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Awareness Magazine
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MUSIC & MEDIA REVIEWS

By Michael Diamond

 

PETER KATER & R. CARLOS NAKAI
Ritual

http://www.mysteriummusic.com/

Reprising their rich history of recording together, pianist Peter Kater and Native Amer
ican flute virtuoso R. Carlos Nakai have once again joined forces on their first joint release in over a decade. The album also features accompaniment by Paul Winter Consort alumni, Paul McCandless on soprano sax, English horn, and oboe, Jaques Morelenbaum on cello, who is best known for performing with Sting, and the ethereal vocals of Trisha Bowden. One of the things I was most impressed with is the stylistic diversity and brilliance of Peter’s piano work. Being the foundation instrument in this grouping, he did a stellar job of providing the musical terrain for the other musicians to walk upon. R. Carlos Nakai is an undisputed master of the Native flute and any project he graces with it is uplifted by it. The interplay between these two and their accompanists on Ritual is pure magic.


JILL HALEY
Mesa Verde Soundscapes

http://jillhaley.com/

Mesa Verde Soundscapes
is the latest release from wind instrument maestro Jill Haley, and is her third album in a series that centers on National Parks. Inside the glossy eco-package is a beautiful full color 15-page booklet with photos of the places in Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park that inspired the song titles, along with a descriptive sentence or two about each photo. It is quite lovely and is a wonderful companion to the music within. Jill is best known for her evocative work on English horn and oboe but she is also quite an accomplished pianist as evidenced by her playing on these tracks. Joining her on some pieces is her husband David Cullen playing guitar and bass, as well as by Dana Cullen on horn, cellist Graham Cullen, and Risa Cullen on viola. Beautiful music, lovely photos, and Jill’s personal reflections make for an inspiring presentation about a national treasure.

MO COULSON & CHRIS CONWAY
Spirits of the Mermaids

http://www.paradisemusic.us.com/

Spirits of the Mermaids is
an enchanting album of Celtic music based on a tale of a mermaid who falls in love with a human man. Over the course of thirteen tracks, the plot unfolds as told in song by Mo Coulson on her Celtic harp, accordion, and vocals along with collaborator Chris Conway on Irish whistles, keyboards, guitar, zither, flute, vocals, and percussion. Additional musical guests also add their Celtic-inspired colors to the mix. As detailed in the liner notes, the story is inspired by tales of Melusine, a mermaid who appears in much mermaid mythology, and draws upon the theme of impossible love between the people of the land and those of the sea. I especially enjoyed listening to this album from start to finish with headphones to be fully immersed in the lush aqueous soundscapes created within this imaginative and entrancing musical adventure.

CARL WEINGARTEN
Life Under Stars
www.carlweingarten.com

Ambient music can often be ethereal and meditative, however, guitarist Carl Weingarten’s version here is an upbeat top-down cruise to the beach. While his music has been called “cinematic jazz,” certainly an expansive categorization, it’s not quite broad enough to describe all its elements and nuances. His use of slide guitar and dobro in an ambient context is groundbreaking, and transcends the blues and Americana roots they are generally associated with. In Carl’s hands they become textural instruments that add exotic sonic colors to his unique soundscapes. In addition to his multi-instrumental talents, Carl’s sterling choice of accompanists is part of what makes his music so incredibly cool. There is really no one else who sounds quite like Carl Weingarten. His style is adventurous, exploratory, and intriguing, and to be able to create a distinct sound in today’s crowded music market is an accomplishment in itself.

 

LOUIS COLAIANNIA
Closer
www.louismusic.com

As a pianist and composer, Louis Colaiannia has always brought a variety of influences to his previous recordings, including jazz, classical, and new age. On Closer, however, Louis sharpens his focus, while expanding his horizons with a recording that gravitates much more fully toward the new-age side of the spectrum. And to help him toward that end, he has chosen to work with one of the icons of the genre — Grammy award-winning producer and Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman, and his roster of world-class studio musicians for accompaniment. As much as I loved Louis’ previous blend of up-tempo jazz and contemporary instrumental genres, I think that this more focused approach will serve to expand his audience and the album’s commercial success. The music is contemplative and introspective throughout, making it perfect for someone who wants to put on an album to set a mood for either focused listening or background music.



 

Michael Diamond is a music producer, recording artist, and music journalist in the San Francisco Bay area with over 30 years of experience writing for nationally-published magazines and more recently worldwide on the internet. He currently has five CD’s including two with new-age music pioneer Steven Halpern. For additional reviews of CD’s, DVD’s, and more, please visit: www.michaeldiamondmusic.com