By Michael Diamond
For Our Children:
A Benefit for Sandy Hook
The Sound for Good record
label has partnered with Healing Newtown (healingnewtown.org), a division of
the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission, to help support the community by offering
this new release, “For Our Children: A Benefit for Sandy Hook, available to
everyone who donates just $1 (or more). Under the direction of Jack Hertz and Sita (Magnetic Wind), 30 artists from around the globe have
come together to support the healing process of those impacted by the Sandy
Hook Elementary tragedy of
December 14th, 2012. This album
serves as sound healing comfort for children and adults throughout the world.
Sound for Good is a record
label that publishes and promotes new music as a means to support good causes.
This is an independent project that is supported directly by the artists and is
not for profit or monetary gain in any way. I am honored to have my
instrumental com-position, “Deep Diver Suite” on the album. All the artists’
music is given freely, and proceeds from this album are directly donated by the
Bandcamp system to Healing Newtown, supported by the
Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut and the Connecticut Office of the
Arts. The message of the album is to shine your light.
Healing With Harmony
Healing With Harmony is a non-profit
organization that provides custom configured healing music programs to
health-care providers. According to director Wendy Bartlett, their mission is
aimed at addressing the body mind and spirit needs of those facing difficult,
serious, and life-threatening medical challenges as well as those facing
end-of- life issues. They do this by making available what they call a Harmony
Kit. Each kit includes a collection of specifically chosen music and spoken
word CD’s, players, and accessories. The CD’s are selected individually for
each kit, based on a comprehensive assessment form. Best of all, Harmony Kits
are provided free of charge to qualified providers, such as hospitals, cancer
treatment facilities, nursing homes, hospice, dialysis centers, and more.
According to founder Mark Lindemer: “Now, patients can close their eyes and be
surrounded by the comfort of music, thereby replacing potential stress and
anxiety with the joy of music.” I first became aware of this organization
through staff member Kathryn Toyama, a classically-trained pianist whose “Hope For Harmony” CD is part of their extensive
catalog. The Healing With Harmony staff is
all-volunteer and their work is supported by donations — very inspiring!
Love’s River is a sparkling
new release by Laura Sullivan, a gifted pianist and composer in the
Contemporary Instrumental/ New Age music genre. This is her 6th album and finds
her in fine company with an all-star cast of accompanists. Her graceful style,
tinged with elements of contemporary classical music, has been compared
favorably with Liz Story and Suzanne Ciani. In
addition to piano, Laura also adds additional orchestrations.
While the Grammy-winning
founder of Windham Hill Records, Will Ackerman played a role as producer on
four tracks on this project, he also lends his formidable talent as an acoustic
guitarist on an introspective ballad called “Blessed.” The gentle flow of the
title track is graced by the cello accompaniment of Eugene Friesen, a member of
the Paul Winter Consort, who also plays on two other tracks on this album. The
elegant English horn playing of well-known session musician Jill Haley
additionally adds to the composition. One of my favorite musicians, Jeff Oster,
adds soulful trumpet and flugelhorn on “Awakening to Love.” Grammy-winning
artist Nancy Rumbel weaves sonorous oboe melodies
around Laura’s piano on “Secrets from the Deep.” Laura Sullivan’s ”Love’s
River” is an emotional and soul touching listening experience.
Among the players of Native
American flute music, such as Carlos Nakai and Coyote
Oldman, Scott August ranks as one of the foremost in
the world. Scott is inspired by the natural beauty of the landscapes where he
lives in New Mexico, and his latest CD, Hidden Journey, has been described as:
“an exciting and invigorating adventure into the secluded backcountry of the
American Southwest. The album includes evocative ancient flutes, Latin guitars,
piano, powerful tribal drums, synthesizer textures, and an assortment of exotic
world instruments. One thing I appreciate about Scott’s music is that it can be
both relaxing and energizing at the same time — a rare quality.
While Scott’s flute playing
is generally in the Native American style, it is his utilization of all these
various instruments and rhythms that sets him apart from many other Native
flute players, who are often more minimalist and traditional in their music.
The airy ambience of the flutes and electronic textures, along with the various
drums and ancient world instruments create a perfect fusion of earth and sky.
Hidden Journey captures the spirit of the Southwest and extends it into a
broader musical context, making for an expansive and uplifting musical experience.
Any description of Arun Shenoy’s current
GRAMMY-nominated CD, Rumbadoodle would have to
include the word “fusion.” Arun’s music is an
intriguing cross-cultural experience. As the title implies the predominate
flavor of this mélange is Rumba flamenco, but is generously spiced with dashes
of pop, rock, worldbeat, and new age that is sure to
appeal to fans of artists like Santana, Ottmar Liebert and the Gipsy Kings.
Things get off to a lively
start as a funky syncopated beat and gypsy violin create an intriguing intro
leading into a full band laying down a familiar rumba groove. The music is
instantly engaging and draws you into its earthy and fiery Afro-Cuban ambience.
On “The Violin Song,” the Latin air, tinged by slight Celtic traces makes for
intriguing alchemy. I appreciate his sense of composition and dynamics, which
can build in intensity, then drop into a more chilled space without missing a
beat. The ensemble playing on the entire album is extremely tight and perfectly
arranged. I was seriously impressed with Arun’s
talents as a musician, composer, arranger, and producer. The music is not only
incredibly innovative and extremely well performed, but the recording and
production values are first rate. Bravo!
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