Reviews 04-26-2015

Music Reviews 



Coming Home

by Peter Jennison

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Peter Jennison’s impressive debut Longing For Home was released back in 2010 and was written during his second deployment as a Medevac pilot which paid tribute to the soldiers and families that sacrifice their relationships for the sake of our homeland’s security and well being. Coming Home is essentially an additional installment of similar themes but this time around focuses on the imagery of homecomings keeping in mind that they do not all have happy endings but nevertheless highly emotional ones.  

Once again the talents of producer Will Ackerman and his A Team musicians merge effortlessly with Jennison’s compositions and unassuming piano work.  Though the piano is complimented with the likes of Charlie Bisharat on violin, Jeff Oster on flugelhorn, Jeff Hayes on percussion and even Ackerman on acoustic guitar on a few occasions, the emphasis is on Jill Haley’s English horn and Eugene Friesen’s cello. The combinations are dramatic that create some very heavy pieces that include “Remember Me” that opens the album and “Taps (Written In Stone)” that pays tribute to the soldiers that lost their lives. Fortunately this is counter balanced with the deep elegant melodies of “The Journey To You” and “The Moment” that reflect more on the anticipation and actual joyous reunions of a returning soldier with his family and loved ones. Even more uplifting is the concluding upbeat “Coming Home” that also features the vocal harmonies of Rory Sullivan and Noah Wilding.  

Coming Home has nothing to do with appealing to a pro war or anti war statement.  This is actually Peter Jennison once again creating a wonderful musical poetic tribute not only to our soldiers that place their lives on the line for our country, but also the sacrifice that their families endure during their stay of duty.  With such a powerful musical message and performance even if the tribute itself does not directly affect you musically it will.  

Reviewed by Michael Debbage for  Used with permission.



Dawn Light

by Zachary Bruno

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Sometimes a stunning debut album comes along that is never equalled or surpassed by subsequent releases, but Zachary Bruno’s second album, Dawn Light, clearly indicates that he is the real deal. At 20, he composes music with an extraordinary grace and plays with an expressive touch that is rare in someone his age. I saw Zach play live during the Whisperings Solo Piano Radio Awards dinner a few months ago, and after he had played for only a few seconds, the room went silent. We’d been enjoying non-stop piano music for several hours, but everyone there seemed to sense that this was something really special. That piece was “Here,” which is track 4 on the album, and each time I hear it, it takes me back to those magical moments in Anaheim. Dawn Light was recorded at Piano Haven in Sedona, AZ on Joe Bongiorno’s Shigeru Kawai SK7L, a piano that beautifully conveys Bruno’s gentleness and velvet touch on the piano keys. Currently living in the desert of Arizona, Bruno was born in Ottawa, Canada and grew up in a suburban neighborhood in Texas. Much of his music is inspired by nature as well as his imagination. 

Dawn Light begins with the title track, a lively yet delicate piece that expresses the hope and peaceful anticipation at the dawn of a new day. “Oak” is slower and more stately - gently majestic, if you will - and absolutely gorgeous. “Windmill” has a joyful sparkle and a carefree innocence that could elevate any mood. “Here” is almost fragile, its beautiful melody and rubato rhythms expressing emotions while soothing the soul. This really is a remarkable piece! “Ocean of Sky” is another favorite. Very upbeat, light and delicate, it is almost euphoric as Bruno’s fingers dance around the keyboard, often in the upper registers of the piano. “Looking Up” is another favorite and a gentle reminder to take the time to be fully present and aware of where we are. This is one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve heard in awhile - so delicate, honest and heartfelt. We need sheet music for this one, Zach!!! “Aspen Starlight” ends the album with a peaceful, quiet sparkle. For me, it seems to convey the vastness of the moonlit sky as the stars twinkle like brilliant gems on black velvet. What a great album and sure to be a Favorite for 2015! 

Dawn Light is a must-hear for anyone who loves quietly expressive solo piano music with substance (not ear-candy!). Zachary Bruno is a composer who reaches deep within, leaving his heart open and showing us the beauty there. He is truly one of a kind and I give Dawn Light my highest recommendation. Bravo, Zach! 

Reviewed by Kathy Parson for  Used with permission.




by Peter Kater

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Peter Kater continues with his successful series of releases that have covered the four physical elements namely Earth, Air, Fire and Water and with the release of his latest album he covers another element that is not quite as physical as his previous elements albums. His new release for Real Music is entitled Etheria and after a few listens to this peaceful gem that Peter has created I too agree that listeners will immediately feel the other worldly nature of the music that he has composed for this release. I am assuming that the name Etheria is derived from the word ethereal which as Webster’s defines it means light, airy, delicate or even heavenly and I think those words give you some idea as to what you will find when you play this album.

All the music was composed, arranged, engineered, mixed and produced by Peter Kater so in terms of who is responsible for the wonderful music that you hear on this release it is very obvious. Peter also plays the piano, Native American flute, bell chimes, and synthesizers while also handling the sequencing. The only other person who is listed as lending a hand on this release is Richard Hardy who plays the bamboo flutes and soprano & tenor saxophones. It is very evident that Peter knew exactly what he wanted as he assembled this album and his musical sensibilities shine through on each and every track.

The feelings evoked by the music on this album run the gamut from an enveloping sense of tranquility that is very conducive to a meditative state of being to music that leaves the listener in a state of mind that can be defined as warm and dreamy. Peter’s playing is heartfelt and confident on Etheria as each and every song on this album speaks volumes about his skill as a composer and as a musician. The album features 7 compositions that run just shy of 60 minutes but that is more than enough time for Peter to inspire the listener from the first note of Heaven’s Window to the last refrain of Luminescence.

I am assuming that since I did not see a credit for a choir or for voices that what I hear during the course of this album is synthesized “voices” that sound very much like a heavenly choir doing vocals on a couple of the songs. The fact that I wasn’t quite sure without checking the liner notes should give you some indication as to how well they were done. One of my favorite songs on this album was the last one which is called Luminescence and it finished out my excursion with Etheria by allowing me to drift off to a serene composition that features Peter on the keyboard along with some electronic programming that lives up to the description of ethereal. It is only fitting because the first song is my other favorite composition from this album. It is called Celestial Light and it too offers the listener a fragile, delicate piece of music to immediately clear out the distractions of your day so that you might more fully enter into the music that is directly ahead on this intimate album that Peter Kater has created.

The recording quality is per usual of a very high quality and Peter’s touch is visible from beginning to end. The flutes and even the saxophones which I was not sure of seem to blend into the music without overpowering the delicate compositions that are evident on this release. Peter has once again shown that he continues to build on this reputation from his previous releases and Etheria stands as a testament to his skills as a musician and a composer. Peter’s music has always impressed me and as I expected Etheria does not disappoint. Definitely recommended.

Reviewed by Michael Foster editor of Ambient Visions



Angels of Hope

by Various Artists

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The great thing about Real Music’s compilations is that they have a tremendous amount of talent to draw upon when putting together these themed collections that they are so well known for. Many of us who have been buying music for decades and have been converting them to MP3’s to take with us out into the world often do the same thing that Real Music does as we gather our favorite artists that invoke whatever theme we are looking to create for the day and put them into a folder for a day’s worth of enjoyment. Real Music’s upcoming compilation called Angels of Hope (available 3/17/2015) takes all of the work out of the process and leaves listeners with the pleasure of simply popping the disc into their players and enjoying the music.  

Terrence Yallop, President of Real Music was the person behind this assemblage of songs and talent and he have done a fine job mining the catalogs of Real Music to offer up a collection of songs that fills the listener with light and airy feelings one might associate with angelic beings while creating a contemplative mood that is conducive to meditation or simply relaxing after a hard day dealing with the stresses of life in the 21st century. There are 12 tracks on this compilation and the album runs right around 60 minutes which allows the listener plenty of time to cast off from the shore and drift for a bit on the tranquil ocean of sound offered up on this collection.  

Angels of Hope features many of the biggest names on the Real Music roster including Peter Kater, Kevin Kern, Gandalf, Omar Akram and Liquid Mind aka Chuck Wild. Surprisingly you really don’t notice that as each track plays you are listening to a different artist because the track arrangements are such that the music seems to be telling a single story through many different musical voices and styles. It is not that the music is homogenized or repetitive but rather the spirit of the music or as Terrence put it in the liner notes the “song vibrations” are such that they stimulate similar emotional responses from the listener. It is always a difficult proposition to take music from a wide variety of artists and find those songs that speak to the heart in a similar fashion and with one voice but it can be done as Terrence Yallop demonstrates with Angels of Hope.  

The music on Angels of Hope has a way of wending its way into your soul the more that you listen to it. The emotional texture of the music runs the gamut from meditative, to ethereal, to mystical and creates an intimate setting with which to share all of these emotions with the listener. The album is instantly engaging and its nuance and delicacy will be with the listener long after the music has stopped playing and you are left with just your thoughts. I always like to choose a couple of songs that stand out in my mind which ordinarily is difficult but when talking about a group of artists such as you will find on Angels of Hope the task becomes even more of a challenge.  

That being said I found several songs on the album that I went back to again and again because they made an impression on me that would not be satisfied without many more listens over the course of reviewing this collection. One of those songs was called Om Namah Shivaya by Sacred Earth and features the vocals of Prem Williams along with Jethro Williams on flute. The song is filled with deeply passionate vocals and heartfelt playing that communicates with the listener on a level that is more felt than understood with your mind. After many listens I have to say that I am still not tired of this song and it still packs quite a punch. Two songs by the same artist had a similar effect on me because of their simplicity and how much they touched my heart regardless of how many times I had listened to them. Kevin Kern is the artist and the songs were And the Light is Forever and Keepers of the Flame. The songs are simply enchanting in their simplicity and in their ability to fill the listener with a sense of peace and contentment regardless of what kind of day you might have had. All in all this collection will be a great addition to your musical library and will be one that you put in your player on a regular basis. Recommended by Ambient Visions.  

Reviewed by Michael Foster editor of Ambient Visions