Showing posts with label Interviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Interviews. Show all posts

Contemporary Instrumental Review & Interview: Ed Bazel-The London Sessions New Perspectives from Studio 2

Release Date: March 18, 2024

Label: DiscMakers


Nearly two years ago (October 2022), Ed Bazel released The London Sessions-Reflections From Studio 2. Which I had the opportunity to enjoy and review. Ed returned in March this year with The London Sessions New Perspectives from Studio 2 at Abbey Road. It features nine original tracks and two covers.


Daybreak” is a beautiful opening track. It imagines a clear, crisp morning with the sun rising over a mountain peak. The piano is melodic and soothing, instantly letting the visions come to you.


As we all travel “Onward” in our lives, there are many things for which we can be grateful. One thing is musicians like Ed Bazel. The melody progresses as the track carries you to your next door to open or a pathway to follow—3:11 minutes of musical perfection.


“All Of My Life” immediately suggests something more poignant yet infinite. Our lives are meaningful in many ways, and Ed expresses them on the track. I did feel some sadness and reflection in the track as it gave me time to pause and look back at my life. The beauty flows and continues from one track to another.


“The Long And Winding Road” was instantly recognizable to any Beatles fan or music lover, for that matter. It is done well with a violin singing along with the piano. The words are going through my mind as I listen. Like many people, I know the words to nearly every Beatles song. It just happens that way if you have been listening to them since you were five years old!


“A Joyful Life” is a perfect follow-up to a Beatles cover because of the feeling one gets listening to their music (for those who cannot relate, start listening to them, and you will understand). In just under three minutes, the piano does sound happy and positive, so the message is well received. It is simple, direct, and brief enough to enjoy and get the associated feelings of joy.


“A Beautiful Life” follows the same lines as its predecessor. Being joyful can be beautiful. Ed’s talent for the keys interprets the meaning of the titles very well. It runs a bit longer at 4:36; however, the violin adds the necessary ambiance that the piano seems to integrate into the piece seamlessly.


“Happy Go Lightly” maintains the atmosphere and good feelings of the two previous tracks. The melody is upbeat and seemingly smiling at you through the chord progressions. Feeling that way with a song is something magical and powerful that one solo piano can create.


“Blue Skies” is another track placed perfectly in sequence with the others before it. I recognize that meaning and purpose are significant in a recording like this. Once again, you get a gorgeous, uplifting melody that puts a smile on your heart and soul. Ed’s playing is fluid and perfect.


“A Rainy Day” changes the mood, as all music has the power to do. In every life, rain comes, but another sunny day with blue skies is around the corner, as you witnessed in three consecutive tracks. It is not a letdown but a reality check that life happens, and we move on. The mood is somber yet beautiful because of the exquisite piano playing. Your hope becomes a reality like the silver lining in a dark cloud.


“Beautiful Tonight” brings the beauty and spirit of these compositions back to the forefront of your consciousness. The track is one the most beautiful (they all are), and the soothing melodies on the recording are so clear and defined that they project all the emotions implied in the title.


“Imagine” is one of John Lennon’s most prolific songs ever recorded. Ed did a great job of making it all real again without the words, but if you are familiar with the song, the words will come quickly. The track was such a prolific statement that it still holds today and must be believable for all humanity. We need it now more than ever. Thank you, Ed, for bringing this great song back into our awareness, and hopefully, this will become a reality. And the world will live as one…


The London Sessions New Perspectives from Studio 2 is a complete triumph for everyone involved. The music is gorgeous, and the musicianship and production are superb. If you enjoy instrumental piano music, this is one performance you should not miss!

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-NAMR Founder

July 5, 2024


01. Daybreak 02:38

02. Onward 02:09

03. All Of My Life 03:11

04. The Long And Winding Road 03:17

05. A Joyful Life 02:57

06. A Beautiful Life 04:36

07. Happy Go Lightly 02:11

08. Blue Skies 02:47

09. A Rainy Day 03:55

10. Beautiful Tonight 03:05

11. Imagine 04:21

New Age Music Review & Interview: Lissa Coffey and David Vito Gregoli-We Share The Moon

Release Date: February 14, 2024

Label: Dharmapala Records

Websites: Lissa CoffeyVito Gregoli

Lissa Coffey and David Vito Gregoli have partnered to create We Share The Moon. The inspired love songs will be released for sweethearts worldwide on Valentine's Day 2024. Lissa contributed the lyrics and melodies to start, and Vito took all of that to continue the process and played all the instruments.


Other talented individuals, such as Leela and Cooper Landier, Donna De Lory, N. Nicole Gilbert, Visvambhar Sheth, Venu Bhanot, and Pankaj Mishra, also contributed. So, the duo received some golden vocals to add to their instrumentation.


The difference from what I am accustomed to is that the lyrics are in every track covering a New Age release. Which is understandable because of what this music is all about. They are love songs, not just for loving couples, but the meaning of "Self Love." I subscribe that one cannot love others until you love yourself first.


Everything about the ten tracks on We Share The Moon is spiritual as the foundation for everything else, like self-love, patience, focus, finding your higher self, and raw emotions transformed into something devoted and pure, as described so beautifully on "Listen." I always say let the music speak to you, and in the track, the listening is to turn inward and listen to the voice that knows the truth, and as it says, "Listen, there is something sacred inside." Our guideposts in life are part of us when we arrive here. I like to call it my spirit guide—something God gave me, a blessing so selflessly given to me at birth.


The instrumentation is precise and flows in sync with the superb vocalizations. What makes this music so palatable and accessible is that all the vocals are easy to understand. The meanings carry a memorable and influential impact. Each is variable and consistent with the theme of the recording. 


"Krishna Govinda," featuring Leela Ladnier, is one of my favorites. This song and its premise will pique your curiosity if you are like me and are interested in comparative religions and their cultures. Three-quarters into the track, the vocalist switched to speaking the dialect that coincides with Krishna's spiritual beliefs. For that interest, Wikipedia informs us that Govinda (transl. "finder or observer of cattle"), also rendered Govind, Gobinda, and Gobind, is an epithet of Vishnu and is also used for his avatars such as Krishna.[1] The name appears as the 187th and the 539th name of Vishnu in the Vishnu Sahasranama. The name is also popularly addressed to Krishna, referring to his youthful activity as a cowherd boy.


"All I Thought Was Mine" was another favorite, with notable percussion leading the way and gorgeous vocals weaving in and out the notes. So celestial and graceful. The percussive elements are like a trip back in time with an angel singing to you.


The album ends appropriately with "Maha Mantra" featuring Visvambhar Sheth, Venu Bhanot, and Pankaj Mishra. It is a prolific mantra in tribute to India's respected spiritual and religious beliefs and beyond.


I am naturally curious and have a wide range of interests. When music intersects with cultures other than mine, I gain knowledge while enjoying the music. I don't always have an answer, so I need to seek the information to pass on to others, as I did here. This may only have happened with receiving this unique and inspirational music.


We Share The Moon is a heartwarming and spiritual journey of love that comes from within and shines as bright as the sun when we embrace and share it. That is precisely what all the contributors did on the recording while following the path of truth and the soul's well-being.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-NAMR Founder

February 3, 2024


01. Written All Over Your Face (feat Leela Ladnier)

02. We Share The Moon (feat Leela and Cooper Landier)

03. I Surrender (feat Leela Ladnier)

04. Net of Love (feat Donna De Lory)

05. Listen (feat N. Nicole Gilbert)

06. Something In Between (feat Leela Ladnier)

07. Krishna Govinda (feat Leela Ladnier)

08. Like Ambrosia (feat Leela and Cooper Ladnier)

09. All I Thought Was Mine (feat Leela Ladnier)

10. Maha Mantra (feat Visvambhar Sheth, Venu Bhanot and Pankaj Mishra)

Instrumental Ambient Electronic Review and Interview: Hollan Holmes-Sacred Places

Release Date: January 12, 2023

Label: Spotted Peccary Music


Sacred Places, the third release by Hollan Holmes on Spotted Peccary Music, encompasses eleven geographic

illustrations, each inspired by Holmes's travels to different locales of deep personal significance. It should be an exciting journey with that kind of inspiration behind the music.


Using variable hardware and software, Hollan creates the soundscapes in his mind and then moves them to music.


"Order Out Of Chaos" starts this incredible journey of sound. Right from the start, the track builds into crescendos of electronic grace and power. I found that combination colorful and refreshing. Its pure energy, set to musical emotion and movements, engaged me from start to finish.


"Temples Of Stone" conjures many images before the music starts: the pyramids, Stonehenge, Machu Pichu, all of that comes to mind, and the absolute wonder and possibilities of it so many thousands of years ago. The music starts, and those images become more apparent as the music enhances your sensory perception. The music is anticipatory, imaginative, and filled with the power of the past. The layers of sound merge to transport you, and as you near the end, the sounds mellow and start to fade away like you are in a dream state.


"Bristlecone" is ambient and delightfully airy and light. Picture a perfect white cloud moving slowly across the sky, and you are lying on it along for the ride. As the sounds increase in intensity, so does your ride as you pass over mountain ranges, bodies of water, and lush fields of grass and vegetation. It is music to create your own story with, and you go with whatever comes to mind first and get lost in the music. Beauty and elegance are all wrapped up nicely in one track.


"Drawn To An Intangible Energy" is thought-provoking as you listen. Are you drawn to what the music and energy of the sounds created? Is it intangible, as the title suggests? Only you, the listener, can decide what is doing for you or where it just took you. The energy that is intangible to me is something esoteric or spiritual; you hear it, recognize it, acknowledge it, yet where does it come from? The music is so engaging that you cannot help but think about being prompted by the track's title and exploring your thoughts. Music with so many layers and colors splattered on the canvas of your mind serves a purpose.


All of those tracks are examples of the imagery and consciousness music can create for a listener willing to hear everything happening in the music. When you are on the fifth track, you wonder what will be different; you will find it is quite a change from the previous track. And this happens consistently throughout. Those first four tracks hit home for me and implanted me into the experience so that I could enjoy the following tracks. The initial impact is significant when listening to a recording, and to have to continue in such a profound way with four consecutive tracks is impressive.


Some folks find instrumental music for use with the background or just daydreaming. The opposite is true for recordings like this; they engage my brain and thought process. For my listening pleasure, this is prolific and meaningful. It excites and ignites my senses and has me thinking of what the track titles mean and what the artist is trying to project to me. In a sense, the artist's story becomes my own, which is an attractive transformation as far as I am concerned.


It would be easy to make an album with very similar formats and sounds with this genre of electronic and ambient styles and lose a listener rather quickly. That never happened on the eleven tracks offered on Sacred Places. As it turns out, they are as varied as all the places the artist visited, which was the stimulus for this recording.


Fans of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, etc.- yes, that is me- will love this recording. It is intimate, beautiful, diverse, and, most of all, so creative and ambitious. Sacred Places will be a regular listening experience for people who appreciate this music. On the other hand, for those who love it, you will be very pleased.


Hollan Holmes has created an electronic ambient classic with Sacred Places.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-NAMR Founder

January 25, 2024


01. Order Out Of Chaos 6:06

02. Temples Of Stone 7:20

03. Bristlecone 5:19

04. Drawn To An Intangible Energy 6:37

05. An Elevated Life 5:53

06. Hallowed Ground 5:02

07. Walking Among Kings 7:11

08. The Divine Connection 6:39

09. Primal Instinct 7:56

10. A Light Unto The World 7:10

11. Sacred Places 6:06

Kitaro: Nature and Sound Dream As One

By Jeff Kaliss

Source Link 


His reputation as a founding father of New Age music is something Kitaro accepts, and arguably cashes in on, but really doesn’t have much use for as a creative artist. In fact, it’s something of a relief, at age 61, to be blurring genre boundaries with his first-ever Symphonic World Tour, launching on Valentine’s Day with the help of the Santa Rosa Symphony, at Weill Hall, a short drive from the home and studio he shares in Sebastopol with his musician wife, Keiko Takahashi. The concert is a benefit for the Sonoma Land Trust, the Symphony’s educational programs, the Everybody Is a Star Foundation, which links special-needs kids to entertainment professionals. 

Born Masanori Takahashi in the Aichi Prefecture of Japan, Kitaro left home in his teens to become a songwriter, guitarist, and keyboard player with rock sensibilities. While touring with the Far East Family Band, he was introduced to an early synthesizer and German electronica by Tangerine Dream veteran Klaus Schulze. Kitaro launched his own career, and an important contribution to what would be called New Age, with a couple of solo albums and the soundtrack to an NHK Tokushu documentary series, The Silk Road. His global fame was furthered by a deal with Geffen Records and a collaboration with Grateful Dead percussionist Mickey Hart. Kitaro’s soundtrack for Oliver Stone’s Vietnam War feature Heaven & Earth won a Golden Globe in 1993, just before his signing with Domo Records, based in Los Angeles and Sonoma. Since New Age became a Grammy Awards category in 1987, Kitaro received nominations a record-setting 15 times, and a win for Thinking of You in 2001. Two days after this year’s Grammys, where the tux-bedecked Kitaro was nominated yet again for Final Call (Domo Records, 2013), he shared a bento lunch and conversation still influenced by his native tongue, at Masa Sushi in Novato, with SFCV and his close friend and Domo Records executive Howard Sapper. (Eva Sapper, Howard’s daughter, is a singer diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child and the inspiration for the Everybody Is a Star Foundation.)

Tell me about the Santa Rosa program.
Harold Sapper: We’re doing 12 pieces of music.

Kitaro: We have from Kojiki, which was several weeks on the Billboard [pop] charts, in 1990 [unusual for a New Age album]. The theme is the genesis of the world, to remind us how the world should be. And we’ll do Thinking of You, which won a Grammy. And from Silk Road, the title song we’ll do. First part is with synthesizers, then change to the Symphony. We’ll have four keyboards; two are my signature sound, analog, and two are digital, but still old, not too fancy. [He notes that he favors Korg synthesizers, and that he advised Tustomo Kaito, Korg’s chairman, on modifications of the instrument.] 

HS: It’s been a long time since we played at home, so it’s a coming-out party for him, with all proceeds going back to the community. We’re protecting nature — Kitaro is a person whose life is really inspired by nature — and taking care of two forms of gifted youth: the classically trained, and those with development delays who are gifted in music. It’ll also be a baptism of fire, but [the Symphony players] have had the score for maybe three weeks, and should be well-prepared. We’re going to rehearse for three hours in the afternoon, perform at night, and then leave one day later for St. Petersburg. Then we’re going to Ukraine, Istanbul, Belarus, Poland, Romania, and a whole layover in Southeast Asia — each of those nights with a different orchestra.  

Kitaro, four of your Grammy nominations were for the first four albums in your series The Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai. Please say more about that. 

Kitaro is a person whose life is really inspired by nature — and taking care of two forms of gifted youth: the classically trained, and those with development delays who are gifted in music. –Harold Sapper
K: Thirteen hundred years ago, a well-known monk called KÅ«kai, he created 88 temples. It’s all Buddhism, but a different type [Singon]. Right after 9/11, I went back to Japan and start to record the temple bells. I went wintertime, because it’s much colder and the sound is much clearer. Everything was eight-channel, multitrack. I try to use each temple’s bells for a song. It’s my most expensive sampling patch, 88 different bells. We released four albums, but there’s still four more. I was using analog in Colorado, then when I moved here I went to digital, now I’m analog again, two-inch machines. And we also have vinyl. Sebastopol has a nice cutting plant [Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab].
Are you Buddhist? Do you do zazen [meditation]? 
K: Yah. And also, I’m studying the tea ceremony. Every day, with my wife and me teaching each other. She’s a composer, too. After Thinking of You, we made Spiritual Garden [Domo Records, 2006]. That’s both Keiko and me. Also, at the September full moon, every year, I do drumming, almost 500 people, all night long. Kids and my parents came, the last years; my dad is 89 years old. We changed the place, from Mt. Fuji to Nagano, because we are counting [radioactivity] very high, and I am worrying about the kids. 

HS: [to Kitaro] Tell him a little more about [the latest album] Final Call, which just got nominated for the Grammy, and he’ll understand your elements.

At the September full moon, every year, I do drumming, almost 500 people, all night long. Kids and my parents came. –Kitaro

K: Before this one, The Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai, volume 4 [also Grammy-nominated] was from 9/11. This one is from Fukushima. I lost a couple of taiko drumming friends by the tsunami [which led to the nuclear disaster at Fukushima]. And right after that, we went to Asia and Japan and immediately we made a concert to send money to the Fukushima people. My words are not strong enough, but my sound will work something, and that’s what the Final Call is, it’s against the people who control the power. And it’s still going on. 

So it’s a wake-up call? 
K: Yes! [He notes that some of his older friends, including Korg’s Kaito, seemed to have “said goodbye” — that is, died — as a reaction to Fukushima.] And so I decided, this is the time for my dream, with the symphony and the [Korg] analog keyboard playing together. 

How did you end up in Sonoma County? 
K: I used to have a big place in Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains, where we did so many albums with nature. But the place was very isolated, which means I worked alone; it’s really more intense. Nine years ago, I had a really bad snowstorm, one night 12-foot snow, and right after that, me and my wife talk about, “let’s drive to California and take a look.” We drove from Los Angeles along the coast, and stayed and ate [at different sites]. Right at that time, Mickey [Hart] called me, he was rehearsing his band, and we stopped by [Sebastopol]. I thought, wow, this is nice! This is another journey with nature. And in the Bay Area, me and my wife have a lot of friends — woodcarvers, photographers, painters, lots of artists. That’s another reason. 

What engendered the New Age genre in the late ’70s and ’80s, and how has it changed over time? 
HS: There was a paradigm shift going on the world. There was a lot of anger coming out of England, and the punk movement was at its zenith, and disco. Instrumental music was nowhere. Jazz and classical were in a very flat period, commercially. We believe that we gave a huge break to all instrumentalists, because we “captured the ear” again. People took time to listen to music and to the instruments. There was Windham Hill and our company and others, and all of a sudden people started listening to jazz again, and classical. And most of the artists we were working with came from serious classical training.

I hope every country, they understand, world peace is the basic message. –Kitaro

That’s the part which is totally misunderstood [about New Age], how deep the schooling and background are. We weren’t calling it “New Age” in the beginning, we were just making Eastern and Western fusion classical music. Then The Wave came in — KKSF and other radio stations — as places for it to be heard. We were just gathering musical and spiritual elements from around the world and putting them in a beautiful musical format. People could call it whatever they wanted, and if you look at Kitaro’s music, or Vangelis’ or Jean Michel Jarre’s and put it next to George Winston’s solo piano, these are as different [kinds of New Age] as metal is from bluegrass. 

Who’s in the ensemble you’ll be pairing with the Santa Rosa Symphony? 

K: Stephen Small is the conductor/arranger and pianist. I have four keyboards — my wife, Keiko, has two of them. We also have an electric bass and electric drums and timpani.
HS: The musicians, except for Kitaro and his wife, are coming here from New Zealand. We searched for a long time for the right person to actualize a symphonic work. Stephen has quite a background in classical music, and also scoring for rock. Kitaro has the guitar experience, so you have to understand him and his music to bring it to life in a symphonic way. 

Do you have classical training, Kitaro? 
K: No, fortunately. [Laughs] 

Why is that fortunate? 
K: Because synthesizers do not write it down. My section is an open space. 

Like jazz? 
HS: Stereotyping [New Age] doesn’t understand either the improvisation or the composition involved. 

Are there Japanese elements in your music, Kitaro? I hear them in your scales, pentatonic and otherwise, and in your rhythms and tempos. 
K: Something there. But it’s not at the front; I think it’s behind, an invisible part of the music. It’s maybe spiritual. I was born in Buddhist country, and we grow up with rice paddies. 

Will the inspiration for your tour be understood abroad? 
K: I hope every country, they understand, world peace is the basic message. 

And will you be playing more gigs at the Green Center? 
It’s our local place, so maybe we can come back in the summertime, and they can open it up. I’d like to make something new.

Jeff Kaliss has written about opera and other classical forms for the Marin Independent-Journal and The Oakland Tribune. He is based in San Francisco, and also covers jazz, world music, country, rock, film, theater, and other entertainment. The second edition of his authorized biography of Sly & the Family Stone was published by Backbeat Books.

Event Information

New Music
Kitaro Symphonic World Tour 2014