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MUSIC
Reviews
By Michael Diamond
nATuRA POETICA (dVd)
Suzanne Ciani
Seven Waves Productions
www.sevwave.com
Suzanne Ciani is an artist of
extraordinary talent, as attested
to by her five Grammy nomin-
ations, a Golden Globe, an IN-
DIE award, and more. Over the
course of her remarkable ca-
reer beginning with studies in
Classical Music, and going on
to become one of the pioneers
of electronic music, Suzanne
has produced fifteen albums of
original music.
On the DVD, "Natura Poeti-
ca," which has been recently re-
mastered, she marries some of
her most loved music from those
albums with stunning visuals
that incorporate nature scenery
with special effects, creating a
treat for the eyes and ears.
Much of the nature footage is
by leading cinematographer Da-
vid Fortney, whose work is pos-
sibly some of the most beautiful
ever filmed. Floating colors and
abstract imagery are provided by
visionary videographer Ken Jen-
kins, who is best known for his
magical "Illumination" DVD.
"Natura Poetica" opens with
a close-up of light reflecting on
flowing water, which is not sur-
prising, as water and waves have
been an ever-present theme in
Suzanne's work. Aquatic imag-
ery abounds in scenes of the
ocean, dancers in the surf, wa-
terfalls, ripples in a stream, close
ups of water droplets, and more.
Other scenery includes birds in
flight, mountains, forests, and
grasses waving in the breeze,
often interspersed with scenes
of Suzanne playing the grand
piano.
Her lush romantic composi-
tions and lacy electronic sound-
scapes weave an enchanted
tapestry of sound that wraps
around the visuals as though
they were made for each other.
The stunning beauty of "Natura
Poetica" will be greatly appreci-
ated by music and nature lovers
alike.
sTEVEn hAlPERn
Relaxation Suite
Inner Peace Music
www.innerpeacemusic.com
As the pre-eminent composer
of healing and relaxation music
worldwide, Steven Halpern has
sold over 7 million albums and
is widely considered to be the
founder of this genré of mu-
sic. On "Relaxation Suite," he
combines his talents with virtu-
oso cello playing of the interna-
tionally-acclaimed artist David
Darling, who has released many
solo and collaboration albums
and toured for seven years as
a member of The Paul Winter
Consort.
Literally from the first notes
of the first song, one begins to
feel a state of calm peaceful-
ness emerging within. For the
next 75 minutes, over 13 tracks,
the listener is transported on
clouds of sound that are at once
tranquil yet uplifting. I was es-
pecially taken by the alchemy
of Steven's dreamy synthesiz-
ers and luminous electric pi-
ano with acoustic cello tones.
The blend of wood and wire
with electronic atmospheres was
mesmerizing.
These melodies range from
sweet to soaring, with the soul-
stirring vibrations of the cello
resonating through your body
as you listen. Some tracks also
feature shakuhachi (Zen bam-
boo flute), silver flute, and the
heavenly harp playing of Geor-
gia Kelly, all of which adds up
to a blissful experience that
melts away stress and is perfect
for meditation, yoga, massage,
and intimate moments.
While researching this CD,
I came across overwhelmingly
positive listener reviews on am-
azon.com, with some ranking
this as one of Steven Halpern's
best works. And I, for one, am
wholeheartedly inclined to agree
with that assessment.
lIs AddIsOn
The Song Of The Tree
All Aglow Music
www.lisaddison.com
While "The Song Of The
Tree" by Lis Addison certainly
has some cool ambient groove
music and chanting on it, there
is actually quite a bit more to
it. In her words, it is "a creative
tool for healing and transforma-
tion," whose focus is to balance
the seven Chakras, or energy
centers of the body. The word
"Chakra" is Sanskrit for "wheel"
and may be familiar to those
who have studied Eastern phi-
losophy, although the Hopi also
teach of seven levels of con-
sciousness.
The Chakras are receptors
of vibration and respond to
sound, which elicits deep emo-
tion and healing. To evoke this
balance, Lis has created a sys-
tem she calls VoCHeT (Vocal
Chakra Healing Tones.)
There are, corresponding-
ly, seven pieces on the album,
which are arranged in ascend-
ing order from the key of C to
B. The included instructional
booklet details each vocal pat-
tern. Percussion and synthesiz-
ers lend musical support to the
tones. The music is a blend of
the earthy and ethereal, and is
well represented symbolically
by the tree, whose roots go deep
into the earth while its branches
reach towards the sky.
In addition to her incredible
vocal abilities, Lis, who holds
a Master's Degree in Electronic
Music from Mills College, played
most of the instruments, along
with some assistance from per-
cussionist extraordinaire, Chris-
topher K., who also mixed and
mastered the project at 7 Gen-
erations Studio.
In addition to providing a tool
for personal growth, the CD ben-
efits the planet by providing a
portion of the proceeds to tree-
planting projects worldwide.
mARIAh PARKER
Sangria
Ancient-Future.Com Records
www.mariahparkermusic.com
I found the title of the latest
CD release by Mariah Parker to
be quite appropriate. Sharing
the same name as the popular
festive drink, Sangria is a blend
of red wine, a variety of fresh
fruit, sweetener, and sometimes
a dash of soda or other spirits.
The music on Mariah's "Sangria"
is, indeed, an intoxicating me-
lange of diverse sonic ingredi-
ents. The album's subtitle: "An
Indo Latin Jazz Musical Experi-
ence" further hints at the heady
fusion contained within.
Mariah shines on piano and
santur, a Middle Eastern ham-
mered dulcimer. She is joined by
an all-star cast of musicians
including Paul McCandless on
sax and English horn, Matthew
Montfort, who is well-known
from the group Ancient Future,
on his signature scalloped fret-
board guitar and flamenco gui-
tar, and Mindia Devi Klein on
flute and bansuri, whose music-
al camaraderie helped catalyze
this project. The ensemble is
propelled by the dynamic tab-
la drumming of Debopriyo Sar-
kar and Anuradha Pal, percus-
sion by Duru Demetrius, and
Kash Killion on bass, cello, and
sarangi.
This beautifully-packaged
CD features liner notes on each
song -- providing insight into
the composition. The music is
exotic yet accessible, and while
some of the international musi-
cal formats may be unfamiliar,
your tapping foot and nodding
head are signs that your body is
speaking the same language.
If musicians of different na-
tionalities and genres can come
together and create such harmo-
Life's most urgent and
persistent question ...
What are you doing
for others?
-- Martin Luther King, Jr
.