By Chuck Diliberto



State of Grace
Paul Schwartz 
Windham Hill 
Paul Schwartz, composer, conductor, programmer, and producer wears many hats. In “State of Grace”, Schwartz reached back to third and fourth century Latin texts, inspiration from a William Blake poem, original compositions, and traditional hymns to create an ambient sound that delved into the ethereal. Grace can be easily defined as a blessing. In this case, the blessing is created by a majestic soundscape combined with angelic voicings of Lisbeth Scott. Scott’s voice can be described aptly as the whispers of Angels. Her vocal chants lend an other-worldly quality to the music. She oohs and ahs with a profound sense of Spirituality, leading the listener deeper into the aesthetic of the music. 

This is where Schwartz integrates his compositioned ideas of “Grace” to fit Scott’s vocal interpretations of the same ideas. Schwartz then combines violin, oboe, piano, a string quartet, and a vocal choir (Joyful Company of Singers) to achieve the sound he calls “State of Grace”. 

If you are a fan of music that is relaxing and soothing, that holds Spirituality qualities at its foundations, and is filled with talented and sensitive musicians, then you are looking for “State of Grace”. 

For more information, please call (888) 649-4455. 


Sun Spirit 
New Earth Record 
The sun is coming up over the horizon, the first rays are beginning to find their way into our windows. The joy, majesty, and awe of being alive enter through our windows with those sun rays. It’s going to be a beautiful day and we’re going to be a part of it. It is from this scenario that Deuter draws his muse. Sunlight, divine light eternal, illuminating our soul and consciousness, radiating inward and outward as a beacon of creativity and love. 

The musical ambience Deuter creates is through his flute playing. The melodies are light and lilting, pure light. He weaves his music through unseen patterns, hearkening to the invisible, yet grounded in the moment. There is a feeling of finding your way, floating, but still moving forward, nudged on by the occasional bent of the table. Deuter has created music that explores beyond the outer senses, looking for the passage inward to the very core of divine creation. 

There are very subtle musical direction changes taking place. Each change is designed to correspond with a new awakening within. Deuter slightly alters the beat and tempo to achieve this effect, while still retaining the happiness and peace in each of his compositions. Easy listening, a nice feel, good for a hectic day release. 

For more information, please call (800) 570-4074. 


My Romance 
An Evening with Jim Brickman 
Windham Hill Records 
A live setting is the best way to get the full effect of a performer’s talents, personality and soul. In “My Romance”, Jim Brickman alludes to his love of playing the piano, and sharing his joy with his audience. The added bonus comes from having his friends, David Benoit (piano), Donny Osmond (vocal), and Tracy Silverman (electric violin) joining him on stage. 

Jim Brickman is a sensitive piano player. His notes resonated with emotion and compassion. The short pauses between notes showed an inner reflectiveness that was inventive and soulful. Brickman had an immediate rapport with his audience, they were familiar with his compositions and his approach. He showed a natural ability to express himself, totally comfortable and at home in front of an audience. I guess you could say there was a love affair going on, requited and adoring — every performer’s dream. 

The addition of various guests brought out a different quality to Jim Brickman’s playing. He was very aware and sensitive to his guests, allowing them room to emote and express the nuances of their individual talents. These guest performances added a special sentimental quality to the overall live performance. “My Romance” is a perfect title for this CD, for all you hopeless romantics, this is a must purchase. 

For more information, please call (888) 649-4455. 


Welcome Home 
Esteban Ramirez 
Descanso Music 
There are many arguments that contend there is a difference between a musician and an artist. There are many musicians, yet so few are artists. Artists have vision, and the ability to express their vision through the muse of creativity and collective experience. This is where Esteban Ramirez has carved out a niche to expose his vision. 

Each composition on “Welcome Home” is a tribute to the myriad of stimuli that have found their way into Ramirez’ heart and soul. The world is his canvas, his Yamaha C-7 grand piano is his brush. Ramirez paints melodies that are sentimental, brimming with emotion and sensitivity. Each note is a dreamlike journey, floating with inner peace, and rising above the chaos of day-to-day existence. The result is an incredibly soothing mixture of sound-scapes and transcendent feelings. 

Ramirez has welcomed everyone home with a collection of soulful lullabies that are permeated with love, insight, and compassion. His compositions quietly remind us of the safety and comfort of the womb. This CD fittingly ends with the classic “Over the Rainbow”, where dreams really do come true when we wish upon stars. 

For more information, please call (323) 938-0305. 


Craig Keyes 
Earth Music Records 
In “Earthwalks” Craig Keyes expounds upon the various musical and experimental paths that wind through his Spiritual journey. Experientially he draws upon his Native American roots and its Shamanistic traditions to shape his belief systems and universal perspectives. Musically we are treated to Pink Floyd meets traditional folk music. This is an odd combination that works well in favor of Keyes’ vision and acoustic guitar talents. The music also combines a wide range of Native American flutes and rattles with a variety of hand drums from Africa. Throw into the mix electric guitars, piano, and electric bass, and you have a potent music stew brewing. 

Keyes approached his songs with a contemporary flair (ie: modern beats and rhythm), with plenty of room for traditional and tribal movements. He was able to instill a magic quality into his music. The percussion segments were reminiscent of the Greatful Dead’s Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman’s solo exploration during their live shows. The result is a transcendent musical ambience, borderline psychedelic, definitely ritualistic and trancelike. 

Keyes speaks about his approach to personal transformations and the music he composed to represent these experiences. The music is akin to the exploratory bands of the 1960’s, throwing away musical conventions and replacing them with intuitive musical interludes. The music is not dated, though recognizable to the discerning ear. Keyes has found a way to revive an older art form by instilling fresh ideas and current feelings. Check this one out. 

For more information, please call (888) 476-8745. 

Chuck Diliberto is a resident of New York State. Having written for a hometown publication that covered local and national musicians, reviewing CDs is an extension of that experience. His main interests are spiritual in nature and right living in practice.

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