MUSIC REVIEWS
By Chuck Diliberto


BITTERSWEET
Bradley Sowash
Independent Recording
The significance of "Bittersweet" begins with knowing Bradley Sowash's background. This CD is dedicated to and inspired by his children. The title "Bittersweet"is alluding to the joy of his sweet attachment to his children followed by the stark contrast of the temporality of this attachment. In this conundrum his motivation blossoms, leading to a wonderful expression of his soul through piano compositions.

Bradley Sowash plays with feeling. Each note is caressed and nurtured, waiting to reveal some inner secrets or hidden mysteries. There is a slight dramatic tension, as if he is holding his breath to capture the eternity of the moment. In some of Sowash's compositions you can find solace, in others there is a deliberate search for meaning. Bradley Sowash is driven to find answers for the tough questions of his life. He is in search of the "alchemist's stone,"whether mindful or unknowing, it is still obvious.

"Bittersweet"is a unique, personal portfolio of the inner workings of Bradley Sowash. He is an accomplished pianist who has created his own style. The songs have individual moods, musical moods if you will. The expression of these moods is beautifully transpired on the Bosendorfer grand piano. Sowash has magic fingers that roam freely on the keys, a freedom that is a genuine conveyance of love. It is this love that makes "Bittersweet"endearing and true to its intention, very impressive indeed.

For more information, call (614) 846-4540, or write to 94 West Riverglen Drive, Worthington, OH 43085.

 

CAYMEN BLUE
Zazen
Miramar
"Zazen"is anchored by the creative guitar playing of Joaquin Liévano. Lievano likes to use natural settings to inspire the shape of his compositions. In "Caymen Blue," The Caribbean is his muse of choice. The music is not necessarily indigenous to the Islands, yet the soul of the Caribbean is captured.

The music is represented through guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. In this format, without any clutter, each instrument is explicit in its expression. The melodies have room to move, and in this mode with very few limitations, soul expression is allowed to spontaneously flow in the course of its own energy and direction. The expertise of Joaquin Lievano lies in his ability to interpret and communicate the abstracts of soul through his guitar. When Liévano applies his talents to elucidate the Spirit of a natural setting, a project such as "Caymen Blue"is developed.

The style of music "Zazen"promotes can best be described as fusion. The music moves with the elegance of classical, the tight groove of jazz, and the heartbeat of rock-n-roll. Liévano's musicianship in conjunction with Andy West (bass) and Steve Kaplan (keyboards), has come together into a formidable combination of talent and soul searching. "Zazen"uses the same approach as the highly-acclaimed performer Kitaro. The soul in all things can be manifested through music. The soul of the listener can be transported through the music to enchanted places and dreamscapes. "Caymen Blue"is a pure example of this transcendent ability, and well worth the listen.

For more information, please call (206) 284-4700.

 

RITE OF PASSAGE
Trial of Bow
Release
The "Rite of Passage"takes us on a musical journey that is both inward and outward. The outward part of the journey takes us musically through the Middle East. Unique instruments such as the E-bow, tamboura, manjura, the Tibetan singing bowl, tabala, hammered dulcimer, the Oud, as well as bass and guitar, are used. The haunting expressiveness of these native instruments has captured a cultural sound most recognizable in movie soundtracks using musical scores to underlie scenes with international locations or themes. This fact aside, the "Rite of Passage"is a window into cultural music that is beginning to garner exposure outside its location of origin.

The inward journey aspect of "Rite of Passage"is demonstrated in the in-terpretation "Trial of Bow"brings to the music. An interesting fact about "Trial of Bow"is the two musicians who comprise this tandem, two Australians (names not given) are finding their soul's way through a style of music, and types of instruments that are not indigenous to Australia. The result is an original eloquence of sound that fits "Trial of Bow's"modern musical sensibilities, yet still captures the refined flavor of the sound.

The music for the most part is upbeat and tribal. Visions of sand dunes, oasis', journeys through the desert, open air markets and exotic rituals permeate the music. There is a certain magic that is contained in the music allowing your mind and senses to wander, entranced in the transcendent cadences of a foreign land. If you are looking to sample something different, then the "Rite of Passage"is waiting for you.

For more information, call (717) 397-9221.

 

AVALON RISING
Avalon Rising
Flowing Glass Music
"Avalon Rising"is a beautifully crafted tapestry, deeply enriched in the story-telling fashion of traditional English folk music. The stories being related are usually based in loose historical fact, orally and musically passed down through generations. This style is also used by "Avalon Rising"to incorporate modern thinking, straddling the lines of current spiritual folklore, bespeaking of the seeker's quest and journey.

Surprisingly, the bulk of the music is played on modern instruments, i.e., guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. The sprinkling of harp, alto recorder and octive mandolin added a refined thread to the sonic mix. The strength of "Avalon Rising"was evident in the feel and movement of the songs. The emotion of the vocals seamlessly meshed with the music, cresting, rolling and weaving in a synchronized flow. Each song had a live feel; it was obvious this was a polished band, not just a group of talented musicians who decided to come together to produce a recording. "Avalon Rising"promoted a credible representation of neo-energy through an updated and revised archaic style of music.

"Avalon Rising"represented the vision and path of these musicians. Their intent tangible and attainable, their songs depicting the results of an ongoing project. The music felt good, the lyrics were poetic yet plaintive. The message alluded to triumph through life's lessons, the ensuing joy and the renewed ability to carry on. I was satisfied.

For more information, call (707) 823-7425.

 

ECOLOGIE
Joaquin Lievano
Miramar
In "Ecologie"we are treated to a sensual musical experience. Joaquin Lievano explores the connection of earth and humanity through creative compositions that are inspired by cultural traditional music, as well as the actual influences of the earth's energy.

The music in "Ecologie"is strong enough to stand on its own without being plugged into a concept format. Yet the notion of allowing the earth's energy to inspire Lievano's playing is what makes this instrumental collection so remarkable. There are many moods being explored here, moods that range from being somberly introspective to playfully joyful. Each melody has a different course to follow, moving with a feeling and an intuition that harkens towards the majestic.

Joaquin Lievano's style of music is more of a personal touch than any set regimen. The songs are beautifully orchestrated, and have a classical tint to them. Lievano plays guitars, keyboards and synthesizers, multi-tracking each instrument to create a layered sound that was both harmonious and melodic. His musicianship is creative and fresh, asserting the music with no outward sign of an ego to stand in the way of the meanings and images being presented.

"Ecologie"personifies the place "New Age"music has carved out for itself alongside current mainstream music. Talented musicians playing for the soul's expression first, allowing creation to be their muse without the hassels of competition for fame or fortune.

For more information, call (206) 284-4700. 

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. Chuck has also written children's stories and essays on a wide variety of subjects. His main interests are spiritual in nature, and right living in practice.


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