By Chuck Diliberto

Gaia Onbashira

Kitaro personifies the life of a Spiritual man. His music is predicated to expressing his ongoing experience with the multi-faceted, multi-dimensional nature of Creation. In 'Gaia', loosely translated as 'Goddess of the Earth, or Earth Mother', Kitaro explores the wonder, majesty and divine connection that he has experienced through his soul's bonding with nature.

Kitaro relies more on chanting and dissonant percussive exchanges to express his communicative feelings with nature. A sense of unpre-dictability and awe underlies the main melodies. You can feel Kitaro pushing himself to immerse his being with the dynamic energies of Mother Earth. He is past the moment of being a seeker. The core of his being, his primary divine self, has learned the domain of oneness to be innate and intrinsic to all of life.

Kitaro does not hesitate to compose music that relates his non-verbal experiences with the transcendent invisible consciousness that has awakened and flourished within him. This is his gift to the world. The warmth and sensation of being alive, the understanding that all things are part of a greater whole, the sensitivity of kindness and compassion are all delivered in the charm and selfless command that Kitaro brings to his music. A great man is measured by the greatness he brings to those around him, never content to define himself as the end or beginning, but as a conduit to share in the unknown mysteries of life. Kitaro, through ŒGaia', has once again become a mes-senger of the vast experience of aware-ness. His humility for the Earth's power and Grace is a message that should never lose popularity.

For more information, call (310) 966-4414.


The Celtic Book of Days
David Arkenstone
Windham Hill

The passion for Spiritual music and the pictorial, imaginative window into life offered by Celtic Music was the allure for David Arkenstone to create'The Celtic Book of Days'. Each of the songs corresponds with an important event in Celtic History. Arkenstone has applied his creative musical sensibility to develop an emotional and personally meaningful connection to these historical events.

Arkenstone remains true to the original melodies; the rhythms are lush and familiar. His personal stamp is developed through orchestrating particular moments in the compositions to bring to life the real feelings and sense of immediacy these moments were meant to capture. Ark-enstone crossed the threshold of art imitating life to instill a sense of dignity and priority to the music. This thematic drama unfolds as if the listener were reading a book, where each page (song) becomes more dialogue and communication in an unfolding sequence. His is telling a historical story, maintaining a'here now' posture to ground the tale in real time.

The musicianship of David Ark-enstone and his fellow players left a lot of room for the music to find itís own soul. Arkenstone is comfortable on guitars, mandolin, pennywhistle, cittern, bass, keyboards and piano to name a few of the instruments he is playing. He is backed by saxophone, violin, clarinet, Celtic harp, oboe, bassoon, accordion, various flutes and piccolo, to add the dimension needed to fulfil his musical dream and quest. The music can be tender, festive, mournful or intense. Arken-stone handles each mood with reverence and awe, giving ŒThe Celtic Book of Days' a fresh definition and somewhat unique perspective on traditional folk music.

For more information, call (310) 358-4800.


Fiesta Amazonica
Merl Saunders
Sumertone Records

Musician, Social Activist, Experimenter, Spiritual Journeyer, and one very genuine person are some of the terms usually ascribed to Merl Saunders. Saunders has had his pulse on blues, jazz, funk, pop and rock-n-roll since the late 1950's. His collaborations with the ŒGrateful Dead's late Jerry Garcia were very important in shaping Garcia's musical direction in the early to mid 1970's. Merl was born in San Francisco and has had the fortune of not only be exposed to the formative years of some great music and musicians, but also being a vital contributor.

In'Fiesta Amazonica' the gamuts of Saunder's musical experiences are explored through the consciousness awakening that greeted him on his journey through the Amazon Rain Forest. The music is alive with every musician putting his or her heart and soul into the intended meaning of each composition. Especially poignant is the song'Nostalgia For Jerome', Merlís tribute to Jerry Garcia. The melody is laced with the emotion of grief that comes from the loss of a loved one, yet pausing to instill the majesty, lightness, and awe of a special moment.

Merl Saunders has created a continuous atmosphere throughout this CD. There is a wonderful synchron-icity of soul awareness matched evenly with a representative style of music. Merl has used'Fiesta Ama-zonica' as a theme play to plug in the memorable moments of his life. The music is rich; the melodies are fat and luscious in tribute to the natural beauty of the rainforest. Good work.

For more informtion, call (415) 759-8545.


Steppin Out
The Braxton Brothers
Windham Hill Jazz

There are many ways in which jazz music can be described. In'Steppin Out', the Braxton Brothers bring to the front the smooth, melodious rhythms that allow jazz music to depict 'Sunset Bays' and feelings of love and splendor. The music speaks of real moments in real time. The listener becomes the witness to the experience and relationship Nelson and Wayne Braxton have with their compositions, and, more importantly with their lives.

The multi-instrumental Braxton brothers bring a large reservoir of talent and expression to their music. Nelson, through 6 String Bass and keyboards, and Wayne, through tenor saxophone and keyboards explore the emotional dynamics that are inherent in Jazz music. The added dimension here is that the Braxton brothers are identical twins. There is an unspoken connection between the two brothers that allows for an interesting interplay of feel and sound. They resonate from the same pulse, layering the sound with complimentary point, counterpoint beats and rhythms. Each brother's part and sound is distinct in the mix, yet inseparable from the overall flow and sound of the songs.

It is easy to make comparisons with Kenny G, Tom Scott and Grover Washington Jr. to describe the Braxton Brothers sound and approach. Silky, sensual and romantic. Light the candles, dim the lights, and pour some glasses of wine. This will set the proper atmosphere, now sit back, and enjoy a memorable moment 'Steppin Out'.

For more information, call (310) 358-4850. 

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