MUSIC REVIEWS
By Chuck Diliberto

 

 

HAND WOVEN
Celtic Harp with
World Music Accompaniment
Silver Wave Records

Lorin Grean's "Hand Woven" personifies today's genre of alternative "New Age" music. Grean uses her vocals and the distinctive voice of her 33-string Luthian folk harp to share in the transcendent realities of her quest and vision. The category "New Age" music, has left open a lot of room for performers who otherwise would have gone unnoticed.

When you think of the harp, it is easy to imagine it being played in particular settings. Lorin Grean has created a musical setting of her own design. The music is visual - rolling hills, fertile valleys, blue skies, and star-filled evenings permeate the senses. The seeker's journey is explored through passionate, intimate melodic passages combined with Lorin Grean's chantlike realizations.

Grean has brought together a talented group of musicians to fulfill her dream. The music has a folk root, that depending upon what mix of strings, keyboards and percussion is used, can take on international musical aspects. There is an aura of uniqueness to Lorin Grean's music. Her chosen instrument, the harp, could easily have been a guitar or piano. It would not matter though; the quality of her expressiveness would come through any instrument.

I really enjoyed Lorin Grean's personal touch in "Hand Woven", and as the title depicts, each thread was carefully chosen and craftily woven to make something special and lasting. This CD is worth the listen.

For more information, call (303) 443-5617.

ECHOES OF IVORY
Oman Ken
Dancing Wave Music
The piano has always been an instrument of emotional expression. The title "Echoes of Ivory" harkens back to a time when man insensitively made the piano keys from the ivory tusks of elephants. Oman Ken takes us back to the warm womb of our soul. You're sitting next to a fireplace; it is storming outside; you are warm and cozy with no outside distractions. This is one of the settings that Ken conjures up. He strives for a majesty that fuels the imagination, an imagination that can transport you to the farthest regions of your heart of mind.

Oman Ken's playing is sensitive and gentle. The melodies flow from an ethereal source, caressing our ears in a nurturing way. The music is romantic and comforting, exuding a feeling of being safe. The fascinating ability Oman Ken brings to his compositions is the naturalness from which he plays. The music and feelings are not forced; like a serene vision of utopia, his music is heaven on the unspoiled canvas of the soul.

After listening to "Echoes of Ivory" I wondered about Oman Ken, the person. His playing is purely zen, no in-betweens, just pure expression. This is a special gift indeed, making "Echoes of Ivory" a keeper.

For more information, call (800) 866-5430.

SOLILOQUY
Peter Sprague
SBE Records
In "Soliloquy" we find a loose autobiography of Peter Sprague's life. His wife, a child, friends, associates and musical influences have come together in this compendium of sound and experience. The magic of "Soliloquy" emanates from Peter Sprague's guitar playing.

A jazz musician by trade, Sprague delivers tightly arranged compositions that form around his intuitive lead playing. He is as adept at playing flamenco (acoustic) leads as he is at playing electric jazz lead. Throughout the CD, Sprague alternated between the two styles. He explored his sensitive, introspective side through his flamenco playing.

Two of his major influences, Paco de Lucia and Chick Corea, are paid tribute in the songs "Paco" and "Cajun". With fluid flamenco-style guitar leads, Sprague captured the heart and soul of de Lucia and Corea. Conversely, his electric playing was wide open and sprightly, furthering a jazz sound that has made Peter Sprague's music commercially accessible.

The composition "Amadeus" features the unique blending of a classical string quartet with the tempo of Sprague's jazz playing. His attempt to "get the strings to swing" was original and successful, creating a stylistic fusion that is rarely attempted in mainstream music. Overall, "Soliloquy" is a command performance; musically, emotionally and skillfully, Peter Sprague has arrived.

For more information, call (619) 436-3906.

DRUMUSIQUE
Asiabeat and Friends
Domo Records

The aptly titled "Drumusique" is a high energy exploration of the multi-rhythmic realms of percussion music. This CD is taken from a live recording at the Singapore Conference Hall on July 14, 1991.

The live setting of "Drumusique" presented an interesting dynamic in musicianship. The trance state nature of drumming bespeaks of the interplay between the musicians and their instruments. Long passages of free flowing rhythms can transport the listeners to the inner sanctuaries being intimated by the players. The warm bodies of the live audience added a spark of creativity that helped to carry the show into a shared experience. In the true sense of the tribal relativity of percussion music, "Asiabeat" delivered a musical message that was readily accessible to any who will listen.

The addition of a flute and bass guitar to the mix produced a sound that was groove-oriented and jazz tinged. The music was light and lively with a lot of movement. The same instruments combined with a Latin percussion beat to create a danceable flow that got you up on your feet. The above mentioned beats then became fused in a way that lended itself to the category of contemporary music. A homogenous blend of sound with many musical roots, anchored in the foundation of solid percussive musicianship.

"Drumusique" left me very upbeat, a remedy for those gray days when we seem to need some help getting jump-started.

For more information, call (800) 864-0123.

PRAIRIE PLAIN SONG
Al Jewer
Laughing Cat Records
From the first notes of Al Jewer's "Prairie Plain Song" we are taken on an enchanted journey. In the midst of bird calls, falling rain and floating flute sounds we are transported to a magical land. There are elves and sprites hiding behind the rocks and dancing in the shadows of the trees. There comes a solemn moment in the music where the real meets the imagined, we are then at peace, having gone home.

The Native American flute is a hauntingly expressive instrument. Each note pulls feelings from an unseen realm. Through these feelings the unseen becomes tangible within our senses. Al Jewer explores these unseen realms in his playing, stretching his own emotion to that gray line where the known slips into the unknown (conscious to subconscious). The "Prairie Plain" is a metaphor symbolic to the place where the vision quest begins.

Jewer uses the earthen spirituality of the American Indians expressed in their musical instruments and folklore to examine and probe the dynamics of his own soul. The results are a mystical blending of sound, experience and an ethereal presence permeating every note.

The sound production of "Prairie Plain Song" is flawless. Every measure and precaution has been followed to deliver a pure representation, Al Jewer's dream. The pauses between the notes are deafening in their silence, the sound effects perfect in their melding with the music. Jewer has created an exceptional musical experience. This CD is worth finding.

For more information, contact Laughing Cat Records, 11537 Walnut Lane, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538, or call (888) 523-2287

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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