Archive for the ‘Instrumental Music’ Category
Presenting A List Of New Electronic And Instrumental Albums & Best New Age Music Albums So Far In 2014.
January 1, 2014 was a date in time when PR persons, promoters and independent artists began sending me their newest electronic and instrumental albums and new age music for review each year.
In past years at New Age Music World the newest CD albums sent to me each year numbered into the hundreds, and that’s not including numerous digital downloads sent by email promotions. With so much new music to choose from it was a challenge to determine which new albums visitors would agree should be selected best.
Selecting the best new electronic and instrumental albums in 2014 won’t be any different. There will be hundreds of new age electronic, instrumental, progressive rock, and world music albums. Plus there are subcategories like contemporary instrumental, neo-classical, ambient, solo piano, relaxation, chill out, groove and vocal albums.
The album cover art shown below is a sample of the newest music CDs sent to me for review consideration so far this month in 2014. More will be added as I am more active at my non-profit blog, but from the albums listed below I typically select for my pre-release album reviews, news articles and best new music in 2014 publications in various categories.
It appears to be another exciting year of the finest new music produced by some of today’s top electronic, instrumental and new age musicians. Later in the year many of the releases below will make the top 10 radio charts, top 100 radio charts, Billboard, and IMAs in addition to best song, and best album awards by hosts at various music blogs.
I can almost guarantee some new releases at this site will eventually win the world’s most prestigious music awards. Independent artists, promoters and PR persons can find detailed information to submit a new 2014 album for possible review at New Age Music World on my profile page.
Until the top music awards are given find album reviews for the best new releases in 2014 on my main pages, and find the top new age artist list at iTunes.com and new music releases at Amazon.com. Big Stock Photo by EvgenaD & Aysarts.
Best New Music Album Releases during 2014:
Music News: Laura Sullivan, 56th GRAMMY® Award- winning recipient for Best New Age Music Album titled Love’s River.
The 56th GRAMMY® Award winners have been announced on January 26th, 2014, and as expected, there were a few surprises on this year’s recipients of the highly prized music award.
Best New Age Album Award recipient Laura Sullivan is a solo and concert pianist whose award really didn’t come as a surprise to me at all. Laura’s piano and instrumental new age album Love’s River happened to be the first album review I wrote in 2013, and I just knew the eleven songs on her newest album were something special.
Laura Sullivan’s award-winning album Love’s River, on the Sentient Spirit Records Label, is a piano and instrumental album featuring pianist Laura Sullivan and other top music professionals including Will Ackerman, Nancy Rumbel, Eugene Friesen, Jill Haley and Jeff Oster.
The ensemble of award-winning music professionals performing their instrumentals on various songs are Nancy Rumbel playing Oboe and English Horn, Eugene Friesen on cello, Jill Haley on English Horn, Jeff Oster on trumpet and flugel horn. Record Producer Will Ackerman produced 4 songs and played acoustic guitar on the song titled Blessed.
Laura Sullivan is truly a gifted composer and pianist with many achievements as a soloist and concert pianist throughout her illustrious career, and I am pleased to see her win a GRAMMY® Award in 2014.
In the album review I wrote I stated it was exciting to be one of the first to review Laura Sullivan’s newest album Love’s River. I also stated I felt it was destined to be a popular album in 2013. For everyone who knows Laura personally, they may be in agreement that in this case Laura Sullivan’s latest achievement was not one of the few surprises!
The 11 songs on Love’s River are Secrets from the Deep, Wishing on a Dandelion, Awakening to Love, Blessed, Holding Heaven, Moonlight Passage, Love’s River, Calligraphy, River to the Sea, Story of the Rain & Snowfall on Water.
Interview in 2013 with contemporary artist Diane Arkenstone.
New Age Music World interview host and publicist John P. Olsen had a recent opportunity to interview the popular, multi-platinum selling singer, songwriter, and contemporary instrumental recording artist Diane Arkenstone.
During this interview taking place near the spring of 2013 a variety of in-depth topics are covered. Included is a conversation about Diane Arkenstone’s soon to be released album titled Union Road, and the contributing artists who have helped transform her newest vocal and instrumental release into one of her most captivating albums produced to date.
Diane Arkenstone also replies to questions about her experiences as founder of the Neo Pacifica Recordings Label, and the meaning behind the formation of artist titles she has released in a variety of music styles.
Today I am pleased to present an informative and lighthearted conversation with one of today’s leading, and most beloved producers of contemporary music covering a wide variety of instrumental styles.
John P. Olsen: Thank you for accepting my interview invitation Diane! It’s a privilege to host your newest interview for fans and visitors in 2013, here at New Age Music World. I can honestly say I have been a fan and admirer of the music you create for years so our interview is especially rewarding to me!
Diane Arkenstone: Hi John! Thank you so much for your very kind words, I am smiling! And thank you for this wonderful opportunity to connect with everyone here!
John: Let’s begin our conversation with the topic of your brand new album Union Road, due for release next week on March 26, 2013. Earlier this year I wrote a pre-release review for Union Road, I believe it’s clear by what I wrote, I felt your newest release of contemporary Folk ballads is indeed special! Beautiful in every way, Union Road is a uniquely personal album with special meaning to you too, isn’t that right?
Diane Arkenstone: Yes, this is my most personal album yet because the lyrics I wrote are of stories and observations I have personally experienced. I am a story teller and have always loved to write about life which made this album a great joy to create. And a even greater catharsis.
John: Who are the instrumental artists performing with you, and what are their individual contributions which have helped make your release an exceptional album?
Diane Arkenstone: Mader, who is a wonderful film composer from France, and has scored two films for Ang Lee, among many others, produced most of the album with me, and played a wide and wonderful variety of instruments such as mandolin, bass, keyboards, accordion, various percussion instruments and guitar.
MB Gordy, who is a wonderful percussionist and studio musician, played beautiful and exotic percussion on quite a few of the songs as well. Chad Watson, who has played with many, many well-known artists, played bass, and I watched spellbound, as his hands danced all over his fretless bass on several songs.
Eric Rigler, who played the pipes in the film score, The Titanic, added magic with his penny whistle on the first song, Little Cup of Coffee.
David Arkenstone played guitar, bass, keyboards and percussion magnificently, and helped produce a couple of the songs with me for the album. Charlee Brooks and Jane George added beautiful background vocals on two of the songs.
And then, Bruce Watson played some amazing guitar on a couple of songs and has played with many well-known artists for quite a while himself. They are all truly unique and gifted artists in their own right and I am deeply grateful for each and every one of them.
John: Union Road is an instrumental and vocal album with lovely poetic lyrics. Would you like to tell us the point of view you are expressing by lyrical verses?
Diane Arkenstone: Very simply, thru lyric and song, I am telling the stories of situations that I have personally observed in life.
John: Album reviews from other sources and press commentaries are coming in, plus you have given a number of new interviews including Blog Talk Radio and KSBR 88.5 FM Jazz. How is the reception of your new release been so far?
Diane Arkenstone: Oh my gosh, it has been a huge happy welcoming committee! I wrote 77 songs for the album and truly just grabbed a handful of songs that seemed to fit well together and am pleased and elated by the reviews and press!
John: I am not surprised but that’s great news Diane! Union Road is a brilliant album in every way, unique to your earlier releases, and I read there is an earlier first album of contemporary folk songs too. Would you please tell us all about this earlier first album?
Diane Arkenstone: Thank you John for saying that about Union Road! And yes, I released an album in digital format called, Stories. It is a cross between my earlier releases and the Folk/Americana feel of Union Road. It also is an album that sings of stories of life’s observations.
John: In addition to the studio albums you also perform live concerts. This must be an exciting time for you since you are about to begin an extensive tour this spring. Would you give us the details like the concert venue locations and artists who will be performing with you?
Diane Arkenstone: Right now, I am finishing up a number of music projects, so touring may be a bit delayed.
John: Do you have a song set list selected, and in terms of atmosphere and setting, what can a concert attendee expect to experience during a live concert with Diane Arkenstone?
Diane Arkenstone: The songs will be from Union Road of course, plus a few unreleased songs where I play some interesting and exotic instruments and sing. And the band is a group of dear friends who are wonderful studio and touring musicians. Lots of beautiful music, good energy and love, will be present for every show!
John: The artist titles you have either founded or performed in are; Ah Nee Mah, Earth Trybe, Enaid, Adventure Cargo, Marquis Ensemble, Middle Earth Orchestra, and naturally as the duo with former husband David Arkenstone. What are the distinctions of these artist titles?
Diane Arkenstone: ‘Ah Nee Mah’ is our Native American music, inspired by my Cherokee heritage and our love of playing Native flutes and percussion. David and I lived in the Southwest for a few years, next to several reservations and lived a very interesting and beautiful life there.
We wrote several ‘Ah Nee Mah’ albums during that time, which are still selling quite well. And ‘Earth Trybe’ is beautiful world music where we had fun writing and playing many unusual and interesting instruments from around the world. And ‘Enaid’ is Celtic music, and I came up with that name by reversing my first name and then surprised to find out that is means, life/soul in old Celtic/Irish.
‘Adventure Cargo’ is more world music, with more wild instruments, and beautiful songs. The last album for ‘Adventure Cargo’ is called, Following The Equator and it has songs on it that represent the countries along the Equator. It was great fun for me learning about all the countries along the Equator then writing songs for a special place or landmark in each country.
‘Marquis Ensemble’ is lovely, sweet piano music. Reflections from the Wine Country was the first album under the alias, ‘Marquise Ensemble’ and was inspired by my family’s winery. And ‘Middle Earth Orchestra’, is music inspired by the book, The Hobbit.
John: In the 1990’s you founded Neo Pacifica Recordings Label. Would you tell us some aspects of owning your own record label, including the advantages and obstacles to this business venture?
Diane Arkenstone: It has been a great advantage for me, to have my own record company; it is a lot of work but stretched me to new heights in terms of experience and knowledge.
I appreciate the work the major labels do, which is tremendous, but I navigate these waters quite successfully, and prefer knowing what the expenses are and what is going on with manufacturing, distribution, licensing, marketing, publicity, publishing and especially royalties. It is a great sense of accomplishment and freedom, to truly own your music, and do with it as you wish.
John: On the subject of record labels, I read your biography at the Eversound Music Label website where it states; “Diane Arkenstone wrote her first song at the age of three, played piano at five and picked up her first guitar at the tender age of seven.” I am curious to know if you aspired to become a musician at a young age too, or in other words, what were the circumstances surrounding your decision to pursue a career in music?
Diane Arkenstone: I loved writing music at a very young age, but also had a great desire to be an Olympic runner. I worked extremely hard at running but could not keep up with anyone. Music came much easier, and I learned that if you have to force something, it is not right to begin with.
As it turned out, after I kept passing out, we discovered I was born with a ‘special heart’ that required a lot of surgeries to fix things. And along the way since childhood, I have had six pacemakers. The seventh pacemaker and more surgeries are due in a few years. Life is precious.
John: I didn’t realize the challenges you face Diane, and we all wish you well. The music industry as a whole has greatly changed since you began producing music early on to the present. What observations have you made over the years, and what changes in the music industry have affected you most?
Diane Arkenstone: My observations come from a unique vantage point. Having my own label and releasing dozens of albums under different aliases and different genres, I created a lot of niche markets for the music in the mainstream and alternative markets, and it is all still going strong today. And for me, the digital world has been a great success for so many reasons.
John: You have enjoyed a wonderful and successful music career for many years Diane. You are a source of admiration for millions of fans and even colleagues in the music industry alike. What would you say is the best part of being a highly successful, contemporary artist?
Diane Arkenstone: You are so sweet John to say that, thank you! Truly though, I am unaware of such a thing because every day I put one foot in front of the other and focus and do my very best with whatever project is at hand.
John: Well Diane, fans truly adore you, plus you are a role model for many artists. Knowing artists at varying stages of their music careers will read our interview; do you have any words of advice to artists just beginning their music careers?
Diane Arkenstone: If you have a dream, follow it! Be prepared for long hours and depend on yourself as much as possible, and then all that energy you put into your career, will reward you greatly in countless ways. When you are passionate about something, every door you need to walk thru will open, even the ones you have no clue about.
John: Being a prolific artist Diane you have an extensive collection of excellent albums to choose from. I have my favorite albums and songs, and your fans likewise have their favorite albums.
I realize this is a never an easy question for an artist, but for persons new to your music, what 3 albums other than Union Road is a starting point to begin sampling your many outstanding releases?
Diane Arkenstone: Oh my goodness, I love them all! Let’s see, Jewel In The Sun, The Healing Spirit & Aquaria: A Liquid Blue Trancescape, which are all so very different from each other.
John: I would like to thank you again for your generosity by giving fans and myself this opportunity to find out more about you, and your newest projects Diane.
I hope we can get together by another interview someday. Before we close our conversation for now, is there anything you would like to express to the fans that have supported you over the years?
Diane Arkenstone: First of all, thank you again from my heart, John, for this wonderful opportunity to connect and share with everyone, it means the world to me. And I very much look forward to more interviews with you!
And to every beautiful soul who has supported my music, I am deeply grateful beyond words. A million thanks, and a million blessings. And please always be compassionate and loving towards yourself and towards others, it is our most valuable currency and reason for being, for truly, we are all one.
Visit DianeArkenstone.com and discover a great selection of albums in her store download section. Sample and purchase albums and songs by Diane Arkenstone at Amazon.com & iTunes.com. Photos & artwork courtesy dianearkenstone.com.
Sarah Brightman News: Listen to 45 second song samples from Dreamchaser at Amazon store in Japan.
Dreamchaser is Sarah Brightman’s newest album nearing official release worldwide in April 2013. There are several official release dates given for various countries around the world for Sarah’ twelfth studio album with 10 vocal and instrumental songs that are going to be available in either format of audio CD or digital downloads.
Sarah Brightman fans who are member of her community fan club may already be privy to this news, but for all other persons the Amazon and iTunes music stores in Japan are two online stores where you can listen to pre-release 45 second song samples of Dreamchaser. In fact persons may also purchase Dreamchaser in either format, but with the April 2013 release coming up, the wait for this exceptional album won’t be much longer.
Angel & One Day Like This are two full length videos and song singles released to the public with resounding admiration for this exceptional release. Today I would like to pass along this news update of this opportunity to listen to 45 second samples of all songs on her newest album prior to the official release date for the majority of countries worldwide.
Dreamchaser has been available for sample or purchase in Japan since January 16, 2013. Like many other online music outlets in various countries, Amazon is accepting pre-orders prior to the April release date, but Japan is one country to offer early samples for you to listen to all songs and to purchase.
Dreamchaser has 10 songs but the Japanese Amazon and iTunes music retailer offers an opportunity to sample all 10 songs plus the bonus song and purchase at the Amazon and iTunes online music stores in Japan. After listening to all 11 songs, the beauty of Sarah’s vocals with contemporary lyrics and instrumental backing makes it easy to see why this vocal instrumental release is sure to be a popular, best-selling album. Check back if you would like to read a pre-release album review for Dreamchaser prior to the worldwide release date.
The 10 songs samples are: Angel, One Day Like This, Glosoli, Lento E Largo, B612, Breathe Me, Ave Maria, Eperdu, A Song of India & Venus & Mars. Also available at iTunes is an accompanying digital booklet.
Pre-order Dreamchaser and find concert tour information at SarahBrightman.com. The release date in Germany is April 5, 2013 and worldwide on April 8, 2013. The release date for Canada and United States is April 16, 2013. Listen to 45 second song samples for all 10 songs before April release date worldwide. Listen to samples for Dreamchaser at Amazon in Japan. Artwork is courtesy sarahbrightman.com.
The date of January 1, 2013 began a brand new year on our annual calendars naturally, but as the website host of a popular music blog, January 1st begins the period in time when independent artists, promoters and producers begin sending me their newest albums for review each year.
In 2012 I received nearly 200 CDs for review consideration, so from my point of view I really can say it was an outstanding year with some of the best music available at the time. I wrote 45 reviews but would like to have written more.
If 2013 is anything like last year there will be hundreds of brand new albums to sample and review in the categories of electronic, instrumental, new age, progressive rock, and world music. Plus there are many subcategories I review over the course of a year too like contemporary instrumental, neo-classical, ambient, piano, relaxation, chill out, groove and vocal albums.
The album cover artwork shown below is a sample of the newest music CDs sent to me for review consideration so far in 2013. More will be added to the list, but from the albums below I select new music for my pre-release album reviews and news articles, along with several best album publications in various categories at the end of the year.
It’s already shaping up to be another excellent year for some of the best new music produced by some of today’s top electronic and instrumental artists. In the months ahead some albums below will make the top 10 radio charts, top 100 radio charts, and other honorable mentions at various music blogs.
Some new albums shown below will be nominated for an award or prove to be award-winning albums as the year progresses. I will also review many before they are released in music stores, by a pre-release review if an artist sends to me early so check back as the year progresses to sample the newest songs. For now find reviews for new albums in 2013 available on my main pages if you would like, and find new music releases at Amazon.com. Big Stock Photo –Rkasprzak.
New Album Releases in 2013:
With the festive celebration of New Year’s Eve behind us, New Year’s Day 2013 marks another new beginning in so many ways. If you made a New Year’s resolution this year, there will be challenges in the days, weeks and months ahead, but as you know, every challenge presents itself with a new opportunity to claim a personal victory of your own.
Hello everyone, my name is John P. Olsen. As the site and interview host for New Age Music World I can tell you from personal experience the artists I represent are resolute to do their very best with each new album they produce.
I have the opportunity to meet the majority of artist I write about, and felt this was the perfect occasion to publicly express the deep admiration I have for the artists I have met, and tell you of their determination with producing the finest new music they hope will ultimately meet our approval.
Many of the artists I encounter earn a living by their talents as a musician, so it’s partly the reason each year they aim high and are determined to do their very best at producing new music you will purchase for yourself and tell your friends about.
There is a lot of competition in the music industry worldwide as you can imagine, and I am pleased to say the artist’s with new instrumental albums in 2012 have done exceptionally well in achieving their goals in 2012. Their high ambitions have paid dividends by rewarding us with an outstanding collection of new albums and songs during the past year.
This year like every year I am given the opportunity to sample the newest music in most cases before the album has been released to the public. In 2012 nearly 200 releases were sent to me for review consideration so in general terms I can say it was an outstanding year for some of the finest new songs and albums in all categories of Americana, electronic, instrumental, new age, soundtrack and world music.
Like stated on my profile page, I am here to represent the artists and their music not self-promote, however if you like an artist at New Age Music World, you are invited to tell your friends at Facebook and other social media networking sites.
I can assure you the artists will appreciate any extra publicity you can give them by telling your friends through social media networks. With that said, permit me to tell you about a select group of artists who I admire and believe have produced an instrumental album you will enjoy too.
Today I am pleased to present my yearly award recommendation for the Best Instrumental Albums I sampled or wrote an album review for during 2012. The 12 Best Instrumental Albums are listed in alphabetical order by the album title. Included are direct links to the artist’s site so you may sample or purchase songs and albums direct from the artist or music stores. Big Stock Photos by Fotomy, EvgenaD & Ambrits.
1. 15th Anniversary Concert by Artists of Eversound.
One of the best vocal and instrumental compilation albums produced in 2012 is the 15th Anniversary Concert recording, featuring a live concert performance by the artists representing the Eversound Label. The 15th Anniversary Concert recording is a special compilation album with 12 songs of beautiful melodies, upbeat rhythms, and a selection of wonderful vocalists from Eversound. This special edition available on CD or DVD was recorded in Santa Barbara, California during 2012. For record label Eversound the finest quality artists is what makes this collection special!
The Artists of Eversound on The 15th Anniversary Concert album are Stuart Hoffman, Cara Tower, Curtis Macdonald, Manuel Iman, Suzanne Ciani, Diane Arkenstone, Steve McPeters, Amanda Blue, Eduardo del Signore, John Adorney and Daya, with special guests Fuzzbee Morse, Richard Hardy, and supporting 10 piece ensemble. To sample or purchase the 15th Anniversary Concert and 10 Year Anniversary albums with 2 CDs with 35 songs from 20 albums visit EverSound.com.
2. Badlands by Eric Tingstad.
Badlands is the new Americana album from GRAMMY® Award-winning recording artist and record producer Eric Tingstad, who is a seasoned songwriting guitarist in a variety of instrumental music genres. Eric Tingstad’s diverse range of music styles are Americana, alternative country, ambient, blues, jazz, new age, rock and more. The 12 songs on Badlands is a moving canvas of Americana music at its finest, honoring traditions of American roots and Western culture in contemporary style.
Badlands is unique to most instrumental albums by the prominent lap steel and pedal steel guitar parts in unison with a professional team of artists performing on English horn, bass guitar, organ, violin oboe, trumpet and percussion. Eric Tingstad’s lifelike rendition colorfully illustrates a beautiful portrait of the desert Southwest with vibrant transparency. The surreal beauty and splendor of Badlands is a picturesque representation of contemporary Americana music. Sample or purchase Badlands, and for information on Cheshire Studios production services visit EricTingstad.com.
3. Believe by 2002.
The contemporary instrumental album Believe by the Billboard Charting music group 2002 is truly a commendable album in this collection of best albums from 2012. Believe is the 14th quality driven album by Pamela, Randy and newest member and daughter, Sarah Copus. The 10 instrumental vocal songs Believe is more progressive from previous releases by a majority of songs covering a variety of rock influences, plus more songs with inspiring vocals and lyrical verses you are sure to enjoy.
The music group 2002 won the admiration of people worldwide after the release of their first album Wings in 1992. The year 2012 marks a 20th year anniversary for the professional, award-winning group 2002. Believe has received the highest praise from the most important and respected critics of all, being their fans. Randy and Pamela Copus have reached a level of success they envisioned 20 years ago, and taken it to the very next level by producing a hit album said to be the best music by 2002 yet! Visit the band and sample or purchase Believe at 2002Music.com.
4. Bindu by Michael Brant DeMaria.
Bindu has a unique distinction in this Best Instrumental Albums publication by Michael Brant DeMaria’s Nomination for Best Album in the 55th GRAMMYr Awards set for February 10, 2013. This is the fourth Nomination within the past four years, for the esteemed recording artist, psychologist, author and lecturer. Michael transforms his capacities as a healthcare professional into therapeutic music designed to help people manage life’s challenges. Bindu is the pinnacle of healing music, which illuminates Bindu’s prestigious status as an award winning album.
Michael Brant DeMaria’s leading role as an artist has resulted in many of the best albums for meditation and healing. The esteemed recording artist and integrative psychotherapist Michael Brant DeMaria is conceivably one of the most accomplished artists in the healing/meditation category. This year could result in a long overdue GRAMMY® Award. Bindu, Gaia, Ocean & Siyotanka have made #1 on ZMR’s Radio Chart. Find Bindu and new album The Maiden of Stonehenge at Ontos.org.
5. Chariots of Fire: The Play by Vangelis.
Chariots of Fire: The Play is 11 songs of new orchestral music in 2012 by legendary cinematic composer Vangelis. It was a triumphant year for Vangelis himself when his Chariots of Fire (song) was selected for the Official London 2012 Olympic Games theme music for official opening and award ceremonies. The Original Chariots of Fire Soundtrack, which won Vangelis an Academy Award for Best Original Music Score, is said to be the most recognizable motion picture soundtrack score ever produced.
Chariots of Fire: On Stage by Vangelis, is a brand new Olympic themed theatrical movie soundtrack score created for the theater stage adaptation showing in the UK of the Academy Award-winning Chariots of Fire movie. With a lot of international press news given to one single song Chariots of Fire, let’s not overlook the entire album is remarkable. The masterful piano and keyboard composition Chariots of Fire by Vangelis was the perfect theme song for the many moments of inspiration during the London 2012 Olympic Games. Find Chariots of Fire: The Play at Amazon.com.
6. El Dorado by Luna Blanca.
International Nouveau Flamenco ensemble Luna Blanca has created an exhilarating new wave of excitement with their new instrumental project in 2012 titled El Dorado. The cosmopolitan sound qualities of the 14 songs on El Dorado express the diverse ethnicity of Nouveau Flamenco with classic sophistication and grace. Recognized for their energetic songs backed by lively world music rhythms, the sunny casual atmosphere is the greatest musical characteristic of the band Luna Blanca.
El Dorado is an outstanding release expressing the inherent music qualities that first began Luna Blanca’s rise to fame and admiration as a leading Nouveau Flamenco ensemble. Like earlier album Provence, passionate acoustic phrasing and compelling world rhythms blend brilliantly on El Dorado. Based in Bocholt Germany, members are founding guitarist Richard Hecks, with pianist, and co-composer Helmut Graebe, guitarist Bino Dola and artist Clemens Paskert on bass, percussion and keyboards. Find El Dorado and new LP Obsession at LunaBlancaMusic.com.
7. Fiesta by Tribali.
If energetic world music and ethnic percussion sound like a fine way to celebrate your day, look no farther than the newest album titled Festa, by international concert recording band Tribali from Malta. Like another 2012 release titled The Traveller, the Festa album by Tribali, with 13 songs has a level of energy off the chart in terms of the animated atmosphere. It’s an amazing feat of magic in the way they cross blend influences ranging from world music, new age, folk, reggae, rock, and jazz.
The variety of instruments in Tribali music is equally broad incorporating didgeridoo, electric sitar, murchunga, guimbri, cahon, hang and tabla, with more traditional guitars, keyboards, vocals, violin, trumpet and percussion. Placing an emphasis on cultural multiplicity in every project the ethnic tradition of international Maltese band Tribali is a great way to revel any time, any place, any day. There is also talk of the group Tribali representing Malta at the annual worldwide Eurovision Song Contest. Visit the band at TribaliMusic.com to sample or purchase Festa & The Traveller.
8. Let Mother Earth Speak by Dennis Banks & Kitaro.
One of the most memorable album reviews I wrote of many this year was the album Let Mother Earth Speak, with 9 songs by two distinguished figures who deliver a universal message of peace by spoken word and traditional Native American music. Released on September 11, 2012 the message of peace on Let Mother Earth Speak is given by famous Native American activist and musician Dennis Banks, and international new age celebrity, and GRAMMY® Award-winning artist Kitaro.
Let Mother Earth Speak is a narrated life history of Native American Dennis Banks, an Anishinabe from the land of the Ojibwa people. The authenticity in the voice of Dennis Banks is compelling in the manner he uses spoken word and traditional Native American Indian songs to encourage a more peaceful existence in life. The masterful instrumentals by Kitaro on keyboards, Native Indian Flute, percussion, and ethnic woodwinds equally embolden this unifying message of peace. Visit the Domo Music Group pages for Dennis Banks and Kitaro and Let Mother Earth Speak.
9. The Gathering by Will Ackerman.
The Gathering is an exceptional instrumental music compilation album from the acclaimed, GRAMMY® Award-winning guitarist and music producer Will Ackerman. Famous worldwide for his talents as a producer the Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman is a legendary artist, producer and leading figure in the instrumental music recording industry. Will Ackerman’s legacy of quality as producer and founder of Windham Hill Records endures today at the Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont.
The Gathering is an exclusive music collection of 22 top-quality songs by 22 great artists, Will Ackerman hand selected for this release. The artists comprised on this special compilation album were selected from the many fine musicians who had their album produced at his state-of-the-art Imaginary Road Studios. Will Ackerman has produced albums for over 84 artists, including famous artists like Alex de Grassi, Michael Hedges, Michael Manring, Shadowfax, Liz Story and artist George Winston. Find The Gathering at CDBaby.com and visit WilliamAckerman.com.
10. The Piano by Best of Reviews New Age.
One of the finest solo piano/instrumental albums in 2012 is a compilation release titled The Piano. This exclusive collection of piano music with 17 top-quality songs by 17 great pianists was produced by Reviews New Age founding editor and blog host, Alejandro Clavijo from Spain. This compilation release has drawn a lot of praise for the comprehensive selection of today’s top quality artists performing their best piano songs. Many artists are top ranked pianists, while other artists are equitably recognized names in the new age solo piano music category.
The Best of Reviews New Age: The Piano featuring 17 songs compiled of the best song selections from 17 top contemporary pianists is great for persons acquainted with the solo piano category. Many artists on this release are celebrated for their popular piano with instrumental albums too. The Piano by Reviews New Age is perfect for persons new to the specialized solo piano music category and want to start with a superb introductory album. Visit ReviewsNewAge.com for The Piano.
11. Thirty-One Nights by Nicholas Gunn.
Instrumental recording artist Nicholas Gunn has always been intensely passionate about flute music, and never has this been made clearer than his instrumental album Thirty-One Nights. The 13 songs on Nicholas Gunn’s 14th release is significant by the uncompromising instrumental qualities. This is to be expected of the acclaimed flutist Nicholas Gunn, who made Billboard’s Top 10 Charts, with 55 consecutive weeks overall on Billboard’s New Age Charts, and over two million in album sales.
The platinum selling recording artist Nicholas Gunn enlisted two professional artists on Thirty-One Nights. On a number of songs vocalist Dana Kemmerle sings soft poetic verses and acoustic guitarist Chris Fossek give depth and balance to the 13 songs with world music influences. Recently Nicholas Gunn announced a change to electronic dance music with the name (We Are) Nexus. The classically trained flutist Nicholas Gunn is a master at instrumental music, so expect this to continue with his new endeavor (We Are) Nexus. Find Thirty-One Nights at NicholasGunn.com.
12. Yanni-Live at El Morro, Puerto Rico by Yanni.
For international concert and recording artist Yanni, the year 2012 was another successful tour season of sold out concerts during his North American Concert Tour. For the millions of Yanni fans, comprised of people from all nationalities, and possibly every country in the world, last year resulted in an outstanding concert recording titled Yanni-Live at El Morro, Puerto Rico. The stormy, windswept concert venue held a silver lining by turning out to be one of Yanni’s best concert recordings, which was televised on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and made available on CD or DVD.
Yanni-Live at El Morro, Puerto Rico is a concert album featuring many of Yanni’s most popular songs and several songs from 2011 studio album titled Truth Of Touch. For the leading international concert celebrity with around one billion admirers, Live at El Morro is an exceptional recording showing the passion in which he delivers to an audience every time. Yanni and his world-class orchestra give instrumental solos that can only be described as stunning! Find music and concert info at Yanni.com.
This concludes my Best Instrumental Albums 2012 recommendation. Earlier I wrote two publications titled Best Electronic Albums – 2012 and Best New Age Music – 2012, so find more recommendations of the finest electronic and new age albums I sampled or reviewed in 2012. Check back for news, concert info, interviews and new music in 2013.
Sarah Brightman News – Dreamchaser Album Release in 2013 and Spaceflight to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz Rocket.
For international music celebrity Sarah Brightman the year 2013 will surely be one of the most memorable years of her esteemed career of professional vocalist, actress, songwriter and dancer. With 2013 arriving before long, look for her next starring role as a space cosmonaut included in her incredible list of lifetime achievements.
In a live news broadcast Sarah Brightman provided details of her upcoming flight to the International Space Station in 2013 during a press release in Moscow, Russia. There will be more about this special announcement soon, but I can tell you Sarah Brightman will begin cosmonaut training, after getting word she passed preliminary evaluation tests. You may watch the official news release at her newly designed website where she describes this extraordinary aerospace voyage as a dream come true.
Dreamchaser is the new album by classical crossover superstar Sarah Brightman, set to be released on April 16, 2013. The first song titled Angel and second song One Day Like This are two exclusive song singles you can sample from her highly anticipated new album.
The entire list and title of all songs is not given at this time from what I can tell, but first song Angel is as exquisitely performed as you might expect. The first single song Angel is a sensational melody that is wholeheartedly captivating by the contemporary vocal and lyrical propensity for which Sarah Brightman is famous.
Sarah Brightman’s new album Dreamchaser is surely destined to be one of the hottest new releases in 2013! With 180 Gold and Platinum awards in over 40 countries worldwide, including her #1 Chart topping hit in the UK titled I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper, Dreamchaser could be her newest album to rocket into the stratosphere!
Discover the new SarahBrightman.com website to download the first song titled Angel and share your thoughts on the news in the fan community forum upon membership. After you sign up, fans may also access exclusive news, photos, videos and new music samples. Below is the official music video for first song Angel, from her upcoming 2013 album Dreamchaser. Space Shuttle photo courtesy NASA – Big Stock Photo Rkasprzak.
Instrumental Music Review: David Lanz – The Beatles Inspired Here Comes The Sun, (Solo Piano & Piano Instrumental Album) with Gary Stroutsos, Walter Grey, and Keith Lowe.
If someone were to ask you to name one of the greatest bands ever in today’s contemporary modern times, who would you name?
If the question was slightly rephrased and you were then asked to name the greatest band of all time most people would begin by naming English rock band icons The Beatles. Even today, a half century later after forming in 1960, The Beatles are considered the greatest, best-selling band of all time, with over 300 million albums sold – according to Wikipedia.
Legendary pianist David Lanz is one of today’s top instrumental recording and concert artists who would most likely reach the same conclusion for either question about The Beatles. In addition to knowing this music history fact the platinum selling artist David Lanz also happens to be a pianist many people would name as one of today’s top pianists in the industry who has produced a great number of solo and instrumental songs inspired by The Beatles.
While there are a variety of The Beatles tribute bands and albums, David Lanz has one of today’s most comprehensive collections of original music inspired by The Beatles as a band, and as songwriters. You will find his song arrangements pay a fine compliment to the beloved band by their depth, passion and complexity. This year he has released two superb individual versions of their work each having 10 songs with identical song titles. The first is a solo piano album and the second is a piano with instrumentals release. Both are quality new releases for 2012.
Here Comes The Sun is a new instrumental ensemble album where David Lanz re-defines 10 song melodies by the Fab Four in a personal way. The depth of his instrumental arrangement and performance of the melodic songs are shown in a new beautiful light, having spent four years on the song arrangement and recording of Here Comes The Sun as a quality driven product for 2012.
David performs piano and keyboard on the instrumental album, and enlisted three artists who each have their own notoriety as instrumental music professionals. Artists in the ensemble are Gary Stroutsos on woodwinds/flute, Walter Grey on cello, and Keith Lowe on bass. I suppose it’s applicable to say he had a little help from his friends. After sampling Here Come The Sun (Solo Piano Version) I can say this is where you will hear David Lanz at his personal best as a piano soloist.
Liverpool: Re-Imagining The Beatles by David Lanz is an earlier 2010 release honoring the Fab Four by as many may know. The Liverpool release includes guest artists and presented flutist Gary Stroutsos, cellist Walter Gray, and one of the last performances of the late great session artist Larry Knechtel.
The 10 song titles on both versions are: Prelude: Sunrise Follows Moon, Here Comes the Sun, Help!, Mother Nature’s Son, For No One, There’s A Place, Please Please Me, Penny Lane and I Am The Walrus & Sir George (Liverpool Farewell).
While David Lanz is famous for his The Beatles inspired albums and songs, his #1 in the Top 10 Billboard Adult Alternative/New Age hit Cristofori’s Dream, re-defined his career from that moment forward. Today David Lanz has an excellent collection of albums to choose from in the solo piano, and piano with instrumentals selection.
For any serious music aficionado a song collection simply wouldn’t be complete without music of The Beatles as a band, along with the solo music of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Would I say the same about David Lanz and his entire selection of solo and instrumental projects inspired by The Beatles? Knowing the depth and passion of his work, I would say yes. From yesterday and today it’s a wonderful stroll down Abbey Road.
For international concert artist Yanni the year 2012 has proven to be an eventful one. Even with his challenging concert schedules during 2011 and 2012, he managed to produce studio album Truth Of Touch in 2011, and another live album in 2012 titled Yanni-Live at El Morro, Puerto Rico. One can only speculate if the popular music entertainment celebrity has another new release in store for us in 2013.
The Very Best of Yanni is a new 2012 album reissue of his greatest instrumental music in the new age music category. First released in 2000, a reissue of The Very Best of Yanni will be released on October 22, 2012 and can be sampled, with pre-orders and special offers available on multiple album purchases at Amazon.com. With a new year arriving let’s hope for a new album of the best new music in 2013!
The song titles on The Very Best of Yanni (2012) are Aria, Looking Glass, In the Morning Light, Marching Season, Swept Away, One Man’s Dream, The Mermaid, To the One Who Knows, Santorini, Acroyali, In the Mirror, Someday, Flight of Fantasy, The End of August, The Rain Must Fall, Face in the Photograph.
Interview in 2012 with GRAMMY Award-Winning Guitarist, and Cheshire Studios Record Producer Eric Tingstad.
Eric Tingstad is a distinguished artist and record producer who over the course of his lengthy career has recorded many fine albums in a variety of genres.
Famous for his expertise as a songwriting guitarist in a variety of genres, the diverse range of influences include Americana, alternative country, ambient, blues, jazz, rock and new age music. Eric Tingstad’s new release Badlands is a vibrant follow-up to his GRAMMY® Nominated album Southwest.
New Age Music World site host John P. Olsen had an opportunity to interview New Age GRAMMY® Award recipient Eric Tingstad in October of 2012. This interview publication with a variety of topics follows the release of his new 2012 album titled Badlands. Today we are pleased to present their conversation to his fans and to all international site visitors.
John P. Olsen: I would like to thank you for accepting my invitation for this interview Eric. In addition to being a distinguished GRAMMY® Award-winning artist and guitarist, you are also a record producer, so I hope to cover many aspects of your life and career in music during our interview today.
Let me begin by saying your newest Americana album titled Badlands is a wonderfully unique release Eric! I found Badlands is miles apart in theme and style from the majority of new age, world and instrumental albums I have reviewed this year. Writing a Badlands review was a nice change of pace for me. I found it to be a beautifully picturesque album Eric.
Eric Tingstad: Thank you very much. I have to say that when Badlands was all done, I was very happy to hear how relaxed all the pieces were feeling. Even though there are more teeth and beef than on previously hailed “calming” recordings of mine, Badlands just has this laid back pocket and groove that I was very pleased to hear.
It’s like some really big guy giving you a massage or a powerful engine that’s just idling. A lot of headroom. And whereas Southwest was a bit more gentle, tender and soothing and that all is bliss in the desert, Badlands intentionally has more grit and attitude. Not so much about the spiritual ambiance of the Southwest, but more of the human element and how it resonates with the harshness of the environment.
John: Your new 2012 Americana album Badlands honors the traditions of American roots music and Western culture, and is unique from many previous albums like Acoustic Elegance: Ultimate Collection, Acoustic Garden, Paradise & American Acoustic. How did the idea or inspiration for Badlands originate?
Eric Tingstad: Badlands is the follow up CD to my 2007 release, Southwest and continues my adventures of combining ambient elements and vibe with American roots music. My early musical influences were what I heard on the TV as soundtracks for movies and shows. I watched a lot of western adventures and the Beverly Hillbillies, which was just rich in the roots music of Flatt and Scruggs.
Also one of my earliest mentors was a lap steel player and I was fascinated with that sound that he got by using a table knife! Growing up I had a real cross cultural group of friends and I was fortunate to have some Elders in my life as a child that taught me “the ways.” They had an effect on my beliefs and subsequent interests in Native American culture. Also on Badlands there is my crunchy telecaster underpinnings that contributes an edgy quality and brings me out of my rock n roll closet a bit. I would also have to say that the music of Angelo Badalamenti from Twin Peaks or Ennio Morricone resonates with me. It’s music that creates a sense of place.
John: Badlands features a number of great artist including Nancy Rumbel, Cindy Cashdollar, Byron Metcalf and other fine contributing instrumental artists. Would you like to tell us about some of the artists who perform on Badlands?
Eric Tingstad: On Badlands I intentionally set out to feature more Western elements and a bit less Native American. And so I pulled back on the native flutes and featured more of the dobro, (both slide and fingerstyle), which conjures up that American roots element and the pedal steel and lap steel that bring out the western sound. I also leaned pretty heavily on the fiddle which was played by Andrew Joslyn.
The one major component that is the foundation for both Southwest and Badlands is all that great shamanic hand drumming was done by Byron Metcalf. The frame drumming not only ties it all together, but brings that spirit of western landscape and depth of the Native American culture to the recording. I use these instruments because I love the way they sound. And the way they were played.
I did the fingerstyle playing on the dobro but Cindy Cashdollar did all the cool dobro slide work along with lap steel. I did a bit of the pedal steel but all the amazing stuff was done by Terry Lauber. Ben Smith from Heart supplied all the drum kit efforts. There is a large cast of players involved with Badlands. Counting the engineers, I think there were about a dozen.
John: I found Bandlands very picturesque, with ingrained cinematic qualities. Would you say the same, and do you knowingly make an effort to compose music with incorporated cinematic qualities?
Eric Tingstad: Thank you, but I do not set out to make music with cinematic qualities. What I do, is set out to make music that creates a sense of place. I suppose if I makes you see pictures in your head I have achieved that … partially. But, I also want you to see and feel the dryness, the warmth and smell the smells of my locations and themes. Maybe even make you thirsty or hungry.
John: Currently you also provide guitar instruction and offer consultation in the music business. Could you provide some specifics on the services you offer to artists wanting to improve their chances at succeeding in the music business, or artists who want to improve their individual performance goals?
Eric Tingstad: There are many misconceptions about how the music industry works. What I try to do is help with clearing those up and set a realistic course for each individual. It’s helping that I love to do and each client has been different with different needs and expectations. There are so many ways to be involved in the music industry these days and understanding the options is how I can add value to someone’s efforts.
John: Pedal steel guitar is prominently featured on Badlands, but is primarily thought of as a country music instrument. Is there a challenge with transition into your Americana style of music?
Eric Tingstad: I did not find that it was all that difficult. I luv country and roots music and the pedal steel is a big part of why I luv that music. But mostly I luv the steel for it’s beautiful sound. It has such a pure, full and magical tone. It also has the quality of being able to create long legato phrasing, which is something I am always hearing in head. All kinds of music are being played on the Pedal Steel these days, especially rock. And then there is the whole Sacred Steel style of the Campbell Brothers and Robert Randolf.
John: What made you decide to begin performing on a pedal steel guitar, and is the learning curve, or degree of difficulty, far apart from a traditional acoustic or electric guitar?
Eric Tingstad: I was actually recording and producing other players on the steel with my music before I decided to try my own hand at it. I find the pedal steel to be pretty easy to play and some of my favorite styling for it are the simple passages that demonstrate the warm tone of the instrument. The learning curve was not too bad. I am sure that it helped that I had a pretty good grip on guitar and music in general.
John: I read you perform in the Segovia tradition, but is this style is implemented on a steel strung classical guitar. Could you tell us about some of the finer points regarding this specific performance style?
Eric Tingstad: I was playing for about 10 years as a youngster before I become involved with studying the classic guitar. I was interested in developing a very fluent fingerstyle both for the right and left hand. I think my classical studies were about the smartest thing I ever did for my career. Apart from just learning the proper physical technique I learned a lot about making the guitar sing with a strong sense of phrasing. I also put a lot of stock in the tone I try and generate.
John: In addition to composing, recording and producing your own music, you are an established record producer who assists other artists including Tingstad and Rumbel, Narayan & Janet, The Halyards, The Road Trip Relief Squad and Louis Landon. Would you like to tell us about your role as a record producer, and provide some details about your music recording and production services at Cheshire Studios?
Eric Tingstad: I like to think of myself as sort of old school when it comes to production. I don’t try to commit the artist to “my sound” but act as a one member audience that gives feedback from that point of view. It’s valuable to remind the artist of the often simple and “taken for granted” things they do that resonates with the listener. I always try to focus on what is best for the song and what will support the lead vocal or instrument line. The goal is to help flush out the intent of the project and keep the artist focused on that original intent. Not always easy to do.
John: You have enjoyed a remarkable music career for over 35 years with many successes along the way Eric. What do you find most rewarding first, as a professional record producer, and secondly as a respected musician?
Eric Tingstad: I don’t really think of my part in this wonderful world of music in terms of rewards and respect. I just luv how the music I like makes me feel. I like to listen to music as much as I do to play it and if I can make others feel like I do, then that is all the more better. Helping others realize their musical vision with my production skills is a thrill though and brings me a lot of personal satisfaction. There are so many levels and reasons to enjoy music and I am fascinated by what other players have to offer.
John: I like to report on current music news when I can, so I would like to ask if you have any news announcements or information to pass along about new album projects or special events you plan to make public soon?
Eric Tingstad: I will be continuing in this Instrumental Americana style I have got going now for a couple more projects at least. I will be doing one that is a bit sparser on the production and one that actually will have more vocals. I do lots of songwriting as well with others that needs to be released at some point.
John: Thank you again for allowing me host your most current interview Eric. It’s an honor to meet you, and I wish you continued success. It has been a privilege to provide today’s news coverage about you and your newest release Badlands. It’s a great album and I look forward to your next new release.
Visit the main pages at EricTingstad.com. Purchase or sample albums and songs at Eric Tingstad’s music store or find the best songs and albums by Eric Tingstad at iTunes. Photos are courtesy erictingstad.com & cheshire-studios.com.
New Instrumental Music Review: Thirty-One Nights by Nicholas Gunn, with vocalist Dana Kemmerle and guitarist Chris Fossek.
Instrumental new age recording artist Nicholas Gunn has always been intensely passionate about his flute music, and his new instrumental album, Thirty-One Nights is no exception to the rule.
For the acclaimed flutist Nicholas Gunn, who made Billboard’s Top 10 Charts, with 55 consecutive weeks overall on Billboard’s New Age Charts, and over two million in album sales, Nicholas Gunn is clearly a master at producing instrumental music that touches one in a profound way.
Thirty-One Nights, which is his 14th album after an interval of 5 years, is a significant new release by its uncompromising instrumental qualities.
Thirty-One Nights is like a case study of the depth and beauty in which he, Dana Kemmerle and Chris Fossek communicate the splendor of the natural world and beauty of its environment. Nicholas Gunn traveled to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and spent 31 days in the Caribbean shoreline to find inspiration for this project. As if researching a part for a movie role, his true life experience of one month devoted to nature in its purist form is recreated and brought to life on Thirty-One Nights.
The real time connection of a scenic, tropical atmosphere gives reflective depth and balance to the 13 songs of serenity that waltz hand in hand with songs rich in auditory intensity. Beautiful acoustic instrumentals and vocals paired with flute are key elements that have made this recollection one of true excitement.
Two professional artists in accompaniment are vocalist Dana Kemmerle singing soft poetic verses on a number of songs and Chris Fossek, himself a wonderful guitarist well versed in Flamenco guitar tradition.
For the classically trained flutist Nicholas Gunn, re-living the sight and sound experience has without exception, proven to be a wonderful true life excursion worth sharing. Included in the audio CD is an embedded journal about the creation of the album, and a 10 page cover booklet with bi-lingual lyrics.
The 13 songs on Thirty-One Nights are titled: Remember Me Prelude, Fiesta Patria, Thirty-One Nights, The Swallows of Na’ Lu’um, Veracruz, Condesa, Candle Dance, Someday, Full Moon Over Calle 12, Road to Merida, On the Shores of Tulum, From Water to Wind, & Recuerdame.
Visit NicholasGunn.com and sample or purchase Thirty-One Nights at his store. Photo is courtesy nicholasgunn.com.
Patriot Day Tribute Song – War by Peter Jennison.
Patriot Day is an official federal holiday observed each year in the United States on September 11, in remembrance of the world changing events that transpired in America on September 11, 2011. Patriot Day is unlike the similarly named civic holiday Patriot’s Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. Patriot Day is a newer holiday in the United States, but an important one for Americans, also being a day of unity in the political sense.
Patriot Day will always be a significant day of remembrance in honor of the people who lost their lives on 9/11. This year’s Patriot Day holiday in particular arrives at another historic turning point in America’s history, and a period in time when enlisted American men and women on active duty overseas are making the return trip home, or will return home someday to be united with their families.
Peter Jennison is a U.S. Army Captain and MEDEVAC helicopter pilot making a return trip home to his family. On his Facebook page it states that weeks ago, one of America’s protectors, was reunited and spending time with friends and family after a year’s tour of duty in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. Peter Jennison is also a great artist who earlier released a piano instrumental album relative to his war experiences as an active service member titled Longing For Home.
Peter Jennison’s song titled War from his Longing For Home album makes a great tribute song for Patriot Day. While Peter Jennison has expressed the music and title of his instrumental album was based on his own longing to serve and return home, it can be said there are millions of American family members worldwide who would convey the same message about their enlisted service member. They too are longing for their family member’s safe return home.
Visit the Facebook Page of Peter Jennison. Sample or purchase songs and the album Longing For Home at Amazon.com and other online music stores like CDBaby and iTunes. Big Stock Photo photographer credit – JustASC.
New Album Review – My Passion With Mexico/Mexicoisimo by Yanni.
For international concert artist Yanni the year 2012 has already turned out to be an eventful year. For those who know the highly ambitious Yanni best, this is no surprise. Even now with a demanding concert schedule consisting of nearly day to day concert bookings with short breaks in-between, the celebrity music entertainer continues to produce new albums and concert DVDs that quickly become popular favorites.
My Passion With Mexico is the newest release by contemporary instrumental artist Yanni in 2012, at least technically speaking. Arriving with little fanfare, My Passion With Mexico is actually a new cover for Mexicoisimo, released in October of 2010. The instrumentals and vocals you hear on My Passion With Mexico is unchanged but perhaps we should take a brand new look at this release from one of the most beloved instrumental concert artists worldwide.
My Passion With Mexico or Mexicoisimo features 12 festive songs of contemporary instrumental music with a Latin flair. Professionally driven, nearly every song is a festive celebration in itself by the lively upbeat atmosphere. In addition to the wonderful instrumentals and vocalist singing in Spanish, there is an undeniable air of romance and fiery passion in which it was delivered.
Mexicoisimo, now titled My Passion With Mexico may have caught many Yanni fans by surprise years ago if they were expecting another Yanni: Live at the Acropolis or The Very Best Of Yanni. Now that you know upfront My Passion With Mexico may not make the Billboard Top 10 Charts, and is in contrast to the more recent Truth of Touch or Yanni – Live at El Morro, Puerto Rico, the page links below is where you may revisit and sample Yanni’s newest album. Even if this isn’t a brand new music release, after revisiting the album you heard years ago, you may be pleasantly surprised. I was.
Visit Yanni.com and sample or purchase My Passion For Mexico at Amazon.com in digital mp3 format, and pre-order the audio CD. Cover & photo courtesy yanni.com.
Let Mother Earth Speak is a brand new, one of a kind album by Native American activist Dennis Banks and world-class new age instrumentalist Kitaro.
Presented by Domo Music Group, the 9 songs are in spoken word narrative and Native American song by Dennis Banks. The song verses are in unique pairing with the ethnic instrumental music and percussion of Kitaro, who performs keyboards and Native American flutes, woodwinds and percussion.
The song sample Peace in the video below is a beautiful example of this unique spoken word release in harmony with Native American instrumentals by Kitaro.
I have a pre-release album review soon for Let Mother Earth Speak, which will be available everywhere on September 11, 2012. Pre-order at major online stores and sample or purchase now at the DomoMusicGroup.com page for Dennis Banks. Domo Music Group is the place to shop for exclusive gift items for Domo artists. Visit the DomoCart.com store.
World Music Album Review: Festa by Tribali.
If lively World music rhythms and ethnic percussion sound like a fine way to celebrate your day, look no farther than the newest music by international band Tribali from Malta. Placing a strong emphasis on cultural multiplicity in every project, the group Tribali intertwines traditional ethnic music of the Maltese islands, with festive World Music rhythms. It is by all accounts, an arrangement that gives one a reason to celebrate.
Tribali is one of the most famous groups of Malta, if not the most famous. Either way you look at it there is a good reason they are celebrated locally. Tribali is first of all, a major headlining band at live concerts and music festivals in the Republic of Malta. The nationwide Ghaxaq Music Festival, Ta Qali National Park, and Byron Bay Blues fest are several of their recent concert venues, in a country immersed in a rich history and significance regarding traditional Maltese band music.
Festa by Tribali is a new release for 2012. The Festa album, with 13 songs has a level of energy that is off the chart in terms of the lively atmosphere in which they cross blend influences ranging from world music, new age, folk, reggae, rock, and jazz. The variety of instruments is equally broad by incorporating didgeridoo, electric sitar, murchunga, guimbri, cahon, hang and tabla, with more traditional guitars, keyboards, vocals, violin, trumpet and percussion.
The international ethnic tradition of the group Tribali is a great way to revel any time, any place, and any day. There is even discussion in local Malta newspapers and among their fan base about the group Tribali representing Malta during the annual worldwide Eurovision Song Contest. With Tribali’s loyal fan support, and intense blend of lively World Fusion and traditional Maltase music, I am among those who believe Tribali’s festive music can indeed give the rest of the world a good reason to celebrate.
The Traveller By Tribali is another excellent new album due for release in 2012. Currently available in Malta, The Traveller will be available worldwide later this year in September 24, 2012. The Traveller is another exotic blend of 13 festive songs by Tribali you can sample right now prior to release at Amazon. Everyone will have their favorite song on the album naturally, but I really like the songs Rickshaw Ride & Yamasai.
Visit TribaliMusic.com and purchase Festa by Tribali at Amazon.com. The Tribali Concert video below displays the excitement Tribali generates during their live shows. Cover artwork courtesy Daniel & Reuben (Kuluri).
World Fusion Album Review: New Music by Todd Boston.
If you happen to be in the mood for summertime songs with an impressive blend of instrumental world fusion music, acoustic guitarist Todd Boston has a brand new 2012 multicultural follow-up to his 2010 release Alive. In close balance with Alive by flowing acoustic guitar and percussion melodies, Touched by the Sun heralds in a noticeable international, world fusion blend of Eastern and Western music.
Todd Boston is a brilliant guitarist, and multi-instrumentalist performing international tours in 2012, as a soloist and in a number of ensembles including a tour with the world renowned American singing songwriter Snatam Kaur.
After my interview with Will Ackerman last week, I have to say it is by coincidence that tomorrow on (July 20, 2012) Will Ackerman will be among other musicians at a concert celebration for Todd Boston’s Touched By the Sun album. This special concert event will be in Mill Valley, California at the Throckmorton Theatre.
The concert artists in attendance with Todd Boston to help celebrate the launch of Touched by the Sun are guest artist Will Ackerman on guitar, and other top ranked instrumentalist and vocalist.
Most are award-winning artists, and several are artists who have been featured at this site. They include vocalist Snatam Kaur, GRAMMY® nominated bass guitarist Michael Manring, percussionist Ramesh Kannan, cellist Matthew Schoening, violinist Emily Palen, trumpet and flugelhorn specialist Jeff Oster, and guitarist Shambhu.
Touched by the Sun studio album, which has 12 great world fusion melodies, is a refined instrumental with vocals album, likewise comprised of an impressive team of music professionals. Many of whom you are sure to recognize. There are a number of studio session artists who often provide instrumentals on Will Ackerman productions at Imaginary Road Studios, so the contributing members are indeed a select group of musicians.
Artists on the studio album joining Todd Boston on guitars, dotar, flutes and base are female vocalist Snatam Kaur, cellist Eugene Friesen, violinist Charlie Bisharat, percussionist Jeff Haynes, drums Aaron Sterling, bass guitar Tony Levin, fretless bass Michael Manring, hand clapping Tom Eaton, whispers Tina Malia and Ramesh Kannan on tabla and cajon.
There are other strategic elements about Touched by the Sun that isn’t by chance. Given the fact that Todd Boston is a great performer, and the quality of artisanship delivered by other top-ranked artists, this new Imaginary Road Studios production has every component needed to reach the upper limits of success. Stated more precisely, I expect Touched by the Sun to be an award-winning album in 2013.
Touched by the Sun made the #1 Top Recording for June 2012, with the Top 10 & Top 100 Radio Airplay Charts at Zone Music Reporter. The Brightest Night is a song by Todd that has made its way into the elite 22 artist and 22 instrumental song compilation album in 2012 by Will Ackerman entitled The Gathering.
Once more, Touched by the Sun was created in the care of GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Will Ackerman, and co-producer Tom Eaton and Todd Boston, so every component of Todd’s album was given the attention it deserves by a team of specialists. Comprised of elements that make a great recording, decisive actions taken by Todd Boston has lessened the mystery of whether this is a quality album or not. The question now is where to sample or purchase Touched by the Sun.
Visit the homepage of ToddBoston.com and visit Todd Boston’s music page, where you can sample or purchase at several popular online music stores including Amazon, CDBaby, and iTunes. Cover artwork & photo courtesy toddboston.com.
New Age Music World is pleased to present an in-depth, 2012 interview with GRAMMY® Award-winning guitarist, producer, and Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman.
John P. Olsen: Thank you for accepting my invitation for this interview Will. It’s funny since I feel like I already know you in a way since I have written, and plan to write, reviews for artists who have their newest album produced by you at your Imaginary Road Studio in Vermont. It’s a privilege to finally meet you Will.
Will Ackerman: Hi John, I’ve been admiring what you’ve been doing online for some time and am delighted to have a chance to talk with you.
John: Many of these artists have received award recognition with albums that you produced. Many are now top ranked artists. To what degree does a producer ultimately affect the success of a music recording would you say?
Will Ackerman: Perhaps this is a crafty test of my humility? I hope I pass. Perhaps this is a question better asked of the musicians I’ve worked with. They’re better able to tell you how, specifically, I influenced their work. The process of producing is not at all formulaic for me; each project and human being has their own specific needs and my job is, as much as anything, to be conscious of what their needs are. How active I am in shaping a project is also a very individual matter.
In some cases I am simply helping to create a standard of excellence for the players to achieve in their recordings and in other instances I’m getting into the arranging of the work itself and being very active in envisioning how the material might be dramatically affected by additional production. It really is all over the place and I guess I’d say that my proudest achievement is to figure out where I can best be of help and respond to the person I’m working with rather than imposing the same set of Ackerman rules upon everyone.
John: Some may have a limited knowledge of a record or music producer’s role, and how a producer can greatly influence an artist’s instrumental music composition. Would you provide some details specific to your production services?
Will Ackerman: Again, the role of producer is simply all over the place. Looking back to Windham Hill days, I think of how my utterly subjective and spontaneous decision to edit George Winston’s Colors/Dance into the epic ten minute piece we know as opposed to the three minute piece it was intended to be is an example of how my instincts manifested themselves.
Likewise the decision engineer Steve Miller and I made on the dramatic guitar sound for Michael Hedges’ Ariel Boundaries was a milestone. Michael was initially outraged with the liberties we’d taken with what he heard as a simpler acoustic piece. Steve had provided an opportunity and I jumped at it. Michael needed to take a walk for about an hour before coming back to the board to listen, still somewhat incredulous that both Steve and I loved the sound.
I think this story tells a lot about how I work. It’s very subjective, intuitive and flexible. It’s a series of almost binary questions… yes and no… go there or don’t go there? I simply have to trust my instincts and earn the artists trust in those instincts as well. However much success I’ve had and can point to, each new artist I need work with needs to learn that they can trust me. That trust means more to me than anything. I take it very seriously.
John: I have more questions related to your present day role as a producer, but would you first like to tell us how your career began and how your business has progressed over the years?
Will Ackerman: I recorded my first album in 1975. An engineer named Scott Saxon offered to allow me to record free of charge if he was listed as producer and received a royalty. Not having a lot of dough in those days, I easily agreed. Scott then produced my second record, It Takes a Year as well. In watching Scott I learned a lot and at some point decided that I knew enough about recording and had a familiarity with my own tastes sufficient to allow me to trust in my abilities to call myself a producer.
In terms of how my endeavors have changed over the years, it’s easy to point to GRAMMY® nominations and awards, platinum and gold records, millions of records sold and all that. I’m proud of that of course, but I can say with utter sincerity that what I am proudest of is that I’m better at what I do than ever because this is a process of learning about people, learning about yourself and trying to find what’s unique in that combination with every single human being you engage with.
John: In 1976 you founded, and made famous, Windham Hill Records label. After selling Windham Hill Records you chose the name West River Records for your new release The Gathering. Is West River Records modeled in a similar design as Windham Hill Records?
Will Ackerman: I had begun recording in 1975 with my debut guitar album. I had managed to put together a network of 6 independent distributors and was getting a surprising amount of radio airplay out of that recording when those distributors started asking “what’s going to be next of your label.” I didn’t even know I had a label (the Windham Hill name only came into being in 1976 with the awareness that I could release more records into this pipeline) and was stunned to learn that they would distribute anything I brought out. That’s now naive I was.
Windham Hill became huge. We were doing 30 – 40 million dollars in business annually by 1992 when I sold Windham to BMG in May of that year. I then had a three year non-complete clause and delved into spoken word recordings with a company named Gang of Seven. I absolutely loved that label, but I didn’t have the same success with it that I’d enjoyed with Windham Hill Records.
Virtually on the day that my non-compete with BMG ended in May of 1995 I created Imaginary Road Records with PolyGram, signing a contract with Chris Roberts who had been a friend for many years. Chris Roberts remembers me driving up to the record store he managed in Portland, Oregon (Everybody’s Records) in my Volkswagen bus asking if he’d take 5 copies of my first recording on consignment. Dawn Atkinson, who had been the second most prolific producer for Windham Hill Records was my partner in this.
West River Records is actually a brand new name, created for the release of The Gathering. Imaginary Road Records would have been the ideal name, but because that name is owned by Universal Records via the sale of PolyGram to Universal (and there are still titles in print on that label) we needed to look into another name. My Imaginary Road Studios looks over the West River Valley in Windham County, Vermont and I liked that sound of that.
John: In addition to your role as producer, you are a twice nominated, GRAMMY® Award-winning guitarist. What were some of the turning points in your career, and how did these events affect your career as a producer going forward?
Will Ackerman: The whole thing was a Tiger by the Tail kind of experience. Windham Hill Records grew routinely at 600% a year, sometimes going into even greater growth. There were so many milestones, whether laying Carnegie Hall, playing Red Rocks and the Hollywood Bowl. Touring Europe and playing at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Touring Japan and playing at the Imperial Palace. Our first Gold Record, our first Platinum Record. The list is long and is more a feeling to me than a set of tangible events. It was impossible to hold on to anything, as you reached for it, it was gone because we were moving forward so quickly.
John: In Search Of The Turtles Navel is credited as one of the earliest, founding recordings in the new age genre. What characteristic qualities do you feel define the compositions we recognize today as new age music?
Will Ackerman: I’ve never been a proponent of the term “New Age” to be honest. Going into the reasons for that would be didactic at best. I’d rather talk about what I know, which is Windham Hill. Windham Hill, at least initially, was about acoustic instrumentation. It was about melody and heart.
I’ve learned to take pride in the fact that the music can be listened to enjoyably while washing lettuce in the afternoon (as a woman from Idaho once described to me in a letter) or being the music someone who is soon to leave this earth chooses to listen to in their last hours. Both are honors paid to the musician who provides that pleasure or solace. To me, that is reason enough for being as a person and for Windham Hill Records to have represented a genre unto itself.
John: I read that none of your guitar recordings use standard guitar tuning, which permits an unconventional acoustic sound. Are there any advantages to playing guitar using non-standardized tuning?
Will Ackerman: I don’t know that there are any particular advantages. Most people would probably say that it’s more bother than it’s worth. I happen to like the sound of open tunings and, after years of contemplating the reasons for my utterly obsessive adherence to constantly changing tunings I’ve finally come to an understanding of my process. I’m playing a trick on myself. By creating a new tuning I am removing intellect completely from the process of “composing.” I simply don’t know the landscape I’m in and so have nothing but emotion to guide me.
I’m lost, but in a beautiful, emotionally connected way. I inevitably find a bit of an alpha state and wander about in that landscape until I find various paths which I employ intellect to connect later. So the music is about emotion, not thought. It’s about heart, not mind.
John: New age music is like any music genre by progressing over the years. What do feel makes a good new age or instrumental recording?
Will Ackerman: I listen to all sorts of music. I honestly can’t remember who said it, but I’ve always loved the quote “There are only two kinds of music; good music and bad music.” Obviously I’m not going to pretend to be the arbiter of those definitions tangibly, but I know what I like. I know what I’m looking for as a producer and in these two elements I think this is as close to a Holy Grail as I can offer.
Firstly, does the artist have a musical “voice?” In other words, does this artist sound like everybody else or is there something unique, however hard to pinpoint, in their music. I can hear 2 guitar notes from BB King or Mark Knopfler to know who it is and I can hear two chords from Erik Satie to know who it is.
Secondly, is heart or ego driving the music? This is obviously a judgment call as well, but it’s as clear as can be to me. Maybe another way of asking the question is “am I hearing the truth,” or “do I believe this person?” I have to believe who I’m listening to and investing my heart in, both as a listener and as a producer.
John: Your new West River Records compilation album The Gathering features a lot of great instrumental artists exactly like your highly successful Windham Hill Samplers, which achieved gold or platinum recording status. Do you feel the artist’s songs on The Gathering have the potential for equal prominence?
Will Ackerman: The record industry is a very different thing today. Even at the major record labels, they refer to 100,000 CDs sold as “the new million.” In other words, the potential of the marketplace even with legal downloads, is probably 10% of what it was. A gold record used to be 500,000 records sold and platinum were 1,000,000. There were a lot of gold and platinum records being handed out in those days, but if we had to wait for achievement of those kinds of numbers today, there would be only a handful of them.
The good news is that the internet can spread the word about good music brilliantly to every corner of this planet. Part of my ambition with The Gathering is to create strength in numbers to some degree. Rather than sit back and let each of these artists fend entirely for themselves, I’ve chosen to move more into the public realm again and, as with the Windham Hill Samplers, say “this is great music… these are great players… these are artists your life will be richer for taking the time to get acquainted with.” I’m doing this interview and others and will not balk at any opportunity to express my faith in these players and in this recording. I genuinely believe we can achieve a much greater visibility together and that we’ve literally just begun.
One last point is, I think, important to mention here. The known Windham Hill Records audience is easily identified and we certainly want to let those millions of people know about The Gathering. But what is also heartening to me is the number of emails from kids under 20 I’m getting now. These are kids who are digging through their parents LPs and finding music that they love. I’m guessing that maybe 10 -15% of my emails are from kids in this age range and it’s clearly a growing number and percentage. How great it would be to find a young audience who loves this sort of music, much as my generation found the forgotten American blues players in the late 60′s and 70′s (certainly with the help of the British Invasion). I’ve been contemplating a Gathering sort of recording for some time and now that it’s here I know it’s the right choice.
John: When selecting an artist’s song for a compilation album like The Gathering, what key elements do you look for in terms of the music qualities?
Will Ackerman: Understand that all the people on The Gathering are people I’ve chosen to produce. These are all people I have the highest regard for as musicians and as human beings. Without being at all lazy, I’ll refer you to my answers a bit earlier on in this dialogue. I need to feel these musicians have a voice that is uniquely theirs and I have to believe that they’re telling me the truth musically.
John: In regards to your production services, you have enlisted engineer and co-producer Tom Eaton. Plus, many of the session musicians in your productions are themselves, award-winning artists who have their own careers. What do you look for when selecting a session artist for a client’s recording?
Will Ackerman: I think you’re asking me how someone ends up being a session player for my productions? The answer is to be the best on the planet and be consistently so and be a genuinely kind, patient, generous human being. Whether we’re working with bassist Tony Levin who’s recorded with John Lennon, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, James Taylor and a million others or Steve Holley who’s the drummer for Paul McCartney and Elton John, the people who add to our work here are consummate professionals who are able to pour their hearts into the music and do so in a remarkably ego-less, kind, considerate and caring way.
The criteria for who works here go way past simple talent. Imaginary Road is my home and I’m only letting wonderful people into my home. I don’t care how talented you are; if you’re not able to wear your heart on your sleeve don’t bother to turn up. We use Keith Carlock (Sting and Steeley Dan) as a drummer too along with Arron Sterling (John Mayer and Sheryl Crow). Only last year I met Premik Russel Tubbs who plays sax and wind synths for us.
Premik has become part of the family and has played with Santana, Herbie Hancock, Sting and Billy Joel just to name a few. Violinist Charlie Bisharat and I met when he was playing with Shadowfax on Windham Hill. He and I remain great friends and we work on sessions together often. Charlie Bisharat’s played with Beck, Mary J. Blige, Black-Eyed Peas, Fiona Apple, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake and the list goes on.
We have a stable of players who are simply too great not to use often: Four time GRAMMY® winning cellist Eugene Friesen just happens to be a neighbor here in Brattleboro and has been a close friend for twenty years now. English horn player Jill Haley drives up from Reading, PA to play for us. Pat Metheny’s percussionist Jeff Haynes has been a dear friend for decades now and lives just over the Green Mountains from here.
Trumpet and Flugelhorn player Jeff Oster has a place in Vermont and we get him in here for sessions as often as possible; singer Noah Wilding was crazy enough to marry me so she’s pretty much local too. Jeff Pevar, who records and tours with everyone from Ray Charles to Crosby, Stills and Nash, does guitar work for us too. We’ve just added the incredible talents of Gus Sebring, French horn player for the Boston Symphony to our list of friends. The talent pool we draw upon is considerably larger than this, but you get the point.
John: Let’s say for example I am an artist scheduled to have my music produced by you at Imaginary Road Studios. What can an artist expect when they arrive, and is there a set schedule or itinerary for the duration of an artist’s visit?
Will Ackerman: There is absolutely nothing that is formulaic here. Projects have taken days or months. No two projects are the same. There is a tremendous amount of dialogue that takes place between me and the artist before sessions begin and out of that a plan very specifically designed for the project emerges.
This isn’t a matter of someone simply turning up and starting the recording process. By the time we begin we’ve probably selected 80- 90% of the material, have worked out the arrangements and have some ideas as to what the additional instrumentation will be. That said, we’re never completely right. Some of the music will inevitably change and evolve. You have to really listen to what you’ve recorded and hear what’s it’s telling you.
Part of producing is knowing when your preconceptions are no longer valid, but that the music has evolved into something new. It’s part of my job to realize when we have to abandon preconception and allow the music to instruct us. Some of the best music comes about by being open to change and allowing spontaneity to be in charge when it’s productive.
John: When you are in a recording session, do you find yourself constantly motivating an artist in the desired direction, or do you and the artist connect automatically?
Will Ackerman: Once again, John, every person and every session is different. Thankfully, that is the case as the newness keeps me on my toes and aware.
John: How do you make an emotional connection with an artist Will?
Will Ackerman: I’m a musician so I know what it takes to make music that is connected to emotion. How people get there varies greatly. What doesn’t change is the trust that has to be established. If people are going to allow vulnerability into their hearts and music they have to trust me and it’s my responsibility to make that possible for them.
John: Do artists ever have any common misunderstandings about your occupational or leadership role as producer?
Will Ackerman: There is nothing dictatorial in the role. I do have strong opinions and I’m not reticent to express those opinions, but at the end of the day, I’m working for the musicians and their needs and wishes are the ultimate arbiter of where we’re headed.
John: Have there been artists you simply can’t work with?
Will Ackerman: Yes, but thankfully that was long ago and my instincts about people and my understanding of myself (including a realistic evaluation of my own strengths and weaknesses) have made for a decade of very happy encounters. It’s hard work and very stressful, so we try not to record for more than a couple of days in a row.
Learning how to keep spirits up even when everyone is very tired and spent is an important part of the process, but simply knowing that everyone needs rest to be productive and happy is a surprisingly important piece of the puzzle. This is where being a bit older actually helps. One comes to understand their own limitations better which is actually more freeing than limiting.
John: You have produced music for esteemed artists like George Winston, Michael Hedges, Liz Story, Alex de Grassi, and many more top-ranked artists in the music industry.
This may be a hard question to answer Will, but do you believe some of your more recent artists, including debuting artists, have the potential to reach the same success? And if so, do you have any advice or a strategy you would offer to artists wanting to improve their performance skills or advance in their music career?
Will Ackerman: I think it’s a matter of scale to some degree. CD sales are way down and legal downloads don’t begin to compensate for the real losses in pirated music. At the same time we’ve gotten to the point where there is very little a major label knows about the current music business that the average internet-savvy teenager doesn’t know.
In fact the average teenager may be far hipper and more contemporary and imaginative than the guys who are still at desks at the big companies. One line I’ve used in talking with people is why give away 90% of the profits to an organization that doesn’t understand the marketplace any better than the average teenager?
I don’t think this is an exaggerated perspective at all and I think the question is valid. We see established acts reaching the time of contract expiration with major labels and just leaving the majors and creating their own labels with web presence and touring being focal points of their endeavors.
Artists recording on their own labels are keeping 100% of the profit rather than getting maybe a 12% royalty from a major label. Keeping an eye on budget becomes more important than ever (as there are fewer sales and less gross income) and the objective now seems to be about creating a constant internet presence rather than making one huge marketing effort in order to recoup the investment in recording or video etc.
Radio exposure is still important, especially with all of the internet music outlets. Getting reviewed, as always, matters in a big way and given all the websites devoted to niche markets there is more opportunity for attention than ever. Ultimately, however, it’s all about harnessing the internet and touring to cement a relationship with an audience and hone one’s craft.
I recently met a young woman name Kina Grannis who created this incredible video for YouTube. It took 3 months to make the first 10 seconds of this and nearly 2 years to finish. It’s a stop motion video shot against a constantly changing backdrop of paintings done with jellybeans. You heard me right, jellybeans. The video is brilliant, as is Kina, and I believe she’s now had something like ten million hits on this YouTube single. Jelly Belly heard about this and are now underwriting her touring and she just finished a tour of major markets in Europe, then traveled to the far east and Australia as well as the U.S. All of this fueled by a very clever video that her friends help her create.
In looking at the New Age market, I see people still doing a video of a babbling brook and posting it as if there is anything compelling in this. It was novel in 1984 when I did the world’s first digital audio laser discs with Pioneer Home Video and Paramount, but that’s been done and done and done. Be clever. Take a chance. Do something different. You may fail, but it’s ordained that you’ll fail by being one of a million people doing the same thing.
In terms of live performance, George Winston and I would play a benefit for any 5 watt radio station in the U.S. who would give us airplay and we were willing to work from the ground up. I can remember audiences of 6 people where I gave everything I had.
I think you have to have that commitment and the talent to offer something very special to the world, but what is learned on the road is valuable on so many levels and connects you with your audience.
Getting a sense of an audience’s reaction to a new piece, getting a feel for what’s working and what’s not (both for you and for the audience), is something most effectively done in front of a live audience. They’ll tell you a lot about what will be effective in the marketplace. So in answer to your question; yes artists in any genre can still break out onto the world stage, but to really succeed these days you almost certainly have to have brilliant and original (not necessarily expensive) videos and I continue to believe that live performances are an invaluable training ground.
John: Technology has undoubtedly changed since the time when you first began to produce. What are some examples of how new technology changed the way you produce music in the studio today?
Will Ackerman: Fundamentally, the only deep change is digital and I do a great deal to refrain from a complete embrace of what is contemporary. I’m convinced that digital is not all for the best, though the manipulation of digital information in editing, for instance, is just simply brilliant and is an important part of our process here. My principal microphones are VERY expensive matched pairs of Neumanns. What we do with microphone positioning and configurations are literally unique and very much on the cutting edge.
Despite the fact that we’re understandably regarded for our audiophile recordings, our methods are bordering on heretic. I like that. The Hemmingway preamps are rare and a brilliant part of our arsenal. I sometimes use analogue process even in the highest quality digital recordings if I feel there is something to be gained. My own Returning album, which won the GRAMMY® in 2005, was run through Studer heads as part of mastering, for instance.
And there’s Tom Eaton. Tom’s been with me for over a year now and is simply the most talented engineer I’ve known in my entire life. A pianist himself (he actually plays a range of instruments) Tom brings an academic knowledge of music to the room that my intuitive side is grateful for. I was recently having trouble explaining to Tony Levin what I wanted in a piece and Tom took a minute to talk with me and then hit the talk back and said to Tony, “Tony, Will’s hearing it on the one.” It would have taken another 10 minutes for me to finally explain what I was hearing.
I’ve come to respect Tom’s opinion as much as anyone I have ever known. Increasingly he and I are co-producing and the recordings are the better for it. Tom knows the Windham Hill Records catalog better than I do and this history also informs his understanding of where we’re going and why. He respects my position in the producer’s chair, but he always has my ear and no one in my history has been able to command more attention with a gentle, “I was just wondering if.” The man’s simply brilliant and has brought more to my production environment than anyone in my history. He’s also a wonderful, bright, funny human being who has become family in a very short while.
John: You have a one of a kind Steinway piano, and other high-tech equipment at your studio. Is having the highest quality equipment available for artists to use during their visit, one of the most essential components for your productions?
Will Ackerman: Our Steinway is simply magical. I have never recorded anything that compares to it in my entire career. It came here by chance a decade ago as a rental and it simply never left. I just told the owner that he’d have to come up with a price. I called him and told him this and took the rest of the day off and nailed the load-in doors shut and resided the building. He had to sell it to me. When you think of how important the piano has been to my career and how much piano recording I’ve done and you realize that I’m begin utterly honest when I tell you that this is the finest sounding recording piano I’ve ever worked with, that’s a pretty dramatic statement.
There are many quality products that I don’t need. We actually don’t have a lot of toys here. It’s very fundamental stuff. I have some very purist ideas about how to record instruments and it begins with the fact that I want to be inside the instrument. I want to be more proximate to the instrument than almost any producer on the planet.
I want to hear guitar recorded so that it sounds as it does to me when I’m holding it. I want the piano to move from left to right, bass to the high notes and feel like you’re sitting at the piano. I don’t want to soften edges a lot. I don’t want the recordings to be dreamy even if the music itself is. I want the listen to be deeply aware that this is a piece of wood and steel they’re listening to. I think this is partly why I just shy away from keyboards (however good their sampling has become) so much. I love the world of acoustic music. It’s what drives me, and I’m always searching for ways to get even closer and more detailed in my listening and recording. I’ve recently made a discovery about cello, for instance, that pleases me a great deal.
John: Thank you again for giving me and everyone a moment of your time Will. I have a deep respect for your work, and I hope we have a chance to interview again in the future. I am sure there will be fans and artists worldwide reading the newest Will Ackerman interview in 2012. Is there anything you would like to express to the artists and fans that have supported you over the years?
Will Ackerman: First of all, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who agreed to be on The Gathering. My deepest thanks to these wonderfully talented and lovely human beings;
Masako, Paul Jensen, Stanton Lanier, Kathryn Kaye, Rudy Perrone, Fiona Joy Hawkins, Jeff Oster, Dean Boland, Frank Smith, Todd Boston, Rocky Fretz, Shambhu, Kori Linae Carothers, Peter Jennison, Denise Young, Devin Rice and Erin Aas, Lawrence Blatt, Ronnda Cadle, Ann Sweeten, Ken Verheecke and Patrick Gorman.
My thanks too to all the musicians I’ve been blessed to work with. There are musicians I’m producing now and musicians I’ve just finished producing that we didn’t have room for on The Gathering. I hope our success with this project is such that we’ll have a chance to release a second volume.
I hope your readers will support The Gathering. We purposefully decided to make this affordable. At $12 and 74 minutes it’s a bargain and getting turned on to 22 new musicians is a pretty great experience in life. We hope you’ll think of The Gathering as gifts and just a thank you to those in your lives. We’ll be deeply grateful for your help. Will Ackerman.
Visit WilliamAckerman.com and the Imaginary Road Studios. You can sample or purchase The Gathering at CDBaby.com. The majority of artists Will mentioned on The Gathering compilation release have album reviews at this site. Visit my pages dedicated to Will Ackerman and artist tags located in a right hand module. Photos are courtesy williamackerman.com.
Best Instrumental Songs Review: The Gathering by Will Ackerman.
When deciding on a review title for Will Ackerman’s collection of contemporary instrumental songs, the first caption that came to mind involved the word best. There are several reasons why I gave The Gathering a desirable best instrumental song collection title, and I am prepared to give the reasons why. Synonymous with quality music, the name Will Ackerman alone seems to shout excellence! This is apparent, whether it is his own music recording, or one of the 20 plus gold and platinum albums he produced throughout his 35 year professional career.
The Gathering is the newest 2012 instrumental music compilation album from the acclaimed, GRAMMY® Award winning guitarist and producer Will Ackerman. Featuring an exclusive music collection of 22 top-quality songs by 22 great artists, The Gathering is a decisive who’s who of the best quality artists Will Ackerman selected for this release, out of the many fine musicians who had their album produced at his state-of-the-art Imaginary Road Studios.
Will Ackerman is famous worldwide for his production talents as founder Windham Hill Records, and his strong influence in the instrumental music recording industry yesteryear and today. In addition to his role as producer, Will Ackerman is an award-winning composer and guitarist, having performed a vital role in launching the careers of many award-winning artists. Over the past 35 years Will Ackerman has produced albums for over eighty four artists. Some of the most notable artists are Alex de Grassi, Michael Hedges, Michael Manring, Shadowfax, Liz Story and George Winston.
The Gathering by Will Ackerman is an excellent compilation album with 22 of the best contemporary instrumental songs on Will Ackerman’s West River Records label. Famous for founding Windham Hill Records, the legacy of the highest quality artists endures on Will Ackerman’s West River Records label.
The Imaginary Road Studio today engages the expertise of producer and engineer Tom Eaton. Taking the high road in quality studio productions, William Ackerman and Tom Eaton’s expertize help artists embolden their music compositions with grace, elegance and imagination.
Visit WilliamAckerman.com and the Imaginary Road Studios. You can sample or purchase The Gathering at CDBaby.com. Listed below are the 22 artists and 22 song credits for The Gathering 2012 compilation release.
There are a number of new age and contemporary instrumental artists whose music I have reviewed over the years. The 13 artists with album reviews at this site are listed first in the credits. Photos courtesy willackerman.com.
The Gathering Credits – 22 Artists and 22 songs:
1. Ann Sweeten song Dawn on Red Mountain, from Grey Sky And Bittersweet album.
2. Devin Rice & Erin Aas song Thyn Ayre, from The Arrival album.
3. Fiona Joy Hawkins song Feeling Sunshine, from Live At The Q album.
4. Jeff Oster song Serengeti, from True album.
5. Kathryn Kaye song Mountain Laurel, from Heavy as a Feather album.
6. Kori Linae Carothers song Carpe Diem, from Trillium album.
7. Lawrence Blatt song The Color of Sunshine, from The Color of Sunshine album.
8. Masako song Glastenbury, Vermont, from Masako album.
9. Paul Jensen song Taoist Winds, from The Other Side album.
10. Peter Jennison song Anthem, from Longing From Home album.
11. Shambhu song Hide and Seek, from Sacred Love album.
12. Todd Boston song The Brightest Night, from Touched by the Sun album.
13. Will Ackerman song The Wheel, from New England Roads album.
14. Dean Boland song Intimacy, from Soul Whispers album.
15. Denise Young song Livia’s Song, from Something You Dream Of album.
16. Frank Smith song Porch with a View, from Earth Spring album.
17. Ken Verheecke song Forever, from A Place Called Home album.
18. Patrick Gorman song Shades of You, from Chasing Tornados album.
19. Rhonnda Cadle song Shalom, from Will’s Embrace album.
20. Rocky Fretz song Kim’s Song, from The Path Ahead album.
21. Rudy Perrone song The Prophet, from The Language Of Spirits album.
22. Stanton Lanier song Bread of Angels, from A Thousand Years album.
New Age Instrumental Album Review – Awakening by F.E.D.
Frantz Eddy Daniel Jr. who goes by F.E.D. is raising eyebrows by the release of his debut album Awakening. I have to admit I am among a number of review publicists who believe Frantz Eddy Daniel Jr. is a serious contender in the music recording industry. I dare say his debut album Awakening even has award-winning potential.
Awakening by F.E.D. is music like Yanni, Vangelis, and Hans Zimmer, to you an example of his style. It may also be why Awakening is getting the highest album ratings from reviewers, and the rise in popularity of Frantz Eddy Daniel’s music.
It’s easy to compare F.E.D. to these famous cinematic music composers, but this debuting artist’s instrumental music is, as other have expressed, quite exclusive and one of a kind. Two years in the making, the 12 original songs on Awakening are a dazzling blend of electronic instrumentals, with romantic and classical overtones.
Frantz Eddy Daniel Jr. or F.E.D. is already an established, award-winning artist in many respects, having won awards at the World Championships of Performing Arts, International Music Award for best composition, and Music Aid Organization.
Born and raised in Port au-Prince Haiti, Frantz Eddy Daniel Jr. now resides in New York City, where he is extending his career and instrumental new age music that is stylishly deep and mysterious, yet energetic and dreamy. This sophisticated and complex arrangement combination is never easy to achieve, even for top ranked artists with years of experience.
I personally don’t rate music by giving a rating assessment of “Top 10 Albums” or “5 Stars” and “My Highest Recommendation” but Awakening is one of the best new age instrumental, popular crossover debut albums I have heard in awhile. And there are many album reviewers who agree.
If you love the music style that sounds like Yanni, Vangelis, and Hans Zimmer, then Frantz Eddy Daniel Jr.’s Awakening album may be the next 12 song collection of instrumental new age music to make your all-time favorite song playlist.
Newest Music by Original YES vocalist Jon Anderson.
International music celebrity, and original YES vocalist Jon Anderson, is nearing completion of two new music releases for 2012. Jon Anderson’s newest music opus is titled Ever, and a second release of new music is titled Zamran.
Jon Anderson’s newest recording Ever, is a part two sequel to his 21 minute download composition OPEN, a brilliant recording he released in October of 2011. Jon is in the final stages of recording Ever, so his new release will be available soon.
Zamran is Jon Anderson’s sequal to his popular, first solo album Olias of Sunhillow. It may take more time to complete Zamran, but it’s great news to know Jon Anderson is constantly finding creative new ways to express himself musically.
New songs for a special “Earth and Peace” concert timed during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England are another source for new music by Jon Anderson.
The new songs are to be performed live by Jon Anderson at the “Earth and Peace” concert taking place during the Summer Olympic Games in 2012. There hasn’t been an official press release about this special concert event starring Jon Anderson, but once the concert information is announced, I will provide more details when available.
I may have another opportunity to interview Jon Anderson for the second time before long. During this interview I plan to have specific questions about the “Earth and Peace” concert and his role in relation to the Summer Olympic Games later this year, so do check back for this exclusive interview.