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Newest James Hood InterviewExclusive interview in 2014 with music artist James Hood.

Interview host and publicist John P. Olsen recently had an opportunity to interview celebrated percussionist and soloist James Hood, creator of the ambient electronic group, Moodswings, and former percussionist for the popular new wave/alternative band the Pretenders.

Composer, producer and percussionist James Hood has enjoyed a diverse and lengthy career as an instrumentalist. Highlights include a successful solo career, having just released a new 2 disc solo album titled Ceremony. This new release, recorded at the Integratron structure near Joshua Tree, California is currently the #1 album on iTunes Canadian World Music Chart.

James Hood is a highly respected artist who possesses, and has delivered, a versatile range of music to millions throughout his decade’s long career. During this newest interview conversation, which takes place in March of 2014, a wide variety of in-depth topics are explored.

Included in this discussion James Hood talks in detail about his new solo album Ceremony, which is performed exclusively on an exotic percussion instrument named PanArt Hang.

Information on the unique tonal qualities of the percussion instrument is provided, along with the fundamental variations of the Hang. Today I am pleased to present an informative conversation with fans and visitors.

Interview with James Hood in 2014:

John P. Olsen: Thank you so much for accepting my interview invitation James. I have been a fan of the music you have produced for years, and it’s a privilege to host your newest interview in 2014.

James Hood: Thanks John. I appreciate all of your support over the years and it is a pleasure to talk with you.

Band Moodswings Album MoodfoodJohn: In addition to your solo career as a new age artist, you have enjoyed a diverse and remarkable music career, including being the originating member of the popular, ambient electronic band Moodswings. Plus you were a percussionist for several other bands, including the music icons Jeff Beck and pop new wave band the Pretenders.

James Hood: Actually it was Jeff Beck who played on Moodswings’s first CD “Moodfood.” He is a good friend of Chrissie Hynde and she loved the track “Skinthieves,” which she heard me working on while I was playing with the Pretenders the first time. It went on to be the TV theme music for “America’s most wanted” for about 5 years, which was a bit of a shock! I’ve never once watched an episode – not my thing at all!

John: You have a new age double CD album titled Ceremony, newly released on February 4, 2014. I wrote an album review about Ceremony and in preparation for our interview together I read your new solo album is unlike any other album you have produced. I now understand why. Ceremony was recorded at the Integratron structure near Joshua Tree, California, in the Mojave Desert. Why did you decide to record your album at the Integration?

James Hood: I went to the Integratron to hear for myself because I had heard that the sound there was extraordinary. And what I had been told was true; it was an extraordinary aural experience. And I thought it would be a beautiful match for this wonderful sounding instrument.

There are a number of different natural sound effects in different places inside the Integratron and we found the area that suited the instrument best. Then we just put mikes everywhere and started recording. There is something wonderful about listening to music in a building that has been constructed solely for its sound. It was an honor to play there.

John: There are 11 songs on the 2 disk CD Ceremony album. Were all songs improvised or was Ceremony played from a composer’s song sheet while recording at the Integration?

James Hood Integration StudioJames Hood: Angelica and Biorhythmetic were entirely improvised by what I call stream of consciousness playing where I become mesmerized by the beauty and subtlety of the sound until I simply lose track of time.

With the more rhythmically melodic tracks, I wouldn’t say “from a composer’s song sheet” but I already had some melodies planned and grooves in my head when I got to the Integratron and then it just developed on the day from there.

The entire 2 hour double album was recorded in just 2 days and not much longer than that to mix down back at my place. I don’t know what happened here to be honest, ask anyone – I’m the guy who takes 4 years to make a Moodswings album!

John: The music you produced on Ceremony is near opposite in composition to the music you produced with your ambient electronic group, Moodswings, and band the Pretenders. Other people will be writing about your work so your own words James, how would you best describe your music compositions today?

James Hood: I actually don’t agree that they are completely the opposite of Moodswings. It’s simply a different sonic vocabulary. In the Pretenders, apart from a couple of co-writes, I was simply the drummer. Despite the fact that Moodswings and Ceremony sound so different, they were actually written in a similar process.

It starts with hearing a melody or a groove in my head, something that evokes that feeling of something timeless and magical. It’s just that it is found through utterly different musical modalities – really the difference between finding beauty through the digital or the analog. In the case of Ceremony by playing a concave metal plate or with Moodswings by firing off billions of samples!

John: What were the circumstances or events where you discovered the PanArt Hang for the first time, and why did you become interested in this exotic percussion instrument?

PanArt Hang at Integration James Hood: I was at a drum circle at a British music festival. Someone had one and it was love at first sight. Having been a drummer my whole life, I was very interested in a percussion instrument that was so melodic – or a melodic instrument that was so percussive!

The sound totally mesmerized me, made me feel instantly inspired and elevated. Why wouldn’t you want to play that instrument every day? I immediately started imagining first how to play it both very fast and very lightly to create a sort of watery rhythmical momentum that I felt would be very mesmerizing.

It took me a few years to find out while I built up the finger strength, because to hit the drum consistently softly strangely takes more strength than hitting it hard. I had to train my right arm to be stronger so that I could play completely evenly which is more comforting on the ear.

John: There are several variations of the PanArt Hang since its creation by Felix Rohner and Sabina Scharerin in the year 2000. At your official JamesHood.com website you describe the PanArt Hang as a musical instrument with seven holes, and a dome in the middle. Included in our interview together are photos, but could you describe the instrument in more detail and explain the variations of this exclusive instrument?

James Hood: When PanArt first released the first generation of Hang drums, which are still my favorite, they were very adventurous with the range of tunings, both Western and Eastern scales were experimented with. This allows me like a harmonica player, to play in multiple keys.  The second generation, they reduced the range of tunings and although I have a second generation hang that I love, I think the first generation are the most magical of all PanArt products.

John: What version do you play with live performances, and why have you selected this specific version?

Newest James Hood CDJames Hood: I perform with a first generation Pentatonic F (Metal Ambulance, Sonic Ashram, Friendly Alien), a first generation Pentatonic C (Sweet Acceptance, Imaginary Friend, A Goat Called Lavendar Angelika).These two are both very light with a  beautiful chime. The second generation D Minor Pentatonic (Cherry Mandala, Fey Bedouin) is much warmer in tone, darker and almost sultry.

John: In terms of the music you produce today, was making a transition from more popular forms of music to a niche genre like new age music a challenge for you, or was the change a relatively easy one to make?

James Hood: It was both. Having produced music from an almost infinite palate of sounds, it was refreshing to limit myself to one instrument. It certainly made completing a record that much faster. But I was also aware of a sweet momentum with “CEREMONY” – everything just flowed.

 As a producer it didn’t feel at all limited to just use one instrument because by using different microphones and certain different sonic approaches. I found I could get a very wide variety of sounds.

And something extraordinary started to happen when I overdubbed a couple of different parts with the same drum. I started to hear wonderful harmonics that were simply the sum of all the individual parts – sometimes I thought could hear angelic voices and washes that are entirely a sonic mirage, caused by the pure harmony of the overtones in the metal.

 I have become used to really taking my time over completing a record. I am perhaps a little bit of a perfectionist. Recording with the PanArt Hang was like learning how to produce in a different way. Because it already sounded pretty perfect in its raw form, whereas I suppose in the past I would spend a huge amount of time trying to polish samples to get to the same glistening effect that the Hang does so naturally.

I never listened back to much in the studio but would rather do a rough mix-down and then go listen to it in a normal environment like my car or in the kitchen. For some reason, I was unable to make decisions regarding the pacing or progress of a track in the usual studio environment. As soon as I took it out of the studio, it made more sense. It’s a different kind of music that wants to be part of scenery – like sonic incense.

Musician James HoodJohn: I would imagine most musicians know from experience, what may appear to be an easy instrument to play is often more difficult than it looks, and vice versa. Is playing the Hang difficult, or is the instrument pretty forgiving, and relatively easy to play?

James Hood: I think it is fairly easy to sound okay on the Hang pretty fast if you know how to play a steady rhythm. Some people hit it and can’t really get a sound out of it. It’s best if you have pretty rubbery wrists! If you have to learn both all about playing rhythm and getting a sound out of the hang, I think it would be pretty challenging.

Since I already knew the rhythm bit, it was just learning the technique of how to hit the Hang. Some people can just pick the hang up, hit it and it sounds nice. But a lot of people, when they first hit the hang, it makes no sound at all, just a dull metallic clunk.

John: In relation to being a solo instrumental performer, what are the main components that set your music apart from other musicians who perform on a hand played solo instrument?

James Hood: I think I play softer than most people. I am obsessed by the gossamer light warm tone that the instrument emits when stroked very lightly. I also don’t think a record quite like this has ever been made, apart from a couple of solo performances.

Most of this record is a veritable orchestra of interweaving hang parts intricately pieced together rather like making sonic jewelry – then add into the mix (literally), a brilliant warm old valve microphone that we recorded everything on and of course the  extraordinary sounding place we recorded everything – love it or not, it’s undeniably a pretty unique album. What I am trying to achieve with this instrument is to find sacred sonic moments that warm the heart and make time stand still for a while. I consider the Hang to be sacred, created by a small company with an inspired pure intention to reach the divine.

John: The sound qualities of a PanArt Hang are quite unique, possessing tonal qualities apart from all other percussion instruments, including the Steel Pan or Steel Drum percussion instruments, and other directly struck, or hand played idiophone. How would you describe this unique sound?

James Hood: I feel it is the sound of perfection, a simple pure ringing tone that sweeps thru the body and I think for other people it is the same. People react instantly when they hear it! I feel the sound has an almost primordial quality, a thin piece of welded iron that sings with a compassionate grace.

Newest James Hood InterviewJohn: In addition to your current studio album Ceremony, you plan to perform live on stage playing the PanArt Hang. Are there any obstacles for you to overcome while performing a live solo act?

James Hood: My approach is rather like that of a classical Indian musician or those who play kirtan, in that I aim to birth a devotional sacred atmosphere that speaks to the warm sensitivity in people.

Live I also perform with beautiful immersive visual accompaniment going on around me, mostly created by a brilliant Russian artist, Tatiana Plakhova from complexitygraphics.com to encourage the mind to swim in this ecstatic reverie of pure sound and light.

The combination of the sound and the images form a powerful transformative experience that aims to help people fall effortlessly into that intimate pure inner space within them self where they can really access their own power and clarity thru this instrument.

When I perform my intention is first to try get out of my own way mentally and allow myself to be in a trance by the sound. If I can get there it’s more likely that that energy will transmit to the audience. There can be no stress in my mind when I’m playing the Hang. Luckily the amount of time that I have played the Hang now and the mesmerizing effect of the sound usually helps me to get into a sort of trance and awe which can have a powerful effect on both me and the audience!

John: Obviously the concert venues you will be performing at will be a lot different than say, The Pretenders and Moodswings. What venue setting would be a likely venue for you to perform live solo music, and who would one contact to book you for a performance?

James Hood: The ideal setting is an intimate seated, comfortable warm environment with lots of wood, where there is no background noise (like in a theater or cinema). You’re right in that this is a very different type of show to what I have previously done in my musical career. Simply put, I’m trying to calm people’s heart rates down rather than whip them up into a frenzy of rocking excitement.

James Hood WebsiteJohn: I try to provide music news coverage for an artist’s fans if possible, so do you have any press information about upcoming events, your solo work or news related to Moodswings?

James Hood: Just keep an eye on www.jameshood.com and my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/jameshoodmusic all news will be posted there. It’s also worth keeping an eye on YouTube because I will be posting regular improvisations and other sonic snippets because I am recording all the time and it has to keep flowing out so as to make a space for the new to come in!

John: In closing I want to thank you again for agreeing to our interview James. I am pleased to present your newest interview for your fans and visitors. I hope we have a chance to visit again to update everyone on current news about you.

James Hood: It has been a pleasure! Thank you so much for your interest and support. I appreciate you and everyone who can help me reach as many people as possible with this unusual music, because this instrument needs to be heard and not many have. There are not many undeniably and uniquely beautiful things in this world, something whose beauty you can’t deny and the PanArt Hang is such a thing! It has been such a joy to learn its ways, it has already changed me for the best and I feel I am just getting started. This instrument is like a fractal-the deeper you go into it the more it reveals!

Visit JamesHood.com for more news and information. You may also sample and purchase Ceremony at Amazon.com. Follow current news and events at James Hood Facebook page. Photos and album cover art courtesy jameshood.com.

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Moya Brennan InterviewPublicist and blog host John P. Olsen had an opportunity to interview famed singer, harpist and instrumental recording artist from Ireland, Moya Brennan.

During this interview taking place during the summer of 2013, a variety of in-depth topics are covered. Included is a conversation about her new vocal and instrumental album with professional harpist Cormac De Barra titled Affinity. Moya Brennan also details aspects of her life and solo career, and of the Celtic music group Clannad.

Recognized as the First Lady of Celtic Music, and The Voice of Clannad, today I am pleased to present an informative interview conversation with the famed Irish musician, Moya Brennan.

John P. Olsen: Thank you for accepting my interview invitation Moya! Interest in your music has grown tremendously over the years, and you have a wonderful story to share. Like your fans, I am a longtime admirer of the music you have produced too, so it’s a privilege to host your newest interview for fans and visitors in 2013, here at New Age Music World.

Shall we begin our conversation with the topic of your brand new album with Cormac de Barra titled Affinity. Your newest album is now available at your Voices & Harps website, and currently available at major music stores like Amazon and iTunes. I have been listening to Affinity non-stop, and consider it to be one of your best albums yet. It makes me curious to know if others share the same view as I. What is the feedback you have received so far on your newest album, and is the response what you expected?

Moya Brennan: John, thank you for your kind words about Affinity and I’m so glad you are enjoying it. You’ll be pleased to hear that you are not alone in reacting to Affinity in such a way. Feedback has been really positive (and sometimes verging on the superlative!) To say that this is what we hoped for would be spot on but what we expected? I’m not sure.

Of course we are supremely proud of the album but I have been working for long enough to know that you can emerge from the bubble of the studio thinking you have redefined the musical universe, only to discover that the rest of the world doesn’t necessarily share your feelings. All I know is that the musical partnership I have developed with Cormac is far greater than the sum of the parts and that our song choices, arrangements and performances are of the best we both have to offer.

Voices & HarpsJohn: Affinity is the follow-up album of your earlier release with harpist Cormac De Barra titled; Voices & Harps. Another fine release I might add. What would you say are the distinctions in theme and melody in comparison to your newest release?

Moya Brennan: To give you some background, Voices & Harps was recorded on an inspired whim! That’s not to say we didn’t put our hearts into it. More that it was something we’d been talking about doing for several years and a little three-week window opened up early 2011, which we jumped through and emerged with our first V&H album. We sat back and listened to it in the cold light of day and were thrilled to have achieved so much in such a short space of time.

As with Affinity, I think we surprised a few people – and ourselves. Cormac has been quite a significant force for me rediscovering the beauty and purity of my traditional roots. In my solo work I have explored quite a lot of contemporary forms along with musical influences from around the world – for instance Eastern Europe and Africa. Cormac’s repertoire and knowledge of the Irish tradition is incredible so this was always our starting point.

The theme of Voices & Harps was as simple as the title. I arrived with my voice (and harp) while Cormac arrived with his harp (and voice). Sounds funny but we both came to each other with the same skills, albeit with different emphasis respectively. We chose some songs and tunes that we both had been performing already, some which we had always wanted to record and we wrote others which encompassed my approach to atmospheric vocal layers with a harp foundation.

When we came to record (what turned out to be titled Affinity) the approach was similar but with attitude made bolder by our happiness and reaction to our first album. We were actually going to call it Voices & Harps II but realized that the title, Affinity, once again, summed up our performing relationship and the blending of our musical skills.

John: What is the creative drive behind your newest album composition Affinity?

Moya & CormacMoya Brennan: Echoing what I said previously, our creative inspiration is a bringing together of what we do well! Maybe, more than anything though we let ourselves go a bit more than before. Sure, there are absolutely beautiful songs which we both of learned from our grandparents – Ardaigh Cuan from my grandmother and Seoithin Seo from Cormac’s – but we felt we had the confidence to write new songs as well.

While we both grew up surrounded by traditional music we have also been open to a wide range of musical influences. So there is the dreamy, trancy ambience of song Suas Sios, and a contemporary slant to Worlds Collide and I Feel You Breathe.

I should also mention The Lass of Aughrim, from Affinity. I was invited to perform at a Galway alumni dinner in New York last year. The Galway Association were to honor Angelica Houston as part of the ceremonials. I had always been moved by her part in the John Houston movie, The Dead, based on a James Joyce short story.

This song appears at one of the most poignant moments in the film and I heard that she loved the song. It brought her to tears at the dinner and afterwards she said that we must record it. So we did and have her to thank for encouraging us.

John: The chart topping hit song Sailing by Christopher Cross is a lead single on Afffinity. I read in a press release the cover song Sailing holds special meaning to you on a personal level. What is the personal significance of the song Sailing?

Moya Brennan: Hey, I think what I said is that it was part of the soundtrack of my youth. So in the respect that it will forever bring me back to that stage in my life I’m not saying it has any emotional or cosmic significance! It’s a beautiful song and an unusual song. Cormac and I had been toying with the idea of doing a cover song and we were nearing the end of the process of choosing our final selection.

I was driving back from a concert in Cork and just as I pulled into the house in Dublin Sailing came on the radio. I had my daughter, Aisling (my band guitarist and album studio engineer), in the car and we sat and heard it out. I wondered how it would translate to harp and vocals but when Cormac came in the next morning he played around with the intro on the harp (some devilish key changes) and eventually broke through to provide the song with familiar, but new, bedrock.

Lyrically, it’s a song of hope and dreams – subjects that I love to visit in songs anyway. As you can imagine, our cover of this song has surprised a lot of people but nobody has said that it feels out of place among the others.

Clannad ConcertJohn: Harpist and television host Cormac De Barra is also a member of your band and the group Clannad. In addition to the numerous albums you and Cormac have produced together you each have achieved successful solo careers. How did you and Cormac meet and form a professional team Voices & Harps?

Moya Brennan: In 2004 I recorded my Two Horizons album. This, more than any other recording I have made, was a concept album. Starting with the Thomas Moore song, The Harp that Once Through Tara’s Hill, I developed a story line bringing a mythical harp through the ages, through slavery in Africa and emigration to the wilds of an American desert populated by native women played the harp in their traditional ceremonials.

My (then) musical director Fionan De Barra, introduced me to his brother, Cormac, whose harp playing instantly provided a fullness to my stage setup. We have worked together ever since and discovered an interesting fact that less is more. It is such a resonant and powerful instrument that often, very little else is needed.

John: During the course of your music career you have toured extensively in many parts of the world. Would it be fair to say you simply adore the personal interaction with an audience while performing live shows?

Moya Brennan: I absolutely love it. My father spent his life on stage – firstly in a traveling show band and then as host in his own music pub in County Donegal – and I’m convinced that I take after him. I love the way that you can engage an audience and draw them into your world – even if they are unfamiliar with your work. I love bringing people to another place in shows (even for ninety minutes) and hearing how afterwards how they were able to shake off their stress and troubles for that short period as they became absorbed in what was coming from the stage.

Voices & Harps ConcertJohn: Even today you perform live concerts, and recently gave a Voices & Harps Workshop last month. Could you tell everyone about your live performances and provide details about the workshops?

Moya Brennan: Cormac and I do the workshop every June and have just completed our third year running. This year was a sell out! We keep to limited numbers in order to give everyone direct and personal attention. I work through a choice of songs with some and Cormac works on harp tunes with others. At the end of the weekend the two meet in a thrilling showcase. I say thrilling deliberately because I see people who have walked in on the Friday with virtually no experience singing and playing on stage for the first time and literally going through a life changing experience.

John: What song selections can a concert attendee expect to hear during a live concert with Moya Brennan?

Moya Brennan: I think I gave a taste of that in an earlier question. I like to create an atmosphere which frees the mind and spirit of an audience. But in a more practical sense Cormac and I obviously play much of our Voices & Harps repertoire, I have a number of solo favorites and, of course, I do visit some of the Clannad classics from time to time. There’s a bit of everything – from quiet atmosphere to rousing Irish trad sets.

John: Music has been a part of your life from the beginning, with many notable achievements along the way. What would you say was the turning point where you knew you were a career musician with a professional career ahead of you?

Moya Brennan: You’re right, it started early! I used to go off to Scotland with my father’s band at the age of seven to perform on St. Patrick’s Day. There were two significant moments in our (Clannad’s) career which convinced us that we had this calling. In 1970 we came first in the prestigious Letterkenny Folk Festival. The prize was to record an album which turned out to be Clannad 1.

IrelandOur music was almost exclusively in the Irish language and, strange as it may seem now, nobody in Ireland wanted to listen to songs in their native language. So we’d go off to Germany in a battered van and drive up and down the autobahns playing to audiences who couldn’t get enough of it! Yes, bizarre!

In 1978, during a German tour, we received a standing ovation in the classic Bremen Town Hall. As we glowed in the dressing room after the show we suddenly realized we could do this as a career and returned to Ireland as a professional band.

John: There are a number of original songs on Affinity sung in Gaelic, which is the native Irish language. It is in part a reason for the surge in popularity taking place during your solo career, and of the group Clannad, in which you are a founding member. What is it about the Gaelic dialect, blended with melodic themes that have generated so much interest?

Moya Brennan: As I said above, there was a time when we were actively discouraged from singing Gaeilge songs. Ireland of the seventies was only forward looking and chose not to think about its traditional culture. Thankfully, things changed slowly and we are so pleased we stuck to our principles and language. Irish is a very different to other European languages.

It allows us to reflect images of our natural surroundings in a true way. Many of our songs celebrate the sea, mountains and ruggedness of our native Donegal. I’m so proud of my language and it combines beautifully with my music.

John: Clannad’s influence on the merging of traditional Celtic and pop music, including Celtic Fusion in the 1980s and 1990s cannot be overstated. I read at the Clannad.ie website that a new follow-up album to Clannad at Christ Church Cathedral CD & DVD is scheduled for release in September of 2013. Can you provide any news or information regarding the new Clannad album for 2013?

Moya Brennan: I do believe we were pioneers in bringing Celtic music to a wider audience with contemporary influences and instrumentation. Although it didn’t make us popular with the trad community at the time, it’s interesting to see how the form has been followed, imitated and developed into a distinct musical genre. We have just finished recording a new Clannad album – the first studio album since 1997. It will be released in September this year and the title is under wraps for now.

Moya Brennan HarpistJohn: You have enjoyed a stellar music career with many successes, awards and recognition along the way Moya. What do you find most rewarding intrinsically as a professional concert and studio musician?

Moya Brennan: It has to be winning the Letterkenny Folk Festival in 1970. I know there have been many other incredible moments but this probably changed my life more than any other.

John: Would you like to tell us about your charitable endeavors and work as a goodwill ambassador, and why is philanthropy important to you on a personal level?

Moya Brennan: I hope that what I do comes from my heart and in that applies equally to my music and my charity work. Like anyone else, I am seriously humbled by those who dedicate their entire lives to helping the disadvantaged and downtrodden. I do get asked to be involved in far more than I am able to take on so one thing I have chosen is to broaden awareness of the disability charity, CBM.

Although they originally set out to work with blindness they have come to realize that lack of sight is just one of a number of common disabilities in the developing world which leaves its sufferers as marginalized and hidden in their communities. As a Goodwill Ambassador I have traveled in Africa and South America to see CBM’s amazing work and bring back my experiences to remind people how fortunate they are and how much needs to be done to provide decency and respect for the disabled.

John: I know for a fact that artists at various stages of their music careers will read our interview Moya. One question I always like to ask a highly successful artist like yourself is; would be willing to offer any helpful suggestions about the music business, or offer some words of advice to artists just beginning their music careers?

Moya Brennan: The music business has changed so much since I started. There was once a time when we could survive quite well just on record sales. Those days have gone and it has become far more important to get on stage and engage your audience in a live setting.

Moya Brennan - ClannadBut the universal truths still remain: Believe in what you’re doing, don’t be discouraged by rejection, remain true to your art, practice your instrument (or voice), share ideas with others you trust and learn how to express them to a wider audience.

John: As a publicist I like to report on current music news information when I can, so I would like to ask if you have any press information you would care to pass along about additional album projects or upcoming special events you plan to make public soon?

Moya Brennan: I am currently planning a Christmas tour in the USA in December. Final details have yet to be settled but will appear on my website in due course. I recorded a Christmas album a few years ago and, amazingly, it hasn’t dated over the years. I normally tour it in Europe so this will be the first time American audiences will experience An Irish Christmas.

John: I look forward to providing more information when available Moya, and must say you have experienced a fascinating life and career. It has been a privilege to host your newest interview in 2013 and I wish you continued success in the years ahead. I hope we have a chance to visit again to update everyone on the current news about you. In closing for now, is there anything you would like to express to our readers, and fans that have supported you throughout your career?

Moya Brennan: Nothing but immense thanks and appreciation for letting me do what I enjoy and share it with fans. Their loyalty, friendship and encouragement are what keep me going.

Moya Brennan and Cormac De Barra’s new album Affinity is currently available in physical CD format and Mp3 format, or single song downloads at VoicesAndHarps.com. You may sample and purchase the 12 songs on Affinity at Amazon.com and find the album or single song downloads for Affinity at iTunes.

Find albums and concert info at MoyaBrennan.com. Interview photos courtesy moyabrennan.com & voicesandharps.com.

Grammy World MusicBest World Music Album: The Recording Academy bestows Ravi Shankar a 55th GRAMMY® Award in the Best World Music Album Category for his album The Living Room Sessions Part 1.

The 55th GRAMMY® Award Winners in 81 specific categories were announced during a live presentation ceremony. The show publicized as “Music’s Biggest Night” aired live during a televised broadcast on the CBS Television Network.

The ceremony held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on February 10, 2013 included a series of show performances while honoring top artists for their achievements by one or more awards of 81 total Best Album Award categories.

Selected Best World Music Album in category #51, a Music Award was bestowed to Ravi Shankar posthumously. Award recipients in all categories were determined by voting members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Ravi Shankar won the Best World Music Album GRAMMY® Award for his album titled The Living Room Sessions Part 1.

Grammy World MusicThe GRAMMY® Awards first inaugurated in 1959 was formed to recognize artists for their achievements in the music recording industry. To give you an idea how popular this awards presentation has become, the Annual Music Awards is ranked in viewership popularity as one of the highest rated television special programs.

Last year’s televised live Annual Music Awards ceremony reported 39.9 million viewers worldwide. The prime-time awards presentation in 2013 with an equally long list of popular celebrities who performed live during the presentation ceremony is expected to be another record breaking year for television viewership.

The four additional nominees and their albums in the 55th Music Awards for Best World Music Album are: Folila by Amadou & Mariam, On A Gentle Island Breeze by Daniel Ho, Jabulani by Hugh Masekela and Traveller by Anoushka Shankar. For album reviews and interviews with additional Award-Winning and Nominated artists at this site find further reading and information on my main pages.

To sample or purchase The Living Room Session Part 1 album visit RaviShankar.org. You may also sample or purchase The Living Room Session Part 1 at the store page for Ravi Shankar at Amazon.com. To read the complete list of award-winning artists, including all award-nominees in all 81 Best Album Categories visit Grammy.com. Cover art and photo are courtesy ravishankar.org. & Big Stock Photo – AnmFoto.

Michael Cretu – Making Enigma MMX The Social Song.

The fan friendly musical project Enigma is well known for offering fans trendsetting new projects.  The Social Song is but one example of the total Enigma experience. The Top 10 Player is a new feature for fans to share the masterful projects by Enigma founder Michael Cretu.

Enigma’s Top Ten Player is another new interactive way to enhance the overall experience by enabling visitors to rate their favorite Enigma songs and videos, which results in a Top 10 Audio and Top 10 Video hit list selection for visitors to listen or watch full length streams.

Enigma MMX (The Social Song) designed by founder Michael Cretu was a unique way to generate new excitement by allowing fans to participate during the entire collaboration process over a 3 month period. The Top 10 Player is another fan friendly new project.

While the worldwide media event for Enigma MMX (The Social Song) is now a reality, visitors can now sign up for free membership to Enigma’s Top 10 Player that gives members exclusive access to a full length, top hit list of songs, videos and more.

Visit EnigmaSpace.com for the latest news, new music and to watch the official YouTube video of Enigma’s MMX The Social Song. Shown below is an official YouTube video around 30 minutes long with Michael Cretu, during which he and others describe Making of Enigma MMX (The Social Song).

Pre-release Instrumental Music Review: Tales of a Gypsy by Award-Winning, Latin Style Guitarist Johannes Linstead.

International recording artist Johannes Linstead is preparing to release a brand new 2012 follow up to his award-winning instrumental album Mistico. The name of the newest album to be released by the famed Latin style, world-fusion guitarist Johannes Linstead on October 22, 2012 is Tales of a Gypsy.

Like Mistico, Cafe Tropical, Encanto, Mediterranea and earlier highly praised releases by Johannes Linstead, Tales of a Gypsy is one among a vast number of new albums produced in 2012 to be in consideration for various best album award categories. From the start I can tell you many industry insiders will say Tales of a Gypsy is his best release yet!

For Johannes Linstead, accolades of his music by even the most popular music sites, however important, are welcomed but may have become commonplace. As the recipient of an impressive number of top music awards, a few include the honors of Best World Album, Best Acoustic Instrumental Album, Guitarist of the Year, World Artist of the Year, in addition to making the Billboard Top 10 Charts.

Tales of a Gypsy has 11 new songs by the champion Latin style guitarist you are sure to love. Beginning with the first song Jungle Love the listener is drawn into the exotic instrumental wonder in which Johannes Linstead thrives.

Reveling in producing music with upbeat tempos and intricate guitar riffs, flawless perfection is foremost while creating an environment of excitement for the listener. Along with songs of festive revelry you will hear in Tales of a Gypsy, moderately paced songs generate a wonderful sense of passion and enthusiasm by the intricately laid back instrumental harmony.

Tales of a Gypsy was created by a group of fine artists from around the globe. It’s the unity of these talented artists that have helped him create what can be considered his best album to date. Joining Johannes Linstead are Anastasios Bigas, Geoff Hlibka, Janljdan Ruiz, Sina Khosravl, Alex Godinez, Jordan Abraham. Special guest artists are Nicholas Gunn, Gisele Fredette and Vasyl Popadiouk.

With so many achievements another award may be regarded as one more official endorsement place upon his work. For Johannes Linstead however, I can imagine the highest honor he receives today may be an intrinsic one. The personal enjoyment knowing people simply love his music could be the best prize of all.

The 11 song titles on Tales of a Gypsy are Jungle Love, Noche de la Juerga, Swaying Palms, September Remembered, La Lunada, Vagabond Stomp, Bella! Bella!, Sosua Bay Sunset, Tales of a Gypsy, Flows Like Water, Caravan of Desire. Sevara is another artist name in which Johannes Linstead releases instrumental music. If you have a chance, listen to the album Everlasting Joy – Music for Yoga. It’s a beautiful album that yet again, highlights his expertise as a guitarist.

Visit JohannesLinstead.com for news. Famous for his live concert performances, Canadian Concertgoers can check out the Johannes Linstead 2012 Concert Tour Schedule. Prior to October 22, 2012 you may pre-order Tales of a Gypsy at Amazon. Photos are courtesy johanneslinstead.com.

Race To The End by Jon Anderson, with Christophe Lebled. Tribute Song to Olympic themed Chariots of Fire by Vangelis.

Even with the London 2012 Olympic Games moving full speed ahead, official Olympic music scores for the ceremonial events appear to have taken on a life of their own. First by the record breaking interest given to artists producing Olympic songs with official ties to the London Games, and secondly a number of equally exciting tribute albums and songs produced by various artists.

Original YES vocalist and lyricist Jon Anderson of the United States, and artist Christophe Lebled from France, have produced a wonderful Olympic tribute song of the famous Vangelis composition Chariots of Fire. Jon’s new mp3 single shown in the song video below is aptly titled Race To The End.

Jon Anderson as you may know has performed live concerts with Vangelis for years, and together they have produced a number of great singles and albums as the team (Jon & Vangelis). The albums Short Stories, The Friends of Mr. Cairo, Private Collection & Page of Life, are highly regarded classic albums. Two of the most popular Jon & Vangelis singles/songs with an inspiring theme are I’ll Find My Way Home & State of Independence.

Christophe Lebled has in turn has worked with Jon Anderson a number of times over the years, more recently providing instrumentals for Jon Anderson’s prized concept album Survival & Other Stories. Christophe Lebled is again working with Jon Anderson in 2012. Their newest project is the Olias of Sunhillow – Live in 2012 sequel titled Zamran. This newest project is a re-creation of Jon Anderson’s original Olias of Sunhillow, which was Anderson’s first solo album.

Race To The End by Jon Anderson, with Christophe Lebled is a brilliant new song revision on Vangelis’s original composition Chariots of Fire. You can sample the new Race To The End single yourself, but I thought the lyrics and vocals by Anderson, and the keyboard soundscapes by Lebled is a fine song version of Chariots of Fire, itself with an inspiring theme song of the Olympics Games.

Jon Anderson is due to perform in the UK during the Earth and Peace Concert at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England. Jon Anderson’s concert performance is going to be at Sadler’s Wells Theater in London on August 8, 2012.

People attending this special concert event at Sadler’s Wells Theater will hear Jon Anderson and the Slovakian Chamber Orchestra perform favorite song classics from YES, Jon & Vangelis songs, plus new songs specific to the Earth and Peace Concert, timed with the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Ticket information for the Sadler’s Wells Concert will be posted when available at JonAnderson.com. Currently the former front-man of YES is also scheduled to perform live concerts in Uruguay and Brazil this September.

Christophe Lebled himself has produced an entire album to compliment the orchestral works of Vangelis. The release from 2011 titled Tribute to Vangelis has 11 songs total, and is comprised of a variety of Vangelis soundtrack songs including Antarctica, The Bounty – Closing Theme, Pinta Nina Santa-Maria, Pulstar & Abraham’s Theme from Chariots of Fire.

Tribute to Vangelis by Christophe Lebled is an admirable tribute album to the Greek composer. In every respect, Christophe Lebled’s Tribute to Vangelis release is unequaled to any other interpretations I have ever heard to date.

While keeping within the same melody and intricate harmony structures of Vangelis compositions, the sound and atmosphere is uniquely his own, which makes a masterful re-creation to compliment the graceful soundscape of composer Vangelis. Christophe Lebled not only re-creates the sound of Vangelis, but rivals the composer in effect with some areas on this fine tribute release.

Jon Anderson and Christophe Lebled each have their own original albums to check out, in addition to their new tribute single for Vangelis’s Chariots of Fire. Below is the Race To The End song video. Check back for Anderson’s new album Zamran, featuring Christophe Lebled later in 2012.

Sample or purchase Race To The End at iTunes, and visit Christophe’s website at ChristopheLebled.com. Photos courtesy jonanderson.com & christophelebled.com.

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.

Dr. Michael Brant DeMaria is a 54th GRAMMY® Awards Nominee in the Best New Age Album category this year, scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012. Nominated for his Gaia album, Michael is also a new age artist with a continuous mission.

For the past 30 years as an integrative psychotherapist, Michael has committed much of his life helping people resolve their personal issues.

Bindu is the brand new 2012 release from Michael Brant DeMaria, who is a top ranked new age artist in his own right. The first release in his Ontos Healing Sound Project is The River, which led to his GRAMMY® Nominated healing/meditation release Ocean.

Remaining the number 1 album for 3 months on Zone Music Reporter’s top 100 monthly charts, Ocean ended the year 2009 achieving ZMR’s Best Ambient & Best Relaxation Album Awards.

GRAMMY® Nominated in 2012, Gaia has a graceful vibrancy that gently renews the inner spirit. Gaia is comparable to The River & Ocean, but the innovative world music inspirations found in Gaia heighten the emotional sensations of calm, and ascertains our undeniable connection with planet earth. Many may remember in 2010, Gaia achieved Album Of The Year & Best World Album in Zone Music Reporter’s Music Awards.

Bindu is a wellness driven musical experience from the directive of four time GRAMMY® Nominee Dr. Michael Brant DeMaria, who is conceivably the most accomplished artist in the field of relaxation/meditation music today.

Fourth in his popular Healing Sound Project, the serenity of Michael’s performance on Bindu reaches the pinnacle of healing music, this time turning his focus inward on the identity of oneself, and the identity of one another.

Michael Brant DeMaria as a professional caregiver has supported others by guiding them through some of life’s most challenging situations. And so by this directive, Michael transforms his capacities as a healthcare professional into therapeutic music designed to help people manage life’s challenges.

Bindu is another exceptional new album with award winning potential, but only time will tell if Bindu will secure his fifth nomination in 2013, and if Gaia will achieve GRAMMY® Award status in 2012.

Michael’s firsthand experience as both a professional caregiver and top award nominee in 2012 has placed him in a unique position by becoming a benefactor on one hand, and a potential beneficiary on another.

Visit ontos.com homepage and sample or purchase at his music store page or Amazon.com page. Read our interview and album reviews on my page dedicated to Michael Brant DeMaria. Photo images courtesy Michael Brant DeMaria.

David and Steve Gordon are two prominent names people across the globe identify as one of the most prolific artists in today’s international music scene. Plus, the quality arrangements this team of brothers create on a regular basis have made them highly successful, and rightfully so.

Since the founding of their esteemed Sequoia Records label 28 years ago, the award winning Gordon Brothers have rightly earned the honorable reputation of being legendary music producers.

The Gordon Brother’s early formation of new age nature sounds was the inception of their adventurous journey into the more diverse styles of musical arrangements they produce today, which is an comprehensive array of new age, world, electronic, ambient, relaxation, plus an extensive collection of groove and chill out music.

Enthusiasts of groove and chill out music know that David and Steve Gordon are consistently “in the groove themselves” by their great selection of multicultural world fusion albums, which expertly blend ethnic drums and exotic song melodies into world class instrumental music.

David and Steve Gordon are indeed influential when composing their own music creations, plus their compilation albums that highlight top artists from around the globe are another significant component during their role as award winning DJs. Selecting international musical talents from around the world, the top quality artists on Sequoia Record’s playlist lineup can likewise be found on many of their relaxation, groove and chill out releases.

Groove Tribe is the Gordon Brother’s new groove album featuring a vibrant blend of electronic music with ethnic percussion rhythms that creates a distance miles apart from many other forms of multicultural world music. This arrangement contains the calming metrical rhythms and vibrant electronic harmonies that keep the Gordon Brothers in the forefront of new age and world music styles. It also highlights their ability to fashion a wide selection of popular music in a variety of sub-genres.

Groove Tribe has 11 songs of electronic groove and chill out music with world drums and musical instruments. Every song carries the relaxing yet vibrant trademark sound of quality in which David and Steve Gordon are famous. This album is an exotic assortment of smooth song melodies in step with ethnic percussion rhythms so it’s no wonder Groove Tribe has been a bestselling choice for many people.

For those who may be less familiar with their music, or would like a starting point to sample their albums, the Gordon Brothers make finding the right selection easy for you by cataloging their most popular, bestselling releases in a variety of styles and formats.

Visit the sequoiarecords.com homepage and David & Steve Gordon’s music page, and sign up for their Sequoia newsletter.  Here is where you can listen to or buy Groove Tribe and find their bestsellers. Photos are courtesy sequoiarecords.com.

Jeff Oster is an important name in the music recording industry, and by all accounts, he is an outstanding flugelhorn and trumpet performer like no other. I can say this about the classical and jazz trained horn player with confidence, even before sampling the first of eleven songs on his jazz fusion album he released titled Surrender.

Surrender is Jeff Oster’s fourth of his three prior releases; True, Released & At Last. For those as familiar with Jeff Oster like I am, then you recognize he is a dynamic session artist whose horn parts have played a vital role in music released from a multitude of top artists in the New Age and World music genres for many years.

While Jeff Oster has won album awards of his own, many of his collaboration releases won awards too, performing on studio recordings with artists like Fiona Joy Hawkins, Jamie Bonk, Matt Millecchia, Kori Linae Carothers, Lawrence Blatt, Ann Sweeten, Shambhu, and many more top new age artists producing music today.

Jeff Oster is likewise a strategic recording artist with GRAMMY® Award-Winning Will Ackerman, at his Imaginary Road Studio in Vermont. My point is, besides Jeff Oster’s Album of the Year award, Best Contemporary Instrumental Album award and Best New Age Song award, he is an important artist having an essential role in the success of other artist’s albums too. In turn, musicians on his album are Diane Arkenstone with vocals, and Bryan Carrigan on synthesizer and drum programing.

Surrender features 11 contemporary jazz infused songs that mirrors the true nature of his abilities as a horn instrumentalist, which is the specialized work of a true music professional. And while one can say Surrender is designed as a new age fusion album with a strong urban jazz influence, closer inspection reveals a style of its own. In many ways there is an elegant and sophisticated tenor on each of the eleven songs, yet a poised and relaxed impression too, all in one smooth motion.

Recommending Surrender was truly an easy decision. Jeff Oster has a fine album, plus the chances of Surrender becoming an award winning album at the Independent Music Awards or Zone Music Reporter makes this release extra noteworthy.

While anticipating the award status of any new album is a challenge, I do know Surrender has the distinction of being outstanding music most will appreciate too. Co-produced with Bryan Carrigan, who also co-wrote, recorded and mixed, Surrender, Jeff Oster is a vital flugelhorn and trumpet specialist. This is true, whether it be his own project or an album for another, each are equally important.

Visit the jeffoster.com homepage to sample or purchase or visit his amazon.com page. Find more on my page for Jeff Oster. Visit producer, engineer and recording artist Bryan Carrigan at BryanCarrigan.com. Photos are courtesy jeffoster.com.

AOMusic has an exciting release entitled – …and Love Rages On!

I have an AOMusic album review for their new release in a couple of days, but I first wanted to post a beautiful world music song video of Ena na Lena from their release – and Love Rages On!

Richard Gannaway, Jay Oliver and Miriam Stockley who make up the leading AOMusic group, have completed a special project that unites forces with an international lineup of guest artists, and beautiful children’s choirs from around the world.

AOMusic’s – and Love Rages On! – is special given the excellent contemporary instrumentals are in unison with ethnic vocal harmonies of children’s choirs and ensembles from four continents worldwide which makes a very exclusive release. The 9 songs feature children’s choirs from Africa, America, China and the People’s Republic of Georgia. Until I tell you more about this special world fusion album, enjoy the AOMusic video below and visit their homepage.

Visit the aomusic.com homepage. There is a 10% donation on all music downloads at the AOMUSIC 4 HAITI campaign. Banner is courtesy aomusic.com.

Jonas Kroon has released his first cinematic album during 2011, and it didn’t take very long to answer the essential question of whether I believe his first release entitled Melo would be of interest to my site visitors. Another point that answers the question of whether Jonas Kroon and Melo would be the perfect candidate is the quality of his first album, along with the proven experience he has demonstrated as a music specialist, even though this is technically his first release.

Jonas Kroon is a Norwegian composer, producer and artist taking full advantage of his tenure in the music business to produce one of the most unique debut albums I have heard in recent memory. As one might imagine this artist from Norway reveals his years of experience directly into his first product which sounds more like something you would expect from a musician with several best of the year releases or chart topping albums.

Riviera is a Sweden based global music company with a branch in Oslo Norway, where Jonas is currently employed producing artistic scores for the firm. During his time with Riviera, Jonas produces commercials, feature films, and television programing which have clearly given him an edge for his first release. Developing his talents along the way with a company handling accounts like IKEA, Burger King, McDonalds, Volkswagen, Saab and Volvo does make his technical edge and cinematic expertise noticeably sharper.

Melo is a 2011 AMAdea Records release having a unique identity of its own character since Jonas had the freedom to  compose his first album without the usual constraints of what various clients may have expected for him to produce. The 14 songs represent a renewed focus on creating cinematic music composed to his personal taste and perceptions which has led to a great album. After reading the list of film composers he favored including Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman and Howard Shore, I couldn’t agree with him more on his choices of top film score composers.

Melo is very much Cinematic with a composite of World and Ethnic influences from beginning to end, relying on electronic and symphonic elements along with wonderful percussion rhythms. The up-tempo songs Her Er Eg, Fakir Fusion & Into the Wild were my top favorites, along with violin and guitar version given on The King, with each featuring exotic without lyric vocals and orchestra instrumentals. However the more moderate in time songs Element, Zanzibar & Highland are just as worthy by highlighting colorful vocals with rich instrumental setting of cello, flutes, guitars, keyboards, violin and percussion which is a prominent feature on the entire album.

Melo is likewise the name of the 14 member band of international musicians Jonas selected to become the foundation for his album. The 14 member band whose first concert was in 2007 at the Paul McCartney Auditorium in Liverpool England was off to a great start right from the beginning. Formed in 2006, the band members in  Melo represent the nations of Norway, Sweden, UK, Poland, Bosnia and Hungary.

Jonas Kroon didn’t have a long track record of earlier releases, chart topping albums or top music awards, but his musical aptitude and what he produced made top honors with me.  The new release Melo easily makes my list as a new release to be commended and who is to say what the future holds, so let’s hope we hear more. Along with several other review publicists that have written positive reviews about him, Jonas has earned my respect, for which there is no question.

The following musicians are Melo band members performing with Jonas Kroon who provided vocals, keyboards and programing; Jostein Austvik (drums) Alex Braathen (percussion, vocals) Sondre Sandhaug (bass) Goran Obad ( electric guitars, saz, oud, tambura) Mateusz Rostad (violin) Birgit Nerheim (violin) Line Haukland (cello) Silje Karlsen (vocals, flutes) Kjersti Vatnan Ekman (vocals, flutes) Thomas Wicklund Larsen (vocals) Trym Bjonnes (vocals, didgeridoo).

Visit jonaskroon.com to sample / purchase or at Jonas Kroon’s AMAdeaRecords.com page & Amazon.com page. Discover more fine artists at the Bulgaria based AMAdeaRecords homepage.

Photo and artwork courtesy Oda Hveem & Jonas Kroon.

Picture yourself as a singer on stage in front of a large crowd of people with all eyes upon you. Now, even if you are well accustomed to performing on stage, and are within your comfort zone in front of an audience and do well, keeping audiences entertained year after year is of course a completely different story. To survive and remain a long-term success, everything is dependent on your abilities as a vocalist and the quality of the lyrical message you wish to deliver.

Jon Anderson, former lead vocalist and lyrical messenger for the group Yes, is while I write this review, standing on a stage entertaining audiences during tour venues in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, which is in support of his concept album – Survival & Other Stories. What I find most impressive about Jon Anderson is the fact he has been not only capturing, but keeping a firm grip on audiences with his music for the past 5 decades, and so it goes without saying that Jon Anderson is a wonderfully gifted vocalist with a exciting message people truly want to hear over and over again.

It was during my recent 2011 interview with Jon Anderson where he specified that while on stage, concert goers would hear original Yes songs, along with Jon & Vangelis songs. In addition he articulates the biographical aspects about his life to an audience, what the songs mean and how they were created, along with singing songs from his newest release – Survival & Other Stories. Jon also acknowledged the importance his fans are to him, which are of course the lifeblood for any artist.

Jon Anderson is a music superstar, even to those other than his most loyal fans who regard him as one of the greatest music icons past and present. While true he is best known as the former lead singer and key lyricist of the Progressive Rock band Yes, his prolific solo music career continues to be as positive and significant today as it was years ago, when people like myself were buying his vinyl records!

Jon Anderson’s influence and starring role in music over five decades is legendary, and one can say Jon’s divine voice and lyrical message is clearly unforgettable. Presently, it is estimated over 38 million records were sold during his years as the dynamic lead vocalist with Yes, and his successful solo career to date. Even today people are discovering the earlier works from Yes, in addition to his numerous collaborations with other top artists, and personalized solo projects.

Survival & Other Stories is a concept album Jon created after he nearly perished from a serious illness. The silver lining began after his recovery when this unique project began to take shape. During this time period, Jon published a message on his website inviting artists to submit their music for this new endeavor.

When musicians from all corners of the world turned in their ethnic music over the internet the substance of something beautiful was born. Jon then mixed, composed, and co-produced with wife Jane Anderson the first of three concept albums, Survival & Other Stories which has a collection of 11 songs with wonderful orchestrations unified with Jon’s heartfelt vocal energies clearly articulated both musically and lyrically as optimistic and positive.

The first song New New World which opens with bold drum cadence, snare taps, and dancing strings makes a clear distinction this release is like no other yet his lyrical propensity and alto tenor range vocals reassure the listener this release will be just as impressive as the melodies he released decades ago. Unbroken Sprit is a moving piece with a light percussion backed melody, while Love Of The Life & Big Buddha Song touch upon politics and religion with spirited instrumentals backing verses of inspiration.

The blend of harmonic ethnicities continues in the moderately arranged melodies Understanding Truth, Effortlessly, Love And Understanding & Sharpening The Sword. All songs are identifiable in a sense by vocal recognition, yet each has a varying metrical rhythm and unique melody which gives every song a singular timbre and atmosphere. Gentle introspective moments are prevalent qualities in the more serene songs Incoming, Just One Man & Cloudz.

Jon Anderson without a doubt has a wonderful story to share, and in the auditory sense, his new release has a personalized point of view that comes across as musical magic. And while many artists have abandoned their music careers or quietly faded away by stepping off and never returning to the stage, Jon Anderson has clearly reached the expert level while entertaining his audiences onstage and in the studio. As it turns out, 2011 now appears to be an exciting year for everyone.

On the 10 page CD cover booklet are all song lyrics and a memoir style narrative from Jon. The global musicians listed on specific songs are; Jamie Dunlap, Peter Kiel, Jann Castor, Dan Spollen, Kevin Shima, Stefan Poddell, Steve Layton, Jeremy Cubert, Christophe Lebled, Ryan Fraley, Daniel Reinker, and Paul Quinn.

Visit jonanderson.com for music news and concert info. Survival & Other Stories can be pre-ordered from Gonzo Multimedia and Amazon.com prior to June 6 release date. Read our 2011 interview article on our pages dedicated to Jon Anderson.

Concert photo courtesy jonanderson.com. Big Stock Photo – dws.

When you integrate one proficient acoustic guitarist with select vocalists and instrumentalists, along with the skillful production talents of Windham Hill Records founder and GRAMMY® Winner Will Ackerman, the album as you might expect, will be a top rated album compiled by dedicated music professionals that virtually everyone would love and appreciate.

Shambhu is the proficient guitarist clearly asserting in his website news pages that his first album has truly been a “labor of love” while composing, performing and co-producing with Will Ackerman, along with his time spent working beside other top music professionals.  This I can believe since at the end of the day, Shambhu and his insightful selection of collaborating musicians has paid off rather handsomely, and by their collective time spent together, have helped convert this debut release into a commodity of premium value.

Sacred Love – Feel The Journey is New Age Fusion, Contemporary Instrumental, and Jazz, having East, West, and World elements which help facilitate the conversion of artful melodies into solid gold entertainment that requires only simple involvement for the rest of us to acquire the appreciable benefits of this grand endeavor.  Sacred Love has already achieved a quantifiable amount of success, where at present Sacred Love – Feel The Journey is # 1 for the month of October 2010 in ZMR’s Top 100 Chart, but I also have a feeling this album will appreciate in value even more over time.

Shambhu is an esteemed musician in his own right performing concerts or on albums with top music entertainers like Bob Hope, Carlos Santana, John Anderson and on Whitney Houston’s multi-platinum album titled simply Whitney.  The list goes on since Shambhu has also been involved in projects with many of the respected musicians I continually write about like Will Ackerman, Jeff Oster, Eugene Friesen, Ann Licater plus many more.

Sacred Love – Feel The Journey has an impressive cast and crew since many have toured or recorded with top musical groups themselves.  Some of these artists on Shambhu’s album include Tony Levin of Peter Gabriel on bass, Jeff Haynes of Pat Metheny on percussion, George Brooks of John McLaughlin on saxophone, Celso Alberti of Steve Winwood on drums, and then Premik Tubbs of Santana and John McLaughlin on flute.

Together is the first of 12 songs total and what a memorable impression it creates.  The center stage guitar and violin pairing established securely alongside flute and reflective instrumentation is magnificent, plus it is easy to visualize this song and others in a Cinematic role since the warm, sincere, and dynamic atmosphere echo the characteristic essentials for a multitude of made for the big screen movie settings.

Natural Moment is a warm and casual song that positively takes off and ascends to new heights.  First expressed by xylophone and percussion enhancements, these lively components merge into a free spirited narrative complete with graceful electric guitar rhythms, which intensify and progress neatly into a picturesque arrangement.

Maiu Breeze is refreshing by exhibiting a jazzy tropical presence.  First conveyed by acoustic guitar highlights, the xylophone rhythms and energetic vocals are a natural accompaniment to the guitar arrangement.  Together they merge perfectly to bring out the fascinating aspects of this album and its entirety, creating a dynamic atmosphere that gives one an impression of total harmony refinement.

This first release by Shambhu will always be termed a debut as one might expect, but when you consider his proficiency as a guitarist, the impressive number of outstanding talents on this extraordinary album, and their combined lifework totaling a significant number of decades as esteemed music professionals, then this masterful first album by Shambhu truly does amount to a rewarding and appreciable “labor of love.”

Full musician credits are Eugene Friesen – cello, Charlie Bisharat – violin, Ravichandra Kulur – flute, Michael Manring – bass, Jill Haley – English horn, Claytoven Richardson – lead vocal, Jeff Oster – flugelhorn, Noah Wilding – vocals Todd Boston – sarod, mixed and engineered by GRAMMY® Award-winning Corin Nelsen.

Visit ShambhuMusic.com and find at his CDBaby.com page and Amazon.com page. Big Stock Photo – rkasprzak.

Enigma MMX (The Social Song) project release by Michael Cretu.

For fans of the musical project Enigma it turned out to be the ultimate social media event when fans were selected a produced the Enigma MMX (The Social Song) to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of Enigma project founder Michael Cretu.

It was over a 3 month period a single song project for fans was made by fans selected to create the social music video directed by Aristides Moreno and additional designated contributors Alise Ketnere (Fox Lima), Jose Luis Lopez Guillen and Jon Behari.

There is no doubt the Enigma MMX (The Social Song) was a beautiful collaboration with Enigma’s Michael Cretu and fans from all across the world. For anyone who hasn’t heard, below is the official video of the collaboration with fans and Michael Cretu. This innovative social media project was without a doubt a special media event!

Visit EnigmaSpace.com for current news and information.

Some love relationships begin with an introduction or maybe the sparks ignited after the very first gaze into someones eyes. Regardless of how it began, if a relationship progresses into something special it may lead to the divine word we call love, and while there are no definitive set of rules governing love, the first attraction determines a lot on what happens next.

Grammy Nominated Paul Avgerinos from Redding Connecticut happens to have a new release called Law of Attraction that his prodigious fan base is certain to fully embrace with open arms, and do so without hesitation. I would imagine this great ambient album will also succeed at winning over many new fans for Paul Avgerinos, new fans who will go directly to the heart of his widely popular Round Sky Music website to hear for themselves, so for some of you, let me be the first to introduce you to this award winning musician.

Paul Avgerinos has in all honestly based the Law of Attraction theme in regards to authors Esther and Jerry Hicks and their bestselling self-help books, but after listening to his thirteenth album I discovered Paul Avgerinos Law of Attraction has such a pleasingly rich sensation of expressive delights, I just had to respond myself by concentrating more precisely on the melodic wonderment and charismatic appeal of this sensational new release, which if it was a library book, Law of Attraction would be classified and shelved in the romantic therapy section.

Law of Attraction is after all quite compatible or along the same wavelength with his prior Love album, which is another positively feel good release with a passionate and dreamy intonation paired to the divine word we call love. The Love album did after all achieve a desirable level in 2009 by 2 nominations at ZMR which included Best Relaxation / Meditation Album.

Law of Attraction is an exciting fusion of New Age Ambient and World Music styles from the Middle East and India, and of the many earlier releases that garnered success, Law of Attraction has the same instrumental music essentials to his earlier award winning Garden of Delight.

Paul Avgerinos further album awards do include Garden Of Delight which won Best World Album in 2007 and notable Gnosis had 5 Best of nominations total, while winning the Best Relaxation / Meditation Album award category in 2006. Muse of the Round Sky which made the airwaves on over 2000 radio stations worldwide was the album that had first introduced Paul Avgerinos as a top artist and Grammy Nominated musician.

Paul Avgerinos has composed the 10 songs, performing on bass violin, Fretless bass, 12 string & nylon guitars keyboards, vocals, percussion and sound design. Kevin Braheny Fortune is featured on Electronic & Classical flutes, and Steve Gorn on Bansuri flute join Paul, as do the seven essential talented musicians I have credited below.

This group blends vibrant instrumental fusion into an intricate musical project fascinating for the senses to behold like heard in Gentle My Love & Ask and It Is Given which are deep, exotic, and mesmerizing. You will find every song holds a diverse kaleidoscope of elevated ambience, but these two songs in particular are quite unique from anything I had ever heard before since multiple guitars and ethnic vocals infuse a sensual calm and steadiness to where they seem spellbinding or even hypnotic at times.

The Vortex is another picturesque song that intermingle keyboards, guitars and lyric less vocals into wonderful patterns that are like a magnet by attracting you into a beautiful sound adventure made for the senses. Follow Your Passion & Art of Allowing are two songs showing ingenious geometrical patterns of his Ambient music like Law of Attraction ( Title Song ) they have gentle curved surfaces free of any abrupt edges or distant note to note sound plateaus leading to nowhere. If one was to compare the textural sensations of touch to this release, it would be as smooth as silk when you ran your hand across it, and you will see what I mean when you sample this perceptive new release.

It is pretty easy to fall in love with Paul Avgerinos music whether you have been officially introduced or not, and you may be interested to know that in addition to his eloquent skills as a composing New Age musician he has worked on over 100 television and film projects. Paul was also the primary bass player for The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and toured with many Popular, Contemporary, and Jazz groups over the years, having been involved with numerous Platinum album productions while collaborating with popular music acts Aerosmith, Jewel, Run DMC, Willie Nelson and Deana Carter.

Your introduction and credits for the additional musicians are Trina Basu on Violin, Brahim Fribgane on Oud, Rafiq Khan on Indian Sarangi, Rohin Khemani on Tabla & other percussion. Steve Waite on 12 string & electric guitars, Christine Yandell on vocals and Malika Zarra on French & Arabic vocals.

Visit roundskymusic.com to sample / purchase or go to his CDBaby.com page & Amazon.com page. You can find out more on our pages dedicated to Paul Avgerinos.

Big Stock Photo – SSilver.

Al Conti is a name many recognize in U.S. and international audiences as a composing musician having a natural ability for producing some of the most vivid story based music in the New Age & World music genres.  For those who are wondering, his ability to intermingle these exciting tales of intrigue into every one of his award winning projects originates from Al Conti’s life experiences and extensive global travels.

Northern Seas is the fourth narrative from Al Conti that made a grand impression on me after hearing this new release for the first time.  On Northern Seas the ancestral homeland and Nordic heritage of Scandinavia is the theme presented in a manner you will find intensely glorious regardless of your own family coat of arms since the perceptions in imagery and rich instrumental landscape valiantly hold the high ground on this resolute masterpiece.

Al Conti has a long family legacy himself arising from a extensive linage of expressive artisans, and in addition to his popularity as a top musician, Al Conti is an performing actor, having made television appearances during shows of the acclaimed CBS daytime drama As The World Turns, commercials, and films, in addition to on stage theatre productions in the United States and overseas.

Al Conti’s first albums were Shadows & Poeta and third release Scheherazade from 2008 was a landmark award winning release that resided at the top of ZMR charts for 3 consecutive months, and then received 4 ZMR Lifestyle Music Awards nominations including Album of the Year.  Scheherazade then sailed among the clouds to secure Best World Album of 2008 and is played on many satellite and cable channels including Sirius / XM and Music Choice in addition to high watermarks in global radio charts.  Northern Seas at time of review publication has reached # 2 in ZMR’s Top 100 chart for October 2010.

Northern Seas is a fascinating mixture of New Age & World Fusion with a Celtic inscription on several of the 11 tales of intrigue recounted from the long ago days of antiquity.  The indigenous past folklore of Norse mythology brought to light by Al Conti is a melodious one indeed, telling of Norsemen during a time of Viking sovereignty in the Scandinavian nation.  Treading a deep imprint on each tale, every single song is crisp, clear, and refreshing as if detailing the pristine landscape and panoramic mountain vistas by deeply spacious tonal qualities.

Northern Seas ( Title Song ) has a thunderous opening with an aura of mystery by the piano melody but the free spirited rhythms by flute and violin illuminate the first waterscape images and swiftly place you into the forged from fire and ice Nordic landscape.  The light lyricless vocals portray an invigorating atmosphere which greatly changes what could have been pictured as a cold dreary day into one filled with deep but breathtaking rays of shrouded sunbeams.  Long drawn out colorful vocals are another positive element that dominates an ambient grounded Veil of Mist.

Song of Rig & Valkyrja are adventurous melodies featuring the ancient and exotic instruments used in this albums production.  Al Conti is proficient on a wide range of instruments and on Northern Seas he and contributing global talents create the unique feel of ambience using ancient and exotic instruments like kantele, harp, hurdy gurdy, pump organ, accordion and tribal drums that are melded with modern time instruments of piano, violin, cello, acoustic and electric guitar.

Odin The Wanderer is notably mysterious but also carries a palate full of vibrant hues much in part to the charismatic melody and choir that is lightly comingled with alluring violin and accordion tracings.  Two flute melodies with a Celtic essence are the vigorously paced Dans for Loki and then free flowing The Rainbow Bridge.  Piano and accordion merge in the light song Baldur and the time honored instrument when united with piano turn the tides of time to create an aesthetically pleasing old world essence.

Ragnarok has a penetrating melody with a light percussion rhythm of true enchantment.  This graceful new dimension in elaborate instrumentals of piano, harp, flute, and accordion constitute smooth verses in unison with a light choir while transitioning into a breezy reflection well in harmony with the chosen Nordic folklore theme.

Al Conti has crossed yet another threshold with this exciting new release having every telltale sign of award winning success given his intriguing music portraiture of Scandinavian countries centered by Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.  The majestic highlands, islets and fjords bordering the Barents, Baltic and Norwegian Seas have become the phenomenal harbor setting for this striking new album christened Northern Seas.

Visit alconti.net to sample / purchase.  You can also visit his CDBaby.com page or Amazon.com page.

Album art courtesy Elena Ray.  Picture copyright Big Stock Photo – galdzer.

Would you like to travel the entire world someday? When traveling as a tourist do you enjoy visualizing the new and unique cultural destinations to visit, along with the sights, sounds and experiences?

For persons who are not frequent globetrotters having neither time nor opportunity to travel the world firsthand, an excursion awaits you by listening to many distant exotic lands through a musical journey that will definitely fit your schedule and budget.

The international flavor of musician, composer, and conductor Colin O’Donohoe is your ticket for world music influences.

Colin’s most recent album Songs of the Saints released in 2007 on the Ocean Media label, is inspired by music native to Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and also includes musical varieties of North and South America which makes your travel by sound itinerary complete. Much like his Songs of the Saints album, the Pangean Orchesra that he directs perform music having a wide varity of influence and musicians from all parts of the globe.

The instruments and vocals used in the Songs of the Saints album is as diverse as the music, exploring many geographical destinations on the 10 individual songs.

One explanation for Colin O’Donohoe’s choice of using a fusion of world music influences might be his self described inspiration being drawn from reading a Chinese book of poetry titled Shi Jing. Another explanation could be his current position as Artistic Director of the Pangean Orchestra or other held positions as director of the New Moon Orchestra, and Phoenix Chinese Orchestra.

Colin O’Donohoe openly admits that his music and technique is challenging for some people to embrace, by offering such a wide range of influences that almost creates a new music genre. Songs of the Saints has genres ranging from international, world, jazz, easy listening, light rock, and slight touches of rap and hip hop, even having a light jazz title track version of the song Amazing Grace.

Colin O’Donohoe openly admits that his music and technique is challenging for some people to embrace, by offering such a wide range of influences that he almost creates a new music genre, which I did find correct, but appreciative by his blending of pleasant vocals, chorals, and harmony of music spanning the globe.

The album has genres ranging from international, world, jazz, easy listening, light rock, and slight touches of rap and hip hop, even having a light jazz title track version of the song Amazing Grace.

While visiting Pangeanorchestra.com to learn more about Colin O ‘Donohoe, I did learn he is committed to this unique style of music. I also learned he is a kindred soul with a mission in life to unite and bring people of the world closer together through the common bond of music.

This is something peaceful tourists traveling around the world will appreciate.

Visit the PangeanOrchestra.com website and Colin’s DonohoeMusic.com website. Sample at  his CDBaby.com page. Picture copyright BigStockPhoto.com – jgroup.

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