Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Canyons and Mesas of Bandelier By Jill Haley

The Canyons and Mesas of Bandelier


Jill Haley

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I have long been an admirer of the works and compositions of Jill Haley, her style and graphic portraits of the national parks have had me spell bound for years now, and thankfully I have a new album to drift into entitled The Canyons and Mesas of Bandelier, another glorious musical step into the wilderness of beauty with the artist.

The first footfalls of this tentative yet striking musical journey start with the reflective and emotive composition of Plaintive Cavate Melody. This mood filled opus brings you to the very doorstep of the region; it’s heartfelt and is the perfect starting arrangement for our sojourn in nature.

The subtle bird sounds greet our journey into this next piece called Frijoles Canyon Awakens. Its dawn and the birds dance with the mood creating piano of the artist. Each and every track of this album is a soundscape to a moment in time, and this early morning reverie is a wonderfully bright and radiant offering.

Ecotone is a traditional stamping ground for the genius that is Jill Haley; she is joined by the talented Graham Cullen on Cello and this symbiotic partnership manifests a track that builds upon each passing measure, each passing note, and creates a lush and wonderfully textured composition.

The piano of Haley builds an empowering scene on this next track entitled Fantastical Formations. One can visualise through the performance a rugged landscape, many multi-faceted outcrops and sights that allow the artistic mind to create its art. The construct of this track is sublime with its woodwind and piano partnerships.

The guitar of David Cullen is heard on the offering Vista at Valles Caldera and matched with the piano we have a creation here that is both addictive and compelling. There is also a sense of suspense built in here that is idyllic as well; the woodwinds of Haley make this, such a pictorial delight to bathe within.

As we arrive at the midway point of the album we come across a track entitled Alcove House Ascent. Haley’s proficiency with a multitude of instrumentation creates a slow but ever onward track that offers up much for the listener to walk with, the sublime care and attention to detail here, along with the gentle build and progression of this arrangement was something to really enjoy.

The aerial energies of this composition were strong and very enjoyable indeed, as we glide with the offering Kaleidoscope Flight. Jill’s skills as a multi-instrumentalist, whether it is oboe, English horn or piano are simply idyllic, and here on this track they truly raise the energy of the moment for us all to enjoy.

There is a different energy in this next piece entitled Tsankawi Footpaths, the intensity of the moment and the vibrancy of onward movement can be found here, and depict a wonderfully fluent piece of instrumental delight; we could easily be traversing those footpaths on a glorious sun kissed afternoon, in a piece that is utterly packed with energy and life.

Once more we switch moods and enter into the dark realms of a night time sojourn with the track entitled Parajito Moonglow. The depth of composition here is so palpable, that one could reach out and simply touch the moment through the skill set of Haley’s talents. The mood is once more idyllically created by the artist’s ever safe hands on our musical tiller.

Cullen returns on guitar for the next track called Gratitude for the CCC. The steady and progressive tones manifest a vast soundscape for us to all enjoy, the creation of an album of this style is like a veritable scrapbook of musical memories to look back upon, and although I have never been there, The Canyons and Mesas of Bandelier have been brought to life vicariously by the artist to allow me to do so in music.

Our penultimate offering is called The Delight Makers, this is a fascinating track for me as so many genres were crossed here in my view, there is a little pertinent percussion curtesy of Tony Deangelis, and this adds a crafted energy of rhythm to the proceedings, and sets us up beautifully for the parting gift of the album.

That last creation is now upon us and called Burnt Mesa, Haley builds upon a powerful piano here, for us to enjoy this one final concluding piece, and thus finishes with a flourish, and as we had the perfect starting track with Plaintive Cavate Melody, we are gifted the idyllic ending with Burnt Mesa.

The Canyons and Mesas of Bandelier by Jill Haley, is another simply perfect soundscape of graphic creations by the artist. Here is an artist, who has a rare gift and it is an honour for her to share this talent and skill set with us, the ever eager listener. The multi-instrumental nature of this album and theme makes this an absolute fine example of what truly great contemporary instrumental music should sound like.


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