Friday, April 21, 2023

The Golden Light By Jacquelyn G. Kleine

The Golden Light


Jacquelyn G. Kleine

Written by

Steve Sheppard


When I first heard the opening refrains from this latest single by Jacquelyn G. Kleine I exclaimed the only utterance that was relevant, a simple but powerful wow!

This is something so very special indeed, the artist’s ability to touch the parts that are so meaningful is well known and understood within her musical creations, but on this brand new single she has connected superbly with the flow of energy that is all around us, the sheer depth of this piece is unfathomable and simply sublime.

The harmonic resonance contained within caresses the 132Hz binaural frequency, and taps into those inner most longings of completion and love that we so much yearn for. The manifestations reminded me very much of the times I spent in meditation over the last twenty years or so, I would seek for something like this to sink into, seems our search is over as The Golden Light by Jacquelyn G. Kleine is here to aid us in our meditative pursuits.

I personally rate this as one of the finest examples of top quality new age music around today, the electric flute performer has created magic here, it is one of those pieces that will remain timeless in the eyes of all those that behold its graceful yet empowering majesty.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Our April Tigers By Michael Whalen


Our April Tigers


Michael Whalen

Written by

Steve Sheppard


We take a musical journey today, one that took me back personally some near on 20 years, a sojourn that would thrill my senses, and excite my imagination to the point of it being inspirational, as today I take a deeper look at Our April Tigers by Michael Whalen, an album that features the talents of Jeff Oster, Michael Brook, Karsh Kale and Michael Manring on every track.

Michael is a prolific composer, arranger, and musician of great quality and content, here on this latest album we have seven tracks of the highest quality you could ever imagine, and that first tentative footfall was the simply outstanding Over Water, a slow steady walk across a beach of sound lays here, one bathed in brilliant sunlight, and one must also applaud the bass of one of the finest in the business in Michael Manring on this slowly evolving opus, while we can watch and listen to Whalen’s mystical keyboards creating the paint for our musical brushes on a fantastically chilled opening offering.

We now push open the door to this next track entitled Disappear, Whalen’s electronic mastery is almost Berlin style here, but with much more colour and texture, also here within this piece lays one of the best trumpet and flugel horn players in the business in Jeff Oster, his mastery brought a true mournful delight to a composition, one that was wonderfully pacey without losing any musical cohesion.

Morning Bell took me back in time, when I was much younger and starting out on a career in musical radio, until 2003 I had been largely a reporter for news and sports channels and stations, but as I approached this time I would be one of a new breed of usual radio hosts that actually loved instrumental music, and wanted others to see its glory too, tracks like this one speak for the beauty that can be found in quality contemporary instrumental music, and this super group  of Whalen’s were certainly knocking it out of the park at the mid-way point of the release already.

So back in 2003 I would come across an artist called Karsh Kale, his percussion and sampling on this album is stunning, indeed as you would expect from a master of his art, just being able to listen to his work again on tracks like Visceral Organ is a blissful thing, for me, it marks a 20 years journey of playing pieces like Anja and Milan.

So Fragile is our fifth creation to sample, this must be one of the most chilled tracks off the album, it is as smooth as liquid silver and as fluent as an April sunrise, the bass of Manring deep and meaningful, and Whalen’s textured and caressing keyboards were simply sublime, a fine composition indeed, one bathed in the sparkling light of musical genius.

Michael Whalen’s super group combines the skill sets of four other artists other than himself, so now let’s mention the talented guitar virtuosity of one Michael Brook, a joint effort can be heard here on this superb piece entitled Hope Haunts, a song that moved me deeply, this is an arrangement of great reflection, as from the windows of the memory palace we gaze below to a soundtrack of sophisticated mastery.

So we conclude this amazing journey with the Whalen super group, with a final offering entitled Temporality, a reminder of each of the talents here within as a single entity of class, and as a collective of sheer talent. What a stunning fast paced creation to leave the audience with, one that will carry the listeners high on the shoulders of possibility, a pure electronic moment of flair manifested into a global fusion design of utter excellence.

Our April Tigers by Michael Whalen could very well be some of the best work we have seen from the master content creator and composer, collecting a super group of individual geniuses is always a tempting, yet sometimes fraught affair, but here Whalen has brought it all together with sublime precision and led his collective of craft, to bring into this world one of the finest examples of classic contemporary instrumental music with a global fusion twist you are ever likely to hear. Our April Tigers by Michael Whalen is an absolute must for any serious music aficionado. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Ave Maria By David Lanz & Kristin Amarie


Ave Maria


David Lanz & Kristin Amarie

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is always time for a little more beauty in this troubled world, there is always a moment when we can be grateful for what is gifted to us, and through the medium of music we have the only language that actually speaks the truth constantly, and this truth, this open heart of creation today brings us both beauty and gratitude, through a stunning version of the well-known Latin prayer Ave Maria.

David Lanz is one of the world most iconic pianists, so combine his vast talents with one of the globes leading sopranos in Kristin Amarie, and then add to this menu of brilliance further, by enhancing the whole beloved experience with the inclusion of Libera Boys Choir's rising star, Luca Brugnoli, as their special guest, and you have created something quite magical indeed.

This team of magnificence proceed to manifest one of the most amazing renderings of the much loved Ave Maria, with the harmonic beauty of Brugnoli, the transcendent tones of a Lanz piano presentation, and the soaring virtuous and divine vocals of Kristin Amarie, but that’s not all, lets top this off with a simply delicious arrangement by musical maestro Kurt Bestor, to bring to the world a quality production of the highest order on Ave Maria by David Lanz & Kristin Amarie.

Winter Wishes By Mark Barnes


Winter Wishes


Mark Barnes

Written by

Steve Sheppard


It’s always one of those little guilty pleasures to enjoy, the moment you hear that there is a new Mark Barnes album on offer, as you know it’s going to tick all the boxes you have ready with regard to excellence in music and musical composition, but lately Barnes has been excelling, expanding his passionate performances, and this new album Winter Wishes is a prime example of that aforementioned statement, so be ready.

The opening track is the perfect place to start and Winter Sky is a colourful pastiche of perfection, presenting passion-filled moments, mixed with segments of such utter tenderness and love.

There is a certain David Lanz feel about this next piece called The Snow Globe, it must be the romantic tones and timbre, or perhaps the delicate pristine quality of performance, whatever, this track is one of the most fluent from Barnes yet, and utterly beautiful too.

Winter Wishes is a 10 track album of pure peace and serenity and contains crafted moments of brilliance like Snow Angel, with its fun, yet heart felt melody, or perhaps one of my favourites in Solstice, that major minor mood has always been a personal delight for me, and on this track I have that musical mastery in abundance, or perhaps the title track, as Mark finds himself as the master composer on Winter Wishes, a song that is without doubt, a deeply moving and emotional creation.

There is something on this album for everyone, for example the cheer filled reverie of Wonders of the World, this is one of the most uplifting pieces off the album, and in my view would probably make a perfect single, with its moderate pace and catchy melody.

The album draws to a close with the moody refrains of Rhapsody in Winter, a deep heart felt offering that is extremely powerful, and if listened carefully to, incredibly emotive. We then conclude the release with a little drama within the arrangement Aurora, a composition that hovers with intent like the northern lights themselves, once more the melody creates a musical moment that could with ease be captured for a movie segment, and simply the best way with which to finish the release too.

I think the artist may well have done it, I think Winter Wishes by Mark Barnes, may well be the best we have heard from the artist so far, he is certainly in the groove lately and his musical muse is working overtime, this album is tender, it touches the heart and soul of our inner most desires, and is a testament to those most cherished memories of winter times past and remembered well, there can be no doubt that Mark Barnes is a sublime composer and performer on the keys, and this new album cements his legacy as perhaps one of the most chilled, yet passionate keyboardists of all time.

Cherished Dreams By James Michael Stevens


Cherished Dreams


James Michael Stevens

Written by

Steve Sheppard


James Michael Stevens has to be one of the most melodic pianists around today; his soft and soothing compositions have relaxed many troubled minds and eased the fevered brow of a vast number of listeners over the years of his recordings and performances.

The great news is that James has a new album out, and this beauty is called Cherished Dreams; proudly this whole project starts with the title track, a calming reverie of majestic solo piano, one that took me back to the early 90’s and artists like Mike Rowland.

This blissful 11 track album flows like the summer sun across the beaches of evermore, and has clever offerings entwined within as well, like the processional Morning Promenade, or the mystical prowess of pieces like Stone Horizons, a strong graphic picturesque composition.

This is solo piano heaven, and differing arrangements greet the ears as we go on further, like the pristine crispness of Midnight Musings, another crafted creation, but with a double edged sword, one of a calmness of production, but also of a busy mind trying to wind down as the clock chimes ever onward past midnight and beyond.

There are also moments of memory packed into this ever flowing album of serenity, like the breath taking opus of Misty Blue, a slow moving yet colourful piece that grows with a depth that is blissful to see in a solo piano manifestation, here is a true classic waiting to be appreciated.

Stevens piano is both his paint and canvas, and this penultimate offering entitled Night Whispers is a prime example of his creative genius, here the musician brings to the world an emotive manifestation that could with ease be an emotional movie segment.

We finish with a further addition to the title track, and with All Your Cherished Dreams, this is simply the best way with which to leave the album, with a composition of great tranquillity with which to conclude the project, it just shows the thoughtfulness of the artist himself.

Cherished Dreams by James Michael Stevens is in my view his best work thus far, and that’s a tough call given the sheer amount of music that he has already brought to the world in his career, but for me the gentle and melodic structures that flow through the entire album left me completely floating on a cloud of calm at its conclusion. Here lays a collection of beautiful music that must remain over the ages, extremely close to the hearts of all that simply adore truly good solo piano music.

Moonrise Samba By Todd Mosby


Moonrise Samba


Todd Mosby

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is nothing like a little Samba to ease the soul as the nights get longer and summer gets stronger. Todd Mosby has been in full flow lately with Georgia’s World, and here he is once again, but now supplying us with this sultry new single entitled Moonrise Samba, a classy jazz packed creation filled with the heat of an August night.

Mosby is without doubt a creative and natural guitarist of amazing quality, mix that up with this stunning pastiche of a multi-instrumental manifestation, and magic is made.

Moonrise Samba will have you dancing in the street with a cocktail in your hand, enjoying the wonderful moments of rhythmic passion and vibrations along the way, a little pulsating percussion, sensual keyboards and a bass that is so smooth it is delight to be in the same room as, add then the harmonic vocals and Mosby’s skill set, and you have an absolute classic on your hands, one that will find its way into your record collections with a startling ease.

Moonrise Samba by Todd Mosby is that jazz track you have been waiting all year long for, that heavenly delight of a symbiotic partnership of keyboards and fluent guitar, it is nothing less than mesmeric and totally unstoppable, here is a sure fire hit on the charts if I have ever heard one.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

From The Darkness By Lisa Cullum


From The Darkness


Lisa Cullum

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Many of us will relate to the title of this latest single by Lisa Cullum entitled From The Darkness, we moved back out and into the light after lockdowns and pandemics, we move back from the darkness of despair, we move into the light of expectation, and a single candle may well be enough to guide our way, similar to the art work on this piece.

This brand new track from the accomplished pianist will quickly wend its way into your heart, touch each and every emotional fibre within you, and leave you with the mood that all things are possible once again.

Cullum’s creation is heart felt, it pursues a brilliantly clever build and progression, especially with the added instrumentation and symphonic backdrop, strings and piano are indeed a popular symbiosis in this age, and when manifested to such a high standard as we see here on this new single, one will be very pleased at the outcome indeed.

Lisa Cullum and From The Darkness will lay a loving gentle hand on any sadness that resides within, it will stroke away the pain and tears, and offer the one thing we all need, hope!

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Moonlight (Orchestrated) by Claude Caron


Moonlight [Orchestrated)


Claude Caron

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Claude Caron has really pushed onwards this year and has built on the many successes of the preceding one, now with this brand new single entitled Moonlight [Orchestrated), we may well have seen the best work of the artist so far.

This fine arrangement is very well suited to the subject matter, and the orchestration that flows naturally from it, is manifested by the skill set of the extremely talented Steve Alcoran.

The energies of this new offering are that good that each and every hair will stand to attention on your arms whilst listening to it, this is music that could so easily find its way into a film segment, and if any producers or directors are reading this, then you really need to take a moment to listen to this breath taking new release from Claude.

The performance of Caron on this new single is masterful, full on, and extremely passionate, but added to that is such a layer of technique too, a piece cleverly creative and very impressive in its posture, in its proud tones, and with its sublime crescendos.

Moonlight [Orchestrated) by Claude Caron has to be the best work so far produced by the artist, and as such, should storm up the singles chart, launching the composer into a whole new level of musical stardom.

The Deva & The Hill By Paul Vens & Friends


The Deva & The Hill


Paul Vens & Friends

Written by

Steve Sheppard


One of the most remarkable things about a Paul Vens presentation is the artists amazing ability to manifest some of the most colourful and literal living images in the folk music genre in this day and age, and on his brand new single The Deva & The Hill, he creates that and much more.

Paul Vens is a master story teller, and here on this brand new offering he employs the gentle yet harmonic vocals of his daughter Rafi, and together they waltz us down the hill of life itself.

The smoothness of this new single is a delight, and it has to be said it is also incredibly nice to see a track of over six minutes given to us ever eager listeners to enjoy, this in a world where some singles barely last two.

One must applaud Vens for his guitar performance also, he wends a tale not only with his lyrical content, but with his gentle chords and acoustic notes, that remind me of an early progressive rock ballad.

The Deva and the Hill is a moving new single by the ever talented Paul Vens, it is a masterful tale about life, love and the passage of time. This new offering is a textured pastiche of moving images, impressive vocals and moody acoustic guitar, and as such should be keenly sort after by all those who adore really good storytelling in music.

Monday, April 10, 2023

The London Sessions: Reflections from Studio 2 By Ed Bazel


The London Sessions: Reflections from Studio 2


Ed Bazel

Written by

Steve Sheppard


The soothing yet uplifting narrative of Ed Bazel’s latest album The London Sessions: Reflections from Studio 2 is all too palpable, this is an album that will invoke many memories from all who listen, from all who have dreamed, from all who have tried to make those dreams become a reality, and for those who simply wish to travel upon that dream cloud through a realm of vicarious endeavours.

I for one imagine this location in England to be almost spiritual in energy, and strangely enough, even though I was born just a few miles from this location, I have never visited it, so from Nashville TN to Abbey Road Studios, London, UK we go, and to the holy temple of sound that ushered forth such genius as the Beatles.

I could for example visualise the artist sitting at the Grand Piano in that special corner of the building, and performing the opening piece to the album entitled Morning Glory. The tension must have crackled as Ed’s hands touched the keys, the air itself must have felt heavy with the resonance of past musical heroes and heroines, as he played this wonderfully calming sensitive melody to all that would listen from now and then.

Tracks like the stunning Mountain Serenity would drift seamlessly from the musician’s finger tips, touching tunes of decades past would pass by with a spectral smile, as Bazel would bring us one of the most charming multi-instrumental versions of In My Life, in my view an absolute Beatles Classic.

I sat and wondered what level of courage would this fine pianist had to have mustered just to walk into this building, let alone record music in it, and it must have been an amazing feeling to have created such wondrous works of art as Soaring, with its china doll like pristine energy, or the delicate heart of pieces like Evening Stroll or I Will Think Of You, a song so lovingly manifested by the tender touch of a wonderfully sensitive, yet artistic performer.

I spoke once to a member of one of England’s leading Progressive Rock band in Barclay James Harvest, and he spoke of his time at Abbey Road and the day he played John Lennon’s guitar, I wondered just then how it must have felt for Ed to have gazed at the room around him, closed his eyes, sucked in the energy of the 60’s and performed Yesterday, I personally would have never been able to forget a moment like that, and for him to then have birthed a version so powerful and emotional is a testament to his passionate, and really classy style, and also think about this, what an amazing way with which to conclude an album of this elk.

The London Sessions: Reflections from Studio 2 by Ed Bazel is a 12 track album of sublime music that will never be forgotten by the pianist, and should never be by us ever eager listeners of creative compositions and delightful piano melodies. Ed has followed his vision, he has manifested the intent and followed his dream through, and that alone should be a lesson for us all to seriously take note of. The London Sessions: Reflections from Studio 2 is an album that salutes those time honoured ghosts, it’s a statement of arrival and mantra of success, and more over an album of pure beauty, charm and honesty. A must purchase release lays here waiting for you, and manifested by one of the leading pianists in the instrumental world today called, Ed Bazel.

Friday, April 7, 2023

New Dawn By Lorna James


New Dawn


Lorna James

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I remember once standing on the bank side of a wonderfully misty lake in England with my father at around 3.30 AM, we waited together like patient monoliths, unmoving, resolute and waiting for the sun to rise on that sublime June morning, and as it did, as those first few tendrils of golden light peaked over a shimmering horizon, I heard music in my head, music very similar to this quite moving and uplifting opus of piano brilliance by Lorna James, and one quite aptly called New Dawn.

Lorna clearly has the subject matter of this new single at the very forefront of her mind, her performance and the arrangement pinned together are both complete works of art, the symphonic back drop, the gentle but purposeful piano presentation, these are some of the most moving you will find in this incredibly packed genre today.

As I listen to this piece once more I can honestly say for me that this must be the soundtrack for the early hours of the day, while most are sleeping with eyes closed, James must have been standing in nature gazing at the most humbling moment of a New Dawn for her, a simply breath taking new offering indeed, and I am certain that this one is going to rise up high in the charts also.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Revival By David Cullen




David Cullen

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I have sat in bliss for a second time now, listening to this glorious album of acoustic guitar called Revival by David Cullen, I try and not to refer to my notes until I begin to write, and knew for certain I had heard of the name David Cullen for another reason, that slap your head moment came when I realised he is the husband of the most amazingly talented Jill Haley, a musical family of great significance indeed.

Here on this brand new release Cullen breaks a 15 year long hiatus from solo recordings, and delivers a pin-point master class of truly amazing acoustic guitar music, with the opener Looking Up starting this most splendid of journeys, with a sun kissed mountain stream of a composition.

Revival is a 12 track album that flows like a summer tide into a harbour of boundless beauty, tracks like Follow The Creek prove that point with ease, a song that simply drifts down the waters of life’s rich path, creating wonderfully textured ripples as it goes.

One can find so much to enjoy on this new release, patterns of rich colours and tapestries of sublime moods and tones, like on the tracks Clouds, No Rain, which is without doubt one of the finest and most moody arrangements on guitar I have heard for ages, and reminds me a lot of the guitarist Vin Downes, or the piece Rolling In The Meadow a sun kissed composition of sparkling wonderment, and so redolent of the subject matter.

We can get lost in the chase on tracks like Let The Horses Run, a boundless spirit runs here on a song that cries freedom, or the most delightful opus of Meet You At The County Line, a track that contains a softness of touch and a heartfelt honesty rolling in the centre of the composition, a piece that exemplifies the carefree energies of life, love and laughter, and is also the concluding composition from the album.

Revival by David Cullen is an album that everyone will want in their own personal record collections, it’s a memory palace of a release, it has a vibrancy that is cheer filed, a sensitive side to its creation, and of course a pure sense of a reality of unhindered freedom, under a spring like revival of a life embracing moment. This album is indeed a masterclass of stylish acoustic guitar; it is instrumental music at its very best, and should with ease be a big hit on the charts for the artist.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Grace By Antonija Pacek




Antonija Pacek

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Antonija Pacek has been in fine form lately, with examples of her crafted brilliance like Fall Train from 2022, here she is once more with a brand new single that is as deep as the oceans themselves, and called Grace.

This has to be one of the most touching compositions created by the artist, and from start to finish she delivers a precise, poignant and passionate performance on felt piano.

This is without doubt one of the most stylish creations I have heard this year in this medium, and Pacek’s imploring musical narrative literally holds onto you and never lets you go, whilst its heart felt mood and energies beg you to listen longer, deeper and with more intent.

Grace by Antonija Pacek for me has to be one of the best manifestations of music in her career so far, its melodic structures will win any listener over, especially if they adore music that wears its heart on its sleeve.

Jerry (A Thank You) By Ross Mitchell


Jerry (A Thank You)


Ross Mitchell

Written by

Steve Sheppard


A wonderfully passionate creation can be found here in Jerry (A Thank You), the master creator is pianist Ross Mitchell and this manifestation is a heartfelt dedication to the doctor that saved his life as a child when he had cancer, The artist and his family kept in touch with Jerry, and upon his passing the artist felt drawn to compose a piece of music that would memorialise the doctor in some way, to represent his kindness, compassion and humour, the result is a sophisticated arrangement that is truly heart felt. The performance itself is similar to a window being cast open suddenly, and the first cleansing breaths of fresh spring air hit the room.

There are some wonderful moments of fast up-tempo presentations, mixed with some slow crafted segments of nothing other than sheer genius, along with a sensitive back drop of piano harmonics, which give the whole piece the mood of an ethereal nature.

Here on this brand new single Mitchell literally gives it his all, by showing the good doctor just what stunning talents he had saved for the world to enjoy. This new offering from the artist will no doubt touch the hearts of many who listen, and may well inspire others as well and is a truly touching tribute to the doctor himself.

Poem for the Shadow King By Kluane Takhini ft Shane Beck & James Hill


Poem for the Shadow King


Kluane Takhini ft Shane Beck & James Hill

Written by

Steve Sheppard


A truly fascinating tale is told within this brand new single entitled Poem for the Shadow King, one created by Kluane Takhini, and also wonderfully added to by the trumpet of James Hill, and the inspirational words and voice of one Shane Beck.

The skills of Takhini as a composer and performer come both into play here, and the back drop of Hill’s mournful trumpet makes you wonder why this amazing instrument isn’t used much more than it is.

The beautifully crafted poem contains words and an overall thread of great importance, to the heart from the heart, and many shattered illusions will be broken on the rocks of the said Shadow King, but here a composition is manifested that will enthral each and every listener, with each second played, and will leave that said listener, with a musical experience that they will never forget.

In the Wind By Catty.L feat. Shere Fraser


In the Wind


 Catty.L feat. Shere Fraser

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There is something so wonderfully oriental about this new single called In the Wind by Catty.L feat. Shere Fraser. The softness of touch by both artists on this symbiotic creation is truly delightful, and redolent of my musical day dreams of drifting cherry blossoms in spring.

Catty.L has her piano at its most sensitive of levels, and with each brushstroke a petal falls to the ground, the charming nature of this symbiotic partnership is that both piano and Xiao flute seem organically entwined, and the excellence and pristine tenderness of a Shere Fraser presentation is something truly to behold

This is one of those pieces that you really never want to end, the energetic vibrations that flow from this composition are both meditative and ambient and, one could with ease perform Tai Chi to the music. This is instrumental music at its very best and a certain big hit on the charts for both of these amazing creators of fluent musical creations.