Reviews 02-17-2010

Music Reviews 




by Mark Pinkus

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“Touching” is the fifth CD from Canadian composer/pianist Mark Pinkus, but it’s the first of his recordings that I’ve heard and I have to admit that I’m hooked! Classically-trained from an early age, Pinkus has the chops to express whatever he pleases at the piano and the grace to keep it uncomplicated when the music is best served by simplicity. The eighteen tracks on this exceptional CD range from quiet and dreamy to lighthearted and joyful without any jarring mood shifts. While it makes a lovely backdrop, Pinkus’ music is just too beautiful to keep in the background.

I recently listened to it in my car for a three-hour drive and was actually reluctant to pull into the garage and shut it off! There are strong classical influences in Pinkus’ music, much of which is very melodic and structured. A bit less formal than the classics, these pieces have an easy flow that keep them in the present. 

“Touching” begins with “The Path,” a piece that has almost childlike simplicity and innocence. Light and optimistic, it carries a sense of moving forward. “The Earth Is Our Home” is a hymn-like anthem to our planet that seems to warn that we must take care of it. I have no idea what “Captain Roots” is about, but I really like its minor key dark colors. I also really like “Maybe Never,” a contemplative ballad that is more fluid than some of the other pieces, but comes straight from the heart - dreamy, introspective, and honest. “Gardens In Heaven” is a playful waltz with a slightly melancholy tone. In the middle of the piece it switches gears and becomes bigger and more contemporary before returning to the original theme. “A Moment to Rest” is graceful and elegant, again looking inward with quiet emotion. One of my favorites is “Illusions.” Loosely structured and mysterious it creates a variety of mental images while clearly demonstrating Pinkus’ command of the piano. From its title, I would expect “The Cat and The Giraffe” to be playful and even a little silly, but it is a gorgeous and very expressive ballad that is also a favorite. I love “Rainy Sunday Morning” and the way it conveys the easy comfort of a lazy morning without any obligations or deadlines - pure contentment! “I Love You I Love You I Love You” is a short and sweet ode to joy. “Finally” is the final track, a warm and passionate “adieu.” 

“Touching” is sure to be one of my favorite CDs for the 2009, so check it out at,,, and iTunes. Recommended!

Reviewed by Kathy Parson's Mainly Piano website reprinted with permission on Ambient Visions


Ticket to Antarctica

by KevOz

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Ticket To Antarctica is an exciting album of electronic music inspired by a cruise KevOz and his wife took to Antarctica in January 2008. Something of a soundtrack for the trip, the music ranges from quiet and meditative to very bold, upbeat, and fun. Some of the atmospheric sounds that accompany the music suggest icy cold, but the music is consistently upbeat and overflowing with the joy of discovery. KevOz has been creating electronic music for quite a number of years, but I believe this is the first time I’ve heard any of his albums from start to finish - and it certainly won’t be the last!

This is music that is personal yet accessible, complex enough to stay interesting with many listens, and very positive in spirit. 

Appropriately, the album begins with the title track. The sound of a cold wind starts our musical journey. The first minute or so of music is mysterious and quietly majestic. Then a rhythm track is added that quickens the pulse and suggests a building excitement as the travelers approach their destination. “Crossing The Drake Passage” has a strong sense of adventure and drama, moving forward with a pulsing beat. “Deception Island” is much more ambient and eerie. When the rhythm kicks in, the mood becomes much lighter. I really like this one! “Blue Ice” is gorgeous, suggesting the majesty and awesome beauty of the surrounding landscape - also a favorite. “Penguin Dance” is pure musical fun. Carefree and energetic yet not quite graceful, it is easy to imagine these large birds moving and grooving to the music. The marimba and other tropical sounds near the end are a bit of a surprise, but add to the party atmosphere. “Antarctic Lullaby” has a simple, beautiful melody on a bell or crystal-like sound with a strong rhythm and strings in the background - a fascinating combination. As the piece evolves, the soothing melody goes into the background as the strings and percussion come to the front, adding energy and excitement. “Iceberg Maker” is darker, more mysterious, and a little bit ominous. Chilly winds and crashing sounds contrast with sparkles and a gentle rhythm - another favorite! “Return Voyage” brings us back home with high spirits and many thrilling memories. 

Ticket To Antarctica is a joy to listen to on many levels. It can provide a bright, uplifting musical background, but don’t leave it in the background too much because you’ll miss a lot of the beauty and fun! It is available from, Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes. Recommended!

Reviewed by Kathy Parson's Mainly Piano website reprinted with permission on Ambient Visions


The Fountain

by John Adorney

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It has been over ten years since John Adorney released his impressive debut Beckoning  and since then he has gone from strength to strength with the bar being set in 2004 when he created Waiting For The Moon. His latest release The Fountain has all the elements expected from an Adorney creation and will not disappoint his fans. The Fountain is another commendable recording but is his opening track “Safe Haven” a self fulfilling prophecy?  Adorney is ever present on both keyboards and guitar and once again produces and composes all his material.

Repeat vocal visits come in the form of Daya and Marcel Adjibi who appear on a total of 3 tracks. While Marcel’s sole appearance is on the lyrical and buoyant “Comme Le Vent”, Daya also assists with the harmonies. Meanwhile, she is given the spotlight on the more somber but hopeful “Even In Your Darkest Hour” that also includes complete lyrics. Otherwise the only other song where she contributes is via her vocal chants on the peppy “Every Breath”. It is here where we are reminded about the strength of John Adorney and his multi layered cross rhythmic arrangements that also feature him on guitar, keyboards, percussion and dulcimer. 

The majority of Adorney’s creations this time around are mid-paced to slow atmospheric ballads that don’t necessarily grab the listener immediately. However, repeat visits to the songs will allow them to grow on you. More unusual is the almost cosmic keyboard work found on “The Water Jar” as well as the very exotic “Silk And Stone” that combines mystic elements of the Far East along with an offbeat reggae percussive arrangement.  Otherwise, the album is interjected with optimistic moments found in the likes of the previously mentioned opener “Safe Haven”, “Echoes Of Thunder” and “Every Breath”. 

While Adorney may have played it a little safe giving you that feeling of déjà vu, it does not change the fact that this is another commendable recording from a very reliable artist.  Next time around it might be nice to see John taking more risks that he presented on the likes of “The Water Jar” and “Silk And Stone.”

Reviewed by Michael Debbage from the Mainly Piano website reprinted with permission on
Ambient Visions



by Ludovico Einaudi

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As the promotional material I received says, “Ludovico Einaudi might be the most popular musician you’ve never heard of. But if you’re a fan of film, television, or even basketball, you’ve probably heard his music.” Several years ago, I was lucky enough to have a friend from England send me the European release, Echoes, a “best of” album akin to Narada’s and Windham Hill’s releases of David Lanz’s and Yanni’s music. I loved the music, but that and Einaudi’s many other albums were always imports and expensive. That has finally started to change. His latest album, Nightbook, was released in Europe last fall and just recently in the US, to be followed by a couple of concerts in CA in March 2010. Einaudi’s music is very difficult to classify - sometimes classical crossover, sometimes new age or ambient, sometimes pop, Einaudi is an artist who cannot be put in a box, and more power to him for that! Nightbook contains a fascinating combination of the gentle, dreamy music Einaudi is especially known for, some very uptempo “fun” music, and some really edgy stuff. Most tracks include strings, percussion, and electronics, but Einaudi’s piano is always the “star.” 

Nightbook begins with “In Principio,” a piece for piano and electronics that suggests floating in open space - calm and very peaceful. Next up is “Lady Labyrinth,” with a driving rhythm, cello, lots of percussion, and a feeling of dark mystery. I love this one! Then comes the title track! I love this one, too! A real toe-tapper while remaining soulful and passionate, the energy is infectious and thrilling. Almost an antidote to the fun, “Indaco” gently brings us back to earth with a haunting piece for piano and strings. Gorgeous! “The Snow Prelude N.15” and “N. 2” are the only two solo piano pieces (not counting the bonus track), and both are elegant and deeply emotional. “Eros” is extremely intense. Strings, piano, drums, and electronics play repeated notes and rhythms that continue to build throughout the piece with only slight variations (possibly driving some listeners a little crazy!). This seems like great music for a film soundtrack because of the dark intensity and suspense. “The Crane Dance” is a dramatic change, calming and soothing with incredible beauty. “The Tower” is the edgiest piece on the album. It must have been recorded in layers, as Einaudi plays piano, electric piano, celesta, tubular bells, and acoustic guitars while Robert Lippok supplies live electronics. Very dark and intense, it builds slowly from a quiet but frenetic start to a bigger, denser, and extremely agitated climax and then starts to recede. Whew! It’s quite a ride! After that, “Reverie” is pure musical heaven - gentle, sweet, and full of grace. I love the pairing of piano and cello, and this one is magical! “The Planets” shows Einaudi’s more ambient side. Just piano and electronics, we are again effortlessly floating in space, completely at peace. The bonus track, “Piste Sans Titre 13,” is a different version of the title track. Much slower and a piano solo, it is almost meditative in its stillness. I have to admit that I was amazed to discover that it was the same piece. What an incredible album! 

Nightbook is widely available as a physical CD and as a download. This is some amazing music, and I fully expect this album to be one of my favorites of the year! Very highly recommended!

Reviewed by Kathy Parson's Mainly Piano website reprinted with permission on Ambient Visions