"Redwood Aire" is the
second album of piano solos by four artists from Northern California.
The pianist/composers are former Narada artist Spencer Brewer
(who also produced and engineered the album in his Laughing Coyote Studio),
Marilynn Tollefsen, Michael Coughenour, and Tom Ganoung.
While the artists' playing and composing styles are distinct and
different from each other, this CD maintains a smooth, calming effect
and defies categorization. All four composers are seasoned and very
accomplished - this is no light-weight fluff. I loved the album from
the first listen, and found that I enjoyed it more and more, hearing
something new each time. On the first album, I felt that Brewer's
pieces were far superior to the others, but this time it's a really
great mix that works exceptionally well. Spencer Brewer
contributed five pieces to this collection. "Last Chance for Eden"
is a lovely, introspective piece that clearly demonstrates how far
he has evolved since his earlier Narada work. Both
harmonically and rhythmically complex, this is a great piece!
"Lost Jewels in the Grass" is quite different from
Brewer's other recorded pieces. Beautifully flowing in some passages
and more march-like in others, this is a "big", powerful
work that shows a new dimension in Brewer's composing style - I
really like it! "Felini's Carousel" has been around
for awhile, and it is great to hear it in a fresh new incarnation. "Walls
That Move" was inspired while working at George Lucas'
Skywalker Studios. The scoring stage has walls that are more than
40' tall and move, as does the floor and ceiling for tuning. Brewer
found the environment to be ideal for creativity, and composed this
piece while there. The feeling is of open space and no limits - very
free, gentle, and soothing. "Together We Make One"
is a bit more structured and song-like - more in the tradition
of "Dreamgift" and "Shadow Dancer".
Michael Coughenour provides some of the more energetic work on the
CD. A bit jazzier than the other three artists, his pieces are both
complex and inviting.
My favorite of his four tracks is "Chain Reaction".
All four pieces sound improvised, but this one seems to evolve as
one musical phrase inspires another, hence the title. Marilynn Tollefsen
has an elegant style that occasionally reminds me of Liz Story.
"Round and Round" swirls in a beautifully flowing
piece. "Moon Walk" floats and has a wide-open
feeling - very smooth and calm. "River Wind" is my favorite
of her four selections. Tom Ganoung's "Big Blue Dream"
opens the CD with an almost Mozartian little tune. His "Return
to the Heart" is also in a classical style. "Golden
Birthday Waltz" is one of my favorite pieces on this
CD. Introspective and bittersweet, this is a very touching
piece! This is an outstanding CD, and should appeal to those
who like piano music with a bit more complexity. It would make a
wonderful backdrop for other activities, but I think you'll be drawn,
as I was again and again, to stop and really listen and appreciate
the music! "Redwood Aire" is currently
available from Spencer Brewer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Kathy Parsons review
originally reviewed for Solo
Piano Publications website. It
is reprinted here on Ambient Visions with permission.