Evan Wish review by Michael DiamondCD: “Forget-Me-Not, Blue”
Artist: Evan Wish
Label: Wish 4/4 Music
Contact: www.evanwish.com

From the first wistful notes, and throughout the album to its graceful conclusion, a word that repeatedly came to mind was “evocative.”  Imagery and emotions awakened within as Evan’s spirited piano melodies unfolded. Although that’s hardly surprising coming from an artist whose website bears the quotation: “music is a bridge from the heart to the soul.” Hearing his compositions, one gets the impression that Evan’s bridge is well traveled.

Concert pianist, composer, arranger, and orchestrator Evan Wish has spent considerable time cultivating his talents since beginning formal training in classical piano at the tender age of seven in his native Canada.  In the more than 25 years he has been in the music industry, he has performed internationally, and composed for theatre, ballet, children’s music, film, TV, video, radio and more. In addition to classical, his musical spectrum also extends to other genres such as new age and jazz. In fact, his previous album, “Lullaby Of Love” was considered for a Grammy nomination in the “best new age album” category in 2005. It not only debuted at number 3 on the charts, it remained in the top 10 for 3 months, top 100 for 5 months.

His newest release, “Forget-Me-Not, Blue” reprises a creative collaboration with world famous recording engineer Peter Granet who had worked with Evan on “Lullaby Of Love.” Serving as producer of this new CD, Peter comes with impressive credentials, having been involved on projects with Michael Jackson, Linda Ronstadt, Van Morrison, Dizzy Gillespie, and many other top recording artists. On “Forget-Me-Not, Blue” they have created an album of contemporary classical music that is equally rich in both substance and vision.

With Evan recording on a majestic 7’4” Bosendorfer Grand Piano, the album contains solo compositions, as well as ensemble pieces that feature a live string trio of violin, viola, and cello. In addition, there is one track on the album that adds other distinctive touches and deserves special mention. Track 3, entitled “What Will Man’s Legacy Be?” is important not only for it’s musical content, but for it’s powerful and inspirational theme. This track blends the aforementioned piano and strings, with spoken word quotes from Nobel Peace Prize winners such as Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, and Buddha. To further emphasize the universality of the message, Evan incorporated Native American chanting, an Israeli singer singing “God and Amen” in Hebrew and Arabic, as well as percussion from a large African drum, a Persian hand drummer, and a military marching drummer of the USC Marching Band.  All this coalesces into a soulful symphony that symbolizes Evan’s concern for the human condition and the world we are creating.  Even though this is the only composition on the album that has words, I sensed a spiritual and humanitarian message in the rest of the album which came through in the song titles, liner notes, and the music itself, which spoke eloquently in it’s expressive and emotionally moving melodies.

The album opens with “Tara”, a beautiful song for piano and strings. Written as a musical conversation between Evan and his daughter, it features higher and lower instrumental voices interacting in the composition – a nice touch.  Some of the piano solos that held special resonance for me were “When Do Miracles Happen?” and “Angels Are Near”, an intricate piece with five different sections. However it’s hard to pick favorites on an album where every song is exquisitely crafted and displays a level of instrumental virtuosity as well as masterful composition and arrangement.

Perhaps the best way to sum up this review is to reprint the quote that graces the back cover of the CD: “May we each in our own way, do what is right for humanity and the planet.” Undoubtedly, Evan Wish has found his own way.