CD: Love’s River
Artist: Laura Sullivan

Love's RiverAs we enter a new year, having survived the much-portended end of the Mayan calendar, I’m happy to begin a new cycle with a feature article on a sparkling new release by an accomplished pianist and composer in the Contemporary Instrumental/ New Age music genre, Laura Sullivan. Love’s River is Laura’s 6th album and finds her in fine company with an all-star cast of accompanists, and four of the tracks being produced by Will Ackerman, the Grammy winning producer and founder of Windham Hill Records, as well as production by Eric Sullivan.


In addition to recording CD’s of her own original music, Laura has an active career in the entertainment industry, including a publishing deal with one of the largest private production companies for music in film and television, where she composes underscore for shows seen on CBS, NBC, Fox and Sony. Her music appears in TV, film, and commercials, including Emmy Award winning documentaries, feature films, and more. Many listeners are familiar with her music from the extensive airplay it receives worldwide on radio and internet stations. As a jazz fan, I was interested to learn that Laura was chosen as a featured artist on a TV pilot, “Music Across America,” produced by legendary jazz artist, Stanley Clarke. And in yet another facet of her career, she is also an author and educator, having created a book and CD course called Born Virtuosos: The Innovative Piano Course, which teaches piano to young children. Laura is, in fact, the author of several musicals for children, which were produced by her group called “Star Company Children’s Theater.” Her accolades also include a Bachelor’s Degree in Music, a Master’s Degree in Psychology, and a number prestigious music awards.


Laura SullivanLaura’s  graceful piano style, tinged with elements of contemporary classical music, has been compared favorably with Liz Story and Suzanne Ciani. In addition to piano, she also adds additional orchestrations. The album begins on an elegant note with the familiar 1-2-3, 1-2-3 cadence of the classic waltz, on a track entitled “Secrets from the Deep.”  Hearing this rhythm conjures images of gentlemen and ladies dressed in their formal finest filling the floor of a majestic grand ballroom. Laura is soon joined in the dance by Grammy winning artist Nancy Rumbel, who weaves sonorous oboe melodies around Laura’s piano artistry. As the piece progresses Nancy also adds tastefully subtle accents on English horn as well.  This is followed by a light-hearted tune called “Wishing on a Dandelion. Left hand arpeggios create structure for the right hand to play off of as gentle orchestration lifts the piece to the wind. Another award winning musician and frequent Ackerman collaborator, Jeff Oster, adds soulful trumpet and flugelhorn on “Awakening to Love. I’m always impressed with Jeff’s ability to sculpt sound with these instruments in a way that provides just the right ambience to enhance the piece perfectly. In duet with Laura’s evocative composition and performance, it is one of my favorite tracks on the album.


While Will Ackerman played a role as a producer on this project, as he has on countless others in recent years, he also lends his formidable talent as an acoustic guitarist on a track called “Blessed.” This piece is a quiet introspective ballad that is superbly complimented by Will’s graceful touch on the nylon string guitar. And speaking of complimenting, the gentle flow of the title track is graced by the cello accompaniment of Eugene Friensen, a member of the Paul Winter Consort, who also plays on two other tracks on this album. The piece is further adorned by Jill Haley on English horn, whose session work is often found on productions by Will Ackerman. Another song, which carries the listener along on its musical currents, is “River to the Sea,” which is awash in rich orchestration. The album draws to a close with images of delicate crystalline flakes drifting softly through the air on the lovely “Snowfall On Water.” This piece begins, as do many of Laura’s compositions, with solo piano, and is later joined by accompaniment, in this case the cello of Eugene Friesen. In the words of Will Ackerman: “Laura is blessed with a musical soul and the hands to go with it. Her compositions are at once breathtaking and lovely; accessible and yet challenging.” Love’s River by Laura Sullivan is an emotional and soul touching listening experience and is a wonderful start to the new year.



Laura Sullivan