CD: Past To Presence
Artist: Steven C

Past To PresenceComposer and pianist Steven C (a.k.a. Steven C. Anderson) has had a successful career in the music business for a quarter of a century, selling over 2 million records as well as performing and recording with a host of incredible musicians, including The London Symphony Strings at the famed Abbey Road Studios, Mannheim Steamroller, and others. Along with fellow artists such as Tori Amos and Victor Borge, he is also a proud endorser of the illustrious Bosendorfer pianos, which are considered among the finest in the world. Steven began studying piano at an early age in home lessons, and went on to earn a B.A. in music (piano and organ performance). While classically trained and technically adept, Steven’s music is also informed by his spiritual quest through meditation and reading books by authors such as Eckhart Tolle, Ram Dass, and Gregg Braden, among others. Steven “channels his life experiences through the creation of music. Steven’s artistry and passion allow him to express his heartfelt music in a way that is both enjoyable and accessible to a growing audience of piano enthusiasts who particularly appreciate the spiritual and healing aspects of his music.”


And piano enthusiasts who purchase Past to Presence certainly can’t complain about not getting their money’s worth. For under $20, they will receive an impressive 3 CD set that provides over two and half hours of music! This compilation is a retrospective of Steven’s musical history. In his words: “Past to Presence is more than a 3 CD collection of 47 out-of-print songs. It is a metaphor for honoring the Past – preserving it, learning from it, and ultimately letting it go! The word Presence for me is very spiritual. It’s the emotion, the energy, the present moment, and the Divine that compose life’s miracles.” In addition to re-mastering the music, Steven felt that some of the songs needed updating and he spent a tremendous amount of time and energy re-recording about half of the collection. He also renamed many of the songs to “fit their true musical origins.” I greatly appreciate that he took the time to arrange the music into categories, with each of the three CD’s based on a mood or theme: “Mellow,” “Middle C,” and “Movin.”


At Abbey Road with London Symphony

At Abbey Road with London Symphony

Fans of solo grand piano artists such as George Winston, Liz Story, David Lanz, and Suzanne Ciani will find a lot to like in the first CD, appropriately titled “Mellow.” The 15 tracks on this disc showcase Steven’s stylistic range and melodic vocabulary. His classical training blends beautifully with more impressionistic new age influences as he reveals his creative spirit and command of the instrument on songs like “Tears for Peace,” “Little Miracles,” “Above the Clouds,” and more. Switching over to the second disc entitled “Middle C,” it is clear that we have entered new territory in Steven’s musical landscape. Right from the start on a tune called “Sacred Daybreak,” we are met with a bouncy mid-tempo piano melody accompanied by strings and a conga drum groove. Influences of pop and smooth jazz are heard on the next track, “Journey To Us,” with bass, drums, and electric guitar adding to the mix. It was interesting to hear the contrast between this music and the solo piano music of the first disc. Steven’s interesting chord changes on the piano accentuated by strings made for an evocative air on a piece called “Reminisce.” A soulful sax solo comes in midway through “Receiving Grace,” a tune that reminded me slightly of “Desperado” by The Eagles in the verses. Throughout this disc, I thought that Steven made perfect use of the accompaniment, striking a nice balance between tastefully supporting the song while keeping the spotlight on the piano.


As the title of the third disc, “Movin’” implies, the music shifts into a higher gear, although doesn’t represent as much of a Steven Cdifference as there is between the first two discs. On a piece called “Awakening,” piano and organ intertwine with a bluesy R&B feel somewhat akin to the style of Bruce Hornsby. A bit of this vibe extends into the next track, “Monday,” where Steven again took me by surprise with some unusual and intriguing chord changes. And speaking of surprises, “Chopin’s Prelude 19” is given a jazzy Latin twist, that almost had me expecting  Carlos Santana to step in and start soloing – quite a unique rendition of this piece, to say the least. In another genre-defying leap, things get downright funky on “Chasing Grace,” which kicks off with a jamming bass and drum groove accented by harmonica. Boundaries continue to expand and tropical breezes blow on a calypso- tinged tune called “Today Is Forever,” that brought a taste of the islands. A track entitled “Key Lime Pie” serves up another slice of that flavor as well. However, in one of the most unusual blending of influences on the album, “Simple Gifts for U2” Steven takes the melody from the classic song “Simple Gifts” (“Tis the gift to be simple, tis the gift to be free…”) and rocks it out with a full band in the style of U2, and even throws in a wailing sax solo! By this point, though, I’ve come to expect the unexpected (in a good way). The album concludes with a bonus track, appropriately entitled “Gratitude.” It is an intricate piece that harkens back to Steven’s classical roots and exudes a soundtrack-like quality.


As you might be able to tell by now, this is one diverse collection of music. However, Steven’s piano virtuosity is the glue that holds it all together and provides continuity through the various stylistic permutations. I was quite impressed with Steven’s technical abilities as well as the expansiveness of his creativity. Compiling all the material from his archives, and re-recording quite a bit of it was a monumental task, but well worth the effort. Past To Presence represents a body of work to be proud of, as well as being a treasure trove of inspired piano music for listeners.



Steven C piano room