Album: Transmigration
Artists: Al Jewer and Andy Mitran

Transmigration Cover 300x300Having written a feature article about Al Jewer and Andy Mitran’s Surrounding Sky CD, which was one of my favorite ambient albums of 2015, I was pleasantly surprised to receive their latest release, Transmigration, so soon. But I guess there is no keeping this dynamic duo down when they are on a roll. And they are definitely on a roll! As impressed as I was with Surrounding Sky, this new release takes it to a whole other level. Andy and Al’s music has always been a collaborative process between the two of them, although their last album included a special guest who played on a few tracks. However on Transmigration, which is subtitled a journey with friends, they have called in the cavalry and enlisted the collaboration of 22 guest artists! I don’t know if this makes the Guiness Book of World Records, but suffice it to say, this is quite an elaborate production.


I generally like to provide some musical background and bio on artists I’m writing about, although having recently written in detail about that on their previous album, I’ll refer readers who are interested to the feature article on Surrounding Sky. However, just briefly, Andy Mitran and Al Jewer have been musical partners for about 15 years. In that time created 5 CD’s and 4 DVD’s, which have generated numerous awards and nominations. They have also composed hundreds of tracks that helped create Oprah’s “Harpo Sounds” music library. From there Andy and Al began composing music for film and TV as well as launching their own Perfect Choice Music Library which now contains over 12,000 mixes.


With regard to the extensively collaborative nature of this album, Al shared: “I am very inspired by working with other people, both on music and other pursuits.” To which Andy added: “In music, some of my inspiration comes directly from other artists. Whether it is their performance or some other aspect of their product like production techniques, overall sound, or the level of feeling I derive from their music.” And in speaking of their vision for this project they shared: “This album speaks of a journey that these very special people are takingAl Andy and Michael Diamond with us. It is a journey that starts with a simple introduction that leads to a conversation and ends with the metamorphosis of that conversation into a formless beautiful piece of music that contains elements of us all.”  They went to acknowledge: “One thing that we can say for sure is that this album wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the ZMR Awards and the wonderful community of artists that it has brought together.” I can attest to this, having been to the ZMR Awards and meeting Al and Andy along with so many other incredible people in the arts and media world.


With 22 guest artists in addition to Al and Andy, playing literally dozens of instruments between them over the course of 14 tracks, there isn’t room within the scope of the article to list everybody’s contributions in detail, but I will endeavor to share some of my observations and highlights.


with Miriam Stockley 2014The album opens with a composition entitled “Talking Stone” and features a pair of special guests that Andy and Al had wanted to work with for a long time. In their words: “We were so excited to have written this tune with Miriam Stockley (who plays with AO Music and others). As soon as Al and I heard her tracks we knew she had really raised the bar. We also knew that we needed someone very special to play bass. We have been long time fans of Tony Levin and his work with Peter Gabriel and King Crimson. He really liked the tune and delivered an incredible performance that was exactly what the tune required.” Also on this track Al played Ebow guitar, with Andy on piano, synths, and percussion. Right from the beginning of this first track I could feel a different ambience between this album and their previous one. While Surrounding Sky was characterized by expansive ethereal soundscapes, Transmigration starts out with a more earthy grounded energy that features Miriam’s gorgeous vocals drifting over a rhythmic foundation with perhaps a slight trace of Native American influence. It’s a powerful beginning to the album which, according to Al and Andy: “speaks to the intention of the journey.”


The earthy ethnic vibe continues on the next track, “Portal,” which features Israeli bassist Adam Ben Ezra along with the multi-talented Richard Gannaway on bouzouki. Richard is a member of the group AO Music, whose music I have written about, as well as being metaphysical author with a number of deep and insightful books to his credit. Andy plays an interesting and diverse selection of percussion instruments along with piano and imagessynths, while Al plays so beautifully the Native American and silver flutes he has been well known for over the years. I enjoyed the intricate instrumental interplay as the song evolved through various movements.


Maintaining a light rhythmic undercurrent, but with more airy overtones is “First Crossing” that features one of my favorite new age musicians, Jeff Pearce, whose shimmering textural electric guitar adds a spacious dimension to this dreamy transitional piece. And speaking of my favorite musicians, Jeff Oster with his trademark ambient flugelhorn graces a track called “Council Fire,” along with bassist Bob Lizik, on a song that “celebrates friendship and collaboration.”


There is an interesting story about a piece entitled “Rendezvous.” It seems that while doing some construction on the studio, they inadvertently struck a piece of PVC pipe with their hands and discovered that: “The tone that emanated from the pipe was the most wonderful, round, resonant bass tone we could have wanted. We stopped what we were doing and proceeded to record it being struck with our hands and with a flip-flop.” That sound became the bass line for this song that includes GRAMMY winner Ricky Kej on keyboards. If I had been there I would have jokingly suggested this song be called “Pipe Dreams.”


An interesting addition to a song entitled “Cloudwalker,” was the elegant piano of Lisa Downing. I’ve only heard her play in a solo piano context so I greatly enjoyed hearing her in this ensemble setting. On the album’s bouncy title track I recognized the lofty vocals of Kimberly Haynes and the stringed instrument virtuosity of Vito Gregoli, who I wrote about recently with Vito’s latest release. Two instruments I have a special affinity for are guitar and harp, and on a delicate composition called “Passage,” they are beautifully combined in the sound of Muriel Anderson who plays a unique hybrid instrument called, appropriately enough, a harp-guitar.


A different musical direction is explored in the reggae-influenced groove of “Higher Intentions,” with its funky horn section and down to earth beat. And further emphasizing the wonderful diversity of this album are the jazz and blues elements heard in a slow-rolling tune called “The Intention.” Then, flowing back into a more archetypically new age sound is “Quiet Waters,” that features the exquisite alto flute of Sherry Finzer, who I’ve written about many times on her numerous recordings. More soothing sounds bring the album to a gentle conclusion on the final track, “Event Horizon,” where a distinctive blend of stringed instruments are heard in the pedal steel guitar of TC Furlong and the violin of Biff Blumfumgagne, both of whom are heard on other tracks as well.


andy-with-moogWhile I have been noting the instrumentation of the various accompanists, I want to emphasize again that Andy and Al each play an enormous number of very diverse acoustic and electronic instruments throughout the album, as well as within individual tracks. Reading the liner notes, one cannot help but be impressed with their extraordinary abilities both as instrumentalists and composers. I know that I certainly am. And once again, there are also other extremely talented musicians and a wide variety of instruments on the album, too numerous to list.


As I mentioned earlier, this album is quite different than their previous album Surrounding Skies, which, like the title implies was more related to the heavens, while this album draws more from the earth, although there are certainly atmospheric elements integrated as well. From another perspective, the previous album reflects a Al and Andy Awardlunar/night feel, while this one has more of a solar/day energy. Transmigration is a tour de force recording from veteran music producers Al Jewer and Andy Mitran, which takes the listener through a myriad of sonic spaces on a richly orchestrated musical journey. Like their earlier critically-acclaimed and award winning albums, I have no doubt that Transmigration will certainly garner esteemed accolades as well. Andy Mitran and Al Jewer are superbly gifted, multi-talented artists whose creativity knows no bounds, and who are emerging as ones to watch in the new age and ambient music genres.



(Note: above mentioned artists with links have feature articles here on Music and Media Focus)

Click the links below to hear samples and/or purchase this album:



CD Baby