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CD: Winds of Samsara
Artists: Ricky Kej and Wouter Kellerman

Winds of SamsaraThe concept of “samsara” as it is found in Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and others can be translated as “cycles of existence” or “continuous flow” and relates to the repeating cycle of birth, life, death, and reincarnation. This is a belief that is very familiar to composer/ producer Ricky Kej who was born and raised in India and continues to live and work in the city of Bangalore. While his life there would seem to be worlds away from that of South African composer/ flutist Wouter Kellerman, the two have found common ground musically and have woven together the disparate elements of their cultural backgrounds on this ground-breaking recording that features over 120 musicians from five continents. View full article »

Storm by Tim Neumark

CD: Storm
Artist: Tim Neumark


storm-coverTim Neumark is someone I’m quite familiar with having written an extensive artist profile on recently. Readers who may be interested to learn more about background of this talented piano maestro can check out the feature article here on Music and Media Focus. I ended the profile by saying: “Keep an eye out for a storm on the horizon – an album called Storm that is.” Well, it has arrived, and I’m happy to break through the clouds to the eye of the storm and give a complete weather forecast.


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CD: Mesa Verde Soundscapes
Artist: Jill Haley

Mesa Verde SoundscapesMesa Verde Soundscapes is the latest release from wind instrument virtuoso Jill Haley, and is the third album in a series that centers on National Parks. I had the honor of writing about her beautiful Zion and Bryce Canyon Soundscapes CD, which was a sequel to her Glacier Soundscapes. View full article »

CD: Ritual
Artists: Peter Kater and R. Carlos Nakai

RitualReprising their rich history of recording together, pianist Peter Kater and Native American flute virtuoso R. Carlos Nakai have once again joined forces on their first joint release in over a decade. Entitled Ritual, the album also features accompaniment by Paul Winter Consort alumni, Paul McCandless on soprano sax, English horn, and oboe, Jaques Morelenbaum on cello, who is best known for performing with Sting, and the ethereal vocals of Trisha Bowden who also served as this album’s executive producer, View full article »

Ann Licater
Invitation from Within

Invitation From WithinThe flute has to be one of the most soothing instruments of all, and in the hands of a sensitive multi-talented artist like Ann Licater it’s sound is a gift to the body, mind, and spirit. On her latest release, Invitation from Within Ann plays silver and alto flute, as well as Native American flutes. The album features solo, duet, and multi-instrumental compositions. View full article »

CD: Dharma Rain
Artist: Chronotope Project

Dharma_Rain_COVERThe release of a new album by Jeffrey Ericson Allen, aka Chronotope Project is always a major musical event for me. I am a huge fan of his recordings and greatly enjoyed listening to and writing about his previous releases Chrysalis and Event Horizon, which I called: “a quietly masterful release that now occupies a place in the upper echelons of my all-time favorite ambient electronic music.” View full article »

Accidental Etudes by Milana

CD: Accidental Etudes
Artist: Milana

accidental etudesWhile some composers may spend great amounts of time and effort carefully writing each note and chord change of their music with pencil on notation paper, others choose to create spontaneously according to their inspiration in the moment. Pianist Milana is one of the later, who as poet William Blake described: “kisses the joy as it flies.” The title of her new album Accidental Etudes is descriptive of this aspect of her creative process. View full article »

CD: The Dream Exchange
Artist: John Luttrell

The Dream ExchangeIt’s not surprising that the music of guitarist/keyboardist John Luttrell incorporates a variety of different influences, given the diversity of his background. A true world citizen, John was born in Venezuela and has lived in Libya, Nigeria, Switzerland, England, and currently in the US. Described as “Atmospheric Music,” his sound draws from ambient, new age, jazz, and progressive rock. His professional resume includes writing scores and soundtracks for several films, documentaries, and multimedia projects. View full article »

CD: Time Apart
Artist: Simon Reich

Time ApartAustralian pianist and composer Simon Reich has had a distinguished career so far, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Although, while his newest release is piano-based, to be accurate I should expand his title from pianist to “multi-instrumentalist,” since he also plays synthesizers and guitar in some of his other music. But whatever the moniker, his accolades include awards for songwriting, film scores, and a Peoples Choice Award in top 25 tracks Smithsonian Remix competition. View full article »

By A Wire: Jennifer DeFrayne

CD: By a Wire
Artist: Jennifer DeFrayne

By a Wire coverForged in the fires of personal loss and tempered by the inspiration of overcoming, Jennifer DeFrayne has crafted musical gold from the lead of life’s challenges. Her sensitive piano melodies reflect a range of heartfelt emotions, from wistful remembrances to hope-filled dreams, and more. Produced by renowned Australian pianist Fiona Joy and Grammy winning Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman, a number of A-list studio musicians accompany Jennifer on her profound musical journey, making this an evocative and deeply moving listening experience.


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CD: Closer
Artist: Louis Colaiannia

CloserWith the title of award winning pianist Louis Colaiannia’s previous album being The Next Stage, and his latest release titled Closer, it certainly sounds like he is on a trajectory towards reaching his musical goal. However, after listening to this new album, I get the feeling that he may have already arrived. View full article »

CD: Inner Circle
Artist: Peter Calandra

Inner CircleAlthough he is best known for his extensive body of work in film and TV soundtracks, composer/ pianist Peter Calandra steps into the spotlight in his other role as a recording artist of his own music with the release of his imaginative new CD, Inner Circle. The album sparkles, reflecting a rainbow spectrum of his musical influences ranging from classical to new age, jazz, Latin, and more


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CD: Life Under Stars
Artist: Carl Weingarten

Life Under StarsI really like the first line in this quote from ambient guitarist Carl Weingarten, speaking about the inspiration for his new album: “Someone once told me that people don’t have ideas, ideas have people. And such is the case with Life Under Stars.  What began as a whisper in solitude took shape over the next seven years and eventually became a chorus of pedal steel, flutes, trumpet, bass, piano, percussion, vocals, and guitars.” View full article »

Emergence by Lawrence Blatt

CD: Emergence
Artist: Lawrence Blatt

EmegenceThe conceptual foundation of award winning guitarist Lawrence Blatt’s new CD, Emergence is one of the most interesting I’ve heard in a while. The blending of science and music is not often found, but for Lawrence, who studied both microbiology and music as an undergraduate, and went on to earn an MBA and a PhD in science, the combination comes naturally and brings together his two passions in life. View full article »

DVD: An Evening with Ann Sweeten
Artist: Ann Sweeten

Live-at-the-St-GeorgeHaving recently written about Ann Sweeten’s excellent CD, Tapestries of Time, I was excited to receive her brand new live concert video entitled An Evening with Ann Sweeten: Live at the St. George. Hearing an artist on an audio recording is wonderful, but actually seeing them perform their music live on a DVD adds another whole dimension to the experience. As I mentioned in my review of her CD, Ann is an award-winning pianist and an official “Steinway Artist.” View full article »

CD: Passionata
Artist: Denise Young

Passionata-by-Denise-YoungFor many people, the quest to find love and fulfill their passion in life is all consuming. Those who are fortunate enough to have found that path and set foot upon it are truly blessed. One such person is Denise Young. Her third and newest release, Passionata, is a reflection of that desire.

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Craftsman by Bob Ardern

CD: Craftsman
Artist: Bob Ardern


CraftsmanCanadian finger-style guitarist Bob Ardern has a hard act to follow with his new album entitled Craftsman. That act is his previous release Wires Rosewood and Roots, which debuted at number 3 on the Zone Music Reporter Album Chart in March 2012, and was in the number 1 spot within two months. View full article »

Artist: Tim Neumark

Tim NeumarkWith the release of his fourth album, aptly titled Opus Four, pianist and composer Tim Neumark has been gaining recognition and is making a name for himself among the ranks of solo piano artists. The recording has received award nominations for classical and new age tracks, and it was nominated for Neoclassical/Classical Album of the year at He sees his music as a blend of new age, classical and inspirational styles with influence by artists such as David Lanz, John Tesh, Yanni, Kostia, and Antonin Dvorak. Tim’s inspiration comes from his feelings and thoughts about the world and people around him. View full article »

CD: New Horizon
Artist: Minstrel Streams

New HorizonThe word “confluence” can be defined as: “where streams flow together to form a river.” This is significant, not only in that it is connected to how the duo Minstrel Streams got their name, but also on a much more personal level. Matt and Rebecca Stuart were introduced as fellow musicians under “chance” circumstances to discuss a songwriting project, and to make a long story short, wound up not only creating a musical entity, but also becoming husband and wife just six months later – the ultimate confluence. Since they began playing together in 2008, the duo has released four albums, including their latest, New Horizon.

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CD: Solo Piano Tales
Artist: Piotr Komorowski

Solo Piano TalesTo say that Polish pianist and conductor Piotr Komorowski has had a distinguished professional career would certainly be an understatement. Not content to rest on his laurels, however, he is constantly exploring and pursuing new creative frontiers. View full article »

CD: Sacred Name Sacred Codes
Artist: J.J. Hurtak & Desiree Hurtak with Steven Halpern

Sacred Name Sacred CodesIn recent years the number of albums being released which center on devotional singing, chanting mantras, kirtan, etc. has been on the rise. This is a good indication that more and more spiritual seekers are looking to sound and music that goes beyond entertainment, and which can be used as a tool for inner attunement. A new entry into this genre, although based on very ancient teachings, is Sacred Name Sacred Codes by Drs. J.J. Hurtak and Desiree Hurtak, that features a musical soundtrack well known new age music pioneer and sound healer Steven Halpern. View full article »

CD: Tapestries of Time
Artist: Ann Sweeten

Tapestries of TimeAs guitarist/songwriter Steve Miller sang in one of his many radio classics: “Time keeps on ticking… into the future.” The subject of time is one that has intrigued artists, musicians, and writers, inspiring them to create reflections of its mysteries. The new album, Tapestries of Time, by award-winning pianist and official “Steinway Artist” Ann Sweeten, is one of these. In her words: “The pieces on this album have to do with time in some concept or other. There may be a direct reference, a captured moment, an isolated experience or inspiration drawn from a particular event, the idea of infinity and limitless possibility.” View full article »

The Healing by Char-El

CD: The Healing
Artist: Char-El

The HealingI must say that I have been a long-time fan of the otherworldly music of Ohio-based synthesist and keyboardist/composer Charles Thaxton who records under the name of Char-El.  So the news of his latest release, The Healing, was not only music to my ears, but to my mind and body as well, which I’ll talk about in a minute. View full article »

CD: Out Of Nothing
Artist: Matteo Palmer

Out Of NothingAlthough I’ve been playing the guitar for almost 50 years, after hearing Matteo Palmer, I may never play again. Just kidding of course, but it was sobering to realize that at the tender age of 17, Matteo is already a more accomplished guitarist than I will ever be, although our styles are different. And the fact is that he is not just good for someone his age, he is amazing for any age.  View full article »

Chakra Love by Mantrananda


CD: Chakra Love
Artist: Mantrananda.

Chakra LoveChakra Love is the debut CD from a Los Angeles-based duo of Vicki Howie and Jeff Bonilla who record under the name Mantrananda. The word means “the bliss of spiritual sayings (mantras).” Incidentally, for those who may not be familiar, chakras are the energy centers of the body as described in Eastern spiritual teachings. View full article »

CD: River Serene
Artist: Timothy Wenzel

River SereneI must say that I’ve always had a fondness for “concept albums,” or recordings that weave a thread throughout. Such is the case with keyboardist Timothy Wenzel’s new release entitled River Serene. This album follows in the wake of his previous highly successful album, A Coalescence Of Dreams, which was ranked in the number 5 spot on the international Zone Music Reporter Top 100 radio airplay chart. River Serene is Timothy’s third release, and I have every reason to believe that it will be as popular, if not more so, than his earlier ones.

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Sojourn by Jim Gabriel

CD: Sojourn
Artist: Jim Gabriel

SojournOne thing that has not been lost on pianist Jim Gabriel is the value of education  – both his own, and that which he imparts to others. With so much being said these days about the cutting of funding to arts programs in the schools, its gratifying to see someone like Jim who has done so much with his extensive education and is now giving back to a new generation, as a music teacher and choir director. View full article »

Nocturnes by Dan Chadburn

CD: Nocturnes
Artist: Dan Chadburn

NocturnesNocturnes is the fourth album release from classically trained pianist Dan Chadburn, whose performance venues have included Carnegie Hall in New York, Symphony Hall in Boston and The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Additionally, his choral compositions have been recorded and performed in the Concert Hall of The Kennedy Center. View full article »

CD: The Undiscovered Horizon
Artist: Harrison Edwards

The Undiscovered HorizonDescribed as “a poet who expresses himself through his music,” Harrison Edwards is a multi-instrumental musician and composer, as well as being a novelist. His latest CD release, The Undiscovered Horizon, follows his previous three successful albums, each of which was in the Top 100 on New Age radio airplay charts. View full article »

CD: Sedona On My Mind
Artist: Louis Landon

Sedona On My MindAmong the most awe-inspiring vistas I’ve had the pleasure of viewing are the red rock canyon lands of Sedona, Arizona. In addition to natural beauty, their energy has served as a magnet for spiritual seekers as well. One recent transplant to this primordial landscape is pianist and Steinway Artist, Louis Landon, who in addition to composing and performing music likes to spend his time hiking the rugged backcountry trails. While Ray Charles may have had Georgia on his mind, Louis’ latest album is inspired by the grandeur of his new home in Sedona. View full article »

CD: A New Age Of Classical Piano
Artist: Christopher Boscole

New Age of Classical PianoIn his previous album, Floating On A Melody, which I had the pleasure of writing about Christopher Boscole featured his original impressionistic piano compositions. However, on his latest release entitled “ A New Age Of Classical Piano,” he turns his creative focus to interpreting a sampling of works by some of the greatest classical composers the world has known.  View full article »

Unlike the Stars by Vin Downes

CD: Unlike the Stars
Artist: Vin Downes

Unlike the StarsI’m trying to imagine the experience of having an album produced by one of your musical idols. I know that if Carlos Santana produced my next release, I would certainly have that dream-come-true experience. But for guitarist Vin Downes, that dream became a reality when he had the opportunity to work with Grammy winning producer and Windham Hill Records founder, Will Ackerman. View full article »

CD: Music of the Extraordinary Voyages
Artist: larkenlyre (Matthew Labarge)

Music of the Extraordinary VoyagesAh, the lure of exotic adventures and far away lands… For Matthew Labarge, this calling has echoed throughout his life from his earliest years – first in books, and now in music. His latest album, Music of the Extraordinary Voyages, is in his words: “a collection of cinematic multi-layered sonic sketches inspired by the short stories and novels of Jules Verne, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Each of the fourteen tracks is very different.  Hundreds of instruments, real and electronic, were used, as well as dozens of objects, instruments, and environments I recorded and sampled.  Each track is a unique sonic landscape unto itself, much like a great story.” View full article »

CD: Call of the Mountains
Artist: Masako

Call of the MountainsRipples are still being felt in the wake of Masako’s self-titled debut release, which garnered extensive critical acclaim and radio airplay worldwide, as well as having provided the opening track on The Gathering, a stunning compilation album of music produced by Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman. In my feature article on Masako’s previous album, I gave some background about her musical history, so readers who may be interested can click this link to read more. Masako (pronounced ma-SAH-ko) is a gifted pianist and composer who seems to draw endless inspiration from nature and her surroundings. View full article »

CD: Soundtrack to Life
Artist: Cosmo Frequency

Cosmo Frequency CDOn their hit song, Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys sang about “picking up good vibrations.” Now, many years later, a new group called Cosmo Frequency is doing that as well, although on quite a different wavelength. According to one of the group’s founders, Paul Martinson, “We tune into the vibrations and positive influences which allows us to capture the music that surrounds us. View full article »

Artist: Karen Olson

Karen OlsonFrom her years of performing in orchestras and chamber music ensembles, as well as in the New York Pops playing hundreds of shows with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Sammy Davis Jr. and Tony Bennett, to her work with new age sound healing, jazz, and world music, the career and viola artistry of Karen Olson represents a veritable rainbow of musical experience. View full article »

CD: Winter Air
Artist: School of Irish Music

Winter AirWhile a recording of Gaelic or Celtic music is not unusual to find, one that was performed by children is. However, you would never guess by listening to it that many of the instrumentalists and vocalists range from age 9 to 18. All of the songs are traditional Irish tunes representing Christmas, New Years, and the winter season. View full article »

Redemption by Paul Spaeth

CD: Redemption
Artist: Paul Spaeth

RedemptionFor some people, it is a long and winding road to get to the realization that music is going to be their career path in life. For others, however, the seeds of their musical inclinations sprout early and begin to blossom while they are still quite young. View full article »

The Hours by Manfred Melcher

CD: The Hours
Artist: Manfred Melcher

The Hours CDI’m pleased to be one of the first music journalists to shine a spotlight on the debut album of a multi-talented artist named Manfred Melcher. I use the term “multi-talented” because in addition to being an accomplished finger-style acoustic guitarist and contemporary instrumental composer, Manfred is also an actor who has appeared on TV shows like Seinfeld, 21-Jump Street, Growing Pains, and more, as well as having a professional career as a psychotherapist and author of a book on that topic. View full article »

CD: A Southern Sun
Artist: Joseph Akins

A Southern SunWhile the Nashville area, and Tennessee in general, is best known as the Garden of Eden for country music, many other genres of music grow and flourish there as well. A case in point is pianist and Tennessee resident Joseph Akins, whose instrumental music has been compared to George Winston, David Lanz, and Jim Brickman. View full article »

CD: Carols of Christmas
Artist: David Hicken

Carols of ChristmasAs a prolific composer and recording artist, David Hicken has released a number of diverse albums over the years. The latest is a collection of his solo piano versions of Christmas classics that in addition to emanating holiday cheer, serves as a showcase for David’s formidable musical talent. His impressive abilities have been developed over a lifetime and include many distinguished achievements. View full article »

CD: Tranquil Times
Artist: Darlene Koldenhoven

Tranquil TimesI must say that my curiosity was piqued when I received an all-instrumental album from a Grammy winning vocalist who sang as a featured soloist with Yanni in Live at the Acropolis (seen by over 1.5 billion people worldwide), and has sung backup for Barbara Streisand, Whitney Houston, Rod Stewart, Neil Young, Pink Floyd, and many others. Not to mention singing, vocal coaching, and performing with Whoopie Goldberg in the movie “Sister Act” – and, believe me, this does not begin to scratch the surface of her career as a vocalist. But on her new release Tranquil Times, Darlene Koldenhoven rests her golden voice and draws on other aspects of her professional skills as a pianist, synthesist, composer, arranger, orchestrator, and producer. View full article »

Novella by Andre Feriante

CD: Novella: Ukulele Mosaique
Artist: Andre Feriante

Album Cover NovellaThe mention of a ukulele often conjures up images of swaying palm trees, sandy beaches, and women in grass skirts dancing the hula. However, the instrument far transcends this stereotype and is actually quite versatile in the right hands – in this case, the hands of guitar virtuoso Andre Feriante. View full article »

Illumination by Peter Kater

CD: Illumination
Artist: Peter Kater

illuminationAs one of the most well known artists in the new age music genre, pianist and composer Peter Kater needs no lengthy introduction. With 8 Grammy nominations in the last 9 years, as well as scoring over 100 television programs and films including 11 Off and On-Broadway plays, he has certainly made a name for himself in the music industry. Peter’s iconic collaborations with Native American flute master R. Carlos Nakai, as well as numerous other recordings have sold millions of albums and brought him great success on the prestigious Billboard charts. View full article »

CD: TO See You Again
Artist: Cathy Oakes

Cathy 0akesAlthough pianist Cathy Oakes  is relatively new to the world of recording, she has taught piano and voice for over 30 years. She released her first CD, Like a Song, in 2012, yet in the brief span of time since then, she has been prolific, and her new release, To See You Again, is now her third album. One would hope that as an artist progresses along their creative path, that there is an evolution, a deepening of their work. And this certainly holds true for Cathy Oakes. View full article »

CD: What the Winter Said
Artist: Kathryn Kaye

What the Winter SaidWith the Fall colors starting to fade outside my window, and a chilly wind stripping the leaves from the trees, sending them flying in every direction, I’m in a proper frame of mind to write about pianist Kathryn Kaye’s brand new album, What the Winter Said. And its not unlikely that scenes such as this inspired the music in the first place. In her words: “Although the inspiration for my compositions comes from a variety of sources, the strongest by far is nature. I’m moved by nature’s colors, sounds, and changing seasons, all of which blend with melodies and visual images from my past.” View full article »

God of Drum by Get Tribal

CD: God of Drum
Artist: Get Tribal

God Of Drum coverIn my more than 30 years as a new age music journalist and reviewer, I’ve seen and written about a number of albums specifically created to attune the energy centers or chakras of the body and spirit. However, God of Drum by Kari Hohne, who records under the name of Get Tribal, is certainly one of the most unique. She describes the album as “a collection of percussion-based tribal music inspired by the thunder deities of world mythology.” View full article »

CD: Perfect Imperfection
Artist: Tom Carleno

cover“It is our very search for perfection outside ourselves that causes our suffering.” ~ The Buddha

These words of wisdom are part of the reason behind the title of Tom Carleno’s brand new solo album, Perfect Imperfection – but more on that later. Let me first say a few words of introduction about this talented artist. Hailing from my old stomping grounds of Denver, Colorado, Tom is an award-winning composer and musician who performs solo as well as with the acoustic jazz group Perpetual Motion, which has been performing and recording for over 20 years. View full article »

CD: Event Horizon
Artist: Chronotope Project

chronotope projectThe word “chronotope” is not one you will find in the dictionary. It is, however, the nom de plume, or nom de synth in this case, of electronic music recording artist Jeffrey Ericson Allen. By his definition: “Chronotope refers to the essential unity of space and time. The music of Chronotope Project explores this time-space confluence and invites the listener on ambient journeys of deep texture infused with gentle pulsing rhythms and soulful melodies.” View full article »

Elixir by Yang Ying

CD: Elixir:  Music for Moving and Still Meditation
Artist: Yang Ying

ElixirThe idea of music as medicine is relatively new in Western culture, although gaining in popularity, particularly in the new age music genre. For the Chinese, however, the healing properties of music have been known for thousands of years. In fact, the Chinese character for “music” is a major part of the ancient Chinese character for “medicine.” Also, the Chinese character for “happiness” and “music” is one and the same. This time-honored awareness is the force behind a new album by Ms. Yang Ying, a master traditional (and contemporary) Chinese musician, as well as a longtime practitioner of qigong meditation. View full article »

DVD: A Musical Journey For World Peace (by Rupam Sarmah and his team)
Director: Rupam Sarmah

DVD coverIts not everyday that I have the opportunity to write about something that has been awarded a place in The Guinness® World Records, but the musical event portrayed in this colorful DVD, is one of them. The concert, entitled A Musical Journey For World Peace, was a massive (and that is an understatement) international symphony that was held in Assam, India on February 24, 2013, and was attended by more than 30,000 people. The extravaganza brought together over 500 participants from around the world, including 106 vocalists and 370 musicians. View full article »

Book: Refreshing The Moment
Author: Richard Gannaway

Refreshing The MomentIf anyone ever fit the description of a “renaissance man” it has to be Richard Gannaway. In addition to being the author of the book in this feature article (as well as two others), he is a composer, a world-class music and video producer, a highly skilled multi-instrumentalist, a visionary graphic artist, and the co-founder of a non-profit organization that benefits orphaned children around the world. Not only does Richard do all these things, he does them all exceedingly well. View full article »

CD: Transcendence
Artist: Sean Christopher

TranscendenceIf ever an album title was perfectly descriptive of its contents, Transcendence, the new album by Sean Christopher certainly is. The word is defined as a state of being “beyond or above the range of normal or merely physical human experience, existing apart from and not subject to the limitations of the material universe.” Both musically and subject-wise, this recording definitely fits the definition. Epic in scope, the album is described as “a journey of the soul’s transition from Earth across the Universe to Paradise.  View full article »

Concert: Fiona Joy Hawkins and Trysette

Two Grand I'm YoursTwo Grand, I’m Yours: The Best Of Two Musical Worlds,” is the name of the US tour featuring the grand piano and vocal artistry of Australian recording artists Fiona Joy Hawkins and Trysette. I was fortunate enough to catch their San Francisco Bay area performance at the historic Throckmorton Theatre in Marin County.  Performing solo sets and duets, the pair presented a memorable concert experience that drew enthusiastic response from the audience. View full article »

CD: Notes From A Journey
Artist: Kristin Amarie

Kristin AmarieWhile many artists and musicians bring the particular flavors and influences of their native land to their art, Kristin Amarie is truly a “global citizen” and her music reflects the incredible diversity that has been her life experience. Her new album, Notes From A Journey, which features a guest appearance by David Lanz, provides the perfect vehicle for her to finally express the full range of her talent – from ethereal Enya-like incantations to lushly orchestrated compositions reminiscent of David Arkenstone, with echoes of the far corners of the world Kristin has inhabited. View full article »

CD: The Road Ahead
Artist: Michael Logozar

The Road AheadAlthough Michael Logozar is living in one of the music capitals of the US, Austin, Texas, he is far from being a homegrown Texan. Born in Edmonton, Alberta Canada, he later moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, before putting down more recent roots in this southern hotspot. As a young child in Canada he took to the piano like a natural and began playing familiar songs by ear at the age of four. Sensing his natural abilities, he was soon enrolled in formal lessons and went on to performing Beethoven and Bach at regional festivals. However, the emerging Windham Hill sound, and artists like David Lanz and Michael Jones, “who expressed a clarity of melodic beauty and simplicity,” began to turn him in a new direction. View full article »

CD: Light From Darkness
Artist: Erwilian

Light From DarknessListening to and reading about the Seattle-based band, Erwilian, I’m reminded of the MTV series “Unplugged,” when the group proudly proclaims: “nothing synthesized, everything acoustic. There is nary an electronic blip, bleep, or filter sweep to be found in the music of this all-natural instrumental ensemble. What you will find, however, are guitars, drums, percussion, recorders, hammered dulcimer, harp, cello, marimba, a vintage celesta, and more. View full article »

CD: Scotland: Grace of the Wild
Artist: Bill Leslie
Contact: /

CD coverEver watch the anchors on the evening news and wonder what their life is like and what else they do when they are not bringing you the late-breaking stories of the day? You might be surprised, as I was, to find that one of them, Bill Leslie, an anchorman and reporter at a CBS affiliate in Raleigh, NC. is a master Celtic musician. View full article »

CD: The Next Stage
Artist: Louis Colaiannia

The-Next-Stage-CoverThe music of Louis Colaiannia (coal-ee-AH-nah) is like a tree – with many branches, as well as deep roots. Spreading out from a foundation of classical music with influences of Mozart and Beethoven, Louis’ current sound has grown into the genres of contemporary instrumental, jazz, new age, chill, world music, and more. His latest release entitled The Next Stage brings all these elements together into a unique blend that can be both relaxing and energizing at the same time.


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Journey by Mythos

CD: Journey
Artist: Mythos

cover - JourneyI’ve been familiar with and have enjoyed the music of Mythos since the late 1990’s, so it was exciting to receive their new release, Journey. Although they have released a number of albums in their 20 year history, its’ been a while since their last one. Mythos combines the considerable talents of Bob D’Eith on piano and keyboards and guitarist Paul Schmidt. View full article »

CD: Dreaming of Now
Artist: Shambhu

Dreaming of NowHaving had the pleasure of featuring Shambhu’s previous release, Sacred Love, which was nominated as CD of the Year, Best New Artist, Best World Music CD, and Best Acoustic Instrumental CD by Zone Music Reporter, I was very much looking forward to his latest album, Dreaming Of Now, which was two years in the making. View full article »

CD: The Shimmering Land
Artist: Meg Bowles

The Shimmering LandFor the past two decades, electronic music composer Meg Bowles has been crafting what she calls “ambient orchestral soundscapes.” Drawing from her training in classical music as well has her work as a licensed psychoanalyst with a particular interest in dreams, shamanism, and Jungian psychology, the music is created to take the listener out of this world to another place, a deeper space. View full article »

CD: Shanti Orchestra
Artist: Ricky Kej

Shanti OrchestraHaving recently had the opportunity to meet with Ricky Kej, I came away being extremely impressed with how much he has accomplished so far in his 32 years on the planet. Many people never get close to this level of achievement in an entire lifetime. He told me a fascinating story that perfectly illustrates the single pointed dedication he holds towards his music career. View full article »

Open Sky by David Nevue

CD: Open Sky
Artist: David Nevue

Open Sky coverFor a pianist, having your music compared to the likes of George Winston, David Lanz, or Jim Brickman, can be a lot to live up to. For David Nevue, however, that accolade is not without merit. I’ve known of his music for years and have had the pleasure of writing about A Delicate Joy, which was the release before Open Sky View full article »

Ax Inferno by Paul Speer

CD: Ax Inferno
Artist: Paul Speer

Ax InfernoAlthough the title Ax Inferno, may conjure a variety of images in the reader’s mind, “ax” as it is used in this context, is a slang term for an electric guitar. And this new release by Grammy nominated and Emmy winning guitar virtuoso, Paul Speer, is quite incendiary, and does indeed kick some serious ax. I first became aware of Paul from his collaborations with new age piano maestro David Lanz. Their Natural States and Desert Vision albums were among the early music reviews I wrote for a magazine back in the 80’s. View full article »

CD: Twilight Serenade
Artist: Peter Sterling

CD coverTalk about going with the flow, that is something that harpist and multi-instrumentalist Peter Sterling has developed into an art form. According to Peter: “The tracks for Twilight Serenade were born out of one long improvisation as I sat at the harp and allowed the music to emerge without any agenda. The songs flowed out in sequence as you hear it on the disc. View full article »


CD: Deep Theta 2.0
Artist: Steven Halpern

Deep Theta 2.0 coverDeep Theta 2.0 is the latest release in sound healing pioneer Steven Halpern’s best-selling Brainwave Entrainment series. This album follows his 2012 Grammy nominated CD, Deep Alpha, which was in the Top 5 on the New Age Chart of the prestigious Billboard Magazine. His new release is also a follow up to his original Deep Theta album, which spent 27 weeks in the Top 10 on Billboard’s New Age Chart. This level of success is totally unprecedented for music in the sound healing genre. But breaking new ground is something that Steven Halpern is well known for.


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CD: Transformation
Artist: Sherry Finzer & Darin Mahoney

Transformation coverI’m sure that the idea of metamorphosis or transformation is one that most people can relate to on a personal level. Flutist Sherry Finzer and acoustic guitarist Darin Mahoney certainly can, and have chosen this as the theme for their first recording together. They describe this music as having been created to encourage listeners “to walk through the next door and change your life for the better.” View full article »

CD: Instrumental Songs of Good Cheer
Artist: Lisa Lynne and The Elfin Love Tribe

Lisa Lynne CD CoverSometimes in life, what starts out as fiction begins to materialize to become fact. Such was the case for multi-instrumentalist Lisa Lynne and her once fictional Elfin Love Tribe, which has just released its long-awaited second album. According to Lisa, who is one of the top ranking folk harpists in the world: “I was always known for very ethereal music but my love for Celtic and Renaissance music was always very strong. View full article »

CD: Reality of the Fantasy
Artist: James Sera

James Sera CoverFlowers in a musical garden can grow from many kinds of seeds. Some are seeds of love, joy, and bright sunny days, while some are seeds of shadow, sorrow, and searching. The music on James Sera’s album Reality of the Fantasy is like a mixed bouquet grown from a diversity of seeds. Written at a challenging time in his life, the solo acoustic guitar music James has created, is in his words, “a quest to find harmony in a world of dissonance and discord, creating a calming, soothing yet hypnotic quality to the music for the listener to experience. View full article »

Artist: Gordon Hempton

credit Rebecca WanagelIt is my great pleasure to shine a spotlight on Gordon Hempton, a man who is not only known for some of the world’s finest recordings of nature sounds, but also for having devoted his life to protecting our few remaining silent havens in the natural world from noise pollution. As a self-described “acoustic ecologist,” working under the name The Soundtracker®, he has circled the globe three times over the last 30 years in pursuit of Earth’s most rare nature sounds – which can only be fully appreciated in the absence of man-made noise. Gordon’s work with recording and preserving the sounds of the natural world has been compared with Ansel Adam’s capturing its’ beauty on film.  View full article »

CD: Increasing Your State Of Wellbeing
Artist: Andrya Lopez

Andrya Lopez CDAlthough the practice of meditation dates back to ancient times, it is as popular today as ever in a myriad of forms. While many have evolved out of religious and spiritual traditions from around the world, the use of meditation need not be tied to spirituality and can simply be done as a way to calm the mind and create a state of relaxation. A popular form in the Western world is guided meditation, and the new release by Andrya Lopez, entitled Increasing Your State Of Well Being, is a perfect example. View full article »

CD: Soul Rekindled
Artist: Richard Carr

Soul RekindledOn his latest release, Soul Rekindled, pianist/composer Richard Carr provides a musical glimpse into his spiritual journey after Hurricane Katrina. The story is told in a language he speaks fluently – solo piano. Although he now lives in St. Louis, Richard lived in New Orleans for 10 years and worked as a performer in the clubs, hotel’s, and restaurants in the French Quarter, prior to and at the time of hurricane, when 4 to 5 feet of murky water flooded his street in the Bayou St. John area. Since then he has picked up the pieces and gone on to do some amazing work in his chosen field. View full article »

CD: Dancer and the Moon
Artist: Blackmore’s Night

Dancer and the MoonI’ve become quite a fan of Blackmore’s Night since becoming familiar with their music and doing a feature article on their excellent Autumn Sky album here on Music and Media Focus in 2011.  As I wrote at that time: “If the name Blackmore rings a bell, you may recognize it as the surname of Ritchie Blackmore who created one of the most recognizable riffs in rock history: “Smoke On The Water” and ascended the stairway to heaven of guitar stardom in Deep Purple and later in Rainbow over a career spanning three decades. The other half of the Blackmore’s Night name belongs to award-winning songwriter, vocalist, and woodwind player, Candice Night, an incredible talent in her own right.” I also had the pleasure of writing about Candice’s beautiful solo album, Reflections, as well.


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CD: Dreaming The Afterlife
Artist: Sonaljit Mukherjee

Dreaming The AfterlifeThe talents of some musicians are cultivated from an early age through formal training, practice, recitals, and the like. Success on their chosen instrument is admirable, yet not surprising or totally unexpected after years of study. What is surprising though, is when a young person with no training whatsoever, is inspired by music they hear and teach themselves to play by ear with astonishing results. One of these artists is Sonaljit Mukherjee. View full article »

On Water by Amy Lauren

CD: On Water
Artist: Amy Lauren

On Water coverThe beauty of nature has served as inspiration for artists and musicians throughout time. One of these gifted souls is pianist and composer Amy Lauren, who hails from Wisconsin. As the title of her latest CD implies, the element of water is a primary theme of the album. According to Amy, it is “based on the picturesque northern shoreline of Lake Superior and 
the surrounding Great Lakes. Vineyards on Lake Michigan, waterfalls 
in the north woods and other elements of nature combine with a beautiful Native American undertone.” View full article »

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. View full article »

CD: 600 Years In A Moment
Artist: Fiona Joy Hawkins

Album coverAlthough I haven’t met award-winning composer/pianist/vocalist Fiona Joy Hawkins in person, she feels like an old friend, with this being the fourth album of hers that I’ve had the pleasure to write about. The previous recordings include Sensual Journeys, Blue Dream, and Christmas Joy. With the press release for her latest album, 600 Years In A Moment, heralding it as “her most epic and significant album,” I was of course very much looking forward to it. And after hearing it in detail, I have to say that it definitely lives up to that lofty accolade.


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CD: Timeless
Artist: Jami Sieber

Timeless“Even when you don’t think it’s a cello, it probably is…” This enigmatic quote about the music of electric cellist, vocalist, and composer Jami Sieber, refers to her “taking a traditionally classical instrument and morphing it into the source of a multi-dimensional range of expressive works.” Utilizing electronics and looping devices, she weaves sonic tapestries that transcend the expectations one has when they think of the cello. View full article »

Various artists
Sounds from the Circle V

Sounds From The Circle VThe New Age Music Circle is an online community and social network with approximately 1500 recording artists and fans. For five years in a row, they have put out a compilation of member’s recordings and made it available to press and radio programmers on a 40-song mp3 disc as well as to the public as an iTunes playlist, which they can download individual tracks from. The Sounds From The Circle compilation is the work of new age music pioneer, Suzanne Doucet, who is also the creator and organizing force behind the community. Also contributing to this project is Beth Ann Hilton, a well-known LA music publicist.

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CD: My Own Little World
Artist: Eichstaedt

eichstaedt_coverMy Own Little World is the debut solo album from guitarist Petra Eichstaedt of Munich, Germany. Since all of the songs are instrumental, nothing is lost in the translation and her six strings speak a universal language. View full article »

CD: Primordial Sonics
Artist: David Vito Gregoli

Primordial SonicsIt was not that long ago that music from various countries and traditions existed mostly in their own strictly defined cultural context, and as Kipling said, “Never the twain shall meet.” In recent years however, the boundaries have begun to loosen and musical adventurers are experimenting with all sorts of hybrids and ethno-sonic fusions. One of these explorers is multi-instrumentalist/ composer David Vito Gregoli, known to his friends and fans as “Vito.”  He describes his latest recording, Primordial Sonics as: “Ambient Aboriginal Groove Fusion — Indian, Australian and Middle Eastern sounds infused with modern rhythms.”   View full article »

CD: Voyage
Artist: Takashi Suzuki

Takashi Suzuki - VoyageVoyage is the third release from Japanese musician/ painter/ sculptor/ architect Takashi Suzuki following his critically acclaimed and award nominated Cycle CD, and his debut album, Resonance which was named “Best Ambient Album” in the 2011 ZMR Awards. Although he has begun to blossom as a composer at a later stage compared to the other art forms Takashi has spent a lifetime mastering, his music has been well received and he has developed a compositional style that bears resemblance to his minimalist painting style. View full article »

CD: Center of The Circle
Artist: Peter Sterling

center-of-the-circleI’m pleased to see the growing mass acceptance of specifically created music that blends the latest research and technology with intuitive creativity to facilitate balance and well being in body, mind, and spirit. The recent Grammy nominations of these kinds of albums by Steven Halpern and Peter Kater are good examples of this trend. Another master of this kind of music is harpist Peter Sterling, whose Center of the Circle is a welcome addition into the field of high vibration healing music. However, it is certainly not his first foray into music of this type. View full article »

CD: inhale slowly
Artists: Tim White and Joe Paulino

Inhale Slowly CDWith a title like inhale slowly, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect an album of serenely spacious music that is perfect for relaxation, meditation, yoga, tai chi, or massage. And that is exactly what it is – an hour and eight minute oasis of calm that is available 24 hours a day. The creative source of these tranquil tracks is Tim White, on bamboo flute, guitar, sitar, and esraj, and Joe Paulino who plays piano and synthesizers. View full article »

CD: Awakening
Artist: Stephen DeRuby

AwakeningI would imagine that there are a relatively small percentage of musicians who actually make the instruments they play. Stephen DeRuby is one of them, with over 40 years experience as a musician and craftsman of beautiful high quality Native American-style flutes. Playing the flute however, was not his original musical direction. View full article »

CD: All the Days of My Life: The Wedding Album
Artist: Vicente Avella

Vicente Avella CDAlbums with a particular focus or niche come in many varieties. From relaxation, meditation, yoga, spiritual attunement, Goddesses, healing, sleep induction, and more, the list goes on. Yet one of the more unique niche albums I’ve come across recently is Vicente Avella’s piano music for weddings, entitled All The Days Of My Life. View full article »

CD: Journey of Soul
Artist: John Paris

john parisI’m sure there are many recording artists who have put a lot of time and energy into a project, only to listen to it at a later time after its been released and think, “I wish I’d done this, or I’m not crazy about a particular aspect of how this sounds.” And I’d imagine that a number of them would chalk it up to experience, leave well enough alone, and move on. Although pianist John Paris recorded and released his debut solo piano album Journey of Soul close to10 years ago some things about it just never felt right to him. So now, nearly a decade later, he wanted to rectify that, so he went back and re-mastered and re-released the album. View full article »

Getaway by Lisa Hilton

CD: Getaway
Artist: Lisa Hilton

Lisa Hilton - "Getaway"Having written a feature article about Lisa Hilton’s previous recording, American Impressions, in which I covered much of her musical background, biographical information, and music education work with visually disabled children, I’ll refer readers who might be interested to that article, rather than reiterate it here. But briefly, Lisa, who has been called “The Lioness Of Jazz,” is pleased to present her latest release, Getaway, which is, incredibly, her fifteenth album as a bandleader. View full article »

CD: The Luminous Pearl
Artist: Lea Scallon

The Luminous PearlIn an article I wrote about Australian recording artist Lia Scallon’s previous international award-winning album Crystal Keys, I mentioned how her career path had diverged from being an actress who shared the stage with the likes of Cate Blanchett, Glenn Close, and Liam Neeson to pursuing a path of creating spiritually focused music. The release of her new album, The Luminous Pearl, finds her even more deeply immersed in what she sees as her Soul’s calling. View full article »

Event: AMBIcon 2013
Host: Hearts of Space
When/ where: May 3-5, San Rafael, CA

Stephan HillFans of ambient music rejoice! The ultimate event commemorating all things ambient is at hand, and that includes a mix of electronic, world, new age, classical, and experimental music. If there is any name that needs no introduction to lovers of this genre it is Hearts of Space. In honor of their 40 year (yes 40!) anniversary they are celebrating in grand style with a full weekend conference of events that is sure to draw attendees from far and wide.The man behind this production as well as the originator of Hearts of Space is Stephen Hill. View full article »

CD: The Blue Rose
Artist: Al Conti

The Blue RoseOne of the things I like best about the albums of Grammy-nominated recording artist Al Conti is that they are what were called in the 60’s and 70’s: “concept albums.” According to Wikipedia: “A concept album is a studio album where all musical or lyrical ideas contribute to a single overall theme or unified story. In contrast, typical studio albums consist of a number of unconnected songs (lyrically and otherwise) performed by the artist.” View full article »

Hokulea by AOMUSIC

CD: Hokulea

AOMUSIC_Hokulea_coverIn her timeless anthem, “The Greatest Love Of All,” the late great Whitney Houston sang: “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.” The members of AOMUSIC obviously believe that too, and the group’s latest efforts take their commitment to new levels. In addition to their stunning new album Hokulea, they are thrilled to announce the official establishment of their non-profit organization
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Artist: Leigh Ann Phillips

mikaelcoversmallWhile the healing qualities of music and sound have been known since ancient times, in our contemporary culture, music has evolved more as a vehicle for entertainment. However, a shift has been happening that has many people creating and listening to particular kinds of music for its therapeutic benefits. View full article »

CD: The Healing Waterfall lll: Angel Pouring Light
Artist: Max Highstein

Healing Waterfall lllThe name Max Highstein is one I’ve been familiar with from his many music recordings dating back to his earliest releases Touch The Sky (1987) and Stars (1988) – both excellent albums in the new age/ contemporary instrumental genre. These days he is more active than ever in the music field and has continued his pioneering work in guided meditation programs, which he began in 1984. View full article »

CD: Hope For Harmony
Artist: Kathyrn Toyama

Kathryn Toyama CD“Musical improvisation,” as defined in Wikipedia, “is the creative activity of immediate (‘in the moment’) musical composition, which combines performance with communication of emotions and instrumental technique. Thus, musical ideas in improvisation are spontaneous.” One such practitioner of this particular school of artistic creation is Kathryn Toyama. Although she is a classically trained pianist, for her: “the feeling is foremost and when it comes to me, I find that I must first open my heart, and then the music begins to flow.” View full article »

Healing with Harmony

Healing with Harmony

HwHHealing with Harmony is a non-profit organization that provides custom configured healing music programs to health care providers. They do this by making available what they call a Harmony Kit.  Each kit includes a collection of specifically chosen music and spoken word CD’s, players, and accessories. View full article »

CD: Crown In The Sky
Artist: Lis Addison

Crown In The SkyTo borrow a quote from a classic Crosby, Stills, & Nash song: “It’s been a long time coming…” What that refers to in this context is the fact that the seed for the music that appears on Lis Addison’s new release Crown In The Sky, was planted far in the past, and like a mighty oak or redwood, has taken a long time to grow into its magnificence. The use of the tree metaphor, in this case, is intentional. With her previous albums having titles like Grace Of The Green Leaf and Song Of The Tree, it is obvious that nature is an important element in the life and music of Lis Addison.

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CD: When Dreams Come True
Artist Curtis Macdonald

When Dreams Come True CD CVR 500 X 500As a huge fan of both contemporary jazz and ambient electronic music, the new release by keyboardist Curtis Macdonald entitled When Dreams Come True is definitely speaking my language.  His music combines the best of these genres with elements of pop into a highly accessible style that can range from laid back to more energized. For lovers of this kind of music, Curtis’ catalog is a gold mine with this being his 17th album on his CMMP record label. View full article »

CD: River Flow – Sanctuary
Artist: Catherine Marie Charlton

River Flow: SanctuaryA lot has been said about the importance of first impressions, and the stunning cover art on the new release by Catherine Marie Charlton certainly makes a good one. Although not surprising, as her previous release Red Leaf, Grey Sky won the award for “Best Cover Art” in the 2011 Zone Music Reporter Awards. It also won “Best Instrumental Album – Piano,” providing a good indication that a creative effort from Catherine not only has style, but substance as well. View full article »