Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Jennifer Thomas

Jennifer Thomas - Illumination
Independent Spotlight

In my 30 years of playing piano and listening to beautiful piano music, I have come across many piano players that have dug deep into the inner recesses of my soul and brought me to a peaceful place where I can escape the daily grind.  Okay, so that was a little melodramatic, but the point is that there is nothing like a good piano CD to take you on a journey and away from your cares and woes.  This album tops them all.  Don't get me wrong, David Lanz, Robin Speilberg, Peter Kater, Kostia, Secret Garden, Kevin Kern and Yanni all have their place in my heart, but there is a new brilliant and wonderful player taking place at the top of the list: Jennifer Thomas.  

I don't know how to describe the magic that I heard in every piece of music on the album "Key of Sea".  Its like a journey played through a beautiful phrasing that crosses over classical boundaries into the New Age and World Music genres.  I recently went to Jennifer's Facebook page to see what was going on with her new release.  I listened to samples of her upcoming 2012 release, "Illumination", and was floored.  

I was first introduced to Jennifer back in 2010 when I heard a song that she had posted on OurStage in one of their instrumental competitions.  Immediately I was hooked.  Sadly, it was a time when I was out of work and could not afford CDs or MP3 albums.  I had put her album on a wishlist at that time.  Seeing and hearing the upcoming release reminded me that I had it on a wishlist for almost 2 years now.  So I purchased the album around the April time frame and had wanted to write the review around "Key of Sea" but time gets away from you sometimes when you want to write.  It is now late July and I had just purchased "Illumination" from Amazon.  I downloaded the album from Amazon in the parking lot of my favorite breakfast spot right onto my phone and hooked it up to my car stereo.  When I pressed play and put the car into gear and started driving away from my parking spot, I was transported from the daily grind of an hour car ride to work, into a whole other world.  I literally don't remember the drive into work.  All I remember is this album.  I purchased this on Friday the 27th, and its is all I have listened too since that date.  Both albums are amazing, and I have to give the tracks to "Key of Sea" some light of day at some point, but I just can't stop playing this new release. It's that good.  

Two words to describe this album: Epic passion!

Track Review:

  1. √Čtude for the Dreamer - This song makes me want to put on my running shoes and get back in shape.  Why? Because it motivates me.  It's epic nature makes me want to reach for that goal that I am aspiring to reach.  This is great theme music for life and the pursuit of happiness. Every time I listen to this, it puts me into the right frame of mind.  
  2. After the Storm - As I see the clouds parting, the rain ending and the sun shining through again onto someone who is standing atop a cliff looking out over the ocean and pondering life.  Again, another visionary and powerful song.  I feel like I'm transported onto a movie set at the end of a happy moment in time.
  3. Illumination - This is the title track.  Very strong and emotive again.  I can nature blooming all around me, everything awakening, life in all of its glory.  This song and this album are a grand re-awakening.  This is one of those experiences that will move you, if you are open to it while listening.  Listen within the music, not to its structure, but its passion and emotion. 
  4. Gymnopedie No. 1 -  This is the most beautiful version of Erik Satie's music, that I have ever heard.  
  5. New Life - This song starts out so tender and soft.  I love the mix of violins with the piano climbing and the mild percussion in the background.  Its painting another picture of a child being born.  From the moment of anticipation to the birth at the end.  The child pauses and connects with the mother and then takes in the world around them. Brilliant.
  6. Beyond the Summit - I feel like I just climbed to the top of the mountain and am now looking out over the grand vistas and the eagles flying through the valley rising up to the sky again.  What a great picture this paints.
  7. Into the Forest - I love the female vocals on this song and the didgeridoo that floats in from time to time.  I feel like I'm running through the forest as the rest of the forest runs and plays with me.  
  8. Secrets - The first time I heard the opening to this song, I had shivers running down my spine.  Very romantic, very touching and it hits an emotional side of getting in touch with your inner self.  Then it takes you down the rabbit hole and into a whole other world that just bursts with color and sound and all sorts of fantastic creatures playing.  It paints a beautiful storybook world for me. 
  9. Toccata and Fugue - Again Jennifer takes me on a journey and turns a grand Bach piece into an epic interpretation. 
  10. Rainforest - Birds flying between the branches of the trees, spider monkeys jumping from branch to branch, tribal rhythms showing their love and respect for Mother Earth, rain falling heavy, flowing from creek to stream to river.  Life ebbing and flowing.  Awesome song.  
  11. Fire Dance - I'm being transported to Spain, to a flamenco dance being performed by two very talented dancers throwing their hats into the ring and squaring off with each other, till they twirl and dance their way into a passionate embrace.  Very romantic and powerful at the same time.  Taking a breath for only a moment before ending in a fury of fire. 
  12. Pachelbel's Canon (a Duet) - an enjoyable and beautiful version of this popular song.  I like the addition of the drum and how the theme builds, and then the change occurs at the two minute mark.  This transports me to the more traditional and builds upon itself.  Around the three minute mark it turns into an epic piece of music.  I've never really been a huge Pachelbel Canon fan, but this takes me to different places within the structure and has actually brought me into liking this piece of music again.  Not since I heard David Lanz do his rendition on "Return to the Heart", have I heard a version of this song that has made me feel "at home" again. 
  13. Across the Starlit Sky - The first time I heard this song, it actually made me tear up.  Getting lost in the beauty of our sky at night, out in the middle of nowhere, brings peace to anyone's world.  It makes all the problems of our lives fade away, when we realize just how tiny we are in this existence we are in.  You can feel the wonder and love in this song. This has become my favorite track on the album.
  14. Requiem for a Dream - This song has always been a favorite and even more so now.  What a grand version!  I love her interpretation of this theme.  Its so moving and perfect.
  15. Sonata Minore - Another very emotional piece of music that is just so pretty and moving.
  16. Eventide - while Across the Starlit Sky has become my favorite track, this is right alongside it.  I say these two tie for first.  Again, the peace that this song brings, is indescribable.  Kelley Marie Johnson plays some of the most beautiful violin I have heard in a long time on this song.  This is just a stunningly beautiful song.  Tugs on the heartstrings within the first couple of notes and all the way through the song.  
  17. New World Symphony - What a way to end an album.  Jennifer plays an awesome violin solo on this track that takes my breath away.  Just one simple word:  WOW.  Just kick back and listen and take it in.  WOW.  

All the tracks of the album are just heavenly.  I can't say this enough, buy this release, support independent artists like Jennifer Thomas.  Attend their concerts when they are performing and help them bring new music to the masses by turning other people onto their latest releases.  Go to jenniferthomasmusic.com and click on the link to purchase her CDs or MP3s and get lost in the paradise of her compositions.  Oh and make sure you pick up "Key of Sea" as well!

2 comments:

  1. Wow - David, thank you for such high praise and recommendation. You made me smile and blush at the same time. this is wonderful - may I share it with my fans?

    Thank you!!
    Jennifer Thomas

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