David Wells is a lifelong pianist and composer who has served as music director in various churches for over twenty-five years. Recorded on a seven-foot Yamaha Grand Piano, Songs of Hope is Wells’ debut album, featuring ten original solo piano compositions intended to lift the spirit and nurture the heart. Inspired early on by Windham Hill Records pianist George Winston, Wells’ own music is noticeably graced by Winston’s influence, as well as that of Jim Brickman, while likewise incorporating his personal jazz background into many of his arrangements.

Prolific composer and keyboardist, Peter Calandra, has been immersed in the New York City music scene for most of his life. Having scored numerous films as well as written music for Broadway and multiple television broadcasts, additionally, he has released several solo albums. Inspired by a recent cross-country trip, The Road Home features ten exquisite compositions variably spanning new age, cinematic, contemporary instrumental and smooth jazz styles of music. Showcasing his musical virtuosity, Calandra plays piano, melodica, synthesizers, acoustic guitar and percussion on various tracks throughout.

Kerani is a Belgian-born composer, keyboardist and producer who currently resides in The Netherlands. Inspired by the mysteries of the universe and wonders of our planet, her latest album, Stardust, transpires like a glorious symphonic journey of cosmic exploration. Comprised of ten compositions spanning sixty-five minutes, Stardust was recorded with a symphonic orchestra and mixed vocal ensemble, in addition to the amazing Kerani herself performing on both piano and a wide-range of synthesizers. Spanning the new age, neoclassical, contemporary instrumental and symphonic-electronic musical genres, Kerani’s style boasts strong parallels to that of the legendary Greek composer, Vangelis, of whom is one of her greatest musical influences.

Fiona Joy is an award-winning, world-renowned pianist and composer from Australia who has additionally worked with other notable musicians. Among them includes Windham Hill Records founder, Will Ackerman, who produced several of her previous albums. Performed on an 1885 Steinway grand piano, her latest album Into the Mist was recorded and mixed in Direct Digital 256 (Quad DSD) in high resolution audio using the Extended Sound Environment (E.S.E.) proprietary. Comprised of ten elegantly prepossessing solo piano instrumentals that shift among phases of light and shadow, each composition is seemingly a dual expression of both human emotion and natural wonder.

Blue Landscapes II: Discoveries is the follow-up to Robert Thies and Damjan Krajacic’s 2012 album, Blue Landscapes. A world-renowned classical pianist, Thies began improvising and composing at a young age. Flutist and guitarist Damjan’s background spans jazz, Latin jazz and classical along with musical influences of his own central European heritage. Comprised of fifteen compositions spanning seventy-seven minutes, the duo employ melodic improvisation to create blissfully serene soundscapes, as the pieces subtly fluctuate between atmospheric passages and minimalist contemporary instrumental tunes.

Playlists for July 2017

Merrill Collins is a composer, keyboardist, producer and publisher who holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music. On her latest album, Ethereal Escapes: Echappées Ethériques II (a sequel to Echappées Ethériques), Collins plays grand piano throughout where she is once again joined by Laura Halladay on flute and Maksim Velichkin on cello. Combining classical music with contemporary improvisation, the trio musically interact with each other as if having a dialogue among sixteen compositions of which span an exact total of sixty minutes.

What We Hold Dear is the sixth solo album from composer and keyboardist, Timothy Wenzel. Comprised of twelve new age / contemporary instrumental pieces, Wenzel is once again joined by the talented violinist Josie Quick on most of the compositions, whose signature instrument and style of playing is an integral part of the soundscapes. Additionally, Jordan Schug plays cello on several pieces while Corin Nelsen mastered the album. Much of Wenzel’s music possesses a notable Celtic bent, while drum machines provide gentle backing rhythms on most of the compositions.

Having possessed a seemingly inexplicable fascination with ancient Egypt since childhood, I was particularly excited to receive Origin: One World Turning Project, Vol. 1 by Elise Lebec. With two piano-based recordings to her credit, including 2014’s Heart Song (one of my favorite albums of that year), this gifted pianist and composer ventures into markedly different and mesmerizingly exotic territory on her latest effort. Comprised of nine compositions inspired by ancient Egypt and the middle-east, Origin fuses traditional Arabic music with modern electronica and other western elements, which are often complimented by Lebec’s own ethereally haunting vocals. Joining her on this magnificent adventure are nearly forty guest artists, of which include Abu Zaed, Charlie Bisharat, Mai Mostafa, Mahmoud Marv Ellis, Sheikh Mahmoud El Tohamy and Turon Davis.

When I think of “space music” the first name that immediately comes to mind is Jonn Serrie. With an extensively impressive portfolio that includes award-winning film scores, projects for NASA and numerous concert performances at planetariums, Serrie’s pioneering brand of cosmic electronic music has spawned numerous protégés over the years and consistently remains the gold standard of its genre. Comprised of six compositions spanning just over an hour, The Sentinel is based on Stewart Cowley’s illustrated science fiction series of the late 1970’s that represents a virtual reality audio journey. On this intergalactic sojourn, the listener acts as the commander at the controls of a spaceship navigating the farthest reaches of the universe, guided along by state-of-the-art sound technology that feels incredibly life-like and three-dimensional. While Serrie’s extensive discography includes albums that range from world-flavored to spacy jazz, The Sentinel embodies the classic brand of electronic space music that he’s best known for and is styled in the mold of classics like And the Stars Go with You, The Stargazer’s Journey and Thousand Star.

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