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World Café by Ron Korb
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 10/11/2018
Musical moments of unbridled happiness
From time to time we need to be taken out of our gloom, taken away from the negativity of the news channels, removed from the gossip mongers and sat down on a seat, in the most relaxing Coffee shop around, to enjoy a fulfilling beverage, some happy music and just simply watch the world go by, this is more or less what Ron Korb provides on this new release World Café.
This is a lush and colourful voyage of plenty and the first offering gets us well on our way and through the sun kissed reveries of Korb’s Flute on the piece entitled Bailar Conmigo (Dance With Me), we can feel that energy crying out to us, that it is simply beautiful just to be alive. Bill Bridges on lead guitar here was absolutely sublime.
Korb is a flute performer of such a talent and style, and with each movement we can journey through the many countries of our world, sampling not only Coffee, but an abundance in rhythms and melodies, like this next offering entitled Sans Regret. The French influence here is strong and the accordion of Joseph Macerollo utterly stunning, the emotion one feels from this piece is amazingly profound.
I’m lucky enough to live in a Mediterranean country and the sounds that drift from the many Café’s we have would be enhanced greatly if we could hear fluency like this next offering entitled Cordoba coming from them. This sun drenched composition reflects the passion and fire of Spain; Korb has an able partner indeed with the super talented Johannes Linstead on guitar, the energy of this piece is a fine example of musical Incendio.
Let’s just chill a while in Cuba, a place I nearly visited by accident, but that’s a story for another day! That Latino rhythm is here for you to enjoy, a little hip movement to sway with, and as the sun beams down on our day we can revel in a sublime performance on flute by the maestro himself on the track Hilario. Ron Korb is in full flow here, but we must also make a hefty donation into the hat of pianist Hilario Duran, the Cuban genius brings certain flair to the arrangement that is so very stylish, and of course, the track is indeed named after him.
Perhaps this one is for me as I live on an Island, but this slice of mastery maybe taking us on a journey to the Caribbean, I say maybe as we might also be taking a sojourn to the warm sands of a pacific island as well, the flute that Korb woos us here with is a 12-hole ocarina along with the bass flute, the energy of this selection manifests with ease, our time in the sun on this little island of incredibly happy music, with such a beautiful mood filled performance. Let’s also give a little tip of the hat to Larry Crowe for his percussive performances on maracas, caxixi, walnut shell shaker, triangle and bells, no mean feat indeed, on the wonderful song, Island Life.
Let’s take a few moments out now as we have arrived at the half way marker of the album and can enjoy the moment in another World Café in Argentina. This starts with a moody intent but soon changes course and lures us into a wonderful and rhythmic sense of melody. Korb and Macerollo combine again on flute and accordion, and this symbiosis of musical flavours is also added to by a really sensual bass line by Steve Lucas, this is one of those tracks that will have you twisting and turning into a Fandango of a Tango with ease.
A new venue approaches, and from its walls we can hear a melody that seems to spill from our very soul, the Samba sounds of Brazil are all around us and Korb, as he states in his booklet, has written lyrics to this quite amazing song, one can feel a sense of the artist perhaps bearing his soul on this offering too. Take My Hand would indeed be a fantastic Jazz song, one that I may even start singing around the home, trust me, when you buy this album, and if you have a taste in great music I think you will, you will be blown away by the stunning lyrics of this song in the booklet that comes with the album.
Patagonia is our next musical stop and this is a real borderlands arrangement, as on the very edge of time, between Argentina and Chile lies the desert of Patagonia, the fluency on this piece may well describe our journey through this region, but listen to Korb’s masterful performance here on this offering, this is one that would boost our energy on the trip with ease.
Before we head off to a totally new location, we are treated with a reprise of the earlier offering of Sans Regret, and then the accordion of Joseph Macerollo quite rightly leads us into the multi-cultural haven of New Orleans for our next moment of musical bliss. We have a real mixture here of Jazz and Blues mixed with European and Caribbean textures and the combination of Korb on flute, partnered by the brilliant trio of Brian Evans on Grand Piano, Steve Lucas on Bass and the ever so rhythmic Larry Crowe percussion and drums, bring us an offering that is sultry, sensual, mysterious and fun!
Well when in New Orleans, we may as well stay for Carnival. This would be a fun thing to do indeed, the flavours of the day would be amazing, as is this offering, listen to Korb in almost Ian Anderson style; the vibrant energies of this particular track made this one of my absolute favourites of the entire album and the multi instrumental nature of the piece was simply divine.
Sadly every good journey has its end and this is exactly where we are right now at our finale, and to celebrate this it’s time for Ron Korb to majestically take us out of the album with Sans Regret Finale, this combination of Korb on Bass Flute, a deeply moving performance on Cello by Margaret Maria and an almost David Lanz styled moment of piano mastery by Laila Biali was stunning
I believe that every good album comes into your life when you need it most; before reviewing this release I had literally just got back from a long trip away, so I personally found this the perfect album to re-energize myself with. World Café by Ron Korb is an album of wonderful textures and colours, it is a release that has been carefully crafted, but artistically created with such genius, to allow us many truly delightful musical moments of unbridled happiness from around the world, it contains a lush and beautiful production, it’s one of those albums you could recommend to anyone to brighten their day.
Rating: Excellent
A Trick of the Wind by Erik Scott
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 10/11/2018
An outstanding album
It’s always a treat when we I receive a new Erik Scott album, this man really knows how to create a mellow vibe and leave you feeling extremely chilled at the end of any new release.
Much the same can be said right here, as we herald in another new arrival this time called A Trick of the Wind. Scott has also, and rather cleverly has created an album cover that brings many happy Pink Floyd memories for me personally, and anyone who has still has a vinyl copy and the inner sleeve of Wish you Were Here, will know exactly what I mean.
However we start this luxurious voyage of chilled vibes with the opening piece Wings, a composition that contains some of the most chilled energies you could ever wish to find, the bass of Scott sings along with the wordless vocals and we’re even treated to a delightful segment of truly tasty Sitars as well as a wonderfully organic world vibe to end with, or is it just a trick of the wind?
The narrative of this release is also fresh and appealing, we have many albums on clouds, times of day, or seasons, but to manifest an album with the main theme being the wind is like a breath of fresh air! Listen to this next opus of crafted genius entitled, The Wind Sings a Strange Song. I adored the keyboards at the very beginning of the piece, they gave us a brilliant moment of a cinematic Carpenter styled essence and then the creative mastery of Scott’s bass literally blew the rest of the track away into the whispering winds of the northern lands.
As we move into the album further we come across an almost retrospective arrangement entitled Ghosts of Storyville, this would be another favourite of mine, the artist manifests something a little darker, but still has that all-encompassing nature of good will about it’s over all construction, we are also delighted to listen to the little Jazz motif brought to us by a very agreeable trumpet just before the half way juncture of the track. The wordless vocals build a really smooth refrain to the composition, and overall this is one of the smoothest pieces of the release with ease.
Erik Scott is a true musical Jedi of the Bass guitar, but this album is far more than just a bass driven release, as you will completely understand as we reach track four, and yes, this is the mighty title track, A Trick of the Wind, the ultimate musical canvas. Swirling sounds of keyboards resonate and create a darker dimension of sound, and then the tone of Scott’s bass seem to literally talk to us over the vast reaches of musical time. This has to be one of the most interesting and intelligent title tracks I have heard for ages, and one well worth waiting for.
We find our new walkway is downwards to the valley of the last few doorways of this brilliant new album, as we tread this rustic musical path we come across the extremely chilled, but lyrical song called Solooka … Heart Wind. This may indeed be chilled, but the slow progression of the song brings it full tilt towards an almost inspirational piece, with inspiring wordless vocals and a driving percussion.
The organ on, A Wing and a Prayer is so scene setting, it is deeply moving and emotive at its very core and the gentle keyboards and percussion are the perfect backdrop to enable Scott’s bass to lead the way home. There is a really enhanced energy about this piece that I find most appealing and perhaps this composition is also a cathartic journey for the artist himself.
We now slide closer to the end of the release, but before we get there we can wander in the musical prairies of this next offering entitled The Invisible Wind. This track actually contains some of the finest bass work and effects your ever likely to hear and manifests for me, visions of my time in the mid-west of the states, on the flat lands and prairies, listening to the spirits talking in the wind.
Our penultimate musical dimension is called Born Dreaming, and from the start we are gifted something a little mysterious with a drum beat that seems to hover in the shadows of time, but Scott, being the master musical narrator that he is, takes us by the hand and leads us into world of classy played keyboards and a delicious bass driven performance, one that seems to float across the summer lands of our minds eye.
So sadly, and I say so because I never wanted this experience to end, we come to the last track off the album and this final gift is called A Child Remains and after all is said and done, no matter how old we are and how old we get, there is still that little bit of a child inside still left. However this is a light hearted reverie with some absolutely masterful bass work mixed with added instrumentation, which leaves us with an almost childlike giggle at its conclusion
I have to admit, I think that this album is easily Scott’s best work to date, the entire release is open and accessible to all, the performance and production quality is simply the best it can be, but more than that Erik Scott has manifested here an album that he clearly has both found fun to do, but at the same time wore his heart on his sleeve whilst doing it, thus I can do more than urge you to buy A Trick of the Wind, it is truly outstanding and an absolute pleasure to listen to.
Rating: Excellent
Journey of Tears by Monica Williams
- posted by RJ Lannan on 10/11/2018
Creating Optimism
Flutist, teacher, and composer, Monica Williams offers up her latest work, Journey of Tears. Although classically trained, her music crosses over many genres including jazz, world, and New Age. She is an award nominated composer living in the Bay Area (San Francisco) and co-founder of the group Phoenix Rising. She has four albums to date, two with the band and two as a solo performer.

Williams’s journey is about finding balance. In life, in love, and especially in music. It is about the challenge to any spirit, a testament to how life sometimes means pain, but is counterbalanced by love. Monica, through her contemporary, earthy melodies seems to have that balance and it is a lesson from which we can all learn.

The album commences with the tune Raining Tears. I can hear a distant thunderstorm proceed the emotion in this poignant song. Monica uses the sorrowful, echoing qualities of a Native American flute as she does in many of the tunes as her voice. Tears fall in a downpour as a broken heart reacts to ultimate sadness. The thunder, a constant companion to lightning, is a reminder that circumstances follow every action.

Conversations Within is a melodic exchange between conscious and subconscious expressed in musical terms. It is the little voice in your head that influences, cajoles, and tempts you every single day of your life. Trust me there are no opposing characters sitting on your shoulders. It is all you. Monica’s straightforward flute theme is blissfully optimistic.

Monica is joined by Sherry Finzer on bass flute and Darin Mahoney on guitar in the moody, harmonious tune New Horizons. How three simple instruments could produce such an emotionally charged ambience is a wonder. New Horizons is almost like a first step into a partially opened doorway. You just can’t wait to see what is on the other side.

One of my many favorites on Journey of Tears is called Unconventional Love. I don’t if there is any kind of love in our world that is a simple, forthright, or uncomplicated. This love however, is love by means of the spirit. It is the soul that surrenders to the greatness, the psyche that accepts. It is love beyond the unrequited kind. It is the love so great that it needs no reciprocation to exist. All of that complexity is in Monica’s song.

On the Edge is one of the livelier tunes on the album. It has a tinge of Celtic fantasy and Bodhran percussion that develops a great deal of energy. The flute races through the woods, decreeing danger, fear, and hopelessness. The music is not exactly, dark, but you can feel the tension in the notes. Something is about to happen.

It starts out with a warm drone. Tiny chimes glisten in the music. A trip to the Middle East is in store on the song Wandering. The music is hypnotic as it takes you on that not-so-familiar magic carpet ride. A billion stars overhead, a crackling fire in front of you, and an unforgettable night is in the making.

There are two voices in the final tune, The Great Beyond. The duality is composed by the expression of Monica’s sensual flute which is sister to the sultry voice of the Goddess, vocalized by Alexa Nadrima. Both entice you past your current state of mind and allow you to roam freely beyond the planes of casual musing. The song is ageless, weightless, and mesmerizing.

All ten tracks on Journey of Tears are quietly satisfying. Although they center on a main theme of a journey of the mind, one full of life experiences and sometimes personal tribulations, they result in producing a euphoric experience when taken as a collection. I certainly look forward to hearing more from flutist Monica Williams.
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