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Soul Story by Peter Kater
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 8/29/2022
Music that touches the emotions
Soul Story


Peter Kater

Written by

Steve Sheppard

After spending much of yesterday with David Lanz at his birthday party, it seems somewhat fitting that my first music review of the day should be a solo piano collection of great quality, and this is exactly what I am about to dive deep on into with this brand new release called Soul Story by another legend in the business, Peter Kater.

We begin this sojourn of bliss with the opening track Starry Night, Kater’s delicacy here manifests a masterful performance, one that encapsulates perfectly the glorious vast realms of a sparkling night sky, and the trillions of suns shining from the past into our present, to add to the mood, Kater’s wonderful slowness and calm tempo on the piano would give us easily one of the best beginnings to an album from this genre we have had this year with ease.

What would we give for the title of this next track from the artist, during another long hot and dry summer, as we listen to Touch of Rain? The water seems to fall down from the hands of Kater and into the puddles forming on this sun baked ground; this is a brilliantly crafted opus by the musician, performing with both a gentle and a passionate narrative, and thus the combination is sublime fluency.

One of my personal favourites from this superb album would be the following piece called The Path is Clear, there is a essence of intent and emotion here that is truly moving, and this smart and insightful offering gives up a gifted presentation that seems to urge the listener to move ahead, on a composition that one could easily see lyrics being created for it.

When we reach the piece Spiral Outward we find a composition that has flair rapidity and emphasises constant change and movement. Here lays another offering that has so many layers to its overall narrative, peeling away each of them leaves the listener with something fresh and incredibly tender to enjoy, in a performance that is simply breath taking and very emotive.

We can now step into the second half of the album with the track Find Me, the ambience here is simply mesmeric, this is one of those pieces I could easily get lost in with ease, and Kater’s gentle but persuasive performance is tranquil, yet layered with a hopeful happiness that is so very palpable.

The time has come to pull the covers from the canvas of the title track itself, and we reveal the overall masterpiece called Soul Story. There is a wonderfully passionate sense here that is so enjoyable, and at times one can almost feel a little film noir in the tempting and addictive story being told here by the artist, this dear reader is a prime example of what a really excellent solo piano performance sounds like.

The waters are deep within this release, its amazing creations seem to touch on many facets and emotions of life rich tapestry, and on Majesty Falling we have a track that is not only masterfully played, but portrays a gilded autumn of an arrangement, a track that spirals from great heights to gently drift down in energy and within its own musical reality.

Our penultimate offering is a serene presentation entitled Full Circle, and this pretty composition is played with such a sense of insight and intelligence from the artist, the tenderness of performance on the higher keys especially was something quite moving and enjoyable to listen to.

The last reverie was a most agreeable arrangement, elements of many moods and feeling can be found in this concluding offering entitled United, this is one of those feel good pieces that will leave you with a sense of, that after all you have been through everything worked out well in the end. The performance was craft-fully layered and textured by Kater, and done so well that it made this final tapestry the perfect ending piece to what has been a completely gratifying musical experience.

Peter Kater and his latest collection of solo piano compositions, touches the eager listener in us all, it is an album that is truly a Soul Story. Each piece has its own special narrative, and each piece is coated with a variety of colourful emotions. Soul Story is the apex of the solo piano genre, and one artistically manifested by an artist whose intelligent and thoughtful creations, will live on in the hearts and minds of the listener for an eternity, in an album that is a must buy for all fans of this genre.
Rating: Excellent
Physics of Light by Vicente Avella
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 8/2/2022
A true gem of an album
Physics of Light
Vicente Avella
Written by
Steve Sheppard

This latest album by pianist Vicente Avella is part of an ever growing collection of wondrous compositions created by the artist, however this 16 track creation now touches on one of my all-time favourite subjects, the qualities and physics of light. Physics of Light is a true journey through music and via the medium of the artist’s piano, I cannot wait to feel, hear and be part of this experience.
The starting opus is entitled Light Particles and the expressive performance here by Avella is both steady, with an onward motion that slowly builds with an underpinned confidence, one that leads perfectly into one of many favourites for me on the album entitled Radiance. Long have I admired the radiance and sparkling qualities of light on other objects and matter, for example the ocean, here this fine presentation is a flourish of magic that manifests the moment perfectly for me.
The slower and more moody aspects of Where Light and Shadow Meet is simply sublime and is another personal favourite of mine, the reflective minor chords and notes, bring about a blissful juxtaposition between light and shadow on this well-crafted piece.
A former single is up next and released back in 2021, Ultraviolet and its ebullient melody, still plays its harmonic bliss within my mind’s eye and reminds me of just how good a pianist Avella actually is, a tune also that wends its way into the arms of the next piece wonderfully as we arrive at the doorway of Oscuro, a song with a unusual structure, but never the less a track that is dark in parts, and also incredibly addictive to listen to.
The expressions, emotions and scientific reasoning about light is a subject that can spawn much debate on these next pieces, the artist does that perfectly well and illustrates this ever changing medium. Resistance has a quality of purpose and intent built into its narrative as well as containing a charming melody too, while Color Spectrum, has a deep rooted emotional mood within its construct, one that plays beautifully with the heart, whilst Claro elevates the senses to a height, one that almost lifts the soul from the body and into the universe itself, in what is without doubt one of the best performances off the album by Avella.
However when we reach this piece entitled Penumbra, we can honestly say we have reached a point of brilliance, as the artist plays with both light and shadow at the same time, in a presentation that is magnificent in all its aspects.
I love to stand in the late autumn and watch the beams of the sun dance with the first mists of the evening, October is especially magical with regard to this, this is the perfect time to engage Reflection, and just enjoy as the moment unfurls all around you. Vicente Avella on this piece has manifested my awareness of this time perfectly, in a track that is artistically sublime with each note played.
Time for a little Intermezzo, time to relax and enjoy a slice of peace and tranquillity with the pianist before he moves us to a whole new world with the track Opaque Object, here lies a sombre yet colourful tale, and a truly moving piano performance by Avella, a man who is fast becoming one of the most descriptive pianists around in this modern day.
We are now in the deep and darker waters of the release and as we drift on or boat of tone and timbre we come across Umbra, we can all witness this during an eclipse. Avella’s stunning performance here is so proud and resolute that it literally makes the hairs stand up upon the arm, probably one of the most intense pieces the artist has performed to date.
The slow slide into this next song is perfectly timed and placed as we move now to Infrared, an up-tempo presentation that creates a truly focused composition, one that flows perfectly into another favourite of mine in Antumbra; Vicente Avella’s expressions are so passionate here they are actually palpable and so very moving.
The final and concluding musical narrative is Visible Light, this was a truly clever move as this parting gift has a sense of an anthem about its construction and build, and reminds me of another composer Doug Hammer in parts as well, but simply put, the best way and composition with which to leave the album.
Physics of Light by Vicente Avella in my view is without doubt the best work of the artist thus far; this is an album of textures, colours, expressions and presentations, joined with the science of light itself, it is a superior release and probably one of the best in the solo piano genre this year with ease. Physics of Light by Vicente Avella is a must have collection of outstanding well created and crafted musical narratives, a true gem of an album simply too good to be missed.
Rating: Excellent
A Southwest Story by Elizabeth Naccarato
- posted by Robin James on 7/31/2022
New Inspiration in the Vastness of the Southwest
A Southwest Story is a romantic, spiritual and dramatic portrayal of the beauty, history and culture of the land, the seventh release by Elizabeth Naccarato. It features Piano with instrumentals influenced by the music of the Southwest’s Classical roots of Spain, Native American culture and the Old West. Featured artists include Leon Christian and Nancy Rumbel.
The Southwest region of North America is full of adventure, beautiful scenery, great-walled lonely canyons, what you will hear with A Southwest Story is a consistently calm, very sensitive and well arranged album of instrumental piano music with a bright Southwestern flavor. Sometimes the piano is joined by a guitar, or a native flute, English horn, bass, percussion, violin, accordion, or mandolin, and sometimes the piano is solo.
Spanish settlers came through Southern Colorado via New Mexico. When they saw the beauty of the mountains and the fertile valley, it reminded them of Spain. They stopped there and now that location is known as the oldest Town in Colorado. The opening track, "San Luis" (4:42) has a nostalgic sweet sad feeling, a familiar sounding traditional song given tender treatment, piano seasoned with guitar and mandolin.
"Wild Horses" (2:58) has a very Spanish feeling, violin behind the piano just a hint of percussion, feel the horses glide through the landscape, to grace our land, running free, they drink off the Acequia and Rio Grande. It is said the land between Ute Mountain and Mt. Blanca is sacred to Native Americans, "Sacred Land" (5:08) reminds us that holy places strengthen the earth’s biological and cultural diversity, inspiring reverence for land, connecting nature with culture.
"Spanish Dance No. 2 by Granados" (5:25) is a slow dance with lots of colorful fabrics, sad and rich with a quiet feeling, gentle as a breeze of spring. "La Sierra" (4:38) is an ode to the mountains in the distance and forever, a range of mountains with a serrated or irregular outline. The sound is quiet and full, along with the piano, chimes shiver in a breeze. "Shrine of the Stations of the Cross" (3:33) is a sacred story, visitors come from all over to walk the trail to see the magnificent bronze statues and take in the breathtaking views. "The Vega" (4:31) is a piano solo with a deliciously lighter sensation, invoking the Southwest's beautiful skies.
Colorado skies bid farewell to the sun with all its melancholy splendor, "Dusk" ( ) is the album’s first single, a tribute to the end of the day and the beginning of the night, piano and guitar joined by violin. The track "Cowboy's Waltz" (3:30) features an old-time dancehall feeling with hand percussion, high hat and accordian; and "Flower Moon" (3:36) is a piano solo that closes A Southwest Story, a lovely portrait of the full moon in May.
Elizabeth Naccarato’s previous recordings are Jarrell’s Cove (inspired by the coastline of Puget Sound near Seattle and produced by pianist Michael Gettel), North Sycamore (named for a street in West Los Angeles where she spent an early stage of her career, with special guests oboist Nancy Rumbel and saxophonist Richard Warner), Stone Cottage (inspired by a special residence with a wild garden), One Piano (a collaboration with Gettel), History (combining some of her best work with both new and live performances), Souvenir d’Italia which was inspired by one of her favorite places, and now A Southwest Story, a tribute to the Southwestern part of the United States of America.
This newest album enhances the vision of the growing collection of exquisite piano interpretations of various aspects of specific locations and contexts, as well as life itself. Elizabeth Naccarato has achieved a noteworthy translation of the spirit of the land, its cultural history and the flavors and elemental aspects. Each note fits into a magnificent audio portrait of the Southwest, from the environment to how it feels to be there, a hot sun, spirits in the canyons, the languages and religious iconography are included in the melodies and musical forms.
1 San Luis (4:42)
2 Wild Horses (2:58)
3 Sacred Land (5:08)
4 Mi Hito, No! (4:12)
5 Fandango (1:48)
6 Brown Eyes (4:12)
7 Spanish Dance No. 2 by Granados (5:25)
8 La Sierra (4:38)
9 Shrine of the Stations of the Cross (3:33)
10 The Vega (4:31)
11 Dusk (4:08)
12 Cowboy's Waltz (3:30)
13 Flower Moon (3:36)

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Rating: Excellent
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