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Yesterday Passing by Jim Ottaway
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 6/19/2018
Moments of contemplative bliss
I must admit I have been in a reflective mood lately, perhaps it’s my age, I have got to that point of my life when I realise that I am now the oldest member of the family, and I have many memories to look back over, times good, sad, happy and not so good, life really I guess, but reflection is also a part of healing and in a way that’s the voyage we are undertaking today.
Jim Ottaway is well known for his excellence in the electronic music field and here the artist takes a journey through his own memories and allows us to travel with him along the way. We start with a very emotional beginning indeed, one called Distant Friend. This is so very deep and poignant that its performance is both meaningful and a little melancholy at times. The symphonic electronic nature of this composition though, is both grand and very moving to listen to.
In my past my father had a fondness for electronic music as well, and loved the styles of both Vangelis and Jean Michael Jarre, on Lightning Strikes Twice, we have a little of that past energy as well. The energy of this piece is lighter and flows with the essence of an early spring river, the piece seems to simply lift the spirits and remind one of a day when things didn’t seem so complicated.
A Moment In Time (A Song For Joseph) is up next, here you will find a composition that has a somewhat delicate layer of sensitivity manifested into its construction. Again Ottaway brings such a sense of emotion into the offering, it is quite beautiful to behold. The charming nature of this piece is one that for me has a lush sense of warmth; one can almost hear the keyboards singing the melody throughout the ages.
As we moved forever onward through these passages of time and tone, we come across my favourite from the album and one that took me back to the great days of Vangelis himself, it’s called Back In Time, and I went with it, right back to a glorious album of its day called Albedo 0.39, one that holds special memories for me. I was so impressed with the synth and keyboard work on this piece that I featured it on one of my shows on OWMR, and more than likely will do so again.
Time holds no prisoners and keeps marching onward, allowing us to be the constant participant of our musings, and within this next piece called The Jewel, we find reflection personified within a sublime performance. The light drums pads serve as a constant narrator for a composition of great quality and colour. The keyboards here are filled with such a beautiful artistic flair, that when added to the light symphonic nature of the piece, it creates a dimension of memory filled music all of its own.
That oh so glorious moment is here, it is the title track, Yesterday Passing, the headline composition that shines like a beacon of light across the whole of the project. Ottaway in manifesting this particular piece, has in fact created an anthem of sorts, one with a melody that will be constant in the mind during the day. This is one of those pieces that you will find yourself either humming or whistling, without even realising why. There is a very gentle but certain build within the offering too, one that makes it extremely appealing to the musical senses.
At the half way marker we come across a really powerful composition called New Suns Are Rising. Ottaway finds himself on more familiar territory here with that defined EM feel and lush production. This is one very classy offering, and at times reminds me of UK EM legend David Wright with its energies, construction and performance.
The Day Our World Changed is an incredible powerful title and one that we will have all sampled at some stage in our lives. This gentle and very smooth performance on keyboards manifests a piece that recognises a moment in time, and that fixed point now has its soundtrack with this offering. The light percussive connection here adds a clever layer of sound to an already brilliant opus of memory.
As we move deeper into the release we come across a track that says it all in its title, it is called Captured Memories (Doug’s Song). For some reason this reminds me of time spent with a friend of mine who is no longer here on this world, but the fun we had while he was, still floats past from time to time in my mind. The energy of this piece and its happiness, contains certain similar memories as well, I feel that here we have a piece that was really lovingly created by the artist, from a memory so powerfully poignant.
The more sombre composition entitled What Darkness Hides is now upon us, that same Jarre/Vangelis sound is still there, but the feeling here is deeper and more pronounced, and the keyboards of Ottaway almost seem to open up an attic of reflections that have not seen the light of day for ages. The performance from Ottaway here is delightful; there is a wonderful fluency about his performance that drifts along on the very horizon of time itself.
Simplicity is the header of our next composition and one can see why it has been called so. The keyboards and the performance here create something so simple and easy on the ears and once more the artist has cleverly manifested another melody that will hook you in and have you whistling all day long. One could also perhaps say that there may be a slight Celtic motif here too.
We have come a long way through this realm with Jim Ottaway and now something quite charming opens up before us called Angel’s Song. There is a lightness here that when added to the overall crafted performance on synths and keyboards, manifests something that exudes hope and an easy layer of happiness for us all to enjoy.
So we have arrived at the penultimate offering of the album, well technically so, as following this there is a bonus track. So, let’s have some Fun Times. With a real 80’s feel we have a track here packed with a real party feel to it. At times this reminds me a little of a mixture and a rather unusual one, of Jarre and Level 42, perhaps the synth pop with a little light jazzy funk feel brings me to that conclusion, whatever the case, one cannot help but love this very different, but very addictive composition of Ottaway’s.
Jim Ottaway has also provided us with a bonus track called Another Christmas Eve. I mean how do you have an album of many memories, without a musical reflective thought on Christmas, well you don’t, and here it is, one of those moments when perhaps all was as it should be and that warmth of love could be shared and offered to all in attendance, a quite beautiful way to end the album too.
Yesterday Passing will no doubt surprise many Ottaway fans, his departure from electronic ambience and EM power and intention, has given his fans and the listeners something personal to now place in their collections. Ottaway has worn his heart on his musical sleeve with this cathartic journey and has gracefully shone a truly radiant light over a compilation of reflective compositions whilst doing so.
Yesterday Passing will take you hand in hand down memory lane and allow you, with such a reverential love and attention, to be able enjoy each moment of musical contemplative bliss and leave you smiling in a meditative expression of reflective thought, once the journey has ended.
Rating: Excellent
Through the Vortex: The Sedona Effect by Bruce Lev
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 6/16/2018
A magical album
There is something special about connecting with a new artist, especially when you find the music contained within is fresh, exhilarating and beautifully produced. Bruce Lev has produced a positive collection of songs that will guarantee to lift your day and raise your energies, so let’s go Through the Vortex with the artist.
We start with a beautiful and gentle layer of natural sounds; these lead us perfectly into the first piece called Jackie’s World. The acoustic guitar is blissful and reminds me I must play mine again soon, this takes us into a wonderful song highlighting why it is best to keep your energy strong and positive and avoid the negativity that tries to control us. This is one incredibly empowering opus that has a wonderful symphonic John Lennon styled energy about its construction as well.
It Doesn’t Come Easy is our second leap into this vortex of tone and timbre, the start blew me away and really reminded me of a Hudson and Ford hit from the 70’s called Floating in the Wind. This is a really smooth song that borders on a light rock essence layered with a memorable female vocal that responds to the song narrative perfectly. This is one of those pieces that has a splendid addictive quality about its resonance, one that I will be featuring on many shows in the future.
We now move to In & Away, the start again employed the use of natural sounds, done in such a way that the mood is perfectly set for the song. This piece has a delightful reflective nature about its energy and one that challenges us to look deeper inside. The piano and guitar combination and sublime male and female harmonies are an exhilarating experience to be a part of. I also like the Beatles/Elton John styled motif at and around the 3 minute mark, one that nearly had me singing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, this is truly an amazing offering and yet another that is going to be a big hit with the fans and listeners.
At the half way juncture we find another classy composition called Sedona In Summertime. Lev’s ability to draw a delightful array of musical narratives continues with this song. Its summer here now and all is warm and well, this is a real feel good piece, one that yet again contains an attractive tranquil tone, the piano drives the arrangement with a happy refrain, and the guitar strums along in this truthfully idyllic arrangement.
I’ve mentioned the Beatles a few times now, and it is even more pertinent as we visit one of their songs, Here Comes The Sun, written of course originally by George Harrison and released back in 1969. The fluency and balance in this version is really a pleasure to listen to, the energy that this song is performed with, adds a layer of warmth to the piece, and the piano and vocals all go to manifest something that is truly happy and blissful at every corner of the composition.
We now move deeper into the energies of Sedona and pass through a vortex that allows us to listen to one of the most charming pieces off the album and called Lullaby For Jessica. The strings here add that dimensional layer of tranquillity and peace that only a good Lullaby can have. This is a fine instrumental composition that combines the multi instrumental and symphonic essences of the arrangement perfectly.
The path ways through this veritable valley of sublime sound has been a scenic vista of tone and grandeur, an inspiring journey indeed, and here we are at the penultimate doorway of the album and it is called Bell Bottom Girl. A song of much memory, past love and emotions, this symbiosis of instrumentation and vocals are a delight to listen to, while Lev’s imploring singing and lyrics are a reminder of decades past for me personally.
The last offering on the release is entitled Rejuvenation, this has to be one of the most spiritual tracks from the album, the piano is stunning and Mark Forman sounds remarkably similar in energy to Grammy award winner Peter Kater, the whispering audio sets the scene perfectly for easily the most ambient, but inspiring song off the release. From darkness into light, this is one of those tracks that raise the hairs on the back of the neck, especially with the audio samples of overcoming adversity that are contained within, I couldn’t personally think of a better way of leaving an album like this, after all, there is no place like home!
Through The Vortex - The Sedona Effect is a truly magical album that will appeal to just about everyone on the planet, as there seems to be something for everyone inside. The performances and production qualities of this release are amazing and perfect in every way. Bruce Lev should be proud of what he has created here, and one could say with ease that this release is musically what the world needs today; this is a real energy raising release of supreme quality.
Rating: Excellent
Out of the Blue by Cory Lavine
- posted by Dyan Garris on 6/10/2018
Out of the Blue
“Out of the Blue” is the debut album by solo pianist and composer, Cory Lavine. Cory, a former hotel employee, experienced a series of interesting, synchronistic events that led him to create this album and to his life’s passion of music.
“Out of the Blue” is nine tracks of elegant, melodic, upbeat solo piano. A little short at 33:22 minutes, with nothing boring here, however, you will find yourself wanting to hear more from this talented pianist and composer long after the album ends.
The album may be short, but it is very sweet and colorful through and through. “Out of the Blue” is like a bright, happy, watercolor painting for the soul.
The album opens with the upbeat and passionate, “Riding the Wind.” One can picture themselves gracefully navigating the air currents of life’s ups and downs. It’s a flow. Following this effervescence is the lovely, “Give Thanks.” Nothing remotely “preachy” here, this composition is also easily flowing, melodic, and upbeat.
“Andante” on track 3, is a catchy and memorable tune. Tranquil, melodic, nicely paced, this is quite soul-soothing, and one of my favorites on the album. “Child’s Wish” follows. This Is sweet, nostalgic and day-dreamy, perhaps reminding us to remember our childhood dreams, to follow them, and to make them reality.
The title track, “Out of the Blue,” is my ultimate favorite composition on the album. This speaks to the whole inspiration for the album, a “chance” encounter, an out of the blue happening that leads us serendipitously to exactly where we are supposed to be. I really love this song. It’s rich, melodious, simply beautiful, and speaks directly through to our hearts.
“Fly Away” evokes feelings of soaring happiness and freedom. “Little Dance” feels very sweet and twinkling. “New Day” is nicely composed and tuneful, as are all the songs here. There is a thoughtful aspect to this song that perhaps reminds us there is promise in everything and to remember to take nothing for granted, not even the new day.
The album rounds out with the smoothly flowing and nicely played, “Reminiscing.” This is light, colorful, yet full of palatable passion and emotion.
This very pleasant album is not particularly complex, yet at the same time it’s not utterly simplistic either. It’s thoughtful, cohesive, and beautiful. Cory has a nice, confident touch and connection with the piano that shines through in every composition here. What really shines through too, is the passion and emotion behind the music, which is all very well phrased. Everything here is heart-touching and soul-soothing. This is happy-feeling solo piano music with a definitive elegance, grace, and sophistication wrapped around it all.
“Out of the Blue” is recommended for relaxation, stress relief, and feeling good. It’s comforting. I expect we will hear much more from very talented Cory Lavine in the future. For sure, he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be.

Buy “Out of the Blue” here: https://www.corylavine.com/
Sheet music is also available at the artist’s website.
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