||Life Seasons by Richard Shulman is a “brazzy” celebration of life and love. – Dyan Garris
Richard Shulman is a well-known keyboardist and composer who has recorded, to date, 28 albums along with an impressive amount of collaborations. Richard began playing the piano when he was seven years old and was trained in the classical and jazz fields. The music he creates is intended to be heartfelt and positive for audiences, himself, and for the world. One of the main focuses of his music is on meditation, healing, and inspiration.
Shulman’s new album “Life Seasons” is a vocal and instrumental “journey,” intended to express not only the seasons of life, but the depth of love possible from sharing life over many years.
The album, “Life Seasons,” (13 tracks, 6 of which are vocal tracks, and just over an hour), is not what we would call traditional New Age. It’s contemporary, but hard to classify or label. It’s a “brazzy” celebration of the beauty of life and love. What I mean by “brazzy” is this is an eclectic combination of what feels like Broadway showtunes along with some beautiful, relaxing, smooth jazz and a spoken word piece.
The album opens with the title track, “Life Seasons.” This is a vocal song featuring Paula Hanke, with Ron Clearfield on cello, plus Richard Shulman with a heartfelt piano performance. Lyrics were written by Brenda Lee Morrison. A good opener, the song is an invitation to the remembrance of a lifetime filled with love.
“Life seasons come and go,
We've each learned ebb and flow,
Somehow we grew together,
I will love you forever. . .”
Following is the mellow, soft jazz instrumental, “Summer Solstice,” which is the perfect segue into the most languid of seasons. The song features the trio of Richard on piano, Zack Page on bass, and Rick Dilling on bass. Very nice and relaxing.
Things heat up a bit with the trio performing a cool jazz samba, “Summer Night.” This is fun, upbeat and, yes, “summery.” Great bass, piano, and drums. Let’s dance.
“Bohemian Summer” is a vocal quartet piece (lyrics by Brenda Lee Morrison), that evokes an imaginary summer gathering, which I believe is a tribute to celebrating not just the season of summer, but summer solstice.
“We will gather here once more
On this familiar shore to be part of Bohemian lore,
Far beyond the saffron Sun
A journey has begun,
A cast of souls have dared to come
Returning to the One. . .”
Another pleasant, calming, jazz-based instrumental (trio) is “Pre-Autumn.” Featuring great piano, soft bass, and really good drums, this is nice, and gives us that feeling of wistfully bidding farewell to summer and beginning to embrace autumn. There is a carefree ambiance of wind-blown leaves twirling and dancing in the still warm autumn breeze.
Our hearts fully open to welcome the inevitable change of seasons in “Sweet Autumn.” New energy is ushered in by the trio again with a memorable piano melody and a gently flowing up-tempo feel. Excellent piece.
From the autumn season, we often DO just go “Spinning into Winter.” That’s a good way to put it. This is an action-oriented vocal piece with lyrics by Paula Jeanine Bennett and the great addition of subtle flute performance by Wendy Jones.
The time digs in and eases forward
The season of hope and new success,
By the time we get to “Winter Solstice,” the darkest time of year, we are invited to pause for a moment to contemplate inner light. This is beautiful solo piano by Richard Shulman. Gentle and poignant, with a good balance of the upper and lower registers of the piano, this is memorable and quite relaxing.
Have you ever walked in pristine white snow? It must be like having soft velvet shoes on your feet. The piece, “Velvet Shoes” captures and conveys the unique enjoyment of quietly walking in the snow. This is a pleasant vocal (quartet) piece with lyrics (poem) by Elinor Wylie.
“Let us walk in the white snow in a soundless space,
With footsteps quiet and slow, at a tranquil pace,
Under veils of white lace. . . “
It’s challenging to pick a favorite on this album, but I think the spoken word journey that is “Winter Solstice Dream: Keepers of the Light” may be it. Upon awakening from a dream, the quite touching words were written by Ron Young. This is a journey of “lightkeepers” moving from winter to spring. The excellent spoken word performance is by Wendy Jones, with Richard Shulman on perfect piano underlay. Here we are seeking a harbinger of spring within the deep depths of winter. So interesting, truly. We awaken from our own dream as we emerge from our own winter and get ready to embrace the optimism of spring. Reverent and special. “. . .Spring is coming. . .”
Spring is always a hopeful season with the inner knowing and promise that abundant life will not only return, but blossom and thrive. The songs, “Hope for Spring” and “Early Spring,” both performed by trio are two more lovely, perfectly balanced jazz instrumentals. Both, as one might expect, have an optimistic vibe. The land is awakening and “springing” into new life.
The album closes out with the blessings of new life in “The Fairy of Mystery Blue: Springtime Blessings.” This is a lighthearted, expansive vocal (quartet) that leaves us feeling happy and playful.
“Here's what I have to say,
Start living your life today,
Let yesterday fade away,
Washing yourself in the morning dew. . . “
And here’s what I have to say: This is an interesting, different, refreshing sort of album that is kind of “all that ‘brazz.’”
Get “Life Seasons” here or wherever music is sold/streamed: https://RichHeartMusic.com
©℗ 2020 RichHeart Music, BMI
All music composed by Richard Shulman
Lyrics/Words by Brenda Lee Morrison tracks 1, 4, 13, Paula Jeanine Bennett track 7, Elinor Wylie track 9, Ron Young, track 10.
Richard Shulman - piano, all compositions and arrangements
Zack Page - bass on all except #8, 10, 13.
Rick Dilling - drums on all except #8, 10, 13.
Wendy Jones - soprano #4, 7, 9, 10, 13, and flute on #7
Paula Hanke - alto #1, 4, 9, 13.
Sherman Hoover - tenor #4, 9, 13.
Bob Bencze - bass/baritone #4, 9, 13.
Ron Clearfield - cello #1, 7
Ed & Stacey Bonk