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The Fall of a Sparrow by Timothy Crane
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 6/18/2017
Bursting with quality and style
It’s amazing to think just how time flies, I remember my first contact with Timothy Crane, all of four years ago with his album Piano Forte and here I am now walking through the realms of his latest offering, The Fall of a Sparrow.
We start with a brisk opener, called Albion, which is the oldest known name for the country of my birth, Britain. This lively short form gift for our musical journey moves us onwards and towards a piece called Come Holy Spirt, a reflective composition, that has a sense of its own energy about its construction. There is a beautiful fluency about Cranes performance and with the added instrumentation we are gifted a truly picturesque arrangement; there is a mood about this piece that is so enticing. The pause and change of tempo over the half way mark is clever and then the track seems to increase in intensity, this is certainly one to listen to a few times over.
The symphonic start at the beginning of The Sound of Snow was incredibly beautiful; one could imagine with ease this piece being part of a blockbuster seasonal movie. The piano then takes up the narrative and we are gifted a memorable and quite breath-taking composition of great quality and style.
To Rise and Go is up next, a flowing start on piano is only added to by a respectful layer of added instrumentation that creates for us a melodic piece, which perhaps seems to usher in a new path to be taken. There also seems to be an opportunity to move onward through this piece, which we must do now, as we move onto the next track.
That song is Father and Son. I was blessed to have had some amazing times with my father, those memories still linger as I get older, and here Crane has manifested an arrangement that is so thoughtful in its repose. One could imagine a father and son sharing some private moments that would never been forgotten through the energy of this piece.
I really enjoyed the change in tempo on the track Alone. A perfect careful beginning, drawing a narrative of aloneness is our start, and then Crane creates a narrative through his performance that is tinged with a sense of mournfulness, but always retaining a sense of hope within the construction of the composition.
Star Cross Moon is one of those tracks you wait for, almost know how it’s going to go, but still amazed at the depth of arrangement and compositional structure. Listen to the flow here, it’s truly moving, you could easily be standing outside listening to this in the early hours, watching the shooting stars fly across the face of the moon, the strings here are so carefully played, the orchestration is perfect for the theme and one of my favourite tracks of the release.
We now move into the second half of the album and come across a song called The First Day. The title poses many questions for each of us, but Cranes skill in multi-instrumentational performance is sublime. The piano dictates the narrative and the track just flows with an all empowering energy of a new beginning, a new day, the power within this piece just cannot be denied.
I love festivals and on Festival de Musique, we have a wonderful sense of excitement built into the arrangement of the piece. The percussion here is perfect for the tracks flowing narrative. Cranes empowering playing is energetic and exciting and filled with a musical colour that is alluring.
There have been a few albums and tracks that have landed on my desk about the dawn and first light; it is an inspiring time of the day and one that I love. Here the artist manifests a soft, but growing sense of anticipation on the composition called Slowly Awaken the Dawn. Through the tones of this beautiful piece one can almost watch musically the forest awaken, and a new day begin.
The title track is up next and I can see why our listeners are falling in love with it on the radio. This is another cinematic opportunity created by Crane, one that flows with a classical passion. The Fall of a Sparrow has everything, perfect pace, a superbly emotive melody and a formidable powerful symphonic sense of musical grandeur; this is a truly marvellous title track.
As we move deeper into the album we come across a piece called Promise, there is an undeniable sense of intensity here, the passion flows strong within this offering, we can feel through Cranes performance just how important this promise actually is. Listen also to the beautifully paced percussion and symphonic build and progression in this piece, it’s something to behold.
The night has fallen and it’s time to walk within the realm of visions, and here on Daniel’s Dream we have the perfect soundtrack for that moment in time. This is another favourite of mine. Crane plays this very carefully, but the anxious nature of this arrangement is quite addictive, the artist has perfectly manifested the theme music for these night time perambulations. Listen to the dark segment here on the lower notes; this is one of those pieces I could listen to many times over.
Our penultimate offering is called Chasonnette, which I believe may mean Little Song. Whatever the meaning this piece is far from tiny, Crane has a supreme ability to grow greatness even from the smallest composition. There is a real sense of fun and happiness here as well, that is so charming and inviting to listen to.
So we reach the end of our journey with Timothy Crane and his latest work The Fall of a Sparrow. But before we push open the last door and leave this musical dimension, the artist has one more gift for us to take along our way and called At Home in the Garden. It’s always good to leave your listener fulfilled and wanting more and on this track Crane does just that. It’s a sun kissed composition that builds slowly and creates a warm and lush back drop of sound, for us to leave this latest offering from the musician with a happy smile upon our faces.
The Fall of a Sparrow by Timothy Crane is an album that will not only pacify those whole love piano based arrangements, but also please those of us who love the added instrumentation that’s cleverly weaved into the mix. Timothy Crane’s expertise in composition and performance has brought to us, a truly splendid offering that will have us smiling all the way home, in an album that is packed with a melodic genius and will remain forever in the musical heart, an album bursting with a quality and style that should completely entrance the listener forever.
Rating: Excellent
Color Me Home by Darlene Koldenhoven
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 6/15/2017
A fantastic album that delivers a positive message
I first came into contact with the music of Darlene Koldenhoven back in 2014 through a wonderful album called Tranquil Times. Today that journey continues with her latest release called Color Me Home.
The entire product from music, to cover is immaculate, there is even a colouring book with crayons, total care and attention has been paid by the artist and I personally love that, and respect musicians who give everything on a release.
We open with a real gem called First Light; our ears are filled with the sounds of a forest coming to life in the early morning and then, one of the sweetest melodies I have had the privilege of listening to since Kevin Kendle’s album Spring in the late 90’s, falls down upon us with startling performances by Tom Boyd on Oboe, Courtney Jacob on Flute and Piccolo, and the ever inspiring Charlie Bisharat, giving us an uplifting presentation on violin. Koldenhoven’s mystical harmonics on this piece truly gives us an image of nature waking to a glorious day.
We move to the next piece called The Pleasure of the Mourning Dove. I am blessed to live in an area where I hear this luscious bird sound every morning when I awake. Here Koldenhoven creates a song to appreciate that very moment, the piano here is both calming and melodic and Bisharat’s incredibly sweet violin manifests a true moment of mastery, this song is so very appealing on many levels, and could easily be the soundtrack for my morning waking routine.
We move to something a little different now on Kalahari Calls, an ambient start greets us, one can literally feel the heat rise on this piece, in fact I found that so impressive I have listened to its effect a few times. This track also features the stunning work of South African flautist Wouter Kellerman and the flavour of the region is provided by Rocky Dawuni’s chants and vocalisations. Koldenhoven on keyboards provides us with a constant floating narrative, but one has to mention the talents of Brent Fischer on Vibe and Marimba, it’s so good to hear instruments like those in albums again, it’s sadly a rarity these days.
On Song of the Swans we find a lush Celtic motif, covered by the warm loving vocals of the Darlene Koldenhoven, the artist has given you six minutes here, to just glide musically with the swans on a mirrored lake. The contributions of both Gayle Levant (Harp) and Tom Scott (Clarinet) just add a little extra drift and fluency to what is without doubt a supremely delightful song to enjoy, and one with a really emotive melody to float upon.
As we approach the half way marker we come across yet another opus of beauty, this time called Eternal Love’s Song. Love is the only truth, as music is the only real language, and here the artist has manifested both with an equal intensity into our musical world. The narrative of this composition is pure love and peace, and after all, if we have that, what more would we need? Koldenhoven’s vocals are simply outstanding on this arrangement, one that would easily fit into any movie soundtrack.
Indian Summer is now our next stop off point, this is filled with a little Native American magic, with the talents John Saranto’s on flute leading the way, as Koldenhoven’s ethereal vocals bring us a musical interpretation of that lucky moment when Summer holds on, to hold off winters cold claws. Indian summers are precious times, and filled with a mystical moment, when October becomes July for just a couple of weeks. The native vibe here, made this one of my favourite pieces from the album, the added drum and shaker enhanced the overall composition even further.
We now find nestled away in the deeper part of the release, a track called Embracing This Moment. There is nothing more important than being in the moment, after all that is all we will ever have and the only thing that is real. Here is also a composition that contains an old friend of ours, one Al Jewer on English horn. We hear the subtle tones of Lyn Bertles early on with a delicate performance on both Viola and Violin. There is a certain wide eyed wonder about this piece that makes it so attractive.
The realm of ambience is crossed into again with the track Ode to Our Orb; this is probably the most intricate offering on the release. There is nothing more important than the planet that allows us to walk on its back, and as such, this song is a testament to our great mother Gaia. I hope we learn to treat her with more respect as we grow, and perhaps the performances of great beauty and love on guitar by David Arkenstone, Ricky Kej on Keyboards with Koldenhoven and the earthly percussive heartbeat of Vanil Vargas will help to heal the wounds, and bring a little more peace and harmony into the world.
This next track, called until, is a piece that continues a theme, for those of us who respect the world we live on; we will understand this mantra of truth. Here Darlene Koldenhoven affirms that to be so, in a performance that once again contains the stunning Gayle Levant on Harp. There is a certain similarity in theme here to wisdom provided to us by the Cree. A wonderful song created by the artist, perhaps an anthem for the world to finally come together as one, by dropping the fear and embracing love.
So the penultimate piece off the release is called Open Skies, this is a particular fan favourite by the listeners of One World Music Radio and as soon as I heard the Flugel horn I knew that Jeff Oster was in the house, combined with the expansive keyboards and vocalisations of the artist, and the steady, but delicate percussion from Nick Vincent, we have a true winner of a track here, pay special attention as well to Koldenhoven’s synth solo, its sublime.
Were here, we have reached the final portal to this dimension created by Darlene Koldenhoven, of course it’s the title track called Color Me Home. So let’s enjoy this repose with her and feel the homely warmth of this piece as our last musical offering. The artist is partnered on guitar by long time musical buddy Mike Miller, a more smooth and restful end to an album you will never find elsewhere. Koldenhoven finishes with a flourish so picturesque, warm and friendly, the perfect ending to the perfect album.
Color Me Home by Darlene Koldenhoven must be one of the best releases of 2017 with ease, the vocals and added instrumentation are simply delightful, the compositions and arrangements are so beautifully produced and performed, it’s hard to see this album not winning an award next year, and this is Koldenhoven’s finest work to date. Color Me Home is an album that should appeal to any true music lover; it crosses genres and delivers important messages in a positive vibrant way, a thoroughly recommended release.
Rating: Excellent
Sipping Beauty by Tom Grant
- posted by Candice Michelle on 6/15/2017
Tom Grant - Sipping Beauty
Born in Portland, Oregon, Tom Grant is among the original pioneers of the smooth jazz genre, having enjoyed a longstanding and successful musical career going back to the 1980’s. In fact, I remember being quite enamored as a child with his hit, “If You Were My Girl”, from his 1988 Mango Tango album, which aired for years thereafter on my local smooth jazz radio station. Nearly three decades and a plethora of releases later, Grant is still expressing his artistic brilliance, this time with a beautiful recording aptly titled, Sipping Beauty. Comprised of ten original instrumentals spanning an hour, minimal smooth jazz is imbued with new age and ambient accents on this exquisitely lovely recording. A talented multi-instrumentalist, Grant plays piano, percussion, keyboards and synthesizers throughout. He is also accompanied by David Captein on bass (tracks 4 and 5) and sitar (track 9), along with Kevin Karrick on guitar (tracks 1, 7, 8 and 10). Mary Suzanne Garvey is credited with the album’s painting and poem in the liner notes.

The Bossa Nova-tinged “Petichor Perfume” opens with a swaying rhythm, lush pads and delicately flowing piano interlaced with classical guitar. Hazily romantic and dreamlike, this beautiful piece seemingly paints an idyllic scene of sailing in the evening along a misty river. Following next is the caressingly warm “Sun-Kissed Beings”, which conveys a somewhat tropical island feel with its interplay of classical guitar, subtle piano and rhythmic shakers, as hovering background voices lend an angelic presence throughout. The title track, “Sipping Beauty”, is characterized by soft piano keyboard textures that give way to a wash of chimes at the midway point, overall imparting a wistful sense of nostalgia and remembrance. One of my favorite pieces, “Feathers Falling Up”, aptly conveys a delicate airiness with its repeating melody of crystalline keyboard notes that are gently accompanied by shakers, bass guitar and ethnic-tinged percussion. Another especially noteworthy composition is “Wrapped in Love”, where suspended vocal layers, distant echoing drums and perfectly understated twangy guitar notes seemingly recall that of overlooking a canyon sunset. Co-composed with David Captein, “Sighs and Whispers” is a minimal smooth jazz-tinged number that somewhat reminds me of Pat Metheny’s softer musical side. “Arms Wide Open” is another favorite that incorporates all the signature musical elements on the album; while the equally beguiling, “Moondrops”, weaves Indian sitar into a lushly flowing current which follows along a deeply meditative course.

Often conveying a Mediterranean flair wrapped in a sensual haze, Sipping Beauty is ever-romantic but not overly sentimental, effectively imparting a subtle sense of mystery throughout. It’s especially wonderful to see Tom Grant still actively creating music and exploring new sonic terrain, which simply works to perfection on this exquisitely elegant and tastefully sumptuous album! ~Candice Michelle (
Rating: Excellent
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