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Lilac Skies by Shambhu
- posted by R J Lannan, Artisan Music Reviews on 5/21/2019
Lilac Skies
Lilac Skies

Takes a goodly portion of jazz, add a little R & B, include a modicum of contemporary music, shake it up a bit and chill slightly and you end up with an amazing upbeat album by talented guitarist and composer Shambhu and his friends. It is called Lilac Skies. What gives the eye and the heart more pleasure than a lavender sky to start a day? Lilac skies at night perhaps. In either case, the fourth release by this jazz style guitarist is ten tracks of mellow music guaranteed to uplift, soothe, and entertain all. Joining Shambhu on the album are Kai Eckhardt on bass, Frank Martin on keyboards, Celso Alberti on percussion, the ubiquitous Premik Russell Tubbs on flute and sax, Alec Hamilton on the Hammond organ, and Kristin Hoffmann on background vocals. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
When dawn decides to grace the land, the combination of light and clouds makes for a marvelous display. Those lavender hues seem to please the soul like no other. Shambhu transforms those colors into musical notes with the same magic ability. The recording opens with the title tune Lilac Skies as a musical icebreaker so to speak. The animated tone of the album is well expressed in this first piece and it not only promises a blissful journey, but also delivers.
Next Shambhu features his unique fretwork on a melodic ballad called Unspoken Words. These are not utterances left unsaid, but words expressed in a language understood by soft smiles, bright eyes, and inspired hearts. This is a truly beautiful guitar piece with a languorous flow and mellifluous refrain. Dynamic guitar riffs and ornate piano counterpoise in the tune Blue Whispers. There’s something dark and steamy about this one. There is subliminal heat and heavy emotion disguised as a bluesy ballad like a Robin Ford song. This is one of the best of the best on Lilac Skies. Open Your Heart Sky is a sophisticated song with a lot of sentiment. It is one of those that easily becomes an anthem for the cause with its strong compositional elements, jazzy electric guitar, and complemental Hammond organ trimmings. Percussion and deep bass add the extras that pull it together into a unified theme. This is an invitation to soar, to live, and to breathe. You might as well surrender.
There are some terrific piano riffs in Inspired by the Night and Seeing You Again. Together, they are probably the most complex tunes on the album, but individually, they are like night and day. Inspired by the Night has some groovin’ bass licks by Eckhardt that drive the song forward. Your nocturnal encounter consists of a black, bountiful blanket of stars, some warm breezes, and don’t forget the most important component of all, thou. Seeing You Again is the final cut on Lilac Skies and presents a warm and quite fond farewell. It is celebration of sound with no regrets. The listener has partaken of the joyful menu and ends up a satisfied customer.
I liked every track for its diversity, yet its loyalty to the main theme, that of unwavering joy. Shambhu has done a brilliant job of not only offering up the music to keep your mood in a positive vibe, but also bringing together just the right talents to make it happen. Highly recommended - R J Lannan, Artisan Music Reviews
Rating: Excellent
Chapters by Stephen Wallack
- posted by Gena on 5/21/2019

There are all types of solo pianists, but very, very few like STEPHEN WALLACK, as you will hear when you listen to his debut album, CHAPTERS. His style is rhythmic, energetic, vibrant, often fast-paced and forceful. However, about half the tunes have tempo changes so they do have some slower sections in them. His passion for his music is obvious. He pours his heart and soul into every piece. While many solo piano recordings are soft and gentle and slow, Wallack takes a different tack as he makes his rhythmic patterns equal to his melodies and at a pace so that they take on a life of their own and propel the music into a special dimension of movement, force and emotional resonance not often heard using a single instrument. For piano lovers, this is a must-hear recording.
Rating: Excellent
Adrift in Wonder by Robert Linton
- posted by R J Lannan - Artisan Music Reviews on 5/6/2019
Adrift In Wonder
Robert Linton
Adrift In Wonder

It was a perfect spring day. I was working near the Pigeon River here in Tennessee. It was bright and sunny. The clouds decided to entertain themselves elsewhere. There was a slight breeze and the smell of wild roses perfumed the air. What made it truly perfect however, was that I was listening to the music of guitarist Robert Linton. His latest album, Adrift in Wonder is made for that kind of day, or night, or week. The album is nine instrumentals of pastoral, contemporary music featuring an ultra-light ensemble. I liked every track, but I cannot help but favor such uplifting, reverie producing, and expansive music. This is Linton’s fourth album, and frankly, I wish he had more. Joining him on Adrift in Wonder are Jill Haley on English horn, Eugene Friesen on cello, Premik Russell on EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument), and Sara Milonovich on violin. With two exception, all the songs are duets. The dialogues created by the pairings are harmonic and rich. The instruments are friends. The lush, verdant music has that Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy vibe to just about every song.
The first cut is called Gliding the Current. If you listen to this long enough you might sprout wings. The music is entirely, and excuse the pun, uplifting in a way where you feel as if your cares are stolen away and you feel weightless of spirit. Horn, guitar, and violin gently swirl in the sunlight. Don’t be afraid to look down.
Cello and guitar harmoniously blend in the tune Traces of Reflection. Like any good conversation, each instrument seems to take a turn and then they both speak and their gentle voices are heard and revered. In this resplendent piece, Robert Linton’s guitar has the last word.
If this is the music you hear when kind breezes blow and downy dandelion parasols fill the air, then play on. Gentle Descent is a melodic downward spiral that never touches the ground. Everything turns slow in this song, including the hands on the clock. Luckily, this is one of the longest cut on the album. One of my favorites on Adrift in Wonder is called Sifting Through Daydreams. Glorious Alto flute and EWI and sumptuous guitar combine on this unhurried, luminous air that seems to bring together the best parts of any day. Memories come floating by and they are easy to latch on to as the music envelops the soul.
Robert is once again join by Eugene Friesen on cello on the title tune, Adrift in Wonder. The music is a journey of discovery. All the what ifs and maybes line up nicely and become accessible when you open your mind to the beauty around you. Linton’s composition invites that first step and makes a promise that you won’t regret it in any way.
Hovering in the Sun Rays is eight minutes of pure escapism. Guitar and violin notes sway and glide on balmy updrafts that sustain them like unseen hands. The music is beyond relaxing. The placid pace and engaging melody push away the negativity in anyone’s bad day.
There is a lot of motion in Robert Linton’s music. Gliding, descending, hovering and adrift. The music is encouraging, suggesting you get out there and explore. I have heeded his advice and I am better for it. This an album that is going on my desert island list. Highly recommended.
- R J Lannan, Artisan Music Reviews
Rating: Excellent
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