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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
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By Jennifer Zulli
Label: Self Released
Released 10/8/2011
Opening tracks
1. Whisper in the Trees
2. Falling
3. Pheonix Rising
4. Opening
5. The Final Day
6. The Onion Song
7. Coming Home
8. New Eyes
The Healing Goddess Awakens
There are many kinds of doors in life, some open, some closed. Some are made of oak, alder or steel. But there are other kinds of doors too. These just might be the hardest to open. They are doors of the spirit, the heart, the soul and the mind. These doors are often closed because we are afraid to knock and enter. We fear the other side. Not Jennifer Zulli. She has opened many doors in her life and she is brave enough to share her set of keys through her music. Her latest release, Opening presents eight magical tunes on piano with light ensemble that are a means to unlock the inner doors of the spirit. These tunes are contemporary in nature, but timeless in scope. The allow for relaxation, meditation, or pure delight.

Jennifer began composing at the age of seven, about the time most of us had just conquered our ABC's. She won numerous scholarships, attended Julliard and received an MA in Music Education from Western Connecticut State University. Then she went on to incorporate other types of musical studies into her teachings including the Orff Approach and the Dalcroze style of music also known as Eurhythmics. For some reason when I listen to Jennifer's music I am strongly reminded of Erik Satie and his Gynopedies.

The music begins with the song Whisper in the Trees. We have had an early spring here in east Tennessee and the wind began to murmur early as well. The leaves made a soft sifting sound that announced a hot summer and the promise of joy in the season. The sound made by a crystal piano and a purring cello has an organic feel to it, but the strong memorable melody is poignant as well. Great beginning.

When I was in "big business" I went to one of those meetings where they ask you to plummet into unseen hands as an act of trust. I never did it. But I did not mind letting go when I heard Jennifer's song, Falling. Now I know what an autumns leaf feels like as it makes its journey down from the loftiest perch of a very tall tree. The sensation is one of ultimate freedom with a total lack of restriction, save for the sun and the wind. I do hope to catch a stray gust at the end and prolong my destiny.

After Falling, come rising, in the form of Phoenix Rising and the sense is complete opposite of the previous tune. This one has the quality of uplifting the spirit to new heights. It is not only an ascension, but a renewing of the soul. The phoenix is a mainstay of many cultures and mythologies, but the idea of something good coming from tragedy is as old a man kind itself. This is tune is sadly sweet, but it is like seeing beauty for the first time. Like a baby's first smile, a lover's first kiss or a blooming daffodil, it takes your breath away. This tune was my favorite from the very first listen.

The Final Day is a calm, low-key solo piano performance with an overshadow of sorrow and just a tinge of trepidation. The tune is quite beautiful as well as haunting, but I just cannot help imagining a painful episode in Jennifer's life fueling the melancholy.

Coming Home was not the celebration I thought it was going to be. Sometimes when you get home from a journey you wonder if you fern made it through the weekend. But when you come home from the hospital, especially if it was a catastrophic event, you wonder if things will ever be the same. You wonder about your limitations, your schedule and your family and friends. What next and what if beleaguer your thoughts like angry bees.

New Eyes is a song of healing. It is the music for a door opened just a crack, but the view is one of promise. The flute sings a fluttery tune as the piano chimes in its highest register, like the tinkling of crystal, but with a purpose. It is a fortunate person that gets a second chance at anything.. work, love or life. Sometimes it comes wrapped in a shroud of mystery or even confusion, but it is up to us to see it for what it is. Jennifer's eyes are wide open.

Jennifer Zulli has made her way through a great deal of pain, not only in her body, but in her spirit. Her emergence has greatly benefited not only herself, but any listener that comes in contact with her music. I know I have and I am better for the experience.
Rating: Excellent   Excellent
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 4/30/2012
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