Fiona Joy (Hawkins) – New Album – Story of Ghosts
Having won many awards for her two previous solo piano albums, Fiona is destined to do the same with Story of Ghosts.
Fiona’s third solo piano album takes her fans on her journey of the past year of her life as she deals with a harrowing year in 2017 and makes no attempts to sugarcoat the emotional’s. The year included many friends and family members getting seriously sick, dying or going insane.!!
She bares it all over the course of these mostly grey-toned melancholy and vulnerable pieces, that draw on her classical background and impressionistic modern yet melodic composition.
‘There is a little madness in the music I write, it only pops out of the calmness momentarily, but enough to know that there is uncertainty in everything we hear, feel and experience. It’s much more classical and very connected to my roots” says Fiona .
“There’s a lot of emotion in it, that part was challenging. But when I get feedback from my fans that I’m touching their lives, and in some way making a difference, that makes it worthwhile.”
She uses the piano to weave interconnected tales with similar motifs – She opens the album with the uplifting and just whimsical enough “Song for Dunnie,” which she wrote for the funeral of Annette (Dunnie) Crossley, one of her best friends and business partner in her company Little Hartley Music. The lushly flowing piece represents a life full of vibrant brightness, good humour and joy.
“Story of Angels” moody hypnosis that leads to attempts to dance and then sudden dream-dashing stops into “Story of Ghosts” the deepest tale is told by the third story song. The contemplative “Story of Insanity” which alternates shards of light and night in a romp of anger tempered by gentle understanding. “Contemplating (Solo) which find Fiona deep in thought, seeking answers in the high notes as tension builds. “Blue Dream” whose high and low dynamics indicate mood swings that shift on a dime during crises. “The White Light” perhaps a place between worlds where high and low notes battle it out for our mortal hearts.
Fiona ‘s choice to work with producer Cookie Marenco reflects Fiona’s appreciation for high quality audio. “Even CD quality is unsatisfying when you’ve heard DSD or SACD, especially when played on a high-end system” says Fiona.
Fans of FLOW, the recently launched hit new age group featuring Fiona, Will Ackerman, Lawrence Blatt and Jeff Oster, will recognise the closing track “Before the Light” as the beautifully rendered foundation of “Arrival,” the opening track on FLOW’s self-titled debut. In the FLOW version, the darker edges of the piece get subsumed into a lighter hearted grooving vibe. Here it’s allowed to flourish in the shadows, exploring the heavy mysteries of life’s pain that occur before the healing – and wondering along the way if it will ever come.
Fiona recalls asking Ackerman once “What would happen if I ever got happy? Would the creativity dry up?” – since she’s built her artistry and fan base on her incredible musical embrace of sadness.
“No, Fiona, you will just start writing happier music.” He said, surprised at the answer “Maybe down the road, I’ll make a few happy songs”.
But for now, especially on Story of Ghosts we can enjoy the musical beauty and grace that she shares while working through the obstacles to make peace with the sorrow life has thrown her.
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Rachel LaFond – New Album – Encounters of the Beautiful Kind
Come along on a powerful musical journey inspired by Rachel LaFond’s experience, of being a stranger in a new country. New Zealand to be precise where she now calls home.
This beautiful solo Piano Album was recorded in high resolution audio at her home and mastered by the golden ears of Mike Bloemendahl.
The music explores universal human experiences: feelings of loneliness, worries about not being good enough, and the evolution we undergo as existing friendships change or fade while new connections spring to life.
This journey culminates in the realisation that as we bear each other up and connect with one another, we make the world a more beautiful place for all of us.
About Rachel LaFond:
Rachel LaFond is an American composer and pianist now residing in New Zealand who has been steeped in musicality her entire life. Her appreciation of the piano began when she was a toddler as her mother (a piano teacher) played with a young Rachel on her lap. She began formal lessons at age five, and by the time Rachel was eleven, she began teaching lessons herself. She lived in Vienna and studied piano performance there as a teenager, then returned home to major in piano at the University of Washington. After university, she continued to teach and perform professionally, but for years Rachel didn’t realise she had a talent for writing music hidden inside herself until David.
David she had met just weeks ago. Rachel couldn’t stop thinking about him on one rainy autumn afternoon, everything changed. Gazing out the window of her teaching studio, Distraction transformed into inspiration, and by the end of that evening she had finished her first original piece, Loving in the Rain. This first piece stood alone for a while as Rachel got swept up in life’s adventures: Rachel and David got married, quit their jobs, and embarked on a year of long-term travel around the world.
Rachel’s music is inspired by, and engages with, the full depth of human experience. Whether she’s capturing the heady wooziness of falling in love or responding to the chest-cracking pain of Barcelonans who suffered in the terror attack of summer 2017, her pieces are unflinching and compel the listener to lean into the feeling of the song for just a moment more. Rachel’s drive to bring beauty, light, and kindness to dark places through her music lends a striking sense of purpose to her creative work. And she’s just getting started.
All recorded in Auckland, New Zealand in Rachel’s home.
Mastering by Mike Bloemendahl
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Loren Evarts newest album Home Again
Home Again is the 6th original album, of this amazing contemporary pianist. It revisits several pieces previously recorded by Loren in the 1980’s, and eight new ones. It was produced by Grammy award winner Will Ackerman (Windham Hill Records) at his Imaginary Road studio in West River valley, Windham County, Vermont and was engineered by Tom Eaton.
Featuring Grammy-winning artists and Grammy-nominated Artists Eugene Friesen on cello (Paul Winter, Trio Globo), Rhonda Larson on many types of flutes (Paul Winter, Ventus) and Jeff Haynes on percussion (Pat Metheny, Pete Seeger), bassist Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel and King Crimson).
Besides Piano, Loren Evarts has been known to perform by singing, trombone, hammered dulcimer and organ.
Loren has performed professionally in the Connecticut area of USA in a variety of musical situations for over 40 years. He has been grateful to have been involved in performances with artists such as Dave Weckl (Chick Corea), Gerry Neiwood (Chuck Mangione), Everett Silver (Chuck Mangione), Mike Davis (Rolling Stones), Danny Stiles (Bill Watrous), Fred Vigdor (Average White Band), Rhonda Larson (Paul Winter Consort).
About Loren Evarts:
I was in first grade when I heard a fellow classmate play the piano, and I said, “Hey, I want to do that, too.” Of course, I had no idea that you had to practice, which made me think twice about my choice. But due to frequent beatings from my mom, I persisted, Partially kidding!
I started playing classical piano at age 7, but like a lot of kids, I started listening to pop radio in middle school. Fortunately, I was allowed to stick in a few popular tunes in my lessons along with the serious music. In high school I started to get influenced by jazz. My biggest influences were bands like Chicago and Tower of Power, Elton John, James Taylor, Carole King, Jazz singer Al Jarreau, and jazz pianists like Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Liz Story.
What can a crowd expect at a live show?
My music is probably best described as a mix of new age, jazz, classical and world. It’s piano-based but sometimes I will add a percussionist, bassist or woodwind player for concerts.
What are your future plans for 2018/2019?
Well, I am an American so, like many of my fellow citizens, I am looking to survive until 2020(enough on politics). But otherwise, At my stage of the game, I just want to put out a good product, and I hope to write some new material now that my newest album has been released. And that means I have to sit down at the piano and start! I am always gratified when people enjoy my music. I no longer crave being a big star. It’s nice being in this place.
FLOW: A DYNAMIC NEW AGE IN MUSIC
Will Ackerman, Fiona Joy Hawkins, Lawrence Blatt and Jeff Oster Take a Open Approach to Musical Discovery, Embracing Friendship While Building Organic Songs for their eponymous new release–FLOW.
Forty years after Windham Hill became a catalyst for the global musical phenomenon, its bountiful legacy of best-selling solo works (George Winston, Liz Story, Alex DeGrassi, Michael Hedges) and Grammy-winning ensembles (Shadowfax)–extends into a truly new age with FLOW–a new four-piece ensemble comprised of Ackerman and three of today’s most acclaimed independent artists, Australian pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins, acoustic guitarist Lawrence Blatt and flugelhorn master Jeff Oster. All in, FLOW members have accumulated literally dozens of accolades, from GRAMMY® Awards, ZMRs, IMAs, IAMAs and a catalog of #1 albums in the genre.
FLOW, on Blatt’s LMB Music label, came together to record deep in the West River Valley in Southern Vermont, at Imaginary Road Studios, the longtime creative home base of legendary Grammy-winning acoustic guitarist Will Ackerman, the original founder of Windham Hill; the 282-acre property in Windham County has become a hotbed of acoustic excellence over the past 25 years.
Ackerman shared his thoughts on the process of recording with FLOW, saying – “There was a moment in the process of making FLOW with Fiona, Lawrence and Jeff when I felt a hint of panic that my pieces were being altered and transformed into something very different from what I would have done with them on a Will Ackerman record. It was in the moment just after this thought that I realized that FLOW was actually working… that I was experiencing real synergy. The group had become a creative entity unto itself and four dear friends had gathered to create something beyond anything they could have created on their own.Experiments don’t always work. This one worked!?”
As officially announced, the concept of FLOW had its origins in 2015, when Blatt invited Fiona and Oster to join him at Imaginary Road to create an album inspired by the iconic Windham Hill sound and ensembles. Ackerman had already produced several of Fiona Joy Hawkin’s and Oster’s albums plus Blatt’s recordings The Color of Sunshine, Emergence, and Latitudes and Longitudes featuring Oster on horn; Blatt and Fiona met while recording a special project on Blue Coast Music.
Oster remembers that each of them brought two or three songs to the project to which they added their parts under the guidance of Ackerman’s longtime production partner at Imaginary Road, Tom Eaton. The group likens Eaton’s multi-faceted role in the success of the project as that of The Fifth Beatle.
Reflecting on FLOW’s debut project, Oster says, “If you look back into any time of human existence, this need for peaceful breathing and listening has always and will always be deeply important. It’s not only New Age music, it is EVERY AGE music!”
FLOW made their official debut with an album release celebration at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall on October 6, 2017. The group is booking concert dates this Spring, including a featured performance at the Zone Music Awards on Saturday May 12th at Roussell Hall in New Orleans; they are nominated for both Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.
“By Sari Cohen”
“These are four musicians who are all self-sufficient in their talents. They’re brilliant at making albums that are unique and musically successful as soloists. The lovely surprise is that they, we, all managed with grace and ease to come together and create something new and different from anything any of us had ever done before,” Grammy-winner Will Ackerman explains.
“By Angel Romero”
Flow is a supergroup of musicians who have been involved with New Age music for many years. The term New Age is used to describe a wide range of genres, from easy listening acoustic music to electronic meditation music. In this case, Flow performs peaceful and ethereal instrumental music with smooth jazz, folk, gliding ambient sounds and classical music elements.
Link to USA Tour Dates and Tickets
FLOW hope to tour Australia at select locations in 2019
Carol Albert releases her new album ‘ Fly Away Butterfly, a Jazzy, Soulful offering with some modern twists and talks to us about her early influences-
Tell us about the moment you decided to become a Songwriter and Performer?
It was never a conscious decision . I grew up with music in my church playing the Organ for Worship Services and Singing with the Oldschool southern “Singing Schools” of the South where we learned Solfege (shape-Do-Re-Mi ) notes which we sang to the music instead of lyrics to Gospel Songs. I took piano lessons as well while I was growing up. I didn’t decide to major in music/piano until my Sophomore year of College. It was after I graduated from College that I decided to play Pop Music in Clubs, Bars and Private Events as well as teaching private Piano Lessons.
How did my family feel about it?
My Dad publicly announced at a family gathering that he would give me 10 cents when I graduated from College because that is all my Degree would be worth. He always thought I should just be a school-teacher.
Tell us a little about your music and what a crowd can expect at a live show?
My music is a combination of Smooth Jazz, Ambient World and New Age Music. I intersperse Instrumental Piano and Vocals with other instruments like Saxophone, Guitar, Bass , Drums . With some really upbeat tunes mixed with more introspective Ballads that are Piano driven.
What is the first record you bought and why?
I bought the Album “Close To The Edge” by Yes because it was my 1st Concert to ever attend. I was blown away and listened to the record until the Grooves were worn down. Then Emerson, Lake and Palmer, The Moody Blues and Pink Floyd. The keyboards were so over my head I just listened over and over trying to figure it all out.
You are on stage with Hans Zimmer. What do you say?
i would be awkward and speechless but, having seen him this summer in Atlanta, I think he would be very earthy and friendly. I wouldn’t know what to say except “ I’m in awe of your work! “
What is the one thing you want/need that you think will make you a successful artist? Why?
What is success? is it making enough money to retire and travel around the World or is it having the ability to create music that is so intrinsically satisfying that it doesn’t matter if you ever do anything else? Success for me is reaching as many ears as possible and have people contact me saying “Your music is beautiful . it really touched my soul. We want to hear more.” Of course , making it monetarily feasible is always a challenge and some people equate success with how much money you make/made. Recognition is always a nice validation that your work is successful with monetary rewards.
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- Hi Andy Iorio,
- Tell us about the moment you decided to become a composer. What did your family have to say about it?
When I was very young, the moment that I really connected with music was when I saw the film “The Neverending Story”. I fell in love with the movie instantly and more importantly I was drawn into the music that went with the moving images. Shortly after seeing that movie, my parents bought me a keyboard – my state of the art Casio SK-1, (equivelent to a Fisher-Price “plunk and plop”) and I started creating my own little pieces and experimenting with sounds. I would set up my keyboard in front of my tv and mute the sound and create my own music for what I was watching. It was in that moment that I knew I wanted to be a composer and score a film of my own one day.
- Who are your early influences?
There are so many artists that have inspired me throughout my life! I was around 10 years old when I found my parents vinyl collection and started listening to the records I thought had the most interresting artwork on their album covers. Early influences included Pink Floyd, Billy Joel, Elton John and George Winston. As I got older, Ludovico Einaudi, Max Richter, Philip Glass, Yann Tiersen, Abel Korzeniowski and Hans Zimmer were at the forefront of my most inspirational composers. Simple tonality, beautiful melodies and soaring strings made for some of my strongest musical influences.
- What current Australian acts inspire you and why? What international acts?
I really like Sia; I think she has a great voice. I have been a fan ever since I heard her track “Breathe Me” in the final scene of the HBO show “Six Feet Under.” I have always been drawn to instrumental music most. So when I think of international artists, Ludovico Einaudi and Max Richter are the first two that come to mind. Both have unique musical signatures unlike any others.
- What is the first record you bought and why?
The first album I bought was Counting Crows “August and Everything After”. I loved Adam Duritz’s lyrics and the organic sound of the band. The instrumention was so unique for the early 90’s. The phrasing of Adam’s voice was also very different from anything else I had heard up to that point. I still listen to that album in it’s entirety today.
- Favourite artists of all time?
Billy Joel, Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, Ludovcio Einaudi, Max Richter, Philip Glass, Yann Tiersen, George Winston, Abel Korzeniowski and Hans Zimmer.
- Fave food or drink and is there a story associated with that?
I would have to say my favorite drink is tea. Hot or cold, it is the best to calm and relax me. I can’t pick a favorite one, but there is nothing I enjoy drinking more. I actually have a 5′ long tea station at home with over a dozen international artisan teas, tea sets and tea accessories displayed on it.
- Tell us a little about the new record and what a crowd can expect at a live show?
My music is mainly piano driven, with a cinematic and lush vibrant string section. It carries simple tonality with controlled harmony. Recently, I have been playing all of my concerts as solo piano performances. I feel it is more intimate this way and the audience can really connect with the music the way I composed each piece – always on the piano first, then with orchestrations built around the piano. Over the next year, I want to add a string quartet to bring the pieces to the live audiences the way they hear them on the album. My performances will then be a mix of piano and strings along with the intimate setting of solo piano.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Rebecca Harrold has spent many years working as a pianist and singer. Since moving to the Boston area she worked extensively with The Company Theater, the Voice Studio of Robert Honeysucker, and recently with Burklyn Ballet of Vermont. A true collaborative musician her abilities and willingness to play and sing diverse styles has taken her to Europe, primarily Italy and Greece. Rebecca recently completed production on ‘The River of Life‘ with Windham Hills founder and producer, Will Ackerman. Available everywhere.
Watch the video for her song ‘We Belong Together‘ here: youtube.com/watch?v=XgP6CGxc2DU
Find the album here: