Reviews

GAIA Prime Internet Radio

Loren’s most recent album “Water and Light,” which he dedicates to the memory of his parents, contains a collection of all original works; some of which are all new, and others of which are re-crafted and re-recorded versions of songs from his previous albums. This new album was produced by Grammy Award winner Will Ackerman (Windham Hill Records) at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont, and so, as expected, the production quality is impeccable.

“I just emailed him,” said Loren of Ackerman. “It took me a while to do it, I was nervous about it. He was very accommodating and welcoming.”

While most of the works on “Water and Light” feature Loren’s Steinway B piano as the primary voice, including three piano solos, most are ensemble pieces that include a star studded lineup of accompanying artists, including Grammy award winning musicians such as Eugene Friesen on cello (Paul Winter, Trio Globo), Rhonda Larson on many types of flutes (Paul Winter, Ventus) and Jeff Haynes on various types of percussion (Pat Metheny, Pete Seeger). In addition, Grammy-nominated bassist Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson) contributed on two tracks. The album was also engineered, mixed, and mastered by Tom Eaton, who also performs on bass on two of the tracks.

imageOverall, we would rate “Water and Light” as an outstanding album. The music is mostly energetic, up-tempo, and lively, with a few tracks that are a bit slower and more contemplative. Even the piano solos are, for the most part, more upbeat and lively, which we truly appreciate. The music certainly has an innovative and distinctive style. And most importantly, the music is sophisticated, complex, and reflects an exceptional level of maturity that is rare. The music also shows a variety of influences, including light jazz, piano jazz, Celtic music, classical music, and ethnic music (especially in the wide array of non-traditional instrumentation used on the album).

The album begins magnificently with one of Loren’s totally new songs, “Innisfree.” The title is taken from the 1892 poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by Irish poet William Butler Yeats. The poem is about a longing in one’s heart for the peacefulness and tranquility of being alone with nature, in a rustic cabin, surrounded by a simple garden, veils of morning due, and the relaxing sounds of lake water lapping a shore “where the cricket sings.” And “Innisfree” most assuredly captures the mood and sentiments of the poem. With its reflective, emotional, melodic, and captivating piano opening — eventually and masterfully blended with Rhonda Larson’s charming and Celtic tinged crystal flute elements — the song wonderfully conveys a sense of longing, peacefulness, calmness, and tranquility. The piano is mesmerizing and the crystal flute (a flute made from glass) provides an exquisite and truly magical sound that at times seems almost vocal. This is definitely one of our favorites.

In contrast, “Confluence” is light, energetic, fun, and decidedly up-tempo, with a powerful melody and clear “jazzy” qualities. It also makes spectacular use of Eugene Friesen’s cello as a counterpoint to Loren’s piano. It was originally recorded on the 1988 album of the same name. However, this version, which is more complex, also features Tony Levin on NS bass, and with subtle percussive contributions from Jeff Haynes on a variety of instruments, including tubano, udu, tam tam, frame drum, talking drum, rainstick shaker, and maraca. It is also definitely one of our favorites.

“Lonely Road,” which is the first of the piano solos on the album, has a strong opening, a more moderate tempo, and a straightforward and memorable melody. It is also perhaps a bit more “positive” and cheerful than the title implies. Nevertheless, it is a very engaging piece of music.

Originally recorded in 1992 on the album “Sojourn,” the song “New Irish Waltz” again shows strong Celtic music influences, and features engaging contributions from Rhonda Larson on whistle and flute, Levin on bass, and Friesen on cello, and of course, Loren on piano. However, the track also at times shows jazz influences which makes for an interesting and superbly crafted contrast with the Celtic qualities. In fact, one of the things we particularly like about this track is the way the various instruments weave in and out while reprising — with variations — the recurring theme. Nicely done!

“Windmills,” another piano solo, is very upbeat, energetic, positive, and with a fast tempo and clever, recurring piano rhythm easily suggestive of rotation and movement.

Our favorite track on the album is “The Cat and The Moon.” In fact, the backstory on this one is quite interesting.

imageOne day Loren decided to look through a book of poems by William Butler Yeats from his son’s Irish Literature course. One particular poem stood out to him, and so he decided to create a song based on it. The 1919 poem is titled “The Cat and The Moon,” and it’s about a black cat named Minnaloushe encountering and eventually “dancing with” the moon. Yeats sees the black cat and the moon as kindred spirits.

The musical track “The Cat and The Moon” is easily one of the more complex works on “Water and Light.” It is upbeat energetic, stylish, and with an exceptional use of percussion. In fact, “The Cat and The Moon” is performed on an unusual variety of instruments that includes bansuri flute (Rhonda Larson), djembe, tubano, hand drum, temple blocks, bata, shekere, djun djun, and a cowbell (Jeff Haynes), and even some Windham County black birch firewood (Will Ackerman) which Will Ackerman cut down himself. The sound of the bansuri on this track is thoroughly engaging. And overall, this is a simply an exceptional work. We truly hope to hear more like this one from Loren in the future.

Originally recorded on the 1985 album “Water Music,” the track “The Pond in Winter” is a beautiful piano solo. The title is taken from a chapter in Henry David Thoreau’s book “Walden.” It is slower, more deliberate, more contemplative, and expressive, graceful, powerful, creative, and melodic, and wonderfully captures the penetrating chill and stillness of winter. One can certainly envision walking along a snow covered road, encountering an ice covered pond, and standing there in the cold just to admire its natural beauty.

The track titled “91 North,” which undoubtedly refers to Interstate 91 that runs from Connecticut, through western Massachusetts, an into New Hampshire and Vermont, features a distinctive, and repeating piano rhythm that is appropriately suggestive of driving on the highway or the spinning of wheels. Also originally from the 1992 “Sojourn” album, it is a lively, joyful, layered, energetic, innovative work, with a great melody, strong piano, and superb percussion. Great fun!

Our favorite of the solo piano tracks is “Big Black Rapids.” Also originally from the 1985 “Water Music” album, it is an energetic, upbeat, melodic, creative, expressive, vibrant, and sometimes poignant piece, with slight classical music influences.

“Sojourn,” which is another duet for piano and flute, is also a re-crafted version of a song from the 1988 “Confluence” album. It has exceptional energy, and again the masterful flute of Rhonda Larson at times sounds like an ethereal voice. In fact, the exceptinally well done blending of the piano and flute, in music with clear jazz influences, is very reminiscent of the music of Scott Cossu.

The album ends magnificently with “C Effigy.” With a superb blending of instruments, a steady stylish rhythm, a creative and memorable melody, and wonderfully attention holding percussive contributions by Haynes (tubano, bongos, shaker, congas, and tam tam) and Eaton’s electric bass, it is another of the more complex and sophisticated works on the album. We particularly like the way the various instrumental voices — piano, flute, bass, and percussion — effortlessly hand the focus off to each other. In fact, unlike many tracks we hear on other albums, this track has a real quality of “completeness” — a sense that it is truly a “finished” work. And with a lighthearted and fun mood, that perfectly demonstrates that Loren truly enjoys playing with other musicians, it makes a great ending to the album.

We very highly recommend the album “Water and Light.”

http://www.gaiaprimeradio.com/review-of-the-album-water-and-light-by-loren-evarts/

MainlyPiano

Water and Light
Loren Evarts
2015 / Otter Records
47 minutes
Water and Light is the fourth album from pianist/composer Loren Evarts. Produced by Will Ackerman with Tom Eaton and Evarts, this album is a collection of re-imagined and re-recorded earlier works as well as some new ones. In addition to his solo piano work, Evarts was the leader, composer, and arranger for the new age/jazz ensemble, Confluence, as well as Sliders, an eight-piece band featuring five trombones. With a Master’s degree in music education and doctoral studies at Boston University, Evarts has taught for several public and private schools and is now an instructor for five colleges. Water and Light contains a beautiful combination of solo piano and ensemble works, some of which have a Celtic influence. Other musicians appearing on the album include Eugene Friesen (cello), Rhonda Larson (flutes), Jeff Haynes (percussion), Tony Levin (bass) and Tom Eaton (electric bass). The eleven tracks range from peaceful and soothing to more upbeat and lively. Evarts’ background in jazz is apparent in some of his harmonies and rhythms, keeping the music interesting as well as enjoyable in either the foreground or background.
Water and Light begins with “Innisfree,” a duet for piano and crystal flute that allows both artists to really shine. I find it fascinating how some musicians are so good at telling stories without words, and “Innisfree” definitely tells a story to listeners’ imaginations, leaving the actual plot and storyline up to them. “Confluence” was originally recorded in 1988 with the group with the same name and is a lively quartet for piano, cello, percussion, and bass. “Lonely Road” is the first of the piano solos. Slow and uncomplicated, it feels much like a walk off by yourself, letting thoughts roll and enjoying your surroundings (my interpretation). “New Irish Waltz” is an upbeat jazz waltz with Larson’s whistle and flute giving it a strong Celtic flavor - love this one! “Windmills” is another piano solo, this time with a steady rhythm that suggests the movement of the windmill blades turning at a moderate speed; the right hand is jazzier and never stops moving - another great piece! “The Cat and the Moon” is performed on an unusual variety of instruments that include cowbell and “Windham County black birch firewood (felled by Will Ackerman)”! The music is also really enjoyable! “The Pond in Winter” is my favorite track. This piano solo actually makes me feel cold - that’s how effective it is! Slowly flowing and very graceful, Evarts beautifully expresses the crystalline quality of ice and the profound stillness of snow. “91 North” picks up the pace and reminds me of some of Scott Cossu’s piano/flute combinations. Lively and joyful, the love of making music with others comes through loud and clear - another favorite. “‘C’ Effigy” is an intriguing title for a quartet for piano, cello, percussion, and electric bass. Lighthearted and jazzy, it’s a great ending to an excellent album.
Water and Light is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Recommended!
 
 
http://MainlyPiano.com

One World Music Radio

Water and Light
By
Loren Evarts


Loren Evarts is back with a bang with this new release Water and Light, this again being another exceptional album coming from the musical stables of Will Ackerman in Vermont.


The opening piece, Innisfree, is homage to the work of the great poet W.B. Yeats. The Celtic lilt is both charming and relevant, there also seems to be a running narrative here, that is manifested so beautifully by the Crystal Flute of Rhonda Larson.


One of my favourite compositions is the up-tempo, but beautifully flowing Confluence, I found the percussion used subtle, the Cello of Eugene Friesen is sublime. Evarts has created a superb, fun track that has a light and happy motif for us to all enjoy.


One of the shorter pieces on the release is called Lonely Road. Evarts piano creates a memorable, but also emotional composition here, that has a real sense of the past about its construction. One could easily walk miles down a long dusty road alone and with time to contemplate, to this track.


Next up is . The flute is back with an almost jig styled piece, there is a slight hint of Jazz here as well, but the Celtic dominance on this arrangement is emphasised by the percussion, a Bodhran, also played by the musician as well and of course the whistle and flute of Larson. The Jazz styled performance mixes extremely well with the theme.


Now we move to a place dear constant reader of Windmills. This will always be a good subject matter for prose or music or both and here Evarts delivers a perfectly performed solo piano piece based on the slow, but ever
moving energies of a Windmill, this is also the shortest track off the release.


Now there is always something special about a title and here is a fine example of that, it is called The Cat and the Moon, a great name for a pub perhaps, but a superb lively composition, paying its respects once more to the poet W.B. Yeats. The piano here has a tremendous fluency about it, that when combined with the multi instrumentation on the composition, gives us something really wonderful to listen to and a melody that is sweet and full of smiles, particularly listen to Evarts performance at 3.20 seconds in, this passage of piano is stunning, as is the percussive brilliance by Jeff Haynes at the end segment as well.


Now the original recording of this track maybe some thirty years old, but it has such a deep emotional way about it, that makes this solo piano composition a delight to listen to, the performance is deeply expressive; it is called quite beautifully, The Pond in Winter. One can almost feel the frozen stillness that creeps over the vista of coldness with ease through this track.


The energies lift slightly with 91 North, and pays homage to the original release of the song back in 1992. The style here is free flowing and has a narrative of movement about it that is quite undeniable.


Big Black Rapids is our next port of call dear reader. This is another track of great movement and energy, as you would guess from the subject matter and also from the original Water Music album of 1998, and this is one vibrant composition.


The penultimate track is quite aptly called Sojourn, and we have been taking a sojourn with Loren Evarts and his realm called Water and Light. Sojourn is originally from the Confluence album of 1998, but pay attention also to the delightful alto flute of Larson, perfectly accompanying Evarts on this quite cheer filled composition of great peace.


Our last gift from the musician is called ‘C’ Effigy, some smooth bass, an excellent rhythmic percussive beat from Haynes and a clever Cello from Friesen, all add weight to a lively performance by Evarts on this last track that has a real global feel to it.


Listening to and writing about Loren Evarts new release entitled Water and Light, is just what I needed today, it was just the place I needed to visit musically, a light, gentle and very calming album that will always keep the attention on the music, with some really professional and utterly flowing performances, Loren Evarts should be proud of this one, it’s a timeless album of memorable compositions that will live on for ever.

http://www.oneworldmusic.co.uk/#/loren-evarts/4590930205
The Gathering III CD