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Album Review: Key of Sea
Jennifer Thomas
Cover image of the album Key of Sea by Jennifer Thomas
Key of Sea
Jennifer Thomas
2006 / Tickled Ivory Music
51 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Key of Sea is a stunning debut from pianist/composer/violinist Jennifer Thomas. Classically-trained on both instruments from a very early age by her musician-mother as well as other teachers and professors through college, Jennifer’s lifelong immersion in and passion for music is immediately obvious. As a teenager and young adult, Thomas constantly challenged herself to play more difficult and complex classical music, culminating in winning a concerto competition that allowed her to fulfill a dream of playing the piano with a full symphony. She also continued to play the violin in local symphonies, but the piano is her first love. Key of Sea is made up of thirteen original works, some of which were inspired by classical pieces, and the music is a combination of solo piano tracks, piano and orchestra, piano ensemble, and one vocal selection. Although it is very soothing, Thomas’ music packs a very powerful punch both musically and emotionally. Personally, I found it wonderful to wake up to rather than go to sleep with. Thomas’ technique is flawless and jaw-dropping in its precision and agility. From one pianist to another, wow!

Key of Sea opens with “Beautiful Storm,” an orchestrated piece that features Thomas on piano and violin (how’d she play them both at the same time?); she also performs the orchestrations, which are very natural-sounding. Anyone who has watched a storm come in by the ocean can appreciate how this piece goes from still and shimmering to turbulent and agitated. This is a great opening piece because it demonstrates the qualities that make this a standout album - passionate piano, quiet moments, big cinematic areas, grace, beauty, and an original vision. “Prelude in F” is an energetic piano solo that dances all over the piano celebrating the good things in life. “Release” begins as a flowing piano solo. Light percussion comes in, and then strings, building the intensity. “You By My Side” is a gentle piece of musical contentment. Warmth and love are expressed in every note, and strings enhance the tender beauty of the piano. “Suite Dreams” is based on Bach’s Cello Suite #1 in G Major and Bach’s “Ave Maria,” and features Carolyn Southworth (Jennifer’s mom!) on violin - a gorgeous collaboration! “Old Movie Romance” was Thomas’ first composition. (It is interesting to note that she didn’t start composing until the end of 2004!) Piano and strings once again create and loving and passionate ensemble. “Pure” is a “song for the angels in our lives.” Ethereal voices add innocence and charm to the lovely piano melody. “Red Aspens” is a graceful piano solo that exudes peace and serenity. “Somewhere” is a wonderful piece based on Leonard Bernstein’s song from “West Side Story.” Piano and strings give voice to the passion of the original. I really like “The Tempest,” a powerful composition for orchestra and two pianos. Like the opening track, it alternates from calm to very turbulent and agitated, but is quite different from “Beautiful Storm.” “Sospiro” is the piece Thomas likes to end her performances with. Based on a Lizst etude, this piece clearly demonstrates what a phenomenal pianist she is. Again, wow!

Key of Sea is an awesome debut, and presents a very exciting beginning! It is available at jenniferthomasmusic.com, amazon.com, cdbaby.com, and iTunes. Very highly recommended!
May 15, 2007
More reviews of Jennifer Thomas albums
Cover image of the album The Lullaby Album by Jennifer Thomas
with Carolyn Southworth
2009
Review by Kathy Parsons
Cover image of the album The Lullaby Album by Jennifer Thomas
with Carolyn Southworth
2009
Review by Michael Debbage