Patterns of Sun and Shade
2015 / Kathryn Kaye and Overland Mountain Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Pianist/composer Kathryn Kaye returns with her fourth album, Patterns of Sun and Shade, co-produced by Will Ackerman, Tom Eaton and Kaye. Sometimes solo piano and sometimes a collaboration with one or more of the extraordinary musicians from Imaginary Road, Kaye has imbued her new music with such warmth, grace and beauty that it will soothe and uplift even the heaviest of hearts. Kaye’s music has always been a cut above, but I think this album is her best and predict that it will hit the top of the charts once again. Kaye’s previous albums have all been “Picks” and Favorites for the year on MainlyPiano, and although this is my first review of 2015, I can guarantee it will also earn the annual Favorites status. Even more than on her earlier albums, I am amazed at Kaye’s velvet touch on the piano keys. Debussy thought the piano should be played as if it did not have hammers striking the strings and Kaye has mastered that very difficult touch - pearls on velvet.
Strongly-influenced by nature, living in the Colorado Rocky Mountains must provide constant inspiration for Kaye, as is reflected in the titles for many of her pieces as well as the grace and beauty of the music. Three of the eleven tracks are solo piano and the others are backed by artists such as Gus Sebring, Jill Haley, Eugene Friesen, Tony Levin, Charlie Bisharat, Jeff Haynes, Eaton and Ackerman. This peaceful music would enhance any setting, but will provide almost an hour of piano heaven to those who really listen.
All eleven tracks are exceptional, but I have some favorites. The album opens with “Julia’s Eyes,” a graceful and poignant duet for piano and cello that warms my soul every time I hear it. “The Hills That Lead Me Home” has more of a folk/Americana feeling with its simple melody and sense of longing. Jill Haley (English horn), Gus Sebring (French horn), and Tony Levin (Chapman stick) add their magical tonal colors to this lovely piece. “Something Like a Dream” is dreamy solo piano magic. “Festival of Leaves” has a light, swirling quality that evokes images of colorful leaves dancing in the wind. I LOVE “Willow Waltz,” a gorgeous melancholy waltz that expresses deep emotion as well as the beauty of willows in a breeze. Haley, Levin, and Ackerman (percussion) add their artistic touches to make this piece perfection. Another favorite is the haunting “Adrift in Fading Light,” which features Charlie Bisharat (violin), Ackerman (guitar), Levin and Haynes - very emotional and compelling. “Mom and Pop’s Waltz” is a much lighter piano solo. “Distances” closes the album with a peaceful, lyrical piano solo that again expresses longing and deep emotion.
Patterns of Sun and Shade is truly a great album! It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Very highly recommended.
December 24, 2014
Review by Kathy Parsons