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Album Review: Jeweled Rain
Catherine Marie Charlton
Cover image of the album Jeweled Rain by Catherine Marie Charlton
Jeweled Rain
Catherine Marie Charlton
2000 / Orange Moon Productions, Inc.
48 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
The range of Catherine Marie Charlton’s playing styles is astounding. From classical (along the lines of Rachmaninoff, Mozart, up through the modern classicists) to jazz and bebop to dramatic vocals, this artist can do it all! From somber to exuberant, there is something here for everyone. For some listeners, that could be a problem - those looking for a quiet mood piece may not be happy with the free-form jazz improvisations, and vice verse - but if you enjoy an artist with a very broad understanding of music and her instrument, this should be right up your alley! Charlton’s playing skills are nothing short of amazing!

My favorite piece on Jeweled Rain is “Waltz of the Immortals”. After a mysterious introduction, it starts out as a fairly traditional waltz in a minor key, and becomes more improvised as it develops. Named for the legendary pianists, this piece is very powerful with a full palette of dark chords and rubato rhythms. Allowing your mind to swirl and dance along is an exciting experience!

The CD opens with “Love Potion #235”, an upbeat and rhythmic ode to “being in the groove”. This is a clear signal that this is more of a jazz piano album than a new age one, and that it will not be an album to snooze to! “Gouda and Grapes” is more subdued, and is about friendship and spending a lazy day with a close friend - warm, leisurely, and content. “The Chandelier” is a sparkling and frenetic depiction of the stress of trying to do everything all the time - it spins, pauses, and then spins in another direction. George Winston’s influence is obvious. “Cherry Caramel Cream” is a fun little jazz piece, and then “Butterfly Waltz” is almost a tribute to Mozart, with a traditional classical structure. From there, we go to “outta sight, daddy-o”, which is a piece that has evolved over the past five years or more. In a bebop style, this is a kind of pianism that I can appreciate, but don’t really enjoy. “Jeweled Rain” is Charlton’s first vocal piece. The piano dominates the powerful lyrics, almost completely drowning out the singer. Fortunately, the words are in the liner notes, but I found it really annoying to only be able to catch a word here and there while listening. The last three pieces on the CD are the most “new age” pieces in the collection. All three are cool, somewhat aloof, and free-form. “Winter Mist” and “Ireland” are sparse and heartfelt. “The Dreams of Sarah” is one of Charlton’s first and favorite pieces, and is more structured and classical, and closes out the set on a thoughtful note.

This album obviously covers many styles and moods, and is a challenging listen. Most of the tracks are excellent, and Charlton is an outstanding pianist. Jeweled Rain is available from most of the online music stores as well as from www.catherinemariecharlton.com.
January 1, 2000
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