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Album Review: Held In the Light
Dan Chadburn
Cover image of the album Held In the Light by Dan Chadburn
Held In the Light
Dan Chadburn
2017 / Daniel Chadburn
57 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Held In the Light is pianist/composer Dan Chadburn’s seventh solo piano album, and it is stunning! The thirteen tracks include three original studio improvisations and ten improvised arrangements of traditional hymns. I have been reviewing Chadburn’s albums since his 1998 debut, Solo Piano, and receiving a new release from him is always a very special treat! Chadburn's 2016 album, Beyond Words, was nominated by Zone Music Reporter for “Best Solo Piano Album of 2016,” “Album of the Year” by Whisperings Solo Piano Radio, “2016 Contemporary and Modern Album of the Year” at SoloPiano.com, and “Solo Piano Album of the Year” by One World Music Radio. It was also one of my Favorites for the year. I suspect that Held In the Light will go all the way for 2017! It was recorded at Piano Haven Studio in Sedona on Joe Bongiorno’s amazing Shigeru Kawai grand piano, and the piano sound is incredible!

Held In the Light begins with “Breathe on Me, Breath of God,” an English hymn that was first published in 1878. Its gentle, prayer-like quality is very well-suited to Chadburn’s graceful yet passionate style of playing and expresses deep emotion - a gorgeous opener! “Be Thou My Vision” has been recorded by many different pianists, but Dan’s version has passages that highlight the melody, become improvisations and then return to the original melody. “Amazing Grace” is a hymn familiar to just about everyone, but Chadburn still manages to make it his own. Slow and heartfelt, it’s a beauty! “Were You There” is an American spiritual that was first published in 1899. Slow and deeply poignant, it’s the most emotional version of this hymn I’ve ever heard. “Breath of Life” is the first of the original pieces, and is one of my favorites of all of Dan’s pieces. I can’t wait for the sheet music for this one! “Morning Has Broken” expresses hope and optimism for a new day. Warm and light, it’s a beautiful arrangement! “Refuge” is the second of the originals. Gently flowing and reflective, it’s also a favorite. Chadburn says so much with a simple yet powerful melody and his deeply emotional expression - beyond words! “Beautiful Savior” shares the same melody with “Fairest Lord Jesus,” another old hymn refreshed and made new with Chadburn’s evocative touch. The title track was inspired by Dan’s wish to send my mother, Carol Parsons, some healing music when she fell and broke her wrist and injured her hip a few months ago. He improvised the piece in the studio and sent us the video, which had us both in tears. It is an expression of kindness and love that I’ll always treasure!

Even if hymns are not your thing, Dan Chadburn’s improvisations should appeal to anyone who loves and appreciates beautiful solo piano music. His three original improvs are not to be missed! Held In the Light is available from DanChadburn.com, Amazon (soon!), iTunes and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
September 15, 2017
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