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Album Review: The Color of Light
Dana Cunningham
Cover image of the album The Color of Light by Dana Cunningham
The Color of Light
Dana Cunningham
2007 / Fountain Creek Music
68 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Color of Light is a gorgeous collection of original pieces and improvisations by pianist/composer Dana Cunningham. Produced by award-winning Windham Hill founder Will Ackerman at his Imaginary Road studios in Vermont, the CD is comprised of fifteen piano solos and collaborations with other artists that create a setting for contemplation and presence. Ackerman goes so far as to say, "Dana's new album is simply the most impressive work of composition and performance I have heard from a pianist in twenty years.” That’s quite a statement from someone who has worked closely with George Winston, Liz Story, Philip Aaberg, and, more recently, Karen Marie Garrett! Deeply emotional and full of grace, Cunningham’s music exudes warmth and calm without becoming ear candy. The more you listen to it, the more the depth of the music reveals itself, providing a refuge for the spirit and mind to revisit many times. It is interesting to note that several of the musicians featured on this CD also worked with Karen Marie Garrett on her “It’s About the Rose” (also produced by Will Ackerman), making the two CDs very compatible for a sustained mood of peaceful reflection.

The CD begins with “Leap of Faith,” a very open, flowing piano solo that seems to be asking questions and looking for answers. “Away” is a lovely trio that features Jill Haley on English horn and Eugene Friesen on cello. Wistful and dreamy, it has a strong sense of longing. The title track opens with an evocative cello solo that segues into an equally compelling piano solo. About four minutes into the piece, it becomes a stunningly beautiful duet that grabs your heart and won’t let go. Incredible! “River of Grace” flows like an easy-going river and sparkles like light dancing on the water. It features Ackerman on guitar and Derrik Jordon providing gentle percussion. “Flowers In the Dark” is another beauty with piano, cello, and Samite Mulondo’s wordless vocal colors. Dark and almost painfully sad, the emotional depth of this piece is amazing. At the end, it merges with “Flying Over Water,” which begins with the same notes as “Flowers” and evolves into a more rhythmic piece for piano, cello, violin (Steve Schuch) and percussion (Glen Velez) - again extraordinarily passionate. “Angels At Shady Grove” is a tranquil piano solo that features Cunningham’s voice for additional color and grace, as does the heartfelt “Prayer for Peace.” The CD ends with an eight-minute “Reprise,” a piano solo that reminds me a bit of Michael Jones.

The Color of Light” is excellent from start to finish, and I highly recommend it. It is available from www.danacunningham.com and amazon.com, and is sure to be one of my favorite CDs for 2007.
April 5, 2007