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Album Review: Calmness of Spirit
David Hoffman
Cover image of the album Calmness of Spirit by David Hoffman
Calmness of Spirit
David Hoffman
2009 / Lake Front Productions
66 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Calmness of Spirit is collection of nine original pieces by David Hoffman designed for relaxation, meditation, and guided imagery. One of the things that makes this album unique is that it is jazz-based with Hoffman performing on trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet, mellophone, keyboards, and programming (nature sounds accompany several of the tracks). Hoffman is joined on several pieces by Paul Adams on Native American flutes, guitar, keyboards, harmonica, and hulusi. Another factor that sets this album apart from many relaxation recordings is that it is exceptionally “listenable” for the music itself, which is consistently interesting as well as a pleasure to listen to. Hoffman is a Professor of Music and teaches at Knox College in Galesberg, IL. He was the trumpet and flugelhorn soloist as well as composer/arranger with the Ray Charles Orchestra from 1991 until 2004, and played in venues all over the world. His other musical credentials are long and impressive, with a wealth of experience to draw from to create a beautiful and stirring album of soothing music without it turning into mush or cotton-candy sweetness.

Calmness of Spirit begins with “The Singing Frogs of Guadeloupe,” an exotic piece with a gentle but catchy rhythm that accompanies hand percussion, wind instruments, plucked strings, perhaps a marimba, and, of course, a large chorus of frogs. Evoking images of warm tropical breezes and easy, lazy days, this piece very effectively creates an atmosphere for relaxation. “Beauty Drifting” is a favorite. Trumpet, keyboards, flutes, and strings paint images in warm pastel tones of effortless floating through time and space. Gentle as a sigh of contentment, I love this piece. “Pastures A Plenty” is for trumpet and guitar with ambient sounds in the background - including mooing cows! The slow, easy tempo and effortless melody evoke thoughts of softly rolling hills and open pasture land with cows lazily flicking their tails as they munch on their greens. The next logical step would be a nice nap under a tree! “Close Your Eyes and Dream” is ambient and magical - floating through deep space with sparkles overhead and the most pleasant distractions occasionally coming into view. “The Purity of Rain” is an eleven-minute walk in the rain, unconcerned about wet hair or clothes, just enjoying the refreshing coolness of the natural shower. Trumpet, piano, guitar and the sounds of rain, birds, windchimes, and other ambient loveliness make this a blissful excursion that even thunder can’t disturb. “Everything Will Be Okay” closes the album with a quiet, almost hymn-like piano piece that offers warm reassurance and a comforting musical hug. Sigh...

Calmness of Spirit provides listeners with over an hour of stress-free retreat. It is available from www.pauladams.org, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
December 21, 2011
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