2021 / New Thought Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
How nice that my first review of 2021 is of a beautiful solo piano album by Ed Bazel, founder of The River of Calm. Homecoming is Bazel’s second album and follows his 2013 release, Bella Piano. Much of Bazel’s career has been as the head of a corporate concert company, so the title of the album refers to his return to the piano “where it all began.” As a long time piano teacher, I can really appreciate this quote from an email Ed sent: “My mom drove me kicking and screaming to piano lessons for 11 years, so this is dedicated to her and my former piano teachers who helped me along the way.” Referring to his parents, Ed wrote: “Much to their dismay, I became a full time pianist for 20 years. (I guess I taught them a lesson - they always wanted me to get ‘a real job.’) I have been in the music business ever since.”
Over the past few years, Ed Bazel has received a number of prestigious awards, and I’ll be surprised if this new album doesn’t bring him some more. Relying on heartfelt expression more than dazzling pianistic showmanship, the eleven original piano solos are uncomplicated and easily accessible, making the album a calming way to restore a bit of peace to life or a gentle, warm and positive backdrop for other activities. The album’s tranquil demeanor might also help many find their way to Dreamland on nights when tossing and turning interrupts their way.
Homecoming begins with “Morning Cup,” which obviously refers to that first cup of coffee of the day. Played in the soft pastel tones of a sunrise, it’s reassures that it will be a good day! As its title suggests, “Sweet Innocence” is tender, honest and more than a little poignant. A nostalgic look back to a pleasant memory, “I Remember” gently tugs at the heartstrings. "Homecoming," the title track expresses the mix of emotions experienced when returning to the place you once called home and that still feels familiar no matter how long you’ve been away. “Lullaby For Life” resembles Brahms’ classic lullaby, but then goes in a different, more contemporary direction - a favorite. “Northern Lights” has a magical quality and expresses a peaceful kind of awe that I’m sure the Northern Lights inspire - also a favorite. “Sunrise” is more ambient than most of the tracks, and is also somewhat bolder, perhaps reflective of the dazzling light show in the sky that most of us miss on a daily basis - I really like this one, too! The strong melody of “Walk With Me” suggests that there might be lyrics to this lovely piece, although none are needed to tell its story. Open and honest, it presents an invitation that it would be difficult to refuse! “The Quiet Dream” is a bit more dramatic, sharing something from deep within. “Light Of My Soul” has a similar feeling and is my favorite piece on the album. Heartfelt and introspective, it’s an emotional work of art. Homecoming began with “Morning Cup” and ends with “Dusk,” a peaceful conclusion to a very impressive album!
Homecoming is available Amazon, Apple Music and streaming sites like Spotify. Don’t miss it!
January 2, 2021