Beyond the Turning
2012 / Winterhall Records
Review by Michael Debbage
Two years ago Heidi Anne Breyer released her splendid sophomore album Another Place and Time to critical claim. Considering the results garnered from that album, no one would have faulted in her in checking in with the same formula and partially repeating herself. This just does not seem to be in the DNA of Heidi Breyer who instead of bringing in the Will Ackerman A team decided to tweak her players and her writing and come to the table with a new plan. And it shows with Ms Breyer bending and pushing her performances on Beyond the Turning taking it to another place and time.
First step was taking the significant risk of stepping away from producer Will Ackerman and handing the production duties over to the more than capable Corin Nelsen. Once more the production and arrangements are stellar. Her second move was to essentially step away from Ackerman’s A Team session musicians with only one return visit from cellist Eugene Friesen on “World Without End” as well as Jill Haley performing her English horn on the beautiful title track.
Breyer makes an immediate statement with her opening track “Farewell” that features Breyer’s mystical piano work that merges effortless with David Cullen’s Santana like bold electric guitar solo. On paper this looks all wrong, but somehow Breyer’s gallant move here is courageous and daring, yet soaring. Similar audacious results are found on “River Droite” as Breyer’s exotic music transports us to the equally exotic France with her delectable piano work incorporating seamlessly with Bisharat’s violin and Bob Colwell’s accordion. Meanwhile, the jazz influence shows its face on the striking “Moondancing” featuring Premik Russell Tubbs on saxophone. Meanwhile, “My Peace Piece”, though lacking any additional instrumentation features Breyer’s on piano as she plays tribute to jazz pianist Bill Evans. Breyer’s vocals are also featured on “Tea And Sympathy” and “May I Suggest” and while pleasant enough they are not as strong as her piano “voice”. Nevertheless, Breyer choose to push the envelope and was at least willing to take the risk.
As you move deeper into the album it just swells with highly impressionable moments, one of them being the moving “Joy Of The Road”. Breyer’s piano work is gorgeous and in complete harmony with Michael Manring fretless bass. This flows right into the spiritual like qualities of “Adungu Inspiration” with Breyer teaming up with Samite on the Ugandan harp like instrument called the Adungu, with Cullen adding some light embellishments courtesy of his guitar work. The compositions continue to swell with the previously mentioned title track that eventually leads us to the third passageway of improvised track “The Long Way Home – Passage 3” that appears to be one of the umbilical cords of this very wonderful album.
Heidi Breyer is not a musician that may necessarily appeal to you on the very first listen. It takes you as the listener the need to be patient and let the music find a place in your heart knowing that without the immediate gratification comes the endearing music qualities found in Breyer’s music. While Beyond the Turning is not a perfect album, like a diamond, the flaws are infrequent and brief but only adds to the beauty. What is unquestionable is the musical integrity of
November 26, 2012