2016 / Jim Gabriel
Review by Kathy Parsons
Into Eternity is the second album from pianist/composer Jim Gabriel. After his superlative 2013 debut, Sojourn, I’ve really been looking forward to this album and I have to say that it does not disappoint in any way! Gabriel recorded both albums at Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studio, and Into Eternity was co-produced by Ackerman and Tom Eaton. Four of the pieces are solo piano and eight are ensembles with the stellar line-up of artists at Imaginary Road. All of the twelve tracks are original compositions and improvisations except for Gabriel’s haunting solo piano arrangement of Coldplay’s, “Midnight.” The music on the album was composed in memory of Janet Gabriel, the artist’s mother, and is dedicated to her. Despite the loss of someone so dear, the music is a celebration of life and a hopeful vision of what lies beyond our physical existence. Overflowing with love, grace and peaceful gentleness, I can’t imagine a more beautiful tribute.
Into Eternity begins with “From the Rising of the Sun,” a piano solo that begins very simply and gradually builds. In the opening and closing sections, Gabriel makes as much use of the space between the notes as the notes themselves. “Home” expresses the calm of being exactly where you are supposed to be. The first half of the piece is just the piano, but then Jill Haley (English horn) and Tom Eaton (bass) add their magic and send the piece soaring. I love “Winter” and the crystalline notes that dance around the upper range of the piano. A trio for piano, cello (Eugene Friesen) and French horn (Gus Sebring), it’s a favorite! I also love the title track, a duet for Gabriel (piano) and Tom Eaton (bass and electric guitar). Reverb effects create an atmospheric sense of vast open space and suggest the mysteries that await us there. Despite the many unknowns, this piece is peaceful and very ethereal, reminding me of being in a gently swirling fog - an amazing and inspiring piece! The solo piano “Un Momento Tenero” overflows with compassion and tenderness. “Goodbye for Now” begins with a lovely acoustic guitar solo by Will Ackerman. The piano leads off the second stanza with the guitar returning along with accordion (Eaton) and bass (Tony Levin). The gently-swaying rhythm is wistful and dreamy as the melody touches the heart. “Retrospection II” is the last piano solo on the album and is a sequel to one of my favorites from Sojourn. Gabriel again uses the pedals for just enough reverb to create a sense of space and to suggest the passage of time. “Distant Memories” is a nostalgic yet gracefully uplifting trio for piano, violin (Charlie Bisharat) and bass (Levin) - also a favorite. “Dreams of You” is a gorgeous quartet for piano, cello, violin and French horn. Poignant, full of longing, and overflowing with emotion, it will likely have you looking for the “replay” button as the album comes to an end!
This is only early-February, but I fully expect Into Eternity to be on my Favorites list for 2017. It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. I give it my highest recommendation!
February 6, 2017