It’s About the Rose is Karen Marie Garrett’s fourth recording to date, and it is stunning! Her previous release, The Allure of Sanctuary
, was also exceptional with its melodic emotional depth, but this is quite different. The pieces tend to be more improvised and come directly from the soul without a confining structure. Artists of this stature are able to freely yet cohesively communicate their musical thoughts, creating moods and wordless dialogs with their instruments. True artistry springs from this place, and if you’ve ever witnessed it, the experience is profound and mesmerizing. Most of these songs have a melancholy cast to them, with flowing left hand patterns combined with simple melodies and explorations on the right. Seven of the twelve tracks are solo piano, and the others feature Eugene Friesen on cello, Noah Wilding on wordless vocals, Jeff Oster on flugel horn, Derrik Jordan on percussion and violin, T-Bone Wolk on bass, producer Will Ackerman on percussion, Steve Schuch on violin, and Corin Nelsen on “piano string duding” - consummate artists, all. Garrett obviously took some major musical risks with this new release, but calls the time spent making the album the most creative period of her life - it shows. I don’t often listen to a CD for the first time and keep saying, “Wow!” but that’s what happened here. It’s not the pianistic flash, but the depth of feeling and personal expression that draws you in and won’t let go.
The CD opens with “It’s About the Rose
in the Vase on the Table.” The title refers to a story about dealing with life’s little dramas. The notes of the piece aren’t complicated, but the nakedness of the emotions expressed clearly indicate what an artist we are experiencing here. Wow! “Tally’s Lullaby” was inspired by a letter sent to Garrett about a very special dog who had died and how one of Garrett’s previous songs had helped the family cope with the loss. Overwhelmed, Garrett composed this piece with tears in her eyes. A duet for piano and cello, Garrett and Eugene Friesen are truly a match made in heaven. “The Piano Called” is an improvisational piece that came about one night touching the piano keys and listening to what the piano had to say. Gorgeous! “Moon Night” is piano backed by djembe and violin. Stepping up the pace a bit, this piece has an exotic quality and a gentle energy. “Beethoven, Chopin, and the Rose” combines an essence of both composers with Garrett’s own simple melody, and the results are evocative and haunting. “Tip Toe Dancer and the Sea Pearl” is much lighter and is infused with childlike joy and innocence. “Cafe Espresso” is the most rhythmic and experimental piece on the album. Playful and energetic, it expresses a “happy buzz.” “Finale of the Rose” returns to the original theme for further discovery of its coda. An ensemble piece for piano, percussion, flugel horn, and violin, the musicians bring their passions to the point of heartbreak. I can’t imagine anyone not being intensely moved by this piece.
With It’s About the Rose, Karen Marie Garrett has established herself in the upper echelons of contemporary pianists. May she always wear her heart on her musical sleeve! This CD is available from kgpiano.com
, amazon.com, and cdbaby.com. WOW!