Simply Beautiful Collection II
2016 / Laima Music, Inc.
Review by Kathy Parsons
Simply Beautiful Collection II is the follow-up to pianist/composer Laima Gaizutis’ 2014 debut (I think you can guess the title!). The daughter of Lithuanian refugees, Gaizutis’ family settled in Cleveland, Ohio when Laima was a young child. She started studying the piano at the age of six, continuing her studies through her college degree at the Eastman School of Music. She made her local television debut in a talent show at the age of nine, played the piano for modern dance classes, and started teaching piano by the time she was a senior in high school. She continues to teach piano in Houston, Texas but did not start composing until the end of 1990 when her husband gave her a digital piano for Christmas, allowing her to record her melodies as she composed them. This literally opened the floodgates, and Gaizutis has worked alone as well as collaborating with several songwriters. She has won numerous local and national awards, and her instrumental melodies have been featured on television and in theatrical productions. Gaizutis’ music is warm and optimistic, often with simple melodies that communicate directly and easily to the listener. The album also features guest artists performing on violin, flute, jazz piano, alto and soprano saxes, and harmonica in addition to Gaizutis’ piano.
Simply Beautiful Collection II begins with “Whispers,” a peacefully shimmering duet for piano and flute (Beth A. Whiehe) plus some keyboard enhancements - a lovely start! “Midnight” is gentle duet for piano and violin (Lauren Chauvin) with a slightly Asian flavor. Quiet and very soothing, it would be an excellent addition to a soundtrack. “Touched” also features Chauvin on violin and is abundantly romantic - like a slow dance with a loved one. I suspect “I Miss the Laughter Most” has lyrics, perhaps a mother’s reflections on her children’s youth. David Caceras appears on alto sax, evoking wistful, nostalgic feelings. “Sunlight” is a solo piece for piano with keyboard strings in the background - as peaceful as a spring breeze. “Long Summer Night” is a favorite. Rhythmic and slightly bittersweet, it features Buzzy Smith on jazz piano and a mix of keyboard instrumentation and percussion that give the piece a subtle energy. As its title suggests, “Lilting” is gently uplifting. It is performed on piano, violin, flute, and jazz piano - a lovely ensemble piece! I also really like the sweet innocence of “An Angel’s Dream,” performed on piano with keyboard accompaniment. The closing track, “Penny Arcade” goes in an entirely different direction and is sure to wake you from the reverie of the previous ten tracks. Jazzy, playful, and tons of fun, you can’t help but smile listening to this one!
Simply Beautiful Collection II is pleasure to listen to in either the foreground or background. Cheerful and relaxing, it is certain to brighten anyone’s day (or night!). It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Check it out!
May 14, 2016