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Album Review: Contemplation (ensemble version)
Louis Colaiannia
Cover image of the album Contemplation (ensemble version) by Louis Colaiannia
Contemplation (ensemble version)
Louis Colaiannia
2020 / Louismusic
41 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Contemplation is the fourteenth album from Colorado pianist/composer Louis Colaiannia and is quite different from any of his other recordings. An ensemble album, most of the ten original compositions are on the quieter, more reflective side and one features the heartwarming voices of children from around the world imploring us to believe in and and teach them peace (more about that song below). Produced by Tad Michael Wheeler and Colaiannia, additional instrumentation includes bowed vibraphone (Joey Glassman), guitar (Danny Masters), handpan (Wheeler), and synth strings and effects (also Wheeler). (A solo piano version of the album is also available as a download.)

The centerpiece of Contemplation is the touching “Believe in Peace.” The children who sang and spoke the words are from Kenya, Kazakstan, Europe, Palestine and the USA, and most of those kids don’t speak English so Louis also recorded his two grandkids and added their voices to make the words easier to understand. Quoting Louis: “I'm hoping that by working on music projects with kids from other cultures they might start to get the idea that we aren't so different after all. The Palestinian music teacher told me she is most excited to have this opportunity to have the discussion about peace and living together with her kids. The song gives her the excuse to have that conversation so that’s what it’s all about!” Inspiring!

Contemplation begins with “The River,” a relaxed, flowing piece that sets the tone for the album. Piano with strings, wordless vocals, guitar and light hand-percussion make it easy to imagine daydreaming while sitting on a riverbank watching the water flow by. “Gentle Rain” is built around rapid arpeggiated chords on the piano that suggest dancing raindrops. Atmospheric weather sounds and a short keyboard interlude are added before the piano returns to the forefront. The title track is on the darker side and feels quite spontaneous. Cello adds a poignant counterpoint to the brooding piano - a favorite. The piano on “Mystic Nights” is more ambient with synth voices and various effects that create a haunting, mysterious mood. A poignant and heartfelt duet for piano and cello, “Two Hearts Across Time” is beautiful yet very sad. “I Am” begins as a solitary-feeling piano solo, and even when orchestration is added, that feeling of being alone never wanes. Passages of this piece are intense and I can imagine it in an emotional movie - also a favorite. “Forbidden Feelings” starts out with just piano, adding cello and then full orchestration, bringing the album to a dynamic close.

Contemplation (both the ensemble and solo piano versions) are available from Amazon and iTunes.
December 1, 2019
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