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Album Review: Asilomar
Michael Martinez
Cover image of the album Asilomar by Michael Martinez
Michael Martinez
2018 / Michael Martinez Music
41 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
It’s been five years since Michael Martinez released his debut album, Big Sur Reminiscence, one of my Favorite Albums of 2013. I had a chance to meet Michael at the Whisperings Solo Piano Radio annual event earlier this year, but I was still not prepared for the stunning beauty of his second solo piano album, Asilomar. Michael’s first album was primarily his incredible arrangements of cover songs, but this time, we are graced with ten original compositions, each a masterpiece in its own way.

Michael lives on the breathtaking central California coast, and Asilomar is the home of a beach near Carmel as well as a spectacular retreat center. Asilomar was recorded and mastered at Piano Haven in Sedona, AZ, another spectacular but very different area from the CA coast. The combination seems to have created a special magic that pours from Michael’s heart and courses through his fingers to the piano keys. I don’t usually name an “Album of the Year,” but if I did, Asilomar would definitely be a candidate! The album is a candidate for Whisperings Album of the Year and very deservedly so! There isn’t a weak track on this album and I love it even more every time I hear it.

Asilomar begins with “My Guru,” a very gentle and peaceful piece that I assume refers to the ocean at its most calm. It’s an amazing opener that made me stop and say “Wow!!!” The title for “My Joyful Soul” could suggest an upbeat giddiness, but this is a much more mature and substantial kind of joy that can last a lifetime - an untroubled consciousness. The piece flows with grace and tenderness that soothe deeply. “At Peace” feels like a quiet and delicate massage for the mind - gorgeous! “Midnight Imagination” is one of my favorites (they are all favorites, but this one stands out a bit for me). Darker and more mysterious, the rolling broken chords and poignant melody really speak to me. The title track is one of two that Michael says are especially personal to him. “Walking along its peaceful shore and watching the sun go down inspired me to want to live life from that space and create from that space” - a profound experience and an incredible piece of music! “High Tide” is somewhat more abstract and unstructured, and what an powerful masterpiece it is, as it shows us a somewhat different aspect of Martinez’s compositional gifts. Again, WOW!!! “Not All Is Lost” is also very free and expressive, but in a different, more poignant way. Spare but deeply emotional, it stops me in my tracks every time. As its title suggests, “Sedona Whisper” is very quiet and almost fragile. “Ocean Meditation” is the second of the pieces that Michael says is especially personal. Expressing a soul very much at peace, that feeling transfers to the listener as well. “Tender Love” brings this extraordinary album to a close with a sweet love song that comes from the heart. Wow…..

If you only buy a few albums a year, be sure Asilomar is on your list! It is available from Amazon and iTunes as well as many streaming sites. I give it my highest recommendation!
December 18, 2018