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Album Review: Secret Journey
Omar Akram
Cover image of the album Secret Journey by Omar Akram
Secret Journey
Omar Akram
2007 / Real Music
53 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Secret Journey is Omar Akram’s third release on Real Music, and, like his first two CDs (which were released under his first name only), is a vibrant tapestry of musical idioms gathered from around the world as the son of a UN diplomat as well as a world traveler and musical ambassador in his own right. In addition to Omar’s acoustic piano and keyboards, his stellar lineup of collaborating musicians includes Charlie Bisharat on violin (one of my all-time favorite musicians!); Greg Karukas’ arrangements, additional keyboards, and percussion; Adeshir Farah and Ramon Stagnaro on acoustic guitar; Pedro Eustache on winds; and Ron Wagner on ethnic percussion; Karukas also produced and engineered the album. Most of the tracks are ensemble pieces rather than piano with back-up musicians, and what wonderful music they make together! Soulful with a broad variety of influences, this is truly “world music,” as in ethnic music with no specific origin - some is very Latin, some is more Middle Eastern, and all is just great music with universal themes of hope and humanity at its best. I had the opportunity to have several phone conversations with Omar after the release of Opal Fire a few years ago, and found him to be very much like his music - warm, optimistic, funny (well, not the music!), and very sincere.

The “journey” begins with “Run Away With Me,” a romantic overture with piano, violin, guitar, keyboard washes, and an infectious energy propelled by rhythmic percussion. Who could resist an invitation like this? The title track is darkly mysterious and exotic. As always, Bisharat’s violin brings poignance to the beautiful melody and enhances the emotional depth. “Nomadic Rhapsody” is much lighter and dreamier yet maintains a sense of adventure. “Passage of the Heart” is a lush, passionate love song, with guitar and violin merging seamlessly with piano. “Stargazers” begins with the feeling of vast open space. Guitar and violin set the calm, quiet mood, and then piano comes in with the lovely melody. This is a real beauty! “Whispers in the Moonlight” is also a gorgeous piece of musical romance. Warm and intimate, it exudes contentment and peace. “Mirage” is another favorite, with its exotic feeling of mystery and intoxicating rhythm. I also really love “Angel of Hope,” a gentle, evocative duet for piano and violin - such a sweet ending for a great musical journey!

With three amazing albums to his credit, Omar Akram should be well on his way to becoming a musical phenomenon. Are you listening, world? Secret Journey is available wherever Real Music’s releases are sold, including www.omarmusic.com, realmusic.com, iTunes, and amazon.com. Very highly recommended!
October 16, 2007