2015 / Lakefront Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Imaginings is the ninth release from Renaissance man Paul Adams, a true explorer on the vast sea of arts and creativity. Never content to be boxed into any one category, Adams continues to go in different directions with his music. Imaginings is a collaborative project with guest artists Elizabeth Geyer on piano, longtime friend (and former Ray Charles arranger/player) David Hoffman on conch shell and flugelhorn, and Indian flute master Pravin Godkhindi on bansuri flutes. Adams performs on flutes, Chinese halusi, electric sitar (an instrument he made years ago!), hang drum, percussion, guitars, and piano. Three of Adams’ previous albums have been nominated as Best Native Flute Album of the Year by Zone Music Reporter, and Sleep won in that category in 2013.
Imaginings was recorded when Australian singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Elizabeth Geyer was in the US completing her fourth album, The Bridge, which Adams co-produced. Adams explains, ”The goal was to feel and not think. The result is completely beyond what I expected and I’m really happy to cast it to the world.” Adams also cites a desire to embrace diversity: “It’s beautiful and exciting to see diversity come together. We need playfulness, growth and perhaps even a sense of magic to get us there …. This is a tough time. We’ve never been closer together, and this can bring tension. I wanted Imaginings to perhaps be a small step in embracing our differences.” The results are beautiful and emotionally expressive, and although the album will undoubtedly be classified as “new age,” any project this original deserves a category all its own.
Imaginings begins with “Just Such Beauty,” an ethereal piece that features flutes, piano, sitar and washes of electronic sound that soothe away the cares and stresses of the day. “GIggles and Grooves” is a bit jazzier and includes the infectious giggles of a small child and the sound of birds singing as well as a gently swaying rhythm and a warm tropical feeling. The title track is both impassioned and magical and features all four artists. Hoffman’s flugelhorn is especially effective and gives parts of the piece a darker tone - I love this one! “Panda Bears at Breakfast” isn’t quite as whimsical as its title, but it’s light and breezy with an easy jazz groove that makes you feel good. “Pastoral” is a remarkable combination of musical instruments and stylings that fit together beautifully when the hearts of the artists are engaged. Very calming, free and open, this gorgeous 8-minute piece gently puts life’s worries back into perspective. “Like Blue and Velvet” is another favorite and features Elizabeth Geyer on piano along with Adams on flute, sitar and other instruments. Dreamy yet melancholy, this track is especially soulful. “Upon Early Rising” expresses the quiet peacefulness and hopeful anticipation at the beginning of a new day. “Conch Shell By the Sea” is a multi-faceted piece for all four artists, including Hoffman on conch shell. Guitar, sitar, flutes, piano, horn, and percussion intertwine in a peaceful, jazz-tinged closer that leaves the listener feeling refreshed and relaxed.
Kudos to Paul Adams (and crew) for combining so many musical elements into an album that is both unique and a delight to listen to. Imaginings is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very highly recommended to anyone looking for some music that is a bit different!
October 7, 2015