Dancing On Water
2017 / Point of Light Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Pianist/composer Peter Kater is one of the most prolific musical artists today. With a career spanning more than 30 years, he has released more than 60 albums, some solo and some collaborative, with the one constant being beautiful music that comes from the depths of his soul. Kater’s latest, Dancing On Water, takes him in yet another direction: improvising for individuals lying under his piano. Combining the freedom of improvisation with the intimacy of a shared experience in the creation process results in solo piano magic. Quoting the liner notes of the CD: “Becoming totally present with someone and ‘being’ open together allows more parts of ourselves to be ‘seen,’ felt and witnessed. And in so doing, bringing aspects of ourselves from darkness into light, there is transformation and healing.” The album consists of ten improvised musical excerpts from some of these sessions starting when Kater moved back to Maui in May 2016. The album tracks range from 3 1/2 minutes to 12 1/2, and most of the titles are related to water - no surprise there! Some are very serene and peaceful and others are more joyful and lively.
When he relocated, Kater had his piano tuned down to A432 Hz. The current standard for tuning is A440-445 Hz, but there is a grassroots movement to tune back to A432, a pitch many claim is more relaxed as well as more aligned and resonant with the vibration of the Earth and “universal” energy. There is no scientific proof of this as yet, but Kater says that since he had his piano tuned down, he can’t stop playing it and finds himself getting lost in the music more than ever before.
The album opens with the title track, a gentle, sparkling piece that reminds me of watching beams of light “dancing” on a quiet ocean and being mesmerized by the experience. Very graceful and free, “Rainfall To Rivers” is a favorite. Expressive and passionate, it is both soothing and invigorating. That’s not an easy combination for one piece, but Kater does it beautifully. The poignant “Reaching For You” is tenderness set to music - also a favorite. “Rivers of Sunlight” begins calmly and gradually becomes faster and more complex while maintaining the feeling of flowing water. “Deliverance” is another favorite. It begins with a series of quiet chords in the upper bass of the piano with a peaceful and often dancing right hand contrasting with the calm of the left. Kater also effectively uses the damper pedal to create a shimmering, otherworldly feeling. Gorgeous! I also love the haunting “Secret Ocean” that so effectively describes the many moods of the sea from hypnotic and serene to swirling and turbulent. “Vastitude” starts out with very few notes and the pedal to create feelings of vastness and openness similar to space music but instead of floating through space you are drifting on the warm waters of Hawaii, buoyant, relaxed, and very free. It’s a wonderful closing for another excellent album by Peter Kater!
Dancing On Water is likely to bring Kater his (hopefully lucky) 13th Grammy Nomination! Peter tells me this is his last solo piano album for a while, but we’ll hope it’s not too long! This album is available from Amazon and iTunes. Very highly recommended!
August 15, 2017
Review by Michael Debbage