Pianist Peter Kater’s first album in several years, and his debut on his new label, Source Music, is a powerhouse. It is only July, but I know this will be one of my “Top 5” albums for 2001. After “crashing and burning” (Kater’s own description in a May ‘01 New Age Voice Magazine interview) and rebuilding his life and energies, Kater returns with a more focused and emotional self - as well as a more relaxed and happy one. The resulting music is dynamic, flowing, soaring, soothing, and just plain beautiful. A feeling of contentment seems to course through all of the music, but it is far from ear candy or meditation music. This is music that begs to be heard and understood, and felt. Heart’s Desire is also a stunning showcase for wind-player, Paul McCandless - unquestionably one of the best musicians on the planet. Cellist David Darling also appears on several tracks, providing additional warmth and soul. Guitarist Randy Chavez, bassist Wade Mathews, and percussionists Larry Thompson and Robert Jospe also appear. Kater and McCandless seem like a match made in heaven, and are a seamless duo.
All nine tracks on Heart’s Desire are exceptional, but I have three favorites. The title track is a gentle and very moving piece full of longing and hope. The melody is simple, but goes right to the heart. The full ensemble is present for this piece, but McCandless holds the spotlight with his soaring penny whistle. “Always and Forever” is a bit more upbeat, and again features McCandless on penny whistle as well as oboe and sax. Peter Kater is one of the best pianists out there, and he is to be commended for letting his ensemble players really shine, for not needing to be “the star” on every track. These musicians complement and enhance each other’s performances so well that no one needs to be the star. The masters make it look so easy! “Soul Retrieval” starts at the low end of the piano with McCandless entering a few bars later on oboe. There is a gentle bass and drum accompaniment, and the other instruments join in as the piece just keeps building to an anthemic state, full of strength, beauty, and joy. After the peak, the piece quiets somewhat, feeling like a cool-down period after a huge burst of emotional or physical energy. A reprise of the title cut closes this incredible album on a peaceful, soothing note.
I give Heart’s Desire my highest recommendation. For 2001, it will be available only online at peterkater.com
as well as various online retail outlets.