The River of Life
2012 / Rebecca Harrold
Review by Kathy Parsons
The River of Life is the debut album by pianist/composer Rebecca Harrold. Featuring thirteen original solo piano (1) and piano with ensemble compositions, the album was recorded at Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studios and was produced by Ackerman, Tom Eaton (who also engineered, mixed and mastered the album), and Harrold. The ensemble includes the distinctive and masterful artistry of Ackerman (guitar), Tony Levin (bass), Charlie Bisharat (violin), Jill Haley (English horn), Eugene Friesen (cello), Jeff Haynes and Tom Eaton (percussion), Premik Tubbs (lyricon and sax), and others. An active professional pianist and vocalist originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Harrold has served as Music Director for number of schools and theaters in the Boston area. She is also the lead pianist for Boston Ballet’s Marblehead, MA studio and plays live at local restaurants and churches to promote original, inspirational music as well as standard pop/jazz/rock tunes. The music on the album is varied but not so much that it would be a distraction in the background. It’s all very smooth, melodic, and beautifully performed.
The River of Life begins with “Photograph,” an upbeat and gently rhythmic ensemble piece that puts Charlie Bisharat and his violin front and center, sending the music soaring heaven-ward. “We Belong Together” is bright and optimistic with a smooth jazz feeling - a toe-tapper that’s likely to bring a sweet smile to your face! The title track is a favorite with its heartfelt expression, poignant emotion, and elegant beauty. Piano and cello is my favorite pairing of musical instruments and Friesen’s cello and Harrold’s piano tug at the heartstrings on “Without You.” “Mourning Dove” is another favorite. The only piano solo on the album, it makes me wish there were more since Harrold has a very strong and expressive style. “Gotta Never Give Up” swings back to a more upbeat tempo with Penni Layne’s wordless vocals and Eaton’s light percussion along with the piano. “Sentimental Roll” is only two minutes long, but its lively and playful tone is infectious. “Say You Won’t” has a melody that is strong enough to support lyrics (although they are not needed!) - a smooth jazz instrumental ballad that features Premik Tubbs on soprano sax. My favorite track is “Majesty,” a dark and very magical duet for piano and violin. I’ve been a very big Charlie Bisharat fan for many years, and this piece clearly demonstrates why. “Willow Tree” is a piano solo for the first half of the piece and then cello enters, adding its own special beauty! Smoothly flowing with a sense of freedom and ease, I really like this one, too! “On My Own” is a dreamy, wistful slow dance for piano and bass that brings the album to a quiet and peaceful close.
The River of Life is a very promising first album and I hope that since it was recorded in 2012 that there is a second one on the way! It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Recommended!
July 1, 2017