Four Steps to the Ocean
2011 / Wayne Gratz Music
Review by Michael Debbage
Back in its heyday, Wayne Gratz was one of the second wave artists of the pioneering label Narada Records and it has now been over 23 years since he released his debut album Reminiscence. Despite the years gone by, the pianist’s music continues to be anchored in a conservative understated melody with minor embellishments that will slowly pull you under its spell. Unlike his prior release Two Views, while it is still Wayne going solo with no musician assistance, his whispery swirling keyboard string embellishments have gladly returned, lightly washing Four Steps to the Ocean in a sea of soft serenity.
The album opens with the elegant composition “A Silent Wind” which would have sat very nicely on his stellar debut Reminiscence. It softly lifts you off your feet into a glide mode, elevating you gently into the fluffy white clouds. Similar but slower results can be found on the unassuming majesty of “Afternoon Sails” as well as “All Calm On The Horizon”. The murmuring string embellishments are also found on “Miles And Miles”, “Ocean Air” and “My Back To The Beach”. In between these gentle but memorable moments you may find the bare moments of nothing else but Gratz and his piano being even more vulnerable, best reflected by the almost improvisational feel of “Sea Renity”.
It is doubtful that Wayne Gratz will ever present his listeners with an overwhelming epic album that will emotionally sweep you off your feet. That just doesn’t seem to be his style. Nevertheless, his quiet unassuming musical character is still very capable of transporting you within Four Steps to the Ocean without even getting your feet wet nor sand between your toes, as you drift to a shifting twilight knowing all is calm on the horizon, taking you miles and miles away from all of your cares. Now that is a majestic moment.
November 26, 2012