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Album Review: High Tech, High Touch
Wendy Loomis
Cover image of the album High Tech, High Touch by Wendy Loomis
High Tech, High Touch
Wendy Loomis
2018 / Wendy Loomis
64 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
High Tech, High Touch is a 2-EP collection of original compositions by Bay Area composer/pianist/ producer/ educator, Wendy Loomis. The High Touch disc is eight original piano solos and High Tech is eight works for synthesizers (and a few guest artists). Reading Wendy Loomis’ bio and the information on her website is amazing. There isn’t much in the music field that she hasn’t done, and her current activities include this album, teaching in her home studio in San Francisco, composing for and playing with spoken word jazz band COPUS, composing for film, and the list goes on. She was the pianst/composer for the piano/flute duo, Phoenix Rising, and has won the ASCAP award for composition four times. HighTech, High Touch is Wendy Loomis’ seventeenth album and is very likely to be one of my Favorites of 2018.

The two 32-minute discs are very different from each other, and I certainly wouldn’t have guessed they were by the same artist, but the quality of the music, the recording and production are all top notch and provide a superlative showcase for Wendy Loomis’ versatility as a composer and musician.

The High Tech disc begins with “Omar Sosa,” an ambient/electronic tribute to the brilliant Cuban musician that it’s named for. The infectious beat will have you tapping your toes in no time! “Cassiopeia” was co-created with Jerry Gerber (soft synth) and Michele Walther (violin) and is high energy as well as high tech! The soulful violin is a fascinating contrast to the driving beat of the synths, and yet they work together perfectly. “Birthday Beat” is rather dark and mysterious, but the percussion keeps it lively and moving forward - another very interesting set of contrasting sounds! “Synchronicity” includes Monica Williams on pan flute in addition to the more playful synths and percussion - a favorite. “Apogee” is more fluid and ethereal, but the dark, steady drum and hand claps keep it grounded - I really like this one, too! Gerber and Walther return in “Pleiades” as co-composers and instrumentalists. High energy, exotic and very rhythmic, this one just about dances right out of the CD player! Love it!

Okay, now that I’ve gushed about the electronic disc, let me tell you about the High Touch solo piano disc that I REALLY like! I love all eight of these piano solos and really hope Loomis will offer the sheet music sometime. “Cumulus Cloud” is very free and impressionistic, floating on air and moving gracefully when and where it wishes - very soothing and transporting. “Julio” is dark and passionate with a Latin rhythm and a haunting melody. And then there is “You’re Too Sensitive”! I cannot get enough of this wonderful minor key waltz! In addition to the powerful main theme, there are a few lighter themes that seem to tell a story. I can’t seem to listen to this one without hitting the replay button at least once! “Nagano Reflection” is elegant with a gentle Asian feel - beautiful! The dramatic “Safe Travel” expresses a sense of urgency as well as movement. “One Snowy Night” reminds me a bit of Erik Satie in places - simple and uncluttered, but very evocative. Another favorite! The album comes to a close with “Eternity,” a slowly-flowing “song without words” that comes from the heart.

High Tech, High Touch will not be easy to categorize come awards season, but it should be in line for a whole bunch of awards! It is available from www.WendyLoomis.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
August 10, 2018
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