2015 / Listen2Africa Series
Review by Kathy Parsons
Love Language is the fourth release from South African flutist Wouter Kellerman. Kellerman and frequent collaborator Ricky Kej were awarded the Grammy for “Best New Age Album” for their 2014 release, Winds of Samsara, which was also awarded “Album of the Year” and “Best World Album” by Zone Music Reporter. The category of World Music is a broad one, but few artists successfully assimilate such a wide variety of music from so many different places and cultures. Love Language encapsulates the countless ways we as humans connect on the topics of life and love and the countless languages with which we speak of the universal connection that binds us to one another. Quoting the liner notes: “That simple choice to take as one’s native tongue caring and compassion, not just for a partner or family member but for everyone around you, is the seed from which this album project grew.” From the music of Africa to western classical music to jazz to gospel and on, Kellerman captures the spirit of what it is to be a truly alive and loving person. Supported by an amazing group of musicians that includes Ricky Kej, Jennifer Thomas, Ciro Hurtado, Chong Lim, and Todd Boston (to name only a few), Kellerman has created a musical epic sure to be a contender for major awards again next year.
Love Language begins with “Aishwarya,” a piece composed and arranged by Ricky Kej, and recorded across thousands of miles. It speaks of the love we must have for ourselves in order to take great risks and follow even greater dreams. Powerful yet haunting, Kellerman’s flute soars to the heavens along with full orchestration and choral back-up. Next is an incredible arrangement of Vivaldi’s “Winter” that features Soweto Gospel Choir and The Australian Urban Orchestra (strings), melding very different musical approaches into a beautiful union. “Si Do Mhaimeo” is a traditional Irish song that dances and swirls to Kellerman’s playful and lively flute along with driving percussion, guitars, marimba, strings, and keyboards - joy set to music! “Up to the Mountain” is a stirring, gospel-infused piece composed by Patty Griffin after a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. “Zininzi” is a Kellerman original with South African a cappella group The Soil that celebrates the hills and meadows of the countryside. “To Tango Tis Nefelis” goes in a completely different direction, telling the story of a cloud nymph who is pursued and mistreated by two mischievous angels who are enamored with her. Cool and sensuous, it’s a beauty! “Shenandoah” has always been one of my favorite American folk songs, and this arrangement is gorgeous. The song has several sets of lyrics, and this version tells of the love between a French trader and the daughter of a Native American chief. Kellerman’s flute poignantly expresses deep longing and love. “The Long Road” is an extraordinary flute solo composed as a biographical tribute to Nelson Mandela. Kellerman performed this piece on Nelson Mandela Day in August 2013 in a South African stadium of 80,000 people plus a television audience. I’ve never heard anything like this piece and am blown away by both the heartfelt expression of the flute and the vocal percussion - a must-hear! “Ek Verlang Na Jou” was a big hit in South Africa when Kellerman was in grade school, and this lovely arrangement gives it new life with vocals by Anna Davel accompanied by gently swaying rhythms and soulful flute. The traditional “Love Gets Old” brings this wonderful album to a close with heartbreaking emotion expressed as simple truth. Wow!
Love Language is a thrilling and uplifting musical journey through the many faces and facets of love, expressed from the heart and soul of a true artist. Be sure to check this one out! It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and many other retail outlets. Very highly recommended!
October 11, 2015
Review by Kathy Parsons