Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Johnson’

AN ECHOES CHRISTMAS

December 24, 2013

Celebrate Christmas with the Soundscape of Echoes.
On Christmas Eve it’s An Echoes Night Before Christmas
On Christmas Day enjoy An Echoes Christmas
&
Hear An Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings on Demand for Free at Echoes On-Line

Blizzard-2010-TreesAs a special gift to Echoes Listeners you can stream our Celtic Sonic Seasonings show with Moya Brennan and Jeff Johnson, Brian Dunning & Wendy Goodwin for FREE all day December 24 & 25

And if that’s not enough, on-line subscribers can dial up a six hour Wordless Echoes Christmas stream.  You can try it for $2.99 at Echoes On-Line.

For an Echoes Night Before Christmas hear seasonal music from Mree, Sarah McLachlan, and Camera Obscura.  We’ll hear a new Christmas song from SHEL and a guitar orchestra rendition of The Nutcracker from Stephen Bennett that is stunning. We’ll hear an electronic classic from Ralph Lundsten’s “Nordic Nature Symphony #3” and an electronic Christmas from Geigertek.

And just when you think it’s all over, end your Christmas day with An Echoes Christmas. It’s more Christmas sounds from Ólafur Arnalds, R. Carlos Nakai, Agnes Obel and more.

And for those hours when Echoes isn’t on. stream An Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings for free on demand all day on December 24 & 25..

Aisling Jarvis, Moya Brennan, Cormac De Barra in Echoes Living Room

Aisling Jarvis, Moya Brennan, Cormac De Barra in Echoes Living Room

I don’t know how Celtic music came to signify winter, but  slow aires and Celtic harps seem to exemplify a quieter and more atmospheric side of the Winter season.  We’ve dipped into that sound on Sonic Seasonings several times over the years and we’re doing it again.

Last week we recorded our seasonal live performance show, recording two concerts in 24 hours on opposite coasts.  You can hear them tonight on an Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings.

IrishChristmasThis year we have two artists returning.  On Monday afternoon, December 9, with fresh fallen snow on the ground, Moya Brennan came to the Echoes living room with her long time partner, harpist Cormac De Barra and her daughter Aisling Jarvis.  In a testament to time, I first interviewed Moya backstage at the TLA Theater in Philadelphia in 1993 when she was pregnant with Aisling.  And at the time, Moya spelled her name Máire Ní Bhraonáin.

Moya is acclaimed as the singer of Clannad, the Irish band that was part of the Celtic renaissance that began in the 1970s.  That band reformed this year for the album, Nadur, but Moya has been solo for the last 15 years.  This past year she released the album, Affinity with Cormac De Barra under the banner of Voices & Harps.  She also re-released her album, An Irish Christmas with bonus tracks.  We’ll hear this trio in a weave of harp strings and heart-rending harmonies when they play live on An Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings.

Jeff Johnson, Wendy Goodwin, Brian Dunning recording Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings

Jeff Johnson, Wendy Goodwin, Brian Dunning recording Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings

Immediately following Moya’s show in our southeastern Pennsylvania living room, Jeff Towne and I hopped on a flight to Seattle and the next day, December 10, we were in the home studio of keyboardist Jeff Johnson where he’d gathered his Celtic trio of flutist Brian Dunning and violinist Wendy Goodwin.
Jeff Johnson is a veteran of Celtic cross-over and devotional albums with dozens of CDs out on his own Ark Music label as well as Windham Hill and Hearts of Space Records.  Brian Dunning has been with him on many of those

Goodwin, Johnson, Dunning, Diliberto

Goodwin, Johnson, Dunning, Diliberto

recordings.  He has a connection to the early Celtic renaisance as a member of the band Nightnoise which included guitarist Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and his sister, singer and keyboardist Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill.  Mícheál, who died in 2006 had been a member of the legendary and influential Bothy Band.  They are joined by Portland-based violinist Wendy Goodwin who released her solo debut, Place of Refuge last year. Collectively, the trio released a gorgeous CD, of pastoral, ambient winter chamber works called Winterfold this past fall and it’s in the Echoes Top 25 for 2013
WinterfoldThe trio crammed into Johnson’s studio and played beautiful arrangements of music from this album and drew from tracks that have appeared on Johnson & Dunning’s A Quiet Knowing and Under the Wonder Sky albums and a few Windham Hill collections.

So sit back and enjoy the best Christmas music you’ll hear this year; a sound that will take you out of the shopping malls and into your heart on An Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings streaming now for free.

And for an all-instrumental Christmas with no spoken interruptions, dial up Christmas Echoes at Echoes On-Line.  Six hours of uninterrupted non-shopping mall seasonal bliss.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

GIVE THE GIFT OF THE ECHOES CD OF THE MONTH CLUB

FoundJoin the Echoes CD of the Month Club now and you can put David Helping and Jon Jenkins’ Found under somebodies Christmas tree.  It’s our December  CD of the Month.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.   You can do it all right here.

ORLRC19-250px

GIVE THEM THE GIFT OF TRANSMISSIONS:
THE ECHOES LIVING ROOM CONCERTS VOLUME 19

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album. Or Follow us on Twitter@echoesradio.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line. Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

An Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings

December 16, 2013

Christmas begins today with An Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings
with
Moya Brennan
and
Jeff Johnson, Brian Dunning and Wendy Goodwin

Aisling Jarvis, Moya Brennan, Cormac De Barra in Echoes Living Room

Aisling Jarvis, Moya Brennan, Cormac De Barra in Echoes Living Room

I don’t know how Celtic music came to signify winter, but  slow aires and Celtic harps seem to exemplify a quieter and more atmospheric side of the Winter season.  We’ve dipped into that sound on Sonic Seasonings several times over the years and we’re doing it again.

Last week we recorded our seasonal live performance show, recording two concerts in 24 hours on opposite coasts.  You can hear them tonight on an Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings.

IrishChristmasThis year we have two artists returning.  On Monday afternoon, December 9, with fresh fallen snow on the ground, Moya Brennan came to the Echoes living room with her long time partner, harpist Cormac De Barra and her daughter Aisling Jarvis.  In a testament to time, I first interviewed Moya backstage at the TLA Theater in Philadelphia in 1993 when she was pregnant with Aisling.  And at the time, Moya spelled her name Máire Ní Bhraonáin.

Moya is acclaimed as the singer of Clannad, the Irish band that was part of the Celtic renaissance that began in the 1970s.  That band reformed this year for the album, Nadur, but Moya has been solo for the last 15 years.  This past year she released the album, Affinity with Cormac De Barra under the banner of Voices & Harps.  She also re-released her album, An Irish Christmas with bonus tracks.  We’ll hear this trio in a weave of harp strings and heart-rending harmonies when they play live on An Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings.

Jeff Johnson, Wendy Goodwin, Brian Dunning recording Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings

Jeff Johnson, Wendy Goodwin, Brian Dunning recording Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings

Immediately following Moya’s show in our southeastern Pennsylvania living room, Jeff Towne and I hopped on a flight to Seattle and the next day, December 10, we were in the home studio of keyboardist Jeff Johnson where he’d gathered his Celtic trio of flutist Brian Dunning and violinist Wendy Goodwin.
Jeff Johnson is a veteran of Celtic cross-over and devotional albums with dozens of CDs out on his own Ark Music label as well as Windham Hill and Hearts of Space Records.  Brian Dunning has been with him on many of those

Goodwin, Johnson, Dunning, Diliberto

Goodwin, Johnson, Dunning, Diliberto

recordings.  He has a connection to the early Celtic renaisance as a member of the band Nightnoise which included guitarist Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and his sister, singer and keyboardist Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill.  Mícheál, who died in 2006 had been a member of the legendary and influential Bothy Band.  They are joined by Portland-based violinist Wendy Goodwin who released her solo debut, Place of Refuge last year. Collectively, the trio released a gorgeous CD, of pastoral, ambient winter chamber works called Winterfold this past fall and it’s in the Echoes Top 25 for 2013
WinterfoldThe trio crammed into Johnson’s studio and played beautiful arrangements of music from this album and drew from tracks that have appeared on Johnson & Dunning’s A Quiet Knowing albums and a few Windham Hill collections.

So sit back tonight and enjoy the best Christmas music you’ll hear this year; a sound that will take you out of the shopping malls and into your heart on An Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

GIVE THE GIFT OF THE ECHOES CD OF THE MONTH CLUB

FoundJoin the Echoes CD of the Month Club now and you can put David Helping and Jon Jenkins’ Found under somebodies Christmas tree.  It’s our December  CD of the Month.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.   You can do it all right here.

ORLRC19-250px

GIVE THEM THE GIFT OF TRANSMISSIONS:
THE ECHOES LIVING ROOM CONCERTS VOLUME 19

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album. Or Follow us on Twitter@echoesradio.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line. Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

Echoes November Top 25 – Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy WaterSky.

November 30, 2012

Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy’s Echoes CD of the Month, WaterSky,
Heads Up Echoes Top 25.

Ambient and Ambient-tinged rock dominate Echoes Top 25 for December.  Just in the Top 10, you’ve got a diversity of ambient sounds that reveals just how broad and embracing this genre can be.  It’s not a stream.  It’s an ocean.  You’ve got Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy’s electric ambient  chamber orchestra of woven guitars and

Vote in the Best of Echoes 2012 Poll
Win Prizes

keyboards on WaterSky, Darshan Ambient’s mix of jazz and space, Connect.Ohm distilling that Ultimae Records sound of chilled melodic electronics, the glitch strewn melodies of Little People, Bryan Carrigan’s shimmering curtain of electronics which is quite a contrast to the dynamic, storm-tossed guitar symphony of Hammock’s Departure Songs and the kinetic guitar-keyboards grooves of Tycho’s Dive. It’s a wide world of ambience out there.  Look to see how many of these artists turn up in the Best of Echoes 2012 Poll.  You can vote now.

ECHOES TOP 25 FOR NOVEMBER

  1. Jeff Johnson and Phil Keaggy – WaterSky (Ark Records) WaterSky - Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy
  2. Darshan Ambient – Falling Light (Lotuspike) Falling Light - Darshan Ambient
  3. Connect.Ohm – 9980 (Ultimae) 9980 - Connect.Ohm
  4. v/a – The Ambient Zone – Just Music Café vol 4 (v/a) (Just Music) The Ambient Zone Just Music Cafe Vol 4 - Various Artists
  5. Kaki King – Glow (Velour) Glow - Kaki King
  6. Little People – We Are But Hunks of Wood (Youth & Progress) We Are But Hunks of Wood - Little People
  7. Bryan Carrigan – Windows (Peonies Music) Windows - Bryan Carrigan
  8. Tom Tykwer/Reinhold Heil/Johnny Klimek – Cloud Atlas (OST) (Water Tower music) Cloud Atlas (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek & Reinhold Heil
  9. Hammock – Departure Songs (Hammock) Departure Songs - Hammock
  10. Tycho – Dive (Ghostly International) Dive - Tycho
  11. The Album Leaf – Forward/Return (The Album Leaf) Forward / Return - The Album Leaf
  12. Thomas Newman – Skyfall (Sony Classics) Skyfall (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - Thomas Newman
  13. Balmorhea – Stranger (Western Vinyl) Stranger - Balmorhea
  14. Michael Stearns/Various Artists- Samsara OST (Varese Sarabande) Samsara (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - Michael Stearns, Lisa Gerrard & Marcello De Francisci
  15. Janel and Anthony – Where is Home (Cuneiform) Where Is Home - Janel & Anthony
  16. Kevin Keller Ensemble – The Day I Met Myself (Kevin Keller) Kevin Keller: The Day I Met Myself - Kevin Keller Ensemble
  17. Mamak Khadem – A Window to Color (Mamak Khadem) A Window to Color - Mamak Khadem
  18. Julia Holter – Ekstsasis (RVNG International) Ekstasis - Julia Holter
  19. Slow Dancing Society – Laterna Magica (Hidden Shoal) Laterna Magica - Slow Dancing Society
  20. Mecca Bodega – Raise the Tent (Mecca Bodega)
  21. Manual – Awash (Darla) Awash - EP - Manual
  22. Emeralds – Just to Feel Anything (Editions Mego) Just to Feel Anything - Emeralds
  23. Jeff Pearce – In the Season of Fading Light (Jeff Pearce Music) In the Season of Fading Light - Jeff Pearce
  24. Paul Avgerinos – Lovers (Round Sky) Lovers - Paul Avgerinos
  25. Jesse Cook – The Blue Guitar Sessions (Entertainment One) The Blue Guitar Sessions (Deluxe Edition) - Jesse Cook

AND don’t forget to vote in the Best of Echoes 2012 Poll NOW!

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echoes On LineSign up for the Echoes CD of the Month Club and get Tangents as a bonus for your membership now! 

Sign up forEchoes CD of the Month Club now and you will not only receive the December CD pick, Hammock’s Departure Songs , but also Tangents – The Echoes Living Room Concerts Volume 18 as well.  With the Echoes CD of the Month Club, you get great CDs like this coming to you each month.  Follow the link to the Echoes CD of the Month Club  and see what you’ve been missing.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line.  Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album.

Reflect on WaterSky: Echoes November CD of the Month.

October 29, 2012

Hear music from Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy’s Watersky and an interview with the artists tonight, Monday 11/5 

Jeff Johnson and Phil Keaggy are important figures in different music worlds.  Johnson came to renown as a modern instrumental keyboardist with a taste for Celtic music and a long-running partnership with Irish flutist Brian Dunning.  Keaggy on the other hand, started out as a rock guitarist with his group Glass Harp before heading down multiple paths, from Country to New Age, all highlighting his prodigious guitar technique.

Where they came together was at the Laity Lodge in Texas, a religious retreat.  They bonded around common musical interests and that led to a pair of albums: Frio Suite, which was an Echoes CD of the Month in 2009 and now, WaterSky.

WaterSky is as fluid as its title, moving though plaintive themes from Johnson on piano and Keaggy on multiple guitars and bass.  Each piece is a multi-themed work: the opening, “When We were Young,” starts with a lyrical solo piano line and ends in a heroic, guitar strummed anthem with Keaggy’s quiet siren guitar lead.

Calling instrumental music “cinematic” is a critic’s  cliché, but you can truly imagine this music backing scenes in a film.  “WaterSky” could be the soundtrack of lost love, or a lament for a post-apocalyptic world. Johnson’s ear for production is impeccable on this track, featuring his own wordless vocals, reverse staccato voices and softly moving synthesizer pads caressing Keaggy’s multiple guitar lines.

Although inspired by the Frio River and Valley in Texas, the music of WaterSky exists in a world that includes a Turkish Ϛumbus, a long-necked banjo-like instrument, on “When Cicadas Marched” and trance-like moods on “The Cody Incident.” That track is powered by a an insistent percussion groove through Keaggy’s psychedelic guitar bursts through like a momentary flashback.

With WaterSky, Jeff Johnson and Phil Keaggy have created a music with images reflecting and shimmering through each other in a layered journey.  WaterSky is an album that is as intimate as a fireside conversation and as expansive as the sky that arcs over the Frio Valley.

Hear an interview with Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy talking about WaterSky on Echoes.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echoes On Line

SPECIAL OFFER FOR NEW CD OF THE MONTH SUBSCRIBERS

For a limited time only new subscribers to the Echoes CD of the Month Club will not only receive the November CD pick, Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy’s WaterSky, but an additional THREE previous CD of the month picks absolutely free!  With the Echoes CD of the Month Club, you get great CDs like  WaterSky coming to you each month.  Join now and you’ll get Watersky plus three additional CDs.  Follow the link to the Echoes CD of the Month Club  and see what you’ve been missing.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line.  Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album.

Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning Bring Christmas Under the Wonder Sky

November 30, 2010

Echoes December CD of the Month
Jeff Johnson,  Brian Dunning & Wendy Goodwin: Under The Wonder Sky

Your Christmas CD for 2010 has slipped down the chimney.

It’s been seven years since we had a seasonal album as our Echoes December CD of the Month.  That was A Windham Hill Christmas, Vol. 2. Not coincidentally, two of the artists on that album were Jeff Johnson and Brian Dunning.

Like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Jeff Johnson and Brian Dunning have forged an enduring, if not nearly as tumultuous or lucrative, relationship.  They’ve been together for more than 20 years, since they met in Portland, Oregon.  At that time, Johnson was a rising Christian artist while Dunning was in the popular Windham Hill Celtic fusion group, Nightnoise.  Despite the fact that Dunning now lives in his native Ireland and Johnson has moved to Camano Island in Washington, they continue to work and record together.  On Under the Wonder Sky they’re joined by violinist Wendy Goodwin.

Hear “Come Thou, Long Expected Jesus”

The duo has made some of my favorite Christmas music over the years, beginning with several tracks on Windham Hill Winter Solstice and Christmas samplers to their own albums like the haunting A Quiet Knowing Christmas.  With Under the Wonder Sky, they’ve thrown the log on the fire of yet another near perfect seasonal recording.

Johnson, Dunning and Goodwin take the schlock out of Christmas, with inventive song selection and arrangements that fall between the moody and the pastoral.  You won’t find any sleigh bells on this CD.  Although a bouncy rendition of “Greensleeves” opens the album, it’s the second track, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” that sets the tone.  A traditional Christmas hymn based on “Gloria In Excelsis Deo,” Brian Dunning trades off the melody with violinist Wendy Goodwin in a song that is at once yearning and wistful.

Many of the songs here are lesser known carols and hymns like “As With Gladness, Men of Old” and “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent.”  But even when they play a chestnut like “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” Johnson & Dunning shear it of the corny sentimentality usually associated with that melody and turn it into a quietly classical chamber work full of atmosphere that seems to literally emerge out of a crystal night sky, wafting in luminous hues.

Hear “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear”

Although “Away in a Manger” resists their attempts to turn it into a pastoral meditation, it’s hard to go wrong with “Wexford Carol.”  They give the Irish tune a deceptive opening with Dunning stating the theme on a deep bass flute over an ominous drone but then it breaks into a lively rhythm suitable for wassailing.

Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning-Echoes Concert 2004

Jeff Johnson and Brian Dunning are wonderful composers and if this album has a flaw, it’s that there aren’t more of their  original compositions on it.  That’s borne out by Johnson’s lone contribution of the title track.  Loosely based on “I Wonder as I Wander,” Johnson opens with a solo piano prelude then shifts into a pensive two-note piano bass line  with Goodwin creating a gentle violin arc while he assembles sparse, echoing sampled and electronic percussion, followed by Dunning’s percussive flute.  A slow build crests the hill and opens up on a rolling panorama of strummed guitar and Dunning’s flute interweaving again with Goodwin’s lilting violin.

Hear “Under the Wonder Sky”

Brian Dunning’s “As the Child Sleeps” uses a rapid arpeggio guitar riff from Tim Ellis to set the mood before it slips into a wistful ballad with Dunning playing low whistle.

The album ends on a parlor music note in a trio as Johnson sits at an acoustic piano with Dunning and Goodwin on flute and violin.  But even here, Johnson can’t resist some electronic keyboard harmonizing of the sacred melody.

Whether you celebrate Christmas with spiritual intent or just love the quiet mood and reflective atmosphere of the winter season, Under the Wonder Sky is a perfect soundtrack.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Become a member of the Echoes CD of the Month Club and get the best albums each month mailed to you.

ECHOES TOP 25 for October: Phil Keaggy & Jeff Johnson’s Frio Suite #1

November 3, 2009

Phil Keaggy & Jeff Johnson’s Frio Suite Tops Echoes Top 25 for October.

October was a strange month for Echoes.  We spent two weeks running down the listeners 200 CDs for 20 Years of Echoes. Great shows.  Not a lot of current music, but we made up for it by playing almost exclusively new music in our regular shows.

51rcYZ66ACL._SL500_AA240_Topping the list is our October CD of the Month, Phil Keaggy  & Jeff Johnson’s Frio Suite, an album that’s sounding deeper and more immersive everytime I listen to it.  Jeff Johnson is a master of keyboard orchestration, in fact, raising the bar for electronics in an ambient chamber music setting.  And Phil Keaggy is simply a wonder on guitar, mixing acoustic and electric guitar, merging styles into his own mult-stringed arrangements.  You can read a review of this CD, here.

Right behind them is Airborne by the Danish electronica artist, Aerosol.  I wrote about this earlier, but this album of spacious shoegaze moods and electro atmospheres is still entrancing us at Echoes.

There’s lots of new entries on the list including Baaba Maal’s collaboration with The Brazilian Girls, Television.  It’s a grooving but atmospheric work full of glitchy electronics and the ultra-lounge cool of singer Sabina Sciubba DJ Spooky pops in there with the sampledelica of The Secret Song and pianist Christopher O’Riley rises to #11 on the strength of his new cover-tunes album, Out of My Hands.

You can see the complete Echoes Top 25 for October.   It also has links to reviews, Echo Location profiles, and more.

Look next month for Robin Guthrie’s Carousel to top our November list.   Members of the already have this album.  You can join them Echoes CD of the Month Clubhere

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John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echoes CD of the Month: Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy’s Frio Suite

October 1, 2009

Keyboardist Jeff Johnson and Guitarist Phil Keaggy converge on a CD of Pastoral Chamber Ambiences

You can hear an Audio Review of Frio Suite, with Music here.

51rcYZ66ACL._SL500_AA240_Jeff Johnson and Phil Keaggy are musicians from different musical worlds. Jeff Johnson is best known for his many Celtic and Persian inflected albums, draped with lush keyboards, sensual rhythms and his melodic writing.  Phil Keaggy is known to a bigger slice of the world as a veteran of the psychedelic rock era with the group Glass Harp and a solo career that has embraced rock, country and new age.  Among guitarists, especially finger-style acoustic players, he’s a legend.

But both musicians are united by their born-again Christian backgrounds and that’s how they got together at a Laity Lodge meeting on the Frio River in Texas.  They’ve combined to make an album unlike anything either has done, yet it draws from the core of their music. Composed in their separate studios in Nashville and Washington state, Frio Suite is a CD of intricately painted landscapes, much of it inspired by the Frio River and the photography of Kathy Hastings, which adorns the album. She takes macro photos that have a painterly look, making for often surreal, abstract images of real life objects and settings.  Johnson and Keaggy create the same sort of detailed, close-up music that draws you into its patterns.

“Of Time & Frio,” a precisely arrayed, almost folk-jazz track opens the CD with its light, gentle airs.  But that’s a deceptive beginning for an album of deep moods and exploratory themes.  Johnson and Keaggy’s compositions could be reflecting the landscape of the Frio River in Texas or Hastings’ detailed macro-photos, but they play less as environmental ambiences and more as interior journeys.  Take “Ride the Stone Waves.” Johnson orchestrates a shifting, textured backdrop that includes gamelan sounds, ghost synthesizers and plaintive piano while Keaggy plays acoustic and electric guitars, deploying his intricate melodies while dropping Pink Floyd-like echoes, fuzz chord punctuations and some sinewy fretless bass.

Jeff Johnson’s sound design has never been more inventive, with often minimalist loops, Balinese cycles and ephemeral synthesizer scrims.  He remains a font of pensive, turning-to-dusk melodies. Within Johnson’s ambiences Phil Keaggy sounds like twenty different guitar players, offering country twang, folky picking, spacey ambiences and jazz-inflected changes. But it all coheres into a chamber orchestra of the imagination.

From the first piano notes to last guitar strum, Jeff Johnson and Phil Keaggy have created a nearly perfect album of deeply moving chamber music on Frio Suite.  It’s our CD of the Month for October.


John Diliberto ((( echoes )))


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