From the Best New Age Artists

Christopher James | A Rose in the Canyon | Album Review

CJames_A_Rose_in_the_Canyon_Final_CoverIn the past, I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a few of Christopher James’ recent albums, “Grace from Persistence” and the most wonderful, “Better Days: Music for Small Ensemble.” I can’t say we would be able to categorize these two as typically “New Age,” and in the same light, the album, “A Rose In The Canyon” is decidedly “Jazz.” But Christopher James is a brilliant composer and musician in every direction, so here we are again.

Here is a little about Christopher from his bio, so you can have a better understanding of this album: Christopher James Roberts is an ex-CEO of Universal Music Group’s Classical and Jazz division. He’s also an accomplished classical pianist with a B.A. in Music and German Literature. He did his graduate studies in Musicology at the University of Illinois. Traveling to Germany for post-graduate research, he stayed there for several years and composed and produced music for the film and television industry there.

This album is 8 tracks and about 43 minutes. The compositions were initially improvised by Christopher at his piano and then sent to the orchestrators and collaborators to add their magic. As well, there were four live recording sessions that took place at Power Station Studio A in New York City.  It’s important to understand that these are full orchestrations here, with a huge list of well, known, impressive collaborators – like Gil Goldstein, Rob Mathes, and Bob Stark – which I will include at the end of this review, so you can get an idea of how epic a production this is. That said, there is one big element that shines radiantly through in the entirety of the album, and that is simply the pure joy there is in creating music, for perhaps no other reason than simply creating music.

The album opens with “The Enigmatic City.” There is some very nice jazzy piano here along with smooth and silky orchestration. (Bob Stark). It all flows beautifully and leads us into the journey. What is a (blue) rose doing in a barren canyon anyway? Among other things, one might interpret it mainly to be unexpected hope.

“Adjunct/Disjunct” follows. This is uplifting, fun, and fabulously orchestrated. (Gil Goldstein). “Blue in the 2nd Degree” is light, elegant, and a favorite. “Saudade” (Longing) is just sweet and lovely in every way, as the title implies.

Quinn Martin was one of Hollywood’s most successful producers of action-adventure series for television. And “Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)” was a song written by Bob Dylan in 1967. As I understand it, the song is about an Eskimo named Quinn who changes despair into joy and chaos into calmness and order. On this album, “The Mighty Quinn (Martin)” is probably about both. There is great build in this composition, along with a certain degree of suspense, as well as inherent tranquility. At almost 7 minutes, this is a wonderful song with twinkling, scintillating piano and the outstanding orchestration we find throughout.

“Baile de los Peros” has a jazzy “waltz” kind of feel. This is fun, happy, and melodic, with fabulous movement and a standout clarinet solo by John Nastos. “Dr. Blowhard Stumples” is light, yet with cinematic moods as well.

The album closes out with the title track. This is just gorgeous in every single way. Beautiful piano, graceful strings, and emotionally evocative, this is my ultimate favorite on this very enjoyable album from Christopher James, who I find to be a fascinating and brilliantly creative artist. More please.

Release date August 19, 2022. (Val Gardena Music).

Official artist website where you may listen and pre-order: http://christopherjamesmusic.net/

The huge list of collaborators:

Gil Goldstein/SESSIONS:

Gil Goldstein – Piano/ Conductor

Cole Davis – Acoustic Bass

Antonio Sanchez – Drums

Alex Sopp – Flute

Helen Campo – Alto Flute

Nuno Atunes – Clarinet

Mark Dover – Bass Clarinet

Kevin Cobb – Trumpet

CJ Camieri – Trumpet

Ryan Keberle – Trombone

Mike Davis – Bass Trombone

RJ Kelly – French Horn

Joyce Hammann – Violin

Sara Caswell – Violin

Louise Schulman – Viola

Garbiel Cabezas – Cello

 

Rob Mathes/SESSIONS:

Rob Mathes – Conductor

Jim Beard – Piano

John Patitucci – Acoustic Bass

Antonio Sanchez- Drums

Alex Sopp – Flute

Aaron Heick – Clarinet/Bass Clarinet

Dean LeBlanc – Clarinet

Liam Burke – Bass Clarinet

John Upton – English Horn

Don Downs – Trumpet/French Horn

Jon Owens – Trumpet/French Horn

Tony Kadleck – Trumpet/French Horn

Brad Gemeinhardt – French Horn

Ryan Keberle – Trombone

Joe Fiedler – Trombone

Joanna Mauer- Violin

Justin Smith – Violin

Lisa Kim – Violin

Peter Bahng – Violin

Julia Choi – Violin

Conway Kuo – Violin

Jun Sun You – Violin

Matt Lehman – Violin

Ann Lehman – Violin

Devin Moore – Viola

Irene Brewlaw – Viola

Robert Meyer – Viola

Sumire Kuo – Cello

Susannah Chapman – Cello

Sarah Kwon – Cello

 

Additional musicians recorded in Portland, OR at Bob Stark Sound

Mike Snyder – Percussion

Reinhardt Wolfgang Metz – Percussion

Bob Stark – Guitar on Baile de los Perros

John Nastos – Clarinet solo on Baile de los Perros

Nestor Vaz – Bandoneon

 

Recorded at Mastodante Producciones, Montevideo, Uruguay

Gaston Ackerman – Engineer

Vayo Raimondo – Coordinator

Scott Thompson, Scott Thompson Public Relations

(203)400-1818 [email protected]

 

Management: Paul Foley – [email protected]

 

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