Our Favorite Recently Released Contemporary Solo Instrumental Music Albums

January 31, 2015 by Admin

Below we present a list (not in any particular order) of our favorite Contemporary Solo Instrumental Music (non-piano) albums released during the fourth quarter of 2014. We highly recommend each of these albums. To qualify for this list, an album had to be a new release (not a re-release) in either October, November, or December of 2014, feature solo instrumental music (or solo instrumental with light accompaniment) and be available for purchase on either iTunes, Amazon.com, or CDBaby.com. In selecting these seven albums from over a hundred possibilities, we applied the same rigorous standards that we use in choosing music for play on GAIA Prime Radio. So if you enjoy the music we play on our station, we are confident that you will enjoy the music on these albums as well. Click on the album title or CD cover image and you will be taken to iTunes where you can listen to samples of music from that album and/or purchase it.

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Firelight – Terra Guitarra
Terra Guitarra, as their name implies, focuses on two things — guitar explorations and planet earth. The music encompasses their love of nature, travel, fiestas, the outdoors, journeys of personal growth, and spiritual reflection. “Usually the melodies first come to me when I am outside experiencing nature,” says Bruce Hecksel. “We travel constantly and we find each place has its own musical feeling. Our music celebrates the landscape and the people there. The melodies are reflective of the earth’s energy and vibrations.”

“Firelight” begins with the sunrise and ends with the sunset. In the space between them lies a sparkling instrumental journey of Spanish guitar and world music textures to ignite the moment with passion. The natural, energetic, all-instrumental sound artfully blends the strong rhythmic steel string guitar of Julie Patchouli and Bruce’s nylon-string Latin-styled acoustic guitar, with elements of jazz, new age, folk, classical and world-fusion. Augmented by drums, ethnic percussion, bass and Native American flute, the result is music that is warm, passionate, fluid and melodic.

Fans can also purchase recordings by Bruce Hecksel and Julie Patchouli’s alter-ego group, the eclectic acoustic singer-songwriter duo called Patchouli which has more than a dozen albums available.

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Sanctuary III: Beyond The Dream – Sherry Finzer
Award winning flutist Sherry Finzer is one of those rare musicians whose approach to their art is so inspiringly beautiful that you just can’t wait for new musical works to hit your senses. In the words of others:

“If the sound of peace seems to escape, then you put on Sherry Finzer’s album and find just what you are looking for. It is music that produces a feeling of quietude that lets you dream, grow, think or heal with the press of the PLAY button.” – RJ Lannan – Zone Music Reporter

“I can’t go a day at work without listening to Sherry’s music. It has such a subtle, peaceful sound that I find it creates calm in my mind & body, which is always helpful during a hectic work day.” – Lenora Whitmire – New Leaf Distribution

With the clear exception of Terry Oldfield, no traditional flute player can create music that so stimulates both the heart and the mind with such subtlety and “Grace.”. With Sanctuary III: Beyond the Dream, Sherry expertly blends the ambient sounds of her flute, sounds of nature, and ethereal electronic textures to create timeless, soul-soothing music for the even the most discerning listener.

Sherry was born in Syracuse, NY and moved to Rochester with her parents when she was 13 years old. She attended Charles H. Roth High School, where she participated in numerous All-County and Area All-State Music Festivals. Classically, Sherry performed with the Brockport Symphony Orchestra from 1986-1988, and with the Greece Symphony Orchestra from 2003-2004. While in Rochester Sherry studied under Glennda Dove-Pellito, flute professor at SUNY Geneseo. Sherry now lives in Arizona where she has a private flute studio in the Ahwatukee area of Phoenix.

The album features a mixture of songs composed and performed by Sherry, and a few well-known tunes such has “Hallelujah”, “Amazing Grace”, and “Wayfaring Stranger”. Sherry arranged and recorded “Frost Runes”, written by composer Tom Febonio, who also wrote “White Sky in November” which Sherry recorded with Darin Mahoney on their duo album Transformation (winner Best Album of 2013 – One World Music). She also arranged and recorded “Grace” written by internationally known Australian pianist Fiona Joy. Guitar tracks on “Amazing Grace” were recorded by Darin Mahoney.

Original compositions on ” Sanctuary III” include “Another Time and Place”, “The Way”, “Beyond the Dream”, and “Song for Rex”, which was written for Sherry’s first grandchild, born in December of 2014.

Like Terry Oldfield, Sherry Finzer is a woman who exudes sincerity within every note of every song she ever performs. She is clearly a woman who knows her musical heart, and has produced an album here that can best be described as an outstanding work of art.

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Tapping At The Edge Of Paradise – Jerry Rockwell

Jerry Rockwell is a world class mountain dulcimer custom builder, player, teacher, and advocate who lives and works in the Appalachian foothills of southeast Ohio. He also regularly teaches mountain dulcimer at workshops across the country, and has authored several books, numerous articles, and instructional videos teaching and promoting the mountain dulcimer. In July of 2007, he performed, taught, and lectured at a folk festival in Siglufjord, Iceland.

Jerry specializes in the gentle, soothing, and hypnotic sounds of Celtic airs, waltzes, and folk tunes, and is committed to helping his students explore the dulcimer in the deepest and fullest way possible. And when we we first heard the music of “Tapping at the Edge of Paradise,” there was no question about it being music we wanted to play on GAIA Primr Radio.

And it is indeed impressive to find such a talented musician who not only composes and performs such exceptional music, but does so on instruments of his own construction. In Jerry’s own words:

“I did many annual 17-day runs at the Ohio State Fair in the late 1980s and through the 1990s, showing my dulcimers and selling my cassette albums. I would actually be building some dulcimers right behind my table…” The important connection that they had to make was “This guy actually builds his own dulcimers and makes albums with those same instruments! I think when that connection is made, I have gained a customer, or a fan, or a listener.”

Tapping at the Edge of Paradise features innovative, sophisticated, well-crafted, well-produced, and highly memorable instrumentals on both acoustic and electric (acoustic with electric pickup) mountain dulcimers, with occasional spot of electronic accompaniment. However, the synths are used with such care and precision, so as not to overpower the gentle sound of the dulcimer, that they are hardly noticeable. The first song, called Surfing at the Savoy Arcade, and one our particular favorites, has an upbeat, modern, and catchy melody and a decidedly “chill” ambiance. It readily demonstrates what a versatile and beautiful instrument a mountain dulcimer can be when in the hands of a talented musician. Highly recommended.

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Acoustic Light – Dan and Sandy Adler

Dan and Sandy Adler have been performing together since they were married in 1984. After the outstanding response they received to their first instrumental project featuring Native American flute and guitar, “Wind of the Spirit” – which features the flute as the solo instrument on almost every song, they decided to do a project with the focus switched to acoustic guitar as the main instrument and then decorate around it with lush and lovely vocals and soaring Native American flutes instead.

The result is “Acoustic Light” – an ethereal, moderately ambient, sophisticated, and sometimes breathtaking blend of deeply spiritual music with Jazz, New Age and Native American stylings, intertwined with lyrical messages of hope and peace. All guitars were performed by Dan who also engineered and produced the project and played all the instruments except the congas, which are played by Angel Diaz, and all the flutes, played by Sandy. Dan and Sandy perform all of the vocals as well. If, like us, you are true fans of high quality contemporary instrumental music, this album should be a no-brainer addition to your collection.

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Pirate’s Bay – Luna Blanca and Richard Hecks and his Nouveau Flamenco Band

Luna Blanca, the project of German guitarist Richard Hecks and his Nouveau Flamenco Band, is known throughout Europe for producing energetic melodies using a variety of different instruments. Their previous release, “El Dorado,” was the recipient of the Best World Album award by Zone Music Reporter for the year 2012. Helmed by classical guitarist Richard Hecks and co-written with pianist/organist Helmut Graebe, Luna Blanca has become one of the most popular World Music bands on the planet.

Their new album “Pirate’s Bay,” continues the band’s penchant for combining music and mystical storytelling. In fact, while listening to the music of “Pirate’s Bay,” one cannot help but visualize Captain Jack Sparrow and the “Pirates of the Caribbean,” especially with song titles such as “Fighting Jack” and “Black Pearl.” In addition to Hecks and Graebe, Luna Blanca includes Bino Dola on rhythm and lead guitar and Clemens Paskert on bass, percussion and keyboards. Guest artists on Pirate’s Bay include Uwe Gronau on organ on two tracks, Davina Carolin on piano on two tracks, and Gundy the singing mermaid on the only track that includes vocals. A few pieces include nature and other sounds to further illustrate the story.

Pirate’s Bay features carefully crafted melodies that most definitely have the ability to reach listeners of all ages through its energy and attention to detail. The music, put simply, overflows with joy, adventure, and a strong sense of fun.

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Midnight Rhumba – Johannes Linstead

From being named “Guitarist of the Year” in the prestigious Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards (2007), to four top-ten Billboard charting albums, Johannes Linstead (who also records under the name Sevaji) has become recognized internationally as one of the greatest guitarists and composers in the Instrumental and World Music genres. The Canadian based musician was also named “World Artist of the Year” in the T.O.M.A Awards (The Ontario Music Awards), and was the recipient of “Best World Album” and “Best Instrumental Album – Acoustic” in the Zone Music Reporter (ZMR) Awards. Further accolades two NAR Lifestyle Music Awards, a nomination for a Juno Award, and in 2010 Johannes signed an “Influential Artist” endorsement agreement with Yamaha Corporation of America, the largest musical instrument manufacturer in the world.

Midnight Rhumba is an exotic escape to the energizing sounds and sensual rhythms of Flamenco style acoustic guitar music. the gorgeous melodies and fiery rhythms, accompanied by a top band of international players on Gypsy violin, Afro-Cuban percussion, and joyful accordion, give the music a truly world-fusion sound.

This is warm and fiesta-flavored music. Listening to it is the next best thing to taking a trip to any of the Latin countries of the world – Spain (“Siempre – Now and Forever” and “El Lobo”), Italy (“L’Italiana”), France (“Balzac’s Brew”), South America (“Radio Argentina” and “Midnight Rhumba”) and The Caribbean (“Calypso Island” and “Bewitched”). The melodies are catchy and fun to listen to. Highly recommended.

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Wildflowers – Painted Raven

Painted Raven is a contemporary Native American and World Music trio led by Annette Abbondanza of Orlando FL, in collaboration with Marsha Harris of North Carolina, and Holly Harris of New Smyrna Beach, FL.

Wildflowers” is this trio’s first album release together, and Annette’s 5th album released as Painted Raven. All three of the artists come from different backgrounds and different musical styles, each bringing something a little different to add to the eclectic mix.

As colorful and attention getting as a breathtaking meadow of vibrant wildflowers, so is the music of “Wildflowers.” Featuring the Native American flute as the lead instrument artfully combined with Spanish and Western acoustic guitar, mountain dulcimer, keyboards, Native American and World drums and percussion, and other modern and ancient instruments, the music is vibrant, upbeat, cheerful, and lively. Unlike many other albums we have reviewed featuring the Native American flute, the music of “Wildflowers” is melodic and catchy, with a distinct complexity, sophistication, and variety that makes it not only easy listening, but leaves the listener definitely wanting to hear more of the from Painted Raven in the future.

Coming Soon: Our favorite recently released “Contemporary Instrumental: Piano” and “Contemporary Instrumental: Multi-Instrumental” albums.

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