Our Favorite Recently Released Contemporary Solo Instrumental Music Albums

October 23, 2014 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 third 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 July, August, or September 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 six 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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Sweet Awakenings – Terry Oldfield
It is indeed rare to find a musician who clearly composes and plays music from his heart. But Terry Oldfield, world acclaimed composer and flautist, is just such an artist. When listening to Terry’s music, one genuinely feels that they are in touch with the essence of his being–a kind, gentle, and peaceful soul with much love to share and with ill-will toward no one. With over 3 million record sales to date, that Terry has had such an effect on many, many people around the world is undeniable. That is precisely why we chose Terry as one of the five core contemporary instrumental musicians featured on GAIA Prime Radio.

With Sweet Awakenings, Terry gets back to his “roots,” so to speak. While many of his recent albums have been largely multi-instrumental and/or even vocal, this album features Terry’s world class flute front and center. With occasional soft piano and guitar in the background, the result is music that is innovative, sophisticated, complex, positive, emotional, sincere, tranquil, and memorable—truly exceptional music performed by a truly exceptional musician. In the artists own words…

“This album began for me with falling in love, again, with my silver flute – the same one that I began with all those years ago on the beautiful Island of Hydra in Greece. I felt like a big part of those ancient rocks; it was a magical time for me. The memories of learning to play this wonderful instrument in the pine forests above one of the most beautiful harbours in the world will forever be deeply engraved in my heart.

I remember the time when I played my silver flute standing on the Orator’s stone at the ancient theatre of Epidavros – I was just improvising in the moment and expressing what was passing through. Afterwards, a French tourist came up to me and asked me if I was playing Debussy. I laughed and told her I was just playing. Since then I have always created music like that – just playing what is passing through.

These pieces represent those precious moments when everything falls away and we find ourselves melting into the source of everything which is pure love. This is my offering to you in this timeless moment. May it bring you peace.”

The music on Sweet Awakenings will awaken you to a field of healing, relaxation, and inner peace-a realization that the shape of your journey is and ever shall be exactly as it should be. This album is in every way an outstanding work of art. Very highly recommended.

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Mystify – Armik

Armik was born in Iran of Armenian descent. When he was just seven years old, he pawned his watch for a classical guitar, which he hid and practiced in his basement. At 12, he was a professional recording artist. After launching his solo career in 1994, Armik has been recognized by Billboard Magazine as one of the Top Ten New Age Artists in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Armik discovered the beauty and passion of Flamenco guitar music while visiting Spain during the 1970s, when he saw the legendary Paco de Lucia perform. Driven by a fire for the tradition that has defined his musical life ever since, the young musician immediately switched from Jazz guitar for an in-depth journey to the heart of Spanish music. In 1981 Armik moved to Los Angeles to pursue this new direction, playing with other artists live and in the studio.

On Mystify, which is his 29th album, and arguably his best to date, his musical poetry soars with beauty, integrity, ingenuity, energy, passion, versatility, and character. On at least a few of the tracks, one is reminded of the music of Mehdi–another Iranian born superstar of the contemporary instrumental music genre.

And it is a rare–but certainly not unwelcome experience–to find an album where it is truly difficult to decide which track is the best. That is definitely the case with Mystify. All of the songs are truly outstanding. It is the kind of impressive recording that you’ll be glad you listened to from start to finish.

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The Power of Creation – Behzad Aghabeigi

Another outstanding album from Behzad Aghabeigi, an Iranian born Nuevo Flamenco guitarist who began playing guitar at the age of thirteen. After moving to London in 1990, Behzad completed his studies in Advanced Information Technology, while also composing and performing his own music. After graduation, he decided to devote all of his time to his music. Performances with groups around the world such as Fantasia or Futuro Flamenco gave him the opportunity to showcase his immeasurable talent abroad.

The Power of Creation, his fourth album, features a captivating collection of beautiful, sophisticated, and energetic Flamenco guitar works arranged with full band accompaniment. The music is inspired, innovative, and well produced. The lead instrument played by Behzad is a Flamenco style guitar hand made by Hamid Karimi, a master guitar maker. The entire album is dedicated to “the greatest spiritual teacher of mankind — Mr. Billy Eduard Albert Meier who has brought the highest knowledge and wisdom for mankind in order to bring peace and love on earth.”

Outstanding music that will lift your spirits and enrich your day. We highly recommend this album.

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Tales From The Wine Dark Sea – Tom Caufield

‘Tales from the Wine Dark Sea’ is Tom Caufield’s fourth collection of contemplative, rural acoustic guitar style pieces, and his first on steel string guitar. Expressing both the everyday and the transcendent, this relaxing yet engaging collection is his best yet. He masterfully blends ambient soundscapes and Irish and Turkish traditional ballads into a cohesive themed and truly outstanding and engaging largely solo guitar album. Unlike many solo guitar (and sometimes piano) albums, where the listener can easily lose interest after a few tracks, this album overcomes that hurdle with unique styling, strong composition, and distinctive melodies. While a few tracks feature light background accompaniment from other instruments, Tom artfully uses layered guitar tracks on several of the songs to add depth, complexity, and style.

The title of this album is based on the several references to a “wine dark sea” in Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey, the meaning of which Classical scholars have been debating about for years. It seems to suggest that at least in some areas, the sea in question–the Aegean–appeared to Greek and Turkish sailors as dark red to black in color, perhaps the result of volcanic dust in the atmosphere, weather conditions, or even the time of day. The real meaning remains unclear. In any event, for sailors of this time, any sea was a foreboding place fraught with danger and mystery. In “Tales from the Wine Dark Sea,” Tom Caufield does an exceptional job of setting for the listener a similar acoustic landscape.

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Experiences – Ryan Michael Richards

A very strong first full-length recording by guitarist Ryan Michael Richards. This album was produced by the legendary Will Ackerman (founder of Windham Hill Records and a world-class guitarist himself) at his Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont. The music on Experiences is innovative, diverse, sophisticated, sincere, lively, optimistic, and joyful, and of course, well-produced.

Michael Diamond notes that “Ryan exhibits, not only a well developed and diverse playing style, but he has a fine sense of composition and arrangement that includes knowing when “not” to play, leaving space for the song to breathe. The range of emotions his music evokes is also quite exceptional…”

To quote Ackerman, “Ryan Michael Richards is a guitarist whose heart is in every note. He seems incapable of anything that isn’t true to him. This brilliant artistic honesty is the hallmark of what he has created in ‘Experiences’.”

The artistry of this album is exceptional and we recommend it highly.

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Ayahuasca Dreams – Ciro Hurtado

Ayahuasca Dreams is the latest exceptional work from Peruvian Latin acoustic guitarist Ciro Hurtado. On this recording he also shows that he is an outstanding composer, artistic arranger, and proficient producer. Backed up by acoustic drums, wood flutes, piano, organ, violins, and santoor, Ciro’s Latin nylon-stringed acoustic guitar, and occasional steel-stringed acoustic guitar and electric guitar, create memorable and intriguing melodies. Most of the tracks are purely instrumental, but on a few the magnificent voice of Cindy Harding, Ciro’s wife, takes center stage.

Overall the album has a gentle Latin sound, mostly mid-tempo and acoustic.

Inspiration for the music on this album comes from various sources. In the author’s own words:

“I grew up in the Peruvian rainforest, in my mother’s home town, Moyobamba. There was only one doctor in the whole town and therefore most people relied on natural medicines to cure their ailments. For more serious problems there were the curanderos or shamans. If you suffered from mal de ojo, melancholia, or were just going through a bad period in your life, you would turn to the magic of Ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca is a part of the mystery of the Peruvian rainforest, indigenous to its landscapes, traditions, stories and its peoples. It is a hallucinogenic vine that has been used for thousands of years within the indigenous communities of the South American rainforests in rituals and as a powerful medicine. It presents you with visions and possibilities. More recently it has been used to treat addiction, anxiety and depression. I participated in an Ayahuasca ceremony almost 30 years ago and I credit it in part to helping open up a creative path, transcendent in my development as a musician.”

One of the songs, “Silencio,” is offered as a tribute to all the families who lost loved ones in the World Trade Center attack on 9/11. “Too Young too Soon” and “Physician Poet” are a tribute to the prominent Public Health physician Antoinette Yancey, who lost her life to cancer at an early age. Toni, as she was known to her friends, wrote poetry in her spare time and Ciro’s guitar often accompanied her stanzas. Toni was an advocate for exercise, as a way to stimulate the mind as well as the body.

With Ayahuasca Dreams, Ciro creates a musical journey that can make life less burdensome and more relaxing, as we wash away sorrow and pain, with soothing tunes and comforting lyrics. This music will simply make you feel good.

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

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