Review of “Trialogue” by Sherry Finzer, Darin Mahoney, and Will Clipman

June 29, 2016 by Admin

imageA “trialogue” – as opposed to a “monologue” (a voice of one) or a “dialogue” (two voices) — is a conversation between three “voices” – with the goal of reaching “common ground.” It is the essence of a “group” in which individuals thrive because of their collective efforts. However, the collaboration will only be successful if it is characterized by openness, honesty, and a genuine commitment to work toward their common objectives.

Along these lines, the recently released album “Trialogue” reflects an open, honest, and sincere commitment to a sharing of musical ideas, insights, and emotions between three extremely gifted and highly accomplished contemporary instrumental “voices”: Sherry Finzer, Darin Mahoney, and Will Clipman. What emerges from their collective efforts is an album of wonderfully creative, superbly crafted, amazingly complex, highly sophisticated, and even sometimes “exquisitely beautiful” music that wonderfully demonstrates that the “whole” can certainly be “greater than the sum of its parts.”

Sherry Finzer. Over the past thirty or so years, Sherry Finzer has evolved from a classical, and international award winning flutist, into a very successful composer, performer, and promoter of exceptional and highly acclaimed albums of contemporary instrumental and New Age music.

She has mostly performed as a soloist; but also more recently with guitarist Darin Mahoney, Native American flutist Mark Holland, Australian pianist Fiona Joy, Windham Hill pianist Scott Cossu, and other local, national and international musicians. image

As a classical performer, Sherry was a member of the Brockport (New York) Symphony Orchestra from 1986-1988, and of the Greece (New York) Symphony Orchestra from 2003-2004. Between 2000-2005, she also provided musical accompaniment for a number of choirs, orchestras and ensembles, including the Silver Tones Flute Choir, NRG! Flute Duo, the Caprice flute trio, the Trillium Ensemble, Canatabile Flute Quartet, CAFE, and the Arizona Flute Society Alle Breve choir. Sherry is also a performing member of the National Flute Association.

In 2006, Sherry teamed up with acoustic and electric guitarist Ric Flauding to release her debut album “Desert Journey,” a collection of New Age and World music instrumentals arranged for flute and guitar.

The first of her “Sanctuary” albums followed in 2009, and in the same year she and harpist VeeRonna Ragone formed Dulce VAS, releasing a jazz fusion, latin flair Christmas album of traditional holiday songs performed as mambos, sambas and rhumbas entitled “Christmas Picante.”

In 2010, Sherry released “Masquerade” and “Radiant Sky,” the latter being a second album with Flauding and a host of other musicians, including fellow flutist Tina Beaton, percussionist Freddie Colon, and guitarists Will Chapin, Pedro Perez and Evan Drummond.

In 2011, she released the second installment in her “Sanctuary” trilogy, “Sanctuary II: Earth.” It is a relaxation/meditation album of six extended tracks, each performed utilizing an alto flute, and designed around expressionist themes of wood, water and air.

Once she had found a unique voice and interest in the sub-genre of “healing music”, Sherry then collaborated with guitarist Darin Mahoney in 2013 for the release of “Transformation,” an album the two artists composed to foster an emotional experience for those faced with life threatening illnesses – most specifically cancer, of which Mahoney is a survivor. The album won One World Music UK’s Album of the Year award in 2013.

The following year, Sherry released “Sanctuary III: Beyond the Dream,” an album which received widespread acclaim and award nominations – most notably on the long running NPR show Echoes. The album’s closing track “Song For Rex” received particular attention, was composed for her grandson who has Down’s Syndrome. In fact, hundreds of children with DS submitted their photos for use in the song’s promotional video.

Then, in 2015, Sherry collaborated with Native American Flutist Mark Holland on “Flute Flight”, an album of ambient and atmospheric music performed on several concert flutes (C flute, alto flute and bass flute), as well as featuring the sounds of Native American flutes. Earlier this year, “Flute Flight” received the ZMR (Zone Music Reporter) Award for the best Relaxation/Meditation Album of 2015.

Sherry also regularly performs as a duo with bassist Cass Anawaty as the group Majestica, recently releasing a new album titled “In The Midst of Stars” on June 17, 2016.

RJ Lannan of Zone Music Reporter, has described Sherry’s compositions as “deeply haunting…calms and yet piques the senses,” and compared some of her more thematic works to “a rush of water in a desert gorge.” He also likened the the music to “comets and asteroids zooming through space…with the music becoming a springboard for…playful fantasies.” Echoes Radio host and contemporary instrumental music critic John Diliberto has referred to Sherry’s sound as “winged chamber music that entrances the ear, elevates the spirit and enlivens the mind.”

In 2006, Sherry founded Heart Dance Records (her current recording label), and is also the owner of RS Promotions, a music promotion company. The Heart Dance Records label continues to expand its roster, having grown from representing only six artists in its inception in 2006, to now overseeing the output of over 20 new age, acoustic and meditative music performers, including former Windham Hill artist Scott Cossu.

Sherry is also a regular host of the One World Music Radio program, “Crossing Boundaries”.

Darin Mahoney. Darin Mahoney typically blends his country and bluegrass styles into gentle contemporary instrumental melodies. His musical journey began when he was diagnosed with cancer in the prime of life. He says: “It was then that my life started and ended, all at the same time. Music played an important role in my healing. It takes you to places of healing only reachable with emotion and imagination. Artists like Will Ackerman, Michael Hedges, and Alex deGrazzi, just to name a few, were an integral part of my therapies, as important as the chemotherapy prescribed.”

imageDarin’s first album, released in 2008, was titled “In the Grain”. It was written to document his experience with sickness and healing. His song “Confused,” from that album was included in the documentary Absent. Also in 2008, at the University of Phoenix stadium, Darin opened for the ‘Pirates & Poets’ tour featuring Kenny Chesney, Sammy Hagar, Keith Urban, & Gary Allan.

In 2013, Darin released the collaboration album with flutist Sherry Finzer, called “Transformation,” which, as noted earlier, won Album of the Year award from One World Music in the UK.

Grammy Award winning guitarist and Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman has written of Darin’s music: “Darin’s stock in trade is melody. The forms are traditional and familiar, but the melodies, heartfelt without exception, are all Darin’s. The overall impression is of being in place you know well and love deeply, but being suddenly amazed one afternoon that the view is so spectacular.”

Darin is also an accomplished luthier and on “Trialogue” performs on two different self-built guitars one made of koa wood and another made of cedar.

Will Clipman. Will Clipman received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Syracuse University, and a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Arizona. He began playing his father’s drums and his mother’s piano at the age of three. At the age of fourteen, he played his first professional gig, and has since then mastered a pan-global palette of over one hundred percussion instruments — in addition to the traditional drumset.

Will has received seven Grammy nominations, including one for Best New Age Album for his solo world music album “Pathfinder.” image

He is also a three-time Native American Music Award Winner, a Canadian Aboriginal Music Award Winner, a New Age Reporter Music Award Winner, a two-time TAMMIE Award Winner, and has been inducted into the Tucson Musicians Museum.

Will has recorded over sixty albums, including over thirty for Canyon Records, where he is regarded as the house percussionist. In addition to his solo work, Will has performed and recorded with R. Carlos Nakai and William Eaton, among many other internationally-acclaimed artists and ensembles, and has toured throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Germany, Morocco and Russia.

His solo Planet of Percussion® performance and workshop takes audiences of all ages on a world tour of rhythm and polyrhythm.

An accomplished poet since the age of six, Will has also published a book of his original poetry entitled Dog Light (Wesleyan University Press) and his work has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. His writing has been honored with the Whiffen Poetry Prize, the Academy of American Poets Margaret Sterling Award, the Tucson/Pima Arts Council Poetry Fellowship, and the Arizona Commission on the Arts Award of Merit for Poetry. His poem The Quiet Power is the official Dedicatory Poem of the Tucson Main Library.

Will is also a successful mask maker and storyteller. His Myths & Masks® performance and workshop combines his original mask art, mythopoetic storytelling, and multicultural world music, and is now available as a DVD.

Will has provided over two hundred workshops, lecture-demonstrations, master classes, full-length artist-in-residencies, and self-realization events to elementary, middle, and high schools, colleges and universities, art galleries, libraries, adult prisons, juvenile detention facilities, senior centers, hospitals, parks and recreation programs, retreat centers, spas and resorts. His service to the community as an arts educator has been honored with the Arizona Commission on the Arts Decade of Distinguished Service Award and two Governor’s Arts Award Nominations.

The Trialogue. On “Trialogue,” the musical conversation between these three outstanding artists creates a unique and profound “synergy” — a blending of classical elements with flashes of Americana, hints of Jazz, Native American elements, and touches of World music — yielding a unique sound that ranges from airy and exotic, to soothing, ambient, and atmospheric, to uplifting, energetic, pulsating, and at times even quite powerful.

The “Trialogue” begins, appropriately, with a track that was created by the three musicians based on an improvisation. On this track in particular, which is one of our favorites, the listener truly gets a sense that one is privy to a lively, creative, and engaging exchange of ideas in a three way musical chat.

“Cote d’Ivoire”, which refers to the country in West Africa (Ivory Coast), begins with light acoustic guitar as the primary voice, very quickly joined by pulsating tribal infused percussion, and then eventually by Sherry’s flutes – first a bass flute and later a C flute — providing an exceptional contrasting voice to the strummed guitar and percussion driven vibe. The result is an energetic, uptempo, bouncy, and a bit jazzy track with steady movement, powerful energy, and a particularly clever ending.

This is followed by “Mending Fences,” also one of our favorites. This especially outstanding track is a much more complex and more evolved “musical conversation” than the first track. It is also led off by Darin’s exquisite guitar contribution, but this time with more of a “finger-style,” and is more moderately paced, more melodic at times, and with creative, soaring, and at times simply beautiful flute contributions from Sherry. The droning bass guitar accents at key transitions also add to the overall sense that this track has been very carefully crafted.

imageThe most distinctive, exotic and collaborative track on the album is certainly “Midnight in Marrakech.” Apparently, it was inspired by a visit Will Clipman made to the grand souk, or central marketplace, in Marrakech, Morocco. Then, when Darin and Sherry got a sense of where Will’s voice was headed, they had no problem joining in the conversation. This fast moving track begins with and is led by Will’s steady percussion speaking in a decidedly ethnic tone, later joined by Darin’s strummed acoustic guitar, and then eventually by Sherry’s mystical and exquisite bass and C flute elements, and some especially innovative accents. Overall, the track has a definite “World music” and native dance rhythm feel — and it really cooks! One can easily envision a parade of camels, a few carrying parched riders, traversing some lonely desert beneath midnight skies.

“Confused,” which is the longest track on “Trialogue,” is slower, more down tempo, and with Sherry’s enchanting flute as the lead voice — later joined by Darin’s magnificent acoustic guitar, and light percussion from Will. Originally from Sherry and Darin’s album “Transformation,” the track has a much more contemplative, emotional, ambient, and melancholy feel. The ending of this track is particularly clever — kind of a “final say” from the three voices.

“Alger St.,” which also comes originally from “Transformation,” has a similar peaceful, ambient, and down tempo sound. With beautifully rendered acoustic guitar as the lead voice, it provides some powerful and quite creative guitar phrases, joined by occasional light slide guitar elements, and a nice flute counterpoint. Relax and enjoy!

By far our most favorite track on this album is “Dark Horse.” In fact, this uptempo, fast moving, and exceptionally well developed track may be one of the best songs on any album we have heard so far in 2016. The magnificent and gentle guitar opening gives way to an absolutely stunning flute contribution from Sherry. Wow! It also features a steady and perhaps lightly Native American inspired rhythm, outstanding complexity and sophistication, and innovative and powerful transitions. The result is a track where all three of these supremely talented voices have their say in superb fashion.

“Top Down” and “Woodland Lake” are similar in that they both are lighter, livelier and more carefree, and with a distinctive Americana feel. “Top Down,” in particular, which may refer to “driving on a sunny, summer day with the top down” is highly energetic, fast moving, and electric guitar driven, with occasional bass guitar elements, and steady percussion as a foundation. It also features a strong melody, a slight hint of “rockabilly” and an exceptional interweaving of the various components, especially Sherry’s soaring flute contributions. It is also one of our particular favorites.

Along similar lines, “Woodland Lake” features unabashedly “country music” inspired finger style guitar in the lead, a clear, steady country style percussion, and only light flute elements that carry a distinctive and “sweet” melody. In fact, while listening to this track, one can easily envision a group of country “line dancers” sashaying “to” and “fro.” Also, the ending of this track can best be described as “silky smooth.”

“Thanks For Asking” also one of our favorites, features a strong acoustic guitar/light percussion driven opening, slowly joined by Sherry’s mysterious, haunting, and slightly melodic flute. A bit slower and more contemplative initially, the track picks up speed at times, only to then return to a lighter, emotional, sensual, and airy feel.

The final track on “Trialogue” is titled “Wolf Haven,” and along with “Dark Horse,” it is one of the strongest tracks on the album. It was originally composed and recorded by Scott Cossu. In fact, this is the only track on “Trialogue” that was not composed by one of the featured trio. It is a slower, more down tempo, enchanting, emotional, contemplative, simply beautiful, and masterfully arranged rendition of Cossu’s song. With Sherry’s flute as the lead voice, and with light acoustic guitar accompaniment, and minimal percussion, it is a complex, sophisticated, memorable, and powerful ending to this spectacular “musical conversation.”

In summary, “Trialogue” is a dynamic, creative, energetic, spirited, and masterful blending of exceptional instrumental voices and musical styles into a first rate and spectacularly entertaining collaborative performance. We very highly recommend this album.

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