Our Favorite Recently Released Contemporary Multi-Instrumental Music Albums

December 10, 2014 by Admin

Below we present a list (not in any particular order) of our favorite Contemporary Multi-Instrumental Music 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 primarily multi-instrumental music, 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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Medicine Woman 5: Transformation – Medwyn Goodall

“Medicine Woman 5: Transformation” is the latest in the Medicine Woman album series from composer and musician Medwyn Goodall. Born in Yorkshire, England, and most recently residing in Cornwall, Medwyn began composing original songs as a teen, earning local notoriety with his band Trax. In the years to follow, he learned to play a vast range of instruments, including mandolin, piano, drums, harp, flute, glockenspiel, panpipes, vibraphone and synthesizer, and cut his first album in 1987 at age 26. Since then, he has recorded over 75 albums, sold over three million records, and topped the UK music charts twice.

Some of Medwyn’s recent releases have been under the alias Midori. He explains that he chose this alias so he “could record projects that were more ethnic, eastern, or produced for the healing arts” without confusing fans of his other music.

Inspired by elements of Mayan culture and the indescribable beauty of the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, the music on “Medicine Woman 5” can best be described as melodic, relaxing, inspiring, and at times astonishingly beautiful. Light and emotional acoustic and electric guitar expressions are interwoven with soulful panpipes and stirring Bamboo flutes; all on an ambient foundation of natural rainforest soundscapes. The result is music that evokes visions of penetrating light filtering through lush green trees and ancient ruins, transporting mind and soul, though healing energy and deeply relaxing moods.

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The Healing Muse – Ron Clearfield

An accomplished cellist, composer and conductor, Ron Clearfield graduated Summa Cum Laude with Bachelors and Masters degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music studying with Brazilian cellist Aldo Parisot and string pedagogues Joseph Silverstein and Leon Barzan. he also attended the Berkshire Music Festival (Tanglewood) as a fellowship student for two consecutive summers. Ron comes from a lineage of gifted musicians. His father was a professional clarinetist who performed with major orchestras through out the United States and Ron’s grandfather, originally from Russia, was a fine pianist and teacher. Ron performs on a beautifully restored cello made in 1696.

As a cellist, Ron Clearfield was previously a member of the Indianapolis Symphony, the Miami Philharmonic and the Miami Opera Orchestra. He has performed with such pop notables as George Benson, Judy Collins, Linda Ronstadt and Dionne Warwick as well as with classical luminaries Leonard Bernstein, Erich Leinsdorf, Aaron Copland and Seiji Ozawa. Ron was featured on national TV as solo cellist for the A&E Judy Collins Christmas Special at the Biltmore Estate. Just recently, Ron recorded on the Grammy Award nominated CD Rare Bird Alert with Steve Martin and Paul McCartney.

As a composer, he has previously released three critically acclaimed recordings: “Dream Manifestation,” “Time on Earth,” and “Music in the Silence.” He has scored for numerous television and film projects including: Homeward Journey, which aired on PBS and the film Opening Doors Within, awarded first prize at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival.

As a conductor, Ron Clearfield has served as Associate Conductor with the Miami Beach Sinfonia from 1980-1988. He was also the founder and Music Director of the Blue Ridge Orchestra from 1999-2011, and has conducted the Asheville Youth Orchestra since 1994. In 2011 he started the Appalachian Festival Orchestra, an orchestra dedicated to performances for humanitarian benefits and causes.

Clearfield’s music has been acclaimed by physicians, therapists and body workers as an amazing tool for relaxation, therapy and healing. In fact, the cello has been studied sonically and shown to have the closest wave pattern to the human voice. Ron has observed first hand that this quality can have profound healing abilities. In the liner notes of “The Healing Muse,” He describes two particularly poignant and powerful examples of how his music calmed a young boy with severe ADHD who felt like his head was on fire and how playing for a comatose friend who had been in a horrendous car wreck and was unresponsive for weeks responded to Clearfield’s music after only a few minutes and began the long journey to recovery.

On “The Healing Muse,” Ron is joined by a cast of gifted musicians in an inspiring hour-long compilation of the most relaxing, meditative and healing selections from his three previous albums “Dream Manifestation,” “Time on Earth,” and “Music in the Silence.” Guest artists appear on bamboo flute, zither, silver flute, harp, keyboards, guitar, percussion, English horn, violins, and viola. This album beautifully incorporates all the elements we look for in the music we choose to play on GAIA Prime Radio. With the warmth of Ron’s cello taking the lead, the music is innovative, complex, melodic, sophisticated, memorable, peaceful, deeply emotional, soothing, and mostly “simply beautiful.” Very highly recommended.

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Winds of Samsara – Ricky Kej and Wouter Kellerman

Recently nominated for a Grammy Award (New Age Album of The Year), “Winds of Samsara” started off as a simple tribute to the respective “Fathers of their Nations,” Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela (India and South Africa). However it eventually blossomed into an epic album involving more than 120 spirited musicians from 5 separate continents and took over two years to write and record.

The dream of Wouter Kellerman (south African flutist) and Ricky Kej (composer from India), this album draws from many disparate cultures and speaks to themes of peace and positivity. The music is wistful, sincere, full of symbolism, and swells and ebbs with multiple layers of complex rhythms and harmony. In fact, everything about this album is outstanding–beautiful cover artwork, outstanding compositions, exceptional production. and mesmerizing performances.

Notable artists supporting Kej and Kellerman on “The Winds of Samsara” include Guitarist Paul Carlos (Crystal Moon), Ciro Hurtado, Vanil Veigas, (Mahatma), Tholsi Pillay (New Earth Calling), Michael Gallant, (Journey To Higher Ground), Lamine Sonko, Susan Mouton, (Madiba), Prakash Sontakke, (Longing), Chaitra HG and Gayathri Suresh, Mauritz Lotz, (River of Time), Fiona Joy, (Grace), Michael Lewin, Seattle Pro Musica Choir, Devan Ekambaram and Dave Gross (Nocturne)

Recalling Gandhi’s mantra “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony,” Winds of Samsara truly puts happiness within your grasp.

UPDATE February 10, 2015: Winds of Samsara has won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best New Age Album.

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Voices From Heaven, Vol. II – Tron Syversen & Runar Halonen

Tron Syversen, who began taking piano lessons at the age of 7, is from Norway and often records his music at his cabin close to the sea near Oslo, or at a monastery in Italy close to Assisi. He has become a pioneer in the growing European relaxation music community. Blending his improvisational skills as a jazz pianist, his deep roots in the melodic folk music of Norway, and his subtle intuitive perceptions developed from his meditation practice, Tron has distilled a unique form of music that is both evocative and healing. His soothing and relaxing compositions have therefore become a favorite among the new age audiences and holistic therapists all over the world.

Voices From Heaven, Vol. 2, as was the case with Vol. 1, is composed and performed with Runar Halonen, an authorized Nordic spiritual healer, and features the angelic voices of Tron’s musical soulmate, Helene Edler Lorentzen, and others. It’s goal is to take you on a deep journey within yourself.

With Tron’s expressive and reflective piano as the primary voice, varied instrumental accompaniment, and the ethereal vocals, the music on this album is certainly spiritually soothing and calming. And each of the three tracks on the album is nearly twenty minutes in length, so if you prefer uninterrupted extended play background music for work, meditation, relaxation, massage, yoga, or some other activity, you will definitely enjoy this album.

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Music That Matters: Relaxing Music Benefiting Lovelight, Helping South African Children In Need – Various Artists

How this album came to be is quite an interesting story. “Music That Matters” is produced by NewVision Music, a music production and promotion company based in Austin, Texas. The organization is headed by Kevin Wood, a 10-year radio and retail promoter in the music industry, as well as a New Age music recording artist. He and his wife Jennifer were inspired by the philanthropic works of Martin and Kelly Dowman from Austin. The Dowman’s had for several years been pursuing the betterment of impoverished communities in the country of South Africa by joining the forces of LoveLight, a non-profit program serving the kids in that country. The core mission and vision of LoveLight is to help these communities rise above the circumstances of pandemics like HIV/AIDs, hunger and poverty in the post apartheid era. Lovelight funds programs and provides volunteers to give these kids hope and a brighter future.

For Kevin an Jennifer, “The Music That Matters” compilation was seen as a beautiful and inspiring way to bring together talented artists with extraordinary music to support the LoveLight cause.

The album features the music of 36 cutting edge, established, and award winning artists, including 9 Grammy nominees, drawn from the “new age,” “meditative,” “world fusion,” and “relaxing music” genres. Moreover, all of the artists donated their musical participation without any expectation of remuneration. A small sampling of those notable participants include: Fiona Joy, David Arkenstone, Stephen Peppos, David Lanz, Chris Spheeris, Eric Tingstad & Nancy Rumbel, Karunesh, Paul Avgerinos, Phil Coulter, Ashana, Michael Hoppé & Martin Tillman, Diane Arkenstone, Medwyn Goodall, and many others.

The quality of the music on this album simply outstanding, and it is indeed unprecedented to have so many of these fine musicians on one compilation. “Music That Matters” is a wonderful way to become familiar with a wide variety of new music created by star caliber artists who care enough to donate their work freely in service to others. Not since “We Are The World” nearly thirty years ago has such a distinguished group of socially conscious musicians come together to lend a helping hand to those in need.

This stupendous collection of three-dozen songs, which has been called the finest compilation of New Age music in many years, is only $9.98 as a download. Please consider donating to LoveLight and supporting the great work they do by purchasing this album. We give the music our highest possible recommendation.

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The Gathering II – Various Artists

“The Gathering II is a compilation of musical selections from artists who have recently recorded albums at Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont. Co-produced by Ackerman and Tom Eaton, “The Gathering II” is a follow-up album to the outstanding and highly successful (Zone Music Reporter’s Album of The Year) “The Gathering” from 2012. This latest album features twenty-one different artists performing one track each. Most are solo instrumentals (piano, guitar) while others feature instrumental and vocal (wordless) support.

The pianists include Jim Gabriel, Dave Kydd, Laura Sullivan (from her Grammy-winning Love’s River), Kathryn Kaye, Louis Colaiannia, Masako, Denise Young, Rebecca Harrold, Heidi Breyer, Dominic Silla, Stanton Lanier, Fiona Joy, Ann Sweeten, Vicente Avella, Isadar, and Lynn Yew Evers. The guitarists are Lawrence Blatt, Matteo Palmer, Shambhu, Ryan Michael Richards, and Vin Downes – some of the best acoustic instrumental musicians composing and recording today.

Supporting artists include Imaginary Road studio luminaries such as Eugene Friesen, Charlie Bisharat, Noah Wilding, Jill Haley, Jeff Oster, and Ackerman himself.

For those who are new to the appreciation of high quality solo instrumental music, this album is an excellent place to start. For those not new to this genre, this album should definitely take an honored place in your collection. Very highly recommended.

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Native Chill: Spirits Calling – David Arkenstone

With three GRAMMY nominations, twenty Billboard hits, and millions of fans worldwide, David Arkenstone has established himself as one of the best contemporary instrumental musicians of our time. David has recorded over thirty albums, toured extensively including performances at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and the Hollywood Bowl, scored dozens of films and documentaries, and composed music for the Olympics that is used to this day. NBC Producer David Michaels, who makes frequent use of David s music, says, ‘David writes with fire, passion and emotion, all at once simple and complex. He’s an artist capable of constant inspiration.’ That is why we have made him one the featured artists on GAIA Prime Radio.

“Native Chill: Spirits Calling” combines Native American musical elements with a somewhat down-tempo chill-out sound. As we have come to expect from David, the music on this album is innovative, complex, sophisticated, and well crafted; deftly blending intersecting layers of Native American flute, various types of percussion, light electronics, traditional Native American chants, and other subtle instrumentation. If you are need of a laid back, relaxing sound, to put off stress or unwind from a hectic day, this album will fit the bill.

Coming Soon: Our favorite albums released in the fourth quarter of 2014.

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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