Heart to Hands
2012 / Autumn Music Productions
Heart to Hands is a ten-year retrospective of Philip Wesley’s solo piano music from his first five albums and spanning the years 2002-2012. Ten years in anyone’s life includes a lot of changes - ups, downs, joys, sorrows, love, loss, heartbreak, redemption, etc. - and this album is reflective of those changes in Philip Wesley’s life. Wesley’s music has become very popular over the past ten years and I think that is primarily because he expresses himself at the piano in such a way that people can take his music to heart and relate it to their own lives.
Rather than simply re-using the twelve songs from the original recordings, Wesley re-recorded them at Joe Bongiorno’s Piano Haven Studio and gave them all a fresh take. Music has a tendency to evolve right along with the composers, so this recording reflects how Wesley plays these pieces now. Recording all of the music on the same piano gives it a consistent sound from track to track, which in this case is warm and very clear without being overly bright - a very beautiful and natural piano sound.
Even if you have all of Philip Wesley’s previous recordings, Heart to Hands is a must for your collection. If you are new to his music, this is a great place to start! It is available from www.philipwesley.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
Philip Wesley: Reviews
Hope EnduresPhilip Wesley2012 / Autumn Music Productions50.1 minutesHope Endures is pianist/composer Philip Wesley’s fifth solo piano album to date. Picking up where Dark Night of the Soul (2008) left off, the twelve tracks include seven original compositions and five original arrangements of traditional hymns. Recorded at Joe Bongiorno’s Piano Haven Studio, the piano sound is pristine, clear, and warm. As the title indicates, Hope Endures carries feelings of optimism, inner strength and peace. Wesley’s music has always shown influences from David Lanz, and I also hear hints of David Nevue in some of these pieces, but Wesley’s own maturing style is beautiful and often soul-stirring! Hope Endures was born out of a personal crisis in 2006 when Wesley’s life felt very bleak. At the end of his rope, Wesley prayed to God to take control of his life, and was eventually able to turn things around. This music is the result of that journey and its healing process.Hope Endures begins with “The Unknown,” a dark piece that conveys feelings of anxiety and agitation. While this piece doesn’t have a distinct melody, the flowing broken chords are expressive and poignant. “Leaving the Darkness Behind” elevates the mood, although there is still a bit of an edge to it. Flowing and impassioned, it takes us on quite an emotional journey of ups and downs, but never drifting into hopelessness. Wesley’s arrangement of “Amazing Grace” is quiet and introspective, perhaps a prayer of gratitude. “Second Chances” is a swirling dance for joy. Energized and unburdened, it’s a musical declaration that everything is going to be fine, that the worst is over. “What a Friend” is Wesley’s arrangement of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” a hymn I learned as a child and still love. With a flowing left hand accompanying the familiar melody, Wesley has brought this gem up-to-date while respecting its long history. “New Beginnings” is as fresh as a spring morning. Its energy and joyful melody create a musical celebration. The title track is one of Wesley’s most beautiful and poignant pieces to date. Gentle yet deeply heartfelt, it could easily become his new signature piece. “In Reverence” is a humble and soft-spoken prayer - quiet and reflective. The final track is a lovely arrangement of “America the Beautiful.” Emphasizing the beauty of the melody and the meaning of the song, it’s a wonderful closing that leaves you feeling good!I think Hope Endures is my favorite of Philip Wesley’s albums so far. It is available from www.philipwesley.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!Kathy Parsons4/11/12
2012/Autumn Music Productions
Reviewed by Michael Debbage
Four years have passed since Philip Wesley released his most ambitious project to date courtesy of the moody and more introspective Dark Night of the Soul. While his prior recording was written during a dark time in his life, Hope Endures from the artwork to the music reflects a more optimistic recording. Stylistically, it also reflects an artist that is increasingly discovering his own musical voice.
Hope Endures essentially picks up where Dark Night of the Soul left off opening with two rather stark songs courtesy of “The Unknown” and “Leaving the Darkness”. “Leaving The Darkness” is not quite as bleak but still conflicted as it is countered back and forth with buoyant passages. Wesley then shifts gears finding hope by loosely borrowing from the hymn of all ages “Amazing Grace”, though adding his own unique arrangement to the classic. Similar themes occur on “What A Friend” which generously borrows from the hymn “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” and “Come Thou Fount” where Wesley places his own musical DNA on the classics.
Otherwise, the majority of the tracks are self composed and bring a sense of energy and vibrancy as reflected on “New Beginnings” and to a lesser extent “Second Chances”. Then there is the simply gorgeous spacious title track that is understated yet thoroughly moving. This may be one of Wesley’s most precious compositions that also reflect the gifts and skills of his recording engineer and fellow musician Joe Bongiorno. She is a beauty!
If one were to include his holiday recording Comfort & Joy, Hope Endures represents Wesley’s fifth recording to date and arguably also his best. It also reflects an artist that has not only made a personal transition from darkness to hope but one whom is finding more and more his own musical voice.
Dark Night Of The Soul Philip Wesley 2008/ Autumn Music 70:22 Reviewed by Michael Debbage Back in 2002 Philip Wesley released his very impressive debut "Finding Solace" and has since recorded two other fine albums to add to an already impressive discography. His fourth release "Dark Night Of The Soul" only adds credence to his recording portfolio. Replacing his lighthearted melodies with more complex arrangements, they require a little more patience and endurance before the melodies find a place in your heart. Keeping the theme in mind, “Lamentations Of The Heart” originally heard on Wesley’s debut album finds a repeat visit on "Dark Night Of The Soul." Otherwise the album has a total of eleven new recorded songs composed, arranged and performed by Wesley. However, Wesley uses the engineering services of Michael Dulin, well known for his own excellent sound recordings and it pays significant dividends smoothing out the sound of Wesley’s performances. Otherwise, the album is pure piano performances of Wesley who delivers immediately with the demanding “Tears Of The East”. Combining Middle Eastern themes interlinked with a sweet chorus the composition has several movements creating a very progressive feel to the composition. The challenging themes continue with the very fast pace of “Racing Against The Sunset” that demands perfect execution. Needless to say Wesley is in top of his game and delivers like we have never heard before. Wisely, Wesley slows down the pace with the somber reflections of “The Approaching Night” that clocks in close to seven minutes. In fact, eight of the twelve tracks are given over five minutes to flower and breathe, the longest being “Far And Away” which is designated over nine minutes of playing time. Much like the title track it takes a while to get to the chorus but the build up is worth its weight in gold. In the past, comparisons with David Lanz have been unavoidable, but it here that we see Wesley borrowing more from the great improviser Michael Jones. However, he teases us with just enough structure to keep the performance warm. Speaking of warmth, Wesley winds down the album with the instant gratification of the shorter and hopeful “New Day” then brings the album to conclusion with the sparse yet poignant “Two Souls”. Wesley quotes from the Scriptures on more than one occasion in his liner notes. Following this trend, Isaiah 40:26 states to “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these”? The darkest of nights always increases the odds of us seeing and being reminded of God’s handiwork. Much like the more somber tone of "Dark Night Of The Soul," Wesley’s lamentations are filled with hidden hope reminding us that the Creator is always in control, even in the darkest of times.
Dark Night of the Soul
2008 / Autumn Music Productions
“Dark Night of the Soul” is Philip Wesley’s fourth solo piano CD and his first in three years. As the title suggests, quite a bit of the music is dark and turbulent, but it is never without hope or a sense of moving forward. Some of the pieces are quite energetic while others are calm and reflective. I have reviewed Wesley’s previous albums, and think this is his best CD to date. It is a very solid, very expressive album, beautifully engineered by Michael Dulin at his PSI Recording Studio in Birmingham, Alabama. David Lanz has always had a strong influence on Wesley’s music, and I recognize short phrases from Lanz’s music mixed into Wesley’s pieces, but perhaps since I play and teach so much of Lanz’s sheet music, it’s only me who hears this.
“Tears of the East” begins the CD. The opening bars are a rumble from the low end of the piano followed by a Middle-Eastern-style introduction. The piece itself conveys longing and melancholy - an eloquent beginning. “Racing Against the Sunset” has a powerful energy and a feeling of urgency. I really like this one and think it would be fun to play! “The Approaching Night” is delicate and sparkling, like watching the stars emerge in the darkening sky - also a beauty. The title track is kind of a soliloquy - very lonely, deeply emotional, and honest - and is one of Wesley’s best pieces to date. “Lamentations Of the Heart” first appeared on Wesley’s 2002 “Finding Solace,” and is one of his most popular pieces - with good reason. I enjoy playing and teaching this piece, too! “Light and Shadow” is another favorite. It has a swirling energy that dances around in the upper registers of the piano, yet it is very calming and soulful. Perhaps the high dancing notes represent the light and the lower, more subtle passages are the shadow - very effective.
The graceful and flowing “Into the Light” carries a sense of unburdening and breaking through after a difficult period of life. “New Day” is full of hope and anticipation for a fresh start - lovely! “Two Souls” concludes the CD with a wistful, dreamy piece that is more ambient than the others. Reflective and warm, it’s a bittersweet and satisfying finish.
“Dark Night of the Soul” is a great choice if you are looking for powerful but reflective solo piano music. It is available from www.philipwesley.com, amazon.com, cdbaby.com, and iTunes. Recommended!
So simple, yet so profound. Philip Wesley's delicate Comfort and Joy is an elegant new age album of solo piano portraits. This music creates a beautiful backdrop for intimate get-togethers with family and friends this holiday season. If you enjoy the new age stylings of David Lanz, you will welcome Wesley's superb playing with open arms and a glad heart. Relax--Wesley has everything well under control. Comfort and Joy has twelve tracks; the first nine are ancient traditional carols, and the last three are Wesley creations. With almost an hour of instrumental music, the twelve excellent arrangements are fully-developed and well-executed. Most cuts are four to six minutes in length, and the soaring music stays with you long after the notes fade. The album opens in a hush with "Away in a Manger." The opening bars are incredibly fragile and soft, like the breath of an angel across your cheek. You can see the newborn babe blissfully sleeping in the manger. As the number progresses the tempo and volume accelerate, and the experience becomes more intense and joyful. Wesley paints each piece with gentle rapture; the creative arrangements are multi-layered and exquisite. Although the soul of each familiar number remains recognizable as Wesley's hands run the keyboard, his treatment breathes vibrant new life into pieces like "Joy to the World," "Silent Night," and (my personal favorite & the longest track) "Carol of the Bells." Ahh. . . just lovely! Wesley's own three numbers fit naturally with the traditional fare; each conveys the intended sentiment, especially the melancholy yearning underlying "Wishing for Home," the album's close. Philip Wesley's Comfort and Joy is a timeless, new age treasure and a definite stress-buster. This outstanding album will protect you from the crasser aspects of the holiday season, taking you to a place that is serenely sweet. --Carol Swanson
R E V I E W PHILIP WESLEY Finding Solace Autumn Music Production (2003) review by Michael Debbage For those of you that found David Lanz's latest release The Good Life just a little too flamboyant in the jazz arena, you will be delighted to know that an up-and-coming artist by the name of Philip Wesley is your ticket to pure solace. Referring to himself as a Music Therapist, there is no doubting the relaxing benefits from this impressive debut. Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Philip Wesley's introduction to music came courtesy of his guitar exploration and, of all things, the "poodle" bands of the eighties. His introduction to the piano and the music of David Lanz and Yanni changed all that. Since then Wesley has refused to look back and has continued to refine his craft that has resulted in this precious and precise debut. It certainly has an early Narada artist sound most closely associated to David Lanz. Frankly Wesley relishes in the comparisons of which he refers to as the master. But this does not take away from Philip's gorgeous melodies and delicate touch of the keys. Though Wesley has recently signed a non-exclusive agreement with Universal Records, currently the album has an independent presentation. The artwork and CD booklet is very limited, however it would be a huge mistake to judge this "book" by its cover. The music is very well produced and is presented by the artist as though he was an old pro that had been doing this for years. If you enjoyed the early years of David Lanz then without hesitation you will find Wesley's technique tender. It would be safe to state that this freshman offering has no filler or middling compositions. And this is despite the lack of accompaniment from any other instrumentation: just the piano and the piano man. The opening track "At This Moment" is one of the album's finer moments with probably the most distinctive melody of all the tracks. A close second would be the delightful "Love's Last Embrace". Here the song structures have more in common with the accessible Jim Brickman than David Lanz. Equally as impressive is the more subdued yet illustrious aperture of "Autumn Romance". With Wesley gently rolling down his keys, one can only imagine golden and brown leaves dancing and fluttering as they fall gently to the damp ground of the season. Here he gives such a visual word picture with his music. Philip continues on with the meandering melancholy of the more classically influenced "Lamentations Of The Heart". It is here that the Lanz comparisons are the most obvious. It also appears that Wesley is at his inconspicuous best at the conclusion of the album courtesy of the spacious "The Long Goodbye". There are many quiet and unassuming moments within the song, allowing the listener to breathe and deeply inhale this sweet lullaby. A great way to quietly wrap up this very fine debut. The New Age genre, especially at this acoustic level, is a dying genre. Many record stores are combining the New Age stock with the jazz, or worse tucking them next to the specialized sections like comedy (and this is no laughing matter). Thus, I have only good things to say about Wesley writing from his heart. Finding Solace is a total relief and brings water to a world that is thirsty for consolation and comfort. Whether I buy into Philip Wesley as an actual Music Therapist is not the point. But what I do buy into is the rewarding and entertaining therapeutic values from this unobtrusive yet astonishing music. firstname.lastname@example.org SUPPORT INDEPENDENT MUSIC!
CD Reviews In A Lifetime Philip Wesley 2004/Autumn Music Productions 51:48 Reviewed by Kathy Parsons "In A Lifetime" is Philip Wesley's second solo piano release, and contains eleven original pieces and three covers. In the liner notes, Wesley proclaims that David Lanz is his "piano idol," and that composer's influence is very strong on several of the pieces. The overall feel of the album is of warmth and contentment. The opening track, "Comfort and Joy," expresses the feeling of anticipation at the approaching holidays and all that goes with them. "Equestrian Dream" has such a strong Lanz influence that, at first, I thought it was a cover of one of his earlier pieces. I couldn't pinpoint which one, though, and discovered that it was a Wesley original. The piece is beautiful and has that peaceful, flowing quality that is so prevalent in Lanz's work. "Greensleeves" is an interesting arrangement, with changing time signatures and moods in the variations. It starts out simply with the melody, and builds with each variation, ending up at a galloping pace complete with a big glissando. I love the delicacy of the melody and its poignant feeling. The title track is one of the best on the CD, I think. Both reflective and optimistic, this seems to be Wesley"s true voice. "Love Remembered" is a lovely, bittersweet ballad. Tender and nostalgic, this is another favorite. "Nights in White Satin" is a cover of David Lanz's wonderful arrangement of The Moody Blues classic hit. And then there's "Ode To a Composer", and yet another interpretation of the venerable "Canon in D." It's a very nice improvisation. "Pursuit of Passion" is a beautiful piece with a gentle, simple melody. "Windows to the Soul" is another favorite. Warm and sincere without flash, this piece comes from the heart. Overall, "In a Lifetime" is a very soothing and enjoyable follow-up to "Finding Solace." I definitely prefer Wesley's original pieces to his covers, but I realize that many people look for familiar music when they are shopping. Both CDs are available from www.philipwesley.com, amazon.com, and cdbaby.com. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Finding Solace Philip Wesley 2003/Autumn Music Productions 44:12 Reviewed by Kathy Parsons "Finding Solace" is Philip Wesley's debut recording, and consists of twelve original and very personal piano solos. Most of the tracks have a lovely, soothing flow to them, and there is a gentle simplicity to Wesley's approach that is elegant and heartfelt. I don't usually compare one artist to another, but some of the pieces are heavily influenced by David Lanz - especially "Lamentations of the Heart", "Still Waters Run Deep", and "Tabatha's Song" -and are actually some of my favorite tracks. I mention this only because I think fans of Lanz's earlier solo piano music will probably really enjoy this album. The CD opens with "At This Moment", which is based on an improvisation done on Wesley's wedding day on the church piano to settle pre-wedding nerves. Thoughtful and optimistic, he doesn't sound too nervous after all! "Celestial Reverie" is much more expansive and open - as the title suggests, a little bit sparkly and a lot dreamy. "Journey Home" was the first piano piece Wesley ever composed. Inspired by a college music writing assignment, the piece is peaceful, but also has a sense of moving forward. "Lamentations of the Heart" is much sadder, but is very beautiful and deeply emotional - I love this track! "Ocean of Color" refers to the autumn colors in St. Louis, and is a bit more abstract and improvisational. "Tabatha's Song" is about first love, and has a sweet poignance and innocence. "The Awakening" comes from deep introspection and the internal journey of reevaluating one's life. Wesley shares the experience with grace and openness. "Finding Solace" is an excellent debut, and I look forward to hearing future projects! The stories behind the music are found at www.philipwesley.com. Music samples can be heard at philipwesley.com and cdbaby.com, and purchases can be made at either of those sites as well as amazon.com. I have enjoyed this CD a lot! Top | Home | Feedback Copyright © 2004 Solo Piano Publications
In A Lifetime Autumn Music Productions (2004) review by Michael Debbage Released in 2003, Philip Wesley's debut album Finding Solace was one of the surprises of 2004. Granted I was a year behind on the album but better late than never. The album was so impressive that I was not sure how Wesley planned on maintaining his captive audience. Instead of completely reduplicating his efforts Wesley took a courageous move and gambled a little with In A Lifetime. The question that still lingers is whether it paid off. I was looking for solace and I was able to retrieve this emotion courtesy of In A Lifetime as Wesley continues to rely utterly on his piano with no additional embellishments. It opens in the very fine tradition of its predecessor with the melodic yet soothing "Comfort and Joy" reminiscent of the immediate accessibility that Jim Brickman brings to his playing. But Wesley keeps us guessing a little with the more classically influenced "Equestrian Dream" redolent of the David Lanz style during his Paul Speer era. Further tender moments are followed by the lush and warm title track that along with "Comfort and Joy" helping to reacquaint myself with the simple beauty of Wesley's music. Speaking of exquisiteness, the most reflective moment is found courtesy of the softness in "Love Remembered". Wesley continues to astound me with his original compositions and closes the album with five consecutive original songs that helps us focus on the simple yet subtle sophistication of this very impressive piano man. Of these the most prominent ones are the songs "Pursuit of Passion" and "Windows to the Soul" that musically embody their titles. The slight kink in the album are two of the three cover songs that overall appear to weaken the album versus strengthening it. "Ode To Composer" is the better of the three, which is another variation on Pachelbel's Canon, which amalgamates well with the restful and gentle style of Wesley that I have grown to love. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for "Greensleeves" as well as the Moody Blues composition "Nights in White Satin" that was previously covered by David Lanz. Both of these tracks are heavy handed and disjointed and they simply distract from the mood of the album. This album holds to the truth that less is sometimes more in that excluding two of the three cover versions would have made this a stronger and better-focused project. That said, In A Lifetime is still another fine album from this young artist who next time around should relax and rest in the confidence of knowing that his own compositions are the most inspiring.
Comfort and Joy Philip Wesley 2005 / Autumn Music Productions 56’49” “Comfort and Joy” is a soothing and graceful collection of twelve traditional and three original Christmas songs arranged for solo piano by St. Louis pianist/composer Philip Wesley. Wesley idolizes David Lanz, and his influence is strongly felt on many of the tracks. A professional musical therapist in a hospital setting, Wesley knows firsthand the healing power of music and taps into that power to great effect on this CD. More reflective than celebratory, “Comfort and Joy” conveys more of a quiet peacefulness than a party spirit, similar to David Lanz’s “Christmas Eve” (1994). Wesley is faithful to the melodies, but adds personal interpretations and improvisations that make the music fresh and interesting (not an easy thing to do for the ears of a full-time piano teacher and reviewer who listens to a LOT of Christmas music every year!). The CD opens with a sweet medley of “Brahms’ Lullaby” and “Away in a Manger.” The melodies of both songs are interwoven with original passages, making this an unusual arrangement that works beautifully. “Joy to the World” opens with a passage from David Lanz’s arrangement from his “Christmas Eve” album and alternates with a more flowing, dreamy improvisation. Lanz’s theme has a lot of energy and enthusiasm, so the combination is very interesting. “Silent Night” has a gentle peacefulness that is both graceful and delicate - I love this arrangement! I also really like “We Three Kings,” which is a piece that can adapt to a wide variety of treatments. This one has a flowing rubato feeling - the melody is there, but the rhythm is a little different, making the song feel new. “O Christmas Tree” has one of the simplest melodies of the traditional Christmas songs, but Wesley has fleshed it out a bit and added some new touches that give it a gentle flow that is both reflective and reverent. “Carol of the Bells” is probably my favorite Christmas song, and it can also handle a wide variety of musical styles. This one is a bit different in that it is very quiet and pensive with lots of open spaces. It does pick up the pace somewhat in places, but maintains a graceful dignity throughout - a beautiful arrangement! “Greensleeves/What Child Is This?” first appeared on Wesley’s album “In a Lifetime,” but this is a new recording of the piece. On the earlier album, I didn’t like that the piece turned into an energetic gallop with a big glissando. The gallop and glissando are still there on this recording, but are a bit more restrained and in keeping with the original song itself. I like this version much better. Two of the original pieces, the title track and “In the Eyes of a Child” were also on “In a Lifetime,” and are beautiful to hear again. “Wishing For Home” was composed for this album, and is a nostalgic, bittersweet piece that is deeply personal and emotional, as well a poignant reminder that the holidays aren’t the happiest of times for a lot of people. “Comfort and Joy” is a wonderful Christmas album that will be welcomed year after year. It is available from www.cdbaby.com and www.philipwesley.com. Recommended! Kathy Parsons Solo Piano Publications
The true message of Christmas is celebrating and remembering the birth of Christ. Since then it has been somewhat commercialized yet even here the love of friends and family gathering together to exchange gifts still holds partly true to the spirit of the first Christmas. The season for the most part brings both comfort and joy thus the title of this album as well as the spirit in which the music was arranged manifests that spirit.
Wesley’s second album In A Lifetime included three cover tunes that ultimately weakened the album. The compliment is that they sounded out of place next to the strong self-composed material. Of course, releasing an all holiday affair gives the artist the liberty of producing an album of cover songs. This time Philip polarized the In A Lifetime concept and boldly added three original compositions to the time trusted traditional tunes. In this instance the blessed blend works seamlessly with outstanding results.
The album’s opener “Away In A Manger” is mixed effortlessly with the softness of “Brahms Lullaby”. Add the “Greensleeves/What Child Is This?” alongside the original composition “In The Eyes Of A Child” and the album focuses you back on the comfort of the Christ child willing to come down from the heavens to earth. Combined with the purity of “Silent Night” it will bring back memories of your childhood as your restless head finally drifted off to dreamland on Christmas Eve anticipating the big day ahead.
In contrast, there is the pure joy and bountiful message of celebration and love that is expressed in the more upbeat “Joy To The World”. Although a little more subdue there is the transcendent “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” that also effectively expresses the joyous spirit of Christmas. And to bring both aspects of comfort and joy there is the amalgamation of both spirits that live in the self-titled track that was previously featured on In A Lifetime.
Concluding with the brand new dreamy and exquisite composition “Wishing For Home”, you realize that from start to finish Wesley manages to harness the spirit of Christmas. In fact, even the artwork expresses this unity with a landscape of a simple but strong Christmas tree that stands alone in a field of virginal snow like a beacon of light to the world that surrounds it.
Wesley’s music is pure and simple that brings both comfort and joy to a season that is many times overwrought with commercialism. After a busy day of rushing around fulfilling our holiday duties, Philip Wesley’s album is a perfect antidote to bring you back to the true reality of Christmas; peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind.
Rating: 10 Beautiful CD, wonderful piano playing, compositions, arrangements and oh such a warm and relaxing vibe! I can listen to his pieces for hours on end... Definately recommend a 'BUY' on this CD and any future releases by Mr. Wesley. He is a master at the solo piano, a fine and rare talent!
Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio - The Concert
I was recently invited to Birmingham, Alabama to attend a taping of a Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio concert. The concept, recording piano concerts that can be heard by all for free on the internet, is the brainchild of piano composer David Nevue and many, many intrepid artists, who for the most part have gone largely unnoticed (not by your author however) by the mainstream marketing machinery.
The idea is to band together a body of artists who have a common interest. Mutual support, ideals, and building marketing power are their foundation. Their love of music and its performance is the mortar that holds them together. The combination has built a tower of strength.
In Birmingham's Forbes' Piano Showroom one hundred people sat with rapt attention as five solo piano artists from across the country pounded out their dreams and hearts in a two hour presentation. Their main goal was not how many CDs they could sell after the performance. It was their fervent hope that they could play with skill and passion enough to influence their listeners to support their genre, there and then and in the future. I think they accomplished their goal on that rainy winters night.
First up was Philip Wesley of St. Louis. He performed tunes from his albums In A Lifetime and Finding Solace. He captured the audience with the song State of Grace. It was his explanation about being in a state of grace and his musical interpretation that won our hearts and applause. Wesley believes in and practices the healing arts using music. Judging from his music, he is a great healer.
Next up was the local boy, Michael Dulin. Living in Birmingham, a city of remarkable American history, must be a great inspiration to Michael. He played songs from his albums Atmospheres and The One I Waited For. He sat comfortably at the piano, extended his long, sinuous fingers over the keyboard and began to play. It was the last I saw of him for about fifteen minutes because as he played he disappeared into a different dimension where music skills and passions dwell. He returned briefly to introduce his music and was gone again in an instant. His music was quite beautiful and his delivery from the heart. I have never seen anything like it. (See my review of Michael Dulin on the Sounding Board.)
The very emotional Oregonian David Nevue took the spotlight next. If ever there was a man who should be blessed with parenthood, it is David. The light in his eyes and the tremor in his voice when he talked about his source of inspiration, his children, sent waves of emotion through the audience. He sat at the piano, his stance wide, his head bent almost to the keyboard, his elbows askew and then he played the most beautifully sweet tunes from his new release Sweet Dreams and Starlight and Postcards from Germany. We sat awestruck.
Then, fresh from the rocky mountains of California, came pianist Scott B. Davis. Scott combines his love of nature and his passion for music in his compositions and his performance. His exuberance and originality were invigorating and his upbeat attitude was contagious. He performed music from his CDs Tahoma and Winter Journey. He musically created a violent thunderstorm in the room. It was quite impressive since he used only his two hands and one grand piano.
Finally, Atlanta based pianist George Skaroulis performed. George, a veteran of many live concerts, admitted to being a bit nervous as he announced his selections. His unpretentiousness was refreshing and it put us at ease. His skill and power of composition was incredibly exciting. He played tunes, many with proud ethnic themes, from his albums Generations, Return to Homeland and Second Nature.
If you like the genre, as I do, there could not have been a better evening spent. You can relive that night and many, many more exciting hours of solo piano by fresh new artists by tuning into www.solopianoradio.com. If you want a good seat, just mention my name.
RJ Lannan - March 2005
I really LOVE Philip's music, there is something very spiritual about his music, he feels things passionately and deeply, and it comes out in his music! Thank you Philip for sharing!
This CD has gone everywhere with me. I absolutely adore Philip's beautiful tracks and arrangements. Favorites are 'Comfort and Joy' and 'State of Grace.' Thanks for sharing your wonderful gift with us!