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Robin B. James
United States
Ann Licater is an award-winning recording artist, world flutist, favoring wood, silver, and clay flutes, as well as a producer and composer. She created and facilitates “Flute for the Soul” workshops where she plays Native American and world flutes as tools for personal discovery. Ann merges her intuition and traditional music background to create beautiful original melodies and provide an inspiring artful, sonic journey that is perfect for mindfulness practices, meditation and well-being. Also recommended for yoga, spa, healing arts, creativity, study, sleep, and overall stress reduction. Licater loves to create music that takes listeners on an inner journey.

On her six albums, Following the Call (2007), Doorway to a Dream (2010), Invitation from Within (2013), Beyond the Waves (2016), Quiet Spaces: Flute Meditations for Mindfulness and Relaxation (2018), and Whispers from Earth (2022), as in her healing concerts, Ann’s unique approach merges her intuition, spiritual perspective and traditional music background. Her love of wood and clay flutes led her to study with master flutist R. Carlos Nakai (Navajo-Ute) complementing her years of classical flute training at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Licater’s music accolades range from “Top Ten Best New Age Album” by Amazon music editors, to “Best Relaxation Album” by ZMR Music Awards and beyond. Her music is featured on Sirius XM, Soundscapes, a Music Choice cable radio channel, Pandora and Spotify and as in-flight entertainment for Cathay Pacific Airlines, Virgin Airlines and Air Canada under the music category “Well-Being.” Licater has performed at the World Flute Fest at Carnegie Hall, the Awakened World Conference in Rome and Florence, Italy and at “Sound Body, Sound Mind” Specialty Week at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate. Mexico. She holds a B.A. from University of St. Thomas, and an M.L.A. in Creation Spirituality from Naropa University and divides her time between the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California.

Whispers From Earth is a meditative album with soft, deeply reflective solo and duet compositions, featuring clay, wood and classical flutes, fluttering and glowing, with a pure and living sound, imagine looking up at the sky and specifically reaching out, possibly silently and alone, maybe with a campfire. Perhaps the earliest signals from Earth came about as a form of whispered prayers.

The first track is the title track, "Whispers from Earth" (4:22), which opens with a deep dry celestial electronics, accompanied by a flute. The sound is secure, with a warm feeling, drawing a celestial glow in from the distance. "Echoes from a Glass Pond" (3:26) is a solo instrument, multi tracked. A tremolo call and return reverberating across the restful expanse of the reflective water. The pace is perfectly slow and relaxing. "Peaceful Prayer" (3:21) is for a solo spirit, the light flickers and incandescence sustains, the quiet slowly reaches the spirit. A piano joins the Gaelic bird spirits, "Luminous Morning" (4:25). The track "Red Cedar Calling" (2:42) stands alone signaling, the cedar spirits are signifying. "Star Stream Dreamer" (6:17), brings an accompanied silver flute, warm flowing breath and weaving patterns, with melodic percussion.

Imagine that the water is perfectly still, the music is essentially calling from the water, "Mirror Lake Reflection" (3:05). "Initiation (Awakening)" (2:59), solo multi tracked splendor, a mysterious double tone summoning the community, calling in new spirits. Track 9, "Silver Soliloquy" (3:46) is entirely solo, playing in a huge reflective chamber, the sound is inside and above, very mindful and present. "Forest Moon Rising" (3:02) tonight calling so clearly, solo classical flute. "Redwood Memories" (3:18), where are they now? Calling low and the voice is dry, a solo wood flute multi tracked. The final track is "Following the Call (Horizons)" (4:07), somewhere a signal is going out into the universe, calling us and we hear it, we consider the possibilities of going further, joined by friends.

“Walking in nature experiencing the subtle and bold beauty of rose gardens, bamboo forests, gentle waves and sunlit pathways colored the sound, texture and feeling tone of the collection of tracks I created. Each one expresses something I felt in that quietude and connection. Recalling visits to the Sequoia National Forest and performing in the forests of Lake Tahoe—both in California—were influences, too,” says Licater.

Whispers from Earth—a collection of 12 tracks including “Peaceful Prayer,” “Redwood Memories” and “Mirror Lake Reflection”—showcases Licater’s distinct artistry on an array of world flutes including Native American, Native American-style, folk and silver alto flutes. Licater serves as executive producer, co-producer, composer, publisher, artist and indie label owner, continuing her foray into world flute-based Contemporary Instrumental and New Age music to soothe the soul, helping listeners find inner peace and well-being.

Music writer Jonathan Widran ( notes, "In many ways, those whispers Ann shares via her Native American style flutes, Native American flutes, folk flute and Mayan-style drone flute sweep through us as the breath of life itself, giving flight to hope and dreams beyond the day to day."

These flute passages for meditation and inspiration were inspired by Licater’s walks in nature—specifically at The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens, in San Marino and stretches of the Pacific Coast in Laguna Beach and Malibu—all in California. She thinks of the album as "a 45-minute inner journey" perfect for a walking meditation, a lunchtime listening escape, or anytime one wants to center one's self.

Whispers from Earth debuted on radio with five tracks on the “Deep Flutes” program (airing 11.11.22) on Hearts of Space, a syndicated radio show that is heard by approximately 200,000 listeners per week on 176 National Public Radio (NPR) stations.

Radio focus tracks for the album include “Peaceful Prayer,” performed on Native American-style flute and available as a free downloadable and early access streaming track on select platforms with a pre-sale offering; and “Luminous Morning” featuring Ann on both grand piano and Native American flute.

Reflects Licater, “I revisited the piano and my love for improvising on it. I perform both instruments in this piece, so this combination will be something new for my listeners. I named it 'Luminous Morning' as it feels so joyful to me—reminiscent of fluttering wings in a garden or sunlight bouncing off of ocean waves."

Returning to co-produce with Licater are GRAMMY®-nominated artist, Peter Phippen, and Ivar Lunde, Jr. who also is the recording, mixing and mastering engineer. Musicians joining Licater on Whispers from Earth include Phippen on Shakuhachi (“Whispers from Earth”) and electric bass and Moyo Drum (“Star Stream Dreamer”); Lunde, Jr. on synthesizer (“Whispers from Earth”); and Troy Arnett on synthesizer [“Following the Call (Horizons)]” a nod to Licater’s debut album, Following the Call.

The new album, akin to Licater’s other releases, is an artful, sonic journey designed for mindfulness practices, meditation, well-being, yoga, spa, healing arts, creativity, study, sleep, and stress reduction.

Track Listing:
1. Whispers from Earth
2. Echoes from a Glass Pond
3. Peaceful Prayer
4. Luminous Morning
5. Red Cedar Calling
6. Star Stream Dreamer
7. Mirror Lake Reflection
8. Initiation (Awakening)
9. Silver Soliloquy
10. Forest Moon Rising
11. Redwood Memories
12. Following the Call (Horizons)

Connect with Ann Licater:

Poetry, and perhaps music too, never needs to explain itself. Can it explain itself? Why should it explain itself!? It just is. Music has many historic traditions, but the art of listening can begin in the world where you are right now. New sounds are being invented, and clocks are ticking, and I merely opine, as one does from time to time. Here are nine tracks, the spirit here is restless and explores or amplifies (distorts?) a wide and changing range of strange clues. The story is layered and complex too. What I find are strange sounds to listen to and that is what I like most. You might say that “odd things to listen to” describes a whole musical genre, but this project is different, it is the strange one in a population of many random contrarians and individualists. The pursuit of music is often playful and imaginative, daring and expositional. This is time spent listening carefully because it is interesting and I want to hear it all, or I might miss something.

What the heck is this sound? (I want more) It is not for exercising to, but it does work as a complex background, in an abstract way. Time is flowing differently sometimes. It is maybe something like experimental jazz or rock or playtime or dance or some time to just quietly sit and listen. There is plenty to listen to. Electronics with harps and flutes and bells and all manner of percussion. Cool sounds. Something to try to focus on as you wait for the daylight.

On the other hand, it does also work as a slow acting soporific, and as a satisfying form of sonic wallpaper. What I hear is a celebration of the individual and a creed of nonconformism, exercising every freedom of choice, giving limitless value to individual dignity, personal love, and creative effort. Perhaps this music is about examining the individual’s knowledge and perception of reality, as well as the individual’s relationship to society, the universe, and God, I am crazy about this, so I am unreliable and hopelessly prejudiced on this matter.What I love are elemental collages exercising granular control of the content, that gets me every time. I want to wonder, is this some kind of a science-fiction thing? Is there a philosophical connection between surrealism in art and existentialism? What would that sound like?

Desensitized is the collaborative project of Deborah Martin and Dean De Benedictis.

Whether collaborating with other artists or working on her own projects, Deborah Martin has been inspiring listeners with her graceful musical journeys on the Spotted Peccary label since 1994. Often powerfully deep, and occasionally playful and carefree, Deborah’s music is always rich and simply beautiful, offering crystal clear visions and magically compelling voyages through an inner realm of ethereal visions, ancestral legends, and timeless places.

Recording under his own name, as well as the alias “Surface 10”, Southern California based composer and electronic musician Dean De Benedictis has been exploring all corners of the ambient music genre since 1996. Dean’s interest in a variety of styles and cultures enriches the quality of his musical expression as he searches for common threads within the fabric of differing genres, drawing from them a natural sense of emotion, expanse and mystery.

Together as Desensitized, the two artists share a common vision to partake in the sublime retreat of sonic beauty, transitioning between elements of the natural world and auspices of modern technology.

Inspired by the mysteries of the afterlife, Chaos In Premonition takes listeners back to the fantastical realms that was recorded live in the studio together, forming nine original pieces from edited improvisations with acoustic instrumentation such as clay ocarinas, flutes and Tibetan bowls and a variety of digital and analog synthesizers. The album is available worldwide today in CD and digital formats: 24-Bit Audiophile, CD Quality Lossless, MP3 downloads, or streaming on the platform of your choice:

“The title ‘Chaos In Premonition’ was cast upon the realization of uniting our intuitive natures during the collaborative process; evolving out of the 'chaos' of thoughts transforming our collective ideas into their compositional form," Martin says, going on to describe the joy of collaboration as discovery; as each artist brings their own unique identity, how their compositional styles will blend is a mystery until uncovered. She continues: “That is what I find most exciting, the endless potential and possibility.”

The title track “Chaos In Premonition” begins in quiet vastness and rises to a bewildering crescendo, then fades to an ethereal chorus. Percussive chimes like raindrops in a cavern rise slowly from shadowy depths, evoking the cosmic. From there, the piece builds a sonic mosaic of skittering breakbeats, glitched fragments and glimmering arpeggiations: the birth of a world from quietude. On “Abundant Time” counter-rhythmic clock samples and heartbeats ebb and flow around sinuous drones and gently plucked strings. The two artists employ a rich amalgamation of acoustic and electronic elements throughout the work. With “Immortals And Their Graves,” De Benedictis’ Mayahachi flute moves from calm lulls to sweeping trills to rhythmic stutterings and back again, capturing in its amorphousness the peaks and valleys of a life. Even vocal elements appear in the finale “Sleep Of Innocence” which finds Martin and De Benedictis harmonizing over celestial chimes, an otherworldly lullaby.

On Chaos In Premonition, the accomplished duo weave the ancient and futuristic into an otherworldly tapestry all their own. From asynchronous perspectives comes sonic synchronicity. De Benedictis says “the essence and originality of Desensitized lies in how Deborah and I are so different.”

Martin adds "Growth as an artist requires getting out of your comfort zone; to push boundaries to see what the potential outcome could become. Chaos In Premonition was such a project - this collaboration became an adventure to reach beyond past projects, exploring the nature of the sounds and recordings, taking the leap to create a new theme as an expansion from the Hemispherica Portalis (Portal of 1000 Years) release, a pathway leading from there with a much deeper and introspective journey."

Chaos in Premonition is an album that invites contradictions and makes peace with them, thanks to the masterful approach of its creators.

Spotted Peccary Music will live stream the album throughout the day on SPMLive:

1 Ionic Realms [Victronomy Plubonius] 4:52
2 Abundant Time [Stemiostratamos] 4:46
3 Chaos In Premonition [Firestimo Mutato] 8:54
4 Deep Chasm [Subliminostrum] 10:40
5 Mutations Of The Highest Order [MOTHO] 8:47
6 Logic Of Expression [Praetoreum] 5:39
7 Immortals And Their Graves [Sacriligonus] 7:38
8 Crevices In Dark Places [Anexplicora] 7:12
9 Sleep Of Innocence [Embulata] 4:52

"It's been an amazing life! Hi, I'm Ed Bazel, and I am a pianist, and I am originally from Huntington, West Virginia. I grew up in a household with an older sister. The first thing I remember is my older sister taking piano lessons."

Ed was speaking with my colleague Karissa Love recently, just a few weeks before the strings and percussion tracks were added to his dream-come-true project, making a recording of his own music at Abbey Road Studios. The full album title is The London Sessions, Reflections from Studio 2 and will be available starting on October 7, 2022. The album has twelve tracks, painting pictures of the soul that you can't see but you can hear. Ed Bazel is a true instrumentalist. He is not an extravagant performer, he is simply The pianist. His delivery is quite remarkable, he has a natural way of conveying relaxed comfort, this is how you settle the woes of the day.

The opener is an elegant, uplifting and sunny tune titled “Morning Glory” (2:18). Imagine the morning light playing on delicate vines festooned with blue cone-shaped flowers, which seem to say, "This is where I should be, in my life, right now."

Ed has an interesting life, the piano is a strong theme throughout. More recently he started a project called The River of Calm, music to soothe your soul, beginning as an experiment presenting streaming calm music, with his friend Eric Bikales. They gradually added more calm composers, now there are over 200 artists featured. In addition to helping so many artists get their music out, they have a special project, partnering with Alive Inside, who provides special headphones. Alive Inside are well known for their groundbreaking work in New York, taking headphones to dementia patients, and gently putting them on with the music from their childhood and highschool days playing and watching them wake up. The partnership with Alive Inside connects using their specially designed proprietary headphones combined with the music from the artists on The River of Calm, and they are donating them to chemotherapy centers.

"We have a pilot project we are just finishing here in the Nashville area," Ed says. "If we as musicians can in some way at least take away the surrealness of the chemotherapy with calming music, that is our highest and best calling as musicians, I firmly believe that. So I am very proud of The River of Calm, the music that's on 24 hours a day, and in those headphones for chemotherapy centers, which is starting to go big! I am just thrilled about that."

Let's go back to the beginning. Ed tells his story to Karissa:

K: How did you get started?

Ed: The first thing I remember is my older sister taking piano lessons. I would ride with my mom (taking my sister to her lessons), and then I think she also enrolled me in piano lessons because she was very smart, she was thinking, "If I drop both kids off I will have an HOUR to myself!" So that is how I got into piano.

I was forced to take lessons for eleven years, I was dragged to piano lessons, kicking and screaming and hated it! But it worked out in such a beautiful story, I never could have imagined that my life would turn out this way, and frankly, those piano lessons turned out to be the best gift my parents gave me.

I have always had a love for music. I found myself having a band in Jr. High, a pretty popular band in high school, a band in college. I went to Marshall University and have a business degree, and then I went to University of Kentucky with a computer programming degree. And then I told my mom and dad, "Guess what mom and dad, I am going to play the piano for a living!"

They were like (strangling gesture, hands on throat) "YOU'RE GONNA WHAT?"

And I said, "Yes I am!"

I think it was my way to get back at them for forcing me to take those lessons. I was a pianist for two decades in Huntington, West Virginia, and Lexington, Kentucky, and out in Los Angeles, and I just have always loved music and have been a pianist since the age of five when I started those lessons.

After I became a pianist I became an agent, out in LA, I was an agent for some nationally known acts, and then I developed my own company where we produce concerts for corporations and I have had the bookings from the Great Wall of China to the US Ambassador to the Vatican in Rome, for clients like AT&T, Google, Fidelity...

Just an amazing run, although my mom still wants me to have a real job. When I was a professional pianist, she wanted me to have a real job. I finally got my mom on my side, I would send her pictures of me with Jay Leno, or backstage with Bo Derrick, and she would take them to the beauty shop, and things would be okay.

But she would still say, "You need to get a real job."

And then one day, I had an event with Frankie Valli, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the Jersey Boys guys, (he holds up a picture, Ed and Frankie, with a hand-lettered sign, "You're just too good to be true Irene Olga Mary") and that broke the curse! She has loved it ever since.

I used to be the house pianist at the Beverly Hills Country Club, the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel, and in each of those places, that boils down to somebody coming up asking two questions, and me saying "Of course I can play 'Misty,' and the restroom is that way." That is the down side of the job.

The beautiful side of the job, I was able to play piano for a living!

K: What are some of the things you remember about getting started?

Ed: Throughout the years I have been a pianist in some wonderful locations, beautiful places, and met so many people, one of the strangest ones was one time I was working in a French restaurant called Michael's in my hometown, my first gig, and it was the high end restaurant in town, and it was about ten until eleven at night, almost closing time, and in walks Rod Stewart and his band, they had just finished a concert at the civic center downtown, and it was just Rod Stewart and his band and me in this little tiny restaurant, with me playing the piano, I was terrified! That was scary.

We can fast-forward to when I was a pianist out in LA, of which by the way I was named the best pianist in downtown LA by a downtown magazine, I was the house pianist at the Sheraton Universal, which is at Universal Studios, so I am playing away and who walks up but LL Cool J, and I have got to take my hat off to him, he was such a fan of these old classic standards I was playing, He was gettin' into it, leaning on the piano, he is saying "Man, I need to take you home with me to add atmosphere to my night time!"

I have had so many wonderful experiences as a pianist, and felt so lucky to play with my hands and my soul and make a living that way, and now I feel like I am back and able to do this once again, and I will keep on the theme of I am the luckiest man in the world.

K: When did you first hear the Beatles?

Ed: I remember it was a Sunday, I was seven years old, my sister was agitated, big time, excited about something. We gathered in the living room with my sister and my mom and dad for the Ed Sullivan Show. I watched the Beatles come out, and just slay the audience, they just KILLED them! All these girls screaming, it was just a profound effect, and that was my first introduction to The Beatles.

My dad and my sister were the first musical influences in my life, my mom did all the heavy lifting by driving me to the piano lessons. We would have, in the house, Beatles albums playing, of course my mom and dad would have Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Carole King, wonderful influences, so I have always been around music, and always known the legacy of the Beatles, which is huge, for all of us.

I have loved the Beatles since I was a child, there are songs and melodies that are just wonderful, they are fabrics in the threads of our lives. I have always admired that and I have enjoyed playing their songs as a pianist for decades I have done this. They have been an influence on me, I have also been influenced by the standards, "Misty," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Moonlight in Vermont," something that most people today won't remember, but if I go to play while visiting in a nursing home, they will remember, because that is from back then. Those songs were structured so well, based on beautiful melodies.

K: How do you get to Abbey Road?

Ed: My experience with Abbey Road was beyond goosebump heaven. I remember walking up to the gates and thinking, WOW this is the place. I have been to a lot of cool places in my life, but this one was like, "Oh wow! This is where it happened!"

I was beyond thrilled to record my upcoming solo piano CD at Abbey Road Studios, not just at Abbey Road Studios, but Studio 2 where the Beatles recorded, how cool is that?!

You walk through the gates and up the stairs, those are the famous stairs where the Beatles sat on. So many people have traveled through there, walk in the front door, the front desk greets you, "Oh yes, studio 2 is down the hallway, to the right."

"Of course, yes!"

We go down the hallway, we go into Studio 2's control room, I am like OH GOSH there is the window overlooking the studio where the Beatles looked out...

This is so cool! The microphones, you should see the microphones!

Pink Floyd, Adelle, Ed Sheeran, all these people have been there. There is a door between the control room and the glass panel out to the studio, and it leads to a stairwell and once I opened that door... it was palpable, the feeling, of opening that door, breathing in that smell. It smelled like a high school auditorium, perfect, just perfect, breathing in the vibrations of that room, it meant so much to me, walking down those stairs, thinking how many greats have walked down those stairs, and then, to look in this big huge studio and see this Steinway concert grand piano they set up for me in the exact footprint on that back left corner of the studio where the Beatles set up for their recordings.

And I am like, "Oh my God this is incredible!"

Once we started recording, we had numerous songs to record, everyone else on my team was up the stairs in the control room. The lights were low, it was just me and that Steinway Concert Grand, and I am playing my compositions, thinking "How did I get here? A guy from Huntington, West Virginia, now recording in the same place that the Beatles recorded!"

It was prolific, I can't stress that enough.

When this whole recording session was over, it was two days, ten hour sessions a day, I made sure nobody was in the studio except me. I took my hands off the keys, I walked to the back wall, and I put my hands on the wall. My eyes started tearing up.

It means that much to me, as a lifelong music professional, both as a player, as an agent meeting my favorite heros in the world. I am thanking heaven and my parents above, they're long gone, but I wore my dad's cufflinks, so that I could carry on and he would in that way be a part of that.

Prolific is an understatement. Put it this way, of all the high points that were there, the lowest of the high points (no offense) next door there were a couple body guards outside of Studio 3 I thought, "Who's that?"

It turns out Taylor Swift was recording next door. That pales in comparison to what I was feeling and doing and connecting, and frankly, this might sound very self involved, that's not who I am. I really felt, playing my songs and recording, I belong there, I felt, in life, this is where I belong. I am beyond thankful for having this opportunity.

K: Was all of the music you recorded at Abbey Road your own original compositions?

Ed: I also recorded a couple of Beatles cover tunes, that was almost like an homage to the walls of Abbey Road Studios, it's an offering. We recorded almost twenty pieces in the two days, and so by day two, I was waiting to do the cover tunes at the end. My hands were starting to feel the wear of two days of ten hour sessions per day.

I was able to record both "Yesterday" and "In My Life," I love those songs.

I didn't get to "Until there was You" the Beatles covered that tune, it is from The Music Man. They covered it and I have loved that tune, as a player I played that tune ten thousand times when I was making a living as a pianist.

For recording "Yesterday," it came to me the day before, how to arrange Yesterday with a thundering left hand. By the way Steinways are great for the thundering base notes. It was great to put that out and just lose myself in the piece.

I did not try to make it (sings and beats time) "Yesterday..." nothing like that, it's very thoughtful and romantic, it was surreal. That is the best way I can describe it, me, playing their song, in the exact same footprint of the studio. What is a guy from Huntington, West Virginia, doing? I feel like the luckiest man in the world!

And then it came to "In My Life," I love that song, love that song. It was done in one take, that was it, I played it and good night, that was good, that is when I stopped, took my hands off the keys, and laid them on the wall, with tears in my eyes.

This brings out emotions of my long history with my family of music, the Beatles, and being a kid, seeing that magic. Knowing how wonderful music is, it paints pictures of the soul that you can't see but you can hear. I am the luckiest man in the world to be able to do this.

K: How do you go about creating your music?

Ed: The way I compose is, I hear melodies in my head all the time. All The Time.

I get to a piano and I use my iPhone and I record for myself a note, sometimes just a thought, a notion, sometimes a whole piece. I went through 223 different song ideas and notes, boiled them down to just enough. This took a year, this past year I did this. In the last six months I practiced twice a day, two hours a day, to get to the point to go there. The best I can describe is laying my hands on the beautiful Steinway, perfectly tuned. I remember laying my hands there, playing effortlessly. I feel so lucky to be at that point, when many people struggle, and I used to struggle to play.

Effortlessly! It was, at the risk of sounding woo-woo, it was a spiritual experience for me. I was able to let out my emotions. My music is thoughtful romantic melodic, it is not machine gun piano (which is nothing wrong with that) so it is very emotional, the spaces in between convey emotions and depth, it came out!

I was so pleased with how this turned out. We are now still working on the instrumentation we are adding to some of the pieces, other pieces stand on their own, just solo piano pieces.

Somebody once asked me if I am a performer. I am not a performer, I am the pianist is what I am, I am an instrumentalist. That is how I can best express what is inside of me, through the melodies and the feelings. I am not a showman, I am not flarey and you know, big runs up the board and all that, that is not me, the songs are simple but elegant.

I hope our listeners enjoy it, I really do.

K: What are some of the difficulties you have had to overcome?

Ed: Anxiety and stage fright as a performer and instrumentalist is very real, I know I've had it. For me, personally, when I was recording my first CD I was a frightened pianist, worried about what others think, it was very real and caused me to not be as flowing.

For the Abbey Road, it can be intimidating but I've got to tell you, I went there fearlessly, absolutely fearless. I practiced for a year, I've played for 10,000 hours at least, and I figure if not me, then who?

I went there with such confidence, it was such a joy to play effortlessly, and I am very lucky to be on that spectrum because learning to play the piano with 88 keys, with three pedals, and so many millions of note choices is difficult, and I have just been at it long enough to be able to do this, so I was thrilled but again, stage fright is very real because you are worried about what other people think, which has been a theme of my life but I am finally getting out of that theme.

K: You have played the piano for so many years, night after night, is recording a CD something very different from playing live, in front of an audience?

Ed: This will be my third piano CD, I have two others. I was a pianist for many years and I have been in the concert industry, and done really well, but there was something that was calling me back to the piano.

I thought, I want to record a CD because I have songs that have been in my head since I was a player, so I composed a CD called Bella Piano, which in Italian means beautiful piano, in my mind means, a scared pianist at this first recording session.

I went from the Clavinova to the Yamaha C7 which is under microphones, so I called this the scared pianist CD, it was like going from a Toyota Camery to a Ferrari. My songs were, in theory, good, but they were a bit tight, in my opinion, but I did solve that problem. After that I bought my own Yamana C7 Concert Grand Piano (gestures at the piano behind him), is this not the best dining room furniture? I am now very attuned to the touch and feel of an acoustic Grand Piano.

K: How did that first recording session go?

Ed: I went to the Tracking Room in Nashville, they have a wonderful Yamaha C7. The first time I recorded an album, and it was like, I practiced for years on a Yamaha Clavinova, which is an electric keyboard with weighted action, because I was in the booking industry I didn't have time to be a pianist.

I recorded my second CD, Homecoming, in 2021 right here in my dining room during COVID. The recording engineer Alex Carter did a wonderful job for us, and I have had some good success with that too.

K: How did your online radio station, The River of Calm, come about?

Ed: Getting back to playing a few years ago really calmed my soul, and I thought, maybe there is a way I could get my music heard. I have a friend of mine, Eric Bikales, who was Neil Sedaka's pianist, he's got a wonderful CD, so I thought, why don't I start an online radio station, I worked in a radio station before, so I called it The River of Calm, music to soothe your soul.

It started out with just me and Eric on there, and I thought, "that's fine." At most we had five listeners, and I thought "that's cool, that's fine with me."

I think that many more people are looking for a calming influence in their life, and The River of Calm now has grown from just Eric's and my own music, to over 221 independent artists and we're heard in countries all around the world! It is stunning how The River of Calm has grown!

In addition to helping so many artists get their music out, there is a very special collaborative arrangement, we have partnered with Alive Inside. We have a pilot project we are just finishing here in the Nashville area. If I had more volunteers to help, we could get these headphones out to many more chemotherapy centers.

K: What is it about providing music for use with chemotherapy that attracts you?

Ed: My family has a history, my dad had leukemia, my mom breast cancer, my sister passed from breast cancer, this is very much a part of who I am, to help. I'll tell you how much, even thirty years ago when my dad had leukemia, I organized a bicycle ride to raise money from the City of Hope. It started at the Santa Monica pier in Los Angeles and it ended at the St. John's Pier in St. Augustine, Florida. That was three thousand miles on a bicycle. I could not help my dad, but I could raise money to help treat cancer.

Back to the headphones, if we as musicians can in some way at least take away the surrealness of the chemotherapy with calming music, that is our highest and best calling as musicians, I firmly believe that. So I am very proud of The River of Calm, what it does with articles on music and health, the music that's on 24 hours a day, and in these headphones for chemotherapy centers, which is starting to go big, I am just thrilled about that, and I have my songs on The River of Calm too, so that works also for me.

If you want to help us, we welcome that too, for the processing of the headphones and getting them out, or identify chemotherapy centers that we can donate to. This is a grassroots effort, the more help we can get the more we can help others on that. For The River of Calm and the music on there, we are very selective and we want to make sure we provide a great strong programming that fits our vibe.

If you are an artist, looking for your music on The River of Calm, just email us, you can email me, with your MP3 links, we'll go from there. There is no huge organization, no large office building with tons of people to go through, we are a very grassroots effort, it's me and our interns, so feel free!

At The River of Calm we are always looking for calming music that fits our formatting, if you are an artist and are looking to have your music on The River of Calm, simply email me, and we will take a look at your music, and point you in the right direction, thank you.

K: What is the work you do with The Bazel Group?

Ed: I feel like the luckiest guy in the world, my booking company, The Bazel Group, we've provided celebrity concerts for corporations around the world, we've worked with Bad Company, Foreigner, Huey Lewis and the News, I have been lucky enough to serve as president and lifetime member of IEBA, which is the International Entertainment Buyers Association, and also president and lifetime member of NATD, the National Association of Talent Directors, it's been a great run, and as you can see, music is such a passion in my life.

I have found that working with concert artists, they might be gifted with multimillion dollar hits, but some of them are just not gifted with the Meet and Greet! I feel like I am half artist and half business person.

K: What would you care to share about how you manage your creative process?

Ed: You know, the creative process is different for each and every one.

I admire the people who can sit down and in five minutes write a hit song, I also admire fellow pianists who can record and make things up on the spot and have a complete album or two out of it.

That is not my particular style.

My style is, as I said, I hear music in my head probably 90% of my waking hours and 90% of my sleeping hours too. I hear melodies, specific melodies, all the time, and so the question is, how do I capture those? If I am near a piano I try to work out a theme, and then my trusty iPhone is recording an audio note at all times, so I end up having numerous themes, numerous sections, it just doesn't stop, I thought after Abbey Road it would stop, but the melodies are still in my head, and I guess I am lucky to have that.

So, with that I have a theme now on my phone, and now I have to put them in a spreadsheet because there are just so many, with what key it is, I give it a number, is it melodic or is it upbeat... And it's a working project in progress, it takes some time.

I think there is a simplicity in a straight line between A and B and getting there with emotion. If you saw my iPhone it's got ideas for the next studio session I'll do, already in progress.

K: What influences have brought you to where you are now?

Ed: I mentioned that, thanks to my parents, I am standing on the shoulders of many, not only my parents, the piano teachers, Genevieve Gardner, Harriet Tucker, Irving Parsons, Janice Chandler, who were in my childhood, who helped me, who have lifted me up, and people that have supported me along the way. I've had a wonderful team for Abbey Road, beyond a dream.

This isn't a solo effort, this is a team effort, and every one of them is very important to me.

I have been influenced by them, I've been influenced by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Earl Garner, George Shearing. I have been taught by some of the great people in LA in the music school out there, artists like Jim Brickman, Danny Rite, Yiruma is a wonderful Korean musician...

I want to stress again how important music is in my life and in others, if it weren't for my sister being wild about the Beatles and taking piano lessons. If it weren't for my parents dragging me, kicking and screaming, to piano lessons, the worst thing ever that happened to me, as a kid on the street playing football, was my mom yelling out the door, "Eddy! Time to practice piano!" and I was like (cringing and hiding face behind hands) There went my street credibility!

It's been such a gift. If you are a parent, and happen to have a child that you can introduce to music, it truly can be the best gift of their life. Look at me, I never thought that in my life I would be recording piano fearlessly and effortlessly at Abbey Road Studio 2, and I have, thanks to my parents, the best gift they have ever given me.

I look at music like ice cream, there are so many different flavors, it depends on what you like. I know my music isn't for everyone, but if it just touches one or two people, I am on the right track. I am thrilled to be able to do this right now!

K: What are your next big dreams and goals? Who would I like to collaborate with?

Ed: Wow! Everyone!

If I really have to think about this, I would love to do a duet with cellist Yo Yo Ma. I think the beauty of a cello , counterpoint with the acoustic warmth of a grand piano. That would be a dream come true.

I would love to play a healing concert for the world in St. Mark's Square, in Venice, Italy. That keeps coming to me, I don't know what it means, but maybe it is with Yo Yo Ma, and it is because the world is crazy at times.

And then lastly, in my own world, I would love for one of my pieces to be a theme song in a major motion picture. If the day comes that that happens, and I go to a movie theater, and hear my song on the big screen.

I've had Abbey Road on my vision board, and I have had other things like the tour of France, Kilimanjaro, things like that, that I have accomplished that are really cool. One of my big dreams and goals is to have one of my thoughtful romantic melodic pieces as the theme to a major motion picture. I am looking forward to that day, and sitting in that movie theater chair, with some popcorn and just saying, "I'm the Luckiest Guy in the World! Thank You!"

I mentioned that Abbey Road has been on my Vision Board, so many things, like Mt. Kilimanjaro, which I accomplished, Tour de France, cycling vacations, the house I bought, the kitchen.

K: Hold it right there, Ed... Vision Board? What is a Vision Board?

Ed: I found out about putting these pictures on a board and looking at them daily, it helps me to manifest and go forward. I really believe it helps, I laminate them and put them in my shower so that I can see them every morning, and it has worked! I have not gotten everything, but I have gotten major things out of this and it's a driving force for me.

I am the strange one at Kinko’s, they look at me when I send them the file, I create it in PhotoShop, and then I send it to Kinko’s and have them laminate it. I go to pick it up and they are looking at me like (strange face) "This is yours?"

This is an older version of my vision board that you can see, (points to images on a laminated collage) here's the CD, there is Abbey Road, right there, Mt. Kilimanjaro is already done, there's the healing concert in St. Mark's Square, I want to be the best dad in the world to my daughter, and there is my project of creating a Theme Song to a Major Motion Picture.

I am a firm believer in Vision Boards.

K: Do you have any other special partnerships?

Ed: I do have a dog, her name is Honey, two years old. I got her when she was a puppy, and this poor dog has listened to more piano music than anyone in the world. She is just a beautiful golden retriever, there is a picture I have of her standing on the piano keys as a puppy. Now she is two years old and Honey knows, she lays down by my side on the floor, and has listened to every single note that I have played. Honey seems to enjoy it and be calmed by it.

She has been a great partner, I'll take her on walks and we will listen to rough tracks for song ideas as we go. It's a working relationship, she has just been great, I love her to death, what a great comfort she is, she's right down there, sleeping right now.

Ed's newest album, The London Sessions, Reflections from Studio 2, will be available starting on October 7, 2022, as are his other two albums, Homecoming and Bella Piano:

ED's LINKS more
Imagine, if you will, that we are more than we think. More even than the universe itself, because the universe is only one expression of the fundamental, grounding, metahuman source that emanates, nurtures, and transcends us all. This is an idea from Deepak Chopra, who suggests there are secrets and techniques to moving beyond our present limitations. Some might disagree with Chopra. Perhaps he offends many traditionalists, both Eastern and Western, with his blending of common-sense wellness, medical intuition and Ayurvedic therapies.

Waking up, we learn, isn’t just about mindfulness or meditation. By going beyond, we can liberate ourselves from the conditioning and constructs that underlie anxiety, tension, and ego-driven demands. Waking up allows life to make sense as never before. To make this as practical as possible, Chopra rounds out the book with a 31-day guide to becoming Metahuman. Once you wake up, he writes, your life becomes transformed, because pure consciousness—which is the field of all possibilities-- then dawns in your life. Only then does your infinite potential become your personal reality.

Chopra unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. It means to move past the limitations constructed by the mind and to enter a new state of awareness in which we have deliberate and concrete access to peak experiences that can transform people’s lives from the inside out.

Sverre Knut Johansen has taken on many fantastic themes and notions with his electronic music, such as interstellar travel, secret extraterrestrial technologies, terrestrial time and natural history, evolution itself, dreaming, and with his newest album, Metahuman, he embraces Enlightenment, Awakening, and the Great Liberation, with music to inspire a new spiritual perspective on our life in the Universe with the infinite potential to remove the limiting belief systems and negativity of our personal reality, all in a musical form that brings light to the world.

Deepak Chopra is an Indian-American author and alternative medicine advocate. He has likened the universe to a "reality sandwich" which has three layers: the "material" world, a "quantum" zone of matter and energy, and a "virtual" zone outside of time and space, which is the domain of God, and from which God can direct the other layers. Chopra has frequently said that "aging is simply learned behavior" that can be slowed or prevented. Some of his ideas have caused various medical and scientific professionals to label his work as pseudoscience. Great changes are preceded by chaos, to move past the limitations constructed by the mind.

To become a Metahuman we must unlock our full potential through meditation and open up our creativity, our insight, our imagination, our compassion, our truth, our love, our empathy, our desire for goodness, beauty and harmony. Chopra studied medicine in India before emigrating in 1970 to the United States, where he completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in endocrinology. As a licensed physician, by 1980 he became chief of staff at the New England Memorial Hospital (NEMH). In 1985, he met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and became involved in the Transcendental Meditation movement and eventually resigned from NEMH to pursue a new vision of healing, eventually establishing such enterprises as the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center, the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, the Mind-Body Medical Group, the Chopra Foundation, and the American Association for Ayurvedic Medicine.

Chopra has also been described as America's most prominent spokesman for Ayurveda. Ayurveda therapies include herbal medicines, yoga, massage, laxatives, special diets, meditation, enemas, and medical oils. Historical evidence for Ayurvedic texts, terminology and concepts appears from the middle of the first millennium BCE onwards, the main classical Ayurveda texts begin with accounts of the transmission of medical knowledge from the gods to sages, and then to human physicians.

In Ayurvedic texts, balance is emphasized, suppressing natural urges is considered unhealthy and claimed to lead to illness. Ayurvedic practitioners regard physical existence, mental existence, and personality each as their own unique units, with each element being able to influence the others. The political debate about the place of Ayurveda in contemporary India has continued to the present, Ayurveda is heavily practiced in India and Nepal, where perhaps around 80% of the population report using it.

I am not about to further summarize such a complexity, let us immediately turn to focus on the music. What I hear is a full electronic symphony, often with a space-rock form of higher consciousness guiding the way, in places light and sparkly, and in other places much more complex, deep and rich with textures, pulses and powerful melodic wonder. Sverre Knut Johansen mostly plays Sequential Prophet X and Pro 3, opening a portal to deep inner space, employing other instruments as noted in the track details. On three tracks Ståle Storløkken plays Haken Audio Continiuum. This album was mastered by the legendary Howard Givens at Spotted Peccary Studios NW in Portland, Oregon.

From the void comes form, in the shape of a new friend, who has been traveling for years collecting adventures and stories, and at last has arrived. From the form comes motion and dance, “METAHUMAN” (3:37) establishes the groove, a sense of wonderment is invoked, hypnotized by the brilliance of that pulsing core of light, swirling bright gas around the starlike, throbbing core. Storløkken plays Haken Audio Continuum on this track, reflecting the cosmos, including orderliness, balance, harmony, logic, and abstract beauty.

Darker themes emerge on the second track, building into a separate solid form, the power of energy, with cogent strings stretched under a brazen sky, beneath a stupendous Sun. There is a mild rumbling and tumbling off in deep space, some spooky distant synthesizers echoing and swirling in blackness. This is the prodigal otherworldly rover, feeling the kinetic power of the pulse, molding the universe’s chaos, arrayed with the intoxicating colors of coursing energy. This is the longest track, it builds to a powerful beat, the strings take over, and ultimately fades into mist in the end. Do we live in a mind-made fiction? The best use of imagination is creativity. The worst use of imagination is anxiety. “HUMAN (Path Of Destruction)” (10:34), the word destruction is probably more of a daredevil prophesy than a description of the sound. The musical feeling is positive and provides a strong uplifting groove, surely destruction would not have such honest beauty. This concept is different, perhaps the myth of the human as a machine is harmful. To free yourself, Chopra suggests that you open your mind, soul, and body, always to find that consciousness is the sole creator of self, mind, brain, body and the universe. Dig it.

Storløkken plays Haken Audio Continuum on the third track, “Unity Of Existence Through Evolution” (8:48), which is contemplative and gentle, the space rock beat operates within a slow inquisitive mood with changing elements. Lift up your eyes to the sky, on towards unknown worlds of distant stars beyond the wide, uncharted reaches of deep space, into the vastness of space-time, with its myriad stars and planets, the ceaseless drama of life. We are the authors of space-time, we must embrace our true role. The story never begins or ends – it merely ‘becomes,’ and you already possess this ultimate potential. Maybe.

The strength builds and broadens into a wide atmospheric dancing ground, a form that brings light to the world, wide circles, graceful glides, a solid neo-rock beat sustains, the pulse is strong, and rising. You might want to find your sturdy cosmic dancing shoes, much territory is spanned and then floats upwards, to fade into a pleasant extended psychedelic darkness. “Immortal” (5:44) allows life to make sense as never before, life becomes transformed as you explore the infinite potential, the miracle of our very existence. Chopra claims that one may attain "perfect health," free from disease and never age or die. He suggests that human aging is fluid and changeable, it can speed up, slow down, stop for a time, and even reverse itself, yielding indestructible new dimensions of stress-free living and joyful living, positioning building blocks taking you stepping on a journey through this current Fairy Tale we call life, babe.

Sweet slow rising layers build into a powerful pulse with sparkles, then glides upwards, into “META (The Light Inside You)” (6:24). This touches on the forever spirit once again, consistent and nourishing as it wings upwards, repeating circles of light, perhaps an m'bira-core orbit, you might move past the limitation constructed by the mind to encounter a faint-glowing mass of vapor with a brighter core. Along with his collection of synths, electronic percussion, electric guitars, and sound design software, weaving melody, rhythm, and texture into a captivating musical tapestry that constantly evolves, revealing secret treasures from a distant place and bringing light to the world, Johansen plays the Haken ContinuuMini on this track. There is a hidden meaning behind all events, and this hidden meaning, an ancient philosophy Chopra calls The Direct Path, is hopefully serving your own evolution.

Now we are all dancing slowly. “METAHUMAN (Extended)” (9:51) expands the theme, allowing for a new message, explanation, and exploration. Only by going beyond everyday life can we change what it means to be human today. The destination is probably a little bit different because there is more time to establish the image or formation.

The universe has deep resources, a finger of light into the sky, amid wisps of smoke, clouds of silver, places of secrets, elegant and with wisdom hidden in it. There might be a science of dreaming, consciousness is much more than pure abstract reason, crossing the ancient chasm, cautiously emerging into percussive motion and pulse, a dance into the fullness of time and what lies hidden. Journey through echoes to find the sense of awe that astronomers might experience when observing outer space through telescopes, a mind-expanding view into our inner space. In fact it’s thousands of years old; and Storløkken plays the Haken Audio Continuum.

“Fluctuations Of Awareness” (7:55) is slow and thick in places, with textures and surprises that drift and fade in an atmosphere of gradual metamorphosis, I might somehow sense alternate bands of red, blue, yellow, and white strata, a fraction of light, not the violet glimmer which had illuminated the underground ways, but a ghostly radiance. Logistical obstacles are opportunities in disguise. Such openings allow for rhythm and pulses to lead the way up into the vast beyondscape. When you make a choice, you change the future. Sometimes I feel almost like I am looking into a star, looking into the glowing, pulsing core, seeing spatial starlight unfiltered by any atmosphere; and Johansen plays the Haken ContinuuMini on this track.

As we ponder a mind-expanding view into our inner sonic light show, we might veer into a tunnel, the corner turning into a night sky that goes forever, “Miracle Of Existence” (7:34) creates a new paradigm of health for humanity, essential positivity. Gradual deepening and layering, sustaining a slow exploration that is darker in places, always keeping a consistent pulse and life force, this is an inward spin. Imagine wind that sounds a bit like fields of dry whistles and synthesizers, developing into a beat that could be like a heartbeat, and it just keeps going and changing, sometimes a prisoner of the past, otherwise a pioneer of the future, our non-physical experience is a paradoxical journey beyond the physical and the deeply hidden.

On the final track, the always amazing David Helpling activates his electric guitar, synthesizers, and piano, while Johansen plays Steinberger bass guitar in addition to his basic studio wizardly contributions. “Infinity Being” (6:13) brings a haunting melodic atmosphere, full of subtle vistas, a cycling melody that returns to our dream castle. This is where the limitless lingers. The vastness of space-time sings, with its myriad stars and planets moving beyond our present limitations of the mind to access a field of infinite possibilities. We are more than we think.

Sverre Knut Johansen (pronounced Svá-da Ka-núte Yo-hán-sen) hails from Mo i Rana, a lesser-known town in the northern-central Helgeland region of Norway, just below the arctic circle. He has composed electronic works since the early 1990s, developing a strong signature style through the use of melody and forms often thought of as classically-influenced, electronic symphonic compositions. He has previously released material on Origo Sound and his own Origin Music, and has collaborated with artists including Erik Wøllo, David Helpling, and Robert Rich.

This is Johansen’s sixth release on the Spotted Peccary Music Label. His earlier releases are DREAMS BEYOND (SPM-3005), PRECAMBRIAN (SPM-3004), THE VAST EXPANSE (SPM-3003), SECRET SPACE PROGRAM (SPM-3002), and EARTH FROM ABOVE (SPM-3001)

METAHUMAN was mastered by Howard Givens at Spotted Peccary Studios NW. It is available as a physical CD artfully designed by Spotted Peccary’s creative guru, Daniel Pipitone, as well as in digital download format (MP3 (320KBPS), 16-bit CD quality, or 24-bit studio master), and across all streaming platforms. Buy/Stream METAHUMAN: or

The Southwest region of North America is full of breathtaking scenery, barren rocks juxtaposed in desert wilderness, great-walled stone canyons, blending cowboy influences with Mexican and Spanish traditions. Renowned pianist/composer Elizabeth Naccarato’s A Southwest Story draws you into this scenic world with her consistently calm, sensitive and well-arranged album of instrumental music with a bright Southwestern flavor. Each composition is a concentrated gem on a topic related to the broad area known as the Southwest.

One might say Elizabeth Naccarato is a romantic. She is known to compose entire albums when a place and its people speak to her soul. Produced by Michael Gettel, an exciting pianist and composer in his own right, the works range from solo piano to contemporary instrumental piano pieces accented by guitar, bass, violin, mandolin, percussion and accordion. Featured performers include Leon Christian (guitar and bass) and Nancy Rumbel (Native flute and English horn). Naccarato composed and arranged the genre-defying album, with the exceptions of "The Spanish Dance No. 2" by Enrique Granados, and "Fandango" by Federico Moreno Torroba.

Early singles "Dusk" and "Sacred Land" convey the stunning pastel sunsets, and the physical beauty of the land between Ute Mountain and Mt. Blanca, which is said to be sacred. Rumbel's Native American flute adds a hauntingly beautiful quality to "Shrine of the Stations of the Cross" an homage to San Luis' spiritual attraction of the same name. People visit from all over the world to seek its solace and to take in the breathtaking views on this trail of bronze sculptures (from 3/4 to life size, representing the 15 stations of the cross), which are positioned along a trail on a mesa in the center of San Luis.

"From whimsical tunes to waltzes to classical covers of Spanish composers to reverent pieces honoring religious traditions of old, and slow dreamy solo piano sequences reflecting on the region’s beauty and the natural elements, A Southwest Story offers a relaxing and uplifting 'auralscape' to a fascinating place," wrote Lissette Cascante, of the Auralscapes music blog and podcast.

Favoring the album's more classical influences, Kathy Parsons (Mainly Piano) wrote “ favorite piece on the album (“Flower Moon”), Chopin's influence can definitely be heard in the graceful nature of the music. Ahhhh!”

A native Texan, Naccarato began her piano studies at the age of six at the Dominican Convent in Houston. She won her first piano competition at the age of nine and performed and competed in local and statewide events; later, she was a Piano Performance major at the University of Southern California where she earned her degree, and was a three-time winner of the Hollywood Alumni S.A.I Scholarship as well as a highly-coveted Teaching Assistantship in graduate school. She joined the Annie Wright Schools faculty in 1999 and has been an affiliate faculty at The University of Puget Sound since 1989. Much of her instruction is in piano and voice, but she also has directed dozens of regional theater presentations of plays and musicals.

San Luis, Colorado, is a very old town with the Stations of the Cross being one of the main focal points, and the opening track, "San Luis" (4:42) has a nostalgic sweet sad feeling, a familiar sounding traditional song given tender treatment, piano seasoned with guitar and mandolin.

The Spanish reintroduced the horse to the Americas, beginning in the late 15th century, free-roaming herds evolved in North America, struggling with the harsh climate. "Wild Horses" (2:58) has a very Spanish feeling, violin behind the piano with just a hint of percussion, feel the horses glide through the landscape.

To the oldest inhabitants of the Southwestern desert regions, respect for nature comes from a deep connection to the land; to the European way of seeing the world, the land is a commercial resource given by God for men to develop and yield wealth. Both experience the stillness, vastness, and harsh beauty and sense the importance of finding a necessary balance. The piano melody and violin joins and the melody weaves the story of the land, opening a more detailed lamentation of the history of the territory, "Sacred Land" (5:08) reminds us that sacred places strengthen the earth’s biological and cultural diversity, inspiring reverence for land and cultural diversity, and connect nature and culture.

"Mi Hito, No!" (4:12) has a traditional feeling, sad stories are the most compelling. Time to dance the cha cha cha, congas and hand percussion with piano and violin. Next, "Fandango" (1:48) features piano with fancy classical Spanish guitar thrills and sparkles. The Fandango is a lively partner dance originating from Portugal and Spain, two male dancers face each other, dancing and tap-dancing one at a time, showing which has the most lightness and repertoire of feet in motion, swift changes in the tap-dancing, seeing which one of them makes the feet transitions more eye-catching. The word fandango is sometimes also used as a synonym for "a quarrel", "a big fuss", or "a brilliant exploit."

Now for a romantic instrumental tale, "Brown Eyes" (4:12), a drum set with cymbals, accordion, castanets and glockenspiel joins the piano, celebrating the calm patience enduring the metallic brightness of a hot sun. "Spanish Dance No. 2 by Granados" (5:25) is a slow dance with lots of colorful fabrics, sad and rich with a quiet feeling, gentle as a breeze of spring. The hot, soft wind of the desert kisses our faces, all around the horizon bare volcanic peaks burn into the blue. Sometimes a whirlwind of dust travels rapidly over the plain, making one ponder what would happen should it gyrate into the vachtoe. "La Sierra" (4:38) is an ode to the mountains in the distance and forever, a range of mountains especially with a serrated or irregular outline. The sound is quiet and full, along with the piano, chimes shiver in a breeze.

The Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross, also known as the Way of Sorrows or the Via Crucis, refers to a series of images and sculptures depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion and accompanying prayers. There is a famous Stations of the Cross Shrine located in Colorado's oldest town, San Luis, Colorado. Huberto Maestas was the sculptor for all of the statues. "Shrine of the Stations of the Cross" (3:33) is a sacred story, featuring piano and flute.

Vega is the brightest star in the northern constellation of Lyra, and lies at a vertex of a widely spaced asterism called the Summer Triangle, which consists of Vega plus the two first-magnitude stars Altair, in Aquila, and Deneb in Cygnus. "The Vega" (4:31) is a piano solo with a deliciously lighter sensation, invoking the Southwest's beautiful skies.

The sun is setting with all its melancholy splendor, "Dusk" (4:08) is a tribute to the end of the day, and the beginning of the night, piano and guitar are joined by a violin as the light becomes a rainbow magnified even beyond dreams, a thing not transparent and ethereal, but solidified, a work of ages, sweeping up majestically from the red walls, its iris-hued arch against the blue sky.

The single “Dusk”

The cowboy has deep historical roots tracing back to Spain and the earliest European settlers of the Americas. A cowboy is an animal herder who tends cattle on ranches traditionally on horseback, and often performs a multitude of other ranch-related tasks. The "cowboy code" of Gene Autry encouraged honorable behavior, mutual respect and patriotism. Dance was an important social activity in the Old West and the level of social skill was generally high. Men and women take turns sharing the pulse of the dance, couples moving in a circular motion across the floor. The track "Cowboy's Waltz" (3:30) features a full dancehall feeling with hand percussion, high hat and accordian.

"Flower Moon" (3:36) is a piano solo that closes A Southwest Story, a lovely portrait of the full moon in May. The Flower Moon is named after the abundant flowers that grow in the spring. Native Americans called it the Budding Moon, Egg Laying Moon, and Planting Moon. The Celtic and Old English names are Mothers’ Moon, Bright Moon, Hare Moon, and Grass Moon.

The Southwest is the hottest and driest region in the United States, where the availability of water has defined its landscapes and history of human settlement. The Southwest landscape is a dry climate with sparse grass, thus large herds of cattle requiring vast amounts of land to obtain sufficient forage gave rise to the development of the horseback-mounted vaquero traditions of northern Mexico. It is a strange land, a desert overgrown with strange soft-tinted weeds, “salt weeds,” pink, red, green, gray, blue, purple; the rich-green yellow-flowering greasewood; odd cacti, and all manner of thorn bearing bushes, haunted by its loneliness and silence and beauty. It appears endless, a strange world of colossal shafts and buttes of rock, magnificently sculptured, standing isolated and aloof, dark, weird, and lonely.

Therein lies the joy, sweet and also vague, the secret of the wonderful sensations of strange familiarity with wild places. The origins of the cowboy tradition come from Spain, beginning with the hacienda system of medieval Spain. These hearty pioneers of the Southwest interacted with and relied on an unfamiliar environment, utilizing storytelling in order to pass on memory, spark imagination, and make sense of their relationship to this harsh earth.

A native Texan, Elizabeth began her piano studies at the age of six at the Dominican Convent in Houston. She won her first piano competition at the age of nine and performed and competed in local and statewide events. Elizabeth was a Piano Performance major at the University of Southern California where she earned her degree, and was a three-time winner of the Hollywood Alumni S.A.I Scholarship as well as a highly-coveted Teaching Assistantship in graduate school. She joined the Annie Wright Schools faculty in 1999 and has been an affiliate faculty at The University of Puget Sound since 1989. Much of her instruction is in piano and voice, but she also has directed dozens of regional theater presentations of plays and musicals. Elizabeth Naccarato’s previous recordings are Jarrell’s Cove (inspired by the coastline of Puget Sound near Seattle and produced by pianist Michael Gettel), North Sycamore (named for a street in West Los Angeles where she spent an early stage of her career, with special guests oboist Nancy Rumbel and saxophonist Richard Warner), Stone Cottage (inspired by a special residence with a wild garden), One Piano (a collaboration with Gettel), History (combining some of her best work with both new and live performances), Souvenir d’Italia which was inspired by one of her favorite places, and now A Southwest Story, a tribute to the Southwestern part of the United States of America.

This newest album enhances the vision of the growing collection of exquisite piano interpretations of various aspects of specific locations and contexts, as well as life itself. Elizabeth Naccarato has achieved a noteworthy translation of the spirit of the land, its cultural history and the flavors and elemental aspects. Each note fits into a magnificent audio portrait of the Southwest, from the environment to how it feels to be there, a hot sun, spirits in the canyons, the languages and religious iconography are included in the melodies and musical forms.

Previous recordings by Naccarato include Jarrell’s Cove, North Sycamore, Stone Cottage, One Piano (a collaboration with Gettel), History, and Souvenir d’Italia, all available through her official website and

Naccarato is preparing to announce upcoming live performances for this Fall 2022; watch her website and social media for the cities, dates and ticket links.

Music fans can link to buy or stream A Southwest Story from their favorite platform here:

1 San Luis (4:42)
2 Wild Horses (2:58)
3 Sacred Land (5:08)
4 Mi Hito, No! (4:12)
5 Fandango (1:48)
6 Brown Eyes (4:12)
7 Spanish Dance No. 2 by Granados (5:25)
8 La Sierra (4:38)
9 Shrine of the Stations of the Cross (3:33)
10 The Vega (4:31)
11 Dusk (4:08)
12 Cowboy's Waltz (3:30)
13 Flower Moon (3:36)

APPLE: more