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by Mark Maxwell Abushady • New York City


The Shape of Light
by Jeff Ball
Red Feather Music
A gentle and inspired offering of Native American pieces touched with elements from other cultures – at times there seemed to be an Eastern “feel” at others, European. Jeff Ball and a host of admirable colleagues effortlessly integrate acoustic guitar, piano, fretless bass guitar, violin, piano, and hang (a relatively new instrument) with a beautifully played Native flute, creating an album which honors the music of the past yet imbues it with new life.

by Deviations Project
Neurodisc Records
Not knowing what to expect from a song called Really Big Swans, I started to play this, and laughed, hearing a full blown dance version of Tchaikovsky’s Four Little Swans. Following was Tootin’ Carmen (adapted from the Habanera) and a host of other adaptations of both classical and contemporary “classics.” Medication based on Massenet’s Meditation, Swan Fake, based on (you guessed it) Swan Lake, an interesting take on Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells and a couple of original compositions proving Dave Williams’ talent in that area. His partner, Oliver Lewis, plays on both Stradivarius and Guarnerius violins (he holds the current title for the fastest playing of “Flight of the Bumblebee!”). Together, they make up Deviations Project. A fun, lighthearted, yet skilled offering. Many of the cuts are quite beautiful.

Ty Burhoe
Six of the eight melodies here are original musical settings by Mr. Burhoe, of the traditional Sanskrit mantra OM Namah Shivaya. The other two are works by Krishna Das who, along with Manorama, John Friend, and Amy Ippoliti are featured on this album suggested for use with home yoga practice, meditation, or bodywork sessions. Delicate and peaceful, the instrumentals, which include sarangi, sarode, piano, drones, strings, tambura, tabla and harmonium compliment the vocals.


Conversations with God
Based on the books by Neale Donald Walsch
Directed by Stephen Simon/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
“Hitting bottom” is a term that is used relatively frequently in this era of self-examination and striving for enlightenment – as a condition experienced by many before finding their “path.” Readers of Neale Donald Walsch’s excellent trio of books ‘Conversations with God’ certainly know that Mr. Walsch has experienced this as well, but until viewing this film, I doubt one could truly imagine how low his low had been. Much of the movie is of his painful descent into a state of physical, emotional and spiritual oblivion, with occasional “messages” from another voice – him, yet not ‘him’ – which are mostly ignored until a breaking point is reached. It is shocking yet, sadly, believable how long a person can stay in such a state. Henry Czerny does a very good job portraying Mr. Walsch, and is supported by a excellent cast.
Conversations with God is a film I would recommend to those who are familiar with Mr. Walsch’s messages who would like to learn more about his ‘evolution’ to the point of writing his laudable books. Its focus is mostly on his life prior to becoming the man we know now. Although the film does include Mr. Walsch’s moment(s) of enlightenment and snippets from his writings (it ends with him lecturing about his experiences), for the teachings, the books are still peerless.

Gaiam Media & Awakened Media in association with Entertainment
Directed by Michael Goorjian
Illusion is a film which represents everything wonderful that a low budget/independent film can be. It is entertaining, well filmed, and will uplift its audience. Indeed, Michael Goorjian has given us an offering full of heart and spirit, and enough cannot be said about his talents as a writer, superbly adapting, updating, and reworking a 17th Century play, ‘L’Illusion Comique’ by Pierre Corneille. Indeed, he recreates it. But his talents don’t stop there, as Mr. Goorjian also directs and stars, opposite Kirk Douglas, in this wonderful film. His performance is superb. As for Mr. Douglas, I was concerned at the very opening about not being able to understand his speech, but that was not to be the case. Just as one’s ears becomes attuned to Shakespearean speech within the opening lines of the Bard’s plays, so is the effect of the lines delivered by this master actor. His superlative performance in this film will crown his body of work. Both actors are supported by a fine cast, with special mention going to Karen Tucker, whose understated performance as the love interest ‘Isabelle’ seems right on the mark. “Romance is found in the space between people – in the distances,” so states Mr. Douglas’ character during a preliminary scene, and the film surely illustrates that exquisite pain/pleasure/ longing/tragedy/fulfillment between people through different ages and stages. Highly recommended.

Mark Maxwell Abushady is an actor, singer, designer and photographer based in New York City.