Music & More
by Mark Maxwell Abushady New York City
Seasons of the Soul: Viola Meditations
Karen Olson’s aptly named album pairs her soulful viola with Tibetan bowl, piano, tambura, Native American drum and other instruments for these meditative, melodically free-form tone poems that beg for a quiet afternoon to be truly heard and appreciated. Quite an enjoyable accomplishment.
Second Sight is a very well produced offering in the country/folk music genre. That said, do not expect the typical musical and lyric clichés often associated with country music. In the footsteps of such greats as Gordon Lightfoot, Corinne West spins out some notable stories in song, and all are backed by a fine group of musicians. An enjoyable album from a talented songwriter.
Siente: Night Songs From Around the World
Hilary Field & Patrice O’Neill
Yellow Tail Records
Siente is an international collection of lullabies representing the Italian, Russian, Irish, Spanish, Basque, Czech cultures, amongst others. Whether sung in English, the native tongue, or a combination of both, they are sweetly rendered by Patrice O’Neill’s gentle voice and accompanied mainly by the classical guitar work of Hilary Field. She is joined by guest instrumentalists on various cuts, which add violin, flute, English horn, cello, celeste, and other musical voices to the mix. Some are beautiful in their simple and loving messages, while others are haunting, such as the “Er a la Vò” from Italy or the Sephardic “Durme Hermosa Donzella.” A wonderful selection for relaxing the whole family, and a nice gift for new mothers and fathers.
New Earth Records
Padma Previ sings traditional, devotional Indian mantras set to contemporary music in this commendable album. After a spin around the circle of 5ths in the first cut, I was reassured in subsequent cuts as the album got down to creative business with some moving and wonderful musical reworkings of such chants as “Om Namah Shivaya” and the “Gayatri Mantra.” I was also struck by the universality of the musical settings when giving a listen to the album as a whole, perhaps due to the contemporary world music roots Ms. Previ draws upon.
With Sandra Magsamen
Produced by Lennlee Keep, Directed by Eli Brown
This is the DVD release of a PBS special by Ms. Magsamen based upon her book of the same name.
I came to view this having neither read her book nor having seen the broadcast. I was at first put off by the “infomercial” look and feel of the program; however, my opinion was changed as Ms. Magsamen made her case for a renewed definition of creativity, which she states, and I believe, to be a basic human need. Her gentle crusade is to reclaim “the gifts of imagination, of curiosity; of playfulness,” and she makes suggestions as to how we can become more mindful of the creative choices we make throughout the day. “Living Artfully,” as Ms. Magsamen describes it, is her name for the current creative movement, and an acknowledgement of the art found in every day living. Her description of art as “how you tell others what you think and what you feel” is as good a definition as any have given. Creativity, she goes on to explain, is “not found in following rules, or getting it right.” An uplifting and moving film that provides a counter voice to the one that says “I can’t.”
a film by Michael Apted
Bristol Bay Productions in association with Ingenious Film Partners
Amazing Grace tells a story that many of us might not know – that of the emancipation movement in 18th century Britain, and, as one of the subplots, the story behind the song that titles this film. This is the story of a movement whose culmination preceded our own, and so gives some idea as to the degree of uneasiness with which our own Declaration of Independence, in which no mention of slavery or its abolition, was signed.
With impressive production values (the costumes in particular were outstanding), the story follows the life of abolitionist William Wilberforce (well played by Ioan Gruffudd) and his tireless struggle to change the perception of slavery and raise the consciousness of the most influential kingdom/nation of the time. I was disappointed to learn that one of the most moving scenes, that where our protagonist sings “Amazing Grace” for the first time in public, involved quite a bit of poetic license (the tune we know appeared c. 1829 and so was not matched to the words (c.1772) until years later, when they were first published together in America), but nonetheless, the story of its lyric – of John Newton (Albert Finney) – will break your heart, as will the unflinching description of the conditions aboard the slave ships. An important film.
a film by Henry Jaglom
The Rainbow Film Company and Revere Entertainment
Déjà Vu is an odd film, oddly paced, with a title that is only partly descriptive of its subject matter. Our main character, played by Victoria Foyt, meets a stranger while on a business trip to Israel and begins to experience a series of encounters and ‘hunches’ which, more than Déjà Vu, seem to call synchronicity and karma into play. The action is just about stopped by a conversation between the male lead, well played by Stephen Dillame, and a free-spirited older woman about whether living the ‘free life’ involves following impulses or just chasing illusions. This interruption is not unwelcome, for the philosophical discussion they have effectually verbalizes and examines the fears and longings expressed by the main characters. Vanessa Redgrave plays the free-spirited woman to great effect, and the dialogue here is excellent. With an appropriate ‘twist,’ Déjà Vu ends as a magical love story – one which, like the best of movies, may cause its audience to ponder their own life choices.
Maxwell Abushady is an actor, singer, designer and photographer based
in New York City.