In times like these, when the world seems to be changing so quickly, it feels like happy memories are among the few things we can rely on for comfort. The face of an old friend; the recollection of days spent with loved ones; the excitement of hopes and dreams. Yet, time stops for no-one and, though we may think fondly of the past, sometimes memories are all we have of some people or places. Pianist/composer Ryan Whyman helps us reconnect with the joyful feelings these memories bring while acknowledging the accompanying bittersweet nostalgia, with his latest, Fantasies & Memories (Self Produced, 2019).
Like personal memories, the compositions on Whyman's record vary widely. The opener, "Days Gone By," brings to mind gospel, soul and hip hop. It is a warm welcome, inviting the listener to put aside worries, and listen intently. If the listener chooses to do so, they are rewarded with a captivating musical experience.
Whyman's subtle but effective use of orchestration throughout the album highlights the many evocative melodies. "For The Children" is a good example; Whyman's use of toy piano and glockenspiel to introduce the theme sets the stage for beautiful instrument pairings: voice and cello, cello and toy piano, cello and piano, and all of them together. Literally every track on the record invites such detailed appreciation, whether it be of the arrangements, the timbres or the playing of everyone involved.
Above all, though, Fantasies & Memories is a testament to Whyman's prowess as a composer. Honing his skill by composing for many varying ensembles, including orchestra and choir, in addition to jazz ensemble, his gift for transporting listeners reaches new heights here. His newest effort is a truly satisfying musical journey that deserves multiple listens. Fans of nearly any instrumental music will find something to enjoy here.
Track Listing: Days Gone By; Faces; Desperate; For the Children; Nostalgia; Lullaby; Eulogy; Glorious; Heavenly Things; Nocturne
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