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Rebecca Harrold: The River of Life

C. Michael Bailey By

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Pianist/composer Rebecca Harrold is a single-handed reminder of the charms of early "new age" piano music while, at the same time, taking it to a different, more melodically complex level, on her debut, The River Of Life, a spiritually inspired collection of original compositions. Harrold has had her thumb in many musical pies, including the female a cappella group Faith In Action, for whom she sang and composed, and serving as the pianist for the Boston Ballet. Her bona fides are as impressive as they are solid.

With the continuing atomization of musical genres into ravenous entities, the designation "new age" means less today than when it was originally coined 40 years ago. All genre designations are becoming obsolete quickly but, as flawed humans, many like pigeon holes and so this is where The River Of Life falls. But this music is a generation separated from George Winston, David Lanz and Michael T. Jones. Harrold retains the melodic simplicity of the early genre while elaborating on the harmonic and rhythmic elements. What makes this music so accessible is this simplicity. The music is readily understood and enjoyed. Harrold's contribution to the genre is a greater dramatic effect realized through her ability to color her playing.

The opening "Photograph" illustrates this with augmentation by violinist Charlie Bisharat and guitarist Will Ackerman (the one piece on which he plays). Harrold effects a repeating seven-note figure that is the foundation for the song and the harmonic basis for the solo instrument accompaniment.

This is music that stirs the spirit deep because of its completely digested and assimilated character, emphasized in Harrold's crystalline, yet warm, playing. The title piece is a ballad of quiet momentum, one reminiscent of Harrold's river of life and that of the Revelator: "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal." That is what Rebecca Harrold achieves here.

Track Listing: Photograph; We Belong Together; G.O.D.; The River Of Life; Without You; Another Time, Another Place; Mourning Dove; Gotta Never Give Up; Sentimental roll; Say You Won’t; Majesty; Willow Tree; One My Own.

Personnel: Rebecca Harrold: piano, compositions; Will Ackerman: guitar (1); Tony Levin: bass; Richard Gates: bass (10); Jeff Haynes: percussion; Tom Eaton: percussion (3, 8); Jill Haley: English horn; Premik tubbs lyricon, soprano saxophone; Charlie Bisharat: violin; Eugene Friesen: cello; Penni Lane: vocals.

Title: The River of Life | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Self Produced

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