Azure Pieces of Life
This beautiful, original instrumental music can create an inspiring atmosphere, and is perfect for massage, creating art, healing, rush hour traffic, Sunday morning coffee, dinner parties, or the office. Several of the compositions are influenced by the ancient, native Calusa people. It can stand up to many listening sessions, as the melodies, chords, and textures are unique and complex, and are performed by two incredibly accomplished, innovative instrumentalists. Cover art by Robert Rauschenberg. The music is performed and spontaneously composed by long-time friends, Kat Epple and Chuck Grinnell, and is inspired by the natural beauty of Southwest Florida where they now reside. Other music by Kat Epple, 'Traces of Time' and 'Manatee Dreams of Neptune' by Emerald Web, and 'Tranquility Hideaway'. Review by Bill Binkelman 'Kat Epple, flutist for the pioneering new age/spacemusic duo Emerald Web from years past (her husband and partner in Emerald Web, Bob Stohl, passed away in 1990) is, thankfully, still recording wonderful music. Azure Pieces of Life, her collaboration with keyboard player Chuck Grinnell, is a recording 'inspired by the natural beauty of Southwest Florida where they reside.' Sixteen tracks range from breezy and cheery instrumentals to moody atmospheric selections that echo Emerald Web from albums such as Nocturne to jazzy numbers that evoke a cool hip vibe that speaks of nights aglow with neon lights. Epple plays a wide variety of flutes with virtuosity, flair, and feeling, while Grinnell handles piano, electric piano (check the back alley riffing on 'Blue Heron'), and subtle synthesizers. Emerald Web fans - be advised that there are few outright synth/EM pieces here, if any at all. The sound is closer to a blend of acoustic new age, adult contemporary and jazz, with a splash of Native influences on some songs. 'Soaring Osprey' opens the CD with lilting flute circling, dipping, and performing appropriate acrobatics over rolling piano chords played in characteristic new age style, a la Lanz, Ciani, and the other romanticists. 'Blue Heron,' the next track, is my favorite, as the electric piano slinks underneath a sultry bass flute. The addition of snapping fingers in the background dials up the 'oh so cool' factor even higher. Native influences (through the use of wooden flute) sprinkle 'Calusa Shadow' with the spice of mystery and Grinnell's synths color the background with 'shadow' via washes and gentle tones. More superb electric piano graces 'Catfish Tails' and once again Epple and Grinnell introduce a jazz element into their music, this time featuring flute trills and a homespun feel to the tune. By now (track 6) it's apparent how comfortable these two are playing with each other, Epple usually steps out front while Grinnell appears at ease handling the atmospheric accompaniment work (and doing an excellent job at it), although there are moments on the CD where the keyboards are thrust into the spotlight, e.g. some tracks open with extended solos on piano, such as 'The Last Shell People' which has an air of quiet dignity to it. From the relaxing somberness of 'Crane Dance' (with subtle Asian-flavored keyboards, sounding a tad like a koto) to the warmth and friendliness of the romantic title track to the smooth synthesizers that flow through 'Calusa Reflection' to the ten-minute long 'Peace River' which contains many moments of drama and powerful performances stressing dynamism from both Epple and Grinnell, Azure Pieces of Life covers a broad spectrum of emotions. Peppered throughout the CD are minimal environmental sounds which add to the 'feel' of the nature-inspired music within. When the listener is in the capable and passionate hands of superb musicians such as these two, he or she merely has to hit the 'play' button, relax in his/her favorite chair, and let the recording work it's magic. I was thrilled to discover that Kat Epple is still making music and having heard her synergistic by-play with Chuck Grinnell, she apparently has discovered a simpatico musician who desires to travel the same musical route as she does. For us lucky listeners, it's definitely 'happy trails' ahead. The CD is joyfully recommended!' Kat performs live in concert and for many events in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sanibel, Captiva, Naples, New York, and Fort Myers. Her ensembles include: solo flute, flute and keyboard, flute and harp, and with her world music/smooth jazz band.