Mainly Piano, Review by Kathy Parsons
Natural Light is Louis Anthony deLise’s first album as featured soloist (piano), but don’t let that “first” status fool you! Dr. deLise has spent a lifetime working with a dizzying number of top-notch artists within a jaw-dropping variety of music genres. Immersed in music ranging from pop to chamber, choral and orchestral, deLise has developed a unique musical voice capable of expressing anything he chooses. The eleven original pieces on the album are a blend of solo piano and piano with orchestration. (An all-solo piano version of the album will be released later this summer, and a sheet music book is also available.) Guest artists include Jeff Oster (trumpet), Nancy Rumbel (oboe and English horn), Christine Hansen (flute and alto flute), and Marjam Ingolffsson (cello). In addition to the piano, deLise performs on marimba, glockenspiel, toy bells, trap drums, tabla, small percussion and sampler array. I usually review more than 150 albums a year, many of them extraordinary, so it takes a very special album to blow me away. Natural Light has certainly done that! My five-word review would be: “Natural Light is beyond beautiful!”
Natural Light opens with “Mosaic,” a mysterious piece that begins with a repeated piano pattern before adding twinkling bells (marimba or glockenspiel). The middle section of the piece is more orchestrated with strings and Nancy Rumbel’s English horn, and then “Mosaic” returns to the opening passage with some additional orchestration. It’s a haunting and intriguing opener! “Variations on Moonlight” is a free-flowing piano solo that expresses both the drama and the subtlety of moonlight. From powerful chords to an almost ambient softness, it’s a beauty! “Spring Rain” features Jeff Oster playing a muted trumpet behind deLise’s evocative piano. Light percussion gives the piece an elegant smooth jazz feeling – I really like this one! “In the Edge of the Water” is the second piano solo and captures the relaxed, effortless ebb and flow of water on the shoreline. “Early January” is an exquisite trio for piano, flute and cello that almost makes you feel a chill in the air! The piece began as a tearful improvisation at the piano as deLise remembered his late brother, Michael. The piece “sings” about the impermanence of life. Deep sadness and feelings of longing are expressed in “And Then She Was Gone.” (I’m looking forward to the sheet music for this one!) On “Autumn Twilight,” deLise and Rumbel (plus harp and light orchestration) paint a magical and mysterious picture in deep tonal colors – love it! I’m not sure what “American Darkness” refers to since there have been so many tragedies of late, but the poignant and deeply moving piece is my favorite on the album. The gorgeous title track is a piece for piano, alto flute, light percussion and orchestration. Gently expressive yet sometimes soaring, it’s a wonderful close to an outstanding album!
Natural Light is available from www.LouisAnthonyDeLise.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby as well as many streaming sites. Very highly recommended!