NATURAL LIGHT by Louis Anthony deLise. Album review (07/12/2019) by Dyan Garris for Zone Music Reporter
“Natural Light” is a richly hued, magically magnificent recording that’s in a league of its own.
No doubt about it. Natural light is rich and diverse. It’s simple and complex at the same time. Unlike artificial light, natural light is comprised of all the colors of the rainbow and is “created” by a range of different wavelengths of light radiating from the sun. Mix those colors altogether again and we get white; purity. And, as well, natural light is something we can get creative with in a variety of ways to achieve different results depending upon what we’re trying to do. Like that, “Natural Light,” the album, is a richly hued, magically magnificent recording that’s in a league of its own.
“Natural Light” is the first solo piano album from award-winning composer and producer Louis Anthony deLise. However, holding a Doctor of Musical Arts in musical composition, Dr. deLise has had an illustrious musical career that includes thousands of hours of recording studio work as a session player, an arranger, a conductor and a record producer.
His accomplishments include playing percussion in orchestras that accompanied such notables as Tony Bennett, Luciano Pavarotti, Beverly Sills, Mel Tormé, and more, as well as producing, arranging and conducting on releases on the CBS, EMI, Mercury, Centaur, Vanguard, and Def-Soul ecord labels. Louis was arranger and conductor on Grammy® winner Patti LaBelle’s Billboard number one hit album, The Gospel According to Patti LaBelle. Along the way, he has maintained an active career as a published composer of concert music. You know. He’s a real composer.
Supporting Louis’ personally reflective piano melodies on “Natural Light” are luscious layers of strings, bass, flutes, cello, oboe, horns, and unusual percussion, all in an outstanding, marvelous mix. Some of the percussion instrumentation incorporates the marimba, glockenspiel, and children’s toy bells, and an antique Constantinople K. Zildjian cymbal, to name a few. This combination ultimately creates a comforting, cozy bed of warm ambiance that cradles sensitively and artistically around the compositions.
The album also features the musical artistry of Grammy® winner Nancy Rumbel and the multiple award-winning trumpeter and flugelhorn artist, Jeff Oster. Master flutist Christine Hansen and cellist Marjam Ingolfsson are additional guest artists.
The eleven-track album opens with the absolutely gorgeous “Mosaic,” featuring Nancy Rumbel’s warm English horn lead intertwined expertly with strings, piano, and interesting percussion. Nancy is a co-composer (album version) on this track. Together deLise and Rumbel are extraordinary.
A lovely piano solo, “In the Edge of the Water,” follows. Inspired by the discovery that the poet Walt Whitman once lived near Louis’ home and reportedly enjoyed walking barefoot near the many streams and creeks
there, this is contemplative, compelling, and enjoyable.
One standout on the album is the sultry “Spring Rain,” featuring the inimitable horn of Jeff Oster winding in and out of this captivating composition. I love that you can hear the rain here in all the right places. And Louis’ piano performance is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s a favorite to enjoy again and again.
“And Then She Was Gone,” “Variations on Moonlight,” “American Darkness,” and “But Not Forgotten,” are piano solos, each beautifully composed and sensitively played. The exquisite tonality of the Yamaha C3 grand piano really shines through. And there is something truly special about Louis’ piano playing. It flows effortlessly.
A deeply personal improvisation, “Early January,” is thoughtful and pensive as Louis pays tribute to his late brother and ponders the temporary nature of life. The flowing flute of Christine Hansen and the smooth, rich cello of Marjam Ingolfsson both add deep and reflective layers.
Another favorite is “Autumn Twilight” with its elegant and cinematic feel. Harp, strings, and piano, blend together into a soft, pastel palette with Nancy Rumbel’s melodious oboe artistry incorporated in. Truly enchanting and very relaxing. Nancy is a co-composer (album version) on this track as well.
Belying the biting cold connotation of that season, there is something very warm and inviting about “Winter’s Chill.” The glockenspiel, non-pitched percussion, and marimba wrap their arms engagingly around the perfectly paced piano lead.
This may be a case of saving the best for last, but we can’t really state so definitively because the whole album is so amazing. That said, the title track “Natural Light” closes out the album. Rhythmic, hypnotic, graceful, melodic, the piece is worth the wait. Here, four alto flutes, played masterfully by Christine Hansen, plus one of her C flutes as contrast on the bridge, make the heart soar. As well, Indian tabla, hand drum, concert bass drum, warm strings, and small percussion, flow along together like smooth silk with the euphonious piano melody. It’s the perfect close.
“Natural Light” is a “must have,” soul-soothing, emotionally evocative treasure. You will want to get the whole album.