Monday, March 26, 2012Kathy Parsons review for the album "October," by Donovan Johnson

Donovan Johnson
2011 / Boxhouse Music Co.
58.9 minutes

October is pianist/composer Donovan Johnson’s fourth release, but is a first for me. I love finding artists who have something a little different to say through the medium of music, and Donovan is just such an artist. Often more energetic than many recordings that fall into the new age/contemporary piano genre, I like the way Donovan has alternated the faster tracks with those that are quieter and more peaceful. Some of the pieces are solo piano and some are more orchestrated with percussion and strong rhythms backing the piano. The eleven tracks include the three-part “Islands of October Suite,” which effectively combines pop, classical, and new age elements. In addition to composing, teaching, and performing, Donovan Johnson owns and operates, an internet radio station that features an international roster of new age pianists. He has been playing the piano since the age of two, and started formal lessons shortly after that, continuing into college where studied performance and composition.

October begins with “Summerland,” a joyful and energetic piece that swirls and dances to a lively beat - an enticing opening piece! “Forward In Time” starts out mysteriously with a single repeated note setting the tempo. This theme weaves in and out of the 6 1/2 minute piece, alternating with a contrasting second theme that features a smooth and graceful piano with strings. I really like this one! “Andromeda” picks up the tempo again with a driving percussion track behind the effervescent piano. The title track is more on the wistful, dreamy side with light percussion and atmospheric synth sounds behind the piano. “Forgiveness” is another favorite - a slow, graceful piano solo that comes from the heart. “Resilience” is a beautiful ballad, this time accompanied by flute and strings. The more classical “Islands of October Suite” begins with “The Island of Japan,” a dramatic piano solo with themes that range from very dark and spare to a lively and sparkling flow. The second movement is “Castaway Island,” again a piano solo. Donovan demonstrates some very impressive playing chops in this one! “Isle Du Massacre” sounds pretty grim, but the piece is anything but. In the first theme, the left hand plays a driving rhythm while the right dances all over the piano. The second theme is slower and less structured, and then the first theme returns, taking the album to a joyful and breathless ending.

October is a great find if you like spirited pieces mixed in with the more contemplative music (I do!). It is available from, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!

Kathy Parsons


Tuesday, March 6, 2012Donovan Johnson's 5th Annual "Welcome Spring" Concert

Donovan Johnson kicks off the 2012 concert season with his annual "Welcome Spring" concert. This year, the concert will feature Donovan on the piano; Lyle Yates, bass; John Rosseter, drums; and Joy Trimmel on the cello. As usual, the concert will feature originals by Donovan including material from his four previous recordings and several new additions from his upcoming album, which is scheduled for release in Sep. of 2012.

Donovan's music is a combination of many influences, mainly folk music, classical piano and Celtic music. Of all of the concerts in Donovan's concert series, "Welcome Spring" is his personal favorite due to its celebratory nature and uplifting undertones. "Spring is my favorite season," says Donovan, "and this concert reflects that."

The concert will be held on Saturday April 7th at 7pm, at First Unitarian Church Of Omaha (3114 Harney St.) If you're into fresh, inspirational, contemporary "piano driven" music, you won't want to miss this show. It's great fun for all ages and the cost is free to the public. There will be a freewill offering only.

Thursday, February 23, 2012Review of Reflections by Kathy Parsons

Reflections Front Cover

John Paris
2011 / John Paris

Reflections is the second album of original piano solos by John Paris, an artist whose career as a professional musician has spanned more than four decades. Trained in both classical and jazz piano, Paris was a member of the house band at Harrah’s Casino in Reno and played alongside many of the casino’s headliners. Calling his original music “New Age Jazz Fusion,” the fourteen pieces on Reflections are varied in mood and expression, taking the listener on a bit of a spiritual journey. The music was written to be “uplifting, healing, relaxing, and rejuvenating,” and Paris adds, “These pieces came to me spontaneously in a flash of inspiration. I simply open my heart to the Divine Sound Current and let my fingers express what comes through. The music combines New Age melodic sensibility with Jazz harmonies and rhythms to create a new sound.” Despite its complexities, the music is effortless and very easy to listen to both actively and in the background. Mastered at Piano Haven Studio near Seattle, WA, Joe Bongiorno’s engineering genius makes every note clear, clean, and warm.

Reflections begins with the title track, a beautifully pensive piece that creates a peaceful mood. The graceful, effortless melody can take the listener’s thoughts to a place of comfort and contentment while soothing away the tensions of the day. “Lonely Raindrop” is slow and uncomplicated, expressing wistful and bittersweet feelings of solitude - a favorite! “Cold Winter Night” picks up the tempo a bit and has a slightly mysterious edge. The middle section becomes playful and almost teasing, adding a bit of humor to the piece, and then returns to the original theme to the end. I really like this one, too! “Lady Moon” is a gorgeous ballad that could have been composed late at night by candlelight. Gentle musings convey a variety of thoughts and emotions coming from the heart and speaking the truth. “Early Morning” is light and optimistic with an infectious, carefree rhythm. “Swan Lake Serenade” evokes images of elegant white birds gliding on the surface of the water, graceful and at peace. “The Journey” is a fascinating piece that conveys many different emotions and experiences - a journey of the soul. “Lullaby of the Eternal Dreamer” closes this impressive album with blissful contentment. The gentle melody and flowing rhythm would soothe any dreamer to sleep!

John Paris promises at least one new album in 2012, and I’ll be looking forward to that event! Reflections is available from, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Check it out!

Kathy Parsons

Thursday, February 23, 2012Indie Music Reviews Reflections Review

John Paris

John Paris Paints a Musical Portrait

Unburden your ears and relax your senses with the beautiful piano solos of John Paris, an internationally recognized performer of new age jazz fusion. Combining the saucy sensibilities of light jazz fusion with the experimental and soothing nature of new age, this composer and arranger creates fascinating songs filled with inspiring melodies and tranquil rhythms. Now riding the release of his latest album, Reflections, he’s added 14 new original pieces to his already burgeoning repertoire.

Paris’ open and honest love for music shines through on each and every one of his tracks, emitting a type of spiritual enlightenment not typically exhibited by other jazz or new age contemporaries. The songs are all written in a spontaneous, improvisational style similar to Liz Story or Keith Jarrett, adding an exciting, unpredictable flair to the music. Experience some of Paris’ gorgeous musical portraits today with songs such as Cold Winter Night and Lonely Raindrop.

Monday, February 20, 2012Brian Kelly - Pools of Light Solo Piano Songbook

Brian Kelly - Pools of Light Solo Piano Songbook

Available now at and Amazon.

Sunday, February 19, 2012Review of Brian Kelly Pools of Light Songbook

Brian Kelly - Pools of Light Solo Piano Songbook

Review by Kathy Parsons from

"Brian Kelly’s Pools of Light solo piano songbook is a completely revised and expanded edition of the e-book that was published in 2006. Twelve of the thirteen tracks from the album are included (“Sacred Waters” is a percussion interlude that isn’t adaptable to the piano), transcribed by Kelly himself and arranged for solo piano; I helped with the editing. The Pools of Light recording is ensemble, so some of the parts for other instruments have been incorporated into the piano part to make the sheet music sound as close to the original recording as possible. Kelly also wrote four pages of performance notes to help the pianist understand his intentions and to note differences from the recording. Coming from the composer himself, these notes are invaluable!

Brian Kelly is an incredible pianist who is very fluent in jazz stylings, so his music is far from simple and would be beyond beginning and intermediate pianists’ capabilities. Some of the pieces include cadenzas that are complicated and require very nimble fingers. The jazz rhythms are complex (and a lot of fun!) and some of the pieces have difficult key signatures (noted below). Kelly has suggested fingering for some of the thornier passages and expression has been carefully indicated according to the CD. The book is printed on bright white paper with clear, crisp type, and is spiral bound. The spacing within the scores is roomy and easy to read, and the cover is a beautiful print of the album cover artwork on glossy stock, making this a very attractive book! If you are a pianist at an early advanced to advanced playing level, this book is great fun and very satisfying to play! It is available from and Amazon, and I highly recommend it!"

Monday, February 13, 2012New age Hanon

Behdad bahrami

New age Hanon
composer: Behdad Bahrami
15 Hanon style etudes but with beautiful melodies and a catchy harmony gathered in one song.It is also more modern, and has a "new age" atmosphere.It is designed to sounds like a true song and this causes the players and audiences don't suffer from playing it .You can play its melody with chords or play with the same melody in both hands (like Hanon).
This etude will be released soon.You can listen to its demo versio from the link below:
New age hanon

Monday, December 12, 2011New Review of Reflections CD by Michael Diamond

'Reflections' by John Paris

'Reflections' by John Paris
Filed under:
Featured Music — Leave a comment December 7, 2011

From performing with the Minneapolis Symphony, to sharing the stage with the Moody Blues and other headlining acts, as well as appearing on the Merv Griffin Show and Jerry Lewis Telethons, John Paris has had a rich and varied career that spans four decades. During that time he was leader, composer and arranger for the Las Vegas show-band Atlantis who played at the world famous Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas as well as touring major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and more. His resume and credentials are extensive and impressive, but suffice it to say that he is a highly regarded professional who brings a wealth of real world experience to his music. While he has formal musical training from Concordia College and the University of Nevada, he was also “schooled” by a number of well-respected music teachers, including Dennis Sandoli who taught jazz greats John Coltrane and the Brecker Brothers.

While jazz is certainly a part of John’s musical DNA, it combines with flowing new age music on these exquisite solo piano excursions. His sound is a fusion of these elements and was “written and performed to be spiritually uplifting, healing, relaxing and rejuvenating.” He goes on to explain: “These pieces came to me spontaneously in a flash of inspiration. I simply open my heart to the Divine Sound Current and let my fingers express what comes through. Music has always been a very special part of my life. It has been my healer, mentor, doorway to spiritual evolution and comforter. As an artist, I venture to bring you to a warm familiar place… like the feeling before a long awaited homecoming.”

This last sentence is an extraordinarily good description of the feeling I got from listening to the first piece on the album, the title track. Beginning with tinkling arpeggios that evolve into a heart-warming and cinematic chord progression, I had a mental picture of coming in out of the rain to a cozy living room with a fire burning and a pot of tea on the stove. There is an eloquent emotional expression in John’s playing that draws you in and makes you feel right at home. He has both incredible technique and feel that is dazzling, yet always in service of the music and never showy or ostentatious for it’s own sake. On “Cold Winter Night,” John displays his range and flair for improvisation as he starts out with an ornate motif for about the first third of the song before evolving into a bluesy interlude that make use of space as well as sound as it progresses into jazzier territory in the second half. This is another quality I found admirable in his music – the use of diversity and the ability to combine unlikely elements in ways that makes it feel like they were meant for each other.

The haunting strains of Lady Moon” seem to tell a story that is open to interpretation by the listener. For me, it conjured an image of seeing the moon on a partly cloudy night where glimpses of its pale luminous presence appear sporadically in the dark sky. By contrast, “Joyful Heart” has a more airy feel and a lightness that is perfectly expressed in its’ title. I particularly liked “Early Morning” with its unexpected twists and turns that bespoke of a day filled with a multitude of possibilities. This spirit of optimism is also captured in a song called “Rollin’” with its upbeat air and feeling of forward motion. A perfect traveling companion for this song is track 11, entitled “In The Country” which has a kinetic quality and conveys a sense of expectation at what surprise may wait just around the next bend in the road.

The CD, which features 14 songs and extends over an hour, is tucked in for a peaceful conclusion with “Lullaby Of The Eternal Dreamer.” This piece, perhaps the most sensitive on the album, displays a simplicity and sense of comfort befitting a lullaby and further illustrates the range of John’s playing and the variation in the emotional palate he composes from. This is a wonderful collection of compositions that could serve equally as a relaxing background or provide a more attentive listening experience. “Reflections” is an excellent follow up to John’s previous “Journey Of Soul” release, and leaves me looking forward to hearing the recording he has planned for next year.

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