CD Review: Pools of Light by Brian Kelly
Reviewed by Kathy Parsons
Date: August 31, 2004
|"Pools of Light" by pianist & composer Brian Kelly is sure to be on my Top 10 favorite CDs list for 2004. An amazing debut, the album is comprised of music composed and played in a variety of styles that include jazz, classical, and world. Two of the pieces are solo piano, and the other eleven tracks include keyboards, flute, and/or percussion. Kelly’s playing style has an easy elegance that comes from a phenomenal technique and chops to burn. His music is rhythmic and lyrical, and the moods range from pensive to joyous to ethereal. Despite the changing moods, the CD as a whole has a wonderful flow and cohesiveness, creating a uplifting and relaxing musical experience.
"Open Sky" opens the album with a buoyant, carefree piece that is full of rhythm and excitement. The title track is much more meditative and soothing, and was inspired by a trip to Maui. "Cool Blue" is a great jazz piece for flute, piano, percussion, and bass - this one sounds like fun to play! "Sacred Waters" is a surprising little percussion interlude inspired by a waterfall in a jungle on Maui. My favorite track is "Troubadour," an ensemble piece where Kelly played all of the instruments himself (piano, sampled guitar, bass, and drums). A little mysterious, it was influenced by Kelly’s years of singing a capella Renaissance music. Parts of the piece swirl and dance, and others are a bit quieter. I really like the energy in this one! "Angels Breathing" is very new agey with floating sounds, gentle bells, and a beautiful piano part. "With Eyes Closed" is another favorite. Rhythmic and kind of dark, it, too, has a compelling energy and spirit that are addictive. "Home At Last" is a gorgeous piano solo with a beautiful flow. "Calling For Rain" is more of a smooth jazz piece, a little dark, a bit mysterious, and there’s that catchy, compelling rhythm again! Good stuff! The second piano solo, "Speak Your Heart," is much showier and full of passion - it really shows what Kelly can do at the piano. "When Stars Align" closes the album with an upbeat and breezy little jazz piece.
"Pools of Light" is an outstanding debut, and Brian Kelly is a very versatile musician who is comfortable playing many styles. Samples and purchases are available at www.briankelly.com, and the CD is available at amazon.com and cdbaby.com. Very highly recommended!
Smooth Light Travel
If you have some preconceived notion of what very good contemporary music ought to sound like, think again. Then go look up Brian Kelly. On his new album, Pools of Light, Brian takes the high road to a place just this side of light jazz and contemporary instrumental music. His lively mix of tunes and themes takes you on a light hearted journey through many doors and at the end of each one is a new and different pool of light. Each one more thought provoking then the next, Kellys piano and keyboards orchestrations provide a venue of positive thoughts and inspirational compositions.
Contributing to the fresh, energetic album is flute player Peter Cornell, Ben Mawhorter on tablas, and John Waller of percussion. In the summery opening number, Open Sky, Kelly and his friends take to the azure road with a strong duo of piano and flute. Great flow and great energy combine to drag you across the heavens in an open gondola as you swing beneath that big balloon. And what a view!
With the title track Pools of Light playing, the sound you hear is the awakening of a planet. You know that golden blush you see coming over the horizon at daybreak. Thats Pools of Light too. Everything takes on a new radiance and a new sense of life as the day is reborn. Kellys pensive piano paints the gold and rose that adds depth and color to your day. It is a very good track.
From gold we segue into Cool Blue. Thats the name of the next track. It is my favorite color and my favorite track. It has that Bill Douglas feel to it that has power and pulchritude. It has that tack into the wind sailboat kind of feel. Then again it has that even though it is dark blue dusk, life is just beginning feel. Another noteworthy cut.
Kelly finesses the keyboards and the piano and brings out the ephemeral on the track Angels Breathing. It is echoing beauty and soft sweet melancholy all rolled into one. This very enchanting tune is dreaming music.
Calling For Rain is a straightforward contemporary instrumental piece that has stormy weather written all over it. You can almost smell the ozone as the fat drops that fell out of a swollen gray sky hit the pavement and bounce back into the air. Great piano riffs on this one.
When The Stars Align brings the album to a close, but it will keep in your memory forever. Kelly does an exhilarating job with his piano as the song takes on twists and turns of timing and theme. There is a time when everything in your life is just right. It all comes together and the gods smile down upon you. You will be hearing this music at that moment.
Brian Kelly, a prolific singer and songwriter, has been involved in music in one way or another since early childhood. He cut his chops mainly on childrens theater and college choirs. His group, The Arts and Leisure Section played jazz throughout the 80s (Got to love the name!). Kelly won Keyboard Magazines Annual Soundpage Readers Contest. He continues to produce music for film and media presentations. Pools of Light is his debut album.
Kellys music has that dream-like quality that comes out of the mist and pulls you towards the light. There are many elements that make up a Brian Kelly tune. Some are vastly complicated, some are childlike and simple. You can hear the classical and jazz overtones with a just a touch of Vince Guaraldi thrown in for good measure. All of it makes for very good listening.
Rating: Very Good -
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 6/25/2005