Ed Bazel | Homecoming | Review by Dyan Garris

Album Review by Dyan Garris for New Age CDZone Music Reporter, and “Spirit Seeker Magazine

Refined, elegant, classy, and polished, the thoroughly enjoyable ‘Homecoming’ is IT for piano lovers everywhere. Welcome home, Ed.”   — Dyan Garris

It’s that time of year for returning home. So how perfect and timely that Ed Bazel (The River of Calm) will release his album, “Homecoming” on January 15, 2021. I can already tell that the new year is going to be filled with some amazingly uplifting and beautiful music.

And it’s interesting how we may realize the true value of something only perhaps years later. In Ed’s case, he says his parents dragged him fully kicking and screaming to piano lessons for 11 years when he was growing up. Much to everyone’s surprise, he became a music business professional.  And he was a full-time pianist for 20 years. After running one of the nation’s most respected corporate concert companies, Ed’s album, “Homecoming” marks a return to his beloved piano.

“Homecoming” is 11 tracks of utterly gorgeous, melodic, solo piano by Ed Bazel. Although his style is polished, precise, and distinctive, no two tracks are the same. The whole album is sweet salve to any beleaguered soul.

The album opens with “Morning Cup.” This is a wonderful, gently flowing, straightforward melody, that uplifts and soothes the spirit right away. And it remains with you nicely for a long while, warming the body and soul, like that first cup of your favorite morning beverage.

Following is “Sweet Innocence.” This has the air of the familiar and safe, just like it must feel to be coming home. To clarify, I do not mean to imply that the music is “unsophisticated.” That is not it. It is indeed – as is every song on the album – polished, refined, classy, and sophisticated, with a true elegance and easy grace that you don’t often hear. The piece is comforting. I love it.

Wistful, and reminiscent of the innocence of childhood and perhaps the happiness of a good, stable home, “I Remember” is just beautiful. The melodic structure and musical movement are both perfect and Ed’s playing is flawless. It’s another to completely love.

The title track is like a sweet lullaby to the mind, body, and spirit. This is gorgeous in every way. Excellent, and definitely one for the playlist. Ed has a real gift, not only for playing that piano, but for melodic composition. This is a favorite.  And ditto for the calming “Lullaby For Life,” which follows. Easy and sweet, this is instant solace and tranquility to whatever ails you.

This album just keeps getting better and better, actually. This is not “ho hum” solo piano, by any means.  “Northern Lights” is stunningly beautiful just exactly like that astronomical phenomena. Superb in ALL respects. Although, I believe you will want to get the entire album, this is a “must have.”

“Sunrise” paints a perfectly paced and played musical soundscape. I feel like we are on the beach watching that magnificent sun come up out of the horizon. And being able to paint that picture so effectively. . . that’s a real gift from a truly talented composer and piano player. Exquisite.

Tender, gentle, and dreamy, “Walk With Me” is the same. And although this piece may perhaps be about a child walking with his parents, rather than a couple walking together hand in hand, it also has a sentimental and romantic feel to it as well. Lovely.

Now, do you remember me saying the album keeps getting even better and better? This is true even as we come close to the end. “The Quiet Dream” is absolutely wonderful. It takes you to another place without even trying.  “Light of My Soul” is a shining star here as well. Passionate and perfectly executed, this one will stay with you too, long after it’s over. The album has that quality about it. You do not want it to end. It’s something you’ll want to always come home to.

“Homecoming” closes out with the relaxing, flowing, “Dusk.” Ed’s gift of melodies is remarkable. And I would say that all those years of piano lessons were entirely worth it.  Here, Ed lives up to his awards: The 2017 MPS Hall of Fame award:  “Instrumentalist,” and the 2018 “Entertainer of the Year” award from the Nashville area Yamaha piano dealership. As well, he was recently recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his accomplishments in the music industry. Not surprising. The quality and substance of this recording is outstanding.

What a joyful, truly magnificent album. For piano lovers everywhere, this is IT.

Okay, Ed, you are officially HOME.

How nice that my first review of 2021 is of a beautiful solo piano album by Ed Bazel, founder of The River of Calm. Homecoming is Bazel’s second album and follows his 2013 release, Bella Piano. Much of Bazel’s career has been as the head of a corporate concert company, so the title of the album refers to his return to the piano “where it all began.” As a long-time piano teacher, I can really appreciate this quote from an email Ed sent: “My mom drove me kicking and screaming to piano lessons for 11 years, so this is dedicated to her and my former piano teachers who helped me along the way.” Referring to his parents, Ed wrote: “Much to their dismay, I became a full-time pianist for 20 years. (I guess I taught them a lesson -  they always wanted me to get ‘a real job.’) I have been in the music business ever since.”

Over the past few years, Ed Bazel has received a number of prestigious awards, and I’ll be surprised if this new album doesn’t bring him some more. Relying on heartfelt expression more than dazzling pianistic showmanship, the eleven original piano solos are uncomplicated and easily accessible, making the album a calming way to restore a bit of peace to life or a gentle, warm, and positive backdrop for other activities. The album’s tranquil demeanor might also help many find their way to Dreamland on nights when tossing and turning interrupts their way.

Homecoming begins with “Morning Cup,” which obviously refers to that first cup of coffee of the day. Played in the soft pastel tones of a sunrise, it’s reassuring that it will be a good day! As its title suggests, “Sweet Innocence” is tender, honest, and more than a little poignant. A nostalgic look back to a pleasant memory, “I Remember” gently tugs at the heartstrings. "Homecoming," the title track expresses the mix of emotions experienced when returning to the place you once called home and that still feels familiar no matter how long you’ve been away. “Lullaby For Life” resembles Brahms’ classic lullaby, but then goes in a different, more contemporary direction - a favorite. “Northern Lights” has a magical quality and expresses a peaceful kind of awe that I’m sure the Northern Lights inspire - also a favorite. “Sunrise” is more ambient than most of the tracks, and is also somewhat bolder, perhaps reflective of the dazzling light show in the sky that most of us miss on a daily basis - I really like this one, too! The strong melody of “Walk With Me” suggests that there might be lyrics to this lovely piece, although none are needed to tell its story. Open and honest, it presents an invitation that it would be difficult to refuse! “The Quiet Dream” is a bit more dramatic, sharing something from deep within. “Light Of My Soul” has a similar feeling and is my favorite piece on the album. Heartfelt and introspective, it’s an emotional work of art. Homecoming began with “Morning Cup” and ends with “Dusk,” a peaceful conclusion to a very impressive album!

Homecoming is available on Amazon, Apple Music, and streaming sites like Spotify. Don’t miss it!

Ed Bazel | Homecoming | Review by Kathy Parsons

Ed Bazel | Homecoming | Review by New Age Music

Ed Bazel is another newly discovered piano maestro for me to enjoy. Homecoming is his second studio recording. This man is firmly established in the world of music. He is held in high esteem with many different recognized awards.

Ed was awarded the 2017-2018 MPS Hall of Fame Award Instrumentalist and the 2018-2019 Entertainer of the Year Award from the Nashville area Yamaha piano dealership - Miller Piano Specialists.  He also was recently recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his accomplishments in the music industry.

The only instrument you will hear on this recording is Ed’s piano. With music like this, I think there should be more attention given to the track titles. How else would one get some insight into what the artist is conveying to a listener, besides how it is making you feel while listening. A hint into the process is also helpful. That is my progression of listening, everyone has their own and what that experience entails. I emphasize the word experience. This is gorgeous solo piano and it is meant to soothe the soul and be totally experiential.

I think it was very clever to start off the first track naming it “Morning Cup.” What better way to start off the day than your first cup of music, and with your coffee? I can see bringing in the day on a positive note by listening to this music.

The “Homecoming” is a wonderful title track. The music is smooth, flowing, and I can envision Ed’s fingers gliding over the keys. Another factor that makes this track so appealing is the rhythm and projection of the keys. I could have listened to this much longer than the 2:37 that it ran. I just fell into the music like I always do. Making the transition from a busy mentally taxing day is assisted with this outlet. This music empty's my mind and lets my spirit soar into the clouds, then another time and place can be realized where I find healing. After all, is that not what we all seek after a hard day's work whether the intent to decompress is there or not, it can happen much quicker when listening to music from a recording like Homecoming.

As with much of this type of music that I enjoy so much, the foundation is based in classical then it grows out of that.  An appealing type of contemporary instrumental emerges with a new age theme and all the track titles to push it further in that direction. And that to me is a perfect path to establish when presenting simply piano music that sends many messages inside the music. The first step is the title then the listener decides where to go letting the music lead them, staying mindful of the original intent. If you approach it that way you will find all the grace, passion, and the beauty of Homecoming in all eleven tracks.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews
December 7, 2020

 

Track List:
01. Morning Cup 2:51
02. Sweet Innocence 3:34
03. I Remember 4:00
04. Homecoming 2:37
05. Lullaby For Life 2:53
06. Northern Lights 3:49
07. Sunrise 3:40
08. Walk With Me 3:44
09. The Quiet Dream 3:11
10. Light Of My Soul 2:39
11. Dusk 3:46