I'm somewhat noted for a fairly edgy disdain for a good deal more than half of what calls itself New Age music, as my personal baseline lies in progressive rock, fusion, and the various anteceding genres which birthed it; therefore, I demand either the grace or the intelligence that came before everything in any succeeding twists and turns. Mostly, what I receive is milkily tepid semi-sophistications on an aqueous version of Chopsticks…but every so often a guy like Christopher Lapin comes along and puts things right. Eclectic Eve is precisely the sort of evolution the New Age movement mostly didn't take, and the disc makes up for a hell of a lot of outside efforts that I have no doubt make this very intelligent player and composer wince and horripilate as much as me.
From the very start, Highland Return discloses myriad depths and processes, never settling for an easy twist of stave or measure. The cut overall is a lush and luxuriant flow of Edenic pastorale soon followed by the more desertine Hand in Glove, a killer duet of percussion (John Enrich) and prepared piano (Lapina), something indexing beautifully with the all too slim catalogue of such efforts (Wolff & Hennings, Alain Kremski, classical and Balinesian works, etc.) before giving way to the jazzy mellifluity of Rolling Blue, a cut Donald Fagen would pawn his eyeteeth for. Though Lapina has backed superstars like Martha Reeves and B.J. Thomas, he studied under the superlative Harold Budd, and that influence is rivetingly clear, at times approaching Budd's divine The Pavilion of Dreams.
The sessioneers here are all top-flight players, have sat with a diversity of estimables (Chris Hinze, Boston Pops, Jon Faddis, Herbie Hancock, and a grab-bagful of others), and Suzanne Orban's cello is particularly rich and sensuous, a tableau of discerning aesthetics. Throughout, Lapina provides no end of rich or just lustrously spare, depending on the song's requirements, accompaniment and frontline craftsmanship, every note well-chosen, each line of melody and counterpoint exactly right. This is a CD of very high art, a catalogue of intelligent classical hedonism and many-layered riches gotten only through painstakingly considered values and various qualities that can't even be named. The old Windham Hill label would've been extraordinarily pleased had it been able to accompany some of Will Ackerman's remarkable releases with a disc like this. Thus, in short, Eclectic Eve is a collection of true Apollonian beauty.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles