18 Songs, 56 Minutes

TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

4.6 out of 5
5 Ratings

5 Ratings

KathyPiano7 ,

From MainlyPiano

"Ashokan Memories" is a collection of solo piano improvisations by pianist/composer Peter Calandra. Inspired by experiences and visions at his summer home in The Catskills/ Hudson Valley region of New York, each of the eighteen pieces was based on a “small idea” Calandra felt depicted the spirit of the place. (That’s important information to have before determining the meaning of pieces like “Gertrude’s Nose,” “Buttermilk Falls,” or “Peekamoose”!) It also explains the diversity of the music which ranges from lyrical and flowing to minimalist to edgy jazz. Calandra is best-known for his film and television music and has performed keyboards in a very impressive list of major Broadway productions. He is also on the faculty at Queens College, CUNY where he teaches Masters Level classes on Pro Tools Sequencing and Music Technology. This is definitely not the kid down the street who bought a keyboard and decided to record a CD! Masterful yet free and spontaneous, this music takes listeners on an auditory tour that is descriptive, evocative and throughly enjoyable.

"Ashokan Memories" begins with “Awosting Morning,” a beautiful piece that expresses optimism and a fresh beginning. “Ramblin’ Nightime” is dedicated to Levon Helm (of The Band), who did weekly performances in his barn studio in Woodstock that Calandra and his wife often attended. Gentle yet energetic, it’s a wonderful tribute. “Frost Valley” is very peaceful and relaxing - a lovely favorite! The melodic “Overlook” is grace and serenity set to music. “Peekamoose” is the name of a mountain in The Catskills and this piece conveys an elegant majesty that is inviting and welcoming. The rapidly-flowing title track has an infectious, swirling energy with only brief pauses here and there. “Tubin’ the Esopus” has an edgy sense of fun and adventure, moving all over the piano keyboard, offering surprises and suspense. “Gertrude’s Nose” returns to a more peaceful expression - spare and open - and is named for a beautiful escarpment with incredible Hudson Valley views up in the Shawangunk mountain range. “Ver Noy Falls” is another favorite. Darker and more mysterious than the other tracks, it has a very haunting quality that I love. “The Ice Caves” was inspired by “really cool” caves that are kept cold year-round by underground streams. Calandra uses a bright and more percussive touch on this piece to convey the chilly feeling and perhaps the sparkle of ice formations inside the caves. I really like this one, too! “Shaft 2a” is named for a swimming hole in the Shawangunk mountains - cool and lazy, it’s the perfect refreshment on a summer afternoon. “Buttermilk Falls” brings this excellent album to a close with a shimmering grace and beauty. Great stuff!

"Ashokan Memories" is an outstanding album of solo piano improvisations and Peter Calandra is quickly becoming one of my favorite artists! Very highly recommended!

MDiamond ,

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus

Having had the pleasure of writing about Peter Calandra’s excellent album, “Inner Circle,” I thought I had a fairly good idea of his style and musical direction. However, his “Ashokan Memories” release reflects a different facet of his creative spectrum. Oftentimes an artist draws inspiration from their surroundings, and this is certainly the case with Peter. His “Inner Circle” album drew from the diversity of life and work in New York City. That recording was richly orchestrated and included influences of classical, jazz, new age, and Latin, as well as featuring a number of world-class accompanists. However his solo piano release, “Ashokan Memories,” provides a completely different experience, with the two albums contrasting each other like yin and yang. The surroundings that inspired “Ashokan Memories” are Peter’s summer home in the Catskill Mountains, about 75 miles north of New York City, and light years away in terms of environment.

The recording consists entirely of solo piano pieces with each track being named for a point of interest in the area. As can be expected, the music is peaceful and reflective, yet one thing that distinguishes it is the influence of Peter’s favorite jazz pianists such as Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock, compared to many other solo piano albums that come more from the George Winston side of the spectrum. The title track is spectacular and its lively rolling arpeggios create the feel of a rushing river tumbling over a falls. This piece is a real tour de force exhibition of Peter’s exquisite piano technique. On a different note, is the gorgeous pastoral ambience of “Woodland Valley.” This track is quite spacious and I particularly appreciated the use of well-placed pauses to create a sense of anticipation for the next melody. The album draws to a lovely conclusion with the wistful “Buttermilk Falls,” that features the interesting contrast of sparse phrasing with a far-away feel and more densely clustered rapid note sequences that are dazzling.

In the well-populated field of solo piano albums, Peter Calandra has created a recording that stands out not only for his virtuoso playing, but for the not-as-often -heard jazz influences he brings to the music. While the sound of this album is inspired by the natural beauty of the Hudson River Valley and is generally quite peaceful, decades of living and working in New York City have shaped Peter’s musical DNA, and the merging of these two diverse environments creates a sound that is serene yet sophisticated. “Ashokan Memories” reveals a more personal and contemplative side of multi-talented composer and pianist, Peter Calandra, providing a captivating listening experience that reflects the natural beauty in which it was created.

Orkinous ,

Great Dinner Music

I discovered this artist today when I heard him played on MusicChoice on Comcast Xfinity TV. This music is mellow and beautiful. Perfect for a relaxing evening. I'll be adding it to my iPod under my playlist called "Dinner Music", to be played during a romantic evening with my wife. Thank you, Peter.

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