The friends we keep are important. Good friends motivate, guide, inspire and nurture. When I arrived in San Francisco in 2008, I soon found four friendships that changed my life.

In San Diego in December 2008 I was playing a show and in the front row was a gifted photographer, Mario Covic, who chatted after the show, touched by my music. He generously offered to photograph me the next day at Swami’s Beach in Encinitas. We became friends, we did a few shoots together, and Mario suggested I should meet an amazing Bay Area guitarist named Todd Boston.

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photo by Mario Covic at Swami’s Beach in Encinitas, CA

Around the same time, I attended the San Francisco Music Tech Summit, a seminal music business conference launched by entrepreneur and friend Brian Zisk.  After the morning session, I was headed for a quick lunch when another attendee, Ann Licater, asked me if I wanted to join her – which I did. Turned out Ann is a progressive world flutist who was also there to learn the music biz and promote her beautiful album, Following the Call. A few days later we met at my place to listen to my tracks and learn her story. I played her the songs I was working on and she said I needed to meet her friend Jeff Oster who had recorded with Will Ackerman, the Grammy-winning producer and Windham Hill Records founder. Jeff is a new age/smooth jazz flugelhorn player with a sound like Miles Davis meets Enya and he’s released several terrific and award winning albums.

Sometime later, Mario flew up to San Francisco to photograph at an event where Todd was performing. He invited me. Todd’s music was soulful, tasteful, and inspiring. We met after the show and exchanged numbers. Six weeks later on a breezy afternoon we did some acoustic guitar jamming, and then caught a jazz show at Yoshi’s in San Francisco. We became fast friends and Todd connected me with many amazing musicians in the Bay Area.

Turns out Ann and Jeff jammed music on the Friday Ferry from San Francisco to Alameda and Ann invited me to join them as a way of meeting Jeff. We all had a blast that night and started meeting in Alameda for dinner and music sessions. And when I mentioned that I had a show planned for Maui in December coming up, they wanted to join and we did a wildly fun show over there.

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On Maui with Jeff and Ann – fun and adventure. “This is how I roll,” I said to Jeff.

A few weeks after Maui (February 2010), Jeff set up a dinner for me to meet with Will; I was in awe about the opportunity to work with Will and Corin Nelsen on Sacred Love. Will said he could elevate my work and by October we had released my first solo album to warm reviews, a #1 ZMR ranking, and a video series on the Making of Sacred Love. During the recording, I introduced Todd to Will at a session in Los Angeles, and they ended up working together on Todd’s landmark album, Touched by the Sun.

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Life changing moments working with Will Ackerman and Corin Nelsen on ‘Sacred Love’ at Imaginary Road Studios.

Over the past years, Todd, Jeff, Ann and I have collaborated on many projects. Ann also introduced me to percussionist David DiLullo who was producing music shows and building community around Global Drum Circles. We did a show together in 2011 celebrating Sacred Love.

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Global Heart Concert (2011) at East-West Bookstore (Palo Alto) with Troy Arnett, Jeff Oster, David DiLullo, Michael Manring and Todd Boston.

I released Dreaming of Now in 2013 which was co-produced with Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton, and we were thrilled by the reaction to the album, which won a ZMR Music Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental CD.

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Dreaming of Now — Eugene Friesen, Will Ackerman, Shambhu and Tom Eaton after a recording session at Imaginary Road Studios.

David and I joined together for a 2013 event in Palo Alto celebrating the “Dreaming of Now” release. I had an amazing band, including Jeff and Dave…and a special guest — Will Ackerman!

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Global Heart Concert with Shambhu featuring Will Ackerman in Palo Alto – Frank Martin, Celso Alberti, DeWayne Pate, Premik Russell Tubbs, David DiLullo, Shambhu, Will Ackerman and Jeff Oster.

After the show, I moved to San Diego and continued writing. I made it back to San Francisco in the Fall of 2015, when I was hired to help rescue a San Francisco tech startup and online publisher. So I was back to work in SF Bay and once there I reconnected with Jeff and Todd.

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I had more than enough material for a new album. Jeff was writing songs for ‘Next’ and we went on to co-write and record “On Mother’s Day.” Ann was recording her next project. David was expanding his Drum Circles. Todd had built up his Magic Cottage Studios while turning out several exceptional productions. We talked about the idea of recording my next album at Magic Cottage.

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This is where we came together for the first real production meeting for Soothe. I played Todd the songs and nine months later we had an album.

I was fortunate that Todd’s wife Andrea was videographer and photographer for the project. She made our entire recording experience an absolute delight. Enjoy Andrea’s photos and videos (below) from the Soothe sessions.

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My first single from my new full-length album Soothe, “Gaia Sweet Divine,” features the celestial singer and my dear friend, Kristin Hoffmann. It’s a beautiful song dedicated to the idea of harmonizing our lives with the spontaneous rhythms of Nature.  

“Gaia Sweet Divine” was co-written by myself and Kristin, and features Kristin on the lead vocal with myself with on guitars and vocals, the brilliant bassist Michael Manring (Windham Hill), Grammy winning percussionist Jeff Haynes (Pat Metheny) and Gurumurthy V (tabla), world-renowned flutist Ravichandra Kulur (Jethro Tull & Ian Anderson), and keyboardist Frank Martin (Lady Gaga, Elton John, Stevie Wonder). Soothe is available for pre-order and is releasing February 1st, 2017.

Pre-order Soothe on BandcampiTunes, or Amazon

I began my Recording Journey for CD3 on March 12-13 at Magic Cottage Studios (Lagunitas, CA) with Todd Boston co-producing and Andrea M. Boston covering photography and videography. Here are some outtakes from the first sessions.

 

I’ll be writing more about the album, the session and the players, in posts to follow.

 

by Michael Debbage (MainlyPiano.com)

Shambhu’s impressive 2010 debut took many by surprise however a follow up album especially after a strong debut is always a difficult position to be in. shambhu_Pilgrimage -SMALLNevertheless, Dreaming Of Now not only avoids the dreaded sophomore jinx but it will put to rest any doubt that Sacred Love was just a fleeting musical moment. In fact Dreaming Of Now not only matches Shambhu’s first offering but frankly abundantly exceeds it. But be ready to just follow the musical escapade you are about to embark on as the guitarist continues his boundless musical exploration yet creating a complete unified musical vision.

A Smorgasbord of Musical Dishes

Once again Shambhu teams up with Will Ackerman behind the production board along with several musical guests including the more obvious choices of Charlie Bisharat on violin, Eugene Friesen on cello and Jeff Oster on flugelhorn. Add in the instruments such as the saxophone, flutes and various levels of percussion and combine that with Shambhu’s tasty guitar work on both acoustic and electric and you have all the ingredients for a smorgasbord of musical dishes all for your listening consumption.

Simply Heavenly

The album opens with the optimistic “Waterfall” that cascades and flows with the joy of George Brooks’s saxophone countering with Friesen’s cello all anchored around Shambhu’s melodic guitar work. It completely sets the tone of Dreaming Of Now that is simply heavenly. Followed immediately by the more moody “Windows Of Time” that then flings you into the toe tapping breezy “Starbucks Landing” will keep you keenly aware that this artist, much like his debut, refuses to pigeon hole himself into one specific musical style. “Starbucks Landing” focuses on the electric guitar and no it is not Carlos Santana but our very own Shambhu’s letting loose.

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Dreamy Moments

Dreaming Of Now is not without its dreamy moments that can be best found on the title track with Premik Russell Tubbs’ flute work floating effortlessly with Shambhu’s softly shaded acoustic work. This less complicated composition is utterly mesmerizing. The lighter musical hues can also be found on “Country Aire”, “Devodance” or even better yet the naked and stark yet gorgeous closer “Sanctuary” where Shambhu shows us he is capable of doing a superfine William Ackerman like performance but in his own musical tongue.

You Will Like from Start to Finish

Shambhu lost his element of surprise after his strong debut, however this does not take away from the absolute beauty found onDreaming Of Now. With absolutely no filler, Shambhu’s follow up effort shows an artist that has not only blossomed but has also formally announced himself as a ready for prime time musician. The only question is in which genre? It does not matter as Shambhu takes elements of World, Smooth Jazz, New Age and Meditative qualities to create a musical experience that you will like from start to finish making it one of 2013’s finest releases.

Reprinted from Pilgrimage Yoga Online

Jeff-Oster-NextJeff Oster’s awesome new CD, “Next,” is getting critical acclaim.  Jeff and I co-wrote and performed “On Mother’s Day” for the CD, and now it’s the soundtrack for a moving Memorial Day video tribute to those who have served.  Go Jeff!