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.
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. Nevertheless, 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.
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.
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.
“Edge of Eternal”, among Shambhu’s most popular songs, featuring Eugene Friesen (cello), Jill Haley (English horn), Jeff Haynes (percussion), Noah Wilding (vocals), and Shambhu (guitars). Produced by Will Ackerman and Shambhu.
While Shambhu generated a tranquil new age vibe on his debut album four years ago, this time the guitarist opts for a thicker fusion sound on his sophomore effort.
This heavier jazz-rock approach is evidenced by the greater presence of electric guitar in addition to acoustic guitar, as well as more defined melodies and chord progressions.
The sound is fuller and richer, thanks especially to an abundance of horns. Shambhu also gets solid support from a stellar lineup of musicians: George Brooks on saxophone, Eugene Friesen on cello, Premik Russell Tubbs on wind instruments, Jeff Haynes on percussion, Charlie Bisharat on violin, Frank Martin on keyboards, Jeff Oster on flugelhorn, and Celso Alberti on drums.
His two releases so far show Shambhu to be a varied and diverse composer and, of course, a thoughtful, creative, and fluid guitarist.
I wish to thank Shambhu for bringing a little sunshine into my life on this miserable wet and windy day in October; while all around radiates a healthy does of glumness, Shambhu’s brand new album permeates a radiance so powerful it lightens the very soul.
Perfection in track one on the composition Waterfall, the acoustic style really captures the title so well with the trickledown effect of the guitar, this is a very professional piece to start with and paints a perfect picture of what we are to expect from the rest of the album. The Cello of Eugene Friesen is sublime in this composition; Waterfall for me, was a great piece to start a new album with, a perfect representation of what you will come to know as the Dreaming Of Now experience. The gentle refrains of Windows of Time struck me as a piece that will live long and prosper in the realms of the new age music fan and if this album is what the so called New Age music genre is becoming then I say hallelujah.
Just listen to the Sax of George Brooks, add the Violin of Charlie Bisharat and you will see what I mean, a true classic of a composition. Total change for track three, much more world genre related, far more upbeat and up-tempo in its style and in parts reminded me of the work of my favourite world band Incendio. This track indeed had fire and passion; even though the title was somewhat curious in Starbucks Landingit still worked for me and was a timely tempo change for the project. Some very, on the ball, piano by Frank Martin and at times one could almost feel that Shambhu had a little Santana thing going on there, which of course isn’t surprising given his musical history. So dear constant reader, it’s time for the title track Dreaming Of Now and one of the most beautiful guitar based pieces I have heard for many a year. Shambhu is joined by Premik Russell Tubbs on Wind Synth and Flute and the combination of them both gives us the listener the perfect example of exquisiteness in music, one could easily imagine listening to this piece whilst lying on your back on a summer’s day in the forest watching the clouds drift by.
We move to Rendezvous, a melody filled sandwich of musical delights that will ease your mind and feed that harmonious hole in your tuneful heart. This has just about everything as a track, a little Jazz influence and the delicate and respectful percussion played by Celso Alberti was brilliant, the piano of Frank Martin which accompanied Shambhu’s guitar was stunning, this will be one of those compositions that would sell an album off its own back, it is that good and everyone who performed on it, should now take a bow.
The quietness that Country Aire gives off as a musical offering is much needed for me now, I watch the rain fall out of my window, but this interlude of harmonious beauty gives me a feeling that all is as it should be. Shambhu’s guitar playing here really comes into its own, this track almost tells a story and through the strings one can hear the words that paint a picture of a perfect repose into the calming influence of our countryside.
Devodance has an element of nature right from the off that tugs us right into a whole new world of majestic playing and musical attractiveness. The early natural sounds are well used, I think I even heard a rain stick, but the song picks up from its early gentle start and flourishes with some excellent bass from Kai Eckhardt and some utterly delicious Flugle Horn from the one and only Jeff Oster, this was one of my favourite tracks off the album.
So the stage is set and upon it under a single light, sits Shambhu, he picks up his guitar and gazes around the lime lit room, slowly he plays a sombre but perfectly played piece called Searching. There is a certain melodic majesty about this piece, in some small way it reminded me of an acoustic set I had heard some years ago from David Coverdale of Whitesnake and I had to hold back my eagerness to sing Sailing ships to this piece. A delightful track and a fine example of what a superb guitarist Shambhu actually is.
We are heading to the end of the album my dear readers, but before we even get anywhere near, let me tell you about this delightful offering that sees some wonderful Cello again from Friesen. Some creative guitar from Shambhu delivers us a piece called Tropical Afternoon. Having spent many of these moments myself, I can tell you that this fits perfectly, a must mention here, there is some very excellent Bass played on this track by Eckhardt and this whole composition fulfils its promise ten fold. Jasminehas an almost Celtic feel about it at times, proving this release is a real genre crossing album, some very powerful percussion from Jeff Haynes is easily matched by Alberti’s enthusiasm on drums. This is a piece that really lets go and enjoys the atmosphere that these amazingly talented musicians have thus far created.
So it’s time to tell you about the very last track on the album constant reader, it’s the shortest piece at just over two and a half minutes and rightfully so, the sole property of the master Shambhu. Here is once more a splendid guitar based track, to ease you towards the end of the experience that we can now call Dreaming of Now. This album has been a delight to review, an album that is beautifully and masterfully produced by Will Ackerman. Dreaming of Now is a much needed multi-genre guitar based album that the musical world can feel eternally grateful for, its shows us that out there in this vast world of musical banality there is still a real heart beating, there are still real musicians that care and that guitarists like Shambhu can bring you the constant listener, an album that will restore your faith in all that is good in the contemporary instrumentalist genre.
~By Steve Sheppard, OneWorldMusic.com (United Kingdom)