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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Recording Session for Soothe.

 

Dreaming of Now, Shambhu's latest CD
Dreaming of Now, Shambhu’s latest CD

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.

Raj Manoharan (Rajman Reviews)

Shambhu belongs to the generation of artists influenced by Will Ackerman’s label Windham Hill and his work as a producer, a big part of which contributed to global popularity of the New Age music genre. These artists created their own unique sounding interpretations, which differed greatly from the mystical orientation and relaxation background relaxation backgrounds of New Age.

Ackerman and his friends created a so called “American New Age” (I would even say “secular”), removing discrediting religious motives and electronics, building on live performance, and including all genres close and distant with a single goal: so that listeners would feel good and comfortable. This genre attracted real professionals with successful careers who filled charts and playlists with quality instrumental music independent of established beliefs and unbound by common practices, however not denying interest in them.

Shambhu never made it to Windham Hill, though that can be explained by his creative endeavors. As a virtuoso guitarist he worked with Whitney Houston and Santana, but his soul wanted something more. In 2010 this something became his debut album, which immediately made it to #1, won several prizes in the genre, and was loved by it’s listeners being named one of the best releases of the year.

The first album has now been replaced by a new one. Here Shambhu filled the gap by getting Ackerman to join in the role of producer and invited to the studio an unbelievable number of stars, beginning with Jeff Oster (horn), George Brooks (sax) and ending with Charlie Bisharat (violin), Frank Martin (piano) and Eugene Friesen (cello).

It worked out as a “dream team” ensemble and they have recorded one of the best albums of the year. Yes, without running ahead and hastening lines of the review, I will say exactly that. “Dreaming of Now” is an example of flawless work of the producers and studio engineer creating a feeling that these players are playing live around you, right inside your home. This creates a miraculous and welcoming atmosphere.

But above all, “Dreaming of Now” is impressive, soulful music, presenting itself an elegant and actual fusion of light jazz, blues chord, classical influences, pop and rock variations, and also typical American country, helping one imagine never ending sun-filled space symbolizing real freedom. One could also imagine or even make real a romantic date, sunset at the sea, sunrise in the mountains, and being present in a cozy sanctuary.

In a word, during the feelings of calm and relaxation this album will bring you, imagine anything you like; this album – filled with light, love and warmth of heartfelt feelings – will help you. The absolutely unparalleled pieces are “Rendezvous”, “Country Aire”, “Windows of Time,” and” Jasmine”.  Other songs are of the same quality.

In the process of creating the “second album,” Shambhu has excelled, composing and recording with a great company of friends emotional and impeccably beautiful compositions, telling simple but wise and kind stories using the universal language of music, and it feels simply very good for one’s soul.

Thanks to Albert Nazander for the Russian-English translation.  Visit Ascentor Blog for the Russian language post.


Shambhu – DREAMING OF NOW:
 One of the reasons I enjoy Shambhu’s guitar work so much is that there’s always something different…. something interesting… & this CD takes that a couple of steps further than the last one I reviewed from him.

As you listen to the high energy on “Starbucks Landing“, you’ll feel the groove I’m talking about – lots of movement, lots of talent in abundance!

If you prefer something a bit more laid-back, you’ll enjoy “Rendezvous“… no doubt about it; then instruments blend seamlessly all the way through this wonderful song.

My personal favorite of the 11 songs offered up was the full-bodied “Searching“…. you’ll feel like he & his crew are right there in your living room playing for you.  I give Shambhu a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the Shambhu website.        Rotcod Zzaj


As I approached recording Dreaming of Now, I recalled the excitement I felt performing live at East-West Bookstore in Mountain View, CA and wanted to recreate the freshness of a live performance on my next CD.

Adam Muñoz and Shambhu at Fantasy Studios

In July 2012 I booked a weekend at Fantasy Studios, Studio D, in Berkeley, CA with myself producing and Adam Muñoz as recording engineer.

Joining me were the world’s best instrumentalists: George Brooks (sax), Kai Eckhardt (bass), Frank Martin (piano) and Celso Albert (drums). We recorded 12 songs over two days and had an incredibly fun weekend together.

In the Fall I invited percussionist Jeff Haynes (who recorded on my debut CD Sacred Love), to add percussion to those 12 tracks from his own home studio in Beacon, NY. Grammy-winning recording engineer Corin Nelsen, who did the honors on Sacred Love, engineered Jeff’s sessions.

In October 2012, I took all the tracks to Imaginary Road Studio in Windham County, VT, the home of Grammy Award-winning producer Will Ackerman and recording engineer Thomas Eaton. We re-recorded all the acoustic guitars and added cello – with Will Ackerman producing. Over a week’s time, we redid guitar on 8 songs, added Eugene Friesen’s cello to 4 songs, and I also flowed three new songs (Sanctuary, Dreaming of Now and Searching) live in studio – that appear on Dreaming of Now.

By December 2012, Thomas Eaton completed the first rough mix, which was so impressive that I added Tom as co-producer along with myself and Will Ackerman.

In early 2013, I met Will Ackerman at Entourage Studios in North Hollywood, and we recorded violinist Charlie Bisharat on two songs with Will Ackerman producing.

By summer I was hearing keyboard and string  pads for many of the songs. So I got together with keyboardist Frank Martin, featured throughout the CD, who graced the songs with gorgeous tones that completed them. Celso Alberti, who played drums on almost the entire CD, engineered that very fun session.

Going into summer 2013, I spent months working with the tracks in my own studio producing Jeff Oster (flugelhorn) on Devodance and adding electric guitar solo to Starbucks Landing with Todd Boston engineering. The final recording session was with Premik Russell Tubbs who added wind synth to the title track, Dreaming of Now and Jasmine.

Once we had all the tracks done, the final mix happened at Imaginary Road Studios over a week’s time working with Thomas Eaton and Will Ackerman.

This summer, Tom mastered Dreaming of Now at Thomas Eaton Recording in Newburyport, MA… and then we were done. Two years in the making, and almost three years to the day when Sacred Love was released.

Top two photos by Mario Covic. MarioCovic.com

Will Ackerman / Imaginary Road Studio – WilliamAckerman.com

Thomas Eaton Recording – ThomasEaton.com

 

As you can imagine, producing a CD like “Dreaming of Now” takes a tremendous amount of time and effort by a team of people. Dreaming of Now features the finest musical artists on their instruments and an award winning production and engineering team.  I’ll talk more about these amazing folks in another post.

I want to acknowledge some very special friends each with their own special gifts – who made financial commitments that helped me kickstart this project.  You are my dearest friends and I’ve thanked each of you personally. But I want to publicly acknowledge your kindness and generosity and appreciate that you are part of my story and my life.

Todd and Andrea Boston
Aparajita Fishman
Deborah and Jeff Dorman
Geoffrey and Sophie Menin
Christina “CK” Kerley
Lucian Kanu Balmer
Michelle Garder
Scott Bourne
Joshua Lunior
Hiyamallar Daniel Shalom
Albert Nazander
Jonas Forth
Olli Günst
Laura Sullivan
Pavaka Stephane Richot