It's About the Rose
*** #1 CD OF THE YEAR *** TOP NEW AGE & CONTEMPORARY INSTRUMENTAL AIRPLAY RECORDINGS OF 2007 New Age Reporter Top 100 Charts NEW AGE REPORTER, BILL BINKELMAN ... 'What can I write that will do justice to this sublime and beautiful recording? I have put off reviewing It's About the Rose because I didn't know how, in words, to capture my reaction to this album, conveying how deeply it touched me. From the opening "It's About the Rose in the Vase on the Table" and it's rolling yet melancholic melodicism to the gypsy-ish "Moon Night" (featuring Derrik Jordan on djembe and violin) to the light-hearted "Café Espresso (for Ken)" which prances and dances around like a little kid overflowing with the joy of the moment to the closing reprise "Finale of the Rose" on which Garrett is joined by stellar accompanists Will Ackerman (who produced this outstanding disc), Jeff Oster on flugelhorn, Steve Schuch on violin and Derrik Jordan once again on percussion, there is no misstep, no over-reach, no wasting of a note or a chord throughout the fifty-one minutes on this recording. It's About the Rose is one of the most evocative, deeply felt albums I've heard in years, and that statement encompasses many recordings. Comparable to the chamber minimalism of Tim Story at times, yet also more accessible for less adventurous listeners who need a firmer grounding in structured acoustic instrumentation, this is a CD of uncommon grace and elegance, yet never at the expense of becoming distant or overly concerned with technique as opposed to human emotion. Try to remain unaffected by the gentle caress of cello (played by Eugene Friesen) and Garrett's piano as they weave a delicate beauty on "Tally's Lullaby." Then there is "Vinot and the Seabird" which begins as a sparse piano piece and introduces ethereal wordless female vocals (courtesy of Noah Wilding) and Oster's flugelhorn, maintaining a distinct reflective mood with some of Garrett's more nuanced and subtle playing, emphasizing the silence between notes as much as the gently sad melody. "Waiting" and "The Piano Called" are solo piano offerings, both being quiet, reflective and somber, yet wholly accessible, rich with emotion and inviting to the listener despite the amber tint of the minor tonalities and the overall downcast mood of the compositions themselves. What separates It's About the Rose from other piano releases is no one thing, but a combination of elements. The quality of performances, the production, and the compositions themselves written (or in one case, co-written) by the artist all factor in; however, in the end, it's the intangibles that reach out and grab the listener, the same way that a faded photograph of a long-past relative or a dog-eared letter from a former lover stokes the dying embers of memory and rekindles a flame that burns brightly if only for an instant. In the same way that a rainy Saturday afternoon invites us to withdraw inwards, so to does this sublime recording take us deep within ourselves. It's About the Rose is so beautiful and so touching that it may reduce you to tears, but they may just be tears of fond remembrance, not sadness. The CD earns my highest recommendation without reservation.' JAZZ REVIEW.COM, TOM SCHAEFER... 'I have to admit that I approached Karen Marie Garrett's CD "It's About the Rose" with some trepidation. I am not a great lover of the New Age music genre. Also the prospect of a theme CD centered on the beauty of the rose caused some additional foreboding. But I had my prejudices quickly removed by this absolutely enchanting effort. When people think of emotional music, they generally picture a Beethoven symphony or Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, but emotion can be subtle and nuanced without the use cymbals or timpani. It's About the Rose reminds me very much of Erik Satie, in fact. Both Satie and Garrett have a minimalist style of piano composition. The easy, almost ambling manner of the music belies the deep emotions that are being conveyed. Garrett displays an incredible virtuosity without the flourishes of a Chopin or Beethoven. Yet the subtlety of the music compels you and draws you into the emotions that Garrett is hoping to evoke. It's About the Rose is a seductively beautiful effort.' WILL ACKERMAN, founder Windham Hill Records, gold/platinum producer, and Grammy Award artist.... 'Karen Marie Garrett's previous recording, "Allure of Sanctuary", offered an abundance of melody and emotion, making it truly a remarkable debut. Her latest recording, "It's About the Rose", presents an absolutely stunning evolution in musical styles, textures, virtuosity and emotional depth. She has not departed from what worked so well for her in "Allure of Sanctuary", but has simply dug deeper to create an even richer experience." NEW YORK SOLO PIANO PUBLICATIONS, Kathy Parsons.... 'IT'S ABOUT THE ROSE is ... stunning! Her previous release, ALLURE OF SANCTUARY was also exceptional with it's melodic emotional depth, but this is quite different. The pieces tend to be more improvised and come directly from the soul without a confining structure. Artists of this stature are able to freely, yet cohesively communicate their musical thoughts, creating moods and wordless dialogs with their instruments. True artistry springs from this place, and if you have ever witnessed it, the experience is profound and mesmerizing. Garrett obviously took some major musical risks with this new release, but calls the time spent making the album the most creative period of her life - it shows. I don't often listen to a CD for the first time and keep saying, "Wow!" but that's what happened here. It's not the pianistic flash, but the depth of feeling and personal expression that draws you in and won't let go.... May she always wear her heart on her musical sleeve! Wow!