Will Ackerman | Windham Hills Records

Will Ackerman, producer of INTO ETERNITY and founder of Windham Hill Records:

"Jim Gabriel is as good a pianist and composer as you’ll find anywhere.  There’s not a note this man has written that isn’t both fine composition and deeply heartfelt expression.Jim’s CD, Into Eternity, is utterly brilliant and was a joy for me and my co-producer Tom Eaton to be involved in.  and will be a joy for anyone who is lucky enough to hear it."

Bill Binkleman | Zone Music Reporter

Putting it succinctly, pianist Jim Gabriel gets it. He has a deep and true understanding of what makes a piano recording great, of how to walk the line between drama and subtlety, whether the piano is accompanied or standing alone. Sojourn promised a bright future for this talented newcomer, and Into Eternity delivers on that promise if not even elevating it.

The songs on Into Eternity convey a variety of emotions with grace, sincerity, and innate human feeling. I sometimes refer to an album as being "intimate," in that it seems like the artist is playing it for you and you alone. Such is the feeling you may get when listening to Into Eternity. Joined by yet another stellar assemblage of Imaginary Road guest stars, and helmed by aces Ackerman and Eaton, Gabriel and his beautiful piano melodies will hold you in a gentle embrace like a worn yet always welcome blanket—ah, comfort and bliss."

 

Rotcod Zzaj | Piano Review

I gave Jim high marks for his piano work back in issue # 142, and he used some of the same high-talent players and engineers on that one as well… on this totally fresh recording, he has managed to exceed his own previous musical achievements… when I went back to the earlier album (something I often do in order to get a “refresher” on the artist’s style and musical persona), I was especially impressed with how much more “body” this new album has… listen to the wonderful “Goodbye for Now“, with it’s guitar intro and subtle string weave integrated with Jim’s magical piano keyboard, and you’ll be fascinated with his ability to capture your heart, as well as your soul.  He doesn’t do any “strange spells”, and his playing is very down-to-earth, but his music will certainly make you feel just how fleeting our time here is…. beautiful emotions painted with his keyboards!

As mentioned before, the lineup includes some who have played with him before… you’ll hear Jill Haley on English horn; Tony Levin’s bass work; Jeff Oster on flugelhorn; Eugene Friesen on cello, Charlie Bisharat on violin and Gus Sebring on french horn… there are also guest appearances by Will Ackerman on guitar and Tom Eaton on accordion, synthesizer and guitar (Tom is also the engineer and mastered the album).  As you listen to the 5:17 title track, “Into Eternity“, you will realize that his simple and straightforward keyboard playing are only elements of a much stronger ability of his… he’s able to turn simple into “ethereal” (“extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world”) in the best sense of the word… and his piano is totally complimented by the abilities of all the other players, as well.  To experience this in “live mode”, I highly recommend that you watch the YouTube video featuring Jim playing “Midnight” from the release.

You see/hear?  There’s no “pretension” in his playing… he helps you to slow down and enjoy what he’s doing without being at all overbearing about it; nowhere is that better represented (for this reviewer, anyway) than on my personal favorite of the dozen pieces offered up for your eternal listening pleasure, “Dreams of You“, the dynamic closer for the album… again, the integration of the instruments with Jim’s delicate and thoughtful playing style brings back memories of the passing of some of my own loved ones – in a most pleasant way, actually.  I give Jim and his fellow players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of a (perfect) 5.00 – meaning that this gets a “PICK” for “most personal and intimate piano artistry”.  Get more information about Jim at the Jim Gabriel website (& tell him you read about him here, of course).

Candice Michelle | Journeyscapes

Into Eternity is the sophomore release from pianist and composer Jim Gabriel, and follow-up to his debut album, Sojourn. Comprised of twelve compositions recorded at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont, Into Eternity was co-produced by guitarist Will Ackerman and multi-instrumentalist Tom Eaton. Both are also guest musicians on the album (with Will on acoustic guitar and Tom on electric guitar, bass and accordion), along with Jill Haley on English horn, Jeff Oster on flugelhorn, Gus Sebring on French horn, Eugene Friesen on cello, Charlie Bisharat on violin, Tony Levin on bass, and Noah Wilding on vocals.

“From the Rising of the Sun” opens with gently tip-toeing notes in the higher register, eventually blossoming into a vibrant and colorful melody. A gently uplifting introduction, this piece is one of a handful of the album’s solo piano compositions, of which are interspersed among other elegant ensemble pieces. “Winter” is an especially beautiful piece that bears a similar feel to some of George Winston’s works and other classic Windham Hill recordings. Beginning with trickling piano droplets in the higher register, accompanying cello and French horn lend a touch of nostalgia to the composition, which is led by a flowing piano melody that seemingly captures the essence of hurrying through the snow in a winter wonderland, or possibly even a figure-skating couple dancing in an icefield. I’m also especially fond of the title track, “Into Eternity”, a notably atmospheric and contemplative number that features drifty piano chords enshrouded by ambient guitar textures. “First Light” is another particular highlight in which pulsating piano notes in the lower register underlay the composition’s main melody, perhaps mimicking that of an approaching beacon of light. Further complimented by ethereal wordless vocals and suspended flugelhorn notes, the piece brings to mind that of a ship at sea sailing towards a lighthouse in the distance. The likewise especially noteworthy, “Midnight”, is a Coldplay cover that feels appropriately nocturnal and introspective, which Jim has beautifully rendered on solo piano. By contrast, “Americana” is one of the album’s brightest and boldest compositions featuring English horn and cello. Possessing a certain hymnal quality, this piece feels both patriotic and inspirational, as it seemingly paints an image of an old chapel in the countryside. The ninth track, “Goodbye for Now”, lends a wonderful seasonal contrast to the comparatively snowy, “Winter”, with its air of warmth and leisure that’s further enhanced by acoustic guitar and accordion.

Overall reflective with a gentle dynamism, Into Eternity seemingly shifts through the moods and tonalities of both day and night, as well as captures essences and landscapes of various seasons. Each contributing artist lends a delicate touch of added dimension to the listening space, as Jim Gabriel’s often flowing and always elegant piano melodies remain the focal-point of these lovely compositions! 

Kathy Parsons | Mainly Piano

Into Eternity is the second album from pianist/composer Jim Gabriel. After his superlative 2013 debut, Sojourn, I’ve really been looking forward to this album and I have to say that it does not disappoint in any way! Gabriel recorded both albums at Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studio, and Into Eternity was co-produced by Ackerman and Tom Eaton. Four of the pieces are solo piano and eight are ensembles with the stellar line-up of artists at Imaginary Road. All of the twelve tracks are original compositions and improvisations except for Gabriel’s haunting solo piano arrangement of Coldplay’s, “Midnight.” The music on the album was composed in memory of Janet Gabriel, the artist’s mother, and is dedicated to her. Despite the loss of someone so dear, the music is a celebration of life and a hopeful vision of what lies beyond our physical existence. Overflowing with love, grace and peaceful gentleness, I can’t imagine a more beautiful tribute.

Into Eternity begins with “From the Rising of the Sun,” a piano solo that begins very simply and gradually builds. In the opening and closing sections, Gabriel makes as much use of the space between the notes as the notes themselves. “Home” expresses the calm of being exactly where you are supposed to be. The first half of the piece is just the piano, but then Jill Haley (English horn) and Tom Eaton (bass) add their magic and send the piece soaring. I love “Winter” and the crystalline notes that dance around the upper range of the piano. A trio for piano, cello (Eugene Friesen) and French horn (Gus Sebring), it’s a favorite! I also love the title track, a duet for Gabriel (piano) and Tom Eaton (bass and electric guitar). Reverb effects create an atmospheric sense of vast open space and suggest the mysteries that await us there. Despite the many unknowns, this piece is peaceful and very ethereal, reminding me of being in a gently swirling fog - an amazing and inspiring piece! The solo piano “Un Momento Tenero” overflows with compassion and tenderness. “Goodbye for Now” begins with a lovely acoustic guitar solo by Will Ackerman. The piano leads off the second stanza with the guitar returning along with accordion (Eaton) and bass (Tony Levin). The gently-swaying rhythm is wistful and dreamy as the melody touches the heart. “Retrospection II” is the last piano solo on the album and is a sequel to one of my favorites from Sojourn. Gabriel again uses the pedals for just enough reverb to create a sense of space and to suggest the passage of time. “Distant Memories” is a nostalgic yet gracefully uplifting trio for piano, violin (Charlie Bisharat) and bass (Levin) - also a favorite. “Dreams of You” is a gorgeous quartet for piano, cello, violin and French horn. Poignant, full of longing, and overflowing with emotion, it will likely have you looking for the “replay” button as the album comes to an end!

This is only early-February, but I fully expect Into Eternity to be on my Favorites list for 2017. It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. I give it my highest recommendation!

Keith Hannaleck | MuzikMan Productions

Jim Gabriel has created another musical masterpiece titled Into Eternity.
 
Jim Gabriel, bearing the name of an angel, creates music that certainly is heavenly.  I believe that music is the greatest gift of mankind and those that create it are the chosen ones to bring it to life. There is no such thing as coincidence in my world, everything has a purpose, place and reason to live on this plane of existence.

Some of us do more than just take up space and accept whatever comes our way and others find their own way and live a focused and fulfilling life. Jim Gabriel is meant to play the piano and bring us joy. And he does exactly that on Into Eternity.

Into Eternity is made up of 12 tracks of gorgeous melodies with the finishing touches of guitar and strings to complete the musical paintings this artist creates. I believe life is a canvas upon which we paint our lives. This is a painting of beauty and grace that gives each listener their own slice of personal heaven.

The one track that got my attention the most, and prolifically, was “Midnight.”  It is his own interpretation of the song originally done by Coldplay on their sixth studio album Ghost Stories. You have the fortune of hearing that on the video provided with this review. For my ears and senses, it got my attention because of the melody and the changes throughout the track. There are moments of elation and then sadness, it was like the range of human emotions all wrapped into one singular purpose within the song. 

That is but one example of that kind of story Mr. Gabriel weaves into each one of the 12 tracks presented on Into Eternity. His talented fingers let the ivory keys do all the talking and your eternity becomes a reality through what he creates. 

I have always expressed that the beauty of music is the ability for each individual listener to decide what to do with it and how they interpret it.  Personally I take the beauty of what is offered and internalize it so it brings me peace and therefore hits that switch in mind that says “OFF.” I hope all of you listeners out there and potentially new listeners, can find your own path through this incredible music like I have.

Into Eternity is perfect just the way it is and that in and of itself is the miracle of music.

5/5 Stars

 



 

Reviews for Sojourn

I'm honored that so many shared their kind words about my first album, Sojourn. Find those reviews below.

 

Kathy Parsons | Mainly Piano

My one-word review of Sojourn and Jim Gabriel’s music would be “Wow!!!”

Sojourn is the stellar debut by pianist/composer Jim Gabriel. Produced by Will Ackerman at his Imaginary Road Studio in Vermont, the album is made up of four piano solos and seven duets/ensemble pieces that feature Eugene Friesen on cello (5), Charlie Bisharat on violin (2), Tony Levin on bass (3), Will Ackerman on percussion (1), and Jeff Pearce on Chapman Stick (1). The music is a fascinating combination of structured, melodic pieces and improvisations that are more ethereal and ambient. Two of the eleven tracks are covers that Gabriel has made his own. 

Jim Gabriel started playing the piano at the age of eight and continued his education all over the world, including working on a doctorate in Organ Performance from University of Washington before moving to Paris to study improvisation. Gabriel is the Choral Director at Cranbrook Schools in Michigan, where he also teaches. His vast musical experience shines through in his original compositions as well as his playing, both of which are elegant and soulful. Sojourn is an extraordinary album and sure to be one of my favorites of 2014. 

Sojourn begins with “South Bend, Indiana 1989,” a tender and delicate piano solo that sets the tone of the album. Very open and free, it’s a quietly bittersweet reflection on something from the past. “Chaccone” is an incredible duet for piano and cello. Built around a repeated bass pattern, the first half of the piece is just piano. As the cello enters, the music really takes flight. The last movement becomes very serene and gently drifts off at the end. “Spring Reverie,” also a duet for piano and cello, begins softly and builds slowly. The middle section becomes passionate and then gradually calms and fades out. The title track is a quartet featuring Gabriel, Ackerman, Friesen, and Pearce - definitely a favorite! Haunting and full of longing yet freely expressive, it’s a breath-taking piece! “Closest Night” returns to solo piano: open, free, and from the depths of the soul. Much of this piece is played in the lower registers of the piano, creating images of darkness and stillness. “Dayspring” takes us in a different direction altogether. Light and carefree, Charlie Bisharat’s violin takes us soaring through fluffy white clouds as Gabriel’s piano dances and swirls with joyous abandon. “Retrospection” is another favorite. A very subtle piano solo, the damper pedal holds many of the tones, creating an incredibly atmospheric, floating feeling that is both dreamy and suggestive of the passage of time - an amazing effect that is whole lot more difficult than one might expect, as excessive use of the pedal can turn the music to mud in no time. “Lost Chances” brings Bisharat back and adds Levin on bass for a poignant, nearly heartbreaking reflection on what might have been - love it! The two cover songs are “Your Hand in Mine” and “To the Sky,” and both are gorgeous. “Hopes Forgotten” is a passionate and deeply moving trio for piano, cello and bass. 

Be sure to check it out for yourself. It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby, and I give it my highest recommendation.


 

William Ackerman | Windham Hill Records

[Gabriel is] an artist who gracefully incorporates all of this [classical] knowledge and technique into an exhilaratingly free and expressive style that connects on an immediate emotional level. 


Bill Binkelman | Zone Music

Jim Gabriel is yet another pianist who has been uncovered, so to speak, by ace producer Will Ackerman and who recorded an impressive debut at the legendary Imaginary Road Studios in Windham County, Vermont. Gabriel is a master of introspective minimalism, crafting personal tone poems that delve deep into the listener's psyche, evoking memories and encouraging reflection. While some of the eleven tracks on Sojourn have Gabriel elevating the mood and tempo, injecting some cheeriness or energy/drama, the impactful pieces are ones that slowly walk into the listener's consciousness and begin to peel away layers of time and memory, uncovering nuggets of lost love, forgotten dreams, and missed opportunities. This is not to say this is a depressing album, because Gabriel's playing is so gorgeous (and gorgeously recorded by Tom Eaton, arguably the hottest recording engineer and mixer in business today) that even when the mood evoked is solemn, the listener still sits raptured by the sheer beauty of both the melody and Gabriel's technique (his nuanced control of shading and mood is something special).

Of course, since this is an Imaginary Road production, you might expect some contributions from the usual suspects/accompanists and they are here for sure: cellist Eugene Friesen, violinist Charlie Bisharat, and bassist Tony Levin.

 It's unusual for a pianist to be so adept at both sprightly, affirming tunes ("Dayspring"), powerful dramatic pieces ("Chaccone," "Hopes Forgotten") and somber, reflective numbers ("South Bend, Indiana" and "Closest Night"). Perhaps shoehorning Jim Gabriel into any one type of music does him a disservice. The more I listened to Sojourn, the more I realized how diverse it actually was, although I still believe the more minimal pieces to be the most powerful, however Gabriel is anything but a cookie-cutter artist no matter what type of music he plays or composes (all but two tracks are originals).

Having been a music reviewer since 1997, one of the saddest aspects of that 15+ year enterprise is witnessing the many and sundry "one hit wonders" who have hit my mailbox once and seemingly disappeared from view afterwards. I certainly hope Jim Gabriel is here to stay because he and his music deserve a long and well-appreciated career, at least based on Sojourn, an excellent debut release from a most-promising artist.


 

Dana Wright | New Age Music Reviews

James Gabriel began his journey into music at the age of eight.  Beginning formal music education with two full scholarships, he has not stopped pursuing his dreams. Traveling the world, he has taught in Mexico, performed for Pope John Paul II, studied under Naji Hakim in Paris and performed in various churches in the area. He has been a teacher and inspiration to students of all ages and is now the Director of Vocal Arts at Cranbrook Educational Community. Sojourn is a wistful look at his musical roots and a testament to a rich career that has brought joy to so many listeners the world over. Featured artists include Tony Levin, Eugene Friesen, William Ackerman, Jeff Pierce, Charlie Bisharat and Jim Gabriel.

Listening to this album was like a breath of fresh air and so is Gabriel’s elegant piano playing. Opening with “South Bend, IN 1989,” I was transfixed. The deliberately poised piano sequence literally stopped me in my tracks and I sat still and listened. Really, really listened. As a writer, I am always humming and doing a plethora of things at once. Not with this album. It was like a balm to my deadline ridden brain and I just sighed and let the music flow over me. Sweet and poignant, like watching Bridges of Madison County, this music takes you away from yourself and transports you. Softly spoken, this composition is a dust devil in disguise. A wispy breeze that makes you remember fonder times and smile.

“Sojourn” is the title track of this gorgeous album. This piece has Friessen on the cello, Pierce on the Chapman stick and William Ackerman weaving his magic with percussion elements. Gabriel sets the tone with his piano work, hypnotizing the listener with a spell of serenity. He chose wisely with the cover art indeed. Blues and greens denote tranquility and that is just what this track is. It is a wandering path into a land beneath the waves. A passage into a world less traveled by—an epic transformative piece.

“To the Sky” is love, light and bears an optimistic flair for a brighter tomorrow. Firm piano playing sequences both pensive and introspective give rise to dreams and the secret joys that fill our everyday lives. Liquid cello movements glide over the listener as you embrace the inner workings of the piece as it leads you to the start key to begin the journey all over again.

Jim Gabriel has performed for and worked with some of the greatest talents in music today. This album is a testament to that fact. It is beautifully orchestrated and flows like water. A teacher and mentor, Gabriel is in the unique position to guide students to explore their passions and show that hard work does pay off. Sojourn is a masterpiece of sound. Each track is woven to the highest standard and brings the listener on a harmonic journey outside of the day to day grind. If you want a spa moment and a transformative space, this album is one you need to try.

5/5 Stars


 

Michael Diamond Music

One thing that has not been lost on pianist Jim Gabriel is the value of education  – both his own, and that which he imparts to others. With so much being said these days about the cutting of funding to arts programs in the schools, its gratifying to see someone like Jim who has done so much with his extensive education and is now giving back to a new generation, as a music teacher and choir director. Jim’s love affair with music and the piano began when he was only eight years old. His passion grew, leading eventually to two full scholarships, one at Youngstown State University, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music, and the other at the University of Notre Dame where he received his Master’s Degree in Music, both in piano performance. But that was just the beginning. Jim later studied at the Manhattan School of Music, where he worked toward a Professional Studies Degree in piano. The following year he pursued doctoral-level studies in Music Education at Columbia University. Continuing on to a Doctoral program in Organ Performance at the University of Washington, Jim also studied choral and orchestral conducting, and refined his teaching skills by accompanying and coaching singers. In a desire to expand his horizons and gain a broader worldview, Jim later moved to Paris for further study on the organ. One of the highlights of his career was performing for the late Pope John Paul II at the Vatican on Easter Sunday in 1990, which Jim described as “a magical experience.”

The role of music educator is one Jim takes quite seriously, with his goal being: “to help students go as far as they can with the abilities they have. I try to do it with kindness and patience. I try to choose music that is educational but at the same time, something my students will enjoy. I hope to make the music diverse -classical, indigenous, Indian, African, Asian. I try to represent as many styles as possible. Music helps from a physiological point of view in accomplishing whatever it is you want to do. Performing is just one of those skills. Then there’s the concentration it takes to spend hours and hours on difficult pieces. One thing I do is to teach students how to deal with nerves. That makes a difference any time you need to present something in a public venue, whether it’s a business meeting or even a courtroom. The pathway to be successful in music seems so mysterious and daunting and I am hoping to help students figure it out, because it can be done.”

 

The legendary Steinway at Imaginary Roads Studio

The legendary Steinway at Imaginary Roads Studio

Of course, many of these ideas and principles find their way into Jim’s own music and can be heard on his debut CD, Sojourn. While it is clear that Jim wants the best for his students, he also wants nothing less for himself and his own music. To achieve this, he recorded his album at the world-renown Imaginary Roads Studio in Vermont, under the direction of Grammy-winning producer and Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman. The recording includes both solo and ensemble pieces which feature the talents of some of the best musicians in the business. Accompanists include cellist Eugene Friesen, best known as a member of the Paul Winter Consort, Charlie Bisharat on violin who plays with Yanni and others, bassist Tony Levin of Peter Gabriel’s touring band, and ambient guitarist/ recording artist Jeff Pearce, whose own incredible music I’ve had the pleasure of writing about. It is obvious that Jim could not have had a better crew for his maiden recording voyage.

With a title marked by time and place, the album opens with a solo piano composition called “South Bend, Indiana 1989.” It’s a quiet reflective piece that has the feeling of being lost in a distant memory. Jim’s background in music education is evident on the next track, entitled “Chaccone,” which refers to a musical composition in moderate triple time typically consisting of variations on a repeated succession of chords. The song slowly builds in intensity to a climax, when it drops back down, shifting into a different motif towards the end, which I found unusual, yet quite intriguing. The subtle yet sonorous cello playing of Eugene Friesen adds another dimension to the composition. His cello also accompanies Jim on the next track, “Spring Reverie.” I think that the use of the word “reverie,” is most appropriate in that there is a pensive quality that characterizes many of the tracks heard on the recording. However, like the spring itself, the music blossoms as it unfolds on this track.

On the title track, one of the album’s most accompanied tunes, Jim’s piano is joined by Eugene’s cello, Will Ackerman on percussion, and Jeff Pierce on the Chapman Stick – a ten or twelve stringed electronic instrument capable of playing bass lines, melody lines, chords, or textures. As on many Will Ackerman-produced recordings, while the studio musicians are world-class virtuosos, their presence is often understated and gently supportive, allowing the primary artist to shine in the spotlight. Following another contemplative solo piece, “Closest Night,” the violin of Charlie Bisharat and bass of Tony Levin are heard on a track called “Dayspring.” This is the first song on the album to divert from the more introspective air set by the preceding pieces, and is quite lively and upbeat. I particularly enjoyed the way the violin danced sprightly over Jim’s delightful descending progression.

 An impressionistic solo piece called “Retrospection,” is evocative and haunting. These more ruminative compositions represent musical terrain that Jim is quite adept at traversing and account for much of the tone and tenor on Sojourn.A wistful ambience pervades the appropriately titled “Lost Chances,” which also features violin and bass. One thing I was aware of in this piece, as well as in Jim’s playing in general, was his mastery in the use of dynamics, with passages rising and falling in volume like the tides of the sea. There was a cinematic quality to a melancholy track called “Hopes Forgotten,” that could work well as a soundtrack to a poignant scene of a movie. A quiet piano and cello duet entitled “To The Sky,” brings the album to a peaceful conclusion. There is a particular ambience to this recording that fit perfectly with the rainy winter day I viewed from my window as I listened. While it bears little resemblance stylistically to Celtic music, it does, in it’s own way, often reflect the bittersweet quality that genre of music captures so well. Jim Gabriel is an accomplished pianist and composer with a particular gift for melody and mood, which he displays so adeptly on this album. His music has been compared favorably with the likes of George Winston and Jim Brickman, and I’m sure that fans of these pianists, and new age piano in general will want to give this a listen. Sojourn is a wonderful debut release and I’m sure it is only the beginning of much more to come from this talented artist.


 

Steve Sheppard | One World Music

A more meaning full start to an album than Jim Gabriel’s South Bend Indiana 1989, you wouldn’t find in many places, this is the brand new release called Sojourn and starting with this thought provoking beginning, certainly bodes well for us dear constant reader, it’s played with a certain solemn introspective feel and the piano resonates here with a layered musical play of memories gone but never forgotten.

Chaccone flows like the river in spring flood, is a piece that’s full of intent and the bass line throughout this composition is sublime, it pulls back and comes forward like the tide of a swollen sea and one will be really taken by the power and intensity of this incredible commanding track, it also features the utterly masterful playing of Cellist Eugene Friesen and three quarters in breaks its pattern and almost starts a different musical narrative.

As I gaze upon the beautiful environment out of my window, Gabriel’s Spring Reverie greets my ears and heart with the tenderness of a new born leaf. Once more Friesen plays respectfully and they then go onto create a track that is the very epitome of this wonderful season. Gabriel has a very specific style and one can really feel the intent with every note played.

So now for the title track Sojourn, for a while dear constant reader and listener, we take a temporary resting place within this new release, we take a sojourn in music, but what will the signature piece hold for us all? I am elated to say, that Sojourn as a track holds all the right ingredients to really capture your imagination entirely, with a little added percussion in the mix from the man himself Will Ackerman and a sudden plunging bass, Gabriel has brought into the world a really meaningful composition, one that you will want to hear time and time over.

We drift back to a solo piano piece now, as the artist performs for us a track that one can feel the underlying heat from, called Closest Night. Once more it has to be said that Gabriel’s talent here keeps catching me off guard, again he encapsulates a night for me that is balmy and far too hot to sleep in, but there is a tenderness within this piece that makes me feel that in the early hours, there is always the respite of gazing to my left and looking at the one whom I love and this is what I get from this almost star filled and moving solo track.

On Dayspring, Gabriel is join by the legendary Charlie Bisharat on Violin and Tony (the man) Levin on Bass and they create an upbeat and dynamic track that lifts the energies at the mid way point of the album. Dayspring does what it says on the can, following the sleepy Closest Night, Dayspring will have you leaping from bed, with an eager anticipation of greeting the new day with energy and fun.

It’s always good to have a moment of retrospection, I have taken quite a few of these this week alone and I am a better man for it. I wished I had played this piece during those moments, it would have added harmony to the freedom gained. This solo piano composition is gentle but very ambient in its approach and leaves much room for us dear constant listener to create our own Retrospection within. Here Gabriel creates the space for us to reflect upon and does it with a respectful long composition that seems to create a soundscape of complete inner peace. I must be honest here and I thought this, was my favourite, should I dare to select one, it gave me a view inside the deepness of the artists muse and here within Retrospection, we have what I would call a timeless and unforgettable moment of genius, this is one piece I will be playing for eternity.

We are certainly now in a passage of thought provoking and meaningful moments, through these following tracks and Lost Chances, once more combines the talents of Bisharat and Levin in a beautiful composition that brings forth an emotive repeating melody, this could be regarded as an ode to lost opportunities, but now could also be regarded as an anthem to a final breakthrough, judge that comment, by the passion filled playing deep within this honest and reflective piece.

Taking the song Your Hand Is Mine, gives the artist a time for himself to enjoy the fruits of his labour, again a song full of narrative and emotive passion and here we see Jim Gabriel delivering yet complete performance. This album is yet another slice of magic from the legendary Imaginary Road Studio’s of Will Ackerman and you can tell, hand in hand Ackerman, Tom Eaton and Jim Gabriel have produced something special on Sojourn.

So dear constant reader and listener we come to the penultimate track off the album and it’s called Hopes Forgotten. Returning to the more inner depth of his own personal power Gabriel creates a track that is not only deep, but purposeful and breaks into sheer majesty at almost the half way point, this is a piece that grabs you by the musical metaphorical throat and never lets you go.

So my friends this is the end, the end of everything thing that stands and lets stand for the most respectful track off the album called To the Sky. I too feel this piece it is written for those of us who have fathers who have passed, mine passed a year before the artists, but his memory still and will always remain in my heart and the lump in my throat as I write and listen to this testifies to that.

Yes, this is the ultimate end of album track, but what a wonderful way to end it by paying tribute to our ancestors and elders. Gabriel on Sojourn as a project, has brought into the world an album that solo piano fans will buy with a relish, but over all, this will appease those of you who have a real ear for musical beauty, for Sojourn is much more than just a solo piano album, it is a collaboration of artistic endeavours and honest and truthful music, that is well played and very easy to listen to and resonates within its own beauty. 


 

Sergey Oreshkin | Ascentor

Translated from Russian

Sojourn, the debut album by American pianist Jim Gabriel, belongs to the category of hot favorite releases that a review is almost not needed to describe the music itself. It allows you to touch on emotional transformation caused by the work itself - and this "live" feedback from the listener to musician, on my subjective opinion, is the most valuable thing that can exist in the relationship of the creator and the one who touches the world created by him.

No, of course, a few words about the creation of this album will definitely say is - it was produced by Will Ackerman (once again surprised, as it is so easy to find talented people, each new release, which stated his name, it becomes quite an event) as well as guests, we hear the cellist Eugene Friesen, violinist Charlie Bisharat, bassist Tony Levin, and known for his work in the style of guitar ambient Jeff Pierce, who plays here on an unusual species electric titled "Stick Champama."

The efforts of these musicians decorate masterfully in its airy lightness manner Gabriel piano, enhancing emotional effect and pushing the boundaries it creates chamber, almost impressionistic sonic landscapes to the immense space - and here it is time to stop talking generalities about the music, and go to the fact that it receives from the listener listening. Elegant sentimentality (I want to be called Jim's manner of performance that way).

Sojourn is full of warm colors and a quiet, relaxed bliss in busting the keys and they generate graceful melodies sometimes hear the sound of oncoming waves, the sound of summer rain, the quiet rustling of the grass on the vast plains and the silence of the summer twilight, children's laughter and the hum of festive evenings when families gather.  

In short, those universal images that most of us associated with the notion of "comfort" and "happiness."

If Jim aimed to bring the listener into life - something he does, of course, he won. However, it is not indifferent vacation with his eyes closed and turned off his thoughts - it is also a deep spiritual experience, rolls of a sudden, when the melodies and rhythms reach a high emotional level, serving as a catalyst capable of awaken long forgotten feelings, memories, feelings and dreams - of course choosing from the recesses of the soul only the bright, good moments, even a long time after caressing his warm heart.

He wants to save, put together with this disk in a box, and each of these moments to assign a code to the name of a track to return to them whenever Sojourn (sure, it will be more than once) will again be the player.


 

Judy Wolf | Spirit Seeker Magazine

Jim plays his first musical release to audiences of his beautiful music. He plays piano with great depth and talent. I enjoyed his great musical presentation and skills that allowed me [to] take time to hear the depth and talent of his music. Some songs were piano solo and others like, “Dayspring” joined with violin and bass, “Sojourn” was piano, percussion, cello and chapman stick. I truly was drawn in by song, really experiencing the beautiful sounds he created. I feel grateful to Jim and his unique talent shown in his first release and by the additional sounds that craft true loveliness for all to take pleasure in. His music was produced by Will Ackerman, Tom Eaton and Jim Gabriel.


 

Rotcod Zzaj | Zzaj Productions

What’s absolutely critical on an album that features the piano in solo (with some accompaniment by Eugene Friesen (cello), Charlie Bisharat (violin), Tony Levin (bass), Will Ackerman (sacred drum) and Jeff Pearce (Chapman stick)) is thepacing… Jim is able to easily wrap you into his zone by knowing how to use the silence between notes to amplify the experience for you.  Tunes like the lovely “Chaccone” serve to carry you away to a place you’ll love to be… a very impressive piece!  It was the title track, “Sojourn“, though, which got my vote for favorite of the eleven pieces offered up for your enjoyment.  A tasty sonic journey that certainly merits my declaration of MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED; even if you’re primarily a jazz fan, you’ll find something to love on this one.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.99.


 

Bill Binkelman | My Digital Publication

Sojourn is the debut from a new piano talent in contemporary music, Jim Gabriel. Produced by Gabriel, Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton, and featuring the talents of several guest artists, such as cellist Eugene Friesen, violinist Charlie Bisharat, and bassist Tony Levin, among others, Sojourn weaves an intimate, sepia-toned tapestry of captured moments, thoughtful reflections, and meditative musings. By turns sparse and minimal, dramatic and forceful, and spirited and cheery (mostly the former, though), Gabriel's first recording reveals his special penchant for quiet, introspective melodies and signals him as a startlingly new addition to the genre.