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.”

Will Ackerman | Windham Hills Records

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.  ”

Bill Binkleman | Zone Music Reporter

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).”

Rotcod Zzaj | Piano Review

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! ”

Candice Michelle | Journeyscapes

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!”

Kathy Parsons | Mainly Piano

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    ”

Keith Hannaleck | MuzikMan Productions

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

— Reviews for Sojourn

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.  ”

Kathy Parsons | Mainly Piano

[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.  ”

William Ackerman | Windham Hill Records

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.  ”

— Bill Binkelman | Zone Music

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   ”

Dana Wright | New Age Music Reviews