MARCH 31, 2015

Elise Lebec is a pianist, composer, synthesist, occasional vocalist, arranger and producer who has a new album out, Heart Song, and the music is most definitely heartfelt. She touches on affairs of the heart with the instrumental tunes “It Was Always You” (a piano-cello duet), “Afternoon Kisses” (her piano joined with flugelhorn champ Jeff Oster and drummer-percussionist Michael Urbano) and “Heart Song” (a solo piano piece). Elise also was inspired by the sailing ships of yore and yesteryear -- “Pirates and Poets” (piano, synth drone, flugelhorn and cello), “Ghost Ships” (piano, synth strings, singing bowls and bells, and Elise on wordless background vocals) and “Away Into the Horizon” (forceful solo playing on the piano). Other highlights include “Lullaby” (an expressive piano and cello duet), “Moonlit Waters” (with Elise on piano and lead vocals singing “Where have you been?”), and “Heart Song Avec Cello” (a revisiting of the title tune but with well-known new age cellist David Darling sitting in).

This is a classic-sounding new age album with beautiful melodies, strong playing, and a sense of intimate performance as if you were sitting in a parlor sometime in the past being entertained.

This is simply enchanting music. It probably falls into the new age music category as well as anywhere. But an argument could be made that it is more neo-classical since the bulk of it is either solo piano or piano-cello pieces. Lebec mostly has a light touch, but she can bear-down on occasion. The important thing is that she plays with deep feeling. While there are definite melodies here, it sounds as if she also leaves room for some improvisational soloing (for herself and others) within the framework. This is an outstanding new album worth checking out.