Of Time and Place: Passages for Piano
Review by Serge Kozlovsky
This music begins like a narration of an exciting novel which tells about many true events of life with all its emotional experiences. You start to listen to piano compositions and you are unable to tear yourself from the beautiful music. You are impatiently waiting for the next story and you imagine about what it will be…
Nick Farr is a brilliant pianist. All tunes of his album “Of Time and Place: Passages for Piano” are full of dramatic effect and very deep. At the same time they are very powerful. You are easily able to take a look at your past and confidently to move forward further in the future. These melodies give you strength to overcome your life difficulties and to realize that they are only temporary and everything in your life depends on you.
The important feature of Nick Farr’s music is that all compositions of “Of Time and Place: Passages for Piano” are penetrated with refinement and beauty. Leah Wilson (flute), Marina Farr (percussion) and Robin Rash Davis (cello) helped Nick to create a very special, meditative environment on the album. One can say that the artist puts his whole soul in these inspiring tunes.
Nick Farr undoubtedly has his own unique style. And the flavor of classical training is clearly felt in his music. All compositions of this release are full of subtle nuances and they are all performed with perfection.
The listening to the expressive and full of inner fire music of “Of Time and Place: Passages for Piano” arouses a big joy in the heart and heals it. The album of Nick Farr is a direct communication with the artist which is completely here with you in this moment.
What can be said in addition about the album? This is a conversation with your old friend. While listening to the album one can realize that you are not alone in this world and the music of Nick Farr will help you to go your own way. You are free to go and only the power and beauty of his music will accompany you…
Of Time and Place: Passages for Piano
Review by Steve Sheppard
There was something special about this morning, I awoke in darkness as the daylight begins to wane in late autumn and watched the sunrise over the western tree line to the refrains of Nick Farr and the opening track from his new album, the piece in question is called As Once It Was, the experience was total bliss.
Of Time and Place is a beautiful album and one that I really needed to hear at this time, the melody that runs through the track As Once it Was, is calming and as gentle as a mother’s arms, and may I add played with such tender care by Farr.
With the second piece coming quickly, I was very pleasantly pleased to hear strings within its structure, there is nothing quite like a Cello to create mood, and Robin Rash Davis does this so well, but with a very careful attention to detail, and has the composition called A Kiss In Winter, moving from one passage to another with such deftness.
Being back in England for a while I decided to go to one of the fishing haunts that my late father and I used to frequent, it was a very emotional time for me to reconnect with this place one last time, and while I gaze at the pictures from that day, and remember the good times, the track called The River Winds On, works so beautifully and quite emotively as well.
The music from this piece still leaves me with a lump in my throat and, a tear in a corner of my eye, as I listen to the minor chords dance with the major, and imagine the continuous journey of the river through all the seasons, this as you may imagine was one of my favourite tracks from this release.
Now winter is a season of introspection, and within Winters Song, Farr explores the snowy fields, the ice filled rivers, and all that is positive and beautiful about this harsh time of year. He does this with a purposeful hand on the keys, but then at times almost brings forward a real element of gentleness, as if snow was literally falling upon you as he plays.
Marina’s Lullaby is up next, and once more the musician hits the perfect performance to delight the fans, and I wonder if the Marina in question is, the Marina who plays percussion on this very album? However soon to join this almost danceable composition, is Leah Wilson on flute, she, in tandem with Farr produces another melodic and memorable song.
One of the most powerful compositions is next, and played with a real intent by Farr, it’s called The Huntress, and at times I could almost hear the strains of a rock guitar moving along with an alternate version of the composition. The Huntress has real pace and power and just has to be one of those pieces that you will keep coming back to time and again.
The tempo continues to build with the rapidity of The Home Stretch. Dear constant reader we are literally carried over the finishing line with this offering. But then a very clever and superb passage hits in just below the one minute mark, as Farr slows things down, and this slight or slower pause is like us getting our breath back again for another surge, this is a real crafted track that has some beautiful mood changes within, dear listener, this is one you will earmark under favourites, I guarantee.
Needing time to breathe and to take a moment out after the last track, we slide with care and attention under the warm blanket of a piece called Love So Kind and Pure. The classical training that Nick Farr obtained, shows here, he can play with such wonderful clarity and beauty, both loud and soft, but the keys on this piece are almost stroked or caressed, as if to bring an added level of quality to this composition.
Dear constant Reader, I hope you are enjoying this journey with Nick Farr, now just rest for a while and allow Nick to play Water’s Edge. There is indeed something special about this track, there is almost an element of a multi seasonal dimension about this composition. The changes in tempo pace and intention, allow my mind to drift to the past and present, and I can both be walking by the Water’s Edge in winter, and listening to this as I sit on the green banks in the summer, another cleverly arranged piece with lots of changes and shifts within, that ends with a memory filled pocket of musical remembrances.
Journey of a Thought is up next, and the narrative here is strong and deep, the excellent performance on this track is once again memorable, and emotive,, as the composition builds and wanes, this back and forth also depicts the way the mind works when deep in thought, the constant movement from busy and cluttered, to a calming peaceful conclusion.
Now for the penultimate track off the album, and we have a piece called Windswept, when I first listened to this and every time since, I could hear lyrics in my head, as I am sure that the underpinned melody could be used in the popular mainstream, but once more Farr produces a light and dark piece that rattles the timbers with a winter wind of a magnificence, blowing those musical leaves across hard and frozen fields. This is beautifully played, and the energy of this composition and the arrangement, would lead me to think that this may well be a bit of a fan favourite in the future.
So to the last track off the album, Of Time and Place, and dear reader and listener it is called Sage Green. Green gives us hope of a spring to come, and in ending this album with this composition, Nick Farr shows his skills once more at delivering a track that will leave the listener with an emotive longing to reach for the album once more, and thus filling their senses with what is a very good and well performed collection of outstanding musical compositions.
Of Time and Place is a must for all fans of the solo or New Age Piano genre, and with the snow covered pictures on the front and back of the album cover, I am sure this release will be one that will comfort you, and give you some space for your imagination to soar. Farr has created a collection here of excellent arrangements and compositions that are played with such care and professionalism that is just too good not to purchase.
Of Time and Place: Passages for Piano
Review by Kathy Parsons of Mainly Piano.com
"Of Time and Place: Passages For Piano" is the eighth recording of original compositions from pianist/composer Nick Farr. Two tracks feature flute, cello, and/or percussion, and the other ten are solo piano. Intended to be a collection of restful pieces with moving melodies and softer subtleties, Farr calls the writing of the album “a heartfelt journey” and that really comes through. A classically-trained pianist from the age of 5, Farr is also a published writer of prose and poetry and has had numerous short stories published in both regional and national magazines. He has written several books for children, a novel and has compiled hundreds of poems. His interests, besides those of the arts, involve outdoor sporting and spending time on his farm. With such a broad range of experiences, it is no wonder that Farr’s music communicates so well and crosses so many musical genres. Although I have always really liked Farr’s upbeat and energetic music, I think "Of Time and Place" is my favorite of his albums so far.
“As Once It Was” opens the album with a piano solo that is nostalgic, dreamy and very graceful - a beautiful beginning. “A Kiss in Winter” is a tender love song that includes Robin Rash Davis on cello and Leah Wilson on flute - a sweet combination of musical voices! I love the poignant “The River Winds On” and the way the movement of the piece is sometimes slow and easy and sometimes more urgent and forceful - like life itself. “Marina’s Lullaby” begins as a piano solo, becomes a piano and flute duet, and includes Marina herself (Nick’s daughter) on percussion (glass wind chimes!) at the end - soothing and charming at the same time! “The Home Stretch” alternates between an infectious energy, a flowing melody, and a slower theme that all work together beautifully. “Love So Kind and Pure” is another favorite. Almost hymn-like, it tells a heartfelt story without words. “Water’s Edge” is a piece that I would call “descriptive music.” It begins calmly and very smoothly, and then Farr adds a wonderful rippling effect and expresses the feeling of water’s movement - very effective! “Windswept” has an energetic swirling motion that only pauses here and there, then tapers off to a gentle breeze only to be re-energized. This one really sounds like fun to play - sheet music, perhaps? “Sage Green” brings this excellent album to a peaceful and warmly contented close. Recommended!
A View from Within
Review by Kathy Parsons of Mainly Piano.com
"A View From Within" is pianist/composer/percussionist Nick Farr's seventh release and quite possibly his most ambitious project to date. A classically-trained pianist from the age of five, Farr has always been intrigued by all kinds of music, especially jazz and contemporary instrumental. A published writer of poetry, prose, and children's books as well as a musician, Farr's recordings consistently reach the top or very near the top of the charts and stay there longer than most recordings. On this album, Farr performs on piano, keyboards and percussion, and most of his back-up musicians are real people, not synths. Those musicians include Farr's daughter, Marina, who also performs on piano and percussion. Additional instrumentation includes guitars, bass, sax, oboe, English horn, French horn, trumpet, and flutes. Sometimes smooth and dreamy, sometimes upbeat and rousing, Farr continues to impress with his versatility and scope.
"A View From Within" begins with "Refuge," a soothing keyboard solo with a gentle and calming lilt - a lovely way to start. "Never Knew" is more on the mysterious side. The keyboard has some additional reverb that gives it an otherworldly feeling in sections while percussion and brass keep it grounded - a very interesting piece! "All It Takes" is a favorite and includes some beautiful piano passages. This one includes quite a bit of ensemble work, fleshing it out and making it sing. I also really like the relaxed, easy pace of "Here Goes" and the graceful flow of "Oceantide." "Journey Homeward" has a big, cinematic sweep suitable for travels in the present time or in past history when returning home from a long journey was much more triumphant (and difficult). "Concerto Americana" is another large-scale work, this time quite symphonic, with piano as the featured instrument. I'd love to know what the various themes represent or pay homage to, but this is a very exciting and impressive piece of music without any verbal explanations. "Green Leaves" brings us back to simplicity with a lovely piano piece as fresh as springtime. It also brings us to the end of another great album from Nick Farr. Check it out!
The Ever Present Now
Review by John P. Olsen of NewAgeMusicWorld.com
It might be surprising to some that literary poetry is thought to predate language in the context of reading, writing, and speaking as a form of communication. American Contemporary New Age artist Nick Farr, apparently has the proper abilities involving rhythm and structure in both music and poetry since his accomplishments include being a published author of literary poetry, prose, short stories, fiction and children's books. His literary career was perhaps second nature to him considering he began classical music studies at age 5 and then pursued music while in college.
Nick Farr has 6 albums total with The Ever Present Now from 2009, on the Riverboy Records label as his latest release. This latest album held the number 1 and 2 positions in NAR's Top 100 air wave chart in January and February 2009, with additional nation wide online airplay. The 12 songs represent a well versed language of music and poetry by this dedicated artist who reaches into genres of Contemporary Instrumental, New Age, Classical Piano, and Jazz.
Produced by Grammy Award winning Randy Kling, this release is more Classical Piano than some of Nick's previous albums and is a nice medium to display a finer sophisticated mindset without being overly classical. Generous mixtures of mid tempo Contemporary Instrumental and nice Jazz influences do give it an aesthetic just right feel by employing the free style he is accustomed to in piano arrangements. Flute, saxophone, horns and strings provide the back drop in some songs, enhancing the classic description and giving it a distinguished tone.
The song Solace is a poetic hopeful song, comforting by the graceful flute and piano duet that seems to incorporate well during melodic phrases, lending a hand by consoling stanzas of support. It is during these passages that uplifting and inspiring verses with note filled piano runs and flute, reveal patterns of consciously timed pauses between instrumental passages. The song Traveler is a deep moving piece, set to a faster paced melody that is structured by each key change, transforming each refrain into a sonnet set to musical time, never resting during each chord step along the way.
Winter Prayer is a powerful melodic psalm, paying homage by offering a distinctly elegant classical composition. Masterfully delivered musical prayer requests are often emphasized in this piece, carefully turning each note into a hymn of reverence. The artist's sincerity shines through from the beginning invocation of this song which is heart felt and moving. Momentary pauses then begin to take place as the final chapter of the song slows, bowing out gracefully upon reaching the closing benediction.
The Ever Present Now by Nick Farr is praiseworthy New Age Classical, embracing all of the structural principals of written prose, leaving one with the impression that his music is thoughtfully displayed in a manner that from the very beginning, deserves the expression of poetry in motion.
Review of The Ever Present Now by R.J. Lannan
Once again South Carolina's favorite son - composer and pianist Nick Farr offers up twelve tracks of energizing, yet pensive music on his latest release The Ever Present Now. The new work has a bit more stamina that his last album Keep Moving. The pieces are more intricate and the ensemble accompaniments a bit more elaborate. It all makes for an exciting recording of New Age and contemporary music with just a slight flavor of smooth jazz thrown in for color. Joining Nick on this recording is Nora Bach on oboe, Lyman Golden on guitars and bass (fretless and otherwise), Leah Wilson on flute, Alan Nowell on alto and tenor sax, Roger Whitt on percussion, and Marina Farr on piano.
The title tune, The Ever Present Now is as glitzy as a morning show sound score and brighter than a sunrise. It bursts forth with piano energy and a memorable melody. It lets you know that the day has commenced, and the day shows nothing but promise. I think that is the nexus of Farr's album. It is that familiar carpe diem strategy that ever body talks about, but nobody ever does anything about.
What Lies Ahead is the universal question, isn't it? Nick and friends offer many possibilities on this tune of apprehension. The answers are not always clear as blue skies or simple as a child's smile, but there they are. The song is a positive one however as it urges us to ponder, to strive and to move ahead (Keep Moving?) in our daily lives without fear, really. Any encouragement is appreciated.
Not If, But When is a variation on a theme as it replicates the opening track and the album title, The Ever Present Now. Appetizing acoustic guitar by Lyman Golden echoes with chords of times filled with memories. Every note is optimistic in its warmth and high in its expectancy. This is one of my favorites on the album. It is the kind of tune that makes me want to play the guitar again just so I can be part of the song.
We are transported to the next step in our lives within the song Traveler. The melody courses strongly, persistently and without hesitation. We never know what is on the other side of the mountain until we climb up and observe for ourselves. I think Nick is telling us to not only think beyond our personal boundaries, but also to get up and take the first step that will help us grow in many ways.
Nick has a penchant for catchy titles and the subsequent tracks In Search Of and The Lost Chord is his way of getting our attention. In Search Of is one of those thought-provoking pieces that slides around in your mind and takes up residence for an indefinite period. It is made for the dreamer, the romantic and the creator (small c). The Lost Chord is a natural sequel that is more of a discovery than a hunt. It has a celebratory feel that says, "Here it is, now use it wisely" and by the way, don't forget to have some fun.
Finally, Shadow Green, which really does sound like a finale, closes the remarkable album. It is the music of the tall trees at the end of the day, the Atlantic waves bubbling on shore or perhaps, the darkening of twilight. It is a song of reflection, not completion. It leaves an opening in The Ever Present Now that we can fill with our own changes, our hopes and our personal dreams. Thanks to the dozen tracks offered up by Mr. Farr, we have the musical wherewithal to do so.
The Ever Present Now
Review by Kathy Parsons of Mainly Piano.com
"The Ever Present Now" is the sixth release by pianist/composer Nick Farr and contains twelve original pieces that deftly blend the new age, jazz, classical, and contemporary instrumental genres. Farr appears on piano, synth, and percussion backed by live musicians on guitars, percussion, woodwinds, and French horn. Several of the pieces are up-beat and jazzy while others are quieter and more pensive, providing a warm and relaxing mix of music for kicking back, reading, or pure listening enjoyment. Lyman Golden, who co-produced the CD with Farr, shines on various guitars, percussion, and alto recorder. Farr's six-year-old daughter, Marina, makes her musical debut on this recording playing additional piano and percussion. It is also noteworthy that Nora Bach, a descendant of JS Bach, appears on oboe.
The title track opens the CD in a buoyant, carefree mood inspired by Farr's daughter. Piano, guitars, percussion, and sax paint a sunny soundscape that is more than welcoming. "What Lies Ahead" is a bit more introspective in a wistful kind of way. My favorite track is "Morning Coffee," which is dreamy and relaxed like a lazy Sunday morning. The strong backbeat gives it a slow-dance feeling while the piano and rhythmic guitar give it grace. The sax comes in later, bringing in a stronger energy - a melodic caffeine rush? I really love this piece! "Not If, But When" is a quiet, soulful acoustic guitar solo - a nice contrast to the more ensemble pieces. Another favorite is "Interplay," which is darker and more intense. Piano and guitar carry the strong melody against a strong beat that contrasts with the smooth strings. Later in the piece, oboe and French horn join in, adding more colors to the beautiful mix. "In Search Of" is a piano solo that sounds very true to its title - going here and there trying to find something elusive. "Shadow Green" is the closing track, another piano solo. Gently conversational, it conveys a soothing and peaceful message.
"The Ever Present Now" is my favorite of Nick Farr's CDs that I've heard. If Nick is a new artist for you, check this one out. Those who are already fans won't be disappointed!
The Ever Present Now
Review by Bill Binkelman of New Age Reporter
Keyboardist/pianist Nick Farr steers away from the smooth jazz leanings of his last CD, Keep Moving (at least for the most part) on The Ever Present Now, an album which showcases the artist's versatility (both performing and composing, as he wrote all the songs) across a variety of moods, tempos and styles of contemporary instrumental music. Working with a small group of accompanists (including Lyman Golden on guitars, basses, percussion and alto recorder, as well as daughter Marina Farr on bar chimes), Farr takes the listener on a multi-colored musical road trip, opening with the midtempo cheeriness of the title track (graced with Alan Nowell's sax playing) and ending on a note of somber nostalgia with "Shadow Green" (a mostly solo piano number with just a hint of added bass from Golden). In between are ten more tracks, all worth a listen for fans of accessible melodic instrumental music who want something a little less "jumpy" than smooth jazz but don't want anything too relaxing either.
More than a few of the songs carry a hint of the more reflective emotions, although melancholy is not that prevalent a mood. I'd instead paint some of the softer compositions here as being autumnal. A good example of that is "What Lies Ahead," which has a few dashes of drama here and there but is still low-key in its essence. Roger Whitt's French horn (he also contributed on percussion) and Nora Bach's oboe elevate this song to a special emotive place (note that Whitt also contributes on drums and percussion on the CD). The guitar refrain that opens "Not If, But When" is an album highlight, one of those oh-so-catchy yet not overly "poppish" series of notes that gets it so right. Of interest is that the track features only guitars - no piano or keyboards at all. Following that song is "Solace" and, once again, Farr displays a knack for crafting a solid musical hook, this time opening the cut with a great piano refrain that is later carried throughout the piece on other instruments, including Wilson's flute which wafts delicately over the piano.
The later tracks on the CD feature more solo piano than earlier selections, but the mood stays subdued (as on "In Search Of"). In essence, this is very much a hopeful and warm recording. "The Lost Chord" is a mildly uptempo romantic ballad while "Traveler" is positively spirited when compared to other songs on the CD and "Morning Coffee" features a smidgen of jazziness, just enough to spark a toe tapping or a finger keeping time on the steering wheel perhaps, especially when Nowell's sax enters the picture.
The Ever Present Now may be hard to pigeon hole into a specific category (at least one more specialized than "contemporary instrumental music") but hopefully it's enough to simply state that Farr (and company) make spending time with them an enjoyable enterprise thanks to their excellent musicianship and relaxed yet deeply felt performances. The music on this CD yields fulfillment played both in the background and listened to directly, thanks to solid production and engineering quality, too. Well done all around, folks!