17 Songs, 1 Hour


Ratings and Reviews

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus


For some recording artists, their songs or the theme of their album can be abstract conceptually, while for others like Florida-based composer, pianist, and multi-instrumentalist Terry Lee Nichols, it can be extremely personal. The album features 17 songs that paint portraits of experiences had and vignettes of life moments captured. Terry’s love of music for film adds a cinematic dimension to his sound.

As can be expected from the title track which opens the album, the song has a serene and nostalgic ambiance that invites the listener into Terry’s musical and personal world. The graceful piano melody is augmented by rich strings and orchestration that Terry played on the keyboard with virtual instruments, making for a wonderful beginning to the album. On most of the songs, Terry is creating all the sounds. However track 2, “Only You,” as well as two other songs were recorded live in LA with a number of A-list musicians whose credits collectively include Yanni, Phil Collins, Celine Dion, James Taylor, Madonna, Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston, and a long list of major artists. There’s an easy rolling feel to the song with hints of pop and smooth jazz influences. One of my favorite tracks on the album, “Timekeeper,” has a more cosmic perspective. The song has a dynamic repeating arpeggio that provides a sense of forward movement with lush layers of strings providing an expansive ambiance.

The interestingly titled,” On My Way To See The Dancing Sisters Figg,” taps into a different side of Terry’s musical spectrum with a wee bit of a Celtic flair. It’s a lively upbeat tune complete with pennywhistle sound that may inspire you to dance a little jig, if only in your mind. “Sailing” was one of the three tunes that was recorded with the studio musicians in LA, as mentioned above, and was also one of my favorites on the album. It has a breezy, wind in the face feel that carries you along on its jazzy positive energy. Undoubtedly, Terry has saved the most powerful, dramatic, and moving piece for last, which goes beyond being a song to being more of a musical documentary dealing with the issue of gun violence. Along with the music, the track features a number of newscast clips and sound bites that make for an intensely compelling listening experience.

I am greatly impressed by Terry’s skill, not only as a superb pianist, but also as a talented composer and arranger. Terry’s love of film soundtracks is very much in evidence here, and many of his compositions would make outstanding movie scores. Although this is his debut album, it definitely feels like the work of a mature and seasoned recording artist. With an auspicious start like this, I’ll be looking forward to many more cinematic soundscapes from Terry Lee Nichols.

To read a full-length feature article on this album, as well as others, please visit: Michael DiamondMusic.com

Review from Journeyscapes Radio


“At Peace Beneath the Shade of My Father’s Tree” is the debut album from pianist and composer Terry Lee Nichols. Comprised of seventeen tracks spanning just over an hour, Nichols has drawn much inspiration for this album from deeply personal experiences and events occurring throughout his lifetime. He is joined by other musicians on varying compositions, including Luis Conte on percussion, Joel Taylor on drums, Craig Sharmat on guitar and Hussein Jiffry on bass. Farzin Farhadi is the album’s producer and also lends soprano sax, while Franz Pusch is the recording’s engineer. A live string orchestra is prominently featured throughout, infusing much of the music with a sweeping and cinematic feel.

The title track sets the mood for the rest of the album with its melodic ensemble of piano, guitar and string instruments. Nichols often lends a delicate touch to his playing that is accompanied by sweeping stanzas with a sentimental flair. Several of the compositions feel distinctly seasonal in nature and I particularly enjoyed the ones that reminded me of autumn and winter. The beautiful “Timekeeper” is one such example which bears a cinematic quality that would deem it perfectly fitting in a Christmas themed fantasy movie. Its glistening textures and light bell-tones mimic that of falling snowflakes, as the hurried pace of the piano and accompanying strings feels like rushing to reach a destination. A particularly intriguing moment on the album includes the highly realistic sound of a passing train on “Train to Dachau”, which eventually comes to a stop before leading into a tender arrangement of piano and strings. The magical “A Winter’s Tale” is another favorite of mine in which a haunting piano melody moves through minor keys amidst gossamer strings and streams of light. “Last Train Home” is another traveling piece that features piano, bass, guitar and percussion. Its steady rhythm mimics that of a moving train while the overall composition bears subtle elements of smooth jazz. I’m also particularly fond of “Autumn”, which is characterized by gentle strings and a peaceful piano melody. Its added chimes sprinkled over a symphonic and tender arrangement of instruments perfectly capture the sun’s golden rays peering through a tree’s turning leaves.

Overall, I found this album to be positive and uplifting with much of its content seemingly fitting for a Hallmark Channel movie. Most of the compositions exude an emotionally tender and sentimental quality, while incorporating an overarching theme of travel, time and changing seasons. Those who are especially fond of neoclassical, contemporary instrumental and cinematic piano-ensemble music will likely find much here to appreciate.

From MainlyPiano


"At Peace Beneath the Shade of My Father’s Tree" is the debut album of pianist/multi-instrumentalist/composer Terry Lee Nichols, and what an amazing first effort it is! The seventeen original tracks are music for piano, keyboards and orchestra plus a few additional musicians. The closing track is an entity unto itself, but I’ll talk more about that later. With a very cinematic feeling to most of the music, the album is designed to tell the artist’s story in a non-linear way. There are very strong classical influences in the music, but it always seems to stay in the present or recent past. The music is melodic, expressive, often uplifting, sometimes very dramatic - much as experiences in life often are. The richness of the music can evoke visual images in a full spectrum of auditory colors, making it an ideal companion for some downtime when you can block everything out but the music. It also works well as background music, but I strongly recommend giving the album at least one play-through without distractions. Just be forewarned that the closing track will jar you right out of your reverie.

"At Peace Beneath the Shade of My Father’s Tree" begins with the title track, a blissful daydream of a piece that features piano, acoustic guitar, harp, and orchestra - a wonderful beginning! “Only You” is a romantic slow dance with a graceful sway. Piano and lush strings express sweet emotions and tender moments. “Follow Me” is a favorite. Strings, flutes, piano and bells create a magical atmosphere that is both spritely and a bit mysterious. “Appassionato” is a “big” piece composed for piano and full orchestral - very symphonic. “Timekeeper” picks up the pace considerably, creating a rushed and pressured feeling - “I’m late!” - that runs through most of the piece, slowing down near the end. “Train to Dachau” begins with the sound of a train traveling down the tracks and then stopping. The music that follows is dark and mournful, as a visit to such a place would be. The piano is especially poignant on this track. “On My Way to See the Dancing Sisters Figg” turns joyful and exuberant with the combination of piano, strings and pennywhistle. “A Curious Life” is another favorite. It starts with pizzicato strings that set a tone of mystery. It evolves into a touching duet for piano and cello, with more strings added as the piece develops. The solo piano passages are (to me) the most effective as they seem to come directly from the heart. I also really like “Last Train Home” and its sense of movement and feeling of anticipation. This one hints at Yanni’s influence. The soothing and comforting “Lullaby” should take you off to Dreamland just before the nightmare of “Requiescat,” the closing track. This piece is a montage of speeches, new clips, and sound bites that deal with the epidemic of gun violence. It focuses especially on the incident in Idaho where a two-year-old shot and killed his mother in supermarket with her own gun. Some of the clips are voices of desperation, and they are very painful and unsettling to hear, as are the sounds of gunshots. While I applaud Terry Lee Nichols’ taking a stand and assembling such a powerful piece, it’s a shocker after his beautiful music.

"At Peace Beneath the Shade of My Father’s Tree" is an impressive debut!

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