Reflected in a Flowing Stream is the sixth full-length album from notably accomplished and award-winning pianist-composer, Kathryn Kaye. Co-produced by Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman, Tom Eaton and herself, Kathryn’s latest release was recorded at Will’s Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont, as well as mixed and mastered by Tom. Comprised of eleven compositions spanning fifty-five minutes, a talented team of guest musicians are variably featured throughout, of which includes Eugene Friesen on cello, Charlie Bisharat on violin, Tony Levin on bass, Jeff Oster on flugelhorn, Jill Haley on English horn, Jeff Haynes on percussion, Tom Eaton on accordion, and Will Ackerman on guitar. As always, the most visually suited cover artwork was chosen to represent her album, with this one perfectly capturing a gentle repose, observant of nature and the seasonal cycles of the year.
“A Lark in the Last Night of Day” offers a gently spirited solo piano introduction with notable classical touches, delicately alternating between drifty notes and bubbling, flowing key strokes. Capturing a sense of nostalgia seemingly reflective upon the past, an allusion to the end of a season is conveyed, as further indicated by the title of the next piece, “As Seasons Change”. Here, a solemn touch of cello is accompanied by bass, preceding a lovely piano melody that becomes more formidable, yet remains ever graceful, before softly winding down again. The next composition, “Procession of Moon and Stars”, is likewise aptly-named, as it moves along in a procession-like manner with a marching stanza in the lower registers. Alternating between major and minor chord shifts throughout its main melodic riff, this exquisite number is further enhanced by accordion and cello, as the caressing sound of flugelhorn lends an interval of dreaminess. Bookended by sparse piano notes, “The Stillness Before Dawn” ensues, while a more clearly defined melody exchanges subtle gestures with English horn nestled in-between. Noticeably brightening up the mood is “No Reason Not to Dance”, an optimistically lively, moderately-paced ensemble piece joined by accordion, bass, percussion and violin. I’m especially fond of the closing piece, “Arctic Night”, which is likewise accompanied by cello and bass. As if having saved the best for last, this mysterious number beautifully paints a nocturnal landscape, while brooding minor chords softly cast a shadow upon cascading influxes of improvisational piano throughout.
Reflected in a Flowing Stream gently nudges the listener to take a pause for quiet reflection. It never becomes bombastic or overly imposing in nature, but rather feels intimately subdued. Executed with utmost elegance and an expertly refined restraint, Kathryn’s prepossessing compositions feel innately unhurried and mindful of every detail within the present moment. Her compositional style, along with the moods she creates, often bear reminiscence to the works of Chad Lawson, as well as those of early David Lanz, such as his Narada-released album, Nightfall. Existing fans of Kathryn’s work will note much to praise about this album, while newcomers will find a perfect place to start, especially, those who enjoy classically-infused, contemplative new age piano music!