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Review by Bill Binkelman, (Wind & Fire), New Age Reporter (Feb 2007) What can I write that will do justice to this sublime and beautiful recording?  I have put off reviewing It’s About the Rose because I didn’t know how, in words, to capture my reaction to this album, conveying how deeply it touched me. From the opening “It’s About the Rose in the Vase on the Table” and its rolling yet melancholic melodicism to the gypsy-ish “Moon Night”  to the light-hearted “Café Espresso” which prances and dances around like a little kid overflowing with the joy of the moment to the closing reprise “Finale of the Rose”.  There is no misstep, no over-reach, no wasting of a note or a chord throughout the fifty-one minutes on this recording.  It’s About the Rose is one of the most evocative, deeply felt albums I’ve heard in years, and that statement encompasses many recordings. Comparable to the chamber minimalism of Tim Story at times, yet also more accessible for less adventurous listeners who need a firmer grounding in structured acoustic instrumentation, this is a CD of uncommon grace and elegance, yet never at the expense of becoming distant or overly concerned with technique as opposed to human emotion.


Try to remain unaffected by the gentle caress of cello (played by Eugene Friesen) and Garrett’s piano as they weave a delicate beauty on “Tally’s Lullaby.” Then there is “Vinot and the Seabird” which begins as a sparse piano piece and introduces ethereal wordless female vocals and flugelhorn, maintaining a distinct reflective mood with some of Garrett’s more nuanced and subtle playing, emphasizing the silence between notes as much as the gently sad melody. “Waiting” and “The Piano Called” are solo piano offerings, both being quiet, reflective and somber, yet wholly accessible, rich with emotion and inviting to the listener despite the amber tint of the minor tonalities and the overall downcast mood of the compositions themselves.


What separates It’s About the Rose from other piano releases is no one thing, but a combination of elements. The quality of performances, the production, and the compositions themselves written by the artist all factor in; however, in the end, it’s the intangibles that reach out and grab the listener, the same way that a faded photograph of a long-past relative or a dog-eared letter from a former lover stokes the dying embers of memory and rekindles a flame that burns brightly if only for an instant. In the same way that a rainy Saturday afternoon invites us to withdraw inwards, so to does this sublime recording take us deep within ourselves. It’s About the Rose is so beautiful and so touching that it may reduce you to tears, but they may just be tears of fond remembrance, not sadness. The CD earns my highest recommendation without reservation.

 

Review by Kathy Parsons, Solo Piano Publications, New York  It’s About the Rose is stunning!  Her previous release,  Allure of Sanctuary was also exceptional with its melodic emotional depth, but this is quite different. The pieces tend to be more improvised and come directly from the soul without a confining structure.  Artists of this stature are able to freely, yet cohesively communicate their musical thoughts, creating moods and wordless dialogs with their instruments.  True artistry springs from this place, and if you have ever witnessed it, the experience is profound and mesmerizing. 
Garrett obviously took some major musical risks with this new release, but calls the time spent making the album the most creative period of her life - it shows.  I don’t often listen to a CD for the first time and keep saying, “Wow!” but that’s what happened here.  It’s not the pianistic flash, but the depth of feeling and personal expression that draws you in and won’t let go.


The CD opens with “It’s About the Rose in the Vase on the Table.”  The title refers to a story about dealing with life’s little dramas.  The notes of the piece aren’t complicated, but the nakedness of the emotions expressed clearly indicate what an artist we are experiencing here.  Wow!   “Tally’s Lullaby” was inspired by a letter sent to Garrett about a very special dog who had died and how one of Garrett’s previous songs had helped the family cope with the loss.  Overwhelmed, Garrett composed this piece with tears in her eyes.  A duet for piano and cello, Garrett and Eugene Friesen are truly a match made in heaven.  “The Piano Called” is an improvisational piece that came about one night touching the piano keys and listening to what the piano had to say.  Gorgeous!   “Moon Night” is piano backed by djembe and violin.  Stepping up the pace a bit, this piece has an exotic quality and a gentle energy. “Beethoven, Chopin, and the Rose” combines an essence of both composers with Garrett’s own simple melody, and the results are evocative and haunting.  “Tip Toe Dancer and the Sea Pearl” is much lighter and is infused with childlike joy and innocence.  “Cafe Espresso” is the most rhythmic and experimental piece on the album.  Playful and energetic, it expresses a “happy buzz.”  “Finale of the Rose” returns to the original theme for further discovery of its coda.  An ensemble piece for piano, percussion, flugel horn, and violin, the musicians bring their passions to the point of heartbreak.  I can’t imagine anyone not being intensely moved by this piece.


With It’s About the Rose, Karen Marie Garrett has established herself in the upper echelons of contemporary pianists.  May she always wear her heart on her musical sleeve!  WOW!

 

Reviewer: Sari N. Kent, Celebrity Cafe, New York  It’s About the Rose, by Karen Marie Garrett, is ideal music for movies... motion pictures... superb! Debuted at #1 on the Top 100 Contemporary Instrumental and New Age Charts and with good reason. it has tunes that exhibit Garrett’s skill on the piano, mixed in which other powerful instruments give listeners an experience they will not soon forget.  It’s About the Rose can be classified as a New Age, Adult Contemporary, or Jazz, but no matter how you categorize it, the album is superb. 


Review by Stephen Cairns, Piano Heaven - England  It's About the Rose is the very impressive follow-up to Allure of Sanctuary, and sees Karen Marie Garrett at her creative and original best.  A year in the making, It's About the Rose features all-original recordings.


There must be something about the opening tracks of Karen's CDs. Just as "Tip-Toe Dancer" was my favourite cut of Allure of Sanctuary, so the first track hits the mark on her latest offering. The curiously titled "It's About the Rose in the Vase on the Table" gets the CD off to a wonderful start. This piece just flows along so effortlessly; it could last all day and I would not tire of it. Karen tells how originally she struggled with this composition, but was inspired by a story about childhood she heard. Karen says, "I heard an interview with Matthew McConaughey, who spoke of his childhood and a lesson his mother would impart to a boy caught up in life's little dramas. She'd remind him it's really "about the rose in the vase on the table". I loved both the thought and the image and returned to the song, which suddenly fell into place for me." The track has a delightful melody, and rolls along without a hint of the troubles the composer initially encountered.
Another favourite is the second cut of the CD- "Tally's Lullaby". Jointly composed with cellist Eugene Friesen (Grammy-Award winner), this is a mournful yet beautiful piece lamenting the passing of a fan's pet dog. This was in response to a letter Karen had received, explaining how "Simple Things" from Allure of Sanctuary had helped the fan’s grieving process. Such is the power of Karen's music. Overwhelmed by the letter, the composer was inspired to write "Tally's Lullaby". The cello and piano are a partnership made in heaven. "The Piano Called" is a piece which warrants repeated listening, initially reminding me of "Toll of War" from Allure of Sanctuary". It quickly takes its own direction, however.  A simple, pretty melody on solo-piano is the end-result of an improvisation late one evening when Karen felt her creative voice calling.
Another piece I really like is the album's fifth track, "Moon Night".  Upbeat in comparison to other tracks, this is a spicy number with djembe drum and violin. It conjures up visions of exotic settings. Perhaps that rose in the vase on the table has worked its magic, and romance is in the air. This is inspirational music, and has a Latin flavour. "Moon Night" is music to which to dance. "Waiting" is a piece born out of frustration, while waiting results of medical tests. The left hand is used to represent the passing of time (ticking of a clock), and the right hand captures the anxiety of the moment, yet still Karen delivers a memorable melody. As Karen explains to me, "I used the dynamics of both hands to express the intense conflict of being caught in such confinement."  Karen pays homage to both Beethoven and Chopin in Track 7, with "Beethoven, Chopin and the Rose". In the sleeve notes, Karen explains that she greatly admires both masters' works- "I wondered what it would feel like to combine an essence of both and yet retain a simple, touching melody". She certainly succeeds in doing this, and the end product is a lovely piece. Karen demonstrates once again that she is happy to draw upon her classical roots for inspiration.  "Tip-Toe Dancer" was arguably the most-loved composition of Allure of Sanctuary, and the title returns here in a different form as Track 9, "Tip-Toe Dancer and the Sea Pearl". This time we move away from the ballerina, to a young boy on the beach one Sunday afternoon, dancing and twirling in delight of a newly-found treasure.
In Track 11, "Daydreams", the tempo is slowed.  This is a reflective piece- Very beautiful, and with definite meditative qualities, Karen describes it as "a Summer idyll".  A simple track, and soporific in nature.  The album fittingly closes with "Finale of the Rose", a resurrection of the first track, which is explored further by Karen, with additional instrumental accompaniments.  The end-result show-cases the beauty of the original melody in its finest form, and is a fitting way to close the CD.


It's About the Rose was recorded at Will Ackerman's Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont during 2006.  A Steinway Concert Grand was used for the recording.  The sound quality and production values are, as ever with Karen’s work, impeccable.  With It's About the Rose, Karen Marie Garrett shows continued artistic growth, revealing her creative qualities to the full, without losing that special gift for melody which makes her compositions so endearing to her ever-increasing legions of fans.  A true gem of a CD....pure Piano Heaven!


 
Review by Mike Holmes, Epinions.com, Odessa, Texas 

A MYSTERIOUS PIANIST EMERGES IN BEAUTY - Gorgeous melodies and beautiful performance. The Bottom Line - If you would like some soothing music that has substance, this is a good choice.

 I have to admit my "title" to this review is a little "tongue in cheek”.  But just a little.  Before last night, I had never heard of Ms. Garrett.  The radio station where I have a show every Monday night happened to have two copies of this new release by her.

The liner notes tell me virtually nothing about her.  (March 2007) Her website has no "bio" section which is typical of these sites. I have found out her last album "Allure of Sanctuary" was very popular in the genres "new age," "adult contemporary" and even "light jazz."  Both "Allure" and this album are produced by Will Ackerman, the guru of Windham Hill Records.  The praise for this album is widespread with such phrases as "the album is all about sublime, delicate, and melancholic beauty."  (New Age magazine).

There are a number of excellent musicians on the CD including: Eugene Friesen: cello| Noah Wilding: vocals | Jeff Oster: flugal horn | Derrik Jordan: djembe and violin | T-Bone Wolk: bass | Steve Schuch: violin | William Ackerman: piano string duding and hopi drum.

Ms. Garrett composed every song on the album
 
This is truly a beautiful album from start to finish. I'm not sure what "genre" it falls into nor do I think that matters. What does matter is that Ms. Garrett is an extremely talented composer and pianist. FIVE STARS


By the end of the album, I felt that I "knew" more about this lady of mystery than a simple bio could tell me.

 

PhenomenNEWS: This Month's Music Review by Greg Ozimek (April 2007)  It’s About The Rose - Nearly an hour in length but all too brief; An uplifting spirit wisp’d in time, held in a suspension, that penetrates and lingers long after the last note has faded.


Or, as a young, gleeful child’s wisdom once put it, “Whoa! This is too impossibly cool!”   


Karen’s musical roots are in classical piano performance. It’s About The Rose features her first deep explorations into different musical structures from those of the strict classical masters – Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Satie, Pachebal  and Schubert – who provided her earliest inspirations.  Her own enjoyment has been effused into this CD, which has been her recent labor of love.


“I receive musical inspiration from many sources, but for the most part I simply try to remain open and receptive to what is in front of me, to be present in the moment. And regardless of what influences me to compose, I write to emotionally connect with the listener.  Recently I read an article that said what I believe is true: ‘Music stirs the soul, captures the imagination, and creates an emotional connection.'”

 
It’s About The Rose is produced by Will Ackerman, the legendary guitarist and founder of Windham Hill Records. Ackerman has become known as a top producer of contemporary instrumental music having produced for George Winston, Liz Story, Phillip Aaberg, Alex de Grassi, Michael Hedges, Scott Cossu.

It’s About The Rose is a keeper and is already on my iPod – ready for drives and last minute vibrations from the outer world before the ever new world of sleep speeds in.  Way back... a friend used to tell everyone she could, her motto, which was, “To enjoy is to obey!” It’s About The Rose is pure enjoyment!

Review by Ryan Young, CDBaby.com
CONTEMPORARY INSTRUMENTAL PIANO MAGIC ON KAREN MARIE GARRETT'S "IT'S ABOUT THE ROSE"  This is a beautiful CD of original contemporary instrumental music. Pianist Karen Marie Garrett composed all of IT’S ABOUT THE ROSE which is half solo piano and half duets with either cello, violin, flugel-horn or bass. Will Ackerman of Windham Hill-fame produced. The album debuted in the #1 position on the national new age airplay chart. According to her bio, Garrett was trained as a classical pianist. Her first big inspiration came when her teacher took her to a concert by preeminent classical pianist Van Cliburn. Karen so fully committed herself to her piano studies and practice that her family moved her bed and grand piano into a special room on the far side of their house so she could practice at any hour of the day. In recent years Karen was inspired to write music when she moved into a small isolated beach cottage on the dunes near Oysterville, Washington, and placed her piano in the dining room with picture windows facing the ocean. Three of the song titles mention the word rose -- "It’s About the Rose in the Vase on the Table," “Beethoven Chopin and the Rose” and “Finale of the Rose” – and these three are the strongest selections. "Tally’s Lullaby," a tribute to pets, is a very nice melody (a duet with cello). Bassist T-Bone Wolk (who has played with artists such as Hall & Oates, Kenny G, Billy Joel) adds some tasty rhythm parts to “Café Espresso” and “Tip Toe Dancer and the Sea Pearl.” If you like contemporary instrumental piano albums (bridging the gap between neo-classical and new age), you will undoubtedly like Karen Marie Garrett’s IT’S ABOUT THE ROSE. You might argue that any rose is a rose, but this one is fragrant indeed!


Review by Cherie Lassiter, Innerchange - A Transformative Resource For Higher Consciousness.  Timeless beauty describes the rose and also Karen Marie Garrett's latest masterpiece, "It’s About the Rose". You can almost smell the fragrance and feel the velvet petals falling as the piano plays.

The emotional depth of her compositions is enriched by classical influences such as Beethoven and Pachabel. 
The rose is a gift of nature. "It’s About the Rose" is a gift from the heart and hands of Karen Marie Garrett, and we are blessed.

 
Review by John Iverson, shades of Classics, CKUW 95.9 FM Winnipeg, Canada
Beautiful as a Rose! I had not heard the music of new age pianist Karen Marie Garrett prior to reviewing this album, but after giving it a listen, I wish I had known about her much sooner.   It's About the Rose is absolutely gorgeous, full of beautiful melodies played with emotion and passion. While some of the tracks are strictly solo piano, some also include tasteful accompaniment by talented musicians. ‘Tally’s Lullaby’ is a beautiful heartfelt duet with well-known cellist Eugene Friesen, ‘Vinot and the Seabird’ includes a very ethereal vocalise by Noah Wilding, while other selections include instrumental accompaniment such as violin and English horn. ‘Beethoven, Chopin and the Rose’ is a charming tribute to two of Karen’s favourite composers, and ‘Finale of the Rose’ is a fitting end to this wonderful album.   For all listeners who love heartfelt musicians, Karen Marie Garrett definitely falls into this category, and this album is Excellent!

 

Bill Binkelman, (Wind & Fire) New Age Reporter, 1st Impression (December 2006)  The recording It’s About the Rose is all about sublime, delicate and melancholic beauty. This new release from pianist Karen Marie Garrett... flows with an exquisite sense of profound feelings. Seldom do I hear music so suffused with almost palpable emotion, which gripped me from the first playing. While there is some light heartedness to be heard here (take for example “Café Espresso” which dances lightly and sprightly with grin-inducing friendliness or “Tip Toe Dancer and the Sea Pearl” evoking warm sun-washed beaches with the sound of children at play), most of the tracks resonate with the more somber side of life. The closing “Finale of the Rose” reminded me of the superlative soundtrack to the film The Fountain (music by Clint Mansell and played by the Kronos Quartet), with its near funereal mood yet still so beautiful as to almost break one’s heart. Clearly, It’s About the Rose elevates Ms. Garrett to the upper echelon of artists. The album also marks her emergence as someone to PAY ATTENTION TO in the future.

This is one of the most beautiful piano recordings I’ve heard in recent memory, and even maybe longer. I highly recommend it especially for quieter times when you bask in its sepia-toned glow.

 

Review by Kathy Parsons, Solo Piano Publications – New York  "Allure of Sanctuary” is a must-have CD! Highly recommended!!!"  Will Ackerman’s gifts as producer certainly helped to make this CD as breathtaking as it is, but if the quality of music isn’t there, no producer in the world can give it soul and depth - and this CD has mega-doses of both.

A classically-trained pianist from the age of five, Ms. Garrett plays with the strength and emotional clarity that come from years of expressing oneself at the piano, sharing the joys and sorrows of life with the beloved 88’s. The twelve pieces include eight original compositions, a lovely arrangement of “The Green Hills” by Brian Gibson, and Erik Satie’s “Trois Gnossiennes,” performed as originally composed. Most of the pieces are piano solo, but Garrett is joined on two by award-winning cellist Eugene Friesen (I LOVE cello and piano together!). Some of the other tracks have English horn, light percussion, and wordless vocals, but this is truly an incredible piano album.

The CD begins with “Tip-Toe Dancer (Kathryn’s Song),” one of the lighter pieces in this collection. It was inspired by a story told by a close friend about a childhood dance performed for friends and family. Graceful yet playful, it is easy to imagine the seriousness of the young dancer and the warm reception of the adults.

“Lake EWOK Muse” is an improvisational duet for piano and cello that followed a sunrise meditation beside Lake EWOK at Skywalker Ranch, where the album was recorded. The feeling of serenity envelops you as you listen to the two artists interact seamlessly, creating a perfect sense of peace.

“Simple Things” is a celebration that begins in a classical style reminiscent of a children’s piano study and evolves, retaining the sweet melody and simplicity of the message but becoming a full and graceful solo.

The title track is fascinating. It begins with a mournful piano prelude and becomes a rhythmic dance with a seductive Spanish flavor. Noah Wilding’s vocals and percussion provided by Will Ackerman and Derrick Jordan add to the enchantment.

“Will’s Song” is an improvisational piece that is so deeply felt that it almost sends a chill - what a beauty!

“Toll of War (Adagio)” is a wrenching duet for piano and cello. A profound statement of humanity rather than of politics, the sense of loss and pain reach to the depths of the soul. This is a piece that needs to be heard.

The gentle, pensive closing track is a solo piano reprise of “Lake EWOK Muse.”"

 

Review by Tom Petersen; Victory Review, Acoustic Music Resource of the Pacific Northwest, Feb 2006
Karen Marie Garrett is a top-drawer pianist headed for bigger things. Allure of Sanctuary... is as soothing as intended, but it's also energizing. Where a lot of New Age is so light it begins to drift and grow unidentifiable, Garrett’s compositions are distinct, with melodies for the listener to hook into. It is billed as New Age, but several cuts qualify as Light Jazz, very mellow Vince Guaraldi, perhaps. Thus, Garrett is a distinctive new artist in this field and could, with the right promotion, see herself at the top of the New Age charts (Allure is already getting significant airplay on Easy Listening stations). It won’t hurt a bit that she is a pupil of the founder of the New Age genre, Will Ackerman; nor do dead-enders get invited to record their albums at Skywalker ranch, us-ing Lucas's Bluthner grand! Get this album, neighbors - you can say you "knew her when."

 

Review by RJ Lannan, New Age Reporter  "Karen Marie Garrett’s music is cloud chasing music. It is light and soothing without being repetitive or droning. It is the perfect soundtrack to any sunny day, no matter what the forecast says. "If you are looking for a piano album that suggests light, airy feelings and sunny, day-dream interludes then Allure of Sanctuary the new release by Karen Marie Garrett is just the ticket. The overall theme promises that there are still places remaining that cater to the weary spirit and harbor the heart-searching if only for a few precious moments. Karen Marie has a great sense of composition and she must know first hand what breaks, or better still, what heals a troubled heart.

Like something out of child’s imaginary dream world, the first tune Tip Toe Dancer creates a light, flirty mood. You can almost see the tiny ballerina dancing amidst a red velvet background. Once you close the lid of the box the music stops, but the tune remains in your heart.

I always thought that the Ewoks in the Star Wars movies were superfluous and just too cute for words, but apparently Karen Marie thinks differently as she pays homage to the furry little heroes in the song Lake EWOk Muse. I am assuming that it is actually the lake side setting that is the subject. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what she called the tune as it is absolutely superb. There is a wondrous pastoral beauty about it that paints the image of a placid lake on a warm afternoon. Hungry fish make dimples on the lake’s surface and perhaps a few angry clouds are moving in from the west, but for now the lazy sun is your only companion. Eugene Freisen’s cello is a welcome addition ...it is one of my favorites on Allure of Sanctuary and suits the theme for the album quite well.

It’s like walking through a door and finding escape just on the other side. The title track Allure of Sanctuary probably has the snappiest beat of any song and it grabs you with its tango-like cadence and whispery voice background. There is a place that consoles the spirit and lets your cares melt away. It may be called dreamland, inner peace or Cloud 9, but is best accompanied by this fanciful tune.

Wistful dreams abound when you listen to the tune The Green Hills. The solo piano number is a showcase for Garrett’s pastoral composing style and versatility and it is a welcome reprieve from the day’s harried endeavors. It will be one of your favorites as it is mine.

Karen Marie touches on three of impressionist Erik Satie’s more somber works, the “plain songs” Gnossiennes 1, 2, & 3. Satie of course is a favorite of mine and I have long suspected that he is the pater of New Age Music. Satie dedicated his works to the great palaces at Knossos and I imagine that Garrett is enamored by his simple, yet inventive ideology.

Will’s Song is I suppose sort of a tribute to Karen Marie’s producer, Will Ackerman. Yes, that Will Ackerman. Who knows why, but the song remains an outstanding cut on Allure of Sanctuary (I jest of course). The tune, an improvisation made with K.M.’s engine at idle and the meter running has a depth of mood with an almost idyllic beauty.

The best cut by far on the CD is called Toll of War. Accompanied once again by cellist Eugene Friesen, the solemn, emotional piece is a work of musical art. In the back of my mind I am reminded of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata when I listen to this work. The same gravity of mood, but from different sources of inspiration. Garrett’s piece is a lament, yet remains contemplative and mentally accessible. Overall, it has a sad, formal quality like something out of Henryk Gorecki’s repertoire, but it has nascent beauty to it that makes it appealing."

 
Review/Interview by Stephen Cairns, Piano Heaven, England   There is something exciting about discovering someone new on the New Age Piano circuit who blows the listener away with their magical piano playing. This is most certainly the case with Karen Marie Garrett's cd that features mainly original compositions.


Tip-Toe Dancer opens the twelve track CD, and what a gorgeous way to begin. I am not famed for my dancing, but this piece makes me want to get up and start dancing around the room! The melody is simply beautiful from start to finish. It is dedicated to one of Karen's friends, Kathryn, who was obviously a source of inspiration to Karen with her childhood ballerina dances for family and friends. This track has been extremely popular, and Karen Marie Garrett is rapidly making quite a name for herself in the music circuit.  Whereas Tip-Toe Dancer is a most uplifting piece, the second track, Lake Ewok Muse, is "an improvisational piece followed a sunrise meditation beside Lake Ewok at the Skywalker Ranch. The serene setting of the lake and the wildlife were breathtaking."  The third track, Simple Things, is another favourite. Very delicate, as perhaps the title would suggest, it is lovely to listen to from beginning to end. Welcome B is yet another special track, in a CD that is full of highlights.  Another beautiful melody that the listener will want to hear time and time again.
Tracks 7 through to 9 pay homage to the great Erik Satie with three pieces: Gnossienne No. 1, 2 and 3.  The founder of the legendary Windham Hill Records empire, Will Ackerman, produced this album, and Karen clearly feels indebted to him. She dedicates the album's tenth track to her mentor. "Will's Song" is another improvisation. While warming up the concert grand in the studio, Will was being interviewed in the Green Room. A melody suddenly came Karen's way, which she developed there and then. She quickly asked the engineer to start recording, and the second cut became the complete song. In her dedications, Karen says, "To Will: Thank you for helping me find where the music is coming from and to not be afraid to share the music I feel with others."   The CD closes with a reprisal of the second track- this time solo piano. It is gorgeous.

This really is an outstanding CD. I give it my highest recommendation and feel blessed to have discovered it.   There is also excellent news for fans of Karen- a new CD is in the pipe-line and is scheduled for a January 2007 release.

 

Piano Heaven, England, Interview with Stephen Cairns, August 30, 2006  Karen Marie Garrett’s CD, Allure of Sanctuary has made a big impact on audiences worldwide and has attracted much praise from listeners and critics alike. Karen, a full-time composer from Washington State, is currently busy working on her new album, It's About the Rose, but kindly took time out to answer some questions relating to her work.


S.C. Firstly, congratulations, Karen, on your CD Allure of Sanctuary. You must be happy with the public's response to your album....

K.M.G. Thank you!  I’m delighted with the response to Allure of Sanctuary. The comments from listeners have been amazing! Touching people emotionally with my music is my ultimate goal, and it is so rewarding to hear from them.

S.C. I love the entire CD, but there's something extra special about "Tip-Toe Dancer" It's beautiful! Would it be fair to say this is the track that has generated the most response? As you were putting the CD together, did you think "this will be the one..."?

K.M.G. Thanks, Stephen. "Tip-Toe Dancer" has generated the most response so far. As you know, the inspiration came from a story Kathryn, a friend of many years, shared with me about her childhood. During gatherings for family and friends, she would ‘Tip-Toe Dance’ pretending to be a ballerina to entertain them. I hoped it would be a special song for listeners, and I'm delighted with the overwhelming response.

S.C. Allure of Sanctuary - it's an intriguing title. In the CD's notes you say "The Sanctuary" is a retreat for artists in Washington. I'm assuming your addition of "Allure" means you found it an inspirational place in terms of creating music?

K.M.G. Yes, I wrote the composition ”Allure of Sanctuary" during a stay at “The Sanctuary”, a visual and performing artists' retreat founded by Cynthia Hayward. It is a beautiful and secluded place where I felt liberated.... hence the title.

S.C. At what age did you start to play the piano? Was piano playing part of your family life as a child? Did you create your own compositions?

K.M.G. The family purchased a used upright piano so I could begin lessons at five years old. Mother loved piano, and influenced my studies. She played as a child, but was reluctant to play in front of us.  My father and brother did not play piano; they were involved in sports. And honestly, other family members did not have much of an opportunity to use the piano- it was seldom unoccupied by me.... I loved it! The constant piano music eventually became a sound issue for my father and brother, they tired of listening to their TV sports programmes through earphones. So the piano and I were moved to a large family room on the other side of the home. The room was redesigned as a piano studio & apartment, and I was in heaven... able to practice at any hour without disturbing anyone. I did not begin composing until much later.

S.C. . Are you classically trained? Do you play any other instruments?

K.M.G. Yes, I'm classically trained, and love classical music.  I do not play other instruments at this time.

S.C. Do you enjoy the work of other pianists in the genre?  When you have the time (?!) what do you enjoy listening to?

K.M.G. I do enjoy other pianists' works and genres of music as well (instrumental and vocal). I do not have much time to listen to music, but when I do, I enjoy most all well performed music.

S.C. You clearly feel indebted to your producer, Will Ackerman. Securing his services is quite a coup! How did the relationship come about?

K.M.G. I asked him if he would listen to my recordings and he said yes! I have always admired Will and his work; he is a brilliant and exceptional man of our time. I'm honored to be working with him.

S.C. .... and I understand a new CD is in the works? Can you say anything more about that?

K.M.G. The songs on the new CD,  It's About the Rose are all original compositions, and this work is one of the most creative and challenging projects of my career. I look forward to sharing it with listeners in January 2007.
Will Ackerman, founder of Windham Hill Records, has issued a press release -
“Karen Marie Garrett’s previous recording, Allure of Sanctuary, offered an abundance of melody and emotion, making it truly a remarkable debut. Her latest recording, It’s About the Rose, presents an absolutely stunning evolution in musical styles, textures, virtuosity and emotional depth. She has not departed from what worked so well for her in Allure of Sanctuary”, but has simply dug deeper to create an even richer experience.”

S.C. I wish you well with your new recording! I can't wait to hear it! I'm really pleased its entirely original material. Finally, I can't end this interview without asking you about your Furry Friends! I take it you're a fan of dogs....

K.M.G. Thank you, Stephen!  I’m excited about the new recording It's About the Rose. The Furry Friends photo album has turned into so much fun. The [sleeve notes for the] song "Simple Things" on the Allure of Sanctuary CD mentioned furry friends as an inspiration; they add so much fun and love to our lives. Listeners began to write and send pictures of their furry friends, so we started a photo album on my website, www.kgpiano.com . It's true I am especially fond of dogs, and I can't imagine life without a dog!  Currently Abbey, a beautiful three year old black Labrador, is in charge of the house!

 

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