In this spellbinding new album, Abel gives sensitive listeners food for thought, stimulates the ear with his signature fusion of classical, rock, and jazz, and makes you feel, with his gut-grabbing epressions of potent emotion. Grammy-winning soprano Hila Plitmann brings her full emotional range to three Abel works, including “Those Who Loved Medusa,” – a powerful story and evocative musical setting that connects ancient Greek legend with our present day’s “Me Too” movement. “In the Rear-View Mirror Now” resonates with anyone reflecting upon life’s myriad twists and turns from past to present. Warmth fills “The Ocean of Forgiveness” cycle sung by mezzo-soprano Janelle DeStefano. The affecting “Benediction” expresses a range of profound emotion as it laments tragic elements in our society while offering heartfelt wishes for our future. This is hard-hitting music and text that stimulates the ear, intellect, and emotions, retaining Abel’s trademark lyricism while demonstrating a remarkable degree of prescience in pinpointing effects of long-standing societal flaws.
Alan Broadbent has long been appreciated as a fine pianist and arranger, talents he combines on this studio effort with bassist Brian Bromberg and drummer Kendall Kay, along with background color by the Tokyo Strings. "Autumn Variations" is a superb workout of the chord changes to the standard "Autumn Leaves." The pianist's lyrical setting of the longing ballad "Bess, Oh Where's My Bess" and the sparse treatment of "Last Night When We Were Young" are simply masterful. Broadbent's scoring of notable jazz compositions proves to be equally effective. He sets up a very deliberate tempo for the ballad "Lover Man," alternating the piano and the strings in the foreground as the rhythm section plays sparingly. But his best effort may be his lush arrangement of the modal masterpiece "Blue in Green."