Composer/pianist Richard Carr has given us an album created from, and based on, his extensive travels. Instead of snapshots, imagine music that takes you to a Sonoma Coast sunset…or twilight snowfall on the prairie…or the peace found in the Rocky Mountains.
But, fortunately for all of us, we don’t have to imagine…we just have to listen…to the 12 wonderful songs that comprise Fogland. Here, Richard’s original music will transport you to another, better place. Rich melodies combined with delightful arrangements and the composer’s love all combine to become a truly aural pleasure.
Fogland is a journey to relaxation. This musical fantasy, filled with grace and beauty, transported this reviewer to places of serenity and peace. The travel became a melange of wonderful places, feelings and memories that are indelibly imprinted as a part of my Self.
And so Fogland offers magnificent music and the talents of a superior pianist, one who feels his music…and shares his feelings, unabashedly, with us. Richard Carr has put it all out in full view, and the view is great!
Fogland is a superior album for everyone seeking the means to a better place. In other words, everyone! — Richard Fuller, Senior Editor, Metaphysical Reviews
Local pianist Richard Carr should in no way take it as a slight when I begin this review by telling you that his most recent CD, Fogland, has put me to sleep on several occasions. Far from being an insult, I mean that as a compliment. Being a night owl, my schedule doesn’t always allow for a proper amount of sleep, which is something of a precious commodity; I take it when I can get it. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t come at all, and a vast array of remedies and supplements , from the medicinal to the musical, are always on hand to help nudge it closer. Having been a longtime fan of WTUL’s Cheeze Music proram, I’ve been hip to the somnambulistic benefits of this kind of music for some time. (yes, I’m serious; this is not some snide, backhanded swipe.) So, when I first received Fogland, I decided that instead of analyzing its musical content first, I would put it to a much more immediate test: playing it when I settled down to sleep. So the first thing you need to know about the disc is that it is indeed extremely conducive to relaxation.
Okay, so that’s not the deepest piece of music scholarship you’ll ever read, but one has to judge each piece of music by its own conventions and criteria. There’s a whole field of music, from the piano of George Winston to the entire Windham Hill catalog to the “smooth jazz” of Dave Koz and Kenny G, that’s judged less on what musical barriers are broken down than on how releaxing it is or pretty it sounds.
On these fronts, Fogland certainly is a success. However, it succeeds beyond those levels; it achieves the difficult and contrary goals of providing something concrete to listen to while also being very easy to get lost in (think Windham Hill again, or Spyra Gyra). The melody line of “Sunrise at White House” grabs the attention even as it lulls, as does “Climbing the Sierra Buttes” or “Rocky Mountain Peace” (are you noticing a pattern here?). Simple piano riffs are treated as themes that are constantly revisited, much like a pop chorus, and improvised around, like the hook of a jazz tune. Serious musical scholars tend to look down on this kind of music because of its soft nature, but that view ignores the amount of improvisational ability these musicians often display.
It’s worth noting that Carr recorded this disc at The Chef’s Table restaurant on St. Charles Avenue as well as a recital lecture hall at Tulane. This is the kind of music that’s equally at home in a recital, as the background to a pleasant meal, or as the soundtrack to a lazy morning spent lounging in bed or reading the paper. Fogland elasticizes such peaceful moments, creating an airtight buffer zone between that calm, contented, Sunday-morning feeling and the rest of the world. – Kevin F. Moreau, The Gambit Weekly, New Orleans
Richard Carr’s tender and gentle spirit is clearly seen, felt and heard in the unveiling of FOGLAND. – Wayne Wong, Global Reflections, WZRU, Roanoke Springs, NC
Richard Carr conveys heartfelt emotion and portrays a deep sense of love for his instrument, the piano, in an impressive second effort. – Helen Uphoff, Music for Groups of Two or Less, WFDD, Winston-Salem, NC
Last year Richard Carr burst onto the music scene with a fabulous solo piano release, Through the Mind’s Eye. Very quickly it became obvious a new and beautiful voice for the piano had arrived. This work opened many ears to the talent of Richard Carr. His new offering reveals additional layers of talent. Welcome to Fogland, a masterpiece with stunning beauty and grace. If you enjoy the sound of artists like George Winston, Raphael, Michael Jones and John Boswell, add Carr to the list. His first selection, Sunrise at White House, builds slowly, releasing power, quickly captivating the listener with Carr’s masterful command of the ivory. The title track, Fogland, transcends the audience to a wonderful place, while Sonoma Coast Sunset, relaxes listeners with a simply beautiful, romantic experience. Canyon Memories, like so many of the other tracks, evokes a special feeling. Haunting, mystical images of a distant Viking ship gliding through a faraway, foggy, fjord play in one’s fantasy. Richard Carr made his presence known with his first release, Through the Mind’s Eye. His second, Fogland, not only reinforces his first achievement, but also announces that Carr is at the forefront of piano music today! – Erik de Jonge, Bep’s, New Orleans, LA
Richard Carr’s Fogland is a fine recording in the impressionistic tone poem style of solo piano, the same territory staked out by artists like William Watson. Not as instantly warm or friendly as Watson, and perhaps a little more varied in texture and tempo, Fogland is, at times, moody and emotionally dark. This is especially true on the title song, which is very reminiscent of Tim Story, owing to its use of a repeating minor chord lower register motif. The song brims over with melancholy and even darker emotions. The juxtaposition with the next song, “Sonoma Coast Sunset” is just one of the unusual aspects of the CD. In addition, the piano is recorded in such a way as to be more intimate. Depending how much you like the piano, this will either be a pleasant change of pace or a bit of a distraction. It did take some getting used to for me (the same thing happened with Ken Pedersen’s first release). I prefer the moodier pieces here, such as “Twilight Snowfall on the Prairie” than the more up-tempo songs. However, Richard takes a different approach to even his “cheery” numbers. They have a unique time signature and melodic sensibility. This is not run-of-the-mill solo piano by a long shot. It exists on a continuum somewhere between Watson and improvisers like Ernesto Diaz-Infante. I’d love to hear Richard do a whole album of the more somber tunes herein, maybe with minimal synth accompaniment. Until that time, Fogland will do nicely. It’s a challenging statement from a musical individualist. – Bill Binkelman WIND AND WIRE
A new kind of New Orleans piano, unlike most others from the Crescent City. Carr has played almost nightly for the past few years during exclusive engagements at various New Orleans hotels and restaurants. And he’s developed “a unique blend of classical music, jazz and pop resulting in a romantic new age piano style.” He counts American, French and Russian composers of the last two centuries among those who have influenced him, along with such mainstream artists as Cole Porter and George Winston. In this newest release from Carr, he explores new soundscapes for the acoustic piano in 12 selections he composed and performed. And left alone. Sessions were recorded in a restaurant and at Tulane, and engineers didn’t edit or remix any cuts, to preserve the spontaneity of his improvisational approach. Carr used memories of favorite moments as his inspiration. On the title song his hands fairly tip-toe over the keys. Others conjure images of a Sonoma Coast sunset, a prairie snowfall. On Canyon Memories the vigilance of the left-hand bass preserves the brawn and majesty of canyons and caves. He then switches immediately to a more upbeat happiness that characterizes the new vistas he found in the Sierra buttes near Tahoe. A bottle of champagne, a Missouri River ferry and a special quiet place in Colorado finish out the sources of motivation for this new age tapestry of solo piano. Peaceful, soothing. – Book Reader