Californian native and resident Gina Leneé is a classically trained pianist and composer who’s released a handful of albums since the early 2000’s. Her latest album, Red Diamonds, marks her first time working with Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman, which was recorded at his Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont. Comprised of ten compositions showcasing Leneé on piano, the album variably features guest performances throughout which includes Ackerman on guitar, Charlie Bisharat on violin, Eugene Friesen on cello, Jill Haley on English horn, Jeff Haynes on percussion, Jeff Oster on flugelhorn, Marc Shulman on electric guitar, Premik Russell Tubbs on electronic wind instrument and saxophone, Tom Eaton on fretless bass, guitar and vocals, and Noah Wilding on vocals.
“A Thousand Days Without You” opens in a graceful, unhurried manner with subtle English horn melding into the backdrop along the way. “Soulmates” continues in this gentle piano mode seemingly tip-toeing about, as accompanying violin further lends an added touch of gracefulness that perfectly illustrates a couple’s dance. Initially beginning more slowly, “Carry Me Away” eventually picks up a livelier pace with underlying percussion and a repeating piano riff throughout. Electronic woodwind and breezy wordless vocals further lend the piece a somewhat Celtic feel that likewise paints a scenery of open meadows and sunny skies. An especially lovely composition, it seems to tell of story of waiting to be whisked away by a lover whom one wishes will soon arrive. My absolute favorite piece herein is “The Moment”, clocking in at nine minutes as the album’s lengthiest track. This hauntingly sensual number treads along more ambient-jazz terrain, aided in part by drifty flugelhorn which helps to convey a deeper level of intrigue. Softly echoing percussion, subtle brushes of wordless vocals, sparse guitar notes and the mysterious melody of electronic woodwind perfectly round-out this piece, which serves as a shining example of many subtle yet perfectly placed musical elements coming together to create a truly outstanding composition. The title track, “Red Diamonds”, moves along in a somewhat galloping manner with its focal melody warmly accompanied by percussion and violin. The album’s most subtle piece, “Art of Life” is another highlight defined by a notably elegant melody graced by cello and airy vocals. And finally, “Forever” concludes the album as its most sentimental piece, led by a tender melody that’s once again accompanied by English horn.
Overall gently restrained and mostly low-key throughout, Red Diamonds elegantly sparkles and shines without the need for too much ornamental flash. Rather, many perfectly understated musical elements and subtle textures combine on this beautiful collection of pieces for a personal listening experience that is truly reflective, romantic and intimate!
~ Candice Michelle