Wayne Gratz

A Place Without Noise

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People who only like extremely innovative and challenging music tend to dismiss sweet, unpretentious projects like these as simply aural wallpaper, but thankfully, there is a place in the world for projects whose sole purpose is to calm, relax, and inspire a meditative state. The veteran pianist's title pretty much sums up the vibe he's aiming for -- a gentle place of transcendence and escape amidst the chaos of modern life. While he's not as diverse and dramatic as David Lanz, as seductive as Michael Gettel, or as inclined to catchy hooks as Jim Brickman, Gratz is still among the best solo pianists of his genre. On tunes like "Dreams," he's interested in capturing the stillness, while others like "Birds in Flight" -- done with a small string ensemble -- are a little more ambitious and have more movement. Nature is an important inspiration, as titles like "Snowing," "Mist of a Waterfall," and "Willows" would indicate. Simple, direct, and unpretentious, Gratz's latest gem is a charming antidote to the clamor in your day to day.

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