REVIEWS OF NORTH MAPLE ROAD
Dick Metcalf, editor, Contemporary Fusion Reviews
December 17, 2018
Intimate solo piano diversity: What really struck me about Kurt’s intimate solo piano creations is how well he weaves diverse musical experiences and influences (all the way from Frédéric Chopin, Billy Joel, Lyle Mays, and George Winston to Dave Brubeck) into his joyful playing… you will know what I’m talking about right away as you listen to pieces like the wonderful “Evening Snowfall” show a real sensitivity for the classic side of things, while bubbling over with the same spirit as composers like Brubeck or Joel… not complicated, yet deeply moving!
Kurt has produced several videos about his release, and I strongly recommend that you get to know him better through those, in particular, this one, where he explains his inspirations for composing his music…and, don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to Kurt’s YouTube channel, since you’re there already… since this is only his first album, I expect you will begin to see many more live videos there.
If (like me) you love being washed in the emotional purity of solo piano that uses the artist’s memories to help you on your own journey, you’re going to fall in love (instantly) with the 5:17 “Live Your Dreams My Son”… I wouldn’t be surprised to see this song nominated for an award – and WIN it!
The elegance of sound on the nine-foot Steinway grand Kurt played at Inception Sound Studios (in Toronto) is just amazing… songs like “Together and Alone” reveal Kurt’s magical ability to “ride the overtones” like a “silver piano surfer“, while using his masterful pacing to keep the energy flowing very nicely.
The strongest performance on the album, for these old ears, is one of the shorter pieces, the 3:24 “Stars and Constellations”… I find myself drawn to this song again and again… if you listen to New Age or Solo Piano radio stations, I have no doubt you’ll hear this tune often in their rotations; one of the most satisfying solo piano pieces I’ve heard (yet) in 2018!
I give Kurt a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this most pleasant solo piano excursion.
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck, editor, New Age Music Reviews
December 19, 2018
Kurt Reiman is a self-made artist. He never had the patience to practice and read music so he listened to his favorite piano composers such as Frédéric Chopin, Billy Joel, Lyle Mays, George Winston, and Dave Brubeck. That is how he learned his craft. That kind of story really makes me think and wonder how someone can pick up how to play a song just by listening. It is a God-given gift that I simply cannot fathom but I sincerely appreciate it.
North Maple Road is the first recording released by Kurt. He is a working man just as are most indie recording artists. Not making enough money to sustain life, the indies are forced to work a day job so they can do what gives them passion. That daytime gig actually sustains the second career (in most cases). The dream, of course, is to remain working in that passion driven art form, whatever that may be. Alas, most of us do not find a way to that path but what keeps it all going is the hunger, the belief that you are actually contributing to the music-loving public and to the greater good of mankind.
Solo piano is beautiful, something that anyone can listen to at their leisure or for meditation or simply focus on one thing that needs more time and clarity. The music is the tool that carves out what we want, a time and place like North Maple Road, a fond memory, a reflection of life, or thoughts that make us smile from the inside out. It is all there waiting for us like an empty canvas waiting for those first strokes from our own personal paintbrush.
I am a New Englander and appreciate the mountains, the four seasons and the beauty that surrounds us. Just look at the cover of this CD, doesn’t it look pure and crystal clear? Don’t you wish you could think that way 24/7? That would be amazing but not realistic. Thankfully we have talented musicians like Kurt Reiman to help us down that path where we can see the light of day and feel hope. Music is so powerful and the simplicity of a piano and how Kurt makes it an extension of his soul and the physical body is a beautiful thing.
North Maple Road is twelve tracks with very meaningful titles. Kurt is a family man and you see it with the track names and feel the love and warmth in the music. He is grateful for everyone in his life and gives credit to his mentors. He knows he would not be at this point in life without all the people that have helped him. We are all the same, we just have a tendency to forget about all that and get on with our busy lives. This music creates a pause and pushes you gently to get in another space, look at the artwork on the cover of the album and think about the title of each song.
So, thank you, Kurt, for pushing me in the right direction and giving me the awareness of everything that your music means and stands for. There is so much inside this music and it is a fulfilling experience to know more about the person that created this work of art and appreciate where it all came from.
North Maple Road is an experience, not just another album to “listen” to.
Kathy Parsons, editor, Mainly Piano
January 7, 2019
North Maple Road is the debut solo piano recording by composer/pianist Kurt Reiman. Consisting of twelve original piano solos, the album “explores a peaceful journey through life’s quiet landscapes, profound emotions, and most intimate moments.” (quoted from the CD liner notes) While Reiman’s music is not flashy or overly dramatic, it overflows with warmth and sincerity, telling its story in such a way that anyone who takes the time to listen will understand and relate to it. The album was recorded on a nine foot Steinway grand at Inception Sound Studios in Toronto, and the sound quality is excellent.
Kurt Reiman started playing the piano when he was six years old near Stowe, Vermont. In his teens, the piano became an outlet for expressing thoughts and emotions better than words could and Reiman started composing music regularly during this time. He took lessons occasionally, but never learned to read music fluently. Rather than spending the time practicing assigned piano lessons, Reiman learned to play by listening and playing along with some of his favorite composers, including Frederic Chopin, Billy Joel, Lyle Mays, George Winston and Dave Brubeck - quite an eclectic group! Reiman never stopped composing or playing the piano in college, and graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh’s School of Business and Economics and The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He has had a long career in finance and is now pursing his dream of recording the many pieces he has composed throughout his life.
North Maple Road begins with “Sunrise over Narragansett Bay,” a musical painting created in pastel tones that represent the gentle colors of dawn over quiet water. “You’re My Friend” is a heartfelt expression of that special bond between close friends and the almost fearless freedom that gives to just be yourself. “Push Me Higher Daddy” is a sweet shared moment between a father and his young child. I remember saying that to my own dad as he pushed me higher and higher (but never TOO high!) on the swing set at the local park. “Walk with Me” moves at a relaxed but purposeful tempo - again a shared moment where words aren’t always necessary. “Live Your Dreams My Son” is loving advice given tenderly and from the heart. “By Your Side” is a sweet love song, pure and simple. “Stars and Constellations” is my favorite piece on the album. Calm and very peaceful, it depicts gazing at the beauty of a clear night sky and wondering what lies beyond what we can see.
North Maple Road is a very inspiring first album and I hope it is just the first of many.
Bill Binkelman, editor, Wind and Wire
January 18, 2019
I was about three tracks into my first playing of Kurt Reiman's debut album, North Maple Road, when I thought to myself, "This can't possibly be his first album." Granted, the past year has seen a number of remarkable debuts by other artists, so maybe my surprise was just that I get so many solo piano recordings and to have one stand out so easily on the first playing, and also have it be an artist's debut! As Neo would say "Whoa!"
North Maple Road sounds like the work of a seasoned veteran composer and performer. Reiman's exemplary control of tone, nuance, shading, and tempo across an assortment of musical moods is not just admirable, but nearly textbook. He is helped, of course, by spot on mixing and mastering of the final product (the recording engineer is Michael Haas, and the mastering was by Haas and Chad Irschick) but even with studio wizards, it's the compositions and playing that makes an album special.
As I listened to North Maple Road a second and third time, I flashed on some of Jim Chappell's earlier works, most notably Acadia and Living the Northern Summer (although each of those feature piano and other instruments). There is the same melodic flow and lyricism of the main piano lines on Reiman's release as on those landmark albums (in my opinion). Also, just as Chappell can transition from bouncy and upbeat to meditative, relaxing, and nostalgic themes and motifs, so too can Reiman. While some of Chappell's music can veer over into a pop vein, North Maple Road, even at its lightest/liveliest, retains more of a new age/contemporary instrumental feel throughout. As a result, listening late at night, as long as the volume is subdued, will prove as rewarding as daytime playing.
The album's extensive liner notes (which are primarily a huge list of detailed "Thank you's") makes it abundantly clear this project was intensely personal for Reiman and bringing it to fruition was a dream come true of sorts. The personal nature of the artist's music comes through on each note and some song titles speak directly to a particular track's impetus ("You're My Friend," "Walk with Me," and "You'll Always Be Here with Me," for example). A few songs indicate that the artist is also inspired by the beauty of New England, where he was born, such as the delightful and subtly cheery opening song, "Sunrise over Narragansett Bay," or the nostalgic romance that flows through the title track. One of Reiman's strengths is his ability to never cross over into maudlin faux sentimentality, so that even a track like "Push Me Higher Daddy" (which could easily become unbearably saccharine in some artists' hands) stays emotionally restrained but unmistakably laced with a father's love for his child. "Evening Snowfall" hints at introspection and flirts just a bit with a gentle minimalism, but also softly glows like the embers of a slowly dying fire.
Besides the twelve enjoyable tracks, the CD is also graced with beautiful color photos in the liner notes as well as a warmly whimsical cover painting ("Snow Moon" by Sabra Field). North Maple Road heralds the arrival of an artist who I believe will become a major player in the field of solo piano music, and that is saying a lot when you consider how many recordings in that genre are released every year. Take a trip down North Maple Road and let Kurt Reiman remind you of how beautiful melodies can whisk you away to a better place.
BT Fasmer, editor, New Age Music Guide
February 28, 2019
Solo piano is a very personal genre. Playing the piano, the artist may tell personal and heartfelt stories. The sound of the piano always touches a nerve. It is for sure one of the reasons why the genre is so popular. “North Maple Road” is Kurt Reiman’s debut album. It is a fantastic start to his music career and a welcome reminder of why we love solo piano. Each track is a story of family, friendship and the love of nature. It is a heartfelt album in every sense of the word.
Kurt Reiman was born in Stowe, Vermont and began playing the piano at six years old. He learned piano by listening and playing along to his favorite composers, such as Frédéric Chopin, Billy Joel, Lyle Mays, George Winston and Dave Brubeck. Now in his 40s, after a long career in finance, Kurt is pursuing his dream of recording the many songs he has composed throughout his life.
You’re My Friend
I’m very impressed with the album opener “Sunrise over Narragansett Bay”. It instantly sets the atmosphere and tone, much like a George Winston song. The tableau of the bay coming to life after the night is beautiful beyond words. Indeed, the song is like a sunrise over the album too. Absolutely brilliant!
“You’re My Friend” is the name of the next piece. It is a warm and positive song, flowing effortlessly like a conversation between good friends. You can sense the love. With a friend like this, you’ll never have to worry. It is the best feeling of all, and the song captures every aspect of it.
Push Me Higher Daddy
There’s much life wisdom here. “Push Me Higher Daddy” is a song seen from the parent’s perspective. When your child explores the world for the first time, you see the dangers that are lurking everywhere. The child, on the other hand, wants to do and try everything – and be pushed higher, both literally and metaphorically. The song balances the parent’s feeling of pride and worry. It is a jewel of a song.
“Walk with Me” has a nice feeling of movement. Notice how gentle it is in the beginning. The walk starts slowly and gradually gains speed and intensity. It truly is a gift to have someone special to walk with, and a big thanks to Reiman for reminding us of this. The song “Together and Alone” has both light and darkness. Again I’m amazed by how wise this album is. Close your eyes and feel how the music touches your soul. It is over 6 minutes long, so you’ve got plenty of time to absorb the stories that are being told.
North Maple Road
The title track takes us back in time. I guess most people have a “North Maple Road” in their heart; a place you remember with love and gratitude – a home from the past. It is a marvelous piece with a welcoming feel. This atmosphere continues on the next song, “Live Your Dreams My Son”. Supporting a child’s artistic visions is often hard, especially when he or she initially chooses a more secure career path. The conclusion, as listed in the song title, often comes after much struggle – but it is a declaration of love. You want your child to be happy and fulfilled, not everything is about money.
I must mention the brilliant cover artwork by Sabra Field. The forest view has a certain light and expression that matches the album beautifully. It is in many ways the perfect album cover.
By Your Side
“I Need to Say This”, “Evening Snowfall” and “By Your Side” take us even deeper into Reiman’s world of music. The songs are gentle, positive and personal. We can all relate to his stories. The warm and positive “By Your Side” is my favorite, I could play it all day. “Stars and Constellations” takes us on a walk on a starlight evening, while the romantic “You’ll Always Be Here with Me” is a magnificent album closer. You really believe that it is true, that this love of ours will last forever.
In conclusion: “North Maple Road” by Kurt Reiman is an album about the here and now, about nature and the places that are dear to us. It is 100% from the heart. As a debut album, it is mature and well-balanced. I was extremely happy to learn that Mr. Reiman now is working on a new album. While waiting I’ll revisit “North Maple Road” many times, knowing that friends are waiting there for me.
Score: 95/100 – See how I rate music here