CD Passage [Ann Sweeten] [CD] [1 disc] (CD 1003323),
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Passage [Ann Sweeten] [CD] [1 disc]

  • 1. Tomorrow's Dream
    2. First Light
    3. Shadows on Crombie Street
    4. Love's Farewell
    5. Still Waters
    6. Halfway Home
    7. Polar Wandering
    8. Passage
    9. Whispers of the Past
    10. Orange Band
    11. Trinity
    12. Awakening, The
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 061888

  • Credits
    ProducerAnn Sweeten; Ann Sweeten
    EngineerKen Lewis; Ken Lewis

    Personnel: Ann Sweeten (piano, Korg Trinity & Kurzweil synthesizer); Trisha Dunn (flute).
    Recorded at The Music Room, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    Personnel: Ann Sweeten (grand piano, synthesizer); Trisha Dunn (flute).
    Recording information: Mixed Emotions Studio, Middleton, MA; The Music Room, Cambridge, MA.
    Photographer: Randy Yoder.
    It's rather ironic that new age pianist Ann Sweeten's Orange Band label has a Salem, MA address. Salem is where the Salem Witch Trials -- a horrifying example of Christianity's darker, more violent side -- took place back in colonial times, and the sort of new age spirituality that Sweeten embraces on Passage would have probably led to charges of witchcraft in 1692. Of course, America's come a long way since then (although you wouldn't know it listening to Rick Santorum or Jerry Falwell), and these days, operating a new age business in Salem won't get you burned at the stake -- actually, New England has evolved into one of the more socially liberal parts of the United States. New England is also a place where Sweeten, who is originally from Pennsylvania, seems to have been creatively inspired; influenced by Liz Story and Suzanne Ciani (among others), Passage is a decent example of new age piano. Some new age pianists project a certain innocence -- Esteban Ramirez immediately comes to mind -- but the word 'innocent' doesn't describe Sweeten's classically-influenced playing, which tends to be ethereal, dreamy, and evocative. Passage, Sweeten's second album, could have used more variety; many (though not all) of the album's melodies are interchangeable. But if the CD's primary goal was to maintain a tranquil, pleasantly calming ambience, Passage accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish. Like a lot of new age discs, this 1998 release is designed to calm frazzled nerves and soothe stressed out people -- an approach that certainly has its place. There are times when one needs the exhilaration of observing a mosh pit at a Slayer show, and there are also times when one needs pure, unmitigated tranquillity. That said, some new age recordings are more challenging than others -- and while Passage isn't as risk-taking as it could have been, it's still an enjoyably pretty sophomore effort for the Massachusetts-based Sweeten. ~ Alex Henderson

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