Fiona Joy Hawkins – Blue Dream (2008) DSF DSD64

Fiona Joy Hawkins – Blue Dream (2008)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz  | Time – 01:09:12 minutes | 2,73 GB | Genre: New Age
Source: ISO SACD | © Little Hartley Music | Front Cover

Fiona’s Blue Dream album was the most ambitious project of my entire career and resulted in one of the most remarkable collaborations this genre has ever known. Blue Dream is unique and I’m as proud of it as anything I’ve ever worked on in my 35 year career of Grammy Awards and gold /platinum records. – Will Ackerman, founder Windham Hill Records

It’s a long way from Australia to Vermont – about 10,000 miles to be more precise, but the journey was worth it for pianist/composer Fiona Joy Hawkins to have her album recorded and produced by the legendary Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman. As it turned out, the experience was equally rewarding for him as well. In Will’s own words: “ ‘Blue Dream’ began as the most ambitious project of my entire career and resulted in one of the most remarkable collaborations this genre has ever known. ‘Blue Dream’ is unique and I’m as proud of it (and Fiona) as anything I’ve ever worked on in my 35 year career of Grammy Awards and gold and platinum records.” That is lofty praise indeed coming from someone who has worked with some of the most talented instrumentalists in contemporary music. There were no shortage of them on this album either which included T-Bone Wolk from Hall and Oates, post-Dylan singer-songwriter Luka Bloom, cellist Eugene Friesen of the Paul Winter Consort, Jeff Haynes from the Pat Metheny Group, and many others too numerous to mention.

However, not one to be overshadowed by the talent surrounding her, the spotlight deservedly belongs to Fiona. Classically trained, she became enamored with the piano at an early age, and in particular by Ravel’s Bolero. Later influences included composers such as Chopin and Mendelssohn as well as modern pianists like George Winston and Michael Nyman. Her music, which has been described as “transcultural instrumental,” incorporates elements of classical, jazz, new age, and world music. It is a combination that listeners obviously find appealing as she has over 43 Awards and nominations across 9 countries. In fact this album “Blue Dream” achieved the highest ranking in the history of the NAR International Radio Charts and won the ZMR Album of the Year, Best Piano Album, and Best Contemporary Instrumental Album awards.

The CD extends well over an hour and its 22 tracks are interestingly arranged between full length songs and shorter “interludes,” some only a minute or two and serve as an aural sorbet between the courses. However, while the album is divided as just described, it is actually created as a continuous musical flow and crystallizes beautifully as one complete body of work. Listening to it from beginning to end takes the listener on a journey, somewhat like a film score. Within this flow, the listener will find an incredible diversity of instruments, influences, and themes, sometimes in the context of one composition, all centered around Fiona’s elegant and expressive piano playing. One of my favorite pieces, “Song Phonique” starts out with introspective solo piano and within the arc of its’ arrangement evolves into a driving rhythmic section before coming full circle to reprise the piano it began with. Although “Blue Dream” is primarily an instrumental album, there are definitely vocals, both male and female, however they tend to be more ambient and function almost as instruments in the mix rather than providing lyrical content.

And speaking of instrumentation, a wide spectrum is reflected including didgeridoo, guitars, mandolin, English horn, percussion, bass, cello, flugelhorn, keyboards, flute, saxophone, and more. These certainly provide a full palate of musical colors, which is only appropriate since Fiona also includes painting among her artistic endeavors. According to her: “Colors, ideas and emotions all have corresponding sounds. I believe in the power of music as a source of inspiration and a way of reaching people, and I can transfer a musical quality through my art to the canvas.” And similarly, “she has always been interested in creating music that evokes images and emotions and tells a story.“

With 22 tracks, it would be challenging to find space for an in-depth description of each piece, but in addition to the aforementioned “Song Phonique”, some of the high points for me were the soulful “Standing Up,” the lush piano, heavenly vocals and later electric guitar flourishes on “Contemplating,” and for a change up- the world music influenced “Samite’s Interlude” which featured a totally different kind of “piano” – the kalimba or African thumb piano. The emotional depth of Fiona’s keyboard artistry is exquisitely illustrated on “Somewhere” which brings the album to a dramatic and heartfelt conclusion. These examples, along with all the incredible music on this CD, show why this album has resonated so strongly with critics and listeners alike and why it has received numerous awards and international recognition. Listening to it uninterrupted from start to finish is a powerful musical experience and one which producer/arranger T-Bone Wolk described as “ an unforgettable magic carpet ride into the heavens.” There is a lot of magic here in the way all the various, and sometimes unlikely, combination of elements and musicians intertwine to weave a dream you won’t want to wake up from.


1 Freedom 1:51
2 Feeling Sunshine 2:53
3 From the Outside 4:32
4 Sapphire Interlude 1:42
5 Standing Up 6:32
6 Cerulean Interlude 0:25
7 Blue Dream 3:12
8 Lilac Interlude 0:39
9 Contemplating 6:31
10 Sunrise At Ularu 2:44
11 Samite’s Interlude 2:44
12 Song Phonique 6:26
13 Indigo Interlude 0:53
14 The Void 3:42
15 Turquoise Interlude 2:20
16 Voice of Angels 2:23
17 Cobalt Interlude 1:27
18 Prelude to a Painting 2:51
19 The Midnight Interlude 4:33
20 Moving On 5:15
21 Azure Interlude 0:20
22 Somewhere 3:54

Fiona Joy – Composer, Mandolin, Piano, Vocals
Philip Aaberg – Composer, Keyboards, Orchestration
Will Ackerman – Audio Production, Chimes, Composer, Drum, Engineer, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Mandolin, Mixing, Piano
Luka Bloom – Piano, Vocals
Noah Chase – Mandolin, Piano, Vocals
Eugene Friesen – Cello
Patrick Gorman – Drums
Dan Greenspan – Double Bass
Jill Haley – Horn (English)
Jeff Haynes – Bata, Conga Drum, Drum, Drums, Flugelhorn, Horn (English), Percussion, Piano, Shaker, Shekere, Tamtam, Udo Drum, Violin
Derrik Jordan – Djembe, Percussion, Shaker
Lilith – Vocals
Samite Mulondo – Bamboo Flute, Kalimba, Translation, Vocals
Noah Wilding – Vocals
Sapphron Obois – Sax (Soprano)
Jeff Oster – Flugelhorn
Heather Rankin – Piano, Vocals
Steve Schuch – Violin
Marc Shulman – Flugelhorn, Guitar (Bass), Guitar (Electric)
T-Bone Wolk – Guitar (Bass)

Recorded by Will Ackerman for Imaginary Road Studios on a Steinway B; Mastered by Bob Ludwig, Gateway Mastering


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