Bill Leslie | Across the Water

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New Age: Celtic New Age Folk: Celtic Fusion Moods: Instrumental
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Across the Water

by Bill Leslie

Beautiful, highly melodic and original Celtic tunes from 2013 World Radio Album of the Year winner Bill Leslie featuring acoustic guitar, flutes, grand piano, violin, cello, oboe and stand-up bass
Genre: New Age: Celtic New Age
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Across the Water
2:46 $0.99
2. The Boatman
4:49 $0.99
3. Connemara
3:07 $0.99
4. Miriam
2:22 $0.99
5. Lorica
4:16 $0.99
6. Gaelic Ghost
3:32 $0.99
7. Stephanie
2:34 $0.99
8. Irish Girl
5:18 $0.99
9. Ring of Kerry
2:10 $0.99
10. Cloud of Witnesses
4:04 $0.99
11. Gougane Barra
2:32 $0.99
12. Irish Blessing
3:34 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
(By Bill Binkelman)
Great things can sometimes spring from rather humble beginnings or from everyday events. Multi-instrumentalist Bill Leslie (piano, guitar, Irish whistle, and keyboards) remembers fondly when love of music sprnng forth. "My songwriting began in the stairwell of my Morganton home [when I was in] in the seventh grade… a cheap Sears guitar, laden with brutal steel strings, made my fingertips ache." Despite the pain and discomfort, Leslie was soon hooked. "I can still hear the semi-sweet sounds …as I plunked the same three chords over and over until a melody emerged." Technically, this wasn't Leslie's first foray into music, but it was the kernel of his guitar-playing talent. Earlier, while singing at church, a man told him, "Young man, you have such a nice voice. Why don't you sing in the choir?" Recalling that moment, Leslie chuckles. "No one could shut me up after that. I was on my way in music."

Besides his vocal talents (on display in choir and school plays), Leslie continued playing instruments, including cornet, baritone, and tuba in the school band. Guitar vexed him with its difficulty, though. "I felt so clumsy trying to change chords but…I got the hang of it." He acquired a used Gibson in high school and bonded with it, even to the point of using it for informal therapy! As he recalls, "I'd break up with a girlfriend and write a song!" He joined his first band (The Beggars), singing lead vocals, and later switched to the Cyntriks where he met keyboardist Bill Covington. Leslie reconnected with him years later and asked him to play piano on his debut album Peaceful Journey.

College beckoned and Leslie moved on to a Martin 12-string guitar, becoming part of a coffeehouse folk duo with Tom Barrows (as "Augustus and Irvin"). "We were probably noted more for our humor than our music." After college, Leslie roomed for a while with John Tesh (who would go on to considerable fame in TV and music), working at the same radio station. With Tesh's encouragement, Leslie took his music to Nashville where he had several songs published by April-Blackwood Music. Later, after getting married, Leslie continued to dabble in country music but struggled with the genre, instead putting his efforts into writing religious songs for his church, where he also enjoyed singing in the choir.

Travel can open up entire new worlds for people and even become a life-changing event. This is what Bill Leslie experienced when he journeyed to Scotland and attended a concert by the ground-breaking Celtic fusion band Nightnoise (well-known via their albums on Windham Hill Records). Leslie emphatically states that this trip "…paved the way for my music [career] today." Also on that trip, he heard someone play the Celtic whistle and he fell in love with its haunting beauty. Returning home to Raleigh, North Carolina, he was saddened to learn there was no one locally who gave lessons on the instrument. Undaunted, he taught himself, using books, cassettes and videotaped instructions. Inspired by his new found passion for Celtic music, Leslie acquired a multi-track recorder and began laying down guitar, whistle and piano tracks, eventually building a full-fledged home studio. The tipping point was when he co-founded the Celtic band Bragh Adair. The group existed for nearly four years, recording two well-received albums, Grace in Stone and The Hunt. After the group folded, Leslie went on to his current solo music career as well as joining a new band, Lorica, whose members include violinist Sherry Lattin, flutist Linda Metz, pianist Marty Long and percussionist Stephen Levitin.

Bill Leslie's recording career, beginning with 2004's Peaceful Journey, is marked with near unanimous praise for his playing, his song-writing, and his talent as an ensemble leader (all his album feature accompanying musicians). Across the Water is his eighth release and like his previous album, Scotland-Grace of the Wild, was the result of traveling to the United Kingdom. In 2012, journeying to Scotland with his son, the trip "…really ignited my Celtic DNA and the melodies gushed forth like a ghost in a haunted castle." The album won Zone Music Reporter's World Radio Album of the Year in 2013. In 2014, he once again crossed the Atlantic, traveling to Ireland this time, the country being a large part of his ancestry. Leslie even spent a day with Brian Dunning (a member of Nightnoise) in Dublin (he would eventually ask him to play on .Across The Water), "closing the circle" from that momentous trip of many years previous. For Leslie, the trip to Ireland with its rich musical pub scene and beautifully rugged hills of heather lit another creative fire for him and Across the Water was born.

As if his hugely successful and praiseworthy music career wasn't enough, Bill Leslie has also found equal, if not greater, success in broadcast journalism. Recipient of two Peabody awards and an Emmy, Leslie is currently the morning and noon co-anchor of WRAL News in Raleigh. He and his wife Cindy (a speech pathologist in the public school system) reside there. The couple recently became grandparents for the first time. When he is not broadcasting or recording music, you may find him exploring the great outdoors, especially the Blue Ridge Mountains, no doubt absorbing their majestic beauty to serve as inspiration for yet more of his wonderful music.



to write a review

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
Bill Leslie returns with the follow-up to his 2013 ZMR Album of the Year - "Scotland: Grace of the Wild" - with the equally-enchanting "Across the Water." Inspired by a trip to Ireland, Leslie and his talented crew of instrumentalists take us on a magical tour of the Irish countryside and the land of his family’s ancestry. As an award-winning television news journalist, Bill Leslie has spent much of his professional life arranging and communicating with words, but as a composer/musician, he again demonstrates that he is just as adept at telling vivid and colorful stories without any words at all. The twelve pieces celebrate the places that deeply touched Leslie’s heart as well as his two sisters. Ten of the pieces are original compositions, three of which are new interpretations of songs Leslie wrote and recorded fifteen years ago with the Celtic fusion band Bragh Adair. The band of “merry minstrels” who accompany Leslie includes pianist/composer Joseph Akins - one of my favorite artists - who plays on nine of the tracks; Leslie very competently fills in on piano on the other three. Other instrumentation includes guitar, Celtic whistles and keyboard (Bill Leslie), bass, accordion, violin, cello, oboe, flute, harp and pipes - all performed by living, breathing musicians who do an exceptionally soulful and heartfelt performance on every track.

"Across the Water" begins with the title track, a wonderful piece that evokes picturesque images of a peaceful yet rugged countryside. Music is often very visual, but I haven’t run across many pieces that are as vivid as this one. “The Boatman” is a traditional Irish song with a very sad story to tell, and Nancy Green’s cello just about breaks your heart. “Connemara” lifts the mood to dreamy and misty. “Lorica” is one of the older pieces given a refreshing new makeover. This one is also very visual and seems like it would be perfect in a film soundtrack. “Gaelic Ghost” tells a “haunting” story without words that becomes more lively and upbeat as the story progresses. “Cloud of Witnesses” is another older piece given a new treatment. Strings, piano, accordion, guitar and whistles give this a light touch that almost dances - pure musical sunshine and contentment! “Gougane Barra” goes a bit darker, but expresses a gentle sense of tranquility. Bill Leslie and company close this excellent album with a heartfelt “Irish Blessing.”

"Across the Water" is very likely to win another round of awards for Bill Leslie and I guarantee that it will be on my list of Favorites for the year as well. I give it my highest recommendation.