Christopher James | Grace from Persistence

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New Age: Relaxation Classical: Contemporary Moods: Type: Instrumental
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Grace from Persistence

by Christopher James

Composer Christopher James’s upcoming album Grace from Persistence, his third as a solo artist, represents a synthesis of musical genres from jazz and pop to classical and film music, informed not only by his early experiences.
Genre: New Age: Relaxation
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Awakening
4:10 $0.99
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2. Get on with It
3:06 $0.99
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3. Mother Russia (Fantasy Based on a Theme by Scriabin)
3:16 $0.99
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4. Where's Frederick?
3:32 $0.99
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5. Beyond the Stars
4:34 $0.99
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6. Grace from Persistence
3:40 $0.99
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7. Yes and No
2:34 $0.99
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8. Weimar Blues (1929)
4:28 $0.99
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9. Cul De Sac
4:47 $0.99
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10. Neitherworld
3:40 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Tracks on the album range from a fantasy on a theme of Scriabin (“Mother Russia”) to a musical scenario
blending the Chopinesque with a dramatic concept from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (“Where’s
Frederick?”). Explaining some of the ideas behind Grace from Persistence, Mr. James said:
“My intention as always is to find a connection to people’s hearts and minds; to paint a musical
picture with color and emotion; and, for better or worse, to unveil a discovery that is not a straight
line from point A to point B. The title comes from an idea that my longtime collaborator Bob Stark
suggested for one of the pieces on the album, and after I recently saw a film describing Native
Americans beliefs about the Saguaro cactus, the title took on a new resonance for me. Each of
these sacred Saguaros is considered to be a unique individual, surviving on its own despite
nature’s extremes. Its state of grace is achieved through indefatigable determination to defy all
odds, and the existence of this physical and spiritual icon serves as a metaphor for our
persistence in the face of the world’s many challenges.”

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Reviews


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Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
"Grace from Persistence" is the third album by Christopher James as a solo artist. He also recorded several albums as part of Val Gardena, but that only scratches the surface of this artist’s musical career. Born Christopher James Roberts, he is an accomplished classical pianist and earned his BA in Music and German Literature at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon. Post-graduate studies took him to Germany and he stayed there for several years composing and producing music for the German film and television industry. In 1988, he was hired by PolyGram Records in New York and five years later, became President of Classical and Jazz Music. He later became CEO of Universal Classics and Jazz, but has re-dedicated himself to his true passion of composing and recording new music.

"Grace from Persistence" came from a desire to explore more of the complex compositional styles that emerged on his 2017 release, "The Sad Waltz." Like that album, the music on this one is impossible to label as a specific genre, but is instead a unique style born of a lifelong emersion in the world of music - all kinds of music! Fellow Val Gardena collaborator Bob Stark co-produced the album and orchestrated most of the ten tracks. James composed all of the music and performs on piano surrounded by 32 additional musicians who create a small orchestra. The music ranges from very smooth and dreamy to uptempo jazz to more classical to the feeling of a film noir soundtrack. It’s a one-of-a-kind listening experience - something I always truly appreciate!

The album begins with “Awakening,” a piece that borders on being ambient. Piano, wordless vocals, bass and light percussion plus subtle string orchestration create a soft and dreamy atmosphere much like the feeling of gradually waking up on a lazy Saturday morning. “Get On With It” is completely different. A catchy beat and a jolly, almost whimsical clarinet and flute duo send this one dancing in a joyful, swirling motion. I really like this one! “Mother Russia (fantasy based on a theme by Scriabin)” has a mysterious, melancholy old-timey feeling that could have come from a movie from the 1940’s - very evocative and elegant. “Beyond the Stars” has the dramatic but spooky essence of an older scary movie. I think it’s the bowed and pizzicato strings that give it that feeling. The title track is somewhat more electronic with a peaceful repeated pattern on the piano with a gentle melody played on keyboards and electric guitar. Beautiful and very soothing, it’s another favorite. “Yes and No” picks the tempo back up with an energetic ensemble work for at least most of the group. “Neitherworld” returns to a more ambient style, but this time it’s quite dark. Muted trumpet and piano make a gorgeous combo with light strings in the background, and bring the album to a quiet close.

"Grace from Persistence" is an excellent follow-up to "The Sad Waltz," which was one of my Favorite Albums of 2017.
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Dyan Garris

Album review - Dyan Garris, New Age CD
"Grace from Persistence” by Christopher James

Album Review by Dyan Garris for Zone Music Reporter and New Age CD

“Grace from Persistence” is the third solo album from Christopher James (Christopher James Roberts), an American composer, producer, and ex-CEO of Universal Music Group’s Classical and Jazz division.

That Christopher James has spent many years composing in various styles for film and television, is clearly evident. Grace from Persistence” is a big, bold, cinematic, “New Age” contemporary instrumental album. The album was created in collaboration with engineer, co-writer, and co-producer Bob Stark. It features more than thirty musicians and it was mixed by Grammy® Award-winning engineer Kevin Killen.

Combining elements of jazz, pop, and classical arrangements into a multi-colored, multi-faceted fusion that can’t easily be stereotyped as one thing or another – and shouldn’t be – “Grace from Persistence” is a dynamic tapestry. And it is enjoyably epic, with a full-bodied banquet of orchestration that includes piano, violin, viola, cello, guitars, trumpet and saxophones, various flutes, clarinet and oboe, drums and percussion. Added to the mix are heavenly, ethereal vocals as well. You get the idea. It’s a profusion of spectacular instrumentation, all perfectly arranged, orchestrated, and produced. This is something to be savored and thoroughly enjoyed. There is relaxation here. There is some fun here. There is also drama, mystery, intrigue, and depth.

Now what about those Saguaros on the album cover? The title “Grace from Persistence” was inspired by a visit to the desert Southwest, and a film Christopher James saw during that visit that described the Native Americans’ beliefs about the Saguaro cactus. There are many interesting legends and stories regarding the Saguaro. And there is one thing that becomes quite apparent if you spend any length of time in the desert: It’s a fascinating and mysterious place, truly. As is this album.

But what you notice immediately in the desert, is that everything living in the environment – which can be spectrally extreme – including the enigmatic Saguaro, finds amazingly resourceful ways to not only stay alive, but to thrive. It’s quite remarkable. And this is, indeed, grace through persistence. Saguaros exist as “individuals,” resembling humans with their arms outstretched, as if in greeting. But together they all make up a uniquely distinguishable landscape, as does the whole of humanity. Through persistence, Saguaros can live to be about two-hundred years old. Can we? Perhaps, through a certain amount of grace and our own determination and persistence, or our determination to be persistent. Something to think about as you listen to this beautiful music.

The album opens with the very relaxing, “Awakening,” which is dreamy and gentle, with soft, jazzy piano, and ethereal vocals, plus more. It’s just right and it is to love. This is an ever-changing panoramic vista, much like a desert landscape. This song could perhaps be the desert itself awakening from a long slumber or perhaps it is representative of humanity awakening. It’s very pretty and one you want to listen to over and over. From there we have the up-tempo, joyful, “Get on with It.” This is a happy, hopeful, exciting tune. Yes, indeed, let’s go.

The sultry, hypnotic, and mysterious “Mother Russia” follows, which is a “fantasy based on a theme by Scriabin.” For those that do not know, Scriabin was Alexander Scriabin. If you know anything about Scriabin, this makes for a fascinating and brilliant piece with darker undertones. And even if you don’t, it’s still that. Compelling, audacious, and eloquent on many levels. Here, again, we can fully appreciate the superb orchestration, among other things. Excellent.

“Where’s Frederick?” a musical scenario blending the Chopin-esque with a dramatic concept from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” is equally as interesting, as is every composition on “Grace from Persistence.” “Rear Window,” now considered a theatrical work of art, is a movie ostensibly about voyeurism, but more than that it is also about perspective and what we think we see from our particular vantage point. If you listen to “Where’s Frederick?” with headphones, you’ll be sure to get all the nuances. “Beyond the Stars,” takes us out there to a bigger picture. It’s a captivating composition that ranges from somewhat jazzy, to somewhat darker, to somewhat romantic, to somewhat gentle, to somewhat not. Truly fascinating.

The title track, “Grace from Persistence” is exquisite. The compelling and persistent piano melody mixes with various percussive elements that make this track just simply enthralling. Although it’s really hard to choose, because all of it is so very interesting, this is one of my definitive favorites on the album. The vibrant and lively “Yes and No” follows. Another favorite. It’s one that leaves you breathless in its depth and scope, and if it isn’t there already, it seems like this is one that we will hear in a movie. Love it.

“Weimar Blues,” is bluesy, as the title suggests. But more than that, I believe it speaks to what was once known as the Weimar Republic (Germany). As I understand it at a simplistic level, many of the issues that were encountered in that structure – that led into nothing good – are many of the same issues our societies face today. And this is one of the things I believe Christopher James is imparting (successfully so), with his album “Grace from Persistence,” which is truly a work of art, rather than “just another New Age album.” As a collective, we have to decide where we go from here.

The lively, jazzy “Cul-de-sac” is far from a dead end. So many layers here. The piano performance is outstanding, as is the orchestration. Closing out the album is the hypnotic and mesmerizing “Neitherworld.” A haunting trumpet performance along with the piano and orchestration makes this one you feel deep, deep inside your heart.

“Grace from Persistence” is an unforgettable album, full of color and emotional depth. This is over thirty amazingly talented and creative people working together as one beautiful, glorious unification; a magnificent celebration of life. Certainly, we should strive for the same.

Highly recommended!
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