Spirit of Hope
My New Album Is Here
There is something beautiful about artists whose insight into the human condition and world affairs allows them to create works that meet moments of crisis with boldness and the courage to believe in brighter days to come. Creatively and spiritually driven by his desire to impact the hearts of everyone who listens, Iranian born, Scottsdale, AZ based pianist/composer Kaveh Karandish has worked transcendent melodic and rhythmic wonders on the keys over the course of his first four albums – beginning with a set of piano/violin duets on his debut Memories and culminating in his popular global fusion driven 2017 recording Silent Whispers.
Focusing his artistry anew on a fresh and definitive new age sound, the multi-talented artist and performer is releasing his extraordinary new collection Spirit of Hope into a very different world than he could have imagined when he and his producers, Grammy nominee Elliot Lanam (who helmed Silent Whispers) and Farzin Farhadi (who played sax on that earlier release), began working on the project in 2019. Yet Kaveh, his sonically intuitive behind-the-boards cohorts and a tight ensemble of veteran musicians pull off an extraordinary feat – creating ten compelling, soul-soothing tracks that offer a sense of peace and optimism in the face of the fear and chaos of this difficult time. Given what our world is facing in 2020, the new collection has a fresh urgency unlike any other in his growing catalog.
While he is much admired and appreciated by the countless patients he has helped and served as a physician practicing internal medicine and doing cosmetic procedures, Kaveh’s #1 lifelong passion has always been music. The demands of his medical career have always made it a challenge to carve out time in his busy schedule to compose and record. Yet each time out, tapping into his ongoing desire to create and inspire anew, he experiences great joy in the process. He found his effortless flow once again composing eight new tracks and reworking two from Silent Whispers (the title track and “Sunset Sparrows”) that fit the developing theme of the new album.
While pleased with Lanam’s production of Silent Whispers, Kaveh enjoys the overall emotional arc of the album that came from also working with Farhadi on six of the tracks. The producer challenged the pianist to play his right and left hands separately and to meet his deadline to craft a song every few weeks. Finding the composing process effortless and a way to find relaxation amidst both personal and universally felt stresses, the pianist sent his piano files to the producers, who would then create arrangements and invite various musicians to their studios to flesh out the tracks. While Kaveh composed most of the songs in 2019, “Visions of Grace” and “Gratitude” were written as hopeful responses to various troubling world events, including the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and the coronavirus.
The Farhadi tracks begin with the lilting, soulful and gently hypnotic title track “Spirit of Hope,” which invokes a sense of soaring via the pairing of rhythmic piano with the acoustic guitar harmony of Mark Goldenberg and the exotic floating kaval (a chromatic end blown flute) of Eric Zang. Beginning with Kaveh’s lush new age piano flow and dreamy atmospheres, “Shades of Light” – which Kaveh considers his “signature song” on this album – evolves into a dynamic smooth-jazz flavored piece with an odd 7/8 rhythm and Farhadi’s sensual soprano sax. Tinged with a touch of easy listening blues, “Infinite Horizon” opens with the feeling of a dreamy, reflective film score before evolving into a grooving, jazzy jam with a deep groove and an exotic percussive flow thanks to bassist Edwin Livingston and drum great Rayford Griffin.
The meditative, classically influenced piano/sax ballad “Sacrifice of Soyembica” was inspired by Kaveh’s trip to Russia to attend the World Cup in 2018. It taps into a grand history – part truth, part myth – of Soyembica, a 16 th Century Tatar ruler who served as regent of Kazan. The myth of her suicide involves overtures from Ivan the Terrible. They take that duality to an energized, deeply rhythmic level on “Eastern Echoes,” a slice of spirited jazz with an exotic Middle Eastern flair. The final Farhadi production is the perfectly titled “Awakenings,” which blends a lighthearted piano melody with Zang’s sweeping kaval, Kaveh’s brother Maz Karandish’s oud and Yara Amirbahonar’s whimsical violin to create a sense of morning light and birds in happy, carefree flight.
The tracks on Spirit of Hope produced by Elliot Lanam include the warm, sweeping and romantic seduction “Vision of Grace,” whose arrangement, orchestration and sound effects were fashioned entirely by Lanam; and the swaying, soaring piano/kaval duet “Sunset Sparrow,” whose passionate orchestral beauty combines with the main instruments to approximate a feeling visual of sense of birds calling and in flight. A remixed version of the previously released “Silent Whispers” captures all the heartfelt beauty, mysticism and sensuality created by Kaveh’s elegant piano and Farhadi’s whimsical sax. Lanam also applied his magical touch to the closing track “Gratitude,” which Kaveh composed as a tribute to legendary electronic composer Kitaro. Emotionally centered the dual energies of piano and kaval (with touches of hypnotic bells), it
offers an ethereal expression of expression of thankfulness even amidst despair.
“While Spirit of Hope explores the unique nature of new age music more than I have ever done before, the diversity of the compositions and the unique sounds of each musician on the album reflect my vision of a better, brighter world where we emphasize our common bonds rather than our differences. Thanks to the immeasurable production talents of Farzin and Elliot, the quality of each player’s live performance takes my piano compositions beyond what I ever could have imagined. I love the multitude of colors they bring to the music via their different backgrounds – jazz, electronic, world music, etc. – which allow my songs to flourish in a spirit of excitement, harmony, and of course, hope.”