As a child, Kevin would sit in a room lit only by firelight, allowing his imagination to bring the images and emotions that he then combined with his immense talent into musical expression. To this day Kevin darkens the studio lights to compose his uniquely exquisite piano music, accompanied only by imagination’s light.
|1. Remembering the Light 4:23|
|2. Safe in Your Embrace 3:44|
|3. Pearls of Joy 3:52|
|4. Told to the Heart 4:14|
|5. Fields of Gold 4:50|
|6. Imaginations Key 4:11|
|7. Keepers of the Flame 3:47|
|8. Musings 3:41|
|9. Sweet Dreams, Helena 3:48|
|10. I Am Always Right Here 3:31|
|11. And the Light is Forever 3:21|
Kevin Kern released his debut album back in 1996. One year shy of a decade he continues his business and creative relationship with Real Music and throughout that artistic period has been one of the labels most consistent composers. His music is simple and surreal with an eloquent beauty that is exquisite and haunting at the same time. Imagination’s Light falls utterly under the same category bringing a continued high level quality of music one has come to expect from this Steinway artist. What is impressive with this album is that there are no fillers at all. It starts off with the inspirational “Remembering The Light”, which includes the soft nylon acoustic strings of Mike Miller and the gentle but rhythmic bass of Terry Miller. In fact, this track is reminiscent of Kern’s early material from his wonderful debut album In The Enchanted Garden. Mike Miller’s guitar work compliments Kern’s stellar Steinway grand piano, producing a musical painting that would inspire Monet to create one of his sensitive and romantic landscapes. Embellished by subtle strings, this introduction sets a high standard for the entire album. That said Kevin follows up with the intoxicating “Safe In Your Embrace” and “Musings”. While these songs follows a similar format of its predecessor, the emotive tone continues at peak inspirational levels. Fortunately, Kern mixes up the format by countering these tracks with the stark gems like “Pearls Of Joy”, “Keeper Of The Flame” and the closer “And The Light Is Forever”. Here Kevin goes it alone with his piano and despite the stripped down approach the results are equally as enjoyable. Even the cover version of Sting’s “Fields Of Gold” is a very pleasing arrangement. ...Frankly, Kern has become one of the genres most reliable and warm artist capable of producing gems over and over again. From that aspect Imagination’s Light is no different to the growing portfolio of this piano man.
With David Lanz having successfully made the transition from new age pioneer to smooth jazz artist, there are very few pianists remaining whose sole focus is the gently rhythmic, deeply melodic, and healing music that defines the classic genre. Kevin Kern is a newly minted Steinway artist (joining the prestigious ranks of, among others, Vladimir Horowitz, Herbie Hancock, and Billy Joel), and plays his latest set of stunning, soothing, and captivating melodies on The Hamburg Concert Grand — which he calls one of the most lyrical instruments he’s ever performed on. More than simply a collection of ten originals (one of which, “Keepers of the Flame,” was inspired by an ancient Gregorian chant) and a glowing cover of Sting’s “Fields of Gold,” the album is an impressionistic glimpse into Kern’s childhood experiences of sitting at the piano in a darkened room lit only by firelight. This imagery inspires the classical-tinged intimacy of pure, hypnotic piano pieces like “Pearls of Joy,” but Kern also enjoys sharing his memories with his small ensemble of Terry Miller (bass) and Mike Miller. Miller’s acoustic guitar shimmers as the harmony line on “Remembering the Light” and joyfully shares the melody on parts of “Safe in Your Embrace” and “Musings.” Channeling Imagination’s Light magnificently, the sensitive and spirited Kern ensures that the flame of true new age music burns on.
Imagination’s Light was partly inspired by pianist/composer Kevin Kern’s childhood experience of sitting in a darkened room lit only by firelight, letting his imagination guide his fingers on the piano keyboard. Kern continues this tradition by dimming the lights in the recording studio and spontaneously creating the solo piano tracks for his recordings. Legally blind from birth, it is fascinating that darkness is such an important part of the creative process for this outstanding composer. That process and an incredibly lyrical Steinway Hamburg concert grand gave birth to a gorgeous, shimmering collection of the gentle and delicate pieces Kern is known and loved for around the world. The warmth and beauty of the piano is accompanied on several tracks by Mike Miller on acoustic guitar and Terry Miller on acoustic and electric bass. Several tracks are solo piano (always my favorites!), and the only weakness in this recording is the canned strings, which sound flat and mechanical paired with the clarity and sparkle of the piano and guitars. That’s a small thing in the context of the whole album, and the strings appear on only a few of the tracks where they are noticeable. Otherwise, this album is stellar!
The CD opens with a beautiful piece called “Remembering the Light” which is mostly solo piano. The dreamy flow of the piano is contrasted in parts by the crisp but gentle acoustic guitar. The strings on this piece actually add some pastel washes that soften the piano a bit and further enhance the wistfulness of the piece. “Safe In Your Embrace” is more of a duet for guitar and piano, with the two instruments taking turns with the melody. “Pearls of Joy” is one of my favorites. A piano solo, most of the piece is played in the upper registers of the piano and is in a minor mode that tugs at the emotions. Poignant is putting it mildly, and I think this is one of Kern’s best pieces to date. One of the surprises on the album is an incredible interpretation of Sting’s “Fields of Gold.”; The guitar has a very big part in this arrangement, with piano and acoustic bass creating the backdrop for Mike Miller’s exquisite finger work. The arrangement is simple, clean, and full of passion. Great job, guys! “Keepers of the Flame” is another wonderful piano solo. The melody is bittersweet and full of yearning. “Musings” again brings the guitar to the forefront, taking turns with the piano with the melody. It’s a gorgeous piece, but the background strings seem to weigh it down — the sensitive interaction of piano and guitar is perfect without the additional accompaniment. “Sweet Dreams, Helena” has a very Asian flavor, indicating that Kern’s overwhelmingly successful concert tours in Asia have had an influence on his music. The CD closes with another piano solo, “And The Light Is Forever,” which I also think is one of Kern’s most beautiful pieces ever. Soulful and reflective, the piece feels intimate and deeply personal as it reaches to the heart.