WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE!

Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning – Eirlandia

May 10, 2018

(World music/new age)

Eirlandia, the eight-track wonderfully melodic new album from the veteran contemporary Celtic music duo keyboardist/percussionist Jeff Johnson and flutist Brian Dunning (who also offers his talents on penny whistles), is a beautifully emotive piece of work. Its World/new age appeal is quite alluring and almost certainly built on the premise that music, if it is anything, is expression in colors, feels, and depth.

With 30 years of working together under their belt, this great reunion of musical minds bent on excellence brings us a project inspired by best-selling author Stephen R. Lawhead’s new Celtic fantasy novel, In the Region of the Summer Stars – Book 1 of the Eirlandia Series. Apparently, in this book, the story of beauty and the challenges it often faces are pitted against one another. Johnson says, “I truly enjoy creating music to expand upon and exemplify a good written story, like the books of Stephen Lawhead.”

The album combines the traditional Irish music elements with modern instrumentation to create a fantasy soundtrack rich in imagery and emotional content. It’s truly an exercise in how to seduce the senses in an all-embracing soul-deep exotic journey through Eirlandia. Looking through one’s mind’s eye, one can see the calming, telling visions that this duo must have seen.

All of the tracks have their own unspoken message and character. The title track dances in lightly, almost in ballet fashion with celestial backing vocals lifting the listener up and carrying him/her along the way into this mystical place. It sets the tone for what follows on the soft, gentle “Tir na nOg,” the haunting “Oran Mȏr,” and more.

There are pleasant listening adventures and experiences here worth this trip, for sure. Indulge yourself. – Ronald Jackson