As an instrument in and of itself it can have a unique sound depending on its attributes; shape, weight, tension, etc. However the musician playing the instrument has the most control over the way the instrument will sound. The musician controls the tones and the way things are allowed to reverberate or not. They also control the emitted feeling of the instrument which causes the listeners mood to move from happy to sad to awed. It is this profusion of instrumentation and lack of musical boundaries which Oakland, California based violinist Briana Di Mara brings to the forefront on her eclectic debut record Haven. Along with a cast of fourteen other musicians Di Mara weaves a beautiful tapestry of world music on Haven.
Haven opens with “Home” a flourishing piece that sets a mood and tone of music that ranges from hints of Irish pub music to gypsy jazz. It is both eloquent and haunting at the same time bringing up images of eastern European campfires and royal wedding entertainments from centuries ago as it moves seamlessly into the second song “Storyteller” wherein Di Mara’s violin acts as the storyteller as it takes the listener on a journey of high and low notes which once again blend a European folk musical tradition with a modern feel and flair.
Then she takes us on a more dramatic journey to India, exploring that vast lands musical traditions with “Seyyah,” and later on the rather magical and intriguing notes and movements of “Muse.” Later she and her band of world musicians take us back to the exciting and elegant realms of gypsy jazz with a bit of latin inspiration mixed in on the masterful “Moonrise.”
These pieces on Haven are meant to move you and do move you in a way that other genres of music simply aren’t able to. Haven’s songs cast a spell on the listener, an ancient spell from ancient times, yet the music itself is rendered timeless by Di Mara’s thoughtfully well-orchestrated arrangements. Haven is not simply a wonderful record, it’s a wonderful and lasting work of art.
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