CD: Soul 2 Soul
Artist: Danny Wright
It must have been a day to remember when little four-year old Danny Wright reached up to the piano in the family’s living room and began playing the theme from Dr. Zhivago. After years of study and classical training with some of the finest teachers available, that child prodigy has matured into a world-class talent who has released a staggering 35 albums, which have sold over 6 million copies since his debut in 1986. And that’s only the beginning for this Las Vegas-based recording artist, who has twice been named by prestigious Billboard Magazine as a Top 10 artist in his genre. It’s been said that good things come in threes and it must be true for Danny since three of his albums were included in Billboard’s Top 10 New Age Albums for three years in a row.
For most artists all this would amount to the pinnacle of success, yet there is much more to share about Danny’s career before delving into a discussion of his “Soul 2 Soul” CD. As a person of great faith, spirituality, and compassion, he recently launched the Danny Wright Foundation of Music, whose Mission Statement reads: “Healing the planet one heart at a time. Dedicated to the enrichment of the lives of All People with the understanding and appreciation in the healing power of music. Helping people the Wright Way.” In addition to adults and seniors, the foundation provides instruments and instructors to sick children in hospitals in Nevada and supports music programs in schools. Ten percent of proceeds from this and other CD’s will be donated to the foundation when purchased at the foundation’s website (www.dw-foundation.org).
I had a pleasant surprise when I visited Danny’s website and clicked on the link for his electronic press kit. Most people’s press kit consists of pages of facts, figures, reviews, and quotes. Danny’s “press kit” is a beautifully filmed seven and a half minute video in which he discusses his music and inspirations, his love for performing, his relationship with his audience, and more. I found this very refreshing and a nice personal touch. His website is also an excellent place to hear a generous sampling of music from his various albums.
With the grand piano as his primary instrument he has shown incredible diversity in his repertoire, which include both instrumental and vocal as well as solo piano and ensembles, original adult contemporary compositions, Christmas songs, Broadway show tunes and movie themes, classical music, and more. “Soul 2 Soul” marks Danny’s first all original solo piano album in twelve years, forgoing additional instruments or vocals “to allow the piano’s ‘voice’ to tell the stories.” And what beautiful stories they are, often inspired by experiences told to Danny by friends, fans, listeners, etc. As he relates: “”This is one of my most heartfelt albums. “The songs just poured from my soul, inspired by the beautiful people I’ve met through my music.”
The CD opens with “Adriannes Heart” which moved me emotionally, literally within the first thirty seconds. It is powerful yet touching, and with it’s cinematic air would make a wonderful movie theme. On “Friends are Friends Forever” an evocative melody warms the heart and draws inspiration from those special people in our lives. It’s hard not to be affected by the spirit of love, which radiates from this music.
With the album being instrumental, there are no lyrics providing mental imagery, and yet Danny’s music is incredibly rich in emotional imagery, which is experienced directly through the music. While the perception of emotion is subjective, what I experienced while listening to “Tara’s Theme” was a sense of hope and optimism. If it were on the soundtrack of a film it might accompany a scene that dealt with making it through a challenging time. On certain tracks the titles seem perfectly matched with the music and describe the feel that the composition conveys. Such is the case on “I Found You” which bespeaks the meeting of two souls. Another good example of this is on “Have Faith” which needs no explanation.
On “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way” I especially appreciated Danny’s sense of dynamics and the way he used space between particular phrases to add dramatic effect. For me, the most poignant moments on the album came while listening to “At Peace” which is a tribute to co-producer and album cover artist Cheri White’s husband who passed away in his sleep. The music is both wistful and uplifting at the same time. Herein lies one of Danny Wright’s most profound gifts – the ability to interweave varied emotions in the context of one composition. I find an interesting contrast in Danny’s playing, which can at once evoke grand sweeping vistas, yet in the same moment be as intimate as the glance between two lovers. Listening to this album is a journey through a forest of feelings.