CD: The Next Stage
Artist: Louis Colaiannia

The-Next-Stage-CoverThe music of Louis Colaiannia (coal-ee-AH-nah) is like a tree – with many branches, as well as deep roots. Spreading out from a foundation of classical music with influences of Mozart and Beethoven, Louis’ current sound has grown into the genres of contemporary instrumental, jazz, new age, chill, world music, and more. His latest release entitled The Next Stage brings all these elements together into a unique blend that can be both relaxing and energizing at the same time.


In the interest of “keeping it real,” I should point out up front that I had a small degree of involvement in this album towards the end, assisting with art direction and producing the video that accompanies this article. So to be fair, I’ll keep the focus of this article more informative and less evaluative. While I won’t pretend to be objective and give a rave review of the album, I will simply say that if I had not been impressed with the quality of the music, I wouldn’t have lent my support to the project. This was not my first exposure to the music of Louis Colaiannia. A few years ago I had the pleasure of writing about his previous release, A Moment Between Eternities. That album, which was also a blend of various musical ingredients, had a bit of a different mix than this one. Of that earlier recording, I wrote that there was “even a hint of jazz” to it. On The Next Stage, however, that “hint” has evolved into a strong suggestion. When I say “jazz,” in this case, I’m referring more to the subgenre of “smooth jazz,” not anything edgy or “out there.” The intention that Louis had in creating this music was for chilling out and relaxing to its laid-back grooves and melodies. I wouldn’t call it a jazz album, per se, but it is more of jazz/new age crossover, with traces of classical and world music. And a few of the tracks lean more in the new age direction without any jazz influence.


Right from the start, the music draws you in with a sweetly seductive tune entitled “City ‘Scapes.” With a breezyvideo image 1 Latin air, Louis’ piano intro builds in layers and is joined by nylon stringed acoustic guitar, bass, sax, flute, and percussion, creating a sound that could appeal to fans of Ottmar Liebert, Gipsy Kings, Marc Antoine, etc. A surprise element in the mix is the sound of vibes (vibraphone), sometimes adding a dreamy percussive ambience, and other times driving in high gear. The vibes are played by a young musical phenomenon named Joey Glassman, whose name I’m sure will be well-known one day. But with regard to recognized names, special guest sax-man, and official “Yamaha Performing Artist,” Greg Vail makes his first of two appearances on the next track which is entitled “Obsession.” For Louis, the title references the complete devotion one has for their passion in life, in his case, music. The tune features a sultry slow groove, with the beat and rhythm guitar, suggesting a quasi-reggae feel on the beginning and ending sections. Various movements and motifs unfold throughout the piece. On the appropriately titled “Ramp It Up,” earthy conga drums kick off the most upbeat song on the album. Latin jazz rhythms provide the propulsion for the ensemble to soar in this high-flying cruiser.


A different ray of Louis’ musical spectrum is reflected on track four, “Ancient Voices.” This is a more exploratory piece with many twists and turns in its’ unfolding. As mentioned above, the passion one has for their music shines here in Louis’ fleet-fingered arpeggios, and dramatic flourishes on the piano. This track, although quite Louis up-tempo, is more of a story in sound than some of the pieces that are centered on a groove. The perfect cool down is provided on the next track, entitled “Midnight,” a smooth as silk jazzy tune that makes you want to put your feet up and kick back with a glass of wine. Keeping it mellow, one of the aforementioned new age-style tracks, “Where Angel’s Dance,” manages to create a very full sound with just keyboards and drums, the first song on the album without the full ensemble. As on a number of the tracks, dramatic musical shifts occur that pique the listener’s interest and also highlight Louis’ skill as a composer and arranger. From this point in the album, there is less of the jazz influence, with Louis giving expression to his more contemporary instrumental or new age musical proclivities, and spreading the wings of his musical diversity a bit. Following in this flow is a sweet and gentle tune called, “Stephanie’s Eyes, that has an elegant, almost waltz-like cadence. As mentioned before, Louis comes from a classical background, and a hint of that shows through on a track called “Adam’s Light.” The structure of the song with Louis’ intricate piano ostinatos and the counterpoint of vibes, along with flute by Evelyn Rutenberg, reminded me slightly of “Pachelbel’s Canon,” although with more of an upbeat feel. The album draws to a conclusion expressing even more of Louis’ musical range. The last track, called “Dancing Snowflakes,” is a piano solo that was recorded live at a concert venue in Denver. Judging by the applause, the audience was quite impressed with the performance. This piece is more in the vein of something you might hear from George Winston, Liz Story (who Louis has performed with) or a classic Windham Hill recording.


And speaking of Windham Hill, there is likely to be even more of this influence in Louis’ next album, which willVideo image 2 be recorded and produced by Grammy winning producer and founder of Windham Hill Records, Will Ackerman. The recording will take place at his famed Imaginary Roads Studio in Vermont, giving Louis access to Will’s highly customized Steinway grand piano that has graced the recordings of many world-class musicians. According to Louis, this music will lean more towards the contemporary instrumental and new age side of his musical spectrum. And in another bit of recent news, Louis has announced that he will be performing on a Caribbean Cruise in January of 2014 with Will Ackerman and a number of other top musicians, including multi-instrumental virtuoso Jill Haley and Grammy winning guitarist David Cullen. That will certainly be a trip to remember!



Louis is a veteran musician who is certainly no stranger to performing. He is well known in the clubs and concert venues in the Denver area, as well as taking the stage at numerous music festivals in the mountains, Louis performingsome of which have drawn crowds of over 100,000 people. He has been recognized for his contributions to music by receiving a number of accolades, such as a Mozart Award, Primo Award, and being recently inducted into the Colorado Italian American Hall of Fame in 2012. In response to these honors, Louis says: “These awards inspire me to continue to write and perform music that moves audiences around the world.” His recorded music has also achieved recognition, with his 2011 album, A Moment Between Eternities, debuting at number 5 on the Zone Music Reporter chart for international radio airplay. Louis credits his success to sage advice given by his parents: “Mom always told me that if and when I ever set my sights on something, I should never quit.” And for a long time, he had his sights set on a music career, which required that he take a leap of faith and leave his practice as a dentist in order pursue his music dream full time in 1998. As Louis observes: “Passion never gets in the way of life, but life sometimes get in the way of passion.” When Louis isn’t busy writing, arranging or performing, he’s usually found working on a nonprofit radio station in support of the Global Youth Music Project.  For more information, go to


There is no doubt that music is Louis’ passion in life. In his words: “I write, arrange and perform in the hopes that my music will reach a level of acceptance that it will still get played after I’m gone.” I’m sure that The Next Stage will live up to its name and prove to be a stepping-stone in that process. And I’ll certainly be looking forward to his future release with Will Ackerman as well.




This promo video for The Next Stage features excepts from 5 songs.
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