When it comes to conveying the majesty and mystery of planet Earth and all its attendant glories, Michael Gettel is a musical photographer nonpareil, the David Muench of pop instrumental music. Each of his six previous releases speaks of his love and awe of the forces that surround him. Often on the same tune, he offers grand syntheses which speak like a literary essay on the wonders of dry desert wind, electrical thunderstorms, and the eloquence of a babbling stream.
More than appropriately, then, his latest spiritual treasure, The Art of Nature, offers brilliant musical interpretations of Bruce Heinemann's landscape photography book subtitled "Reflections of the Grand Design". Gettel's musings wind through the heart like a redwood-lined road running through a glorious stone canyon, beginning with the simple magnificence of an acoustic piano.
He then layers breathy synthesizer ideas with a subdued fretless bass, acoustic guitar resonance, explosive percussion, Richard Warner's sax and flutes, Nancy Rumbel's oboe and English horn, John Morton's edgy electric guitar, and Grant Stott's Hammond B-3. Randy Sherwood's vocals take you "Where Eagles Soar" and beyond.
Gettel rolls like thunder from "Fire in the Sky," reflects upon the ruins of New Mexico ("Shelter"), and gets caught in an aggressive "Crosswind," creating pieces which, like nature itself, transcend and defy logical description. Calling them breathtaking is like saying that the sun is a yellow star which emits light.