Because composer/musicians and their fans tend to compartmentalize their passions into strict genre trappings, it’s rare to find artists bold enough to transcend commercial considerations and expectations and present all of their passions on a single project. You won’t find too many jazz heads at a new age meditation concert, just as you won’t find those seeking stress reduction in their music at a show featuring swing and improvisation. As a longtime fan of both genres, I’ve never heard the two genres so gracefully entwined as I do on Deeper Imaginings – the endlessly diverse and fascinating, soul seductive new dual project by multi-instrumentalists Paul Adams and Elizabeth Geyer.
The highly anticipated follow-up to their 2015 ZMR Contemporary Album of the Year Imaginings, the 11-track collection can be enjoyed as a casual, dreamily atmospheric and playfully exotic listening experience – but its intentions run much deeper. It’s pure spiritual immersion, a gently suggestive musical pathway to more richly explore our own divinity and the endless divine vibrations of the universe. From the deeply emotional and meditative opener which allows our hearts to leap headfirst into an “Endless Horizon” through the enlightening, angelic flotation we can embrace as we wake to a “New Morning” and get swept up into life’s hypnotic and mystical “Essence and Flow” (featuring Adams’ trippy electric sitar and Geyer’s ethereal vocalizations), the multi-faceted project fulfills Adams’ goal to “go a bit deeper artistically without it becoming too clinical.”
The entire collection seems to be a driven by a free-flowing sense of improvisation. Everything connects seamlessly, as if Adams, Geyer and their ensemble (including Indian bansuri flute player Pravin Godkindhi, Turkish balaban artist Alp Amaze, UK guitarist Gary Green and American trumpeter David Hoffman) are merely channeling various muses guiding from another dimension. For instance, the wafting sitar and chimes at the end of “Allowing” eases freely into the breathy flute/stark piano intro to “Still Meadows,” whose final vibrating strings give way to a the spacey vibrating atmospheres at the start of “Awakening.”
The more traditional improvisations, which come naturally to Geyer, an established Australian bred and based jazz trumpeter/flugelhornist and pianist, come towards the end of the set on “All That I Am” and “Hope for the Game.” On those tracks, seeming outliers at first from all that’s happening around them yet somehow in perfect synch once you embrace their vibe and message, Adams introduces two of his insightful and eloquent poems, in a beatnik, jazzy/new agey sort of way.
Truly pushing the envelope as genres collide, on “All That I Am,” he feels the caress of strings, earthy soundscapes, spiritual voicings and trumpet as he speaks of emergence from a dark night of the soul via the sculpting hands of the divine. The closer “Hope for the Game” adds a deeper urban music element for his colorful spoken ruminations on the “hope that somehow love will reign” even as we battle our deepest fears.
A few extra tidbits that can enhance your appreciation of Deeper Imaginings: It’s no surprise that Adams, a veteran artist who was trained in Ethnomusicology, would incorporate so many instruments into his work. In addition to guitar, electric sitar, synth and percussion, he plays the oud, flutes, halusi (Chinese flute). The Imaginings recordings grew out of him being hired by Geyer to co-produce her fourth album The Bridge. In their spare time, the two decided to improvise gentle music to have fun and reduce stress. Geyer was not a new age fan but she liked the tracks. The two felt that spiritual and personal growth was part of the mission.
During the process, Adams connected via YouTube with master bansuri flute player Pravin Godkhindi, who suggested working together. Adams allotted areas for him to improvise. He then brought in his friend David Hoffman, longtime associate of Ray Charles, and the roots of the extraordinary fusion were planted. Here’s hoping the crew goes even deeper yet next time!
Listen to Deeper Imaginings here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1m8sDkfG6ffK4biCFd13wX?si=n3pmvoY0QueTNKVkOKYeTA