Throughout our lives, we have all been blessed with deep and multi-faceted friendships that make us feel more alive on a human level and connected so deep on a soul level that it defies our ability to find words to describe it. These are the kinds of intimate relationships that are so powerful and profound that they can even defy the physical passing of our loved one. On one level, we know they’re gone, but in another sense, if we’re so inclined to see beyond our five senses and open to such insights, we’re aware that they’re still with us, guiding us, speaking to us still and of course waiting for that deeper reunion in their realm, where time is simply an eternal now.
This is the type of relationship that the wonderfully sensitive, spiritually insightful composer and solo pianist Monica Logani was blessed with for years with Juliette Calayag Pralle – and it’s our good fortune that she has decided to honor her incredible, multi-faceted friend with The Long Road, a stunning 15-track tribute that not only speaks eloquently to the intimate details of their time together, but also includes deeper reflections on life’s eternal mysteries that we can all find comfort and introspective connection with.
From the tender and thoughtful opener “Birds” through the solemn heartbreaking moment of “The Last Embrace,” Monica paints a portrait of a meaningful life so well lived that it will continue to change her life (and maybe ours, as we listen and absorb the uncommon magical beauty) until they meet again. Along the way, the pianist shares eloquent pieces directly about her friend and aspects of her personality and roles she played, including the gently meditative, string-tinged “Juliette,” the wistful, wonder-filled “Dreamer,” the dramatic and emphatic “Devotion” (which features producer Gregg Zubowicz’s hypnotic guitar harmonies beneath her darker chords), the lyrical and cautiously hopeful “Storyteller” and soft spoken, eloquent “Savior.”
Monica balances these with fascinating musings on time, anchored by her gorgeous 75 second shard of “Daylight,” the somber acknowledgement of our earthly “Temporality” and a bittersweet parting at “Summer’s End.” She envelops these with even deeper contemplations of “Space” (a slightly whimsical, softly orchestrated piece) and an inspirational call to understanding the deeper implications of “The Long Road.” To Monica, it’s not simply the fullness of life with all its exuberance and adversity. It’s her intuitive sense that our souls are on a much longer journey and take on many different physical forms, full of winding paths and detours, which teach us lessons that are necessary for us to grow and evolve.
To better understand the flow of her extraordinary narrative full of deeply impressionistic, briefly state compositions, we should perhaps know a bit more about Monica’s time with Juliette. The two met by chance while Monica was visiting her brother in graduate school in the late 80s, and there was a familiarity about her that Monica still can’t describe. Based on Monica’s spiritual beliefs, it’s likely they had met in another lifetime. Interestingly, their friendship didn’t flourish until they reconnected ten years later. Realizing they were soul sisters, they spent the next 20 years celebrating, dreaming and traveling the world together. Juliette lived with cancer for 25 years, but never complained.
Infused with an otherworldly ability to find joy amidst her struggles, Juliette lived life fully and was always there for everyone who needed her. Not long after Juliette passed away in 2016, Monica began processing the grief of the physical loss via her deep sense of melodic piano expression, which she first shared on her debut album, Secret Garden, release that same year.
Almost like it was a universally ordained moment of synchronicity, when Monica first shared these pieces with Zubowicz, he immediately keyed in on her feelings, as he had recently lost both his parents and others close to him. His encouragement to be fully expressions about life and loss was very powerful and was the driving force behind The Long Road. More than simply a stunning elegy to a dear friend, it’s testament to the reality that love knows no bounds. It’s passionate music that connects Monica to Juliette, and can connect us to our loved ones, here and departed, from this moment on.