Having won two Grammy Awards for Best New Age Album two of the past three years (for Wings and Dancing on Water) after countless previous nominations and an astounding discography of nearly 60 albums, longtime fans can truly understand his desire to express a feeling of Rapture as he releases his latest epic ensemble album with that spot on title.
In many ways, the veteran pianist and composer’s soulful, free flowing 12 track journey - which takes us from the lush, sweeping and blissfully symphonic title track to the passionate romantic reflections of “By Your Side” – is a deeply personal, even autobiographical endeavor. Taking a fascinating career overview, he draws from a diverse palette of moods, sounds and styles, from his classical roots and film scoring endeavors to his nearly four decades of success in contemporary jazz, world music and New Age.
On a more universal level, however, Kater’s unfolding musical narrative is also, perhaps subconsciously, meeting our collective moment beautifully as we move forward from the pandemic-dominated year of struggle, anxiety and survival to an emergent sense of hope and all the attendant joys that arrive with it. Three pieces that especially capture this forward thinking optimism in both title and vibe are the graceful, sweetly sensual “Promising,” featuring Kater’s piano intermingling with Richard Hardy’s lush soprano and subtle tasteful orchestration; the hypnotic and ambient “Morning Bliss,” a subtle nudge towards sunrise featuring the caress of strings and Hardy’s soft-spoken flute, and a touch of crystalline soundscaping; and the lyrical, increasingly emotional and slightly whimsical “Hope of Spring,” which includes some of those same intertwining elements.
As he inspires us to look ahead with determination and purpose, Kater reminds us of the most important aspect of life which has guided us along and will take us home to a refreshed sense of normalcy – love. Whether we interpret songs like the dramatic, classically tinged “By Your Side” and “Stole My Heart,” the dreamy, dancing piano and flute driven “Valley of Love” and the richly reflective, tenderly transportive “Love You So” as intimate romantic expressions between lovers or in a more universal sense of kindness and compassion, this is an album that takes no prisoners when it comes to sharing love.
Kater admits that the title Rapture has a double meaning to him. It’s definitely about that rapture of love on a personal level but also refers to the spiritual implications of the term – an elevation of people being lifted out of the mundane world into a higher realm of being, which he has also experienced this past year. Moving into his fifth decade as one of instrumental music’s most beloved, adventurous and innovative artists, the pianist is all about sharing his heart and making his sense of personal transcendence our own.