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  • Jonathan Widran

PETER KATER, Soul Story (Improvisations)

Closing in on a prolific, deeply impactful four decades as a recording artist, pianist/composer Peter Kater has found fresh, unique ways to stay inspired and moving forward innovatively these past few years in the wake of his two Best New Age Album Grammy Awards for Dancing on Water (2018) and Wings (2020).

Most notably, he collaborated with new age/classical crossover vocalist Sangeeta Kaur on Illuminance and created something of a sweeping if informal stylistic overview of his stellar career on the soulful, free-flowing Rapture, touching on his classical roots and his multitude of film scoring, contemporary jazz, world music and new age works.

True to the provocative title of his latest album Soul Story, Kater has found a fascinating way to expand upon his innate and intuitive skills as a master melodic and rhythmic storyteller – by using his equally empowering improvisational talents to interpret and share the life (and more intimately, soul) stories of others. All performing artists will say they play differently based on the energy of their audiences, especially in intimate settings – but Kater may be the first one to take that concept to such a personal level.

The concept evolved from talking to individuals one on one and feeling sparks of melodies and compositional segments from their life tales. He then took these “readings” to the next level by having them lie under his piano and improvising pieces based on their words and vibes – then giving them to his subjects as gifts. Kater’s choice to publicly share some of his favorite pieces gives us a chance to experience a different, more freeform/freewheeling side of his artistry that reflects the ebb and flow, the gentle calm and the dynamic passion inherent in the rhythm of life.

Though the people he “collaborated” with are unknown to us, we can know their essence and personality via Kater’s interpretations. “Starry Night,” for instance, reflects a softhearted, gentle contemplative soul, while “Touch of Rain” is no doubt for a person who has a dual essence of darkness and light, lighthearted joy and deeper, more intense passion.

From the similarly light/dark contrast and hard to pin down spiritual movements of “Spiral Outward” through the hypnotic, sweetly graceful, classically tinged dance of the polyrhythmic title track and the spritely, joy-filled and hopeful “United,” Kater creates portraits of human souls that could never be captured in a photo, on film, in a painting or with words. Soul Story offers a listening experience that will prompt you to think differently about every human soul around you.


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