The Gathering Various Artists 2012 / West River Records 1.2 hours
"The Gathering" is a stunning sampler and collection of twenty-two tracks from as many artists whose music was produced by Will Ackerman in the past six years at his Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont. The legendary and multiple-award-winning founder of Windham Hill Records, Ackerman has continued to add his magic touch to dozens of recordings since selling Windham Hill to BMG in 1992. As a reviewer, any music that comes in with Ackerman’s name in the production credits promises to be exceptional - and I can’t think of any examples of when this wasn’t true. Most of the twenty-two tracks are either mainly piano or mainly guitar, backed by a stellar group of mostly acoustic musicians. The playing order is perfect, which is an amazing feat in itself with such a big group of artists. It is obviously a compilation album, but it flows so seamlessly that there are no jarring changes from one piece to the next, providing well over an hour of music heaven. Unless you are a reviewer, the chances are small that you’ve heard very many of these artists, so this is a fantastic opportunity to hear a sampling of some of the best music that this genre has had to offer in the past several years. "The Gathering" is certain to be one of my favorite albums of 2012. Check it out at CD Baby. I give it my highest recommendation.