"Serene" is Jason Farnham's third CD to date and consists of ten original piano/instrumental compositions and one traditional hymn arrangement. The eleven tracks bring together a nice variety of styles with most of the music on the quiet, uplifting side. The Los Angeles-based Farnham grew up in Ohio and began playing the piano at the age of four. An international entertainer, Farnham has been called a "chameleon artist" because of his ability to switch musical genres from new age piano to Euro-style rock. His gigs have ranged from the baby grand at Deepak Chopra's retreat in San Diego to synthesizer in Sunset Strip's hottest techno dance clubs. A diverse composer and songwriter, his music has been used in soundtracks of independent films, ballet productions, and even in magic shows. Farnham is also the "resident" artist playing the grand piano at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel at Los Angeles International Airport. The compositions on "Serene" are performed on piano and synthesizer, with some more orchestrated than others, and provide the listener with an hour of delightful listening pleasure.
"Serene" begins with "When (Lisa's Untitled)," a gently melodic piece that sets the tone and mood of the album. The piano is almost conversational, backed with washes of strings for atmosphere and tonal color. The title song lives up to its title with an easy-going pace and flowing style. "Summer in Athens, Ohio" is casual and carefree - very light and breezy. "Cold Winter" is one of my favorites. Somewhat impressionistic and less structured than many of the pieces, the beautiful chords and expressive playing paint a picture of a chilly landscape that is far from unwelcoming - lovely! "Dance of Oriana" picks up the tempo a bit with gentle energy and a bittersweet melody. "Sonata No. 1" is more classical in style and conveys a variety of moods. Much of the seven-minute piece is on the dark side, weaving an intricate tapestry of musical themes. "Be Thou My Vision" has appeared on quite a few piano CDs the past few years, and Farnham's arrangement is quite different from any I've heard. Its deep bass rhythm and having each verse become a variation on the theme are both effective and stirring! My favorite piece is "Dream of a Distant Sea," which mixes a harpsichord voice with sounds of the ocean and wordless vocals. The gentle rocking motion and haunting, melancholy melody create a vivid and intense musical experience. "Winter In LA" hints at Farnham's upbeat techno side with a big rhythm and layered sound. It's obvious from the music that LA isn't too cold in the winter months!
"Serene" should garner Jason Farnham some well-deserved attention and place him firmly on the instrumental music map. Recommended!