“Live performances always have a life of their own, an aura of awe or waves of raw energy.  In my experience so far, that’s hard to capture on CD or DVD.  But, it was accomplished for me on Steven Schoenberg’s release, Live: An Improvisational Journey.  These songs, all improvised in concert, still feel as if they are coming to life for the first time no matter how many times you listen to them.

It’s just Schoenberg and his piano but its not lacking anything.  This whole recording is exquisite.  It creates a meditative, contemplative mood.  This seems especially so on “Day and Night,” the opening composition.  It practically begs you to stay and listen, such a maudlin request, gorgeous in its depth.  “In the Darkness” – yes, played in complete darkness – is contemplative and … aquatic.  That sounds silly, I guess, but that’s how it felt to me, like an underwater landscape.  And I don’t even like water.

The music mostly feels very mature, deliberate, poignant.  Yet Schoenberg also shows a playful side on the blues inspired tracks “The January Blues” and “After Dark.”

Thanks go also to Norman Blain, who is given credit for recording the performances at Sweeney Concert Hall in December 2006.  Or maybe it’s Aaryn Blain who did the mastering that made it sound so good.  Or a combo of both.  You can feel the piano strings vibrate, the crowd paying rapt attention.

Schoenberg has been involved in scoring films, musical theater and children’s music.  In fact, some may remember his work from Sesame Street.  Maybe that influence explains why this was such an enjoyable journey.”

Gray Hunter