Max Highstein Releases New Album, Wins Global Music Award


New on the Desert Heart label, celebrated recording artist and composer Max Highstein has released Gratitunes, his 14th album and best work to date. Critics agree! The album has already won two Global Music Awards prizes: Outstanding Achievement Awards for both Album and Composer.

Highstein is a multi-instrumentalist with roots in jazz, rock, and classical music. His compositions boldly cross genres, yet brightly resonate with distinctive, ear-catching charm. Strong melodies, gem-like arrangements, and a deep emotional core run through all of his work, captivating the listener and drawing them in. Because of the lovely variety of music on Gratitunes, it is being launched in World, Latin, New Age and Jazz markets.

For Gratitunes, Highstein pulled off something of a musical miracle. He picked up the soprano saxophone—his first wind instrument since grade school—spent a solid two years practicing, and emerged with the sound you hear on Gratitunes, amazing many of his peers. Avoiding the pinched, thin soprano sound so often heard in the Smooth Jazz idiom, Highstein’s tone is rich, expressive, and warm. Soprano sax guru Joe Giardullo says, “Max Highstein has a wonderful voice on the soprano, and I don’t get to say that very often, really.”

More praise for Gratitunes:

“Exquisite melodies are what truly set Max Highstein’s music apart—so fresh, seemingly effortless yet rich, born of joy, that find a permanent place in my heart. And the performances are, as always, world class.” ~ Dave Kinnoin, Writer/producer of Hundreds of Songs for the Muppets, Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Sesame Workshop and others

“Heady and yet playful compositions. Amazing arrangements, expertly and expressively played. That’s the stuff of Max Highstein, and he has done it again with this opus magnum. I recommend sitting back with a glass of your favorite beverage and drinking in this album. You will not regret it in the morning!” ~ Grant Maloy Smith, Billboard Top 10 recording artist

“This album is filled with unexpected twists that will make you smile, grooves that pick up your feet to make you dance, complex rhythms to entertain your intellect, and melodic swells to steal your heart. This album is FUN above all, but seriously never compromising in quality; the writing, artistry, and all aspects of engineering are polished to utmost shine! Another wonderfully uplifting achievement from Mr. Highstein and a perfect follow-up to his last album “Flying Not Falling,” which I also highly recommend!” ~ Danaë Vlasse, Award-Winning Composer and Recording Artist.

“There is an invitation here, one that offers you the chance to enter a sound world where you can breathe, simplify, and share in the palpable sense of joyful living and gratitude which fully permeates Max’s music. The outstanding performers are at ease with their material, and the meticulous sound design is attractive. I highly recommend this collection!” ~ Frederick Frahm, Composer, Publisher, Music Educator

“Beautiful!!! For most artists, the quality of their work diminishes with each new release as their inspiration fades, but not so with Max Highstein. I’ve known his music since the 1980s, and I can say with certainty that his quality continues to advance. I could listen to Gratitunes continually and never tire of it. When they defined the word “joy,” they had Max’s music in mind. ~ Jim Moeller, Owner and Founder of the music label “Serenity, Music to Awaken the Heart”

Max Highstein is joined by a group of world-class players on Gratitunes. Here’s the rundown (Notes in italics are from Max):

Max Highstein – Soprano Saxophone, Piano, Fretless Bass, Mystery Instruments. All composition, arranging, and production by Max H.

Howard Levy – Harmonica. Widely considered the world’s most virtuosic harmonica player, best known for his work with Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, as well as countless other credits. Plays on the songs Open To Receive and Rail Runner. His effortless playing seems to tease musical surprises out of nowhere.

Rusty Crutcher – Alto and Tenor Saxophones. Outstanding multi-instrumentalist, composer, and recording artist with 9 albums to his credit. Rusty brings the heat, brings the hurt, and then heals the pain.

Ed Willett – Cello. Willett has performed with the Honolulu Symphony and Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra, and toured worldwide with pop/rock icon Rickie Lee Jones. Every note Ed plays can break your heart. Hear Ed Willett’s playing and singing with his wonder duo, Chance.

John Yoakum – Flute. Credits include Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, The Simpsons, LA Philharmonic Orchestra. A wind playing genius who can play anything with a hole in it and make it sound alarmingly beautiful.

Dimian Disante: Guitar. The “Everything With Excellence” guitarist and brilliant Albuquerque sideman. Has been known to cause funk spasms of joy and delight.

Judy Mitchell: Accordion. An outstanding accordionist and feature player with Almazazz. Her hard swinging yet subtle playing will give you an automatic accordion contact high.

Roger Fletcher: Trumpet. Flies below the radar; plays with stealthy devastation. All notes are coated with gold.

Mark Clark – Drums and Percussion. Credits include James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, John Popper, and Ottmar Liebert. Rhythm dripping with intelligence and charm. There is more musicality in one of Mark’s fills than in most other drum tracks combined.

Highstein grew up in a household full of art and music. His father was a doctor, painter, and musician, and it was not uncommon for Max to hear a string quartet rehearsing in the family living room. He took clarinet lessons, switched to rock organ at 13, and studied jazz and classical piano at Goddard College in Vermont. Mozart, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and John Coltrane all resonated with Highstein and stimulated his ear. He later did a stint as house piano tuner at the iconic jazz club, Blues Alley in DC, where he absorbed the music of an endless stream of great artists like Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Horace Silver, Cecil Taylor, and others.

In his early 30’s Max Highstein moved to Los Angeles and earned two graduate degrees in psychology. This apparent detour led him right back to music. He developed a series of guided meditation programs, and composed the music backgrounds. Then, backed by a handful of top LA studio musicians, he made his first solo instrumental recordings, Touch The Sky, and Stars, handily charting the NAC “WAVE” format of the time.

Max Highstein now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife and dog, and spends most of his time in his cozy studio, composing and recording.

Find Gratitunes, and connect with Highstein’s work at these outlets: