Randy Baltzell’s “Heart of the Wilderness” is a triumphant debut album! It is a 10-piece adventure into the unknown, following the sound of Randy’s trumpet and keyboards. Each song offers a different and fascinating tableau, traveling effortlessly from the deepest forest and into the human mind. It is only July, but I can safely say that Heart of the Wilderness is 2018’s most positive and upbeat New Age music release. Bravo!
Randy Baltzell is an Oregon-based trumpet teacher. He teaches for all levels and ages, classical, contemporary and jazz. About music composing Randy says: “Most of my songs originate on piano and develop from there. I try to use a wide variety of instrumentation to express my ideas, and usually, the finished song ends up quite different than how it started. I’m always working to experiment with new ideas to portray the message of my music.” The album is co-produced by John Adorney, and released by EverSound.
First track is called “Untold Stories”. It is a wonderful introduction to Randy’s style. We are instantly presented with a very nice selection of synths and effects, then the trumpet comes on. The synth backing is made with love and skill, without taking focus away from the lead instrument. Fans of Jeff Oster, and last year’s FLOW project, will feel right at home. Randy is a fantastic trumpeter, and “Untold Stories” is a great album opener. It leaves you wanting more.
“Embers by Starlight” begins slowly. Yet again I’m amazed by sound of the synths and light piano. It a colorful, upbeat and positive soundscape; It is like the piano and trumpet are singing a duet, telling a story of nights by the bonfire. This is truly an artist with a deep love for nature and the outdoors.
“Where Eagles Soar” is a wonderful and gentle piano melody. You can almost feel the wind and see the majestic eagles, flying high above an endless forest. It is a breathtakingly beautiful portrait. Next out is the title track. We are now at the album’s center, the very heart of the wilderness – and what a fantastic song! It has a wonderful nerve, and the trumpet sounds absolutely divine. It communicates the feeling you get when suddenly stumbling upon a great view, or arriving at your destination after a long and demanding hike. What a brilliant song!
“Tall Timber” is almost 7 minutes long, but time just flies when listening to it. I love the synths and effects in the intro. You really feel like you are surrounded by thick forest. Then a happy sounding piano comes on, followed by trumpet. It is a gorgeous, light melody Randy has in store for us. Notice how the trumpet adds layers of darker colors, while the piano carries on cheerfully as nothing has happened.
Listening to “Heart of Wilderness” it is easy to focus on the trumpet, perhaps because there’s so few trumpeters on the New Age music scene. But this is also a keyboard and synth album, and will very much appeal to fans of these instruments too. I think it is a fantastic and highly original mix.
Talking about good vibes; next track is called “The Simple Things”, my favorite song on the album. It is, as the title implies, a simple piece. Yet the melody itself is breathtakingly beautiful in all its simplicity. There’s lots of life wisdom here. We all tend to go for the big things in life, loosing perspective and not realizing that simple things too have high value – like a walk in the forest, perhaps.
“First Light” is a piano melody with light analogue sounding synths in the background – and when the sun is fully up, we can appreciate “High Desert Sky, a warm and upbeat tune. Randy has a fantastic ability to capture the essence of a tableau and transform it into notes and music. If he were a painter he would use nothing but the brightest colors.
“Moment of Truth” has a nice feel of anticipation. The synths lay the foundation, and when the trumpet is heard it is like the truth is finally out. What a glorious moment! I like the distant sound of the trumpet, like it is being played on top of a mountain. “Sun on the River” is a worthy album closer. When you have heard it thought, the only logical thing is to hit the replay button.
In conclusion: I’ll end where I started; “Heart of the Wilderness” by Randy Baltzell is a triumphant debut album! The best thing is perhaps that it is so honest; It is beautiful, but never sugar-sweet. Randy’s love for nature and the places he is describing is 100 % heartfelt and genuine. The melodies are beautifully crafted and the trumpet adds an extra dimension of sound.
If you don’t feel like venturing into the heart of wilderness yourself, listening to this album is the next best thing…
Score: 92/100 – See how I rate music here.