Brian Kelly - Solo Piano Artist, Composer
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Pools Of Light CDs & Album Downloads - Reviews | Album Credits | Production Process 
Brian Kelly - Pools Of Light CD
320kbps mp3

"Stellar piano work. Great fluidity of line, wonderfully elegant."
- TAXI A&R Review
"talent worth watching"
- Keyboard Magazine


"I enjoyed your music...
I'm still enjoying it."

- Tom Wolfe, author


"As a fan of both Jazz and Classical piano, your musical style touches both and does so in an a contemporary, beautiful and inspirational way."
- Travis W.


"...POOLS OF LIGHT is a lush, sparkling journey into a beautiful world of elegant melodies and brilliant artistry... a totally captivating collection of original compositions that range from delicate, heartfelt solo piano... to ensemble performances that are full of dynamic tonal color and intricacies. I highly recommend Brian Kelly's POOLS OF LIGHT as a collection of music that I am confident will find a permanent place in the "most-played" section of your music library!"
- Scott O'Brien, SmoothJazz.com


"Kelly's music has that dream-like quality that comes out of the mist and pulls you towards the light."
- New Age Reporter


"Your CD is fantastic and is a favorite of mine. I particularly love the arrangements; they're compelling and always interesting to listen to. I spin just about every track on the CD and they're on most of the playlists on my iPod!"
- Jamey Osborne, Host of "Audiosyncracy", KTEP FM El Paso, TX


"the CD...has a wonderful flow and cohesiveness, creating an uplifting and relaxing musical experience."
- Kathy Parsons, mainlypiano.com


"Pools of Light... is an enchanting, heart opening, timeless masterpiece. [Brian] interweaves melodic lines and rhythms, and layers sounds to achieve a musical sound that is instantly mind expanding. He's also merged New Age with Jazz which is difficult to do, similar to rare artists such as Pat Metheny. You can't go wrong with this album. "
- Steven Cravis, recording artist


"Brian's CD release, 'Pools of Light' is one full of smooth, sensual and relaxing jazz piano that is a MUST HAVE for the jazz collection! This piece of work is jammed packed with some of the most eloquent piano that a jazz fan could ask for! One of my favorites, "Cool Blue" is titled perfect for this track! This track is certainly one of relaxation, calmness, and sheer perfection! Brian is certainly an unsung hero in terms of smooth jazz piano."
- smoothjazzcd.com


"Stellar piano work. Great fluidity of line, wonderfully elegant."
- TAXI A&R Review


"melodic and sparkling"
- Serge Kozlovsky, Republic of Belarus


"You're ecstatic and soul-uplifting "gifted", man. Bless your heart."
- Fan, San Francisco


"West Coast cool jazz, Polynesian exotica, dreamy light classical...it's all here in the person of talented Bay Area pianist Brian Kelly. He artfully blends strains from the likes of Vince Guaraldi, Martin Denny and the Windham Hill family- plus a hint of Elizabethan melody- for a rhythmic yet laid-back sound that's pure California (and Hawaii). Most of the tracks have Pacific and island inspiration ("Pools of Light", "Troubadour"). Brian also has a medieval-music background, and that shows up on some delicate, flute-like melodies. A pure, bright sound here- pure Brian Kelly."
- Jonaco (review on cdbaby.com)


"The album brings to mind the waterfront. The entire album felt like a pleasant wind. Every tune was enjoyable and it would be nice to listen to this music outside lying on the grass under the skies."
- Tomoko, Fukuoka City, Japan


"This is a wonderful CD!"
- Scott Fugate, WBCX Radio, GA


"Great music. Uplifting, yet quite relaxing."
- Fan, San Francisco


"[Pools of Light is a] wonderful song... causes soul searching."
- Fan


"Brian Kelly’s piano flows through the beat with lots of energy... His music is full of beauty that is never tiring and holds a sense of brisk speed as if seeing a dense fog clearing up. This album is worth more than the price."
- Aya, Japan


"Your music is magical. I have so much stress in my life at this time, but when I listen to your music I can escape, even if only for a little while."
- Fan


"Great songs... I enjoy listening to these piano pieces. I didn't get to fully appreciate some of them until I had the opportunity to play them on the piano. "
- Kjay489


Pools of Light, Brian's top-charting debut CD, is melodic, flowing, smooth, energizing, and relaxing contemporary instrumental piano music featuring flute and percussion. Ranked #1 on the NAR Top 100 Radio Chart 2 months in a row and voted Top 10 Best New Age Albums of 2004.
1. Open Sky
4:00
2. Pools of Light
3:43
3. Cool Blue
4:46
4. Unfolding
4:26
5. Expect a Miracle
3:26
6. Sacred Waters
1:00
7. Troubadour
4:15
8. Angels Breathing
2:58
9. With Eyes Closed
5:00
10. Home at Last
2:31
11. Calling for Rain 4:58
12. Speak Your Heart
3:16
13. When the Stars Align
3:55

Total Playing Time: 48:13
UPC# 692381-1001-2-9
Label: Skylight Music
Catalog# SL-1001
Release Date: Feb. 16, 2005
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CREDITS
All music composed, arranged, & produced by Brian Kelly
© & 2004 Brian Stephen Kelly (BMI)

Musicians:
Brian Kelly - piano, keyboards, percussion, drum programming
Peter Cornell - flute, alto flute (tracks 1,3)
John Waller - drums, percussion (tracks 1,3,4,13)
Ben Mawhorter - tablas (track 9)

Recording & Mixing: Brian Kelly at SkyLight Music, Oakland, CA
Mastering: Michael Romanowski at Paul Stubblebine Mastering, San Francisco
Design: Ember Harker at Creative Metaphor
Photography: Eva Seay

Pete Cornell - Flute & Alto Flute
Pete Cornell, playing all the saxes, flute, clarinet, and recorder, is one of the most in-demand and versitile musicians in the S.F. Bay Area. He was a charter member of the popular swing group "Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums" and currently helps lead the exciting salsa band "Mazacote". He has performed at the Monterey, San Francisco, and San Jose Jazz Festivals and recently appeared at Pearl's and Enrico's in the City. He is a leader of his own small combos playing jazz, swing, latin-jazz, and even classical music to wide appreciation.

John Waller - Drums
Native San Franciscan, John Waller has been drumming since age 8. He has enjoyed playing a diverse selection of percussion, including drum set, djembe, conga, doumbek, def, Persian tombak and tapan. He has his own projects, Groove.Org, Jazz Inc., and all percussion group, Thwak !. He has played with RebbeSoul, Common Tongue, Rumeli, Thomas Michaud, Aldoush Alpanian, Viviana Guzman, Tim Rayborn, Tony Khalife, Johnny Smith, Matthew Grasso, Tony Alvis, Tim Campbell, Dave Bell, Scott Peterson, Graham Bruce, David Hykes, Guinean singer Ibro Diabate and Congan songwriter Borina Mapaka and famous Indian sitar master Habib Khan among others in jazz, rock, and world music. He has spent time as house drummer at John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom Room and has played Blues, Gospel and Christian Rock through the years. He has played in many festivals across the United States and has played at the Knitting Factory in NYC.


Ben Mawhorter - Tablas
Ben Mawhorter is a student of world renowned Tabla master Pandit Swapan Chauduri. He began playing Tabla at the age of twelve and has been learning with Swapanda since the summer of 2002. He started teaching and performing in the Bay Area in the Spring of 1998 and has accompanied classical artists such as Ustad Habib Khan and Sri Rita Sahai. In addition, he has performed and recorded with Rasa, Ancient Future, and Kate Price. Ben lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with his wife, Shanta, and is currently teaching and playing Tabla full-time.




Equipment used in the making of Pools Of Light

Electronic Instruments
Yamaha P-80 Electronic Piano
Ensoniq EPS-16 Sampler
Korg M1R
Roland MKS-20
Yamaha RX-11 Drum Machine
Yamaha DX7
Yanaha TX7
Digidesign SampleCell II pci card
SampleCell Sample Library
Sampleheads 'Peter Erskine: Living Drums' CD
Yamaha KX-88 Keyboard Controller

Acoustic Instruments
Flute
Alto Flute
Djembe
Frame Drum
Snare Drum
Kick Drum
Congas
Cymbals
Belly Dance Anklets
Indian Bells
Chimes
Shakers
Computer/MIDI/Software
Macintosh G4, 864 mhz, 640 RAM
MOTU 896 Firewire Audio Interface
MOTU Timepiece/AV
MOTU Digital Performer 3.2
Bias Peak LE 2.58
TC Powercore pci card & effects plugins
MAS effects plugins

Audio Gear
Audio Technica 4033 mic
Shure SM50 mic
AKG C-1000 mic
Digitech VTP-1 Mic Pre-amp
dbx 1066 compressor/limiter
Lexicon MPX1 Multiple Effects Processor
Mackie CFX12 mixer
Roland M-16E mixer
AP Audio 48-point bal. patch bay (2)
AKG K-240DF headphones
Mackie HR824 Studio Monitors
Yamaha NS-10M Studio Monitors
Yamaha P-2150 Power Amp
Furman PM-8 Power Conditioner
Panasonic SV-3700 DAT


Production Process used in the making of Pools Of Light

All songs on the Pools of Light album were recorded and mixed in my home studio, including 2 solo piano pieces (sampled), 1 percussion Interlude, and 10 piano instrumentals varying in track density from 7 to 41 tracks.

MIDI production
At the heart of my MIDI/audio studio was a Macintosh G4 computer (864 mhz, 640 RAM), running MOTU Digital Performer 3.2, connected to a MOTU 896 Firewire Audio Interface, and a MOTU Timepiece/AV. I had the following MIDI instruments connected to the Timepiece AV and integrated with DP3 via FreeMIDI: Yamaha P-80 Electronic Piano, Yamaha KX-88 Keyboard Controller, Ensoniq EPS-16 Sampler, Korg M1R, Roland MKS-20, Yamaha RX-11 Drum Machine, Yamaha DX7, Yamaha TX7. In addition, I also used a Digidesign SampleCell II pci card, the SampleCell Library CDs that came with the card, and Sampleheads’ "Peter Erskine: Living Drums" CD.

Many of the pieces began as solo piano sketches, which I recorded as MIDI files in DP3 using the Yamaha KX-88, controlling a piano patch on the Roland MKS-20. After I purchased the Yamaha P-80, I re-worked and re-recorded the pieces using the P-80. Its more realistic piano sound and weighted keys sounded much better than the MKS and inspired me to develop and finish the pieces. I added other instruments (bass, percussion, strings…) and experimented with different arrangements for the songs.

I established a consistent way of organizing my MIDI tracks and color-coded them in order to work more efficiently. Tracks are listed from top to bottom: Conductor track, Piano – dark blue, E. Piano – medium blue, Other Keyboards – light blue, Lead Instrument - Yellow, Counterpoint Instrument - brown, Effect Sounds - purple, Accent Sounds - pink, Strings - orange, Bass - red, Drums – green. I organized the drum tracks with the Kick at the top (next to the Bass), followed by: snare, x-stick, Closed Hi-Hat, Toms, Cymbals…

MIDI Percussion
I separated each percussion element (kick, snare, ride, etc.) onto it’s own MIDI track. Isolating each instrument in this way allowed me to experiment with different sounds by routing the track to different MIDI instruments and samples (until I found just the right ‘closed high-hat’, for example). It also offered me complete control over panning, volume, EQ when it came time to mix the album.

Rendering
Once I established the structure for all the songs and perfected most of the tracks, I “rendered” all of the MIDI tracks to 24-bit audio. This process took about 10 days to complete. While I was in the pre-production phase (using only MIDI, no audio tracks) I used the internal effects of each MIDI instrument. When I rendered them to audio I disabled the effects and recorded all the tracks “dry”.

I identified which instruments required stereo and which required mono, added those tracks to DP3, then I organized the tracks so that all the MIDI tracks were at the top of the track screen and all the audio tracks on the bottom, divided by the Master track. After I rendered a MIDI track to audio I added an asterisk to the beginning of the track name to indicate that it was done. This nomenclature allowed me to keep track of which tracks I'd rendered.

Rough Mix
Before I recorded any Live instruments, I created rough mixes (volume levels) of all the songs within MOTU DP3. I also prepared some special mixes to be used as cues for the musicians (flute player, drummer, percussionist).

Live Instruments
I added live instruments (flute and percussion) to 9 of the songs in order to add more life, depth, and an open natural sound to the music.
Open Sky (track 1): flutes, djembe, shakers, cymbals, snare
Pools of Light (track 2): cymbals
Cool Blue (track 3): alto flute, ride cymbal, splash cymbal, congas
Unfolding (track 4): frame drum, cymbals
Expect a Miracle (track 5): djembe w/brushes, cymbals
Troubadour (track 7): cymbals
With Eyes Closed (track 9): tablas, chimes, cymbals
Calling for Rain (track 11): djembe w/brushes, chimes, cymbals
When The Stars Align (track 13): belly dance anklets, indian bells, cymbals

I recorded the “Live” instruments in my bedroom, which is adjacent to my studio room, and recorded at night to minimize the street-noise coming through the windows. To provide a cue to the musicians, I ran a pair of AKG K240 DF headphones on a 25 foot extension cable from the MOTU 896 in my studio to my bedroom.

Computer Enclosure
Until I purchased a ventilated sound-proof enclosure for my Mac (three weeks into the “live” recording phase), the process of recording my own percussion playing was a frustrating gymnastic challenge. I would press “record”, run to the bedroom, close the door, put on the headphones, catch my breath, perform, then reverse the process. Furthermore, I could not see the levels! The enclosure I bought (Silence Cases www.elias-audio.net) reduced the computer's fan noise and allowed me to record and monitor the record levels of my own playing in the studio room. My quieter studio room became a big plus when It came time to mix.

Micophones
Since I was not an experienced recording engineer and did not have the ideal mics for the recording I wanted to do, I asked the musicians, all of whom were experienced studio musicians, to bring the mics they thought would work best for their instruments. The Flute/AltoFlute player used a Shure SM-57, The drummer used a Shure SM-57 on the snare, a Sennheiser D112 on the kick, an AKG C-1000 S on the cymbals, an Audio Technica AT-4033 on the bells, and an Equitek E100 as a room mic. On Djembe I used an Audio Technica AT-4033 on the head and a Electro Voice EV-367 at the mouth. For the tabla I used the Audio Technica AT-4033.

All signals went through a Digitech VTP-1 preamp and a dbx 1066 compressor before going into the MOTU 896.

Flute
I wanted flute on “Open Sky” and “Cool Blue”. Peter Cornell (flute) suggested he bring his alto flute to the session. He loved the rich tone – so did I! It worked beautifully on “Cool Blue”. As soon as Peter arrived, I “ran tape”. I was glad I did – I ended up using some of his improvised warm-up material at the beginning of “Open Sky”.

Drums
I wanted to add drums/percussion to “Open Sky”, Cool Blue”, Unfolding”, and “When The Stars Align”. John Waller (drummer) experimented with different grooves on “Open Sky” and “Unfolding”. We also recorded a variety of single hits on each instrument (e.g. snare, rim-shot, x-stick, brush, etc.). Ultimately, none of his grooves really felt right to me. I ended up using my own MIDI tracks for the rhythm foundation and used individual “hits” as accents and constructed my own grooves from his performances by “slicing-and-dicing” his various takes in DP3.

Real Piano?
I considered re-doing all of the piano tracks using a real piano. However, this would have been very costly and it would have been very difficult to recreate some the inspired solos and performances that I had captured in MIDI. I located a studio nearby that had a Yamaha Disklavier. I brought a disc with my MIDI piano tracks on it to experiment with - to see how that would sound. The problem was that the dynamics and the pedaling would have required hours and hours of tweaking on my part to get the same fluid touch I achieved with the P-80. I also wanted a consistent sound on the CD and thought using a real piano on some pieces and not others would make the album sound choppy, and might accentuate the inadequacies of the sampled piano – so I abandoned the idea of using a real piano.

Mixing
Although I thought the MAS effect plug-ins that came with DP3 were adequate for most of the background instruments, I was not satisfied with the reverb - especially for the foreground instruments such as piano and flute. Therefore, I purchased the TC Powercore. (pci card and plug-in software). Its reverb really enhanced the mix. My G4 did not have enough processing power for me to use the TC Powercore plug-ins extensively, so I used it only on the most significant instruments. On several tracks I also used reverb from my Lexicon MPX1 Mutiple Effects Processor.

Piano EQ
I met with a Mastering Engineer to get his opinion on which specific frequencies to adjust on the piano tracks to help the piano cut through the mix and give it the sound I wanted. Once that was settled, I used the same EQ setting on most of the pieces to give the album a consistent sound.


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