Fanfare Magazine Feature Article
Robert Schulslaper, February 10, 2013
Meant for Each Other: a Conversation with Iris Litchfield and Tom Salvatori
Q: Iris, I’d like to open our conversation to learn what brought you and Tom together.
IL: We met through Broadjam.com—a website where composers and performers meet to discuss and play their work for one another. Actually, I think Tom would be the best one to answer this question, but I will say that I’m so very happy that Broadjam existed and that Tom heard my music there and asked if I would do a CD with him. I’ve never looked back musically since that moment. It is wonderful working with Tom!!
Q: Before turning to Tom, I just want to add that his meeting you might have almost been preordained, in the sense that both of you write in such a similar style that an uninformed listener would probably assume that only one composer was responsible for all the music. This aesthetic unity must make you ideal collaborators. So, Tom…
TS: My friendship and our record company relationship with Iris started in 2004. We were both members of the independent artist community Broadjam.com where composers and musicians across many genres post their work and participate in a community-styled dialogue, which includes peer reviews to encourage growth and development for each other. When I reviewed an original version of Iris’s composition Autumn Colours (that subsequently became the opening track of our 2007 When Evening Falls CD release published by Salvatori Productions, Inc.), I was spellbound by its clarity, purity, and emotion. My review of her piece provided the highest critic marks possible, which caught her attention. She wrote to me with many thanks for the flattering review, and our wonderful friendship and ongoing dialogue led to her signing to our label and to bringing her CD releases to a worldwide audience. I felt both as a composer and record producer that her style meshed beautifully with my own, and our first collaborative release in 2007 reflects an ebb and flow between her compositions and mine, as if it were a gentle conversation. It was and is simpatico indeed: The piano pieces and guitar pieces alternate, woven together with the brilliantly mellifluous cello lines of John Catchings.
Q: Have you two ever met in person?
IL: I have met Tom once—he came to visit me on his way back from visiting his parents in Italy. We immediately “hit it off.” It felt like we had been friends for years!
Q: Iris, you had already released a number of CDs before your fortuitous meeting with Tom.
IL: During the last 12 years I have composed nearly 120 piano pieces. I started out creating a CD called Lazy Days (piano and synth strings, available on CDBaby.com), followed by Autumn Shadows and Nature’s Symphony (again for piano and synth strings). Since then, several important musical events have happened in my life. First of all, I became good friends with Robin Alciatore, who is an award-winning classical pianist from California. She loved my music and produced a CD of some of my pieces, which is called Reflections (solo piano, performed by Robin). I am honored that she should wish to do this. I also signed a publishing contract with a large U.K. company called North Star Music. They have signed 20 of my tracks and hope to get my music into films, radio, and TV. They, too, have produced a CD of my music called Pause to Music.
Q: Tom, of course, is an established “pro,” with his own studio, record label, and innovative projects. He’s also a busy composer, both on his own and together with his brother Mike, who’s written many scores for video games. By the way, even though I won’t be reviewing the CDs, I was favorably impressed by the audio quality as well as by every aspect of the finished product.
TS: Thanks. My brother Mike and I have done our work in a studio in Chicago called Resolution Productions, where Mike, a studio engineering pro for over 25 years, has managed the recording, mixing, and mastering of our CD releases. I’m pleased to say that when he’s involved, the projects will always be high quality releases. He takes on the role of editor as well and has a relentless pursuit of relevance within his quality focus. If a piece Iris or I present to him doesn’t move him emotionally, it won’t make it on to the record. And I trust his judgment when it comes to being edited.
Beyond our CD releases, our body of recorded works has become the basis for a technology development alliance that I’m involved with—it’s a project-based initiative that develops art and music content for flat screen TVs—especially useful for public and commercial spaces when running active programming on flat screens is problematic. Fluid Stills® technology is unique and patented. The art and digital music content we produce delivers the look and feel of “still art,” while constant change at the pixel level goes unnoticed by the naked eye. Our music is placed in sync with the digital art panel transitions. Readers can learn more about this art and music technology by visiting us at LongGlanceMedia.com.
Q: I understand that not only does your brother write music in his own right but that the two of you frequently collaborate as composers. How do two people write music together? I imagine a sort of back and forth with one proposing a tune, the other maybe adding harmony or suggesting instrumentation, figuration, etc.
TS: All of my compositions, including the pieces that have found their way to being accompanied by a chamber string ensemble arrangement, were composed first and foremost as guitar solos. In fact, they all have initially been conceived as solo guitar. With that in mind, I’m happy to turn my more melodic pieces over to my brother or to string arranger John Catchings for ensemble arrangement considerations.
Q: You’ve cited John Catchings several times for his fine arrangements and beautiful playing. Could you tell me a bit more about him?
TS: John is the consummate professional when it comes to adding just the right touches to string ensemble arrangements to support the little nylon string guitar and grand piano compositions we send him. He has well over 600 project credits to his legacy and musical arrangement resume, and has such wonderful and tasteful instincts for adding a palette of accompaniment to our pieces. We work with him time and time again, and it is our distinct pleasure and honor to do so. He’s based in Nashville but nothing about our work together is associated with the country music activities there. Nashville has grown to be much more cross-genre in its reputation, so we have found it to be an excellent place to record such things as a chamber string ensemble. John has wonderful connections with vast resources to support our very specific and particular needs.
Q: Now for the flashbacks: Iris, how did you get started in music?
IL: I started piano lessons at the age of five with Miss Piper, who was quite a colorful person. She was a very large lady with a large black cat, who would sit on her lap as she taught me. She lived with her elderly mother who had some form of dementia as the mother would sometimes come into my lessons wearing a large corset over her dress saying “Elsie, are these your corsets or are they mine”!!!
Before I went to university, I reached Grade 7 with distinction (eight grades altogether) and because of that award I would have been offered a place to study music at the Royal Academy or Royal College of Music in London. So Miss Piper must have been a good teacher, even though she used to rap me on the knuckles! I was with her until I went to university, aged 18. However, I felt that mathematics was a safer direction to go in as far as work was concerned. (I did not come from a rich family and so I was eager to go out to work and earn some money!) So I read mathematics at London University where I obtained a first-class honors degree. I then took up teaching as a career and climbed my way up the teaching ladder, eventually becoming deputy head teacher of a large comprehensive school. I did continue with piano lessons at university but playing sport (mainly tennis) interfered with my piano practice! About 30 years ago I eventually took—and passed—grade 8. This was when I took up the clarinet. I have to have an aim to make me practice so I took and passed all eight exams with the clarinet. I now play the alto sax as it is easier to blow and the fingering is easier. At present I’ve joined an orchestra with the sax. However, I have never composed for the sax or the clarinet.
Q: One of the four CDs reviewed in Fanfare is Romantic Interludes, a series of classical duets on which you perform with pianist Patrick Meehan.
IL: Patrick is my present piano teacher and he is the best I’ve ever had. He plays so beautifully, which is why I produced the duet CD with some of my favorite duets. It was a pleasure playing with him. Between Miss Piper and Patrick Meehan there have been a few others whose names I forget!
Q: Let’s bring Tom in again: What about your early musical life? Did you grow up in a musical family?
TS: No, although my father of Italian heritage loved listening to Pavarotti and my mother would sing beautiful traditional melodies to herself every night while preparing our family dinners. My father was not very encouraging to my brother and me about considering careers in music, thinking that it wasn’t a sustainable way to make a living. My mother encouraged and loved every single note I’ve ever played on my guitar.
I started playing the nylon string guitar at 13 years of age and have not set the guitar down yet…even after 40 years of playing and composing! My brother Michael initially taught me some basic chords and fingerings as we both embarked on our own personal journeys through music “by ear,” i.e., we learned our favorite pieces of music note for note by repeatedly listening to little sections of our record albums over and over.
I am singularly focused on playing and composing for the nylon string guitar. I simply fell in love with the warmth of tone and the expressive and intimate dialogue that exists between the instrument and the player. Once introduced to the guitar through the beauty of nylon strings, even though I have made attempts to diversify, I always rush back to the nylon strings. I never embraced the other options—the more popular acoustic (steel string) guitar always felt like I was pressing my fingers on barbed wire, and I feel that the strummed steel string guitar serves music more as a percussive instrument.
Q: In a previous conversation, Iris told me that you’re also a classical guitarist and no longer someone who exclusively “plays by ear.”
TS: In my early teens, my high school music teacher, Duane Tutaj, introduced me to classical guitar studies, and started me down the road with the Villa-Lobos Preludes series. I entered and won the Illinois Music Association’s Senior Open for guitar in 1973. In college, I took additional classical guitar lessons from Ray Mueller of the Milwaukee Classical Guitar Society, but spent much more of my time discovering, finding, and then carving out my own unique path to a more minimal and quiet side of the guitar through playing and composing.
Q: Having acquired the technical foundation, are you ever moved to write in a “classical” vein?
This is a bit hard to pin down, because if tonal melodic contours and simplistic chord structures can be incorporated into the definition of classical, then I suppose yes. But my feeling is that I don’t stretch nor do I ever intend to stretch any boundaries at all with regard to speed, complexity, dissonance, or the acerbic, so I would define my works more as contemporary instrumental rather than classical. I like to say that I would love to be remembered as someone who composed the pieces that the virtuoso players out there can quietly play for their loved ones late at night when they relax after they come home from their classical guitar stage performances! I also like to say that my pieces are stripped down to the basic cornerstone of composing; unencumbered by elaboration, unadorned by ornamentation. For any readers who would like to explore my work, Les Productions [Les Productions d’Oz, Quebec Canada, 2004] has published Late Night, a sheet music anthology featuring 11 of my original guitar solos.
There’s a funny story connected with my classical guitar studies that explains in part the direction I’ve taken as a composer: My parents took me to see Andrés Segovia at Orchestra Hall in Chicago in the mid 1970s, which backfired somewhat; I was overwhelmed by the intensity of the event and the patriarchal command inherent in Segovia’s stage presence and performance, which produced the sinking feeling that I would never be able to attain the level of skill, command, or perfection he possessed. This particular revelation had a profound effect on informing the more understated, “less formal study” approach I would take in my playing and composing later in life. After seeing Segovia in concert, I actually gave up the guitar for a short period of time until I realized that I could re-approach it on my own terms and with my own vision of what the guitar meant to me. And with that, I’ve been composing my grade-simple little miniatures ever since.
Q: Iris, have you ever “stretched” your boundaries in a classical direction?
IL: When I studied the piano I only played classical pieces. I have now joined a solo piano group meeting each month to play a prepared piece to each other. At our next meeting I shall be playing a French piece. I love French composers such as Poulenc, Debussy, Ravel—they have such sensitivity and feeling, which is what I mainly go for. As a composer I did once write a piece à la Scott Joplin, admittedly not quite the sort of classical composer you might have been thinking of, but I’ve written two other pieces that would qualify: a Raindrop Study in a very classical style and Scallywag, which sounds as its name suggests!
Q: I’d like to hear them someday. When did you begin to compose?
IL: I only started composing when I took early retirement from teaching due to ill health. Like my mother (who died in 1990 at the age of 85, outliving all her contemporaries) I had breast cancer and six years ago I had a double mastectomy. About four years ago the breast cancer spread to my bones and now I am on oral chemotherapy: Every three weeks I have an infusion to strengthen my bones. I feel perfectly fit and healthy and have just taken up golf! The only side effect from the tablets is very dry hands and feet! I feel very positive and enjoy living each day as it comes. Sadly, my mother died before I began to compose, so she never got to hear any of my pieces. I began composing using my keyboard [electronic] but soon switched to the piano. I have had NO lessons in composition but I was born with a good ear for music and this is why I am able to compose. I inherited my love of music from my mother. She came from a VERY poor family in London. Her parents were both alcoholics! When she first went out to work—at the age of 14— she saved every penny to buy a piano! Her parents used it as a drinks cabinet to store their bottles in! My grandfather was in the First World War where he lost an eye and damaged an arm. Every year he had to go and prove he was disabled in order to get his benefit. As usual when he went, his mind was confused with the drink. When they asked him how far he could lift his arm, he put it up in a kind of Hitler salute. Then they asked how far he could raise it before the bullet hit it and he lifted it vertically and promptly lost the benefit!! Quite an amusing but true story!
Q: How did you move from composing for yourself to “putting yourself out there?”
IL: A friend of mine, Sally Morris, is an excellent poet and she read one of her poems at our local church. I spoke to her at the end of the service and told her how much I loved the poem. She said she would like someone to set it to music, so this is how it all started. She gave me her poems and I set them to music. When I ran out of poems I wrote music for her to put words to! Altogether we produced about 40 songs for the church so this is how it all started!
Q: That’s interesting, as your music immediately impressed me with its song-like qualities: All that’s missing are the words.
IL: I TOTALLY agree that most of my pieces could have words. Some already DO have words.
Q: One last question: How would you like people to be affected by your music?
IL: I think that as far as people responding to my music, Tom summed it up perfectly when he wrote about “a ripple effect helping to spread peaceful vibrations throughout the world….”
THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN ISSUE 36:4 (MAR/APR 2013) OF FANFARE MAGAZINE.
FEATURE REVIEW BY MARIA NOCKIN
British pianist Iris Litchfield and American guitarist Tom Salvatori have put together several interesting recordings over the last few years. Their 2007 entry, entitled When Evening Falls was named Winner of a New Age Reporter Lifestyle Music Award as the Best Neo-Classical Album of 2007. In 2012 the compositions of both artists still stand up well. I particularly liked the selections combining guitar and cello. Salvatori’s acoustic instrument has great warmth as well as resonance and it blends well with the cello. Cellist John Catchings adds a great deal of spice to these pieces, especially when he brings in other instruments to fill out the harmonies. In Salvatori’s Reflecting Absence, Craig Nelson’s double bass adds deep notes to the guitar and cello. Even more instruments are added to Litchfield’s Come Stay A While which features piano, violin, viola, and cello. This is where New Age meets chamber music and the result is excellent listening.
Their 2010 recording, entitled Ever Ever On, is a two-disc set that features compositions in chamber arrangements on disc 1 and the same works as solo pieces for either piano or guitar on disc 2. It’s an interesting comparison that could be very helpful for amateur musicians and composers. I found the ensemble very pleasant for casual listening. The solo works are more introverted and take more time to analyze, but they are still fun to hear. The title of one piece intrigued me. When Salvatori writes of The Ghosts of Levigliani, a city in Tuscany, is he remembering a visit or is he recounting a ghost story from there? You have to listen to the music and make up your own mind. In Blue Horizon, there is a slight buzz from the cello’s low notes but otherwise the sound is warm and inviting.
Romantic Interludes, a duet recording with Iris Litchfield and Patrick Meehan is the most interesting of the four discs. It contains music for one piano four-hands in the manner that was common in 19th-century middle and upper class homes. Litchfield and Meehan play Elgar’s Salut d’Amour, several delightful pieces by d’Ourville, some tuneful Vaughan Williams, Moszkowski’s justly famous Spanish Dances, Fauré’s delicious Sicilienne, and Schumann’s fascinating Canonic Etudes. It certainly does prove their abilities as pianists and it makes a fine addition to the catalog of music featuring two players at one piano, in this case a 1968 Steinway. There is a comparable 2001 Nuova Era disc with the Schumann etudes played inimitably by Joerg Demus, but it’s part of a set of Schumann’s complete piano works and no one would buy it just for six small pieces.
The fourth compact disc, Iris Litchfield’s Dream Clouds, contains more of her dreamy, emotion filled solo piano pieces. The first work, entitled A New Beginning, has a memorable tune that she develops into a well-structured short work. I love the Irish sounds in her Celtic Lament. Dancing Dreams is a lovely waltz for the budding ballroom dancer and Riding High is another fine tune with an interesting rhythmic underpinning. There are several more great tunes on this disc, too, and I hope Litchfield will think of adding harmony and counterpoint to them at some time in the future. All four of these discs are worthwhile hearing, but I particularly liked some of the lesser-known music by 19th-century composers. Maria Nockin
THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN ISSUE 36:4 (MAR/APR 2013) OF FANFARE MAGAZINE.
CD REVIEW BY JERRY DUBINS
A first hearing of [Dream Clouds and Ever Ever On] raises a thorny question. In every respect, this music—unquestionably beautiful and mostly restful, peaceful, nostalgic, misty, wistful, and sentimental in nature—falls into a category we tend to call “easy listening.” So why is it being reviewed in Fanfare, a magazine devoted almost exclusively to classical music? That question opens up an entire avenue of inquiry as to what constitutes classical music. But in the end, music is music; it doesn’t know or care what it is, and its existence doesn’t depend on what we call it. Music has only one purpose, albeit a mixed one, and that is to entertain, edify, move, and improve us. On that score Litchfield’s music does it all. Iris Litchfield hails from England and did not start out to be a composer or musician, at least not professionally. She earned her degree in mathematics from London University and then spent her working career teaching. It wasn’t until she took early retirement due to ill health that she began to compose. Since childhood Iris played piano and later took up the clarinet and alto sax.
During the last 12 years, Litchfield has composed 120 piano pieces and, during that time, she has connected with others in the music and recording industries to produce solo albums, work on collaborative projects, and sign a contract with a U.K. publishing firm. In her biographical note, Iris does not reveal whether she is self-taught in composition, but skill at the piano, a natural ear for music, and an intuitive feeling for melody and harmony come together in a serendipitous combination of 14 absolutely fetching pieces on her album, the first listed above, titled Dream Clouds. All of these pieces are similar in style, straightforward in construction, fairly uncomplicated in their use of harmony and rhythm, and convey a relatively circumscribed range of feelings and moods that can be described as dreamy, pastoral, and reflective. But by no means are they indistinguishable from one another. Litchfield’s muse often turns to modal scales, as in Riding High, which has about it the sound of a Celtic harp. And perhaps the most daring piece on the disc is Dancing Dreams, in which passing bi-tonal dissonances create a surreal atmosphere.
The two-disc album that follows is titled “Ever Ever On” and contains more of Litchfield’s pieces in alternation with pieces by Tom Salvatori in a similar style, but now the settings are more varied in terms of their instrumentation. Between the two discs, in total, there are 12 distinct pieces but 24 tracks. That’s because each piece is presented twice, once on disc 1 in some ensemble combination of piano and guitar with strings, oboe, and/or horn, and again on disc 2, either for solo piano or solo guitar. It’s really quite fascinating to hear the effect the different scorings have on each piece. It’s not just the context that changes but the expressive character.
Again, I want to emphasize that this is very beautiful music, even if it’s not what we would typically identify as falling into the classical category. These are the kind of CDs you’d put on when you’re feeling a bit blue and just want to be soothed, succored, and salved. Technically speaking, these are not difficult pieces to play, so I would expect all of the participating musicians to handle their parts without strain, and they do, playing with ease and easefully. Should you be in the mood for some comforting and caressing, I can think of no better music to fill the bill than what you’ll find on these albums. Jerry Dubins
THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN ISSUE 36:5 (MAY/JUNE 2013) OF FANFARE MAGAZINE.
CD REVIEW BY JERRY DUBINS
If you happen to have acquired one or the other or both of the Iris Litchfield CDs reviewed in the last issue, and enjoyed the simple yet beautiful gifts of her music, here are two more releases guaranteed to give pleasure. The first, When Evening Falls, offers another 14 pieces in the same style as those found on the previously covered Ever Ever On album. Numbers by Litchfield alternate with those by Tom Salvatori, with violinist Pamela Sixfin and violist Monisa Angell joining Litchfield in an ensemble arrangement of Come Stay a While, and double bassist Craig Nelson joining Salvatori in a duo arrangement of his Reflecting Absence. Cellist John Catchings arranged and plays in most of the numbers.
From the haunting harp-like arpeggios of Litchfield’s Autumn Colors, to the soothing strains of Salvatori’s Sleepy Eyes Lullaby, this is a collection of easy-listening, mainly easeful pieces sure to tug at your heartstrings as they wash your troubles away. Two of Salvatori’s pieces in particular stand out: Church Song, for the way in which it perfectly captures the essence of the American pioneers’ revivalist spirit, and Labyrinth 2, in which, true to its title, the music takes a circuitous route through a maze of uncertain harmonies and modulations.
The second album, Romantic Interludes, differs from the first, as well as from the two previously reviewed releases, in that not one of these pieces is an original composition by Litchfield or Salvatori. Rather, these are pieces by five well-known “name” composers, some as written, for piano four hands. Elgar’s famous Salut d’amour, originally composed for violin and piano, exists in a version for piano four hands that has been around since the turn of the 20th century. The mystery man here with a big question mark over his head is Leon D’Ourville. I found next to nothing about him, not even the most basic biographical data. From his name, one gathers that he was French, and he seems to have been a 19th-century composer and arranger who wrote piano duets for four hands. In presenting these four short D’Ourville pieces, Litchfield and Patrick Meehan seem to have pulled off quite a coup, for I find nothing else by D’Ourville currently listed.
Back in 1996 (issue 19:6), Peter J. Rabinowitz reviewed a recording of piano duets on Albany, performed by Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow; and on that disc was one of the pieces from D’Ourville’s Soirées musicales, In the Garden, performed here by Litchfield and Meehan. But perhaps Rabinowitz wasn’t able to dig up any information on D’Ourville either, because he mentions neither the composer nor the piece in the body of his review. If there are four numbers in D’Ourville’s Soirées musicales—the four included on this disc—there are probably more. How many make up this collection and who D’Ourville was, I, for one, would like to know, because these modest pieces are lovely gems that would have been perfectly suited to amateur players in the private parlors of 19th-century homes.
Moszkowski’s Spanish Dances, five in all, first published around 1910, were enormously popular with the public and brought the composer a good deal of acclaim. Essentially salon pieces, the dances epitomize Moszkowski’s modesty and self-deprecating character, said by one critic to be reflected in music which is “devoid of the masculine and the feminine.” I’m not sure what genetic mutation would account for such an abnormality, but it seems not to have prevented Moszkowski from writing some very attractive music, of which the Spanish Dances are certainly an example.
Vaughan Williams’ Prelude on Rhosymedre is one of a set of three preludes on Welsh hymn tunes originally written for organ. Of the three numbers, Rhosymedre is the most popular, having been recorded many times, including in an orchestral arrangement. The album note doesn’t name the arranger of this piano four-hands version, but I don’t think it was Vaughan Williams. Might it be Iris Litchfield? In contrast, the composer’s Fantasia on Greensleeves has been transcribed and arranged for so many different instruments and ensembles it wouldn’t surprise me to find a recording of it performed by mynah bird and vacuum cleaner.
Adjacent to it on the previous track is Fauré’s famous Sicilienne from his incidental music to Maeterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande, which Fauré had actually composed earlier for his unfinished score to LeBourgeois gentilhomme. The juxtaposition of the Vaughan Williams and Fauré pieces is fascinating because their opening melodies are so similar. Quite a few years separate the two pieces, however. Though originally written in 1893, Fauré’s Sicilienne made its debut in Pelléas et Mélisande in 1898. Vaughan Williams didn’t adapt the Greensleeves music, originally from his 1928 opera, Sir John in Love, for his beloved Fantasia until 1934.
Finally, we come to Schumann’s Six Studies (or Etudes) in Canonic Form, op. 56. These too, like Vaughan Williams’ Rhosymedre Prelude, were originally written for organ. But several arrangements exist, including one for piano four hands by Bizet, published in 1873. Whether this is the arrangement used by Litchfield and Meehan, I can’t say. It would have been helpful to have an insert note that provided some details about these pieces and their arrangers.
Iris Litchfield, who we encountered in Fanfare’s last issue, is both a gifted composer and an accomplished pianist. She is joined here by Patrick Meehan, a classically trained pianist who calls Bromley in the U.K. home and who devotes most of his time and energy to teaching piano to students of all ages and ability levels. This, according to the insert flyer, is Meehan’s first professional recording. He and Litchfield play with such perfect unanimity of timing and musical reciprocity that the impression conveyed is more of one pianist with 20 fingers than it is of two pianists with 10 fingers each. Both of these CDs, so different in content, yet so satisfying, are strongly recommended. Jerry Dubins
THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN ISSUE 36:6 (JULY/AUG 2013) OF FANFARE MAGAZINE.
Seven Guitar Miniatures - Press Review
With seven wonders sculpted out of six strings, Chicagoan sonic wizard evokes the wind of fantasy.
A precocious player who won classical guitar competition at 15 years of age and was schooled, in his brother’s company, under the auspices of progressive rock, Tom Salvatori has been issuing solo albums for quite a time now, each platter highlighting his delicate way with the instrument, and this short offering feels like the quintessence of the veteran’s approach. With Salvatori’s performing method defined by light touch and his composer’s manner by lightweight melodies, the pieces on display may seem understated at first, yet when the ring of nylon strings and resonant space fill the air the listener’s bound to fall under Tom’s tuneful spell and leave it twenty-one minutes later, enchanted and reliving every moment.
It’s a trip of sorts, as “To The Sea” opens floodgates to an unhurried stream of notes whose pellucid flow will briefly bring forth romantic mood, before turning to flamenco-like flurries for “Was It Yesterday” that’s simultaneously sparse in aural terms and emotionally intense – a perfect way to contrast the dewdrop details of “Through The Open Door” until the sounds swell up under Salvatori’s dexterous digits to delight one soul. There’s even more warmth to the half-abstract tranquility of “Sunset Glows” while “Tug Of War” shifts transparent strife into a parlor environment by gradually gaining pace and streamlining the drift towards gallop – only to stop short of it and see the strum on “The Downward Spiral” become sparer still. Yet “Slow Dance” – the album’s candlelit finale – is the most expressive piece, a summit of Tom’s ability to create tenderness out of ether and let this handiwork illuminate the world’s existence.
As exquisite as it gets, “Seven Guitar Miniatures” are nigh on breathtaking.
- Dmitry Epstein, April 17, 2022 - DMME.net
Seven Guitar Miniatures - Press review:
One has to ask the question, what exactly constitutes a miniature? In fact the seven solo acoustic guitar compositions on the album at hand have a total time of twenty-one minutes, making the average length of each around three minutes, which is plenty of time to elaborate a complex, fully formed piece. Was a time when something three minutes was considered too long to play on AM radio, but then “Hey Jude” came along and all that changed forever. Still, the only thing miniature about Seven Guitar Miniatures is that there are only seven of them, effectively one side of an LP! Salvatori acquits himself with splendor and brilliance across these seven solo pieces, each developed carefully across its duration, each with a calm gentle disposition and full of emotion. The seven cuts here are completely original, not jazz, not blues or country either, seemingly free of any genre classification - though stylistically not unlike similar works by guitarists like Gordon Giltrap, Anthony Phillips, Steve Hackett and others. Listeners familiar with Salvatori’s earlier release Respite Guitar (2020) or even further back, Late Night Guitar (2001) will have some idea of what to expect here, though one has to note that the warm and immaculate production on Seven Guitar Miniatures goes far beyond anything Salvatori has done previously.
- Peter Thelen, 3/19/2022, Expose.org
Seven Guitar Miniatures - Press Review:
Although he released his album Respite Guitar in 2021, progressive classical guitarist Tom Salvatori is back in early 2022 with a newly recorded seven track, 21-minute CD appropriately called Seven Guitar Miniatures. Some of the best classical guitar repertoire consists of short bursts of nylon-string instrumental guitar magic and Seven Guitar Miniatures follows that concept to a tee. Although Respite Guitar also featured seven classic guitar solos, it also had as track eight a 28-minute Respite Guitar In Nature Suite that combined all the tracks with added sound effects from nature. Seven Guitar Miniatures focuses solely on Tom’s guitar solos with only the seven tracks and no suite blending them together with nature sounds.
Speaking about his new solo album, Tom tells RMR, “It’s a follow-up of sorts to the Respite Guitar release from last year - just me 'tending to my knitting' and releasing pieces I’ve composed over the past several months. It is available on CD from our websites and it is doing well on the streaming sites - Pandora especially.”
Tom is renowned as a student of both classical guitar and progressive rock guitarists like Steve Howe and Steve Hackett – two major exponents of incorporating classical nylon-string motifs and themes into the prog-rock genre. Each of the seven tracks on Seven Guitar Miniatures is a profound, mini masterpiece in its own right. You can hear his early works and influences on a variety of solo albums he's released on his label but for an intriguing insight into Tom Salvatori’s current guitar outlook, track down the latest examples of his guitar expertise on Seven Guitar Miniatures.
- Robert Silverstein, 1/17/22, RootsMusicReport.com
Respite Guitar - Press Review:
Salvatori is a Chicago based composer, guitarist and producer who has been active since the mid-90s, with at least seven solo guitar albums to his credit during that time, several collaborations with the late pianist Iris Litchfield, numerous single releases and several compilations. He’s also produced albums by other artists along the way — among them the two excellent albums by Paul Christian reviewed in these pages. Salvatori’s latest effort, Respite Guitar, is entirely composed on nylon string guitar, and though it may bear some resemblance to his 2001 release Late Night Guitar, that one was performed on a number of different guitars (nylon, steel string, and more), and also featured some flute, oboe, piano, and cello accompaniment on selected tracks. As beautiful as that one was, why would an artist choose to repeat himself? With the latest album, Salvatori composed seven different beautifully melodic pieces for nylon-string guitar, each as unique seperate compositions, and then following that combined all seven into a lengthy twenty-eight minute “Respite Guitar in Nature Suite” where all seven meet again — in their original running order, and are taken to the next level with an array of sound effect enhancements that offer the pieces an added dimension. While the seven compositions only account for about twenty-two minutes overall, the full suite adds an additional six minutes that are rounded out by the effects, for example the initial track, “New York Minute,” is only a minute seventeen seconds, but with the added “city sounds” to the beginning and end of the piece, the suite version ends up being nearly three minutes. For the remainder of the pieces, it’s mostly bird songs, insects, gentle wind, crashing sea waves and gulls, and other enhancements that all add to the flavor of the pieces, even though one realizes after a spin or two they are listening to the same basic guitar tracks twice. Still, what Respite Guitar has on offer is no less magical when presented as seven concise tracks than it is as one full length suite. Dreamy and beautiful, beginning to end.
- Peter Thelen, 5/28/21, Expose.org
Respite Guitar - Press Review:
2020 / Salvatori Production, Inc.
I was writing about the fretboard genius of Chicago-based, classical guitarist and composer Tom Salvatori ever since I first heard his CD Late Night Guitar, released way back in 2002, as well as his 2007 album When Evening Falls, recorded with the late U.K. pianist Iris Litchfield and cellist John Catchings, and released on the artist’s label Salvatori Productions. Following a series of album releases that are mentioned below, including a double CD made with the late Ms. Litchfield called Ever Ever On (2010) and a solo album called A Year In The Life (2013), I was lucky to reconnect with Tom again after hearing his 2020 album Respite Guitar. Essentially, a 7-track set mixed and presented in two different ways, Respite Guitar is one of the most impressive and most relaxing sounding solo acoustic guitar albums of 2020. Tom was always influenced by prog-rock guitarists such as Steve Hackett and Steve Howe, and in the spirit of those masters, Respite Guitar is skillfully performed on six-string, nylon string guitar. The key here is that the album takes on a different dynamic when track eight cues up and combines and recreates all seven tracks as one lengthy suite, complete with a variety of sound effects from the big city, (on the lead-off track “New York Minutes”), while then proceeding to recreate the other six tracks of music with a number of mostly meditative nature and ambient sounds. I like the idea that track 8, “Respite Guitar In Nature Suite” combines all seven tracks as one uninterrupted 28-minute piece of music complete with the ambient and nature sounds, all of which really adds a lot to the music. Throughout all the movements of Respite Guitar, Tom keeps the melodic-based guitar ideas at the center of his sound and, played acoustically, each one of these songs is like a classical-based work in its own right. The 7 tracks, followed by the seven-part “Respite Guitar In Nature Suite” combines for a total time of 50 minutes. Any way you view this CD, Respite Guitar is a true masterpiece of creative and very accessible guitar magic from guitarist / composer and producer Tom Salvatori. As mentioned above, Respite Guitar followed a series of other albums by Tom, including a unique, 13+ minute mini album released by Tom in 2017, called Ballad Of Dwight Fry Suite. Arranged by Tom for nylon string guitar, Ballad Of Dwight Fry Suite is actually a tribute to the fabled rock band Alice Cooper, focusing on the songs “Ballad Of Dwight Fry”, “Second Coming” and “Sun Arise”, which are all featured on the 1971 Alice Cooper album Love It To Death. In the spirit of guitar greats like Steve Hackett, Ballad Of Dwight Fry Suite is a remarkable performance that turns Tom’s tribute to a forerunner album of hard rock into a remarkably ear-opening classical guitar suite. Before Respite Guitar and Ballad Of Dwight Fry Suite, in 2016 Tom released Parlour Favorites, an 11-track tribute to his prog-rock guitar heroes including Steve Howe, Steve Hackett, Jan Ackerman and Robert Fripp, who are each covered here with a track apiece (Hackett’s music is featured on two tracks), the Parlour Favorites album is also enhanced by six Tom Salvatori originals. Salvatori completists will also note that Tom released another EP in 2020, a quite humorously titled one at that called, I Like Beer. Essentially four different solo guitar versions, played by Tom, of the famous Miller Brewing Company jingle, which was heard all over television and radio stations for years in praise of their world-renowned beer (“If You’ve Got The Time” – they’ve got the beer), and that was quite popular throughout the 1970s. Tom explains, “Just as having a couple Miller beers can provide a special comfort when it’s time to relax, this project, which was light and very fun indeed, served as a musical elixir of sorts to help balance the darker, spiraling abyss of immersion I experienced during my Alice Cooper Ballad Of Dwight Fry Suite project.” This little one off CD EP also provides clear proof that even classical guitarists like to inject a little humor, and maybe a little beer, into their hard work. Start with any of the above releases, while there are even more albums at Tom’s web site. Long-time fans of Tom Salvatori's original music will enjoy Respite Guitar, which is surely among finest solo guitar albums of 2020.
Robert Silverstein, 1/24/21 RootsMusicReport.com, mwe3.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with TOM SALVATORI
mwe3: Can you tell us where you’re from originally and where you live now? When were you first exposed to music and what artists and musical genres were among your early influences? Were you more influenced by classical guitar compared with rock guitar early in your life? I know you studied some amazing guitarists when you were young right? Who were some of your favorite guitarists from your early years?
Tom Salvatori: Thanks for asking Robert, I grew up in Elmhurst, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago…I am from a big family, one of seven kids growing up. We had complete freedom to immerse ourselves in music, and we would literally listen to album after album after album - everything from Alice Cooper to Cat Stevens to soundtracks like West Side Story, Psycho and the Sound of Music. My older brother Mike was our primary tastemaker, and we dove headlong into the Doors, Alice Cooper, Genesis, Yes, PFM, and Gentle Giant to name a few of our favorite bands. He informed my interest in prog rock with long, sprawling instrumental sections at a young age.
Mike played guitar in a few local bands through his middle school and high school years, and he taught me my first chords on guitar when I was 12. He also taught me to drop the needle on the sections of the albums that I liked and to learn my favorite guitar parts by ear. I naturally gravitated to the songs that featured the acoustic/classical side of my heroes Steve Hackett and Steve Howe – and through needle drop, they were my teachers. I learned their music by ear. Early in high school, I started to show a real interest in the classical guitar. My parents encouraged lessons from local music teacher Duane Tutaj, who guided me toward placing first in the Illinois Music Association’s 1975 Senior Open in Classical Guitar division playing a Villa Lobos piece, Prelude 3. Based on that success, my parents then took me to Orchestra Hall in Chicago to see Andres Segovia perform… and he possessed such a formal, dominant, patriarchal stage presence that not only was I intimidated to hold my breath during his performance, but he literally scared the hell out of me, and I ultimately gave up the classical guitar… for a while. I am certain it was NOT the outcome that my parents had hoped for. I wound up growing my hair out and played in rock bands through my remaining high school years, turning to electric guitar, playing an Acoustic Black Widow guitar in a cover band called Phase IV with my neighborhood buddies and then during my Senior year (1976-1977), I played bass and 2nd guitar with my brother Mike and his wife Gail in an original prog rock band called Apocalypse. I played a 4/6 double neck (Ibanez) and when I would switch from playing bass to playing my guitar parts, I relied on the bass pedals from Gail’s cut down Hammond B3 organ - think Mike Rutherford!
Apocalypse split up in the Fall of 1977 when Scott Magnesen our drummer and I went away to College at the same time Mike and Gail were busy starting their family. I began to pick up the classical guitar again at college, but this time on my own terms. I emphatically would say I play the nylon string guitar to try to disassociate myself from the classical world. I was beginning to compose my own little pieces that were quiet, melodic, relaxing and really had nothing to do with the classical guitar world.
When I returned to the Chicago area from college, I went to work in the Advertising Agency business and lived in, and raised my family, in Lombard, Illinois. I continued playing the nylon string guitar more so as a hobbyist from the mid-1980’s through the mid 90’s while quietly composing several dozen solo guitar pieces that eventually informed the start-up of Salvatori Productions. I now reside in Addison, just a couple minutes North of Lombard.
mwe3: When did you form your record label Salvatori Productions and how many albums have you released and what other artists have you released on your record label? Also tell us about your brother Michael. You told me he has quite an impressive repertoire as well.
Tom Salvatori: Let’s talk about Mike first because he got his start in the music industry way earlier than I did. He built out a home recording studio in his basement (MCS Recording), where he composed and recorded his solo folk/rock album Waiting for Autumn (1982). After that, and up through the late 1990’s, Mike enjoyed a career in partnership with friend Marty O’Donnell composing music for commercials, and they became known for the famous “Flintstone’s Kid’s” Vitamin jingle. In the late 1990’s, Mike and Marty turned their attention to composing music for Video Games – and then became known for their wildly popular and highly respected scores for the HALO Video Game Franchise.
Because of the success of the HALO franchise, Mike and Marty were contacted by the attorney for Sir Paul McCartney, who advised that Sir Paul was himself interested in composing for Video Games. In 2012, Mike and Marty enjoyed collaborating with Sir Paul throughout the original Destiny music score along with a significant prequel body of orchestral work called Music of the Spheres; all of which was recorded in the UK at Abbey Road Studios with Sir Paul and recording engineer Giles Martin (Sir George Martin’s son) along with a full orchestra and choir. Mike continues to enjoy an award-winning career to this day composing music for the ongoing Destiny franchise.
Getting back to the first part of your question, we started Salvatori Productions in 1995 (Mike is producing partner) because I had amassed several dozen guitar compositions that were only committed to memory and I realized if I ever got hit by the proverbial bus that my composing for the nylon string guitar would be lost forever if I didn’t record them. And I did exactly that between 1995 and 1998 – Under Cover of Darkness (1995) was a homemade analog session that was recorded during a summer thunderstorm. Based upon the success of that first release, I contracted for time in a local recording studio in Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Audio Access) and professionally recorded and released my full backlog of original solo guitar pieces as Invoking The Veiled Reference (1997) and Whispering For Your Attention (1998).Afterwards, my mind was finally free to look forward and my composing and project ideas became more ambitious and inclusive. I began seeking arranger alliances to add ensemble arrangements to my new works, which led to Late Night Guitar (2002). We then expanded our roster by signing U.K.-based piano composer Iris Litchfield in 2006, releasing two collaborative albums When Evening Falls (2007) and then our most ambitious chamber string ensemble project – a 2-CD set Ever Ever On (2010). Throughout the years 1995-2010, while in Chicago, Mike would bounce back and forth between his composing for video games and stepping in to help mix and master our releases at Salvatori Productions. We also produced four more solo piano albums from Iris’ catalogue before her passing in 2015.
After our years collaborating with Iris, we further expanded our roster to include full rock band productions - in 2017 by signing R&B/Funk songwriter Gustavo (Buda) Acioli from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and in 2018 AAA/Heartland songwriter Paul Christian from Chicago, Illinois.
Even though I was taking over the producer hat because Mike was now spending more time in Seattle, Washington, for Destiny, I have always additionally ‘tended to my knitting’ with my own compositions, resulting in solo guitar albums A Year in the Life (2013), Parlour Favorites (2016) and Respite Guitar (2020) along with several single and EP releases along the way that were little offramps from the main road for me… but loads of fun for myriad reasons.
Ironically, while doing some housekeeping during the pandemic of 2020, I was digging through an old box of sheet music from the 1970s and found an old 8-track copy of a demo tape our band Apocalypse had recorded in a basement studio in Elmhurst in 1976, which we all thought was long lost when the reel-to-reel master burned up in a studio fire in 1999. This discovery led to a “fingers-crossed” conversion of the warbly old 8-track to digital files and then a re-mix of the cool prog rock songs Mike was composing for our band Apocalypse back then. It is a rough basement demo recording, but we were thrilled to find it and produce a reissue of these songs – the album is called Lost and Found (2020).
mwe3: What guitars are you playing on your 2020 album Respite Guitar and why do you call the album Respite Guitar? I looked the word up and there’s a couple of different meanings from intermission to reprieve. It’s such a peaceful set of music that it’s easily among my favorite albums of 2020.
Tom Salvatori: I play the same and only guitar I have ever played and recorded throughout all my composing and recording efforts – it is a 1972 Hernandis Grade #1 Classical Guitar that I acquired from Mike in a shrewd, no-blink trade for a Fender Showman amp back in 1975. He still argues I got the better end of the deal.
With regards to the new album – first, thank you for your kind words! I chose the word “respite” mostly because of the pandemic – a respite is defined as “a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant.” In this case, I specifically composed the pieces on this album with escapism in mind and then produced an “escape from urban New York” storyline for a protagonist I envisioned… I even named her Polly Feeney, who leaves the urban sprawl to spend the day alone enjoying the beauty of natural surroundings, passing through a flowery meadow, walking in solitude at the beach enjoying her time alone for reflection, remembrance and affirmation. I organized my guitar pieces in a manner that follows the linear storyline I had in my head and I then added my guitar pieces as a quiet and reflective soundtrack to align with the sounds of nature woven in as underscore. Because everything I compose is committed to memory before it is ever recorded, I have learned to rely on deeply visual elements and cues that aid in my memorization of the pieces I compose - almost like watching movie scenes over and over. So, these visual memories aided in the development of the arc of the storyline and made it easy to mix in nature sounds in the underscore.
mwe3: There are 7 tracks on Respite Guitar yet you also have a track eight that runs 28 minutes combining all the pieces called “Respite Guitar In Nature Suite”. Why did you present the tracks in a different way with the nature sounds? But I like the idea that it then stands as one piece of music. You’ve done that before on your album from 2010 called Ever Ever On, where you add strings on a second disc. The added nature sounds on Respite Guitar gives the music a different dimension.
Tom Salvatori: For Respite Guitar, it was nature sounds woven in as accompaniment…for Ever Ever On – it was chamber string ensemble on Disc 1 contrasted against the solo guitar and solo piano pieces as they were originally conceived on Disc 2. I have always loved the idea of comparing the original construct of a piece of music - as originally composed – contrasted against the enhanced effect a string arranger brings in development to elaborate and expand a more robust arrangement.
mwe3: Did you do all the recording mixing and mastering on Respite Guitar and was anyone else involved in the album production or the musical influences?
Tom Salvatori: It was 100% me…working alone in my home studio through the isolation of the pandemic.
mwe3: When was Respite Guitar written and recorded and was it influenced by the 2020 pandemic? How did the pandemic and lockdown influence your music this past year? It must have been a good time to write and record music but the lack of live concerts is still a bad blow to the artists, musicians, and everyone else involved in the music world!
Tom Salvatori: Well, as mentioned above, 2020 was a good time for composers and those of us who need alone time to produce our work. Ironically, it stands as the single most productive year ever for Salvatori Productions. We completed and released four widely-variant projects: our Lost and Found prog rock reissue… then I had a ton of fun with my I Like Beer EP which provided humorous relief to the more serious business of composing and producing Respite Guitar. And then in November 2020, we completed the recording, mixing and mastering of our most ambitious project of 2020 – singer/songwriter Paul Christian’s AAA/Heartland That’s Everything album.
mwe3: Would you say Respite Guitar is a New Age or classical album? Is there a way to categorize the music you record and release on Salvatori Productions?
Tom Salvatori: I’ve struggled for decades with the “Classical” categorization, because for classical guitarists, it means institutional pedigree, studying and performing the works of the masters… like Andres Segovia for example. These are performers who don’t compose for the instrument but dedicate themselves to performance of the works of the great master composers. I don’t think the “classical guitar” world knows what to think of contemporary nylon string guitar composers, because frankly we are an anomaly and few and far between. The classical guitar publications certainly don’t reserve any column inches for composers like me, and there seems to be palpable contempt for composers who leans toward simple, soothing and melodic works. I suppose unless you are intent on breaking the boundaries of difficulty, dissonance or the childishly acerbic, the scholarly pedigree types and industry hoi polloi just yawn. It’s even worse for someone who, god forbid, plays by ear and not through an institutionalized degree and sheet music.
In spite of that grim outlook for support and encouragement from the classical guitar world, I have actually had my pieces transcribed by a publisher – back in 2004 the highly respected Les Productions d’Oz (Canada) issued a sheet music book with eleven of my compositions in it, which is still available today.
When asked, I prefer the categories “Contemporary Instrumental” or “Neo-Classical” – which unfortunately are rarely available category options when registering my works. And my least favorite is the “New Age” category which I have tried to avoid because it tends to be associated with dated synth production techniques. And synth strings fly in the face of a rule of thumb at Salvatori Productions… we are committed to use real instruments and enjoy the effort of real strings players and performances on our releases.
mwe3: You mentioned to me that one of the artists you worked with Iris Litchfield passed away. Tell us about working with Iris on earlier albums. How many albums did you record with Iris and what can you add about her 2013 album Life’s Journey? How were you involved with that album?
Tom Salvatori: We ultimately released six albums with Iris Litchfield, one of which was released posthumously. And she was simply a breathtakingly remarkable, undiscovered talent when I met her in cyberspace on broadjam.com by reviewing one of her piano pieces. I had given it 5 stars but was a bit critical of the production…upright piano…squeaky pedal…and a swirling ceiling fan circling overhead. She wrote back with humility asking if I could help and we became fast friends and within months we were talking about signing her to Salvatori Productions, and reserving studio time for her to record in the U.K. on a Steinway grand piano to capture her work.
Iris was so patient, kind, graceful and grateful – even while fighting her cancer diagnoses. I always respected the fact that she was a student of the piano first, taking lessons right up to the month of her passing in June 2014.
Stylistically, Iris and I were two peas in a pod, completely sympatico… primarily minor keyed, melodic and both of us intent on celebrating the simplicity of our instruments and enjoying lots of open spaces between the notes for our themes to breathe. On When Evening Falls (2007) and Ever Ever On (2010), we each contributed an equal number of our compositions to the releases, and then we collaborated with John Catchings, our cello player and string arranger to help tie the piano and guitar pieces together with his string arrangements.
After those collaborations, we focused on recording and releasing the full complement of Iris’ catalogue as solo piano pieces Dream Clouds (2012),Romantic Interludes (2012) - a piano four-hands release recorded with her teacher Patrick Meehan, Life’s Journey (2013) and the posthumous release The Silence of My Being (2015). Our goal is to someday revisit Iris’ solo piano releases and take the time and care to weave in some beautiful John Catchings chamber string arrangements as a welcome contrast to the solo piano pieces.
Mike produced the Salvatori Productions releases up to and including Dream Clouds, but soon after 2012 with his move to Seattle, I began wearing the producer hat!
mwe3: You released a kind of classical guitar tribute album to rock icon Alice Cooper, in praise of the band’s iconic Love It To Death album. What brought that one on? You must have been a big Alice Cooper fan, yet your Ballad Of Dwight Fry is a fascinating classical guitar piece. I read there was an actor called Dwight Frye and Alice wrote it as a tribute to him but you also bring in music from two other tracks from Love It To Death. Do you still listen to Alice Cooper? It’s interesting how they became so popular in the early 1970s following their early association with Frank Zappa.
Tom Salvatori: This idea - like many crazy ideas! - started as studio banter between Mike and I over the years. I had always joked that someday I would take a piece of music that represented the “least likely piece of music to ever be played on a nylon string guitar” and really try to interpret that piece of music. We joked about “The Gates of Delirium” by Yes…but “The Ballad of Dwight Fry” by Alice Cooper was always considered the standard bearer of this “least likely” contrast between us… it stood as a formidable example of an epic hard rock song likely impossible to interpret for nylon string guitar because Alice winds up going nuts in the song and is put into a straitjacket and is dragged kicking and screaming into an insane asylum against his will. The joke was…go ahead Tom…try interpreting that on a nylon string guitar! Challenge accepted. I finally was determined to tackle this impossible project in 2016 right after I completed producing Parlour Favorites (2016). I was in a reflective mood at the time - paying homage to all of my favorite composer/players from the 1970’s…so the feeling of nostalgia carried me into the unlikely project.
I decided on a trilogy of songs…“Second Coming,” “The Ballad of Dwight Fry,” and “Sun Arise”from side two of the band’s Love It To Death (1971)release. I wove the three rock songs together as a thirteen-minute nylon string guitar suite that took over three months and 45 separate recorded guitar parts to accomplish – all performed on my 1972 Hernandis guitar. I worked on it every day for those three months, drawn deeply into the darkness of the storyline every time I dropped the needle on each section of the songs. I interpreted all parts…everything; from Alice’s vocal melody line to the power chords to the percussive elements to the screams of Alice going insane to the nausea of a purposefully out-of-tune Michael Bruce guitar solo …right down to the detailed cadence of the little girl’s haunting spoken-word section asking “Mommy…where’s Daddy? He’s been gone for so long…do you think he’ll ever come home?”
Suffice it to say it is the strangest and most misunderstood release in my entire catalog…with folks on all sides of the rock spectrum likely shaking their head in confusion and asking why I would even begin to undertake such a bazaar project. Ultimately, I will admit I did it for an audience of one - Mike. And I am glad I did it…I proved to myself (and to Mike!) that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. I do still worry that my straitjacket is being made…
mwe3: Speaking of influences, your 2016 album Parlour Favorites is a stunning guitar tribute to your guitar heroes, and the album also mixes in some of your own original tracks. Your covers of Steve Howe, Steve Hackett, Robert Fripp and Jan Akkerman are great. What made you want to choose those tracks by those artists? I was glad to see you excerpted some music from Tales From Topographic Oceans, which is one of the least known Yes albums but it was also the first one that devoted a lot of the music to classical guitar, even more than when they touched on it with “Mood For A Day”, another track you also cover here. Have any of the guitarists you covered here heard your Parlour Favorites album?
Tom Salvatori: I decided to record my own tribute to my heroes of guitar. It was learning to play their pieces by ear that was the most important music teacher I ever had. “Le Clochard” (Akkerman), “Peace, a Theme” (Fripp), “Horizons,” “Hands Of The Priestess” (Hackett), “The Ancient/Roundabout/Mood For A Day” (Howe)… these were the pieces that formed the foundation for my learning how to play the guitar. I also added a half dozen of my originals to the album – again to offer a bit of a compare/contrast in stylings and, overall, the album strikes more so a tone of similarity and consistency rather than widely variant differences. To say that these heroes were both teacher and stylistic influencers would probably be most accurate.
In the music world, when you decide to add a cover song to an album, it is required to pay mechanical royalties to the original composer. I would think that if they are paying attention to their royalty reports they will see that I covered their pieces. I hope curiosity would lead them to at least give a listen – but no, I can’t say for sure that they have heard my cover versions.
mwe3: There’s also some spoof artwork on Parlour Favorites that kind of pokes fun at the “major labels” like Sony, Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos, etc but I guess it was all done in good fun. Do you feel the “majors” lost some of their status over the past decade? Speaking of good fun, I also like your I Like Beer EP, which features 4 different versions of the Miller Beer commercial. Is Miller still using that commercial? It was a hugely popular beer commercial from back in the day? Why did you do that track and are you still drinking Miller beer? I remember the “Colt 45” commercial and the Martini & Rossi commercial too. And Rheingold too! People today have no idea how important commercials were to selling their products...
Tom Salvatori: This gets back to the fact that a contemporary nylon string guitar composer is a square peg in a round hole in the music world and will never get even a whiff of major label air. The major labels all follow the same formulaic path - their classical guitar world features recordings of the presenters, (my term) of the master composer works. David Russell - Christopher Parkening - Sharon Isbin - Julian Bream… the classical guitarists who get signed to the majors are NOT composers per se, they are the performers (i.e. presenters) of the master works from bygone eras.
So yes, besides being a contemporary nylon string guitar composer, I possess a cynically wicked sense of humor and love to skewer the conventions and constructs of the music industry, which I don’t really fit into, when I can. It sure is satisfying to poke at the beast once in a while, no? Ultimately, it is in the back of my mind that if someday one of my aforementioned guitar heroes actually sees the inside spread of my album artwork I hope it would make them laugh… or at least smile and shake their head!
I must also say my sense of humor was a great crutch and a welcome diversion during the pandemic as well, and during our busiest of times of serious work at Salvatori Productions in 2020, I needed a humoristic off ramp from the main highway of recording and producing the diverse projects we had scheduled, so I paid due reverence to my collegiate years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by honoring my favorite beer – Miller Beer – brewed just five blocks from my dorm room! On the I Like Beer EP, I recorded and produced a nylon string guitar rendition of Miller Beer’s famous 1970’s commercial theme “If You’ve Got the Time…We’ve Got the Beer.” And it truly was fun!
mwe3: Also can you tell us something about your album A Year In The Life from 2013? Is it a concept album in that you dedicate the tracks to the month after which the tracks are written for?
Tom Salvatori: Again, I compose in a very visual manner to help me memorize each piece prior to recording it. In constructing the album theme for A Year In The Life (2013), I was focused on visually and audibly capturing a compositional sense of each month of the year as it relates to something that was both thematic and ‘guitaristic’.
For instance, January is traditionally a month of New Year’s resolutions, so not only is January’s composition entitled “Resolutions,” but it is composed in a manner that every phrase in the piece resolves. February the shortest month, so I abbreviated my composition for February to be the shortest piece on the album. March is a month of spring break trips and I’ve always felt that the best parts of the vacations are “The Roads Leading Home”. April is the month of renewal and also a season for falling in love and is thus underscored by a beautiful “Evening Waltz”. May is traditionally a month of new flowers, school graduation parties and the launching of ambition, so I present my most ambitious eleven-minute four-part “Springtime Suite in E Minor”.
June is the month that traditionally crowns Hockey's Stanley Cup winner and I pay reverence to Chicago’s 2010 Cup winning goal with a piece called “Head Fake, Low Shot”. Ask any Chicago Blackhawks fan what that title means to them and they will tell you the story of Patrick Kane’s Stanley Cup winning goal with tears in their eyes. Again, its all visual for me, so the opening four-note sequence in that piece was cemented in my memory by attaching the four words “Head Fake, Low Shot” as a lyric that only existed in my head, thank goodness, to help memorize the piece. If you want to know the whole truth, I still have the butt from the cigar I smoked as a memento of the celebration from that wonderful night!
July is the ‘running of the bulls’ month in Spain. “Pamplona” was composed to represent this event and visual images my mind conjured to help memorize this piece was of people quietly traveling to Spain from all over the world (verse part) and then participating/being swept away by viewing the enthusiasm of the actual street event (chorus part).
“Waiting On Tomorrow” (August), “Father Time Is Calling” (September), “Yesterday’s A Day Away” (October) and “Reminiscing” (November) are all titles correlated to lyrics I had in my head to assist in the visualization and memorization of each piece, but when I assembled the collection of pieces for these four months, they also represent the “Golden Years” of life when things like Waiting On Tomorrow (planning to retire), Father Time Is Calling (advanced aging), Yesterday’s A Day Away (overcoming life’s regrets) and Reminiscing (remembering life’s good times) are common characteristics for the “last chapter” in our lives.
Last but not least, for the month of December I present a medley of Christmas songs gently woven into a somewhat threadbare original composition.
And, as a special encore bonus, I presented the nylon string guitar instrumental version as a prequel of a song called “New Year’s Eve, Turning into New Year’s Day”, which is a full-on They Might Be Giant’s-inspired rollicking rock-based party song that I composed (yes, music and lyrics) which is ready, willing and awaiting the right band to step up and record it!
mwe3: Tell us about That’s Everything, the new Paul Christian album that you released in 2020 on your label. How did you meet and decide to record Paul? All the tracks are great. How did you work with Paul on the album and how did you work on the co-production?
Tom Salvatori: Paul and I met at an April 2018 Chicago Cubs baseball game and while sitting in the Terrace Boxes at Wrigley Field chatting over a few beers, we struck up a conversation about music. Paul mentioned he was a guitar player and he played in various local bands over the years - most recently the Dangerous Joes – a popular cover band on the local bar scene. He then said something that caught my attention - that he enjoyed adding original songwriting ideas to a notebook as a hobby while raising his family. I gave him a business card and half-hearted encouragement to send me a demo someday and we parted ways, never thinking he would correspond. Well, a week later, he did, and what ensued was the discovery of a literal treasure trove of great songs! We became fast friends and colleagues and put a lot of hard work in to polish up, record and release each of the songs on his debut release to rightly bring his work to a worldwide audience.
His first album release, American Dream (2018) met with enough success that it encouraged an even deeper commitment to working on new songs for a follow-up album. Paul, the quickest learner I’ve personally ever known, had become so adept at recording, arranging and performing his vocal and instrumentation parts that he made our job much easier in the mixing and mastering stage… so much so that we promoted him to co-producer of his new album That’s Everything (2020).
Again, thanks for the kind words about Paul’s songwriting, but we knew all along during the production of his new album that the songs were extra special. Who knows… if and when there’s a next release down the road for Paul we may just step aside and give him the keys to drive the whole project!
mwe3: Now with the new year starting out in 2021, what plans do you have for the future? Even with so many changes happening as the world still deals with a terrible pandemic situation, are you hopeful for the music business moving forward?
Tom Salvatori: We do have big plans going forward. We are approaching the 25th anniversaries of Invoking the Veiled Reference (1997) and Whispering For Your Attention (1998) and we are in discussions right now to hopefully crowdsource the funding we would need to go back to Nashville and hire John Catchings and his team to add chamber string ensemble arrangements to both albums for re-release as 2-CD sets; similar in approach to the Ever Ever On (2010) 2-CD release. And if we have success with that, we are hoping to re-visit the gorgeous solo piano releases from Iris Litchfield Dream Clouds (2012), Life’s Journey (2013), and The Silence Of My Being (2015) and find a way to move forward with adding chamber string ensemble arrangements to those piano pieces as well.
And, of course, we will wait to hear from our other artists – both Paul Christian and Gustavo “Buda” Acioli about any new developments in their songwriting endeavors. We are committed to bringing their new work to their growing worldwide audiences.
And through it all, I always tend to my knitting, by creating new guitar compositions for release. I’ll try to stay on the main road as much as possible, although I do have an eye for off ramps here and there…
Robert SIlverstein, February, 2021
Tom Salvatori – ‘Parlour Favorites’ (2021)
“Grab your phone,” indeed! Tom Salvatori’s solo guitar Parlour Favorites is a delightful album that glances (with great beauty) at solo works like Steve Hackett’s Bay of Kings and Anthony Phillips’ Private Parts & Pieces, Vol 5: Twelve.
Now, the first allure of this record is the subtitle: Akkerman, Fripp, Hackett, Howe, Salvatori. Heck! I even braved my way through the arena/MOR/grist of that GTR album simply because it starred you-know-who from Yes and of course, the other you-know-who from Genesis! And bless me father, I once contemplated buying an Asia record, and also spent way too much time trying to wade the deep sonic waters of a Frippertronics soundscape, all the while still loving the Crimso stuff.
That all said, and bless me father once again, but my prog compass gets all wiggy at the prospect of new solo guitar renditions of my favorite acoustic tunes by these masters.
Just an observation: In the heyday of the 1970s, the quiet acoustic piece of guitar virtuosity was a near necessity amid the hurly-burly of any progressive-rock masterpiece. It was the eye of the musical hurricane. But, more importantly, that interlude should never have been of interest to a devotee of a tough backbeat, who considered Foghat’s “Slow Ride” to be “about as good as it gets”; but we all listened – because, well, these were cool prog records with a really cool (hopefully) Roger Dean cover.
And doors opened. Patience became a favorite color. Rock music enrolled in a liberal arts college. That was a big deal. Talk about a lunar moon shot. Before I knew it, John Renbourn’s Sir John Alot of Merrie Englandes Musyk Thyng & ye Grene Knyghte was spinning on my turntable! I even coughed up a few bucks to buy a Philips label Johann Sebastian Bach 3 Sonaten fur Viola Da Gamba & Cembalo (with an “Imported from Europe” sticker!).
Parlour Favorites re-ignites that favorite color of patience. And, as stated, Tom Salvatori ends the album with five renditions of classic tunes. First, Steve Hackett’s “Horizons” gets an exact treatment that doesn’t stray from the original. But (oh my!), “Hands of the Priestess” is stripped down to emotion and truly does conjure the breath of (to quote guitarist Ralph Towner) “the silence of a candle.”
Jan Akkerman’s “Le Clochard” is pretty much a mirror to the Moving Waves take, yet without the mellotron backing, the gentle melody oozes with pensive melodic meditation. Odd: Robert Fripp’s “Peace, a Theme” is a reminder of the great beauty found in the parenthesis of King Crimson’s early albums. This tune, of course, unified In the Wake of Poseidon, but Lizard and Islands had their acoustic moments in “Lady of the Dancing Water” and “Formentera Lady.” And finally, Steve Howe gets his due with the extended collage of “The Ancient / Mood for a Day” (with a bit of uncredited “Roundabout”), which injects a nice bit of bounced levity into all this profound prog acoustic stuff.
As does the packaging. The cover is an abstract guitar figure by Spanish artist Juan Gris, which is nice enough to grace any number of top-line classical record labels. But the album is stamped with a not-so-Sony – but rather, a “Sore Knee Classical,” and the high-brow Gramophone label has been altered into “Grab Your Phone” (hence the first line of this review!). And that’s part of really decent gist of this album: Despite all the technical wonder and delightful melodies played in these grooves, nice art is all about human beings attempting to plug (with grace and humor!) all the holes in the ever-bulging wall of sad history.
As my friend Kilda Defnut often says, “A really nice guitar solo is proof positive of evolution.” Now, the warm memories of those classic tunes are (sort or) like going back to Tintern Abby, or perhaps, re-reading that facsimile copy purchased long ago when visiting the site during a youthful literary pilgrimage! But the new acoustic pieces by Salvatori (which are the first six tunes on the album) stretch that very same colored patience, all over again. Yeah, it’s not all about “Living in the Past” as Ian Anderson sang on Jethro Tull’s popular single.
So, fast forward to the Salvatori’s new tunes played by yet another guitar virtuoso. Well, the “Summer Suitino in G Major” (divided into a three part “suite”!) is a “slow ride” through its own woven tapestry of acoustic guitar charm, and to make a ’70s musical reference, the music sounds like a lengthy interlude in the middle of The Amazing Blondel’s big Fantasia Lindum epic side-long song. That’s high praise!
There are more contemplative autumnal tunes. “What Is Said and Done” meanders like a contemplative river in the Peter Cross cover art for an Anthony Phillips album where time stands still. “Low Tide,” too, is deliberate and patiently carves a melodic statue captured in mid Renaissance dance step.
The lovely “Wandering” touches the stars with an insistent mystery, not unlike early Genesis’ quiet instrumentation on the Trespass song “Dusk.” “Native Land” ups the tempo with a melody that cascades with happy cadence of the certainty of lovers’ first exchanged glances. This music paints delightful pictures.
And “Looking Back” is a gorgeous retrospective glimpse at perhaps those old prog melodies that fired youthful brain synapses and opened doors to music that snapped ancient “3 Sonaten fur Viola da Gamba & Cembalo” fingers (embossed with that “Imported from Europe” sticker!). Yet, because rock ‘n’ roll youth is an eternal itch, those same fingers still plug the jukebox so as to hear Foghat’s glorious guitar boogie of “Slow Ride,” just one more time. Yes, indeed, as Genesis once sang long ago, “more fool me.”
Or, as the label says, (indeed!) “grab your phone” – and, by the way, I’m really sorry about that “sore knee”! It’s all (sort of) like what Henry David Thoreau said: “I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there.” You know, leave the comfortable featherbed.
All the quiet acoustic pieces of prog guitar virtuosity were quite wondrous way back then. They are warm thoughts. But, thankfully, Tom Salvatori’s Parlour Favorites “leaves the woods” where they were, and is a vibrant and continuous prayer that still vibrates with the infinite simplicity of the very acoustic and always melodic human heart.
- Bill Golembeski, SomethingElseReviews.com, May 5, 2021
Parlour Favorites - Press Review:
2016 / Salvatori Productions, Inc.
Parlour Favorites is a collection of eleven peaceful acoustic guitar solos performed by Tom Salvatori. Six of the eleven pieces are original compositions and the other five are by Jan Akkerman, Robert Fripp, Steve Hackett (2) and Steve Howe. (All of the cover tunes came from albums that were released in the early- to mid-1970’s.) Several of Salvatori’s recent albums were collaborations with the late British pianist/composer/mathematician Iris Litchfield (1938-2014), but he has also released an impressive number of solo albums before and after that music partnership. The Salvatori Productions website explains their mission: “Salvatori Productions, Inc. (established in 1995) is a record label specializing in quiet and minimal ensemble music that features original compositions recorded with real players on real instruments at all times.” Salvatori performs on and composes for nylon string guitar and his music has strong classical influences. He likes to compose late at night, so many of his works have the feeling of a gentle lullaby - very soothing and relaxing.
Parlour Favorites begins with “Summer Suitino in G,” a suite of three pieces. “Suite I: Optimistic Thoughts” is light and positive with strong Baroque influences. “Suite II: On the Boulevard of Hopes and Dreams” is very reflective and spare with lots of open space between the notes. “Suite III: What’s Left is Threadbare” is darker with some bluesy accents here and there. “Low Tide” is slow, peaceful, and more than a little bit melancholy. As its title suggests, “Wandering” meanders without a specific goal or purpose, but I really like the way it expresses a relaxed state and a sense of freedom to go wherever it wants. “Looking Back” is structured more like a ballad and would easily support lyrics, although words are certainly not needed. Poignant and nostalgic, many emotions are expressed in this lovely piece. “Le Clochard” translates as “the homeless man” or “the tramp,” but it is also the name of several restaurants that come up with a Google search, so who knows where the inspiration for this beautiful piece by Jan Akkerman came from? Simple but bittersweet and evocative, it’s a highlight of the album. I also really like “Horizons” by Steve Hackett. The opening theme recalls JS Bach, but then the piece comes right up to the present with a gentle, lyrical melody. “Hands of the Priestess,” also composed by Hackett has a slowly-flowing melody with a haunting quality that I find very affecting. The final track on the album combines two pieces by Steve Howe: an excerpt from “The Ancient” and “Mood For a Day.” Somewhat more dramatic than most of the other tracks, it’s a great ending for the album.
Parlour Favorites is an excellent choice for relaxation, sleep, studying, a quiet meal, and any number of other activities. It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
A YEAR IN THE LIFE - PRESS REVIEW:
2013 / Salvatori Productions, Inc.
A Year In the Life is the first solo acoustic guitar album from Tom Salvatori in quite a few years. He has recently collaborated with British pianist/composer Iris Litchfield on two albums,When Evening Falls (2007) and Ever Ever On (2010), but this time he is on his own.
Twelve of the thirteen original compositions are designated for specific months, with the thirteenth for New Year’s Eve. As would be expected, the moods of the pieces vary from month to month, but the overall feel of the album is somewhat subdued and introspective. An accomplished classical guitarist, Salvatori’s own compositions follow classical traditions, but rather than being “showy,” he prefers a more relaxing and soothing approach that people can unwind with as they listen. The sound quality of the recording is beautiful and intimate.
Appropriately enough, A Year in the Life opens with “Resolutions.” Light and optimistic, the piece conveys the feelings of making a fresh start as well as hope for the future. The shortest month has the shortest song, as “Wouldn’t It Be Great” clocks in at just over a minute. Warm and conversational, an idea is being shared with someone trusted. The gentle but melancholy “Evening Waltz” (April) feels very much like late-night musings while working through the cares of the day.
“Springtime Suite in E Minor” (May) is an ambitious four-movement piece. The first movement, “Impressions of Satie,” is rather dark and forlorn; the second, “Yes Riffin’” is much lighter and more playful; “Turtle Crawl” is kind of an extension of the second movement with some changes in mood and direction; and “Sad Ending” is, well, sad, but very beautiful - a favorite. I love the title “Head Fake, Low Shot” (June), but I don’t know what it means! “Waiting On Tomorrow” (August) has a folk-rock feeling in some places and an introspective, haunting quality in others. “Father Time is Calling” (September) conveys a sense of urgency but is also playful - an interesting dichotomy! “Reminiscing” (November) is dreamy but somber and hurting - possibly another late night soul-searching set to music. I really like this one, too! “Almost Christmas” (December) is lighter and cleverly incorporates snippets of “Good King Wenceslas,” “O Tannenbaum,” and “Deck the Halls.” “Turning Into New Year’s Day” is warmly reflective as one year ends and another begins, bringing this lovely album to a close with a sigh.
A Year in the Life provides a gentle soundtrack to your own reflections, daydreams, and other quiet moments. It is available from www.SalvatoriProductions.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Check it out!
TOM SALVATORI & IRIS LITCHFIELD
EVER EVER ON – PRESS REVIEWS:
“Ever Ever On” is the anxiously-awaited new album from Tom Salvatori and Iris Litchfield, following their award-winning 2007 release “When Evening Falls.” This new release is a 2-CD set with one disc featuring solo versions of each of the twelve pieces and the other featuring ensemble versions of the same twelve songs. The ensemble CD is not just a re-recording with someone playing keyboard instrumentation – these are live chamber musicians playing additional parts lovingly created by John Catchings in Nashville. The sound quality is stellar! The CDs alternate between piano pieces composed by Iris Litchfield, a classically-trained pianist and retired math teacher from England, and acoustic guitar pieces by Tom Salvatori, a classically-trained American guitarist. John Catchings appears with his soulful cello on all of the ensemble tracks. The rest of the chamber group includes violins and viola, bass, oboe, and French horn. The music itself is classically-styled with a contemporary attitude – gorgeous and heartfelt. It is difficult to choose which CD I like best. I love the simplicity of the gentle tunes played solo, but the additional musicians on the ensemble CD create so much depth and color that I love that one, too. The good news here is that no one needs to choose a favorite and the only decision to be made is which one to slip into the CD player first! Lucky us!
“Ever Ever On” begins with Ms. Litchfield’s “You’re With Me Still,” a tender love song that is haunting as a piano solo and becomes achingly beautiful with the addition of cello. What a way to start! Next up is Salvatori’s elegant and mysterious “Ghosts of Levigliani,” arranged for nylon string guitar and string quartet. “Escher’s Lullaby” is a fascinating trio for guitar, cello, and oboe – an unusual combination that really works with each instrument’s unique voice. I love both versions of “Blue Horizon” – solo piano and piano with string quintet – graceful, melancholy, and full of longing. “Whirlpool Song” returns to the guitar/cello/oboe trio – enchanting and soulful! “Dark Round” is a lovely slow, somber duet for cello and guitar. “To You With Love” is another favorite, this time a trio for piano, cello, and bass. Tender and gentle yet passionate, it soars while touching the heart. The closing track is the dark and mysterious “Folk Dance” for guitar, violin, cello, and bass. It is a slow and serious dance with a distinct Renaissance flavor. A gorgeous ending to an outstanding album!
“Ever Ever On” is certain to be on my Favorites list for the year! Give your ears and your mind a real treat and check this one out! I give it my highest recommendation!
- Kathy Parsons, Mainly Piano, 2010
You’re in for a wonderful treat as the extremely talented artists, Tom Salvatori & Iris Litchfield, release their newest album, “Ever Ever On.” Salvatori, who plays the nylon string guitar, and Litchfield, who plays the grand piano, entice the listeners with their intense precision and magical melodies. The 1st CD contains songs scored for not only the guitar and piano but also an entire Chamber string ensemble with oboe and French horn. The 2nd CD is the same brilliant songs performed with their superb talents on either solo guitar or solo piano. “Cascade,” is a song that is dreamy and delicate as the stirring piano glides across the keys with luxurious style and grace. “Dark Round,” is a song that is somber in tonality as the guitar takes the delicate melody and plays with a serene passionate form. Another song, “Windmills of Time,” is bright and crisp as the sweet and tender strings surround the velvety piano in a moving and melodic fashion. If you’re a person who truly appreciates classical music with exquisite and elegant style, then the magnificent album, “Ever Ever On” is one you will thoroughly enjoy.
- Diane and the RadioIndy.com Reviewer Team, 2010
Illinois based guitarist Tom Salvatori is a master of recording New Age / neoclassical based guitar instrumental sounds and his album When Evening Falls actually won 2007 neoclassical album of the year from the New Age pundits at NAR. New Age based music aside, for the most part Salvatori’s music truly transcends musical borders and genre catch phrases and he delivers yet another masterpiece with the 2010 double CD release of Ever Ever On. For Ever Ever On, the guitarist teams once again with U.K. based pianist / composer Iris Litchfield and the full-on chamber string ensemble arrangements of cellist John Catchings. CD 1—entitled “These Little Pieces Went To Nashville—features the twelve Salvatori / Litchfield compositions backed up by the full string ensemble, while CD 2—entitled “These Little Pieces Stayed Home"—presents the same music on CD 1 but captured in their more minimal original solo performances. Perhaps Salvatori’s most ambitious project to date, Ever Ever On will have wide cross over appeal among classical music fans as well as those who are already familiar with Salvatori’s repertoire of blissful, meditative guitar music. - Robert Silverstein, Music Web Express, mwe3.com, December, 2010
TOM SALVATORI & IRIS LITCHFIELD
WHEN EVENING FALLS – AWARDS AND RECOGNITION:
When Evening Falls: Winner, Best Neo-Classical Album of the year, 2007 NAR Lifestyle Music Awards
When Evening Falls debuted at #2 on the Top 100 NAR radio play charts, September, 2007
Bill Binkelman (NAR) recommends When Evening Falls as a Best of 2007 pick
RJ Lannan (NAR) recommends When Evening Falls as a Top 10 Recording for 2007
Kathy Parsons (MainlyPiano.com) recommends When Evening Falls as a 2007 CD Favorites selection
Jelke Bethlehem, Time Trek radio program host (The Netherlands) recommends When Evening Falls as a Best of 2007 pick
Mark Jayne, Program Host, Night Breeze, KCCK Cedar Rapids, IA recommends When Evening Falls as a Top 10 CD of 2007 selection
TOM SALVATORI & IRIS LITCHFIELD
WHEN EVENING FALLS – PRESS REVIEWS:
When Evening Falls…is a wonderful, dusky dream-filled album with fourteen tracks of pastoral and contemporary tunes that will inspire, relax and alleviate stress. Tom Salvatori and Iris Litchfield, both classical trained composers, have united on this contemporary album in the spirit of harmony in a figurative and literal sense. Tom is from Illinois and Iris is from Kent, England, but the miles could not separate the kindred spirits of these two gifted performers. Additionally, the music is far more mellifluous for the talents of cellist John Catchings who joins them on several cuts. When Evening Falls is pensive, relaxing music that is enjoyable at any hour. The mating of guitar and piano with an infrequent visit by the cello makes for several agreeable duos, while the solos are as welcome as are old friends. For a soothing interlude of warm, peaceful music, you cannot do much better than Tom Salvatori and Iris Litchfield.
-RJ Lannan, The Sounding Board, NAR, 2007
“When Evening Falls” is an utterly charming collection of original solos, duets, and other ensemble works by pianist Iris Litchfield and guitarist Tom Salvatori, often accompanied by cellist John Catchings. The cover artwork gives you a clue that you are beholding something exceptional, and you are. Iris Litchfield is a classically-trained pianist who recently began composing for the piano after retiring from teaching math in England. It is interesting to note that the demo tape she sent to Salvatori Productions was recorded on an upright piano with a squeaky pedal and a ceiling fan humming overhead. Tom heard something special in the music and worked hard to find a studio in Englandwith a good grand piano (a 1934 Steinway D) for Litchfield’s first studio recording. The final take of her music brought the grown men in the studio to tears, and it’s easy to hear why. The music is not overly complex, but is honest and heartfelt, with a slight touch of innocence – truly a fresh voice on the music scene. Litchfield has released CDs in Europe, but “WhenEveningFalls” is her first release in the US. Tom Salvatoriis also classically-trained, and his guitar pieces are equally moving, with their gentle, straightforward messages. Catchings adds just the right contrast to the piano and guitar, and brings a soulful quality that only comes from a masterfully-played cello. “When Evening Falls” will definitely be on my list of favorite CD’s for 2007!
A haunting piano solo called “Autumn Colors” opens the CD. Fall often evokes feelings of melancholy as nature prepares the world for winter. Those feelings are captured perfectly in this piece, and it wonderfully sets the tone for the album. Next is the first duet, “Sleepy Eyes Lullaby,” a soothing, caressing piece for guitar and cello. “Breath of Spring” is a quiet duet for piano and cello, full of hope and optimism. “Guitar Lament” is a gorgeous guitar solo that seems to tell a story. “Nature’s Serenade” is a sweet and graceful piece for all three musicians. Very simple and uncomplicated, it suggests warm sunshine and a gentle breeze – lovely! “Reflecting Absence” is a stunningly beautiful piece for guitar and cello. Comprised of several movements that range from slow and reflective to more impassioned and emotional, this seven-minute masterpiece is worth the price of the CD alone. (I can’t imagine that the studio guys didn’t need their hankies for this one, too!) “Carousel” is mostly a piano solo, but Salvatori comes in for two of the verses, bringing additional charm to this warm, happy little piece. “Labyrinth 2” contrasts the smooth, deep cello with the bright finger picking on guitar, creating an aura of intriguing mystery. The piece ends rather abruptly, intensifying the mystery. “Come Stay a While” is like a hug from a long-lost friend. Violin and viola are added to the piano and cello, making this a chamber piece that overflows with emotion and love.
I can’t sing the praises of “When Evening Falls” enough. It is simply one of the most beautiful CDs I’ve heard in a year of unusually good instrumental CDs. Sure to be a favorite for a long time to come! It is available from cdbaby.com and amazon.com. Samples of the music are also available at www.salvatoriproductions.com. I give “When Evening Falls” my highest recommendation!
- Kathy Parsons, Mainly Piano, 2007
Take three talented artists, mix and match them in various combinations and who knows what will result. In the case of When Evening Falls, you end up with a beautiful collection of soothing and introspective instrumental pieces. Featuring the considerable talents of acoustic guitarist Tom Salvatori, pianist Iris Litchfield and cellist John Catchings (with some violin and viola assistance on one track and bass on another one), the fourteen selections on this album are divided up into solo numbers by Salvatori and Litchfield or assorted permutations of one or the other or both with Catchings. The album is cohesive with a consistent mood maintained throughout. The two composers (Salvatori and Litchfield) were obviously simpatico when it came to the aim of When Evening Falls, the title of which aptly portrays the mood evoked by the music. Peaceful, somber, warm, nostalgic and reflective, the CD is emblematic of what I refer to as “autumn afternoon music,” meaning it’s suited for grey skies, falling leaves, and a crisp bite to the air. Whether one bathes in this music while seated before a fire, or perhaps driving through rolling hillsides and small rural towns dressed in gold and red for the season, When Evening Falls weaves a comforting web of warm yet often sad or reflective music.
As if the music itself wasn’t enough, the CD’s artfully-designed Digipak (by Stephen Ravenscraft) is a veritable work of art as well. Hell, even the font choices are spot on (you’d be surprised how rare that is). From every perspective, When Evening Falls is a splendid recording and a must have for lovers of gentle “nighttime” acoustic instrumental music.
- Highly recommended. Rating: Excellent - Bill Binkelman, New Age Reporter, 2007
He’s known as a guitarist’s guitarist, an expert at both classical guitar and the combination of classical with any number of musical genres. Tom Salvatori enchanted listeners with his last album from 2002, Late Night Guitar, which was a children’s album disguised as an excellent, meditative study in the healing power of the nylon string guitar.
In 2007 Tom joins forces with pianist Iris Litchfield for a gorgeous duet album of timeless instrumental music–supplemented by the cello arrangements of John Catchings. A seamless blend of vintage classical music and the curative vibes of the New Age meditation genre that was so popular in the mid-90’s. When Evening Falls is the most appealing outing yet from the versatile guitar imagination of Tom Salvatori.
- Robert Silverstein, 20th Century Guitar Magazine, 2007
When Evening Falls is the perfect CD to cure writer’s block and inspire you. On a sunny autumn afternoon, I sit in Berlin listening to the tender beauty of the guitar caressing ever so gently the piano. It is true, I never took time to contemplate why this should be such an unusual mix, but after I listened, I realized that I had never heard these two instruments in union. It is a marriage made in heaven. Touchingly pure, innocent as all first loves should be. And listening, I’m smiling at its simple beauty. When Evening Falls is the perfect CD for curing writers block and reflecting upon the joys of life! Now I am going to make a cup of tea and start writing the novel I have always dreamed of…thank you Tom and Iris. You have given me the gift of inspiration.
- Kara Johnstad, 2008
I love Iris’s compostions and piano playing and Tom’s compositions and guitar playing so putting the 2 together is for me perfection.
- Dr Catherine Galatola (Turin-Italy), 2007
I am so impressed with Iris Litchfield, Tom Salvatori. Hope there are more coming.
- 5.0 out of 5 stars - Classic - Roberta H. Matzke, 2008
Thoughtful and mature original contemporary compositions, expertly arranged, that bring to the surface deep emotions. Beautiful performances, complemented by excellent sound recording and mixing. Overall, a work which is obviously the result of talent, love of melody, care and meticulous attention to detail in composition, arrangement and production.
Meaningful notes and fine sound reproduction blend to provide pure joy to the listener. You will listen to this CD over and over again. Highly recommended.
- 5.0 out of 5 stars - To listen over and over again - Abraham Bensoussan, 2008
I bought the CD When Evening Falls, to play in my fourth grade classroom during quiet times as background music. Very nice, very relaxing and inobtrusive. The students began asking for it to be played. After school I found myself playing it while grading, and other teachers wandering in to ask what CD that was. I have not found a CD by Tom Salvatori that I didn’t like!
- Denise Aiani, 2006
My mom bought Late Night Guitar for my daughter for lullabies and we like it very much so she got When Evening Falls for my new baby boy to listen to at bedtime. He seems to enjoy it as do I when I rock him to sleep.
- Liz, 2006
So wonderful most enjoyable very delightful listening and pleasurable.
- Web site posting, 2006
LATE NIGHT GUITAR – AWARDS AND RECOGNITION:
LATE NIGHT GUITAR, WINNER OF 2002 CHILDREN'S MUSIC WEB AWARD Classic Recording for Children Category! (www.childrensmusic.org)
LATE NIGHT GUITAR debuts at #2 on the New Age Voice Top 100 Radio Play list and holds its strong position in the coveted “Top 5″ through the entire 4th quarter, 2002!
LATE NIGHT GUITAR – PRESS REVIEWS:
“If it catches you at the right time, I guarantee you’ll have a moment(s) where a tear will well, without you being able to do anything about it.” Tim Panting, Reviews Editor, Classical Guitar Magazine (UK)
“Salvatori’s music has been a darling among children’s music critics…although ‘Late Night Guitar’ also appeals to grown-ups. His sense of musicianship is very high…” Chicago Tribune
“Effortlessly breezes past age barriers…you’d be hard pressed to find a more comforting and melodic acoustic fingerstyle guitar album.” 20th Century Guitar Magazine
“Refreshingly unpretentious…particularly pleasing…gentle guitar lines. [Late Night Guitar is] a quality mainstream release to be welcomed by its target audience.” Classical Guitar Magazine (UK)
“I loved your stuff, very soulful and relaxing. The world needs more music like yours. Sonically top notch, full and warm…well done.” Brian Wittmer, Director, A&R, Universal Music Group
“Tom…Your music has become a staple of my show. Beautifully crafted music that grows deeper and more tuneful with each and every play…and as if the music wasn’t enough, what a striking and beautiful CD jacket. I come from a time when cover art was an important part of the whole “album” experience. Your artwork for “Late Night Guitar” is most impressive…Thanks for enabling us here in the beautiful Hudson Valley of New York share your vision…” Ken Harris, WVKR, Walden NY
MakeaStar.com on the song ‘Tucker’s Lullaby’ – “Absolutely beautiful. This piece is chock full of emotion with a soaring melody, mesmerizing theme, and a chord progression that speaks worlds of truth. With just a classical nylon string guitar and a small string and wind section, you’ve managed to assemble quite a moving work here. Some things are best said simply and quietly. Nice…tasteful…warm… rich, and robust sounding. Exquisite. Top performances lead way with perfectly executed passages, perfect intonation, and an exceptional overall feel and mood. Certainly, there are recognizable influences, yet this work emotes an original feel and mood unequaled by the masses. Thus, you have developed you’re own sound far beyond the reaches of the normal bland, stuffy, classical composers/artists. Bravo. A Perfect “10″ – Make-A-Star.com