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"Heaven Sent" Has been played on hundreds radio stations.
New Age Retailer, reviewed by Mara Applebaum
Heaven sent is appealing, uncomplicated musicto shift listeners from tension to relaxation. Feature this serene CD with "Relaxation Music" and "Giftware".
New Age Reporter.com, reviewed by RJ Lannan
Ranks #8 on TOP 100 NEW AGE CHART recordings for July 2004.
There is no other instrument that can reproduce the haunting sound of the soprano sax and the kalimba, tiny and mighty, is about as exotic as you can get. Cooper and Kithara do an amiable job of wedding the two instruments to soothe you, inspire you and get you on your way.
The Phoenix Newspaper
sweet, haunting, relaxing music. Great to turn on when you walk in the door after a hard day or during meditation, yoga or even massage. Very healing, unique, personal and sometimes playful.
Spirit-Works, review by Angela Hutchinson
Heaven Sent is a journey on a blessed, peaceful day. The merging of Cooper and Kithara is nothing short of destiny. They knew they were meant for this music. I found it meditative, natural and soothing. Both artists have a rich background of experience and their music projects their emotion with such clarity, you feel you are on their journey as well.
KBGA College Radio 89.9fm Missoula, MT, review by D J Raven
"Heaven Sent could be compared to floating upon pleasant astral oceantides, in ethereal, transcendental bliss."
WTUL New Orleans, review by Scott Galloway Smith
"Heaven Sent is original and soothing, perfect for Sunday mornings or anytime escape from stress is desired."
JESSIE ALLEN COOPER AND BUDDY KITHARA
Cooper Sound Waves (2004)
Heaven Sent is, in a word (and no pun intended) heavenly. I seldom give a lot of background on the why and wherefore of a CD, but allow me to indulge just this once.
Sherman, set the wayback machine for the mid 1970s. Soprano sax player Jessie Allen Cooper becomes friends with kalimba (an African instrument sometimes referred to as a "thumb piano") player Buddy Kithara. They start recording an album together in their home state of Washington. One night, when their engineer is a no-show, they decide to move their recording gear into the four-story high cement hallway of a nearby building and record an impromptu jam/improvisation session. Turns out that Cooper and Kithara are "astrological twins," being born in the same town (Everett, Washington), on the same day in the same year. Several years later, Cooper revisited the music and, with help from a friend, he added some of the most tasteful and complementary nature sounds to the music and voila, Heaven Sent was released (on cassettee only). Who knows, maybe it was the alignment of the stars that helps explain the amazing musical symmetry which resulted from that improvisational recording session. All I can say is thank those same stars for whatever forces prompted Jessie Allen Cooper to re-release this album. Heaven Sent is way up near the top of my list of best recordings of 2004.
Granted, I have a bias for the kalimba which has been one of my favorite instruments since I first heard it showcased on an Earth Wind and Fire track from one of their first albums, Open Our Eyes (titled, coincidentally "Kalimba"). And I have always been a bigger fan of the soprano sax than the other members of that reed family. Even taking into account my favorable prejudices, though, this is still musical magic, especially being accented by the nature sounds which act as a "circle tour" of nature, starting and ending along the shore (with waves, gulls and even a fog horn!) with stops near a forest at night (replete with crickets and frogs) as well a visit to a mountain stream and getting caught in a brief rainstorm.
Most of the time, Cooper's soprano sax and Kithara's kalimba duo, although here and there one or the other flies solo (such as on the kalimba number, "Solitude," which is surprisingly - given its title - uptempo and cheery). "Morning Tide" (the first music track on the CD) opens with bouncy kalimba before sax flits into view (that four story reverb effect is something to hear, by the way), almost as if it were bouncing on the whitecaps out beyond the shore or playing tag with the tide. Cooper's playing is the perfect combination of improvisation without overt noodling so as not to sound too aimless.
"In the Night" may be my favorite track (although that's an academic exercise since I love the whole album so much). Cooper's sax is plaintive and quite minimal as his notes hang suspended or rebound high in the upper caverns of that reverberation chamber, while Kithara's kalimba is somewhat minimal, serving more as tonal accompaniment to both the sax and the crickets, frogs, and other creatures of the night.
"In the Mountains" has Kithara stepping up and playing more lively, while Cooper settles into another more floating style (as on "In the Night" but less somber and more cheery). "A Rainy Day" demonstrates, as you would expect if you know the sonic characteristics of the kalimba, the perfect nature sound for the instrument, since the kalimba's own musical "voice" imitates "droplets" hitting tuned metal, so to speak. While the tempo is upbeat here, the intermixing of the thunder and rain colors the song with a hint of gray, as if the listener were watching the storm from the comforts of one's cabin's screen porch! Closing out the CD, "By the Ocean" highlights Cooper's technical virtuosity, as he ends the song with some tasty upper register work, soaring and dipping with dexterity and passion.
Really, I could go on praising this wonderful recording, but my words wouldn't do it justice. It's hard to believe Heaven Sent is an "older" recording, as it sounds as fresh, exciting, and every bit as good, technically, as anything I've heard recently in the music/nature sound genre. It represents quite a feat of engineering and mastering, obviously. Kudos to Kithara and Cooper, engineer Frank Sparks, mastering wiz Bernie Grundman, and BIG kudos to Jan Brodin who recorded the nature sounds. Frankly, if you are looking for some ideal music for up north (I mean, this music and a lakeside cabin - it just won't get any better than that) or for late night listening, and you want something non-electronic and enhanced with nature sounds, well, step right up and latch onto Heaven Sent. You can thank me later. My highest recommendation.
Wind and Wire
-September 2004, New Age Retailer