The following is a review of “Promise” from Jakob Baekgaard of All About Jazz. Click here to read the review on the All About Jazz website.
Promise marks the welcome return of FLOW that released its acclaimed self-titled debut in 2017. Behind the name lies the talents of trumpeter Jeff Oster, singer and pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins and guitarists Will Ackerman and Lawrence Blatt. On their second album, they continue to refine the signature sound they introduced on the debut.
The title track is a supreme example of how the group works with dynamics in the music, adding and subtracting instrumental layers while increasing or slowing down the tempo from the tactile touch of a single instrument to the lush palette of musical colors. Whether finding beauty in the stroke of a single chord or the motivic development of lines, FLOW create complex lyrical stories that are also remarkably intuitive. It’s this paradox that makes the music so compelling combined with the fact that the group don’t settle into fixed patterns.
The following is a review of “Promise” from Jonathan Widran of the JW Vibe. Click here to read the review on the JW Vibe website.
That’s the thing about promises. They capture our imagination as we’re grounded in the present and turn our attention to hopeful moments in the future. I felt it 2017, when I first heard that veteran composer/musicians Fiona Joy (piano), Lawrence Blatt (guitar), Jeff Oster (trumpet/flugelhorn) and Grammy winning guitarist and Windham Hill founder Will Ackerman were combining their unique individual vibes as FLOW.
Promise was in the musical air, and – capturing the imagination of countless global new age/contemporary instrumental fans – they delivered splendidly on their self-titled debut. The sensual, easily rhythmic tapestry of their combined spirit-transportive sounds translated to great critical acclaim, numerous tour dates (including shows at Carnegie Hall and the Grammy Museum), and Album of the Year honors at both the ZMR Awards and IMA Awards.
The following is a review of “Promise” from Vivek Kumar of 2indya. Click here to read the review on the 2indya website.
What happens when a cluster of celebrated musicians come together, bringing together their individual brilliance to fuse something unique that blends every aspect of their art to create something unique and different from the usual? Well, the answer is this album–Promise. I am sure you have heard their debut album as a group too–FLOW–a rare experiment that was lyrically beautiful and successful. Like me, if you have been expecting more of such soulful music from this collaboration and looking forward to some new tunes, ‘Promise’ fulfills them.
The following is a review of “Promise” from Michael Foster of Ambient Visions. Click here to read the review on the Ambient Visions website.
As I was listening to FLOW’s new album called Promise the one thing that immediately crossed my mind was that I wasn’t listening to 4 musicians each doing their own solos showing off their individual skills but instead I was hearing a group playing. There’s a fine line between a group of individuals who play music together and a group of individuals who blends their unique talents into creating music that is perceived not as individual efforts but as a shared movement in the same direction, with the same mind and with the same heart as to where they want to go. Listening to the music on Promise is more of an experience of hearing the music played by FLOW as opposed to hearing a guitar played by Will or Lawrence or the piano played by Fiona or the horn played by Jeff. The lines blurred and it simply became great music played by FLOW the group and that’s the distinction between a group of individuals playing music together and a group of musicians who move and think as a group in their composing, recording and performing of their music.
The following is a review of FLOW’s live performance at Cargegie Hall from TheaterByte. Click here to read the review on TheaterByte’s website.
FLOW or Fiona Joy Hawkins (piano), Lawrence Blatt (guitar), Jeff Oster (trumpet, flugelhorn, sound effects), and Will Ackerman (guitar) has become one of the most highly regarded “New Age” quartets currently on the circuit. All of these artists have established major performing and recording careers: Fiona Joy in her native Australia and Lawrence, Jeff, and Will in the US. Grammy-winner Ackerman, the “senior” member of this foursome, opened the door for the commercial success of New Age compositions and performers with his founding of the music label Windham Hill Records in 1972. This new millennium “fab four,” frequently adds talented sidemen to their ensemble when they record and tour. For this concert, FLOW wisely chose Tom Eaton, a true musical factotum who contributed on bass and piano, Premik (Russell Tubbs) a legendary multi-instrumentalist, Vin Downes a brilliant young guitarist, and veteran percussionist Jeff Haynes.
The following is a review of FLOW from Music Street Journal on their concert at the Royal Room in Seattle. Click here to read the review on Music Street Journal’s website.
It was a rare warm May evening in Columbia City, near downtown Seattle, when my wife and I walked through the door at the Royal Room, to take in our first ever Flow show.
The room was full, like the moon that decorated a wall of the showplace. Over a hundred fans were in attendance, so the word had gotten out that this was a show not be missed – the recently minted band Flow (named after the band members: Fiona Joy Hawkins [Australia’s “Enya” on piano and voice], Jeff Oster [master of the flugelhorn and trumpet and truly a great Chuck Mangione–like master], Will Ackerman [one of new age’s seminal musical composers, producers and directors on guitar], and Lawrence Blatt on acoustic and electric guitar, and ukulele).
In the Echoes Podcast, an interview with FLOW’s Fiona Joy, Lawrence Blatt, Jeff Oster, William Ackerman AND a FLASHBACK 50 to The Moody Blues’ “In Search of the Lost Chord. Hear it now in the Echoes App, Apple Music or right here.
The following is a review of FLOW from Bentley’s Bandstand on The Morton Report. Click here to read the review on The Morton Report website.
Thirty years ago New Age was almost a cult music for those seeking the silence. Fairly or not, it was way off the map for those born into rock & roll. Flash forward, though, and there is much to love about a music that soothes rather than scorches. Both styles can be scintillating once the stereotypes are beaten into dust. Flow is a quartet comprised of Will Ackerman, Fiona Joy, Lawrence Blatt, and Jeff Oster. They include guitars, keyboards, vocals, and brass. There is a supple groove that propels each song, provided by Ackerman and Blatt’s guitar and Oster’s trumpet and flugelhorn. Joy is a singer and pianist who absolutely lives up to her last name, and when she sings the skies open with her sound. Best of all are the quartet’s intricate originals, whether they’re in the foreground or the background. This is music that can be played anytime and anywhere, and always thrills. Ackerman, also known for founding Windham Hill Records, is someone to keep an ear on. He’s been breaking traditions his whole musical life, and shows no sign of stopping now. Of course, there are a half-dozen guests joining in, but in the end it’s Flow that delivers the spirit. Feel and heal.
The following is featured on Reviews New Age. Click here to read the article on the Reviews New Age website.
A minimalist, deep acoustic piano, winds and strings, is the presentation of FLOW , the band led by GRAMMY winner and guitarist Will Ackerman , with guitarist Lawrence Blatt , pianist Fiona Joy and trumpeter Jeff Oster.
The group began its tour of the United States in 2017, including only two dates, the first in Vermont; and the second at Carnegie Hall in New York . FLOW , who began his career in 2017 presenting his first studio album under the same name, is now in full promotion of the album, including Carnegie Hall again in New York between dates.
The following is a review of FLOW from the July 2018 issue of Music Connection Magazine.
Forty years after Windham Hill became a catalyst for the global new age music phenomenon, its founder, acoustic guitarist Will Ackerman joins forces with genre stalwarts Fiona Joy (piano), Jeff Oster (flugelhorn) and Lawrence Blatt (guitar) to create a fresh, seamless, rhythmically seductive and soulfully melodic vibe grounded in their deep personal chemistry. Each plays an equal part in the infectious sonic magic, but one standout is how Ackerman’s stark introspection complements Blatt’s more rhythmic approach to the acoustic guitar. Though an unusual anagram of their names, the FLOW concept is all about the way the music moves. – Jonathan Widran