During a recording career that spans more than 40 years, acoustic guitarist Will Ackerman has enjoyed tremendous success. As founder of—and the original artist on—the highly influential Windham Hill label (Alex de Grassi, Michael Hedges, Shadowfax, George Winston, et al), he has played on and produced Gold, Platinum, and Grammy-winning albums. As owner and creative head of Imaginary Roads Studio in rural Vermont, he has produced literally hundreds of albums—more than 80 in the past decade alone—many in the sort of modern acoustic chamber-music style that Windham Hill pioneered in its glory days (Ackerman sold his interest in the company 25 years ago). But through all those years Ackerman had never really played in a group. That has now changed with a group and album called FLOW—the name is an acronym from the names of the members: pianist/vocalist Fiona Joy, guitarist Lawrence Blatt, flugelhorn master Jeff Oster, and Ackerman.
The following is a review from Angel Romero, of World Music Central.org. Click here to read the review on the World Music Central.org website.
Flow – Flow (LMB Music, 2017)
Flow is a supergroup of musicians who have been involved with New Age music for many years. The term New Age is used to describe a wide range of genres, from easy listening acoustic music to electronic meditation music. In this case, Flow performs peaceful and ethereal instrumental music with smooth jazz, folk, gliding ambient sounds and classical music elements.
The four musicians that form the Flow ensemble include guitarist and producer Will Ackerman, pianist Fiona Joy, guitarist Lawrence Blatt and trumpeter Jeff Oster. The group recorded the album in Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont.
The following is a review from BT Fasmer, of NewAgeMusic.Guide. Click here to read the review on the NewAgeMusic.Guide website.
Every genre needs a supergroup. With FLOW we finally have such a group in New Age music! I’m happy to report that their self-titled debut album is worthy of the «super» tag too. «FLOW» is a reminder of what made New Age music into an international phenomenon in the late 1980s, while at the same time showing why this genre is still relevant today.
FLOW consists of Australian pianist Fiona Joy, acoustic guitarist Lawrence Blatt, flugelhorn player Jeff Oster and Grammy Award-winning guitarist Will Ackerman. We must also mention Tom Eaton, who has produced the album together with Will at Imaginary Road Studios – and the magnificent Tony Levin on bass. With such a line-up, it is no wonder many New Age music fans have had high hopes for this release.
The following is a review from Jakob Baekgaard, of All About Jazz. Click here to read the review on the All About Jazz website.
FLOW is a New Age-super group consisting of pianist Fiona Joy (the f), guitarist Lawrence Blatt (the l), trumpeter Jeff Oster (the o) and guitarist and founder of the legendary label, Windham Hill, William Ackerman (the W).
Their self-titled debut creates a beautiful flow in the music that lives up to their name. As in the records on ECM, the pause plays a significant role. The music is allowed to breathe and silence becomes a companion to the pieces.
The term New Age is somewhat problematic, but, for good or worse, this is the label often associated with these musicians. However, while the music certainly has a meditative quality, it is first and foremost emotional and melodic music. The simple drawing on the cover reflects an intuitive approach to the music. It feels timeless and proved, and yet has the intensity and wonder of an instrument being touched for the first time. Oster plays long, ethereal lines. His sound is round, warm and airy and seems to grow out of the distance like a mist in an endless landscape. Fiona Joy adds wordless vocals and her piano chords emerge out of necessity. She both carries the music and sets it free.
The following is a review from Michael Foster, of Ambient Visions. Click here to read the review on the Ambient Visions website.
Having discovered Windham Hill and Narada music at about the same time I was well aware of the ensemble approach that the labels employed to offer listeners wonderful music that extended the talents of one artist by pairing them with several equally talented musicians in the studio. The album would be released under the individual artist’s name and the other musicians would traditionally be credited as guest performers on the main artist’s album. Let me be clear right from the beginning about FLOW the album and FLOW the group this is not individual musicians guest starring on each other’s compositions with each taking a shot at the lead throughout the album. Instead this is a group effort start to finish and as I listened to each of the songs I didn’t get the feeling that one song represents Ackerman, one song represents Fiona and so on. Every composition represented FLOW as a performing group plain and simple.
The following is a review from Kathy Parsons of Mainly Piano. Click here to read the review on the Mainly Piano website.
FLOW is the debut album by new age super-group FLOW. The name of the group was formed with a letter from each member’s name – Fiona Joy, Lawrence Blatt, Jeff Oster, and Will Ackerman – each a multi-award-winning artist in his or her own right with well-established musical careers on their own. The group was formed out of long-term friendships and a history of working and playing together over the past eight years. The idea for the group was born in 2015 when Lawrence Blatt invited Fiona Joy and Jeff Oster to his San Francisco home to riff on some musical ideas. Blatt’s original idea was to create an album inspired by the iconic Windham Hill sound. They wanted Will Ackerman to produce the album and in the process of sharing some of their ideas with him, Ackerman became a full-fledged member of the group. Each of the four artists brought ideas for two or three pieces to the group, and then each added parts with the guidance of Ackerman’s production partner at Imaginary Road, Tom Eaton, who became “the fifth Beatle” for the project.
The following is a review from Dick Metcalf, editor, Contemporary Fusion Reviews. Click here to read the review on the Contemporary Fusion Reviews website.
Imaginary road excellence fiona joy lawrence blatt jeff oster will ackerman Flow – Flow
Imaginary road excellence fiona joy lawrence blatt jeff oster will ackerman Flow – FLOW: It’s only about 150 miles from where Will Ackerman setup his Imaginary Road studios many years ago to where my grandfather’s farm used to be (Island Pond, VT), so I’m well familiar with how peaceful and natural the region can be. Will has used that ambience to assist in the creation of many beautiful musical experiences, but having listened to (and reviewed) each of these players (Fiona Joy on piano, Lawrence Blatt doing acoustic/electric guitar and ukulele, Jeff Oster on flugelhorn and Will Ackerman on guitar) many times, I believe this new release (it’s officially slated for October 6, 2017) is the finest ever to emerge from there. The guitar works from both Lawrence and Will strongly compliment each other throughout the album, in ways even they hadn’t imagined.