Sunday, May 18, 2008

CD REVIEW: James LaRocca Project "A Different Road" and "The Awakening"

Lots of music added to the station in the last few weeks so there's lots to catch up on. First up:


These two CDs tell an amazing story. James LaRocca is an accomplished guitarist who graduated from the University of Texas jazz program. Two years after graduating James was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At that time he was still able to play guitar, and his first release "A Different Road" is filled with desire and longing. You can see it in the titles- Changes, Understanding, A new Beginning, A Different Road - and you can hear it in his music. Eleven tracks of LaRocca's sensitive and passionate guitar playing accompanied by violin, string bass and drums.
After A Different Road was released James suffered another attack of MS. This time it left him so disabled he was no longer able to play the guitar. He was determined that would not end his career in music. He may not have been able to play music any more but he could still create it. "The Awakening" features 15 LaRocca compositions arranged for cello, bass, violins, viola, piano, oboe & bassoon. The title tune is full of struggle and determination and dawning awareness of new possibilities. As James writes in the liner of the CD, "the notes were flowing through me like a madman." Several compositions on the CD carry on with this theme- A Light in the Dark, A Time Remembered, A Dream Within a Dream, Out of the Dawn, The Gift.

The tale told on these CDs is one of immense hope and inspiration. And it's damn good music too. A portion of the proceeds to the CDs go to the MS Society of Oregon.

James LaRocca's website:
The James LaRocca Project

A Different Road & The Awakening can both be heard on NeverEndingWonder Radio

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