This debut album, The Way to Peace, has singer/ pianist Rich Siegel proving himself a formidable musi- cian with an expressive, rich baritone. The emotional and spiritually-fueled songs of love and peace on this multi-lingual disc convey various themes of hope and world peace, with a decided focus on the Mid-East and messages of healing and politics. That seems to be his intent.
Some of the songs border on hymn-like structure, appealingly universal in their somewhat cantor- esque delivery and message. There are many spiri- tual themes about children and God that run through- out this almost religious- experience recording. It’s also deeply personalized about a man’s truth and his beliefs. Musically, Siegel is aided by brilliant London- based jazz saxophonist and well-known peace activist Gilad Atzmon heading a team of superior artists that also has cellist Eugene Moye, guitarist Gary Ciuci, bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Anthony Pinciotti. Collectively, they are brilliant in supporting Siegel’s fine vocals with flair. His own musicianship is always on target and easy to listen to. This is especially so on John Wallowitch’s beauty, “This Moment.” “Help Is on the Way” is a unique track paired with “Nuestra Ayuda Ligara” in English, Spanish and Arabic, making for a most interesting and melodic presentation. As throughout this collec- tion, which explores political-pacifist statements, Siegel’s sincerity dominates. While the foreign lan- guage songs might limit his audience and distribution of an album that should be heard by many, those in English are often trenchant and deeply moving, as on one of the CDs finest, the beloved “What a Wonder- ful World” that includes an extended haunting solo by the gifted Atzmon. This version, which could give Tony Bennett a run for his money, will invite many to press the repeat button. It’s a superb reading of a song that has been recorded to death by so many. Siegel’s heartfelt take on this evergreen is worth the purchase price and more. Space limitations forbid expanding on his more intricate and complicated messages inherent to this album. Suffice to say, a lot of territory is covered and Mr. Siegel is a risk-taker worthy of a listen.
The Way to Peace is bucolic in its message of hope in a world that too often lacks understanding and com- mon sense as it loses its way. Incidentally, his song “In Palestine” went viral on YouTube. As Wallowitch put it, “… I only hope that time will be your friend.” That, alone, may sum up the philosophy of this disc. This is a memorable album from a deeply sincere artist who sends out a devastating and haunting message that is simply from the heart.
— John Hoglund