“Rich Siegel’s The Way To Peace, his debut solo, was released in December last year on Way To Peace Records. Siegel is a pianist singer-songwriter, cabaret and jazz artist well known on the New York scene.
For The Way To Peace, Siegel assembled a most formidable line-up, playing in various combinations. Most notable here is the finest jazz saxophonist of our age, the always controversial London based Gilad Atzmon, also renowned for his relentless peace activism. The rest are well known New Yorkers, cellist Eugene Moye, guitarist Gary Ciuci, bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Anthony Pinciotti. Ensemble playing is always flawless, and particularly Atzmon’s soloing is as outstanding as one would expect from this great musician. Siegel himself is both an outstanding pianist and vocalist and is truly impressive indeed.
An obviously very brave man, Siegel is also intensely spiritual. His aim with The Way To Peace was to combine this spirituality with peace activism, with truth telling, truth that cannot be told often enough. Siegel’s sincerity shines all the way through this album.
Of the twelve tracks, seven are Siegel originals, some of them with various other lyricists, some based on traditional, including biblical, material. The rest are covers of songs by renowned composers including a previously un-released song by the author of Michael Jackson’s Got To Be There, the late Elliot Willensky, New York composer Kirk Nurock, Lebanese composer Ahmad Kaabour, the late New York cabaret artist and composer John Wallowitch, and others. The lyrics also feature Spanish, Hebrew and Arabic in addition to English. The Way To Peace combines jazz and cabaret music with lyrics principally about peace, justice, and a better world for all, and it does so with integrity, sincerity, truth and charisma, and does so successfully through beautiful songs. Like Atzmon, Siegel is a genuine seeker of truth and beauty.
While here and there, touches of Atzmon’s more usual material can be found -there is, for example, an intro almost straight out of Jenin and The Tide Has Changed on Shams El Aghani – often, Atzmon reveals a whole new aspect to himself on this album. He frequently veers into what is best described as the most beautiful, Grover Washington Jr. type smooth jazz territory. It is gorgeous, and works beautifully with the songs. But that is Atzmon, always something new and surprising.
The songs also include a beautiful new mix of Siegel/Lippman’s In Palestine, which went ‘viral’ on YouTube. This presents probably the most outspoken, most moving and most controversial lyrics. (But truth has a knack for being controversial. Especially where Israel/occupied Palestine is concerned.) However, it would be as impossible to single this track out as it would be any other as a ‘strongest’ or favourite track. The Way To Peace is far too consistent an album for that.
Not only has Siegel achieved his aim of combining a message for peace with his spirituality but in the process he has come up with a gorgeous album that is more than compelling and that bristles with the naked truth and beauty. A deeply haunting beauty that is most memorable.
Rich Siegel’s The Way To Peace should be heard by everyone, for the truth always needs to be heard, no matter how inconvenient or unpalatable. And yes, the way to peace, is peace. Get this!”
© 2012 Rainlore’s World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.
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