Brad Hoyt – Far Away From Everyday

by Janet Goodman

brad-hoyt_far-away-from-everyday“It’s been an extremely humbling experience so far…With all the work and the amount of time it’s taking, it feels like I’m working on a Star Wars movie,” said musician/composer Brad Hoyt in the fall of 2012 while in the midst of creating his third album project, “Far Away From Everyday.” It’s a massively ambitious effort that has taken three years and a dizzying display of thirty world-class musicians to record fourteen of his original compositions in studios located all over the globe, and the result is jaw-droppingly superb.

Musicians such as 3-time Grammy-winner Jeff Coffin (saxophone), 2-time Grammy-winner Howard Levy (harmonica) and recent ASCAP Golden Note Award honoree Phil Keaggy (guitar) make up only ten percent of this featured line-up, joining Hoyt who plays some incarnation of the piano or his beloved harp guitars.

Produced by Gregg Miner along with the artist, each track on this record is a unique collaborative effort in itself. Creative groupings are sometimes daring but worth the risk, such as gypsy guitar phenom Joscho Stephan, with Levy on harmonica, Miner on harp guitar and Hoyt on piano for their fusion of ragtime and gypsy jazz on “Sharper’s Revenge.” There’s a lightness to it all that belies heavy and heady names of instruments listed on the liner notes, like kalimbatar, wrenchenspiel, grand cimbalom, nyckelharpa and arpa viola caipira – Hoyt’s signature 30-string harp guitar. The sound is Old World meets 7th Avenue jazz club, but with a sophisticated, symphonic mindset.

Ballad “Look Inside” is somewhat stripped down and stunning, with Keaggy on guitar, Sascha Groschang on cello and Hoyt on his monster harp guitar, and at 2:45, the shortest piece “Beneath The Iron Gate” features the moving oboe of Evan Cobb. The composer wrote “Elnora” for his late grandmother, and after his first month living in Prague, inspiration led him to one of his best, “September.” These clean, crisp recordings are movie-score quality; quite a remarkable achievement – a masterwork in smart musical collaboration.