Ravenna: what is there to say about this fascinating and sumptuous work from the masters of sublime music, Jeff Johnson and Phil Keaggy, other than to say it is an absolute gem of a creation! Each track is titled Mosaic with a sequential number to differentiate between the songs: this makes absolutely no difference to the listening experience.
Ravenna is the capitol city of the Province of Ravenna in Italy, a city with a very long history that has seen many religions settle there. The Mosaics from the Byzantine era are now listed as a World Heritage site and are also considered as the best collection of religious mosaics worldwide; ‘a unique testimony to the epitome of religious and funerary art’.
Whether these mosaics inspired Johnson and Keaggy to create this glorious work is unknown, but as each of the pieces reflects a different influence or story, as do the famous mosaics, it would or could be considered this is the case. But this is purely speculative! As with all mosaic art works, the eight pieces that make up Ravenna have been combined to represent immense beauty, each note expressed with fluency on piano and guitar.
Mosaic 1 leads in with a combination of styles, which offers only a very small indication of the treat to be discovered as the various Mosaics unfold. How best to describe the pieces without sounding totally unhinged is challenging other than to say, like the Province of Ravenna that houses such rare and incredible artefacts, a City shaped by the many influences and cultures that have at various times laid claim to the area, the music of Johnson and Keaggy entwines, envelops all the various melodies of these cultures.
Middle Eastern influences rub shoulders with catchy Mediterranean rhythms, upbeat synth, and a dash of a jazz beat. From time to time an almost ancient melody of reverence, encapsulating timelessness underpins the main melodies.
As with their previous release Cappadocia, the influences of the Middle Eastern sense of spirituality, history and gracious elegance lays gracefully over the work, which in turn creates a voyage of music to enhance an enticing journey to another time and place.
Do yourself a huge favour: treat yourself to this rich mosaic from Jeff Johnson and Phil Keaggy, then relax into the indulgence that is Ravenna.
Distributor Arc Music
Released February 2021
Artists Jeff Johnson and Phil Keaggy.
Review By Janet Mawdesley JUNE 26, 2021, 3:43 PM