Album Review of "Simply Beautiful Collection II" by Laima Gaizutis

“Simply Beautiful Collection II” is the follow-up to “Simply Beautiful Collection” by pianist and composer, Laima Gaizutis. A Lithuanian native currently living in Houston, Texas, Laima began playing piano at the age of six. Featuring eleven piano ensemble pieces which span forty-two minutes, Laima is joined on various compositions by Lauren Chauvin on violin, Beth A. Wiehe on flute, Buzzy Smith on jazz piano, David Caceras on alto saxophone, Warren Sneed on soprano saxophone, and Gary Wiedon on harmonica. The wholesome gracefulness of the compositions is visually interpreted by the album’s lovely floral and butterfly artwork design.

“Whispers” opens the album with piano, flute, gossamer chords and bell-like timbres, possessing a daintily sweet, graceful aura, and setting the tone for the rest of the album. Following next is “Midnight”, a notable highlight led by piano and violin which plays out like a nighttime balcony serenade. The equally touching “Sunlight” almost feels like it could be the aforementioned track’s peaceful morning companion. Guided by a piano melody that is brushed by misty tones, it is at once bright yet subtly poignant. “Lilting” is another enchanting piece that feels like gazing upon an evening sunset, beginning with a familiar classical tune that is woven into an arrangement of piano, flute and a gentle rhythm. The faster-paced “Long Summer Night” is also a delight, with its jazzy flavor, nocturnal mystique and allusion to a moonlight dance. A couple of compositions incorporate gently waltzing rhythms, including “I Miss the Laughter Most”, which features saxophone; and “An Angel’s Dream” with its lullaby-tune. Closing out the album is “Penny Arcade”; this jovial tune is carried by a polka rhythm and features harmonica, curiously deviating somewhat from the refined romanticism of the rest of the album.

Drawing upon classical influences with touches of romantic jazz and easy listening, delicate textures define these elegant piano-instrumental compositions. Like intricately-carved glass figurines that catch the sun’s rays, “Simply Beautiful Collection II” lives up to its promise, both in its refined simplicity and innocent beauty. ~Candice Michelle

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