Wendy Loomis
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Wendy Loomis

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by cyndi combs

I first heard Phoenix Rising at Listen & Be Heard Poetry Café last month, and I was impressed. Wendy Loomis is the composer/pianist and Monica Williams plays flute. They are delightful performers and extraordinarily talented. I was instantly and completely enthralled by the mythic quality of their music.

Monica received her classical training outside of Chicago. Her first solo performance with the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra came at age 15. She plays with Copus, a spoken word, jazz group based in San Francisco, and teaches music at the Civic Arts of Walnut Creek and at the Copus Studio in San Francisco. All this, and she still has time to work with Wendy in Phoenix Rising.

Wendy earned a B.A. from Denison University and her M.S. in Education from Syracuse University. Besides her work with Monica, Wendy is also the artistic director, composer, and pianist with Copus and has taught music in Massachusetts and New York. She is currently teaching in Tiburon and San Francisco.

Their debut CD, Whispers, is inspiring. Though the music transcends classification, you’ll find it listed as New Classical/Jazz. It definitely has a classical influence, as I swear I can hear George Gershwin in Wendy’s piano playing. But then the haunting melodies of Monica’s flutes are reminiscent of Native American spiritual music. Stir that combination with jazz and just a sprinkling of spoken word, and you’ve got the delicious blend of Whispers cooked up by Phoenix Rising.

An excellent choice for the first song on the CD was "spirit jazz." I find it motivational and keep it in the CD player that I use as an alarm clock. That way it’s the first thing I hear in the morning and I feel uplifted and inspired to start my day on a high note. The “phoenix rising suite” is my favorite song. I find it timeless in that way that you can hear it repeatedly and never tire of it because it always manages to sound fresh. “As the leaves are dancing” is exhilarating and meditational at the same time. It reminds me of the type of song a cascading creek would play, if it played flute rather than water on stones. The fun and funky "whispers of love" rounds out the amazing 12 song set.

Whispers is perfect while working, enjoying your morning coffee, making love, or just about anything else your life entails. The CD cover aptly proclaims it, “Conscious music and lyrics for the intelligent listener.” For more information, or to book the band, contact Wendy at: copusqueen@earthlink.net.

Buy Whispers online at: www.delvianrecords.com/html/phoenix_rising.html.


www.listenandbeheard.net - Listen + Be Heard


"Artistic director, pianist and composer Wendy Loomis paints with a broad palette of jazz, classical, new age, avant garde and world colors, fusing styles ranging from Debussy to Thelonius Monk. Her dynamic performance at the piano throughout Later Than You Think by turns floats through the soundscape, supports the other instrumentalists, vamps under poet Royal's voice, then drives the ensemble with funky rhythms and jabbing, percussive chords." - Kelley Dolan, NoHands Records


"From San Francisco group Copus comes one of the most intriguing, challenging and ultimately satisfying albums of the year. The core of the group is composer, musical director, and co-producer Wendy Loomis. Together with poet Royal Kent, they produce music that is part jazz, part classical, cerebral and sexy." - Tom Kidd, Music Connection Magazine


"Copus is a musical group with some of the most talented musicians that I have yet come across. The music is a mixture of spoken word, jazz, a touch of blues, and a hint of classical styles. This music is a little difficult to compare to anyone else because I have never really heard anyone like this group. The jazz styles are very complex and the music that is created is absolutely masterful. The musical virtuosity of the members in this group is absolutely amazing. Having this much talent in one band should be a crime. The music develops into a sort of scenic painting in your mind as it is played. The warmth and soul of the musicians is almost seamlessly produced throughout the entire album. This is musicianship and songwriting at its best...I recommend this be one of the first choices for Spoken Word Album of the Year..." - Michael Allison, MusicDish.com


A press release that Delvian Records sent out with Whispers described this 2005 release as "a film score awaiting a film." All too often, labels get so caught up in their own hype that they make statements in press releases that are far removed from reality. But in the case of Whispers, the phrase "a film score awaiting a film" does have some validity; there are times when this 54-minute CD -- like a lot of new age releases -- really does sound like it could be used as a soundtrack for some type of European art film. But Whispers isn't new age in the strict sense; actually, the music that acoustic pianist/composer Wendy Loomis and flutist Monica Williams (who comprise the Bay Area duo Phoenix Rising) provide on this disc is essentially acoustic post-bop jazz that has been influenced by European classical and chamber music as well as some of the more substantial new age recordings. Whispers can, at times, be slightly avant-garde, but for the most part, Loomis and Williams are lyrical and fairly accessible -- and the type of jazz improvisers who have had the greatest influence on this duo are folks like Keith Jarrett and Ahmad Jamal, not radically avant-garde free jazz agitators. Despite being an American duo and having a lot of American influences, Phoenix Rising often projects a European quality; again, it isn't hard to imagine parts of this album being used in an artsy film from Spain, Italy, Belgium, or France. Although a bit uneven, Whispers has more ups than downs and indicates that Phoenix Rising is worth keeping an eye on.

~ Alex Henderson, All Music Guide

- All Music Guide


Discography

"Ascension" (Phoenix Rising - 2009)
"Jah Provide" (Copus - 2007)
"Anything I Perceive" (vocal single - 2007)
"Whispers" (Phoenix Rising - 2005)
"Piano + Friends" (solo piano - 2001)
"Later Than You Think" (Copus - 1999)
"strange conjunction" (solo piano - 1996)

Photos

Bio

"Composer/pianist Wendy Loomis paints with a broad palette of jazz, classical, new age, avant garde and world colors, fusing styles ranging from Debussy to Thelonius Monk." (Kelley Dolan, NoHands Records)

Wendy Loomis has released 7 CDs of her musical works and has had her compositions appear on numerous compilations. Scheduled for release in February 2009, 'Ascension' is the latest creation by composer/pianist Wendy Loomis and arranger/flutist Monica Williams (aka Phoenix Rising). The concept is a 7-song journey to de-stress and relax - perfect for the massage and yoga markets!

Prior to 'Ascension', the most recent CD to hit the world was the single 'Anything I Perceive' which was inspired by Diane Sawyer's interview of the 16 female Senators.

Wendy has received the ASCAPlus composition award for the past 2 years. In November 2008, one of her works for Phoenix Rising was nominated for a Hollywood Music Award in the new age/ambient category. Additionally, she earned Honorable Mention in the worldwide songwriting competition hosted by Unisong; and the Elite Artist Award (for ensemble "Copus"), MusicDish.com.

Wendy is president and co-founder of independent music label Copus Music LLC that presents 'conscious lyrics and beautiful melodies to the intelligent listener'. She is the composer/pianist for piano-flute duo "Phoenix Rising" and world rhythm jazz ensemble "Copus". In addition, she is the music director at an alternative church service and teaches private piano lessons at her San Francisco studio. Wendy earned her master's degree in education from Syracuse University and bachelor's degree in creative arts from Denison University. She has had three of her works for flute choir commissioned and premiered by the Flock of Flutes ensemble in Walnut Creek, conducted by Monica Williams.

As a solo pianist and with various ensembles, Wendy has performed in London, Los Angeles, Austin, Nashville, and throughout the Bay Area at theatres, clubs, galleries, and private parties.

In addition to her work as a solo pianist and with Phoenix Rising and Copus, Wendy's latest project is composing music for film. Independent film "The Gambler: Love Turns to Hate" will include her 'Improvisation for Film' featuring Wendy on piano and Monica Williams on flute.

Video clip courtesy of Dominique Jo Gentry.
Listen + Be Heard photos courtesy of Martha Mims.