Bruce & Lisa,
Gifts of Love
(Level Ground, 2002)

I did not know that you could buy a full-length CD of elevator music until I heard Bruce & Lisa's Gifts of Love! What the promo material describes as "love-jazz" and "pop-jazz," most people would describe as the kind of "muzak" that is often played as background noise in elevators, department stores and waiting areas.

Bruce Wethey is a violinist who has performed with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, the Florida Philharmonic and several well-known pop musicians. Lisa LaCross is a concert flutist who has played such renowned venues as Carnegie Hall and La Scala Opera House in Italy. Gifts of Love, according to the promo material, tells the story of their growing love for each other and eventual marriage. How nice of them to share!

Bruce and Lisa's love for each other is so powerful that it took the combined efforts of another 26 musicians and one guest singer (who I will talk about in just a moment) to express this much emotion. Besides the flute and violin, you can hear keyboards, piano, bass, guitar, drums, percussion, violas and cellos on this album.

Of course, to hear those instruments, you have to listen to the CD. Maybe it is because I don't spend a lot of time in elevators or because I've learned to ignore background music in most situations, but I simply haven't been able to sit through this entire CD in one straight session -- even though, over several weeks, I've forced myself to listen to each song several times.

Granted, most of the 11 tunes sound pretty much alike. If they were played in random order, I could not tell you which was which. It all kind of blends in together in the way that "muzak" tends to do. But there are two exceptions.

The good exception is "Union Street." The violin is my favorite instrument. In my opinion, Bruce lacks a lot of the emotional depth reached by such artists as Hugh Marsh and Farzad, two violinists who know how to touch the heart! If you want to listen to a superior flutist, I would recommend Ron Korb. Lisa often hits notes that make my ears hurt! I can only imagine how my dog has felt when I've played the CD. On "Union Street," however, Bruce and Lisa play like two different people. I'm not sure what this tune means to them personally, but their performance is such that I can easily listen to this track over and over.

The bad exception to the general "muzak" tracks is the only selection with vocals -- "Gifts of Love." Guest vocals are performed by young Delaney Amatrudo, whom I would guess to be 6 years old or so judging by the picture in the CD insert. I don't mind listening to little kids sing, but it annoys me when they have obviously had training and they try to modulate their voice to sound like an adult. The real kicker for me is at the very end of the piece when Delaney innocently asks "Was that OK, Mommy?" Maybe some people will find this adorable; I cringe and want to turn the CD player off.

Without a doubt, I am sure you have guessed that I do not care for Gifts of Elevator Music ... I'm sorry, Gifts of Love by Bruce & Lisa. I would not recommend it. But I am obviously not the target audience. If you like this type of music -- and I'm sure there are people who do -- you can hear a sample of the song "You Make Me Smile" at their website. If you pick up a copy of Gifts of Love, I hope you enjoy the rest of it more than I did.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 14 December 2002

[ visit the artist's website ]

Buy it from