It is always a pleasure to hear a musician play an instrument usually found in an orchestra playing classical music, but switch it up and add personal creativity to their playing and also tackle their own compositions instead of notes written on the page hundreds of years ago. Such is the case with violinist Nancy Shoop-Wu because she has spent most of her life studying classical music and playing with four or five top, big-city, symphony orchestras. But now she has composed material and recorded her own album, Rainbow Road, that shows she is much more creative than many classical players who are trained to play someone else’s notes with feeling, but not to add or subtract anything from the score. Not all of them can make the transition to improvisation or independent composition.

The music on the album features her violin for the most part, but every tune also has Derek Nakamoto on piano (best-known in jazz circles for working as an arranger with Keiko Matsui the past 30 years), plus quiet-and-gentle slack-key acoustic guitars in the background. Several tunes also include acoustic bass and drums. In addition, Nancy sings on one song. She is an excellent composer with beautiful violin playing. She lives in Hawaii, a lovely place that she says she uses as her inspiration for the music (seven of the 12 tracks have Hawaiian words in their titles).

Call it new age music or contemporary-classical or modern Hawaiian instrumental, this is absolutely gorgeous music. So if you like first-rate violin playing with a few other supporting instruments, you will really like this CD. Or go the downloads route on-line. Either way, this music will brighten your day like a ray of sunlight through the clouds or a rainbow after a refreshing rain-shower.