Artist on Artist: Review of “Aquarium Rhapsody” by Steve Pullara’s Cool Beans Ensemble

…and now for something completely different!

I’ve mostly known Steve Pullara and his Cool Beans band for raucous rockabilly and lyrics that paint a Norman Rockwell-like picture of childhood, family and community life.

Album cover: Steve Pullara's Cool Beans Ensemble - Aquarium Rhapsody

But here, we see a very different side of Steve’s musicality. We are fully immersed in wordless, classically-influenced soundscapes suggesting an underwater world that’s mostly tranquil and occasionally frenetic.

Piano, flute, strings and classical guitar appear most often through this album as Steve and his ensemble use sounds to set the scenes and tell the stories.

The album opens with “Frog Hop,” which sonically portrays cheerful leaps through our marine setting. The title track, “Aquarium Rhapsody” shimmers in a manner pleasantly reminiscent of Debussy’s Claire de Lune. “Flow” continues the graceful, peaceful nature of the watery world.

Things get more unpredictable on “Avoiding the Hooks.” where sudden jolts of flute melody portray a fish cleverly navigating a dangerous environment. “Phillip’s Glass Tank,” “Pearl Divers” and “Pond Swirl” restore a sense of calm in the waters. Steve drives home the theme of the album with “Aquarium Rhapsody Reprise Bolero,” the only track driven by a drum – in this case a snare drum, propelling the ethereal melody.

Behind the Scenes

Steve composed the album’s songs himself. As the artist listing “Steve Pullara’s Cool Beans Ensemble,” this album “Aquarium Rhapsody” is very much a group effort after composition. Steve shares arrangement credit with pianist/recording engineer Patrick Robinson.

Tess Remy-Schumacher contributed cello playing, as Mark Henkels and Steve performed on flute. Brian Nagy played the classical guitar and Vince Riggi supplied the sounds of the drums.

Who is this Album For?

Steve Pullara’s Cool Beans music is intentionally created for children. “Aquarium Rhapsody” will help create a calming yet stimulating atmosphere for any child from infancy and up.

Older children with more critical thinking skills and some music appreciation experience might engage in some discussion points about the album:

  • What instruments do you hear?
  • Are any instruments playing a character or part of the scenery?
  • How do these pieces make you feel?
  • If you could give these pieces your own titles, what would they be?

Given these types of questions about making a connection with the music, these pieces could be used to great effect in a music appreciation class or in a family setting. Steve suggests on his web site that young music students could perform these pieces at their respective instrument recitals as well.

Where to Find the Album

The album “Aquarium Rhapsody” by Steve Pullara’s Cool Beans Ensemble is on all streaming services and available for purchase/download at Steve’s official site: