Studio der frühen Musik (Thomas Binkley) – Pop Ago (Chansons – Songs – Canciones – Lieder – Canzonen) (1973)

FrontCover1Studio der frühen Musik (Studio of Early Music) was an early music group active from 1960–1980 and based in Munich/Germany.

The leader of the group was Thomas Binkley, and the activity of the group coincided with the years he was teaching at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. Core members of the group were Binkley (lute), Sterling Jones (vielle), and Andrea von Ramm (mezzo-soprano, rebec, hurdy-gurdy and harp), who had previously organised an earlier Studio der Frühen Musik in Cologne. To these three members were added a male singer; first the tenors Nigel Rogers 1960-1964, then Willard Cobb 1964-1970, and Richard Levitt (counter-tenor) 1970-1979. The activity of the group ceased when Binkley returned to America to found the Early Music Institute at Bloomington, Indiana in 1979.

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An important predecessor was New York Pro Musica, founded 1952 by Noah Greenberg (1919-1966). But Studio der frühen Musik produced a “radically different sound” anticipated other ensembles such as the Early Music Consort of London of David Munrow and Christopher Hogwood (founded 1967, disbanded in 1976 following Munrow’s death), and the Clemencic Consort founded in 1969 by recorder player René Clemencic. The end of Studio der frühen Musik’s activity coincided with the watershed in medieval performance moving to a cappella performance typified by Gothic Voices founded by Christopher Page in 1980.

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Thomas Binkley (Cleveland, Ohio, December 26, 1931 – Bloomington, Indiana, April 28, 1995) was an American lutenist and early music scholar.

Thomas Eden Binkley studied at the University of Illinois (BM. 1956, PhD. 1959) and the University of Munich (1957–58). He taught at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel (1973–77). He was then founding director of the Indiana University Early Music Institute at Bloomington, Indiana from 1979 till his death from cancer at the age of 63. For twenty years (1960–1980) he led the Studio der Frühen Musik in Munich with Andrea von Ramm (1928–99) and Sterling Jones, producing an extensive discography of medieval music.

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Binkley was effectively house artist for EMI Electrola in the first years of the EMI Reflexe series in Germany. The distinctive Dalíesque covers for the series were designed by Roberto Patelli (b. 1925) an Italian graphic artist resident in Cologne. (wikipedia)

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And here is an album by the ensemble that has already impressed me:

Impressive if only for the number of composers who have fallen completely into oblivion, such as Giacomo Fogliano, Gian Domenico Da Nola, Luzzasco Luzzaschi, Thomas Crecquillon or Heinrich Isaac, to name but a few….

Only John Dowland was already known to me.

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And their compositions are somehow quite complicated … one’s own listening habits are occasionally strained, but at the same time a whole musical cosmos opens up.

The music, supple, intimate and graceful, and at the same time a music with rough edges, occasionally pearly.

A contradiction ? Not for me.

Therefore again a listening recommendation from me … Music beyond any mainstream.


Thomas Binkley (various instruments)
Sterling Jones (various instruments)
Richard Levitt (vocals)
Andrea von Ramm (vocals)


01. L’amor Donna (Fogliano) 2.18
02. Chi La Gagliarda (daNola) 2.31
03. Canta Giorgia (Traditional) 1.44
04. S’il Disse Mai (Tromboncino) 3.15
05. Ave Maria Stelle (Luzzaschi) 1.23
06. Petit Fleur (Crecquillon) 2.56
07. Si Je Languis D’un Martire Incogneu (de Courville) 4.02
08. Si Jamais Mon Ame Blessée (Guédron) 3.46
09. Prelude (Gaultier) 0.43
10. Blond Est Le Filet D’or (Besard) 2.37
11. Ich spring an diesem Ringe (Traditional) 2.53
12. Insbrugh, ich muss dich lassen (Isaac) 2.35
13. La La Hö Ho (Isaac) 1.25
14. Tan Buen Ganadico (del Encina) 1.43
15. Dale Si Le Das (Traditional) 2.58
16. Fantasy (Morley) 1.56
17. Woodycock (Traditional) 2.28
18. Miserere (Traditional) 1.48
19. Adieu For Oliver Cromwell (Dowland) 4.14



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Neil Larsen – High Gear (1979)

FrontCover1Neil Larsen (born August 7, 1948) is an American jazz keyboardist, musical arranger and composer. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up in Sarasota, Florida before relocating to New York and then, in 1977, Los Angeles.

Larsen was born in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up in Sarasota, Florida. He learned piano, drawing inspiration from jazz artists John Coltrane, Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Quartet, and from contemporary rock acts.

In 1969, he was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War. During his time in Vietnam, he worked as a band director, co-ordinating musical entertainment for US armed forces personnel. After his discharge, he moved to New York to work as a musician.

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While in New York in the early 1970s, Larsen wrote television jingles and played on sessions for various recording artists. He formed the band Full Moon with jazz guitarist Buzz Feiten, and their self-titled debut album was released in 1972. Larsen was briefly a member of the Soul Survivors. He contributed as keyboardist, writer and arranger on their 1974 self-titled album on the TSOP label. He began touring as a member of Gregg Allman’s band in 1975.

In 1977, Larsen relocated to Los Angeles, where he played on sessions by producers such as Tommy LiPuma, Russ Titelman and Herb Alpert. These projects led to Larsen signing with Alpert’s record company, A&M Records, for which he recorded on the Horizon label. Larsen’s debut studio album, Jungle Fever, was released in September 1978. Larsen toured the US in support of the release with a band that included Feiten.

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The title track from his second studio album, High Gear, was nominated for the 1980 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. The album peaked at number 153 on the Billboard Top LPs & Tape chart in the US and included musical contributions from Feiten, Michael Brecker, Steve Gadd and Paulinho da Costa.

Larsen collaborated further with Feiten in the jazz–rock fusion group the Larsen-Feiten Band. A self-titled album The Larsen-Feiten Band was released in 1980 on Warner Bros. Records. He has also recorded and toured with guitarist Robben Ford, who contributed to Larsen’s 2007 album Orbit.

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His compositions have also been recorded by George Benson and Gregg Allman, among others. Larsen took part in Miles Davis’s Rubberband sessions in 1985–86, which were later released in 2019. His song “Carnival” was later adapted by Davis into the piece “Carnival Time”.

Larsen has worked as a session musician for many rock artists, including Rickie Lee Jones, George Harrison, Kenny Loggins and Don McLean. He was the pianist and musical arranger for the 20th Century Fox Television show Boston Legal, and musical director for jazz singer Al Jarreau.

From 2008, he toured and recorded as a member of Leonard Cohen’s band. Larsen performed on Cohen’s Old Ideas (2012) album and on the singer’s final world tour, in 2012–13. Cohen regularly introduced him on stage as “today’s foremost exponent of the Hammond B-3 organ”. (wikipedia)

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And here´s is his second solo album:

This is just great rock/ fusion album, I’ll be fumbling thru my vinyl albums and see this and I will always pull it and give a spin. You play the first side and flip and side two is equally incredible. It’s a throwback style but highly recommended! (Christopher Ohlsen)

However, the album would have deserved a better cover !


Michael Brecker (saxophone)
Steve Gadd (drums)
Buzzy Feiten (guitar)
Abraham Laboriel (bass)
Neil Larsen (keyboards)

Neil Larsen02Tracklist:
01. High Gear 5.03
02. Demonette 5.06
03. Futurama 5.15
04. This Time Tomorrow 4.43
05. Nile Crescent 6.15
06. Rio Este 3.58
07. Night Letter 3.49


More from Neil Larsen:

Bill Whelan – Riverdance (Music From The Show) (1995)

FrontCover1Bill Whelan (born 22 May 1950 in Limerick, Ireland) is an Irish composer and musician. He is best known for composing a piece for the interval of the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. The result, Riverdance, was a seven-minute display of traditional Irish dancing that became a full-length stage production and spawned a worldwide craze for Irish dancing and Celtic music and also won him a Grammy. “Riverdance” was released as a single in 1994, credited to “Bill Whelan and Anúna featuring the RTÉ Concert Orchestra”. It reached number one in Ireland for 18 weeks and number nine in the UK. The album of the same title reached number 31 in the album charts in 1995.

Bill with his mother and father:
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Whelan has also composed a symphonic suite version of Riverdance, with its premiere performed by the Ulster Orchestra on BBC Radio 3 in August 2014.

Whelan is a native of Limerick, and was educated at Crescent College.[3] He gained his Bachelor of Civil Law degree at University College Dublin in 1973 and then went to King’s Inns. In 2011, Whelan was awarded the UCD Foundation Day Medal in recognition of his outstanding achievements and his contribution to Irish music worldwide.

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While he is best known for his “Riverdance” composition and the theatrical show of the same name, Whelan has been involved in many ground-breaking projects in Ireland since the 1970s. As a producer he has worked with U2 (on their War album), Van Morrison, Kate Bush, The Dubliners, Planxty, Andy Irvine & Davy Spillane, Patrick Street, Stockton’s Wing and fellow Limerickman Richard Harris.

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Riverdance: Music from the Show is an album of the music composed by Bill Whelan for the Riverdance theatrical show, and performed by the show’s own musicians and singers.
The recording was engineered and mixed at Windmill Lane Studios in 1995. In 1997, it won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album for 1996. The album was released five times: in 1995, 1997, 2003, 2005 and 2020, each time with a different cover, sometimes different versions or mixes of the songs, and a slightly different track list. Notably, the “Cloudsong” and “Riverdance” segments are placed under one track going by the name of the latter. (wikipedia)

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Even though the visual elements are missing, this soundtrack to Riverdance sounds quite spectacular, making a no-holds-barred attempt to captivate the listener with grandiose variations on Celtic musical forms. Adding to the grandeur and magic of the music are performances by artists such as Davy Spillane, Maire Breatnach, Anúna, Nicola Parov, and others who are forces to reckon with individually. The music transitions between soaring vocal pieces and floor-shaking orchestral numbers that possess astonishing energy. Lead ceilidh dancer Michael Flatley left the production under something of a cloud, turning up later with the derivative and far more mediocre Lord of the Dance. On this recording of Riverdance: Music from the Show, Flatley, female lead Jean Butler, and the other ceilidh dancers can be heard providing taps on three tracks, including the thunderous “The Countess Cathleen/Women of the Sidhe.” (Steven McDonald)


Cormac Breatnach (tin whistle)
Máire Breatnach (fiddle)
Ronan Browne (uilleann pipes)
Robbie Casserly (bass, drums)
Áine Uí Cheallaigh (vocals)
Anthony Drennan (guitar)
Noel Eccles (percussion)
Kenneth Edge (saxophone)
Juan Reina Gonzalez (cantor)
Robbie Harris (bodhrán)
David Hayes (keyboards)
Tom Hayes (bodhrán, spoons)
Eileen Ivers (fiddle)
Declan Masterson (low whistle)
Des Moore (guitar)
Máirtín O’Connor (accordion)
Eoghan O’Neill (bass)
Nikola Parov (gadulka, kaval)
Desi Reynolds (drums)
Rafael Riqueni (guitar)
Davy Spillane (uilleann pipes, tin whistle)

Conducted by Michael McGlynn & Prionsias O’Duinn


01. Reel Around The Sun 8.42
02. The Heart’s Cry  2.27
03. The Countess Cathleen/Women Of The Sidhe  5.41
04. Caoineadh Cú Chulainn (Lament) 4.11
05. Shivna 3.38
06. Firedance 6.03
07. Slip Into Spring 3.46
08. Riverdance 5.44
09. American Wake (The Nova Scotia Set) 3.08
10. Lift The Wings 4.59
11. Macedonian Morning 2.56
12. Marta’s Dance / The Russian Dervish 6.03
13. Andalucía 4.21
14. Home And The Heartland 3.26
15 The Harvest 3.38
16. Riverdance 3.47

All songs written by Bill Whelan



Michael Flatley and Jean Butler – Riverdance – opening night The Point Theatre 9/2/1995:

The official Riverdance website: