Motorpsycho + Jaga Jazzist Horns – In The Fishtank (2003)

LPFrontCover1In the Fishtank 10 is a 2003 EP by Motorpsycho and Jaga Jazzist Horns, recorded in 2002 during their European tour and released via the Konkurrent label in 2003. Motorpsycho did a handful gigs together with the horn section of Jaga Jazzist and used to opportunity to record their addition to the Fishtank series.

The style differs heavily from both Motorpsycho and Jaga Jazzist records, consisting of mainly jazz fusion. The first three tracks can be described as rather soothing, with track 2 (a reworking of the song from Angels and Daemons at Play) as highlight. “Theme de Yoyo”, a cover of the Art Ensemble of Chicago song, steps (partly) into free jazz and “Tristano” is built around a hypnotic bassline (which is a recurring trademark of Motorpsycho) and clocks in at nearly 21 minutes, making it the second-longest studio track the band has recorded (the longest being the title track off of Little Lucid Moments).

Although this release clocks in at over 46 minutes, it is still regarded as an EP due to the number of songs, the usage of a re-worked older song and a cover tune. (by wikipedia)

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As stated in the liner notes, IN THE FISHTANK “offers a space for expression and experimentation.” And true to that mission statement, this EP features long jazzy jams from the Motorpsycho crew, with help from the horn section of Jaga Jazzist. “Bombay Brassiere” shines and shimmer, the horns adding a certain brightness. “Pills, Powders and Passion Plays” is much more introspective, with “sensitive guy” lyrics. The rock-influenced “Theme de Yoyo” takes its lyrics much less seriously, and is humorous in an odd way (with moments of instrumental chaos). The final track, “Tristano,” wanders about on its own merry way, and you can either go with it or not. The important thing is that you’ve been invited. (by scoundrel)

The horn section of Jaga Jazzist

You could argue that with Konkurrent’s In the Fishtank series, getting a great record is beside the point. The ten Fishtank albums released so far– featuring bands like June of 44, Low + Dirty Three, Tortoise + The Ex, and Willard Grant Conspiracy + Telefunk– all follow the same template: the label grabs bands that are touring through Holland, sticks them in a studio for a couple of days (most don’t even rehearse) and persuades them to cut records that are more experimental, offbeat and, critically, more casual than they would ever make in their normal studio time. Although strict jazz and improv artists toss out live records and unrehearsed meet-ups as a matter of course– Some Guys That Showed Up at the Velvet Lounge, Vol. 3 or what have you– it’s rarer for avant-rock, post-rock and jazz-informed bands to just scribble out an album and release it: LPs are events, and even EPs are policy statements.

It’s telling that even with bands as adventurous as Norway’s Motorpsycho and Jaga Jazzist, it’s hard to imagine any of their albums coming out as loose or random as this thrown-together EP. Jaga Jazzist– represented here by their horn section– is the jazz/fusion/techno nonet known for their densely pancaked instrumentals and gymnastic arrangements. Motorpsycho is a long-running psych-rock band, extremely popular in their home country, whose work jumps from classic rock jams and pastoral acoustics to hypercatchy psychedelia. (Their latest record, It’s a Love Cult, serves as a great introduction.)

In other words: This is a unbelieveable album … a hell of a record … and now it´s up to you to discover this album !

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The Jaga Jazzist horns have tagged along on a few Motorpsycho tours and done session work on their records, but In the Fishtank is their first real two-way collaboration. On the Mingus-referencing “Doffen Ah Um”, a typically knotty Jazzist instrumental rubs against Motorpsycho’s rock drums and grungy rhythm guitar; the soft psych-folk song “Pills, Powders and Passion Play” gets an extended instrumental break, highlighted by Mathias Eick’s muted trumpet. (by Chris Dalen)

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Personnel:

Motorpsycho:
Håkon Gebhardt (drums, percussion)
Hans Magnus Ryan (guitar, bass)
Bent Sæther (bass, guitar, piano, solina string ensemble, percussion, vocals)
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Baard Slagsvold (piano, clavinette, nord electro, vocals)

Jaga Jazzist Horns:
Mathias Eick (trumpet, marimba, percussion, vocals)
Lars Horntveth (saxophone, clarinet, marimba, vibraphone, percussion, vocals)
Jørgen Munkeby (flute, saxophone, clarinet, marimba, percussion, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Bombay Brassiere (Horntveth) 5.57
02. Pills, Powders And Passion Plays (Sæther) 7.06
03. Doffen Ah Um (Munkeby/Sæther) 4.57
04. Theme de Yoyo (Bass/Bowie/Favors/Jarman/Mitchell/Moye) 7.28
05. Tristano (Ryan) 20.54

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Motorpsycho was founded in October 1989 in Trondheim, the main city of Trøndelag in the central part of Norway. The first line-up was Bent Sæther (vocals, bass), Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan (guitar, vocals) and Kjell Runar “Killer” Jenssen (drums). They came up with their band name while watching a Russ Meyer triple-feature in London. Two of the film titles (“Mudhoney” and “Faster Pussycat”) were already taken by other bands, the name “Motorpsycho” was still available. Their first album was “Lobotomizer” in 1991, after which Killer quit and Håkon Gebhardt took over on drums, forming the nucleus of Motorpsycho for 14 years until Gebhardt left Motorpsycho March 2005 persuing other projects.

 

The Moody Blues – December (2003)

FrontCover1.jpgDecember is the sixteenth and final album by the Moody Blues. The Christmas themed album released in 2003 is their first album since The Magnificent Moodies to feature covers in addition to original material. It is also their first album following Ray Thomas’ retirement from the band. (by wikipedia)

One must give the Moody Blues credit for tenacity and a single-pointed focus. For 37 years they’ve put forth a startlingly consistent series of themes: optimism, a kind of blind-faith spirituality that the universe is in good hands and that people are by and large decent and kind, and love songs that can be a bit twee, but nonetheless connect when one is in the emotional space to hear them. Their music has always been intimate and pretentious in the best sense of the words. December is the Moodies’ first Christmas album. The classic lineup has been whittled down to three: John Lodge, Justin Hayward, and Graeme Edge; Ray Thomas decided to call it quitsin 2002.

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The band is augmented by unofficial member and producer Danilo Madonia in the studio. This is the most curious of Christmas recordings. December is an album about the spirit of Christmas but, with its lack of carols (though it does feature Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” near the end), it sounds more like another chapter in the Moody Blues’ legend, and that’s exactly what it is. Like many Moody Blues records since the 1980s, the original songs are nostalgic, pointing listeners back to memories of an idyllic past when things were simpler, and toward the hope that social and spiritual renewal are just around the corner. The set features a number of Hayward and Lodge originals, obscure and traditional Anglo folk songs, a transposed piece by Bach, and a cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” — alas, if only that were true. If you’re a fan or a detractor, you already know what the album sounds like.

MoodyBlues01Unpredictability left the band’s vocabulary in the 1970s, but that doesn’t mean that this collection is without merit. For starters, it is one of the most original Christmas albums you’ll hear all year. There is no new age drivel here; its topics and themes are indeed Christian, but weigh on the side of those that are universally held: brotherhood, compassion, hope, goodwill, and generosity. In addition, it’s beautifully orchestrated and produced. Its sound is pristine, and Hayward and Lodge with their trademark elegance sound as if they mean every word they write and sing. And it’s easy to believe that. It most certainly is sentimental and lush, and has nothing whatsoever to do with rock & roll, but that hardly matters. As the latest Moody Blues album, it likely lives up to fans’ expectations; as a holiday recording, it’s unlike anything else out there. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Graeme Edge (drums, percussion)
Justin Hayward (vocals, guitar)
John Lodge (vocals, bass)
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Danilo Madonia (keyboards, sequencing)
Norda Mullen (flute)

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. Don’t Need A Reindeer (Hayward) 4.00
02. December Snow (Hayward) 5.11
03. In The Quiet Of Christmas Morning (Bach/Hayward/Lodge) 2.51
04. On This Christmas Day (Lodge) 3.40
05. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (Lennon/Ono) 2.37
06. A Winter’s Tale (Batt/Rice) 4.28
07. The Spirit Of Christmas (Lodge) 4.53
08. Yes I Believe (Hayward) 4.21
09. When A Child Is Born (Zacar/Jay) 3.34
10. White Christmas (Berlin) 3.09
11. In The Bleak Midwinter (Holst/Rossetti) 3.22

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Simon & Garfunkel / The Everly Brothers – Atlanta (2003)

GARFUNKEL SIMONIn 1968, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel sang about two old friends at 70 ”sharing a park bench silently.” Simon and Garfunkel, now both 62, opened a sold-out three-night stand at Madison Square Garden last night, singing ”Old Friends.” They are on a reunion tour — doing their first shows together since 1993 — that’s likely to sell more than $50 million worth of tickets.

That’s not bad for an act that hasn’t bothered with new material in a generation. The best they could do was have Mr. Garfunkel join in on songs from Mr. Simon’s solo career since they broke up in in the mid-1970’s.

The songs Mr. Simon wrote for Simon and Garfunkel in his 20’s were acutely conscious of time passing. Songs like ”Hazy Shade of Winter,” ”Leaves That Are Green” and ”Old Friends,” and one the duo performed from Mr. Simon’s solo career, ”Slip Slidin’ Away,” see the present disappearing into a past that can never be recaptured. ”Preserve your memories,” the duo sang, ”they’re all that’s left you.” It was a theme the concert embodied far too well.

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In the 1960’s, Simon and Garfunkel offered thoughtful, lapidary music that recognized turbulent times in songs like ”The Sound of Silence.” But Simon and Garfunkel were at their least graceful making grand statements, and they increasingly turned inward, following Mr. Simon’s more whimsical lyrics and expanding musical vocabulary.
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They were comforting without seeming escapist; Mr. Simon’s lyrics were too smart, his music too intricate.

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What Simon and Garfunkel are selling now, at up to $250 a ticket, isn’t harmony. Mr. Simon, both songwriter and guitarist, and Mr. Garfunkel, whose job was to add airy upper harmonies and sing an occasional Simon song by himself, have been famously estranged through the years.

On stage, Mr. Simon said they started singing together at 13 and started arguing at 14. And since they first broke up in the 1970’s, they have found it increasingly difficult to recreate the precise vocal blend preserved on Simon and Garfunkel albums. A live album, like the one they made from a 1981 reunion, would need a lot of doctoring.

Mr. Garfunkel briefly put an arm around Mr. Simon as they began ”Old Friends,” and S&G03while he made a point of calling Mr. Simon’s songwriting a gift, he still seems to have trouble believing he’s the second banana. When he had a foreground part in a song, he sustained it to the point of dragging the tempo; ”I Am a Rock” and ”The Boxer” were nearly transformed from folk-rockers to dirges. When Mr. Garfunkel had a high note in the background, he often pushed it, perhaps because he now has to strain to reach it.

Mr. Simon’s voice has, like his songwriting, grown more supple and conversational through the years. But Mr. Garfunkel’s voice has frayed; it buzzes like a drafty old house. When the duo traded verses on formerly solo Simon songs like ”El Condor Pasa,” ”American Tune,” and on Mr. Garfunkel’s old showpiece, ”Bridge Over Troubled Water,” the contrasts were glaring.

Although nostalgia was thick in the arena from an audience filled with baby boomers, Simon and Garfunkel didn’t try to replicate their younger selves. Sometimes, as in ”Scarborough Fair,” they simplified the music, using a cello to replace what had been vocal counterpoint; sometimes Mr. Simon sang improvisational variants of his old melodies.

S&G04‘The Sound of Silence,” which was released during the 1960’s in an acoustic guitar version but became a hit after as a folk-rock remake, segued between both versions. The band also added touches of Mr. Simon’s more recent delvings into world music. ”The 59th Street Bridge Song” included a slide version of a didgeridoo, an Australian wooden trumpet.

Singing the old songs together, Simon and Garfunkel don’t follow some of the rudiments of vocal harmony groups, like breathing in the same place or watching each others’ faces.

It’s something that might not have occurred to a spectator if Simon and Garfunkel weren’t touring with the duo they learned their harmonies from, the Everly Brothers.

Don Everly, 66, and Phil Everly, 64, haven’t always gotten along, either. But when, in mid-concert, they sang their hits like ”Wake Up Little Susie” and ”All I Have to Do Is Dream,” their brotherly unanimity was virtually untouched by time. (by Jon Pareles)

Recorded live at the Phillips Arena, Atlanta, GA, December 20, 2003
Soundboard Recording

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Personnel:
Art Garfunkel (vocals)
Paul Simon (vocals, guitar)
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Warren Bernhard (piano)
Jamey Haddad (percussion)
Jim Keltner (drums)
Pino Palladino (bass)
Larry Saltzman: Guitar;
Rob Schwimmer (keyboards, theremin)
Mark Stewart (guitar, cello)
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The Everly Brothers (on 10. – 13.)
Don Everly (guitar, vocals)
Phil Everly (guitar, vocals)

The Everly Brothers

Tracklist:

Simon & Garfunkel:
01. Old Friends 3.36
02. A Hazy Shade Of Winter
03. I Am A Rock
04. America
05. At The Zoo
06. Baby Driver
07. Kathy’s Song
08. History of S&G
09. Hey Schoolgirl

The Everly Brothers:
10. Wake Up Little Suzie (The Everly Brother
11. All I Have To Do Is Dream
12. Let It Be Me
13. Bye Bye Love (with S&G) 3.14

Simon & Garfunkel:
14. Scarborough Fair (Traditional) 4.05
15. Homeward Bound 6.07
16. The Sound Of Silence 5.10
17. Mrs Robinson 5.51
18. Slip Sliding Away 5.08
19. El Conda Pasa (Traditional) 3.53
20. Keep The Customer Satisfied 3.32
21. The Only Living Boy In New York 4.32
22. American Tune 5.06
23. My Little Town 4.35
24. Bridge Over Troubled Water 8.57
25. Cecilia 4.40
26. The Boxer 8.21
27. The Leaves That Are Green 2.52
28. Feelin Groovy 7.12
29. Mrs. Robinson 3.27

All songs written by Paul Simon except as indicated

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Howe-Wooten-Chambers – Extraction (2003)

FrontCover1.jpgExtraction is a collaborative studio album by guitarist Greg Howe, drummer Dennis Chambers and bassist Victor Wooten, released on October 7, 2003 by Tone Center Records.[2] According to Howe, the album went through a very difficult recording process which spanned two years, resulting in disagreements between the three musicians and Shrapnel founder Mike Varney, as well as several delays in the release date.

“A Delicacy” is a re-recording of an instrumental released on Now Hear This, a 1991 album by Howe II (an earlier band formed by Howe). “Proto Cosmos” is a jazz fusion composition by pianist Alan Pasqua that appeared on The New Tony Williams Lifetime’s 1975 album Believe It.

Todd S. Jenkins at All About Jazz gave Extraction a mixed review, describing it as “just about evenly divided between well-crafted, thoughtful compositions and dead-end chops demonstrations.” Praise was given to each musician for their technical craft and musical contributions, but criticism was directed at some of the songs for being “pretty much inconsequential filler, the kind of aimless noodling that almost put fusion in its grave a decade ago.” Furthermore, he remarked that Howe “tries to say too much at times” and Wooten “tends to fall into the 16th-note babble pattern.” Jenkins concluded by saying “Extraction does have its moments, but it’s not the most wisely considered entry in anyone’s catalog here.” (by wikipedia)

Dennis Chambers

Greg Howe’s first record, critically acclaimed by the guitar cognoscenti, was voted by readers of Guitar Player Magazine as one of the best two records of that year. Throughout the decade Greg has developed his style further and has amassed a legion of fans which have led him to gigs as a guitarist for Michael Jackson, Enrique Englesias, N’Sync and Justin Timberlake. Greg’s solo albums have always been laden with musical integrity and have inspired many. “Extraction” brings him together with bassist Victor Wooten who has carved out a brilliant career as a solo artist, music educator and as a member of the critically acclaimed Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Dennis Chambers is known for his work with Steely Dan, Parliament, Funkadelic, John McLaughlin, and Santana. Each musician on this CD is arguably the best at what they do and they are three of the most three of the most respected players in the circle of musician’s musicians. (guitar9.com)

Victor Wooten

Although he’s primarily known as a heavy metal shredder, guitarist Greg Howe can pretty much adapt to any style thrown his way — including jazz fusion. And this is precisely the style that is featured throughout 2003’s Extraction, which saw Howe joined by such top-notch instrumentalists as Victor Wooten on bass and Dennis Chambers on drums (as well as David Cook on keys). Longtime fans of Howe who are hoping for at least a glimpse of his hard rock roots are out of luck here, as the tunes often recall the carefree fusion days of the 1970s, when such artists as Billy Cobham, Stanley Clarke, and Al di Meola were consistently giving a clinic with chops-heavy tunes.

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As far as modern-day fusion goes, Extraction is pretty darn consistent from front to back, as evidenced by such uptempo ditties as “Extraction” and “Crack It Way Open,” as well as more tranquil moments like “Tease” and “Ease Up.” Howe, Wooten, and Chambers have certainly succeeded in summoning up a heavy ’70s vibe throughout Extraction, and as a result, the album wouldn’t sound out of place played between School Days and Where Have I Known You Before. (by Greg Prato)

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Personnel:
Dennis Chambers (drums)
David Cook (keyboards)
Greg Howe (guitar, guitar synthesizer, keyboards)
Victor Wooten (bass)

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. Extraction (Howe) 6.14
02. Tease (Howe) 6.07
03. Crack It Way Open (Howe) 6.00
04. Contigo (Howe) 6.30
05. Proto Cosmos (Pasqua) 4.16
06. A Delicacy (Howe) 2.25
07. Lucky 7 (Howe) 6.02
08. Ease Up (Howe) 6.21
09. Bird’s Eye View (Howe) 6.19

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Ann Vriend – Soul Unravelling (2003)

FrontCover1Ann Vriend is a Canadian singer-songwriter and pianist based in Edmonton, Alberta.

Vriend has played festivals and venues around the world.

Vriend released a popular demo in 2000 which received immediate radio play on stations across western Canada and earned her a spot at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. A year later she won a songwriting contest which took her to Nashville, Tennessee and helped fund her debut album, Soul Unravelling (2003), which was well received by critics and sold well for an independent release. The album is now in its fifth pressing.

Vriend’s second album, Modes of Transport, was released two years later. “Feelin’ Fine”, the album’s first single, was put on heavy rotation by a local adult contemporary/jazz radio station. A third album, When We Were Spies, was released on March 11, 2008. Produced by Juno-nominated Douglas Romanow, it contains fuller production, drawing on modern pop sounds. A single, “St. Paul”, received heavy rotation in her hometown of Edmonton and hit the Top 30 on radio stations in Toronto and Cologne (Germany). Vriend’s first music video, for “(If We Are Not) Spies”, was released in mid-2008.

Ann Vriend01Love & Other Messes, Vriend’s first studio album in almost three years, was released in early 2011. The album features a seven piece band, including vocalists Coco Love Alcorn and Chloe Albert, and includes a duet with Matt Epp. The recording, produced by Vriend herself, was influenced by Nashville, Muscle Shoals, classic R&B and Motown sounds. Vriend released a video for “Graffiti on my Heart”. Love & Other Messes was number 1 on the CKUA album charts for two weeks and received a 3.5 star review in the Toronto Star.

In 2011, Vriend provided vocals for a topical single called “William and Kate”.

Vriend has toured Canada, Australia and Europe extensively, both solo and backed by a band. Live recordings from 2008 and 2009 shows, along with new songs recorded live “off-the-floor”, were released in late 2009 as Closer Encounters. She released videos for “A Dollar and a Suitcase” and “On Your Street”, the two new songs on the album, in 2010.

Vriend is also the curator and host of the Bluebird North performance series in Edmonton. She also performs with the popular 1980s cover band Valiant Thieves.

In August 2010, Vriend appeared on the Australian music and comedy show Spicks and Specks. She has also been featured on a regional news program in the Netherlands and has performed on network television in Canada and Australia.

Vriend’s literary writing style reveals the influence of 1970s singer-songwriters such as Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, and Cat Stevens. Her distinctive voice has been compared to the clear and vulnerable Nashville sound of Dolly Parton, the playfulness of Cyndi Lauper, and the raw power of Aretha Franklin and Etta James. (by wikipedia)

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“Soul Unravelling” is the debut CD from Ann Vriend. A prolific writer and tremendous music fan, Ann has been putting words to music since her childhood days spent noodling on the piano in her parents’ basement. “The Weather”, “The Only Living Girl in New York”, and the local hit, “Waterfront” will likely be popular requests for the rest of her life.

Meticulous and thought provoking, infectious and imaginative, Ann Vriend is serious about the craft of writing pop music. She approaches it with the flair of an artist and the love of a fan. Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, and Nikka Costa are a few of the major influences on this songwriter whose work seems much older than she.

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Here is a test for you all. Play an Ann Vriend song for some friends. Note how often a new listener will start to sing along before the song is over. There is a timelessness to Ann’s music that creates a familiarity. In a short time it seems as though you have known these songs for years.

Some remarkable mile stones have already been marked for an artist with such a fresh career: performances at prestigious venues such as the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, New York City’s Bitter End, Fez and Arlene Grocery, demos recorded at Sony NY, command performances for major labels, and a first place winner of a songwriting contest, which took Ann to Nashville. (Chris Martin)

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Personnel:
Thom Bennett (drums)
Moni Mathew (bass)
Doug Oran (organ)
Ann Vriend (vocals, piano)
Alan Wallace (guitar)
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background vocals:
Angela Roy – Lorna Wildgoose

Booklet

Tracklist:
01.  The Knot Song Part I 0:05
02. The Knot Song Part II 5:10
03. Reverberation 3:15
04. Waterfront 4:21
05. The Only Living Girl In New York 4:32
06. Crazy Things 4:38
07. Still Live #7 5:16
08. The Weather 3:47
09. Brand New House 4:14
10. On Being Perfect 3:01
11.Words From The Thightrope Walker/You Will Not Fall 3:54
12. Sometime In May 5.21
13. All Good Things 6.15

All songs written by Ann Vriend

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Elodie Lauten ‎– Waking In New York – Portrait Of Allen Ginsberg (2003)

FrontCover1.jpgElodie Lauten was born in Paris in 1950, the daughter of jazz musician Errol Parker, and came to New York 1973 when she was ‘discovered’ by poet Allen Ginsberg and encouraged in her already precocious excitement for sonic invention. She went to New York University, learnt a lot from LaMonte Young and others, married, became a Buddhist, and is the inspiration for dance and concert events, sound installations and the staging of operatic presentations, workshops and collaborations with instrumentalists and librettists. She has a formidable list of work which includes some curiously esoteric articles.

WAKING IN NEW YORK is about experiencing daily life in New York through the eyes of Ginsberg, pictured in the later part of his life. From his apartment in the East Village, he tells everything about his state of mind, his body, his food, his work, his political causes – the Middle East, the death penalty, peace – all in the same breath. He is in a constant dialogue with his muses, Freedom and Compassion. He tells stories about the real people in his neighborhood, from the junkies and the homeless to the yuppies. Ginsberg expresses his love of life in a down-to-earth, occasionally satirical vision of the world, alternating with moments of deep emotion and classic lyricism. There is an uplifting ElodieLauten02.jpgelement in Ginsberg’s tolerant and all-inclusive vision of the city with its exciting jaggedness, its energy. Elodie Lauten met Ginsberg in 1973 when at 22, she first came to New York. She stayed at his East Village apartment, and occasionally accompanied him in his public readings. He introduced her to Buddhism with the chanting of mantras and meditation and became somewhat of a mentor. In her setting, she closely followed Allen’s train of thought, alternatively introspective and expansive, edgy, playful or lyrical, sometimes triggering hints of different musical styles and unexpected chord changes. Because of her deep understanding of Ginsberg’s personality and philosophy, she felt strongly about a melodic setting as opposed to narrative over music, as others had done before: in Waking in New York, every word is sung, even the most unlikely. (by elodielauten.net)

Her most recent piece was the première at the Willow Place Auditorium, Brooklyn of Symphony 2001 in its revised and unabridged version. This is a joyful nineteen-minute orchestral celebration of the Millennium in Sioux songs, mystery, magic, Buddha, making light of the dark predictions of Nostradamus, and building seven very brief movements from correspondences between colours and their sound frequencies.

ElodieLauten03.jpgClose on its heels follows the subject of this CD review, Waking in New York, a flow of Allen Ginsberg’s introverted thoughts and impressions compiled only six months before his death, and made into a kind of Two Act musical by Elodie Lauten, with singers Mark Duer as Ginsberg, Meredith Borden as Compassion, with Tyler Azelton and Sherrita Duran as the two faces of Freedom. Lauten is described as a leading light of postminimalism, and this piece seems to be doing something like that, a minimal approach to word setting, harmonic structuring, instrumental colour and even the text itself.

For a short time its fascination is mesmerising, but neither music nor text are quite Sondheim, and only a strong personal enthusiasm or connexion would stimulate concentration for over an hour on this recording. It could be better live, and it does make one curious about other works (like that Symphony 2001), but on CD its mechanical syllabic setting, show-style vocals and instrumental constraint creates a longing for greater subtle invention [listen — track 3, 0:00-1:00]. The Lauten website is, however, quite a revelation. ( by Patric Standford)

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Personnel:
Rafael Agudelo (bass)
Mustafa Ahmed (percussion)
Tania Askins (viola)
Tyler Azelton (Soprano vocals)
Meredith Borden (Soprano vocals)
Mark Duer (Baritone vocals)
Sherrita Duran (Soprano vocals)
Grigory Kalinovsky (violin)
Jaram Kim (violin)
Elodie Lauten (synthesizer)
Bill Ruyle (drums)
Ulla Suokko (flute)
Andrei Tchekmazov (cello)

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Tracklist:

Act I:
1 May Days 1988/Part I: Day After Day 6:04
2 May Days 1988/Part II: How Many More Years 7:06
3 Lunchtime (Meredith Borden) 3:10
4 The Charnel Ground/Part I: See The Supervisor 6:46
5 The Charnel Ground/Part II: Giving Away The Giver 5:28

Act II
6 Personal Ads 3:39
7 Jumping The Gun On The Sun 3:40
8 Manhattan Thirties Flash 3:21
9 Song: The Weight Of The World Is Love (Sherrita Duran) 6:37
10 Waking New York/Part I: O New York 6:35
11 Waking In New York/Part II: Out Of The Womb 9:53
12 Waking In New York/Part III: Well Come & Be Balm 3:48

Music: Elodie Lauten
Lyrics: Allen Ginsberg

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Elodie Lauten, an American composer known for her operatic setting of the work of Allen Ginsberg, died on June 3 in Manhattan. She was 63.

The cause was cancer, her publicist, Jeffrey James, said.

Ms. Lauten’s style, which incorporated elements of minimalism, pop, jazz, blues, classical composition, electronic music and improvisation — and often combined traditional orchestral instruments with ambient sounds like bird song, sirens and amplified heartbeats — defied handy categorization. While not every critic warmed to that style, many praised her as a skilled melodist who could write music of surprising, satisfying consonance in a dissonant age.

Widely recorded, her work was performed at the Lincoln Center Festival, the New York City Opera, the Whitney Museum, La MaMa, the Kitchen and Theater for the New City, all in Manhattan, and at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, among other places.

Ms. Lauten’s best-known composition, “Waking in New York,” is a chamber-opera setting of a cycle of poems by Ginsberg about the life of the city and its people. Scored for voices, strings, flute, percussion and synthesizer, it received its premiere in 1999. (Ginsberg, a friend and mentor, supplied her with the libretto in 1996 but did not live to see the opera performed: He died the next year.) (New York Times, by Margalit Fox, June 10, 2014)

Little Feat – Highwire Act – Live In St. Louis 2003 (2003)

FrontCover1.jpgHighwire Act: Live in St. Louis 2003 is the fifth live album by the American rock band Little Feat, released in 2004. (see 2004 in music). There was also a video of the same performance released on DVD.

Essentially, this double-disc set is the soundtrack to the DVD of the same name. Sonically, it is sublime; the subtleties of a live performance are all left in. The interplay between guitarists Fred Tackett and Paul Barrére is exceptional, as are the drop-dead-on-a-dime fills of keyboardist Bill Payne. The track selection leans a little more to the classic side of Little Feat’s vast catalog, with many tracks from the 1970s in the set, including “Time Loves a Hero,” “Skin It Back,” “Old Folks Boogie,” “Oh Atlanta,” “Spanish Moon,” “Dixie Chicken,” “Tripe Face Boogie,” “Fat Man in the Bathtub,” “Willin’,” and “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now.” The latter material is served well, too, particularly “I’d Be Lyin’,” by new lead vocalist (though she has been with the band for a decade) Shaun Murphy, and Bill Payne’s “Cadillac Hotel.” And while it’s fair to say that this is the band’s best live outing since Waiting for Columbus, it in no way gets to the emotional and performance heights that classic slab did, even if the band does play “better” now. This set will not likely win the band any new fans, but if you’re one of those who stuck it out after the passing of Lowell George, this collection might just be the thing you’re looking for. (by Thom Jurek)

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Little Feat and the Allman Brothers Band have much in common. Both bands incurred losses of integral personnel (Lowell George in the case of Little Feat and Duane Allman in the case of the Allman Brothers Band). Both bands realized a fallow, sub-productive period following these losses. And both bands emerged from the 20th Century with a second wind that can be boasted by few other rock groups founded in the late 1960s. Corporately, both bands took creative control of their band books and subsequently released new studio recordings showing plainly that these bands were not finished doing their thing, but were just getting started on their second wind.

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The Allman Brothers Band have recently released One Way Out , a concert token recorded during the band’s 2003 stand at New York City’s Beacon Theater. The band reprised much of their old material but also showed they were prepared to create new concert standards for themselves. Now Little Feat has done (continued to do) the same thing with their new live recording, Highwire Act Live in St. Louis 2003. This concert, recorded in St. Louis Missouri in mid-2003 and released as a DVD, was so popular that it has now been released as a two-CD set.

One might ask, “Do we really need one more live Little Feat Recording.” When the playing is as impassioned as this (and just like mirror situation with the Allman Brothers Band), there can conceivable never be too many live recordings by Little Feat. Both bands have clearly benefited by the addition of new band members and then the stabilization of their respective lineups. In the case of Little Feat, it was the final addition of songstress Shaun Murphy and long time Feat associate (and fellow Arkansan) Fred Tackett to the fold that has brought the band to its current high level of creativity.

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On Highwire Act Live in St. Louis 2003 the band retains several song combinations they have used on past live recordings. “Spanish Moon” and “Skin It Back” are coupled, as they should be, as well as “Dixie Chicken “and” Tripe Face Boogie” and “Time Loves a Hero” with “Day or Night.” The concert characteristic that makes Little Feat a darling of the Jam Band bunch is the propensity Feat has for rearranging their songs from one performance to the next. This is most beautifully illustrated when considering this present “Dixie Chicken” with that previously released on the band’s last disc, Down Upon the Suwannee River . On the latter recording, Paul Barrere introduces “Chicken” with a potently humid “Lafayette Railroad,” which was originally released on the LP Dixie Chicken. This present “Chicken” begins with a shuffle vamp that includes an eerily Miles Davis open bell from Fred Tackett. In both cases it is Bill Payne who is the real star, weaving 300 years of piano science into each performance.

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The “new” (read, post-Lowell George) Little Feat classics included are “Cadillac Hotel” form 1995’s Ain’t Had Enough Fun and “Cajun Girl” and “Let it Roll” from 1988’s Let it Roll. “Let it Roll” has become a veritable concert favorite with its whiplash hooks and Barrere extends the interior of the piece with some white-hot riffing. Little Feat’s most recent recording, Kickin’ It At the Barn , provides its two best songs, Barrere’s “Night on the Town,” featuring some inspired acoustic slide by the guitarist, and Shaun Murphy’s swampy “I’d Be Lyin’.”

One of the biggest differences between the Lowell George brand of live Little Feat and the present band?s live performance is in the production. Lowell George favored a lean finesse sound while Barrere and Payne have opted for a wall-of-sound mixing that takes advantage of the sheer power as a live band Little Feat is able to express. This power is evident on Live From Neon Park , but was not in as full of bloom as outtakes found on Ripe Tomatos, Volume 1 and Raw Tomatos, Volume 1. I readily cite “Rock & Roll Doctor” from on Raw Tomatos, Volume 1. The music is characterized by sheer momentum, urgent and unstoppable. (C. Micheal Bailey)

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Personnel:
Paul Barrere (guitar, vocals)
Sam Clayton (percussion, vocals)
Kenny Gradney (bass)
Richie Hayward (drums, vocals)
Shaun Murphy (percussion, vocals)
Bill Payne (keyboards, vocals)
Fred Tackett (trumpet, vocals)

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Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Introduction / Time Loves A Hero (Barrère/Gradney/Payne) 5.59
02. Day Or Night (Payne/Tate) 9.48
03. Cadillac Hotel (Payne/Wray) 6.47
04. Spanish Moon (George) 8.26
05. Skin It Back (Barrère) 6.41
06. Cajun Girl (Kibbee/Payne) 6.42
07. Night On The Town (Barrère/Tackett) 5.59
08. I’d Be Lyin’ (Creamer/Mariani/Murphy) 5.35
09. The Blues Don’t Tell It All (Murphy/Payne) 6.20

CD 2:
01. Old Folks Boogie (Barrère) 7.19
02. Oh Atlanta (Payne) 4.53
03. Dixie Chicken (George/Kibbee) 17.45
04. Tripe Face Boogie (Hayward/Payne) 7.18
05. Fat Man In The Bathtub (George) 11.45
06. Let It Roll (Barrère/Kibbee/Payne) 9.30
07. Willin’ (George) 8.07
08. Feats Don’t Fail Me Now (Barrère/George/Kibbee) 5.26

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