Brian Crain – Spring Symphonies (2005)

FrontCover1.jpgBrian Crain was a musically inclined child, but he was never formally educated in music, and yet has still found success as a pianist/composer. He was born in Hollywood, and although offered piano lessons, he preferred honing his baseball skills to practicing. He also built his own home studio while working on audio production for films as a teenager. Crain’s dreams of being a professional ballplayer did not come to fruition, but in the meantime, he had managed to teach himself how to play piano as he picked out his own melodies. He released his first CD, Morning Light, in 1997, and met with enough success to make music his career. Crain has since made more than a dozen albums of his own music. The use of one of his piano pieces, Butterfly Waltz, in a South Korean drama has made him an artist better known in Asia than in his home country. He has a large fan base and toured there several times, as his music is used in more TV commercials and programming. Crain enjoys trying new ideas in his music, such as unusual meters and minimalist concepts used on his albums Piano Opus (2011) and Piano and Light (2009), to complement his flowing, attractive melodies. (by Patsy Morita)

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In 2004, Brian Crain took the opportunity to reflect on his recording portfolio by revisiting his catalog and re-recording with a string quartet. Apparently, this was one small step toward the giant leap that Crain has made here. The great adventure is that his latest recording includes a collaboration with the 52 member Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. This progressive statement comes without the backing of any recording label and yet the results are grand and magnificent.

In a short two-year period, Crain has gone from the synthesized string arrangements of the 2003 Sienna to organic warmth of the quartet arrangements on his retrospective release last year. This time around Spring Symphonies, despite all the risks and investment is not only a heroic but equally bold and successful creative step. Crain not only collaborated with a full orchestra, he also traveled to the Czech Republic which was probably a huge financial risk taking into account that the project comes with no label backing.

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Considering the creative use of an orchestra, the classical influences are obvious and are even reflected in the title of the compositions that are also divided into two symphonies. The intermission comes courtesy of the one stripped down track appropriately entitled “Piano Solo”. The tempo is slow and the mood very somber giving the album its most philosophical and reflective moment. Otherwise, the remainder of the album makes full use of the orchestration made available to Crain who continues to emphasize the melody line that he repeats over and over with additional embellishments from various members of the orchestra. Though Crain maintains his own identity his blending of classical movements along with memorable memories brings to mind the musical comparisons of Tim Janis. The tearful strings of “Andante Affettuoso” are about as powerful as the vapors of an onion to the naked human eye.

Also most memorable is the opening movement “Andante Cantabile” that is arousing and emotive. Countered by Brian’s piano bridge brings the listener to the early realization that Spring Symphonies has something very special to say. Though not quite as complex, it would be daring to compare this album with David Foster’s Symphony Sessions and the equally remarkable Skyline Firedance of David Lanz. Again, keep in mind that these two talented artists created their epics with the backing of major recording labels. Crain still managed to pull this feat off without the same assistance.

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Frankly, all of the movements are for the lack of a better phrase, very moving. But one specific mention should be given to “Allegro Maestoso” that has a stunning piano bridge that returns the listener to a luscious string overture. It is simply wonderful, as is the entire 49 minutes and odd seconds of this ambitious and audacious album.

Brian Crain has shown the ability not only to create and compose but do so on a grand scale whether it comes with major label backing or not. This artist will not be stopped and is starting to secure the word of mouth that is far overdue. However, Spring Symphonies is so superior to anything Crain has done that the only negative aspect is how does he follow up on this tour de force? However, this is a great quandary to be in. (by Michael Debbage)

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Personnel:
Brian Crain (piano)
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Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra conducted by Petr Vronsky

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Tracklist:

Symphony No. 1:
01. Andante Cantabile 6.17
02. Andantino 4.00
03. Adagio Con Amore 7.05
04. Allegro Maestoso 4.59

05.Piano Solo 4.18

Symphony No. 2:
06. Andante Affettuoso 5.12
07. Adagio Appassionato 5.41
08. Largo Maestoso 6.37
09. Allegretto 5.16

Music composed by Brian Crain

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Tracy Chapman – Where You Live (2005)

FrontCover1Where You Live is Tracy Chapman’s seventh studio album and was released September 13, 2005. The album was co-produced by Tchad Blake. It produced two singles: “Change”, and “America”.

Where You Live is a reminder that somewhere during her career, Tracy Chapman softly transformed from just an early publicized face of contemporary folk into a quiet stalwart of social commentary and atmosphere. Though she is certainly best known for her hits “Fast Car” and “Give Me One Reason,” those two songs stand within her history as suspension bridge supports: visible from afar as beacons of a structure with purpose, whose job is to sustain the action from point A to point B in her slow evolution. And with major labels’ consistent tendency to lean further and further away from hosting artists for more than an album or two, it is commendable that Elektra seems dedicated in serving Chapman’s subtlety and dependable longevity, affording her the luxury of having producers and players aboard who nurture her sound through said evolution. Where You Live is yet another elegant and easy album from Chapman, just the kind her fan base has come to expect, and with the help of co-producer Tchad Blake, it embraces some details of Chapman’s penchant for darkness, where parts of her earlier records glossed over these folds. Judging by many of the artists with whom he has worked,

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Blake’s inclination seems to be to find minutiae such as this and latch on, his approach being generally heavy-handed, but here he has left plenty of room for the songs to really breathe around their most intriguing attribute: Chapman’s warm voice. Perhaps it was Chapman’s role as co-producer that served as a ballast, or perhaps it is an example of Blake’s growth, but it is worth noting Blake’s late-’90s trademark — ultra-compressed, watery, and claustrophobic drum sounds — has been given a rest in exchange for simple, dry, and tight drums played minimally by Quinn. This restrained foundation is integral to the dynamics of Where You Live, allowing any flourish to meet the ear with immediacy and purpose. Short of a few examples, Where You Live slides along at a gentle, mid-tempo gait. The nature of Chapman’s calm delivery, as with much of her catalog, is deceiving, considering some of the heavy subject matter, but it is perhaps one of her greatest assets that she is able to allow her messages to sink in like mellow fatigue on a late-summer Sunday evening. In anyone else’s hands, these smooth edges would likely suffer under the force of preaching, but her demeanor allows the words and melodies to work for themselves. Perhaps due to the album’s fluidity, no song from Where You Live immediately presents itself as the single; instead the album operates entirely as a measured course and will enlighten those who will choose to fall into its simple allure, rather than acting as a hook for new listeners. (by Gregory McIntosh)

And this wonderful album comes with a beautiful booklet !

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Personnel:
Paul Bushnell (bass)
Tracy Chapman (guitar, clarinet, harmonica, mandolin, percussion, glockenspiel, keyboard bass, hand drums)
Flea (bass)
Mitchell Froom (keyboards, celeste, harpsichord, wurlitzer)
Joe Gore (guitar, dobro, percussion, bass, lap steel guitar, keyboard bass)
David Piltch (bass)
Michael Webster (keyboards)
Quinn Smith (percussion, piano, drums, glockenspiel)

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Tracklist:
01. Change 5.07
02. Talk To You 4.28
03. 3,000 Miles 5.59
04. Going Back 5.23
05. Don’t Dwell 3.22
06. Never Yours 3.37
07. America 3.44
08. Love’s Proof 3.45
09. Before Easter 3.04
10. Taken 3.43
11. Be And Be Not Afraid 4.45

All songs written by Tracy Chapman.

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Magna Carta – The Fields Of Eden (2015)

FrontCover1.jpgFinally after so many years it is really going to happen. Magna Carta have recorded the long awaited album, “The Fields of Eden”. And what better time to release it than on the actual date of the signing of the Magna Carta 800 years later. June 15th.

Fields of Eden has already been classed as a masterpiece and by many has surpassed the band’s legendary Lord of the Ages which went Gold after its release back in 1973. A mixture of vibrant new songs highlighted by the epic 16 minute title track The Fields of Eden.

This simply has to be Chris Simpsons best release ever!

Chris and the gang do it again!! A wonderful new release chock full of some of the best evocative music and lyrics Mr Simpson has come up with. The album moves through an eclectic set of styles, is refreshing and above all sincere. Magna Carta in all it’s various guises has always been known for creating that warm feeling you get when you listen to music that is from the heart and comforting. No “Doom and Gloom”, just from the heart!! I have been an avid follower of the band all the years they have been performing and I have to say this album ranks among the very best they have done. Good on you Chris, keep on rockin’. (by GuitarTony)

Indeed: Another hightlight in the long career of Magna Carta and Chris Simpson !

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Personnel:
Will Jackson (piano, guitar)
Chris Simpson (vocals, guitar, harmonica)
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Matt Barhoorn (violin)
Andrew Jackson (spoken word)
Laurens Joensen (guitar, slide-guitar,, mandolin, dobro, banjo)
Doug Morter (guitar, background vocals)
Derek Nash (saxophone)
Kate Peters (background vocals)
Elliott Randall (guitar)
Wendy Ross (violin)
John Shepard (drums, percussion)
Cathy Simpson (piano)
Alan Thomson (bass, slide guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Anemos / Child Of The Light 1.25
02. Long Rime Running 5.20
03. Walk Away From Heaven 5.02
04. Fields Of Eden 16.14 :
04.1. Overture
04.2.The Tumbling River
04.3.Middlesmoor
04.4. Stonebeck
04.5. The Fields Of Eden
04.6. Epilogue – Middlesmoor
05. The Same Rain 5.20
06. Greenhow Hill 4.34
07. This Time Around 4.34
08. European Union Blues 3.28
09. Nidderdale / Backroads 5.45
10. The Wild Geese (The Spirit Of The Wide Northland) 4.21
11. Life In The Old Dog 3.09

All songs written by Chris Simpson

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  • (comin soon)
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Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – Nothing But The Water (2005)

FrontCover1.jpgGrace Potter and the Nocturnals is an American rock band from Vermont, formed in 2002 in Waitsfield by drummer Matt Burr, guitarist Scott Tournet, and singer Grace Potter. They began their career as an indie band, self-producing their albums and touring extensively in the jam bands and music festivals circuit, playing as many as 200 gigs in a year. In 2005 they signed for Hollywood Records; they have published four studio albums, encompassing rock subgenres such as blues rock, folk rock, hard rock, and alternative rock. Their third, self-titled album (2010) has been a major commercial success, topping iTunes charts and receiving international attention.

The band is fronted by lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Grace Potter (born June 20, 1983), who is known for her vocal qualities—evocative of blues rock singers like Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt, or Koko Taylor—as well as for her vibrant energy on stage. Besides playing with the Nocturnals, Potter has also released solo material and collaborated with other artists including Kenny Chesney and The Rolling Stones.

Nothing But the Water is Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ first studio album. It was released on May 10, 2005 independently by the band. The album was re-released with re-mastered tracks and a bonus DVD on May 23, 2006 after the band signed with Hollywood Records in late 2005.Nothing But the Water is Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ first studio album. It was released on May 10, 2005 independently by the band. The album was re-released with re-mastered tracks and a bonus DVD on May 23, 2006 after the band signed with Hollywood Records in late 2005. (by wikipedia)

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While the 22-year-old Grace Potter’s vocal influences are obvious — Bonnies Raitt and Bramlett, Susan Tedeschi, and Lucinda Williams — it’s what she does with her voice that is most impressive. This sophomore indie album gets all the parts right. Even though the band is from Vermont, there is no denying the Southern blues, gospel and swamp rock that course through its veins. Potter’s songs, all co-written with her group, grind through a combination of the Band, J.J. Cale (who she namechecks on the opening “Toothbrush and My Table”), Taj Mahal, and Tift Merritt. Although it is self-recorded, Nothing but the Water exudes a professional sound and the band knows when to play and when to lay back. Lyrically, Potter is stuck on the lost love track, but she makes the most of that overworked concept with smart, savvy words that retain an air of mystery. She’s got a terrific, grainy voice, but it’s her piano and Hammond B-3 playing that really set her apart from the pack. The organ adds a gospel flavor — part Gregg Allman, part Booker T., part Steve Winwood — that pushes this material from good to great. “Treat Me Right” throbs with a sexuality perfectly echoed in the band’s skeletal swamp funk backing.

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In particular, Scott Tournet’s slide guitar pushes the rollicking “Sweet Hands” down Highway 61 as Potter charges through lyrics such as “it’s like touch and go without the touch” with a mix of sassy fire and feisty intensity. “Joey” tells the story of spousal abuse with images that are powerful and scary (“He looks me in the eye, he’ll hit me ’til I cry”). She goes full Delta blues/Bonnie Raitt mode on the acoustic “2:22,” accompanied only by acoustic guitar and subtle standup bass. It’s an impressive track and shows she could be a fine traditional blues singer if she wanted to pursue that avenue. The final trilogy of tracks is the album’s highlight. Shifting from the spooky instrumental “Below the Beams” to the a cappella gospel of “Nothing but the Water Pt.1” and into the song’s rollicking “Pt. 2,” the band fires on all cylinders as Potter spits out the gospel words powered by her own keyboards and the band’s surging storm of blues-rock. It caps an impressive release that only scratches the surface of what this band can generate live. (by Hal Horowitz)

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Personnel:
Matt Burr (drums, percussion)
Bryan Dondero (bass)
Grace Potter (vocals, keyboards, tambourine)
Scott Tournett (guitar, background vocals)
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Jennifer Crowell (tambourine, background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Toothbrush And My Table (Potter/Burr) – 4:31
02. Some Kind Of Ride (Potter) 3.40
03. Ragged Company  (Potter) 4.59
04. Left Behind (Potter/Burr/Dondero/Tournet) 3.39
05. Treat Me Right (Potter/Burr/Dondero/Tournet) 4.27
06. Sweet Hands (Potter) 3.37
07. Joey (Potter/Burr/Dondero/Tournet) 5.17
08. 2:22 (Potter, Tournet) 4.32
09. All But One (Potter) 4.53
10. Below the Beams (Potter/Burr/Dondero/Tournet) 1.33
11. Nothing But the Water (I)  (Potter) 2.44
12. Nothing But the Water (II) (Potter) 5.16

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Oh yes, I´m a fool for a pretty face …

Eddie Higgins Trio – Christmas Songs (2005)

FrontCover1Edward Haydn Higgins (February 21, 1932 – August 31, 2009) was a jazz pianist, composer, and orchestrator.

Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Higgins initially studied privately with his mother. He started his professional career in Chicago, Illinois, while studying at the Northwestern University School of Music. An elegant and sophisticated pianist, his encyclopedic harmonic approach and wide range of his repertory made him one of the most distinctive jazz pianists to come out of Chicago, gaining the respect of local and visiting musicians for his notable mastery of the instrument. Higgins also had the unusual ability to sound equally persuasive in a broad span of music, whether he was playing traditional swing, exciting bebop or reflexive ballads, providing the tone and stylistic flavor of each styles, as both a soloist and as accompanist.

For more than two decades Higgins worked at some of Chicago’s most prestigious jazz clubs, including the Brass Rail, Preview Lounge, Blue Note, Cloister Inn and Jazz, Ltd. His longest and most memorable tenure was at the long gone London House, where he led his jazz trio from the late 1950s to the late 1960s, playing opposite jazz stars of this period, including Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Erroll Garner, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Wes Montgomery, Oscar Peterson and George Shearing, among others. Later, Higgins said the opportunities to play jazz music with Coleman Hawkins and Oscar Peterson were unforgettable moments. Higgins’ time spent at the London House Restaurant was with bassist Richard Evans and drummer Marshall Thompson. Higgins also worked for Chess Records as a producer.

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During his stay in Chicago, Higgins also recorded a significant number of albums under his auspices and many more as a sideman with a wide variety of musicians, ranging in style from tenor saxophonists Hawkins to Sonny Stitt to Wayne Shorter; trumpeters Bobby Lewis to Harry Edison to Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard; and trombonists Jack Teagarden to Al Grey. His versatility was captured on stage and records, backing up singers and leading his own projects as both pianist and orchestrator, working in every jazz circle from dixieland to modal styles. Although he opted to decline the offer, Higgins was asked at one point by Art Blakey to join the seminal hard bop quintet, The Jazz Messengers.

In 1970, Higgins moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and began spending winters in Florida and summers on Cape Cod, where he played in local clubs. Since the early 1980s, he traveled widely on the jazz festival circuit and performed frequently in Europe and Japan. His releases on the Japanese Venus label earned him number one in jazz sales on more than one album. After that, Higgins played his music mainly in East Asia including Japan and South Korea. During his career in East Asia, Higgins formed a successful trio with Joe Ascione (drums), and Jay Leonhart (bass).

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In 1988, Higgins and jazz singer and pianist Meredith d’Ambrosio were married and became a popular team at clubs and festivals, as well as recording for Sunnyside Records. In 2009, dates in Japan and Korea were on his calendar of upcoming concerts, which were suspended due to a long illness.

Higgins died in Fort Lauderdale at the age of 77.

Eddie Higgins’s delicate tone and conception were often compared to those of Bill Evans, one of the most influential and successful jazz pianists. He mostly played bop and mainstream jazz music throughout his career. Higgins was at home playing melodies with swing-like feeling. His melodies had groove and swing-feeling without being too superfluous. Such swing-feeling of Eddie Higgins was also often compared to those of Oscar Peterson and Nat King Cole. (by wikipedia)

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This is only the second product review I have ever written, and it is the consistent quality of this CD that prompts me to write an enthusiastic endorsement. While the music is not groundbreaking in the least, it is a most solid and satisfying set of traditional Christmas tunes, the lion’s share of which are secular. I am very much a Jazz Guy, and my tastes gravitate towards the straight-ahead jazz camp, with the piano trio as featured here being perhaps my favorite jazz ensemble. This CD falls squarely in that straight-ahead camp, without being the least bit square. On each tune, you will hear the melody clearly and simply stated, followed by an improvisational interlude, then back he goes to the melody to close out. Though it sounds formulaic and predictable, it most certainly is not, predictability being the mark of most inferior jazz. And I would agree that this is a CD that could be thoroughly enjoyed by someone who claims to hate jazz; the straight-ahead jazz fan will be ecstatic with it!! I am a last-minute Christmas shopper, with Christmas Eve day being my favorite shopping day. That shopping pattern makes me feel pretty under-the-gun, once my shopping mojo kicks in.

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If I were at Nordstrom, Christmas Eve day, focused and in my shopping groove/crunch mode, and I heard Eddie Higgins (may he rest in peace) playing Christmas tunes on the Nordstrom grand piano, I would stop and listen for an hour or so, this versus the tune-and-a-half listen I would typically give a lesser player. This may sound like faint praise, but it does accurately reflect my feelings about and affection for this CD. I am stingy with stars, so that fifth star is hard to pry out of me — well deserved here, however, and, again, I do endorse this CD without reservation — great Christmas music, from the first note to the last! Excellent support/work from Jay Leonhart on bass and Joe Ascione on drums, as well. Terrific!! (written by an amazon customer called Zimmerman)

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Personnel:
Joe Ascione (drums)
Eddie Higgins (piano)
Jay Leonhart (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. Let It Snow (Cahn/Styne) 3.41
02. Christmas Song (Tormé) 5.15
03. I’ll Be Home for Christmas (Gannon/Kent) 4.29
04. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Traditional) 4.35
05. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Coots/Gillespie) 3.34
06. O Little Town Of Bethlehem (Traditional) 4.49
07. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Blane) 4.19
08. The Christmas Waltz (Cahn/Styne) 3.25
09. White Christmas (Berlin) 4.43
10. Winter Wonderland (Bernard) 6.16
11. Deck The Halls With Boughs Of Holly (Traditional) 3.42
12. Sleight Ride (Anderson) 3.48

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Tarantula AD – Book Of Sand (2005)

FrontCover1A’right; first things first: The album cover for New York trio Tarantula A.D.’s Book of Sand is one of the worst in recent history. While it’s no secret to anyone who has heard their comp tracks and E.P. that the band has serious art/music-school pretentiousness woven tightly into its sound, the cover is just plain silly, bordering on laughable. And then there’s the music. For those unaware, Tarantula A.D. are an instrumental unit. They play everything from violins and cellos (Danny Bensi), to electric guitars and basses (Saunder Jurrians), to drums, glockenspiels, pianos, and weird percussion instruments (Greg Rogove). Book of Sand is one outrageous recording. It opens with the first of a three-part suite (“The Century Trilogy, Part One: Conquest”) that winds throughout the album. Bensi’s violin enters the fray slowly and deliberately, playing a flamenco figure as Rogove slithers in on tom toms before Jurrians’ electric guitar crashes in with the first of many crescendos.

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It’s bombastic, metallic, and to be honest, quite convincing. This is art rock with a capital “R.” The band uses classical themes, flamenco sketches, folk music from around the globe, prog rock, Dirty Three-like interludes, and Debussy-esque preludes, all of them encased and wrapped in heavy metal. And while this sounds like a recipe for disaster, it works so well you have to wonder why no one’s really done it this way before. There are vocals on the album; they come from Sierra Casady (CocoRosie) on “Sealake,” and “Empire”; from Alexander and Damon McMahon (of Inouk) on the first part of another suite called “Who Took Berlin,” and from the ubiquitous Devendra Banhart on “The Century Trilogy Part III: The Fall.”

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It’s a tightly conceived mess that gets more expansive as it goes; there are refined dynamics that whisper and float before exploding into one’s ears, and gorgeous passages of detailed beauty juxtaposed against bone-crunching mayhem. The tension written into these pieces is sublime, and the sheer abandon with which this music is played is not only admirable; it’s remarkable. Fans of the Dirty Three and Hungry Ghosts will (though Tarantula A.D. sounds nothing like either of them) will find a common reference point, though fans of lo-fi indie rock will, most likely, find Book of Sand an utterly horrifying concept. Either way, it’s a recording that stands on its own as original, iconoclastic, and brave. (The import version of the record comes with a hidden bonus track entitled “If You Deny Me I’ll Be Lost,” which was kept off domestic releases because it may offend some religious sensibilities. It is available for free as a download form the band’s website.) (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Danny Bensi (violin, cello)
Saunder Jurrians (guitar, bass)
Greg Rogove (drums, percussion, glockenspiel, piano)
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Devendra Banhart (guitar on 06.)
Sierra Casady (vocals on 04. + 05.)
Alexander McMahon (keyboards on 02.)
Damon McMahon (guitar on 02.)

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Tracklist:
01. The Century Trilogy I: Conquest 6.35
02. Who Took Berlin (Part I) 5.11
03. Who Took Berlin (Part II) 3.32
04. Sealake 3.36
05. The Century Trilogy II: Empire 6.30
06. Prelude To The Fall 3.30
07. The Lost Waltz 6-05
08. Riverpond 2.03
09. Palo Borracho 5.47
10. The Century Trilogy III: The Fall 9.41

Music written by Danny Bensi – Saunder Jurrians – Greg Rogove

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David Gilmour – On An Island (2006)

FrontCover1On An Island is the third solo album by Pink Floyd member David Gilmour. It was released in the UK on 6 March 2006, Gilmour’s 60th birthday, and in the US the following day. It was his first solo album in twenty two years since 1984’s About Face and twelve years since 1994’s Pink Floyd album The Division Bell.On an Island is the third solo album by Pink Floyd member David Gilmour. It was released in the UK on 6 March 2006, Gilmour’s 60th birthday, and in the US the following day. It was his first solo album in twenty two years since 1984’s About Face and twelve years since 1994’s Pink Floyd album The Division Bell.

The album features Robert Wyatt, Jools Holland, Georgie Fame, David Crosby, Graham Nash, late Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright, early Pink Floyd member Bob Klose and Pink Floyd session and touring musician Guy Pratt. Chris Thomas and Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera assisted with production. The lyrics were principally written by Gilmour’s wife, Polly Samson.

Much of the album was recorded in Gilmour’s private studio aboard his houseboat Astoria. The track “Smile” was heard briefly in an unmastered form on the BBC2 show Three Men in a Boat which retraced a trip on the River Thames that passed the houseboat. Other sections were recorded at David’s farm in Sussex and Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios
Orchestrations on the album were arranged by noted Polish film composer Zbigniew Preisner and conducted by Robert Ziegler. The orchestra was recorded at Abbey Road Studios by Simon Rhodes.

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The album also produced two singles; the title track “On an Island” and “Smile”, the latter peaking at #72 on the UK Singles Chart. “On an Island” also peaked at #27 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
Promo Single edits of “Take a Breath” and “This Heaven” were issued to coincide with the US leg of the tour, while “Smile” was the second single in the UK.

On an Island entered the UK charts at #1, giving Gilmour his first ever chart-topping album outside of Pink Floyd. It reached #1 on the European Chart, and #2 in Canada, Portugal and Iceland. It has also provided Gilmour with his first US Top 10 album, reaching #6. The album has achieved platinum status in Canada and has sold over 1,000,000 copies worldwide.

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Gilmour toured the album with Richard Wright, Phil Manzanera and long-time members of the live Pink Floyd band, Guy Pratt and Jon Carin. Steve DiStanislao was brought in as drummer. The shows included the entire On an Island album plus Pink Floyd songs such as “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, “Echoes”, “Arnold Layne”, “High Hopes”, “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb” among others. No songs from Gilmour’s two previous solo albums were played. The tour is documented on the DVD/Blu-ray Remember That Night and the live album & DVD Live in Gdansk. (by wikipedia)

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To think that David Gilmour waited 22 years to record his third solo album is a pretty solid indicator that he’s not the kind of bloke to merely cash in on his name. After all, he’s the guy who sold his house for four million English pounds and gave the money to charity. Perhaps now that the Pink Floyd reunion happened and he and Roger Waters are at least civil to one another, the Floyd enigma can finally find its way into the annals of history and rock legend. This catches listeners up to On an Island. Those desiring something edgy and dramatic will have to wait. Gilmour wrote six of these ten tunes with his wife, Polly Samson, who also plays a bit of piano and sings. Musically, On An Island is mostly a laid-back, utterly elegant English record. It has the feel of taking place between twilight and dawn. There are a few rumblers to upset the overall balance of tranquility and stillness, like flashes of heat lightning across the dark skies; they add dimension and a quiet power to these proceedings. Produced by Gilmour, Phil Manzanera (who appears on keyboards), and Chris Thomas, the album features guest spots from the likes of Richard Wright, Robert Wyatt, B.J. Cole, Floyd/Sly Stone drummer Andy Newmark, Georgie Fame, David Crosby and Graham Nash, Jools Holland, Willie Wilson, and many others.

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The set opens with “Castellorizon,” a moody showcase with Gilmour’s guitars backed by the orchestral arrangements of Zbigniew Preisner as conducted by Robert Zeigler. Preisner’s arrangements throughout are wonderful and not quite as dark as one might expect, given his track record. Atmospheric and dramatic, it offers a lovely if off impression of the album. The title track, which follows, is all breezy strummed chords, keyboards by Wright, and dreamy vocals with Gilmour backed by Crosby and Nash. It’s a slow, textured, and spacy love song. “The Blue” follows suit; it too is so utterly full of air that one can hear the wind rustling through the palms. Wright’s backing vocals lend a slight PF “Echoes” slant (as does the Hammond organ); the instrumentation just shimmers, hovers, and floats the track along. There are rockers here, though — “Take a Breath” features chunky razor-wire chords, Leszek Mozdzer’s piano, and Manzanera’s synth work winding around one another, and the mood is wonderfully plodding, dramatic, and futuristically “heavy.” On the gauzy wee-hours instrumental “Red Sky at Night,” Gilmour plays sax as well as guitars, and it gives way to “This Heaven,” a bluesy stroller that’s given deluxe organ treatment by Fame.

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There’s a delightfully nocturnal feel that makes the track feel a bit sinister, but really it’s the sound of eros making itself heard, and Gilmour contributes a biting solo and fills amid the drum samples and strings. Wyatt appears on the back-porch spacehead soundtrack-like tripnotica of “Then I Close My Eyes.” His and Gilmour’s wordless voices slip under and around the considerable space between instruments — which include Wyatt on cornet and percussion as well as Cole playing a Weissenborn guitar, Caroline Dale’s cello, a pair of harmonicas, and of course Gilmour’s high-register blues twang. The set ends on a gentle note in “Where We Start” — so much so that it may make some scratch their heads and wonder where the cranky, diffident Gilmour has wandered off to, but others will be drawn into this seductive, romantic new place where musical subtlety, spacious textures, and quietly lyrical optimism hold sway. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
BJ Cole (guitar on 07.)
David Crosby (vocals on 02.)
Caroline Dale (cello on 04., 05. + 07.)
Ilan Eshkeri (programming on 05. + 09.)
Georgie Fame (organ on 06.)
David Gilmour (guitar, vocals, lap steel guitar, keyboards, percussion, bass, saxophone, cümbüş, harmonica)
Jooly Holland (piano on 03.)
Rado Klose (guitar on 02, +  03.)
Chris Laurence (bass on 05. + 09.)
Alasdair Malloy (glass harmonica on 07. + 09.)
Phil Manzanera (guitar on 04., 06. + 07.)
Leszek Możdżer (piano on 04. + 09.)
Graham Nash (vocals on 02.)
Andy Newmark (drums on 02.,03., 96. + 10., percussion on 07.)
Guy Pratt (bass on 02. + 04.)
Polly Samson (piano on 03., background vocals on 08.)
Chris Stainton (organ on 03.)
Chris Thomas (keyboards on 09.)
Lucy Wakeford (harp on 09.)
Willie Wilson (drums on 08.)
Richard Wright (organ on 02., vocals on 03.)
Robert Wyatt (cornet, percussion, vocals on 07.)
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Zbigniew Preisner (orchestration)

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Tracklist:
01. Castellorizon (Gilmour) 3.54
02. On An Island (Gilmour/Samson) 6.47
03. The Blue (Gilmour/Samson) 5.26
04. Take A Breath (Gilmour/Samson) 5.46
05. Red Sky At Night (Gilmour) 2.51
06. This Heaven (Gilmour/Samson) 4.24
07. Then I Close My Eyes (Gilmour/Samson) 5.26
08. Smile (Gilmour/Samson) 4.03
09. A Pocketful Of Stones (Gilmour/Samson) 6.17
10. Where We Start (Gilmour) 6.45

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