Brian Crain – Piano And Violin Duet (2012)

FrontCover1Brian 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. (Patsy Morita)

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This CD is my favorite. The music is calming and dreamy. I use to do ballroom dancing. This piano and violin music brings back good memories while I sit and dance to the music in my mind. (I am in a wheelchair without legs). I am looking RitaChepurchenkoforward to purchasing more of Brian Crain’s piano music. I would highly recommend this music CD. (by Vickie Hegyi)

Rita Chepurchenko tudied at the Conservatorie and at the Academy of Music in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the class of Professor Boris Gutnikov, where she finished her studies in 1983.

She played first violin at The Quartet of the Conservatoire Rimski-Korsakov and was member of The Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra in the years 1984 – 1986. Post-graduate exam in 1986. In 1992 she led The String Sextet of Lille, France.

In 1995 in all the history of The Prague Symhony Orchestra, she was the first wuman to become its leader (first violinist) and she is often asked to play as soloist with prestigious orchestras.

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Personnel:
Rita Chepurchenko (violin)
Brian Crain (piano)

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Tracklist:
01. Dream Of Dreams 4.21
02. Time Forgotten 5.25
03. Solitary Hill 2.59
04. Rain 4.32
05. Largo Maestoso 4.51
06. Wind 4.26
07. Adagio Con Amore 5.24
08. Andantino 3.56
09. Italian Summer 5.24
10. Butterfly Waltz 3.32
11. Reminiscence 4.33

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To me this music, has a sad yet very emotional feeling to it. It reminds me of cold, rainy days or the sky lit up by millions of stars! It gives you an image of something very majestic and beautiful that would make you cry at the sight of it. This piece of music is very beautiful and you should be proud! (Aanum Ghauri)

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Amsterdam Klezmer Band – Mokum (2012)

FrontCover1Starting twenty years ago as a group of buskers playing traditional Yiddish party music on the streets, the Amsterdam Klezmer Band has evolved into an internationally celebrated band with a rock solid live reputation. The AKB reenergizes the sound of Klezmer by casually throwing contemporary styles and techniques into the mix. The band keeps traditional music fresh, urgent and very danceable. Audiences all over the world love it, and The Magnificent Seven of Klezmer unleash a dance party wherever they take the stage.

The AKB is both streetwise and classically trained. The seven band members embody the spiritual kindred of the klezmorim: the professional Jewish musicians who travelled across Eastern Europe two centuries ago. However, the band is not dogmatic or limited by traditions and expectations. The AKB embraces the most diverse musical styles and cultures as they go along. Influences from jazz, ska, dance or hip-hop fall effortlessly into place. The result is a distinctive breed of progressive Klezmer music, in which the Amsterdam spirit of freedom and tolerance is always present.

The band plays clubs, concert venues, and festivals all over the world. They have performed in 34 countries, including Brazil, Mexico and South Korea. The AKB was successful long before the Balkan hype became a worldwide phenomenon. It turned out that their unique sound was perfect for the popular Balkan Beats. Many of their songs were being sampled and mixed by dance producers. The Shantel mix Sadagora Hot Dub, for example, became a genuine club hit.

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The band’s creative and innovative attitude continues to inspire a new generation of fellow musicians. The band frequently collaborates with guest musicians and producers. To promote 2014 album Blitzmash, the band hit the road with an XL line-up, including drums and electronics, adding even more power and urgency to their music. The Blitzmash extravaganza became an international club and festival hit.

In 2014 the Amsterdam Klezmer Band embarked on a poetic theatrical tour in which the band explored new layers within their music. The performance Benja allowed time for longer pieces with subtle solos and compelling interplay of brass. Benja received rave reviews and drew full houses. And despite the more subdued mood, by the end of the evening the crowd was cheering and dancing once again. The inevitable result of the AKB’s infectious music and passionate energy. (taken from their website)

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Mokum is the Yiddish word for ‘city.’ For hundreds of years it has also been
slang and something of a pet name for Amsterdam as the free port and haven for
dissidents from every corner of the globe. Mokum has offered religious, political and
creative refuge to a host of Jews, Huguenots, artists and free thinkers, to which the
likes of Descartes, Vivaldi, John Adams, Chet Baker and Dutch provo activist Roel
van Duijn can attest.

That special blend of longing for freedom and the desire to create a home where one
is truly welcome is at the fundamental root of the Amsterdam Klezmer Band. ‘Mokum’
is also the title of the CD that celebrates the septet’s fifteenth anniversary. What
better reason then to make Mokum a live album since their concerts in over thirty-two
countries have earned them a resounding reputation. It’s release party marks their
1000th gig. They have played at such prestigious festivals as North Sea Jazz (NL),
Sziget (HU), Ollin Kan (MX), Ashkenaz (CA), Jarasum (KR), Moscow Jazz (RU) and
Lowlands (NL) and renowned venues as Paradiso (Amsterdam), Cité de la Musique
(Paris), Batschkapp (Frankfurt), Babylon (Istanbul) and Concertgebouw (Mokum).
And that for a band that began playing in the street.

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Each member of Amsterdam Klezmer Band are virtuoso players in their own right,
having studied at both conservatory and school of hard knocks and who have all paid
their dues on the jazz, funk and Latin scenes. This omnivorous attitude allows the
band to bring out the true essence of klezmer, that party and wedding music with a
tinge of melancholy that originated in 19th century Eastern Europe and was played
by itinerant Jewish musicians – ‘the klezmorim’ – who absorbed everything that came
their way into their music. As contemporary heirs to this tradition, this magnificent
seven mix contemporary styles into the steaming melting pot.

Balkan blues embrace 4/4 time Yiddish scales that alternate with blistering passages
of sirba merging straight into Mokum rap from Amsterdam’s Jordaan district.
On ‘Mokum’ Amstel, Danube and Bosphorus flow together, surging home into one
big, warm free port. (by Stan Rijven)

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Personnel:
Jasper de Beer (bass, guitar banjo, background vocals)
Job Chajes (saxophone, vocals & bass on 10.)
Alec Kopyt (vocals, percussion)
Gijs Levelt (trumpet)
Joop van der Linden (trombone, percussion)
Janfie van Strien (clarinet, background vocals)
Theo van Tol (accordion)

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Tracklist:
01. Di Naie Chuppe (Chajes) 2.48
02. Takaj Zhizn (Janfie van Strien/Alec Kopyt) 3.50
03. Fryske Bulgar (v.d.Linden) 4.54
04. Son (Levelt/Kopyt) 4.35
05. Magnificent Seven Medley (Chajes(v.Strien/Levelt) 4.59
06. Di Zilberne Chassene (Traditional) 4.14
07. Blue Hora (v.Strien) 5.19
08. Marusja (v.Tol/Kopyt) 6.31
09. Op een Goppe (Chajes) 3.49
10. Noushka (d.Beer) 4.30
11. Naie Kashe (Chajes/ Kopyt) 3.17
12. Pluk (Levelt) 6.10
13. Oscar’s Cocek (Levelt) 4.23
14. Chassid in Amsterdam (Chajes) 3.13
15. Limonchiki (Traditional) 3.39
16. Koningsplein (Chajes) 3.41

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Latin Quarter – Ocean Head (2012)

FrontCover1When Latin Quarter split up in 1998 Steve Skaith went to live in Mexico where he met and formed the Steve Skaith Band with Mexican musicians, and released the albums Mexile 2003, Empires and Us 2005 and Imaginary Friend 2007. He then returned to England and re-recorded some early Latin Quarter songs on Latin Quarter Revisited 2010.

In 2011 Skaith and lyricist Jones re-formed Latin Quarter with original vocalist Yona Dunsford, bass player Greg Harewood and keyboard player Steve Jeffries. They released the albums Ocean Head in 2012 and Tilt in 2014 (by wikipedia)

‘…one of the most exquisite albums to ever come out of England.’

That is how the New York Daily News described ‘Modern Times’ the debut album of the group Latin Quarter in 1986. In Germany too it was received with great enthusiasm and went on to sell nearly 250.000 copies. In total, Latin Quarter made 6 critically acclaimed albums before finally splitting up in 1998.

Now, five of the original band members are back together with a new acoustic-pop album, entitled “Ocean Head”. The album, to be released in Europe on February 17, 2012, contains 10 new and 1 older song, and combines the political and the personal themes for which Latin Quarter have always been renowned.

LatinQuarter01Steve Skaith & Yona Dunsford

This is a stunning album which I hope will bring Latin Quarter the recognition they deserve. With the return of some of the original members of Latin Quarter, Yona (Dunsford) sharing the vocal responsibilities with Steve (Skaith), accompanied with some wonderful musical melodies this is undoubtedly the finest album I have purchased in many years.

The title track ‘Ocean Head’ is the only re-worked track on the album, but sounds so much better than the original version did – if you have not listened to Latin Quarter before then I would recommend listening to this track to get a taste of the rest of the album. Also “Walking on the Wing” and “If I Believed in God” are quite magical – if this were an old style cassette tape I probably would have worn out these tracks by now.

The only track I don’t really like is “Miss Teen USA”, so again if you haven’t had much exposure to LQ before, don’t judge the album by listening to this track alone – that is to say it’s not bad, just isn’t in class like the other 10 tracks on the album. If you like the album and are in the UK or Germany the band will be touring soon, unfortunately not in my neck of the woods (pacific north west) anytime soon.

As with all LQ songs the lyrics are smart and intelligent, the music sublime. (by Andy)

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Personnel:
Yona Dunsford (vocals)
Greg Harewood (bass)
Steve Jeffries (keyboards, background vocals)
Steve Skaith (guitar, vocals)
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Mike Jones  (lyrics)

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Tracklist:
01. No Man’s Land (Dunsford/Harewood/Jones)  4.30
02.. Legalise It ( The Making Of Al Capone) (Skaith) 3.59
03. Miss Teen USA (Skaith/Jones) 3.39
04. Even Superman (Is Dead) (Skaith/Jones) 3.26
05. Unwind (Dunsford/Harewood/Jones) 3.31
06. Walking On The Wing (Skaith/Jones) 3.52
07. If I Believed In God (Skaith) 4.31
08. Love Can Sometimes Fall (Skaith/Racklin/Johnson) 4.25
09. The Last Flight Of Dag Hammarskjold (Skaith/Jeffries/Jones) 3.09
10. Another Night’s Broken Glass (Skaith/Jones) 3.23
11. Ocean Head (Skaith/Jones) 4.09

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A bomb drops on some wedding party
But these aren’t people we count worthy
Un-named, unimportant, in some non-place
Brown skins usually.
More settlements on the West Bank
And evictions in Jerusalem
Such righteous men with their righteous wars
And their righteous talks of peace.

If I believed in God I would ask him
Could we start all over again
That’s what I would ask him
If I believed in God I would ask him
Could we start all over again
That’s what I would ask him…..
Do without the kings and those who strive
To live above the rest
And can ‘truth’ mean what it says
And not what power thinks is best.
No serpent please nor all the fear
Of women, sex and love
And not worship men
Who once would sacrifice their only son.

More and more I turn away from so much I know is true
Turn right to the back page
And bury myself in transfer news
Don’t want to hear about some woman stoned
Or blasphemer running for his life
Many now they do fight back
But I deny is how I survive.

Tetsuo Sakurai – Talking Bass (2012)

FrontCover1Tetsuo Sakurai (櫻井(桜井) 哲夫 Sakurai Tetsuo, born 13 November 1957) is a Japanese bassist. To date, he has released a total of 37 albums as a member of Casiopea and Jimsaku and solo artist, and has also made 3 bass instructional videos.

Tetsuo Sakurai started playing bass when he was 13 years old.

In 1976, Sakurai, with Issei Noro, founded jazz fusion band Casiopea. He released 19 albums while in Casiopea but later left the band with Akira Jimbo in 1989 over musical differences. Both of them then went on to form a new jazz fusion supergroup, Jimsaku. Jimsaku was active for nine years, until 1998, when it was disbanded and both Sakurai and Jimbo went on to pursue individual solo careers.

Sakurai’s third solo album TLM20, released in 2000, was recorded live in a concert with Casiopea members Issei Noro and Minoru Mukaiya, Akira Jimbo, and Kazuki Katsuta of Dimension. The fourth solo album Gentle Hearts, released in 2001, was recorded with Greg Howe & Dennis Chambers. The fifth solo album Cartas do Brasil was released in 2003 and was a vocal ballad cover album recorded in Rio de Janeiro with Djavan, Ivan Lins, Rosa Passos and other artists.[who?] In 2004, Tetsuo toured with Greg & Dennis. The following year, the tour live performances was released on DVD titled Gentle Hearts Tour 2004.

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Sakurai is currently composing and playing his own music as a solo artist with domestic and foreign musicians. (by wikipedia)

A new solo album by Japanese famous bassist Tetsuo Sakurai released on this summer in Japan.
This album contains 10 musics; 8 cover songs (Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Micheal Jackson,
Jaco Pastorius, and so on.) and 2 self-cover musics.
And Marcus Miller plays on “Butterfly” for guest!

These musics are slow and medium tempo arranged -Jazz, standard, pops and ballade.
Moreover, he plays Warwick Infinity 5 strings as main bass; Fodera 5 strings, Fodera
Emperor II 6 strings fletless and Fender Jazz Bass Jaco Pastorious tribute model.
And he plays guitar and sings some songs.

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Many genres of music harmonized on his bass-play, and appears his humanity.
In this album base melody sing like talking as beautifully as lead instrument.
It’s a heartwarming, gently and sweet album.
Hope to listened by his fan all around the world.

Songs List;
01. The Long And Winding Road (John Lennon & Paul McCartney)
– Beatles song cover plays fletless bass
02. Donna Lee (Charlie Parker)
– Charles Parker music cover like Jaco Pastorious bass play
03. Butterfly (Herbie Hancock)
– Herbie Hancock music cover play with Marcus Miller
04. Sunflower (Henry Mancini)
– “Sunflower” movie track by Henry Mancini plays fletless bass
05. I Wish (Stevie Wonder)
– Stevie Wonder song cover plays 8 tracks bass
06. I Can’t Help It (Susaye Greene / Stevie Wonder)
– Micheal Jackson song cover with his vocal and guitar
07. Sailing Alone (Tetsuo Sakurai)
– Tetsuo Sakurai self-coverd plays one bass
08. Alisa (Tetsuo Sakurai)
– Tetsuo Sakurai self-covered plays bass and guitar
09. Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael)
– American standard song cover solo bass play
10. Miagete Goran Yoru No Hoshi Wo (Rokusuke Ei / Taku Izumi)
– Japanese song cover with his vocal (by Kanako Takizawa)

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Personnel:
Tetsuo Sakurai (bass, guitar, vocal, programmin
Imaizumi Taiki (keyboards)
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Marcus Miller (bass on 03.)

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Tracklist:
01. The Long And Winding Road (Lennon/McCartney) 4.08
02. Donna Lee (Parker) 3.07
03. Butterfly (Hancock) 5.54
04. Sunflower (Mancini) 3.56
05. I Wish (Wonder) 3.34
06. I Can’t Help It (Greene/Wonder) 4.07
07. Sailing Alone (櫻井哲夫)(Sakurai) 4.22
08. Alisa (櫻井哲夫)(Sakurai) 4.40
09. Stardust (Carmichael) 2.39
10. Miagete Goran Yoru No Hoshi Wo 見上げてごらん夜の星を (永六輔/いずみたく)(Ei/Izumi) 4.49

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Dion (DiMucci) – Tank Full Of Blues (2012)

FrontCover1When Dion DiMucci was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Traditional Blues category for 2006’s Bronx in Blue, an excellent collection of blues standards, it was an official affirmation that he was “back.” In truth, he’d never left, and had been recording all along. He issued a stellar follow-up in 2007’s Son of Skip James, a collection of revelatory blues covers and fine new material. The third album in this blues trilogy is Tank Full of Blues. Recorded in a trio setting, Dion produced the album, wrote all but two selections, and played the hell out of all the guitars on it. Tank Full of Blues is a slippery, street-smart, utterly inspired album of blues and roots rock tunes that are free of nostalgia and drenched in history. Truth be told, any of the current era’s bluesmen would be hard pressed to come up with lyrics near as profound as those found the in the harrowing “Ride’s Blues (For Robert Johnson).” The track offers a new myth about the great bluesman; it delves deep into spiritual matters while addressing the terror that lies in the heart of anyone lost to her or himself.

There’s a redemptive twist that’s as surprising as it is free of cliches. The meld of acoustic and distorted snarling electric guitars tells its own story — the story of the blues itself — to underscore the narrative. The title track, offered in swaggering Chicago blues style, offers a familiar and bitingly humorous tale of the life of an itinerant musician to be Dion01sure, but in a larger sense, also speaks to the conflicted nature of the human heart. “Two Trains” is a beautifully executed medley of Muddy Waters’ “Still a Fool” and Johnson’s “Ramblin’ on My Mind.” “My Michelle” pays tribute to Jimmy Reed’s enduring musical influence and sense of humor.

The strutting, updated rockabilly in “I’m Ready to Go” lays out Dion’s sense of purpose in this world and the next. Finally, in “Bronx Poem,” a spoken word piece that closes the disc, Dion speaks the unvarnished truth about where he’s been and, perhaps even more bravely in this cynical age, where he stands — without flinching. He possesses a rhyme skill set that would make any rapper jealous. Accompanied by his own haunting guitars and Robert Guertin’s quietly shuffling drums, Dion celebrates humanity in the light of his spiritual convictions. In doing so, he comes full circle to meet himself as a street corner poet in the 1950s, and reveals his wisdom as the result of his experiences in the past and the present. He has no need to romanticize or apologize; he remains the keen-eyed, tender-hearted observer he has always been. Tank Full of Blues may be the late entry in a catalog of great work by Dion, but it stands with his best recordings. In fact, it is the album he’s been waiting an entire career to make. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Dion DiMucci(guitar, vocals)
Bob Guertin (bass)
Robert “The Hurty Gurty Man” Guertin (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Tank Full Of Blues (Aquilina/DiMucci) Dion 4:14
02 I Read It (In The Rolling Stone) (Aquilina/DiMucci) 3.57
03. Holly Brown (DiMucci) 3.35
04. Ride’s Blues (For Robert Johnson) (Aquilina/DiMucci) 4.41
05. Two Train Medley
05.1. Still A Fool (Morganfield)
06.2. Ramblin’ On My Mind (Johnson) 4.06
06. You Love Me Baby (Mooney Dion) 3.49
07. You Keep Me Cryin’ (DiMucci) 4.24
08. My Michelle (Aquilina/DiMucci) 3.52
09. My Baby’s Cryin’ (DiMucci) 3.40
10. I’m Ready To Go (Aquilina/DiMucci) 3.13
11. Bronx Poem (DiMucci) 5.04

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Max Richter – Recomposed By Max Richter – Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (2012)

FrontCover1It starts with a shimmer of something strange and soft, an ambient mist of strings that’s both electronic and acoustic. Then something weird happens. Out of these shifting sonic tides comes an ensemble of violins – playing fragments of the world’s most overfamiliar concerto, the soundtrack to 1,000 adverts, an on-hold phone favourite that features on every classical compilation ever. Yes, it’s Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – but not as we know it.

This is Vivaldi Recomposed, by genre-hopping, new-music maestro Max Richter. So the big, clanging question is: why? Why retouch, rework, and reimagine Vivaldi’s evergreen pictorial masterpiece? “The Four Seasons is something we all carry around with us,” says Richter, a German-born British composer. “It’s just everywhere. In a way, we stop being able to hear it. So this project is about reclaiming this music for me personally, by getting inside it and rediscovering it for myself – and taking a new path through a well-known landscape.”

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(from left) André de Ridder, Max Richter and Daniel Hope

This involved “throwing molecules of the original Vivaldi into a test tube with a bunch of other things, and waiting for an explosion”. You can hear this chemical reaction particularly well at the opening of Richter’s reworked Summer concerto, which has become a weird collision of Arvo Pärt-likemelancholy in the solo violin and a minimalist workout for the rest of the strings. “There are times I depart completely from the original, yes, but there are moments when it pokes through. I was pleased to discover that Vivaldi’s music is very modular. It’s pattern music, in a way, so there’s a connection with the whole post-minimalist aesthetic I’m part of.”

Part of the fun of the album is that your ears play tricks with your memory of the original: these familiar melodies do unexpected things, resulting in an experience that’s both disturbing yet full of strange delights. And imagine how it felt for Recomposed’s solo violinist Daniel Hope: having played the original for decades, he – and more importantly his fingers – faced a surreal task when he first picked his way through Richter’s score.

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“It was incredibly thought-provoking,” he says. “I had to deal with all the curveballs Max throws at you, the way he does things you don’t expect.” The experience clearly messed with Hope’s mind. “What really threw me was the first movement of Autumn. He pulls the rhythm around, starts dropping quavers here and there. You end up with a rickety and slightly one-legged Vivaldi. It’s incredibly funny. But even in poking fun at the original, there’s always enormous respect.”

The slow movement of Winter is another standout moment for Hope. “It’s really out of this world,” he says. “It’s as if an alien has picked it up and pulled it through a time warp. It’s really eerie: Max has kept Vivaldi’s melody, but it’s pulled apart by the ethereal harmonics underneath it.”

Can it all work beyond the recording studio? Audiences at the Barbican in London will find out later this month, when Vivaldi Recomposed is given its debut performance, with Hope backed by the Britten Sinfonia under the baton of André de Ridder. If the work sends listeners back to the original with new ears, that’s all part of the point, says Richter. “The original Four Seasons is a phenomenally innovative and creative piece of work. It’s so dynamic, so full of amazing images. And it feels very contemporary. It’s almost a kind of jump-cut aesthetic – all those extreme leaps between different kinds of material. Hats off to him. That’s what I’m really pleased with: my aim was to fall in love with the original again – and I have.”

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Personnel:
Daniel Hope (violin)
Max Richter (synthesizer)
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Konzerthaus Kammerorchester Berlin conducted by André de Ridder:
Raphael Alpermann (harpsichord)
Matthias Benker (viola)
Karoline Bestehorn (violin)
Cornelia Dill (violin)
David Drost (cello)
Ying Guo (cello)
Johannes Jahnel (violin)
Alexander Kahl (cello)
Felix Korinth  (viola)
Jana Krämer (violin)
Christoph Kulicke (violin)
Sayako Kusaka (violin)
Alicia Lagger (violin)
Nerina Mancini (cello)
Ronith Mues (harp)
Jorge Villar Paredes (bass)
Katja Plagens (viola)
Martin Schmidt (viola)
Georg Schwärsky (bass)
Sandor Tar (bass)
Ulrike Töppen (violin)

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Tracklist:

Recomposed By Max RichterVivalid The Four Seasons:
01. Spring 0  0.42
02. Spring 1  2.31
03. Spring 2   3.19
04. Spring 3  3.09
05. Summer 1   4.11
06. Summer 2   3.59
07. Summer 3  5.01
08. Autumn 1   5.42
09. Autumn 2  3.08
10. Autumn 3   1.45
11. Winter 1  3.01
12. Winter 2  2.51
13. Winter 3  4.39

Music: Antonio Vivaldi + Max Richter

Electronic Soundscapes:
14. Shadow 1   3.55
15. Shadow 2  2.32
16. Shadow 3   3.34
17. Shadow 4   2.33
18. Shadow 5   3.00

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Iris Romen – Vintage Gal Hour (2012)

FrontCover1Looking at the cover photo, you could be excused for thinking “Vintage Gal Hour” is an album from the Golden Fifties. A classically-cut dress, a bow around the waist and a headband in the hair, eyes gazing longingly into the distance – that is how IriS Romen presents herself on the cover of her debut solo album. The pose in retro-look is a stylistic reference to the sound that awaits us behind the CD’s cellophane – with its invocation of music genres from decades gone by, it also has an anachronistic feel to it at first. Does IriS Romen have a place in the present at all, with her revisiting of the vintage sound of past epochs? But of course! And how! Because let’s be honest – don’t we all have a little of this lovable little Dutch girl in us just longing to get out? Doesn’t she appeal to all our yearnings for yesteryear and the undeniable advantages it had? In a word: yes! In an age of emotionally detached, fully digitised technology, she strikes straight at the heart with her genuine, hand-made songs.

IrisRomen01Her heart-warming music with the old-vinyl feel satisfies that hunger for true emotions so pervasive today, and that makes it modern and up-to-the-minute. What IriS Romen has recorded here in Berlin together with producer Johnny Bluth (Johnny Trouble Trio) and her musician friends over a period of almost two years and using old analogue equipment reveals a profound knowledge of the 50s and 60s. We hear Old-Time Country in a style reminiscent of Kitty Wells (“You Stole My Heart”) and Loretta Lynn (“Growing Pains”), are highly entertained by the nostalgically jazzy (“I Found You In Fall”), delight in string sounds à la Hank Marvin of The Shadows (“Tabou”) and encounter twang guitars like the ones from those old Spaghetti Westerns (“Dance With Me”). But the best thing about the songs is that IriS Romen doesn’t simply rinse and repeat the influences of her idols, she recreates them again from scratch in her own imagination. Despite numerous quotes and cross-references, “Vintage Gal Hour” is completely and utterly IriS Romen. She wrote all the tracks on this solo album herself and is blessed with a wonderful, natural, unmistakable voice that renders pointless any comparisons with stars from the past.

IrisRomen02Iris Romen discovered at a very early age that the music from the early 20th century struck a chord in her. She would sing along ardently when her father put on LPs at home, and she loved doing famous musicals in school performances. It was experiences like those that led, in her teenage years, to her resolve to make singing her career one day. After graduating school she studied jazz vocalisation with Janice Lakers at the Maastricht music academy and classical singing with Marie-José Van De Beuken, while also financing private lessons with vocal coach Anne Bruning by working in a supermarket (where she once even served André Rieu). During this phase, her love of old jazz emerged.

She also came to know and love the Brecht interpretations of Kurt Weill, Paul Dessau and Hanns Eisler during this time, and was introduced to the world of Jump ‘n’ Jive, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Rhythm ‘n’ Blues as a guest singer in Ray Collins’ Hot Club. In 2004, IriS Romen, who had by then also learned how to play the double bass, moved to the German capital where she still lives today. Saturdays she takes the packed Clärchens Ballhaus, the historical dance hall that Quentin Tarantino used as a set in “Inglourious Basterds”, through rousing dance evenings as the lead vocalist of the Ballhaus Band. She also broadens her spectrum as a member of the girl group The Runaway Brides (often to be seen supporting BossHoss) and Ben Becker’s background band. Now the time is ripe for an international solo career. “I believe in the timelessness of everything that is done and viewed with the heart.” That is what IriS Romen says of her solo debut. On it she strikes exactly the tone of her favourite ages, while remaining on the cutting edge of the present with every note. Very few manage that balancing act, but on “Vintage Gal Hour” Iris Romen succeeds immaculately. (by grooveattack.com)

Oh, Iris … let me be your strange boy ….

Booklet01APersonnel:
Ricco Baader (guitar)
Sascha Bachmann (drums)
Felix Berchthold (guiar)
Christian Betancourt (percussion)
Johnny Bluth (guitar, harmonica, glockenspiel, drums, percussion)
Dalai Cellai (cello)
Matthias Geserick (bass)
Iris Romen (vocals, guitar, piano, glockenspiel, bass, cowbell)
Tall Tony (bass)

Booklet08ATracklist:
01. Dance With Me 3.37
02. Love Catastrophe 1.33
03. You Stole My Heart 2.39
04. Clouds 4.52
05. Iris’ Song 3.20
06. Bird Of Freedom 2.35
07. Tabou 3.14
08. Starnight 3.34
09. I Found You In Fall 2.19
10. Strange Boy 4.06
11. Growing Pains 2.45
12. Last Song 11.34

All songs written by Iris Romen

CD1*
**

Booklet09A