Following the success of the Busoni The Visionary series, Jeni Slotchiver is humbled to introduce something so intimately close to home. With Southern roots of her own, Ms. Slotchiver's debut ZOHO CD release American Heritage is her homage to the legendary composers preserving American folk music and creating anew. What was once familiar, is reborn.
Spanning 125 years, from Louis Moreau Gottschalk's The Banjo (ca. 1854-5) to Frederic Rzewski's Down by the riverside (1979), American Heritage presents piano compositions by composers of concert music, inspired by the melodies, dance rhythms, harmonic inventions and various stylistic elements evocative of the American experience. Of the eight composers represented, six are of African descent and two of these are women. There are quotes from spirituals, use of the African American pentatonic scale, the African call and response structure popularized in southern church tradition, polyphonic rhythms of jazz, and the rich, sultry harmonies of blues. With the exception of the rich musical heritage of Indigenous people, the largest and most important American folkloric body of work arrived on American shores with the first enslaved African people.
Jazz Weekly's George W. Harris writes....Pianist Jeni Slotchiver gives solo interpretations of music from early to late 20th Century, taking you to a different world of patience and space. While classically trained, Slotchiver has a rich blues touch and a bona fide feel for gospel and folk material. Material ranges from a homespun read of "Swanee River" to the spiritual "Down By The Riverside" as well as the folk classic "Shenandoah" but with an arrangement by Keith Jarret. Parlor moods are presented in a collection of pieces from Harry Thacker Burleigh and the genteel pen of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, on "Union" and "The Banjo" while traditional pieces like "Deep River" and even 1967's "Troubled Water" feel like they've both been drawn from the same well. A journey to another world and world view.
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Soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom and bassist Mark Helias come together to create duets discovered in the moment in a way that is rarely heard today with Some Kind of Tomorrow. The long time bandmates, separated by space and time find a way to play in real time with one another and the results are magical. Two master improvisers and composers bring listeners up-close and personal to the first spark of their imaginations at work, recording eleven duet improvisations over the spring, summer, and fall of 2020. The music is raw, authentic, intimate, alive, and unapologetic in its passion. Their sound is deep wood and polished brass recorded with a depth that is hard to describe. They played the music, recorded it, mastered it firsthand and are now making it available to listeners for the first time as a digital download on Bandcamp. Don't miss these fearless jazz explorers as they face the future.
Heard on Fresh Air, here's Kevin Whitehead's piece. LISTEN & READ THE TRANSCRIPT
Shunia is a duo that combines addictive melodies, ancient chants and polycultural rhythms into a sound that feels both new and timeless. Their music captures and conveys deep energies and spirit. The state of "shunia" means stillness, receptivity. Shunia's members, Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson both performed with the Washington National Opera for 20 years before finding continued success in their solo careers. Coming together as Shunia, they combined their influences, inspirations and experiences to create genre-defying music with the power to transform and to connect you to the energy within and around you. It can put you in touch with something as simple as your five senses or as mysterious as the infinite.
American Songwriter's NADIA NEOPHYTOU writes......To press play on Shunia's new album of chants is to allow a wave of calm and relaxation to wash over one's whole self. For Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson, who've known each other for 30 years, sharing the gift that's been a major part of their lives with others is the reason they began recording together as the duo Shunia in the first place. "Music in and of itself is such a powerful medium," Reagan tells American Songwriter. "It is the language of our humanity and our souls. We know these mantras are tried and true, and we have personally been chanting them for years."
READ THE FULL American songwriter ARTICLE
WFMT: Chicago 's Candice Agree writes....From the age of 3, CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe toiled at a keyboard-not in typing, as unintended preparation for his 13 years at the Washington Post, but in studying classical piano in Delmar, a suburb of Albany, NY. Although he loved playing, his interest in current events and politics pulled him into a journalism career. No stranger to Chicago, in 2008, O'Keefe was in Grant Park the night that Barack Obama was elected president. O'Keefe, 37, is about to become a fixture in the White House press room, as he will cover the Biden administration for the TV network he joined in 2018. But he has never left his first passion far behind. He shared some musical memories with us before taking on his new assignment at CBS News as Senior White House & Political Correspondent. Photo courtesy CBS News)
READ Candice Agree's Q&A with Ed O'Keefe.
Jane Ira Bloom, Mark Helias 'Some Kind Of Tomorrow' was Reviewed by JAZZ VIEWS Sammy Stein, who wrote........
Saxophone player Jane Ira Bloom and bass player Mark Helias are long-time collaborators. This album was born out of the need to create music in such a unique time where live audiences and in-person studio recordings were impossible. Recorded remotely from their homes, the music stands as a departure from any kind of release they have done together as all tracks are completely improvised. The resulting sound is raw, intimate, and fearless.
I asked Jane Ira Bloom about the recording, and she explained, " Given how we had to make this made Mark and I rely on the most basic aspect of our collaborative impulse – our two sets of ears. Mark and I have known one another for over 40 years. We first met in New Haven CT in the 1970s, and when you think about it, you build up so much shared vocabulary when you've played with someone over such a long time.
We really didn't plan this recording. It happened because we needed to improvise with one another and so the music emerged from a different place than normal when you plan a recording project."
READ THE FULL JAZZ VIEWS REVIEW
An ensemble that attracts rave reviews and sell-out crowds at prestigious venues everywhere from Vienna to New York, the sensational Signum Saxophone Quartet presents their first Deutsche Grammophon album. Featuring inventive arrangements of music by composers from Dowland to Peter Gregson, as well as Guillermo Lago's Sarajevo, a saxophone quartet original, Echoes showcases the full potential of the saxophone – a modern instrument more than capable of capturing the echoes of the past.
For January 19, 2021, the Signum Saxophone Quartet: Echoes is the WFMT: Chicago 'Featured New Release.'
Yogi Times - Windy Campbell writes....Sa Re Sa Sa is a famous mantra in the Kundalini Yoga community, which embraces ancient mantras and modern affirmations as a critical aspect of everyday yoga and meditation. The Sa Re Sa Sa chant is believed to remove adversity and negativity from within, awakening one's Infinite Creative energy and removing obstacles to higher consciousness.
Sa Re Sa Sa chant is often a starting point in one's yogic journey, which rings true for the duo Shunia, whose members, Suzanne Jackson and Lisa Reagan, share a love of yoga, meditation, and singing; both have followed a path from opera's world stage to immersion in a chant. The duo's mission is to merge music, mantra, and movement with healing and connection.
The pronunciation of the Sa Re Sa Sa mantra is relatively straightforward. TAKE A LOOK
An ensemble that attracts rave reviews and sell-out crowds at prestigious venues everywhere from Vienna to New York, the sensational SIGNUM saxophone quartet are now set to present their first Deutsche Grammophon album.
Michael Shapiro's 'ARCHANGEL CONCERTO' recreates the epic battle between good and evil / Medium
Posted: April 13, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
I am not sure why I picked up "Paradise Lost" by John Milton again. I remembered trying to read the book as part of the Core Curriculum for Columbia College freshmen in 1969 and not understanding very much about it, the language incomprehensible to my immature mind.
But I am quite clearly obsessed with the conflict between good and evil, about the never ending fight against tyranny, it is my creative raison d'etre, so something brought me back.
And wonderment befell me when I did, and I was transfixed.
In beauteous and alluring language, Milton somehow creates that moment before time when Satan was cast out of Heaven to rise back up with his demons against the forces of good, only after a cosmic war to be thrown down into Hell by the Archangel Michael (no relation) and his righteous Army of Angels. And ever since, we have been trying to put the pieces back together.
And somehow the creative urge told me to create a piano concerto that would not only thematically recreate that epic battle, but also have a second initially more tranquil and perhaps sublime movement, Adam and Eve in Eden, before the Serpent's arrival, and their casting out into the world we all live, the Archangel's fiery sword sealing the door to Paradise.
Archangel Concerto for Piano and Orchestra is my most programmatic work. It is hopefully obvious listening to it, I think, to know what is going on. Satan, of course, is a leading man, albeit supremely evil and self-confident. When the Archangel Michael appears, he is lyrical and fine, his goodness shining. Their battle appears to be final and epic but there is a question at the end whether evil will return. It always does, and as we find in the second movement, that is because Man lets it.
In Eden there is first a different sense, at least when I depict what seems to be eternal life and uninterrupted beauty and love (before the arrival of Original Sin) - the projection of sublimity in music before the onslaught of unmitigated Evil. With the introduction of the contrabassoon portraying the Serpent (Satan), there is no turning back, and we are all Adam and Eve in this world, fighting back every day against our worst tendencies, against oppression and tyranny and hatred and xenophobia. Surely fighting back against the subjugation of each other is reason enough for us to hope for the return of the Archangel, but we must be entitled to welcome overriding good, and we are nowhere close to that happening. Thus, the relevance of Milton's vision, and I hope my Archangel. by Michael Shapiro. CLICK HERE FOR Medium ARTICLE
James Whale's film classic Frankenstein (1931), starring Boris Karloff, was released without a musical score, as were many films in those early days of the talkie. A number of critics, including Leonard Maltin, have remarked that Frankenstein is badly in need of music. Michael Shapiro's 70-minute score is written to be played simultaneously with the screening of the film. For modern-day concert- and moviegoers, his haunting music adds significantly to the emotional impact of the film.
Michael Shapiro was commissioned in 2002 by the Boris Koutzen Foundation to write this film score. The world premiere of this work, with live chamber orchestra and film, occurred in October 2002 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Jacob Burns Film Center in New York. Since its premiere, it has received over 50 performances worldwide, including its European premiere at the Bergen International Festival in Norway, and at the Mariinsky Theater Film Annex in St. Petersburg, with major symphony orchestras in the United States, Canada, and the U.K., by Federal service bands such as the United States Navy Band in Washington, D.C., and the Royal Canadian Air Force Band (La Musique de Aviation royale canadienne) in Winnepeg, and university ensembles throughout the Americas.
Notes by the composer..........My Second Symphony is a work of absolute music.? It has no subtext; it tells no "story"; it just is.? I had always wished to write a four-movement symphony, containing a serious first movement, a scherzo, a lyrical slow movement, and a set of variations concluding in transcendence.? Working in 2010 with Maestra Marin Alsop and the virtuosic Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music (for the California premiere of my Roller Coaster) provided inspiration to open my symphonic veins further, write a large work for large orchestra, and out came this purely instrumental symphony (my first, Symphony Pomes Penyeach, is a song cycle).? The Second Symphony is scored for full orchestra including the usual complement of winds, brass, percussion, and strings, but adding alto flute and English horn for their special pungency. Its premiere reading with The Chappaqua Orchestra in the United States was immediately followed by this recording in July, 2015 with the miraculous City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at CBSO Centre in Birmingham, UK. ? The recording sessions with these great musicians confirmed the sounds, textures, timbres, rhythms, and, yes, emotions I intended to impart when I wrote the work.? It is preserved now for listeners to hear, and, I trust, be moved by ? a symphony in four movements for orchestra, plain and simple, colorful and complex, a work that is absolutely what it is.? The symphony is dedicated to Marjorie Perlin.
Duration of the Second Symphony: 36'
Michael Shapiro breathes new life into the famous Toccata from the Fifth Organ Symphony by Victorian French composer Charles-Marie Widor with this arrangement for full orchestra named Widorama! played by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by the composer. Shapiro's arrangement of the famous Toccata, frequently used by organists for weddings and church services, brings the work into the concert hall in highly dramatic fashion.
‘Archangel Concerto for Piano and Orchestra' features pianist Steven Beck (New York Philharmonic, Brooklyn Knights). The Concerto is probably the most programmatic piece of music Michael Shapiro has ever written. Archangel is in two books or movements. Book One depicts the war between the forces of good and evil set forth in John Milton's Paradise Lost. Book Two portrays Adam and Eve (and the Serpent) in Eden and their being cast out into the world we all live. Archangel is therefore about the most basic and terrifying truth, the fight between good and evil raging to this day.
‘Perlimplinito, Opera Sweet, A Lace Paper Valentine for Orchestra' contains the entr'acte music from Shapiro's first opera, based on the play by Federico Garcia Lorca. The fantastical story of an old man who falls tragically in love with a beautiful young woman who cuckolds him on their wedding night with the five races of the earth, the music of Perlimplinito is emotional, visceral, and beautifully lyrical. A perfect piece for Valentine's Day!
‘Roller Coaster for Orchestra,' is a five-minute wild ride. Premiered at the Cabrillo Festival in California by conductor Marin Alsop, the piece is a musical representation of the Coney Island (Brooklyn NY) Cyclone amusement park ride and a metaphor for life's ups and downs.