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Archive for the ‘Art of Time Ensemble’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 24, 2018] Steven Page Trio

I’ve seen Barenaked Ladies countless times.  I saw them when Steven Page was with them.  I’ve seen them after he left.  BNL is always fun even without Steven.

But Steven Page’s voice is awesome and he is definitely missed in the band (even though his solo albums are better than recent BNL albums).

This is actually the third time I have seen him since he left BNL and all were within the last three years.

The first time (also with Craig Northey) was when they and the Art of Time Ensemble performed Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band.  The second was earlier this year when Steven did his Songbook–singing (mostly) other people’s songs.

These were both great but, man, I wanted to hear him sing his own songs.  So I was psyched when he announced a new tour with a trio playing his own music (and a new album).

The trio included Craig Northey on guitar and Kevin Fox on cello.  And it was awesome. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 2, 2018] Steven Page

I was thrilled to see Steven Page play with Art of Time Ensemble back in 2015.  When I saw that he was playing (somewhat) locally again, I was really excited to get tickets.  It wasn’t until much later that I realized that he was doing a Songbook tour with the Art of Time Ensemble and not playing songs from his (excellent) solo albums.

That was fine, because I loved his Songbook release with AoT, but as always, I’d much rather see someone sing his or her own songs than covers. But Page had picked great songs for his album with AoT and he picked an even better selection for this show.

The ensemble came out on stage followed shortly after by Page.  Steven explained that the purpose of the evening was that these songs were designed to have their vocal melodies remain largely unchanged but for the arrangers to push the boundaries of what  these songs could sound like.  To go as far as possible without going too far.  He thought many people wouldn’t a lot of the songs but that this might inspire them to check out the originals. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ART OF TIME ENSEMBLE-Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (2012)

The Art of Time Ensemble does many things although my exposure to them is through their string performances of rock songs

Led by Artistic Director Andrew Burashko, Art of Time Ensemble transforms the way you experience music. Fusing high art and popular culture in concerts that juxtapose the best of each genre, Art of Time entertains as it enlightens, revealing the universal qualities that lie at the heart of all great music.

Sarah and I saw a live show of this tour.  And this recording is pretty much the same (I’m sure there’s some variations).  It is more than just a symphonic version of the record.  The Art of Time Ensemble created new arrangements of the songs.  Purists might hate this, but it is lovingly created and made with a few extra orchestral moments thrown in.

This disc was recorded live in concert May 31, June 1 & 2, 2012 at the Enwave Theatre in Toronto

The disc opens, of course with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”  Steven Page sings the song with rocking guitars and horns.  There’s cool a capella moment with them all singing the “it’s wonderful to be here” moment.  Before allowing the next song to start the band does the slow orchestra rise of notes at the end of the album.  Clearly showing that while hey are staying somewhat faithful to the record, there will be surprises.

“With A Little Help From My Friends” has gentle swirling orchestral notes as John Mann (from Spirit of the West) sings.  This song seems to be all about the orchestra as they take many liberties with the melodies and soloing moments.

“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” Craig Northey sings this classic which is quite understated, especially in the chorus, when he sings falsetto and there;s minimal accompaniment.  However, those three thumps before the chorus are as loud as anything.

Andy Maize’s gruff, weathered voice sounds great for “Getting Better.”  But it’s Page’s harmonies in the chorus that make this song transcendent.  “Fixing A Hole: is the first song that really changes the original.  It has a kind of Kurt Weill cabaret/circus vibe with John Mann hitting some challenging notes.  But the music is so sinister, it’s quite interesting.

“She’s Leaving Home” is achingly, beautifully sung by Steven Page.  The backing vocals are perfect, too.
“Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!” has a few strange moments in which the bulk of the music cuts out for pizzicato strings or when the middle section features an extended waltz for Mrs K to dance.  Craig Northey sounds like he’s singing through a megaphone but that seems unlikely.  By the end, Northey also seems to be talking Mr. Kite down from his foolish behavior (“Oh, he;s falling”).

“Within You Without You” is the other song that Andy Maize takes lead on.  On the original, the song is done in Indian classical style.  This version has strings filling in with repeated melodies.  Indian hand drums are used at the end and while I’m not certain, I think there was no sitar used, but the melodies on violin and voila do a great job of representing that sound.

“When I’m Sixty-Four” is very string-heavy and takes a bit before it gets the bouncey feel of the original.  John Mann does a nice job with the song and the backing singers do a great job too.  I’m only bummed that there’s no musical punctuation on Vera Chuck and Dave.

A long piano intro opens “Lovely Rita” before Steven Page takes lead vocals–a song well suited to him.  The big surprise comes in the middle when there’s a lenghthy big band dance section including a muted trumpet and a real nor jazz feel.  After the nifty trumpet solo there’s a clap along for the ending chorus.

The members all greet each other “Good Morning” before “Good Morning Good Morning” starts up, sung by Craig Northey.  It’s one of the more rocking songs.  At least until the swirling heavy guitars that open “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise).”  There is a chorus of vocals singing with vamping from Steven Page.

The disc ends with “A Day in the Life” with Andy Maize on the first section (squeaking out that House of Lords line) and Craig Northey taking the faster part.  Since the orchestra already did the end of the album much earlier the end of the concert is quiet, much more subtle.

The album is over but there are two bonus Beatles songs.  “Penny Lane” sung by Steven Page might be noticeable for the trumpet getting the solo perfect.

The whole show ends with “All You Need is Love” with everyone getting a verse.  There are a number of Beatles’ lines thrown in during the outro, like Page singing “I should have known better with a girl like you” and “All I’ve got is a photograph” (from Ringo).

This is a fun take on a classic album.  And while I’ll always prefer the original, it’s nice for a change of pace.

[READ: April 11, 2016] “Soldier’s Joy”

I don’t quite understand the title of this story, but that doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of it.

The story is about a woman, Nana, and her much older husband.  It opens with her relating to him a dream she had.  In the dream, he sent her a love letter in which he stated how lucky he was “that you still want to live with me.”  He laughs and says he is quite humble isn’t he.

In his dream he imagined that their friend Helen, a “preposterously impossible person,” was pregnant.  Helen had hosted them the previous evening and her husband had been drunk and flirted with Helen’s nineteen year old daughter .

Later Nana called Helen to apologize for her husband and to commiserate about what they should wear to the next function at Libby’s house.   Helen says not to worry sabot it, that all girls flirt.  And of course, Nana remembers how she and Helen flirted with their college professor when they were in school and how, of course, he is the man who Nana ultimately married. (more…)

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zambraSOUNDTRACK: NICK BUZZ-Arnold Schoenberg and the Berlin Cabaret (2003).

schoenIn 1901, Arnold Schoenberg wrote eight Brettl-Lieder (Cabaret Songs).  The songs were short and fun with naughty (cabaret influenced) lyrics.  Some 100 years later, inspired by the Art of Time Ensemble who commissioned Nick Buzz to play pieces for their Schoenberg show.

So the guys from Nick Buzz got together and recorded four of the eight pieces.  Then Martin Tielli released this disc as number 2 of his Subscription Series.  Some of us were a little disappointed when this came out since it was only 15 minutes of music, but the art is wonderful and I have recently rediscovered this disc and have enjoyed it immensely.

Basically the Buzz guys have interpreted the songs in their own style, but they have remained faithful to the original melodies and lyrics (which were in German but are now in English).

“Gigerlette” explores electronic manipulations (presumably by Hugh Marsh) and offers lots of fun samples (what I assume is some earlier recordings of the song in German).  It opens with sampled female singing and staccato piano as well as other unusual effects. Then Martin’s vocals come in and the effects clear out and the song becomes simple piano ballad for a brief moment.  Then the noises come back in again, playing around with this amusing song.  It’s a song of romance and love with the sweet punchline being that cupid is driving their coach and four.  At over 5 minutes this is the longest song by far, even if the basic song is just over two minutes.

“Der genugsame Liebhaber” (The Modest Lover) opens with what sounds like a distorted harp (presumably the piano) and scratchy records (from Marsh).  This song is about a man going to see his lover, but his over’s pussy loves his bald head so much that she continually climbs atop it.  It is charmingly naughty. There’s some wonderful violin from Hugh Marsh on this song

“Galathea” is the most conventional of the three songs.  A lovely piano ballad to Galatea.

“Arie aus dem Spiegel von Arcadien” (Aria from the Arcadian Mirror) is super fun. The music is weird and goofy with a very drunken feel.  And the chorus is just wonderful “my heart begins to thump and dance just like a hammer’s blow it goes boom boom boom boom boom boom boom boom boom (getting faster and faster).  I’ve listened to the original and it is very much the same, although Nick Buzz’s version is much better.

You can find some of these songs on line from a recording at Lula’s Lounge (Dec 9, 2010)

It’s cool to see how they recreate the album so faithfully in a live setting. It’s only a shame that the video isn’t a little closer so you could see just what they are doing.

Nick Buzz-December 9 2010 Lula’s Lounge

[READ: September 1, 2015] My Documents

I have enjoyed some of Zambra’s stories in other locations, so I was pretty excited that McSweeney’s released this collection (translated by Megan McDowell).  The book is pretty much all short stories, although the first items feels a bit less fictional and more memoirish.

“My Documents”
This is a brief historical account of Alejandro as a child and as a writer.  He talks about when he started working on computers and what happens when the computer dies with the information inside.  He explains that this file is in his My Documents folder and he’s going to publish it “even though it’s not finished.  Even though it’s impossible to finish it.”

“Camilo”
I read this story in the New Yorker.  It concerns the relation of a man and his godfather, whom he has not seen since his father and godfather had a falling out years ago.  See my link for a more complete synopsis.  I enjoyed it just as much the second time.

“Long Distance”
The narrator worked as a phone operator in 1998.  He liked the job–his boss was cool and would let him do anything he wanted so long as he answered the phones quickly. The job was in a travel insurance office and one day he received a call from a man named Juan Emilio. After speaking for a time about various things, the narrator realized it had been 40 minutes since they first started talking.  They were expected to call clients back 14 days later as a follow-up and this time Juan Emilio talked with him foe a while and, upon learning that the narrator studied literature, asked if they could meet and discuss books.   The narrator was already teaching classes at night, and these two situations overlapped somewhat.  I loved the way all of this information is used as backdrop to a romance he has with a student known as Pamela.  And the final line is great.

“True or False”
The titular phrase is uttered by a boy, Lucas,  who declared, based on an inscrutable internal feeling, that things were True or False.  An armchair might be true, while a lamp might be false.  Hid father Daniel had a cat, Pedra, even though pets were forbidden in his building.  Lucas loved the cat.  Then the cat had kittens.  There is a metaphor at work about the fatherless kittens and Daniel’s own behavior toward his son. I really enjoyed this story and the strangeness of the true or false brought a fascinating childlike quality to the story

“Memories of a Personal Computer”
The conceit of this story is great.  A PC remembers what it was like to observe a relationship as it begins and then ebbs–and how the PC was moved around into different rooms as things changed in the relationship.

“National Institute”
At the school where the narrator went, they were called by number.  He was 45.  The main subject of his story was 34, although he doesn’t know the boy’s real name.  34 had failed the grade and was made to repeat it, but rather than being sullen about it, he was popular and fun.  All of the students were worried about failing–the final test was very hard.  But one day 34 approached 45 and told him he had nothing to worry about.  The other students didn’t know what to make of it, but he slowly assessed everyone and told them whether they had anything to worry about.  By the end of the story, when 45 is brought to the inspector of schools, he is told a lesson he will should never forget.

“I Smoked Very Well”
A look back on smoking and how quitting smoking made him a different (though not necessarily better) person.

“Thank You”
She is Argentine, he is Chilean and they are not together (even though they sleep together).  They were in Mexico City when they were kidnapped together.  The incident has unexpected moments. It’s a weird story (with some really unexpected moments) but a really good one.

“The Most Chilean Man in the World”
A Chilean couple has decided to separate once she was accepted to school in Belgium.  After several months he is convinced that she wants him to visit, so he spends a ton of money and heads out to Belgium.  Without telling her.  And it goes very badly.  But he can’t just leave Belgium, now can he?  So he goes to a pub where he meets some new friends who call him the chilliest man in the world.  The story hinges on a joke, but the story itself is not a punchline.

“Family Life”
I read this story in Harper’s.  I thought it was fantastic–it was one of the stories that made me want to read more of his works.  This is story of a man house sitting and the false life that he constructs around him.  It was surprisingly moving.

“Artist’s Rendition”
I loved the way this story began.  It tells us that Yasna has killed her father.  But we slowly learn that Yasna is character in a detective story that an author is trying to write.  We learn how the author constructs details about this character and the things that she has experienced which make her who she is.  As this story unfolds we see how those first lines proved to be true after all.

This was a great collection fo short works and I really hope to see more from him translated into English.

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[ATTENDED: November 22, 2015] Art of Time Ensemble

aotWhen I saw that the Art of Time Ensemble was coming to RVCC I was crazy excited.  Especially when I saw that Steven Page and Craig Northey would be singing with them.  I didn’t even care what it was they were doing, but when I saw that they’d be playing Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, I immediately got seats (3rd row!) and then tried to explain to Sarah what we’d be seeing.

The Art of Time Ensemble does many things although my exposure to them is through their string performances of rock songs

Led by Artistic Director Andrew Burashko, Art of Time Ensemble transforms the way you experience music. Fusing high art and popular culture in concerts that juxtapose the best of each genre, Art of Time entertains as it enlightens, revealing the universal qualities that lie at the heart of all great music.

This show was a string and brass (and piano, guitar, drum and possibly sitar) version of the classic Beatles album.  But it was more than just a symphonic version of the record.  The Art of Time Ensemble created new arrangements of the songs.  There were enough changes that it wasn’t always evident what song was being played–even though they played the album start to finish. (more…)

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