Dienstag, 25. November 2014

Mimi & Richard Farina - Memories (1968)

A posthumous collection of odds and ends, this actually holds considerable appeal for anyone who likes their pair of fully realized albums. The 12 songs include a few studio outtakes, a few solo turns by Mimi on compositions written by Richard but incompletely recorded at the time of his death, a couple performances from the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, and a couple of Joan Baez tracks from sessions for an aborted album Richard was producing with her. These leftovers are generally up to the standard of the two "real" albums, especially "The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood" (covered by Fairport Convention) and "Morgan the Pirate" (a farewell to Bob Dylan, according to the sketchy liner notes). The two cuts by Baez (which Richard wrote or co-wrote), especially the compellingly melancholy "All The World Has Gone By," are excellent, leading one to wonder if the projected album they came from would have been one of Baez's best if it had been completed. These may be leftovers, but it's a worthwhile collection nonetheless.                

This album is one of those very few works that truly points towards what might have been had tragedy not struck. Richard and Mimi Fariña had defined a very particular place for themselves by the middle of the sixties: they had released two critically acclaimed and highly influential albums in “Celebrations For A Grey Day” and “Reflections In A Crystal Wind” (both 1965) and Richard's novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me had just been published in 1966. However Richard was to die in a motorcycle accident right after the launch party for this novel, never knowing how it would quickly become a cult success and remain in print for decades afterwards.

It is the musical legacy that we are concerned with here, and there can be no doubt that Richard and Mimi were trail-blazers as they were in the absolute vanguard of what became known as folk-rock, and we talk here not of the pop version of the Turtles, Grass Roots and PF Sloan, but of the highly intelligent re-invention of traditional folk music into new forms that would eventually lead to far better-known albums like Fairport Convention's “Liege And Lief”. Indeed Richard and Mimi's albums were amongst a select few in play rotation at Fairport (the house) in the early months of 1967.

After the first two albums, this one was a posthumous release in 1968, and culled tracks from some differing sources. There are some session out-takes, and some that could be called works-in-progress, and there are two live tracks taken from the pair's successful appearance at the 1965 Newport folk Festival. There are also two Richard Fariña productions of Joan Baez (Mimi's big sister) taking lead vocal on ‘A Swallow Song’ and ‘All The World Has Gone By’. The album begins with Mimi's achingly beautiful rendition of ‘The Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood’, associated later by many with Sandy Denny, and these Fairport family connections continue with the inclusion of the a capella ‘Blood Red Roses’ and ‘House Un-American Blues Activity Dream’ which were both reworked later by Ian Matthews. But such links should not take away from the beauty of the original works, as this was an album that proved how exciting their direction could have been with most of the songs written by Richard. Even with an instrumental, ‘Lemonade Lady’, that Richard plays on the dulcimer in an attacking and radical style far removed from the instrument's usual delicacy, there is music here that caught many ears in the sixties and continues to do so in the new century. One song that thrusts forward even more that the others is ‘Morgan The Pirate’, which is apparently Richard's 'farewell to Dylan'. Its structure and attacking framework is arguably the most interesting new direction that the pair could have followed, and could have certainly led them towards further and heavier electrification. With every track here fascinating, it is a release that can lead new listeners to more investigation of their small but incredibly rich catalogue.

Tracklist
The Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood4:16
Joy 'Round My Brain3:45
Lemonade Lady2:00
Downtown (Instrumental)1:34
Almond Joy2:11
Blood Red Roses2:29
Morgan The Pirate5:45
Dopico (Instrumental)6:34
House Un-American Blues Activity Dream3:50
A Swallow Song2:45
All The World Has Gone By3:40
Pack Up Your Sorrows3:00

Mimi & Richard Farina - Memories (1968)
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Montag, 24. November 2014

Nina Simone - Folksy Nina (1964)

Like the 1963 LP "Nina Simone at Carnegie Hall", this was recorded at Carnegie Hall on May 12, 1963, but duplicates little of the material found on that prior album. It isn't just unworthy leftovers, but a strong set in its own right, concentrating on material that could be seen as traditional or folk in orientation.

It's not exactly strictly folk music, in repertoire or arrangement (which includes piano, guitar, bass, and drums, though not every tune has all of the instruments); "Twelfth of Never" (which had also appeared on the Carnegie Hall LP) certainly isn't folk music. However, there was also an uptempo piano blues, Leadbelly's "Silver City Bound"; covers of the Israeli "Erets Zavat Chalav" and "Vanetihu" which served as further proof that Simone's eclecticism knew no bounds; and the stark, moody, spiritually shaded ballads at which she excelled ("When I Was a Young Girl," "Hush Little Baby"). "Lass of the Low Country" is as exquisitely sad-yet-beautiful as it gets.

Tracklist
A1Silver City Bound5:08
A2When I Was A Young Girl5:57
A3Erets Zavat Chalav4:25
A4Lass Of The Low Country6:15
B1The Young Night5:25
B2Twelfth Of Never3:33
B3Vanetihu2:27
B4You Can Sing A Rainbow / Hush Little Baby7:11

Nina Simone - Folksy Nina (1964)
(320 kbps, cover art included)
             

Mittwoch, 19. November 2014

Richard & Mimi Fariña ‎– Reflections In A Crystal Wind (1965)

The Farinas' mix of unusual instrumentations and Dick's gift for words made them a formidable duo in the mid-sixties, his writing alternating and mixing the political, satirical, and poetic . This album showcased both's songwriting and singing talents, and backed by most of Dylan's off-duty session players, the music sounds as fresh today as then.

Richard Farina was a great poet in the great tradition of the troubador. His life ended too early as the result of a motorcycle accident. Nonetheless, he and his partner/wife Mimi Baez (sister of Joan Baez) created one of the great albums of the "beat" and new folk movement, "Reflections In A Crystal Wind". Songs on it such as "Children of Darkness" and "Raven Girl" metaphorically describe the sense of personal torment and social destruction experiemced by a whole generation during the Vietnam Era


Tracklist:                                                      
A1Reflections In A Crystal Wind3:30
A2Bold Marauder4:24
A3Dopico3:58
A4A Swallow Song2:51
A5Chrysanthemum (Instr.)2:27
A6Sell-Out Agitation Waltz2:50
A7Hard-Loving Loser4:32
B1Mainline Prosperity Blues6:25
B2Allen's Interlude2:50
B3House Un-American Blues Activity Dream3:10
B4Raven Girl5:07
B5Miles (Instr.)2:53
B6Children Of Darkness4:00


Richard & Mimi Fariña ‎– Reflections In A Crystal Wind (1965)
(256 kbps, cover art included)
        

Dienstag, 18. November 2014

Dick Farina & Eric Von Schmidt - Dick Farina & Eric Von Schmidt (1963)

This obscure album, recorded in January 1963 at Dobell's record shop in London, is known primarily for a very famous session musician playing under a pseudonym. Blind Boy Grunt, aka Bob Dylan, contributed harmonica and backup vocals to half a dozen of the tracks (using that pseudonym, most likely, as he was under contract to a different label at the time).

Farina and Von Schmidt, already noted performers in the American coffeehouse folk scene, are the principal figures on this pretty typical '60s folk revival LP. The material and delivery are rooted in traditional folk forms, including jug band, blues, and Appalachian music, and are neither too dry nor too exciting. Certainly Farina, the more talented of the front line pair, shows few flashes of the first-rate songwriting and arrangements that would flower on the albums he did in the mid-'60s with his wife Mimi Farina.

The one vivid flash of that brilliance is on the instrumental "Old Joe's Dulcimer," in which he unveils his considerable talents on the instrument. With its almost Indian-like drones, it could just about fit as one of the instrumentals on the Richard & Mimi Farina albums, although the absence of Mimi Farina's guitar accompaniment creates (if only in retrospect) a sonic gap. "Wobble Bird" (derived from the standard "Cuckoo") and "Wildwood Flower" (a vocal number which has some dulcimer) aren't bad, but really this is just another folk album of its time, notable primarily as a collector's item.

If you're picking this up just for Dylan's contributions, be advised that those are pretty low-key; he doesn't contribute any songwriting or lead vocals. Also lending a hand on these sessions is Ethan Signer of the Original Charles River Valley Boys.      - www.allmusic.com          


Tracklist:

Side One:
1.) JOHNNY CUCKOO (4:27) adaption of a children's game song learned from Bessie Jones, a negro woman from St. Simon's Island, Georgia
2.) JUMPING JUDY (3:55) an ax song, sometimes called "Drive it On," from the unaccompanied singing of convicts, Cummins State Farm, Arkansas, 1934. Played in an open G-tuning.
3.) GLORY, GLORY (2:34) traditional negro hymn, the tune relating closely to the Southern white hymn, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?"
4.) OLD JOE'S DULCIMER (2:55) a medley of dance tunes including "Old Joe Clark," "Swing and Turn," "Darlin' Corey," etc.
5.) WOBBLE BIRD (2:44) a variation on "The Cuckoo," in 3/4 time.
6.) WILDWOOD FLOWER (1:56) instrumental on the well known Carter song.
7.) OVERSEAS STOMP (2:43) in the spirit of the 1927 Memphis Jug Band. Side Two:
1.) LONZO N'HOWARD (3:30) learned from Tom Shoemaker of Harlan, Kentucky, who heard it there from a mountain fiddler called Blind Jim. This is probably its first recording.
2.) YOU CAN ALWAYS TELL (3:00) a tune based on Furry Lewis' "Dry Land Blues," with additional verses.
3.) XMAS ISLAND (3:18) a twelve-bar written by Fariña.
4.) STICK WITH ME BABY (3:32) played in an open G-tuning, adapted from the 1928 Lewis, "I Will Turn Your Money Green."
5.) RIDDLE SONG (1:10) traditional, with new answers to fit the old questions.
6.) COCAINE (4:03) learned from Rev. Gary Davis at Indian Neck, 1960.
7.) LONDON WALTZ (3:10) a blues in 3/4 time, music by Fariña, words spontaneous.

Dick Farina & Eric Von Schmidt - Dick Farina & Eric Von Schmidt (1963)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Sonntag, 9. November 2014

Leipziger Synagogalchor - Jewish Chants And Songs - Jüdische Gesänge

Today we remember the anti-Jewish pogrom in Nazi Germany and Austria on 9 to 10 November1938, also known as "Novemberpogrome", "Reichskristallnacht", "Reichspogromnacht" or "Pogromnacht" in German.

Within living memory music always played a key role as mediator between the nations.
The Synagogue Choir of Leipzig sees its goal in the preservation of synagogue music as well as of Yiddish and Hebrew folk songs by performing the compositions in free arrangements.
The ensemble, which consists of singers of non-Jewish origin, is unique in Europe. It celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2002.
Today as well as in the future the dedication of the Synagogue Choir will be the support of peace, tolerance, and cultural communication between the nations by giving converts all over the world.

The Leipziger Synagogalchor was founded in 1962. Its aim is to cultivate the Jewish music tradition, in particular that of synagogal music of the 19th and 20th centuries as well as Yiddish and Hebrew folklore. Its extensive repertoire of historical literature preserves a cultural heritage which is performed by no other European ensemble in this form. Thus the choir is often called upon to present this part of the cultural and musical history of the Jewish folk to audiences not only in Germany but also world-wide. Increasingly, concert programs also include contemporary compositions of composers such as Joseph Dorfman, Bonia Shur and Siegfried Thiele.
Four records produced by ETERNA, two by MDR and a CD recorded by Berlin Classics offer a representative cross-section of repertoire and demonstrate the professional format of the ensemble.
The combination of artistic and political expression, both weighted equally, in the works interpreted by the Leipziger Synagogalchor under the direction of Kammersänger Helmut Klotz has established the ensemble as a concert-choir which is celebrated world-wide and which serves as a politico-cultural embassador of considerable importance for the city of Leipzig and the state of Saxony.
The Leipziger Synagogalchor has received the golden award “Stern der Völkerfreundschaft“ and the “Kunstpreis“ of the city of Leipzig.
The choir became a registered association in 1991 and receives subsidies from the city of Leipzig and the state of Saxony.
The ensemble has approximately 30 members who are not professional singers but who for the most part have received some professional training. They have diverse occupations and dedicate a large part of their free time to choral music. The personal commitment and idealism of every single member contribute in large part to the success of the ensemble.
In the 30 years Helmut Klotz has been artistic director, he has succeeded in forming the choir into a semi-professional ensemble with a professional artistic scope. This is evident when one sees where the ensemble performs internationally and which acclaimed soloists and orchestras it works with. This choir has the special privilege to perform with solists of the Leipzig, Berlin and Zurich Operas and with members of the Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Radio Orchestra of Middlegermany (MDR) in concert halls such as that of the Berlin Philharmonic, the Berlin “Schauspielhaus“, the “Gasteig“ in Munich, the Leipzig “Gewandhaus“ and the “Alte Oper“ in Frankfurt. Furthermore, the choir has been on concert tours to Israel, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Brazil, Slovakia and several times in Poland and the U.S.A. The choir has performed at international festivals for Jewish culkture and music in Odessa, Leverkusen and Munich. A special occasion for the choir was the performance of the international opera production “Der Weg der Verheißung“ of Kurt Weill in Chemnitz, New York and Tel Aviv.
In its hometown Leipzig the ensemble performs twice a year in the series “Leipziger Ware“. Here it is presented through the Ephraim Carlebach Foundation in the “Alte Handelsbörse“. For 25 years it has also taken part in the annual ecumenical service in the Leipzig Church of St. Thomas in memory of the victims of the “Reichsprogromnacht“ November 9, 1938.

This album features recordings from 1983.
Tracklist:

01. Tauraß adaunoj 3:54
02. Ham'chabe eß hamer 6:27
03. Lochen ßomach libi 2:54
04. Ez chajim 2:52
05. Schir hamaalauß 2:26
06. Towau l'fonecho 2:39
07. Naariz'cho 7:36
08. Lomir sich iberbetn 1:52
09. Scha, still 4:10
10. Nigun g-moll 0:56
11. Du sollst nischt gehn 3:20
12. Her nor, du schejn Mejdele 3:43
13. Hages 1:14
14. Itzik hat schojn Chaßene gehot 3:32
15. Wie trinkt der Keßer Tee 5:17

Leipziger Synagogalchor - Jewish Chants And Songs - Jüdische Gesänge
(256 kbps, front cover included)

Donnerstag, 6. November 2014

Mississippi John Hurt - 1928 Sessions


John Smith Hurt, better known as Mississippi John Hurt (July 3, 1893 or March 8, 1892 — November 2, 1966) was an American country blues singer and guitarist.
Raised in Avalon, Mississippi, Hurt taught himself how to play the guitar around age nine. Singing to a melodious finger-picked accompaniment, he began to play local dances and parties while working as a sharecropper. He first recorded for Okeh Records in 1928, but these recordings were commercial failures. Hurt then drifted out of the recording scene and continued to work as a farmer. Tom Hoskins, a blues enthusiast, located Hurt in 1963 and convinced him to relocate to Washington, D.C. where he was recorded by the Library of Congress in 1964. This helped further the American folk music revival, which had led to the rediscovery of many other bluesmen of Hurt's era. Hurt entered the university and coffeehouse concert circuit with other Delta blues musicians brought out of retirement. As well as playing concerts, he recorded several albums for Vanguard Records.

This album features the 13 original 1928 recordings of Hurt. Justifiably legendary, with gentle grace and power on these understated vocal and fingerpicking masterpieces. These are the ones to hear, although all Hurt is worth listening to.      
 
Tracklist
1Ain't No Tellin'2:55
2Stack O' Lee Blues2:57
3Candy Man Blues2:46
4Spike Driver Blues3:15
5Avalon Blues3:03
6Louis Collins2:59
7Frankie3:21
8Big Leg Blues2:51
9Nobody's Dirty Business2:53
10Got The Blues Can't Be Satisfied2:51
11Blessed Be The Name2:47
12Blue Harvest Blues2:53
13Praying On The Old Camp Ground2:36

Mississippi John Hurt‎– 1928 Sessions                                          
(cover art included)