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Cousin Mary

Surfer Joe – “Swell of Dwell” – [Dionysus Records]

Cousin Mary   7/14/2018   A Library, CD

Surfer Joe – aka Lorenzo Valdambrini – is known as the International Ambassador of Surf Music and puts on the Surfer Joe Summer Music Festival every year in Livorno, Italy.  This album shows his talent and hard work as a musician and a composer.  Perky, fun melodies give a nod to his Italian nationality and to his recent tours of Japan.  All original compositions.  As Lorenzo says, “stay stoked”.

Otherworld Ensemble – “Live At Malmitalo” – [Edgetone Records]

Cousin Mary   5/10/2018   CD, Jazz

Oakland musician and Outsound New Music Summit organizer Rent Romus takes his sax and flute to Helsinki, Finland where he is joined by excellent Finnish musicians to make this remarkable live 2017 album.  Very weird but very beautiful and listenable.  Sound is terrific, lovely tones from all instruments.  The tracks do not remind me of anything I have heard before and that’s a good thing.  (A kantele is a traditional Finnish zither.)

Hill, Andrew – “Black Fire” – [Blue Note]

Cousin Mary   5/10/2018   CD, Jazz

Hard bop meets avant garde in this outstanding session from 1963.  Original recording and remastering were both done by Rudy Van Gelder.  Excellent piano from leader Andrew Hill, stunning “side men” include Joe Henderson on sax, Richard Davis on bass, Roy Haynes on drums.  Does it get any better than that?  Edgy and marvelous.

Frankie & The Pool Boys – “Spin The Bottle” – [Double Crown Records]

Cousin Mary   4/28/2018   A Library, CD

An eagerly anticipated new album from this fine San Francisco Bay Area modern surf band.  Ranging from hard rocking to pop to Spaghetti western, most songs are original compositions.  The first 16 tracks are instrumental, then there are 4 vocal (gasp!) versions of previous songs.  Great fun, good energy, well executed – beautifully produced by Slacktone drummer Dusty Watson.

Ahern, Kenny – Surfing Bagpipes – [self]

Cousin Mary   4/20/2018   A Library, CD

Kenny Ahearn plays all instruments, including the bagpipes, of these surf classics and one of his own composition.  He has posted many videos online where he looks very natty in his kilt.  Great fun, surf Scotland!!

Boom Pam – Boom Pam – [Essay Recordings GmbH]

Cousin Mary   4/19/2018   CD, International

Boom Pam is a band from Tel Aviv, Israel.  They mix Balkan, Jewish, Greek and Mediterranean sound with rock.  They are frequently called a surf band – certainly the instrumental tracks on this album would fit in a surf show – but one ponders a chicken and egg question after considering the strong influence of middle Eastern songs such as Miserlou on American surf.  Really good musicians, very fun energetic tunes including the ones with vocals.  Instruments include a TUBA!

Bye, Matti – “Phantom Carriage, The” – [Rotor]

Cousin Mary   4/11/2018   CD, Soundtrack

Matti Bye composes “soundtracks” for silent movies.  The Phantom Carriage is a Swedish film from 1921 that concerns a Salvation Army slum sister and is considered by many to be a masterpiece.  The music is playful, lyrical, and reminds me of the cabaret works of Kurt Weill and the piano works of Erik Satie.  Very nicely played on piano, strings, percussion, brass and harp.  Really lovely, recommended!!

Francesconi, Luca – “Wander/ Cobalt, Scarlet” – [Agora]

Cousin Mary   4/11/2018   A Library, CD

Italian composer Luca Francesconi was invited to a festival in Helsinki in 2001. “Wanderer” had been composed in 1998, “Cobalt, Scarlet” was inspired by a sunrise in Oslo in 2000.  Both are performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.  On the difficult side of modern classical music, but it might seem cinematic because of a possible similarity to Gyorgy Ligeti’s works.

Hersch, Michael – “Last Autumn” – [Innova Recordings]

Cousin Mary   4/4/2018   A Library, CD

Michael Hersch’s composition is based on writings by W. G. Sebald (see liner notes for a track by track description) and is played on cello and horn (by the composer’s brother Jamie). Contemporary classical music that is dramatic and mostly somber, moving from difficult passages to lovely melodies. Many short tracks will play well together. Another home run for Innova Recordings.

Ensemble Modern / Frith, Fred – “Traffic Continues” – [Winter & Winter]

Cousin Mary   4/4/2018   A Library, CD

Whimsical, zany, and by turns beautiful, these instruments combine to make us think. Tracks 9 onward are a suite dedicated to cellist Tom Cora using samples from his work. Tracks move smoothly from one to another, meant to be played in multiples. Photography by Heike Liss who is the wife of guitarist Fred Frith who is on faculty in the music department at Mills College.

Mermen, The – “We Could See It In The Distance” – [Kelptone Records]

Cousin Mary   1/17/2018   A Library, CD

Fine instrumental work from the Santa Cruz band. Excellent playing from the long established trio – Jim Thomas on guitar, Martyn Jones on drums and Jennifer Burnes on bass. Tends toward the mellow psychedelic side and causes us to ask the question – “is this surf music?” I like track 13 for its energy, some other tracks for their hypnotic trance.

Kilaueas, The – “Wiki Waki Woooo” – [All Score Media]

Cousin Mary   8/23/2017   12-inch, A Library

The Kilaueas from Berlin, Germany give their interpretation to modern surf music. All the tracks are composed by the band – the playing has an excellent level of technical and musical quality. The sound on this vinyl recording is very good. Great fun to explore the variety of styles!