CD Review:

Music of Gene Pritsker: Sound Liberation – Open up your ears and get some. Col Legno records. Available through www.col-legno.com. With Gene Pritsker, guitars, Dave Gotay, cello, rap, Chanda Rule, vocals, Charles Coleman, vocals, Greg Baker, guitar, Mat Fieldes, basses, David Rozenblatt, drums, Franz Hackl, trumpets, Vessko Gellev, violins, Mychio Suzuki, clarinets, and several other musicians.

I’ve been a follower of the Sound Liberation band for 12 years, since their inception in 1996. However, I have never seen as attractive and accomplished a CD as their latest from the Austrian company Col Legno. Col Legno has historically handled what might be termed “experimental new music” of primarily the European variety, with a little Ives and John Cage mixed in. A classics mixed with hip-hop album seems for them a stretch although, of late, they have indicated a desire and even a necessity to change their focus with changing times.

Perhaps Sound Liberation is just the right opportunity for them to express their new direction. A glorious result it truly is, enhanced by the exceptional Col Legno CD graphics and packaging. This is the best Sound Liberation product so far.

There is something for every kind of music enthusiast in this album. This is part of the Sound Liberation philosophy. Gene Pritsker is not the type to sit around wondering if his musical taste is relevant to today’s society. Instead, he includes and transforms all his varied musical interests into something that practically everybody will like and which has an important educational component to it as well. How many young people going to clubs, even jazz clubs today, are likely to hear Brahms and Mozart, however they are orchestrated? Certainly they do with Sound Lib.

Since there are so many fascinating cuts on this album, I will simply describe my favorites. The greatest song on the entire album is an original one, with words and music by Gene Pritsker called “Nerve Crashes.” It is an amazing tour-de-force of harmonic and rhythmic writing. Harmonically it explores new places in progression. Pritsker “gets away with this” and still has, essentially, a pop song. Likewise, the rhythms are unusual. There are unexpected accents (syncopations) and phrases going over bar lines that harken back to one of Pritsker’s idols, Frank Zappa. However, most of it is in 4/4, as is much of his music, so this means that since the accentuation is basically over the bar lines, the music is very playable and countable. Very clever. You should buy this CD just to hear “Nerve Crashes” alone.

How would you like a little unadulterated Don Giovianni? Well, Don Giovanni was a great adulterer and we do have a bit of a stretch here, with electric guitar accompaniment to the aria “Deh vieni alla finestra” (“Oh, Come to the Window”) from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. This is sung by the inimitable Sound Lib. sidekick Charles Coleman, nicknamed “Das Crooner,” a baritone who has a fine voice and classy stage presence. Pritsker usually insists that Coleman wear a full tuxedo on stage. The classical singing and dress add a valuable element of contrast. Coleman, indeed, puts the “class” in classical.

But, how about a little Chopin? OK, let’s take the first cut, “Prelude 21st Century” based on Frederic Chopin’s piano “Prelude in E minor” as performed by Dave Gotay on the cello, to electric guitar accompaniment. Gotay also gets to rap, one of his other enthusiasms. Pritsker, himself, is a facile rapper, in addition to his other fine performance skills on guitar, including some adept classical work in yet another piece, “Mozart and 21st Century Klezmer” where he pairs with the expert playing of clarinetist Mychio Suzuki, a new music veteran, in a pop rendition of Mozart’s “Quintet for clarinet and string quartet” K. 581.

One great aspect of this album is that the classical pieces from which the tunes are derived are all carefully indicated in the graphically engaging program notes. There is also significant contrast between more straightforward popular songs like “Which of the Days” and “What Shall I Do,” both sung convincingly by Chanda Rule and cuts that feature instrumentals and jazz improvisation, such as “Ashes” and “Let Go of My Soul.” I hear a bit of a Miles Davis influence in the latter, from the synth accompaniment to the trumpet work of Franz Hackl.

It should be mentioned that this CD and the recent work of the Sound Liberation Players has been greatly enhanced, in my opinion, by the inclusion of acoustic instruments and more of a jazz influence than was present in their work of, say, around the year 2000, when they were more a rap-rock type band. Franz Hackl, trumpet and Vessko Gellev, violins as well as Mychio Suzuki on clarinet add to this variety.

As an example, we should mention their signature number, “Infinity,” based on Brahms’ Symphony #4. It now has a jazzier feel than in earlier days and includes trumpet work, while still retaining the surefire poise of “Das Crooner” Charles Coleman. This is usually enough to get close to a standing ovation at a club. Well, expectedly, Brahms is a pretty good composer (smiley face here). However, nowadays, particularly with the state of music education as it is, who would know it without the mighty work of Gene Pritsker and the valiant Sound Liberation Players?

- Joseph Pehrson - New Music Connoisseur, winter/spring 2008-09

CD Review

CD Review:

Music of Gene Pritsker: Sound Liberation – Open up your ears and get some. Col Legno records. Available through www.col-legno.com. With Gene Pritsker, guitars, Dave Gotay, cello, rap, Chanda Rule, vocals, Charles Coleman, vocals, Greg Baker, guitar, Mat Fieldes, basses, David Rozenblatt, drums, Franz Hackl, trumpets, Vessko Gellev, violins, Mychio Suzuki, clarinets, and several other musicians.

I’ve been a follower of the Sound Liberation band for 12 years, since their inception in 1996. However, I have never seen as attractive and accomplished a CD as their latest from the Austrian company Col Legno. Col Legno has historically handled what might be termed “experimental new music” of primarily the European variety, with a little Ives and John Cage mixed in. A classics mixed with hip-hop album seems for them a stretch although, of late, they have indicated a desire and even a necessity to change their focus with changing times.

Perhaps Sound Liberation is just the right opportunity for them to express their new direction. A glorious result it truly is, enhanced by the exceptional Col Legno CD graphics and packaging. This is the best Sound Liberation product so far.

There is something for every kind of music enthusiast in this album. This is part of the Sound Liberation philosophy. Gene Pritsker is not the type to sit around wondering if his musical taste is relevant to today’s society. Instead, he includes and transforms all his varied musical interests into something that practically everybody will like and which has an important educational component to it as well. How many young people going to clubs, even jazz clubs today, are likely to hear Brahms and Mozart, however they are orchestrated? Certainly they do with Sound Lib.

Since there are so many fascinating cuts on this album, I will simply describe my favorites. The greatest song on the entire album is an original one, with words and music by Gene Pritsker called “Nerve Crashes.” It is an amazing tour-de-force of harmonic and rhythmic writing. Harmonically it explores new places in progression. Pritsker “gets away with this” and still has, essentially, a pop song. Likewise, the rhythms are unusual. There are unexpected accents (syncopations) and phrases going over bar lines that harken back to one of Pritsker’s idols, Frank Zappa. However, most of it is in 4/4, as is much of his music, so this means that since the accentuation is basically over the bar lines, the music is very playable and countable. Very clever. You should buy this CD just to hear “Nerve Crashes” alone.

How would you like a little unadulterated Don Giovianni? Well, Don Giovanni was a great adulterer and we do have a bit of a stretch here, with electric guitar accompaniment to the aria “Deh vieni alla finestra” (“Oh, Come to the Window”) from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. This is sung by the inimitable Sound Lib. sidekick Charles Coleman, nicknamed “Das Crooner,” a baritone who has a fine voice and classy stage presence. Pritsker usually insists that Coleman wear a full tuxedo on stage. The classical singing and dress add a valuable element of contrast. Coleman, indeed, puts the “class” in classical.

But, how about a little Chopin? OK, let’s take the first cut, “Prelude 21st Century” based on Frederic Chopin’s piano “Prelude in E minor” as performed by Dave Gotay on the cello, to electric guitar accompaniment. Gotay also gets to rap, one of his other enthusiasms. Pritsker, himself, is a facile rapper, in addition to his other fine performance skills on guitar, including some adept classical work in yet another piece, “Mozart and 21st Century Klezmer” where he pairs with the expert playing of clarinetist Mychio Suzuki, a new music veteran, in a pop rendition of Mozart’s “Quintet for clarinet and string quartet” K. 581.

One great aspect of this album is that the classical pieces from which the tunes are derived are all carefully indicated in the graphically engaging program notes. There is also significant contrast between more straightforward popular songs like “Which of the Days” and “What Shall I Do,” both sung convincingly by Chanda Rule and cuts that feature instrumentals and jazz improvisation, such as “Ashes” and “Let Go of My Soul.” I hear a bit of a Miles Davis influence in the latter, from the synth accompaniment to the trumpet work of Franz Hackl.

It should be mentioned that this CD and the recent work of the Sound Liberation Players has been greatly enhanced, in my opinion, by the inclusion of acoustic instruments and more of a jazz influence than was present in their work of, say, around the year 2000, when they were more a rap-rock type band. Franz Hackl, trumpet and Vessko Gellev, violins as well as Mychio Suzuki on clarinet add to this variety.

As an example, we should mention their signature number, “Infinity,” based on Brahms’ Symphony #4. It now has a jazzier feel than in earlier days and includes trumpet work, while still retaining the surefire poise of “Das Crooner” Charles Coleman. This is usually enough to get close to a standing ovation at a club. Well, expectedly, Brahms is a pretty good composer (smiley face here). However, nowadays, particularly with the state of music education as it is, who would know it without the mighty work of Gene Pritsker and the valiant Sound Liberation Players?

- Joseph Pehrson - New Music Connoisseur, winter/spring 2008-09