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Theo Bleckmann: Hello Earth! The Music of Kate Bush

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Theo BleckmannHello Earth! The Music Of Kate BushWinter & Winter2012The 1980s possessed an incongruous hope for the future against a backdrop of possible nuclear annihilation, as if in the darkest of times, society retreated to a naive state. This is a generalization that doesn't, obviously, represent the entire gamut of human experience, yet it was there all the same. The majority of singer and composer Kate Bush's music came from that decade, and there was always something about her music that seemed representative of that cloak of innocence; a touch of fairy ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Theo Bleckmann: Hello Earth! - The Music of Kate Bush

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Vocalist Theo Bleckmann is a man of numerous modalities and ambitions. He's covered classical composer Charles Ives, teamed with heavyweight guitarist Ben Monder for experimental and improvised sojourns and, more recently, has performed and recorded with the always hip jazz unit, The Claudia Quintet. Here, Bleckmann treks into the pop-rock realm as he imparts a personalized touch to the music of iconic British singer/songwriter, Kate Bush. Bush's use of electronics, layered vocal parts, and futuristic production processes are also noted by Bleckmann as influences, as he alludes to a holistic perspective of her artistry. Among these fourteen pieces ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Claudia Quintet + 1 featuring Kurt Elling and Theo Bleckmann: What Is The Beautiful?

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Poetry has always been the libretto of jazz music. Even before epic works of the late Gil Scott Heron like “H2O Gate Blues" or “Winter in America" (which inspired the nations of rap and hip-hop), there was Langston Hughes with bassist Charles Mingus on Weary Blues (Verve, 1958), the great Amiri Baraka, and A.B. Spellman. Then there was Kenneth Patchen, one of The Rebel Poets of America, an enigmatic legend who, if he chose, might have laid claim to creating special arias in the realm of jazz. Not only did they pulse the meter of their verse around the beat ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Claudia Quintet + 1 featuring Kurt Elling and Theo Bleckmann: What Is the Beautiful?

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Jazz and poetry have a longstanding relationship that precedes the postwar experiments of the Beats, dating back to the Harlem Renaissance. As with any artistic collaboration, the cooperative efforts of improvising musicians and poets have yielded mixed results over the years. One of the first artists to successfully explore this territory (with John Cage and Charles Mingus) was Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972), a poet, novelist and painter whose innovative work ranges from political protest and sardonic humor to sentimental romance. In honor of Patchen's 100th birthday the University of Rochester commissioned forward-thinking composer John Hollenbeck's flagship ensemble, The Claudia Quintet, to ...

INTERVIEWS

Jen Shyu and Theo Bleckmann: Breaking the Song Barrier

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Before Robert Moog came out with the first synthesizer, before Adolphe Sax invented his famous reed instrument, before the trumpets sounded at Jericho, even before the world's ancient tribes tightened their animal skins to make drums, humanity's first instrument was the voice. Not that this is of particular consequence to Theo Bleckmann. “To me, that argument is completely moot because it doesn't matter what the first instrument was, it's what you make of it. Just because it may be the first doesn't make it any better." But, for what it's worth, in the course of discussion, Jen Shyu ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Theo Bleckmann at Le Poisson Rouge: The Music Of Kate Bush

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Theo BleckmannHello Earth! The Music of Kate BushLe Poisson RougeNew York , NYSeptember 22, 2010 Kate Bush is an iconic singer in the UK and in many other countries. As a nineteen year-old, she released her first album The Kick Inside (EMI, 1978), which contained two major hits: “Wuthering Heights," based on a television adaptation of Emily Bronte's famous novel; and “The Man With the Child In His Eyes," which contained many Bush trademarks, such as her distinctive melodic dip to a lower note in the middle of a phrase. This aspect ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Theo Bleckmann: I Dwell In Possibility

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Were Theo Bleckmann Irish he would be a leprechaun, a magical bringer of joy and beauty with creativity and a sense of humor. Probably a more apt cultural consideration is viewing this vocalist/performance artist as the embodiment of all that was good, demiurgic, evocative, and provocative of Berlin during the explosively creative Weimar Republic period. Bleckmann is a daring and broadly talented artist fearing no type of artistic expression. A lover of sounds and gadgets, the singer has forged a place for himself on the whole art scene with releases culminating in the Grammy-nominated Twelve Songs by Charles Ives (Winter ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Theo Bleckmann: I Dwell In Possibility

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Theo BleckmannI Dwell In PossibilityWinter & Winter2010 To record I Dwell in Possibility, vocalist Theo Bleckmann made a musical pilgrimage to the Beinwil Abbey in an isolated area of Switzerland. With the aid of producer Stefan Winter, he proceeded to lay down 15 tracks, only using his voice, a collection of bizarre little instruments and the resonant acoustics of the abbey's monastery. Left unprocessed with its sounds of old stone and sacred voice, the resulting album has the quality of prayer. But it's also playful, funny and an unceasing creative demonstration ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Theo Bleckmann: I Dwell In Possibility

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The title of this record also defines vocalist Theo Bleckmann's artistic philosophy. Bleckmann is probably the only human being to ever properly interpret the music of Kate Bush and the compositions of Charles Ives, and his range as an artist doesn't stop there. Bleckmann's Winter & Winter albums, along with successful side projects, have earned him critical acclaim and a pile of awards--including the prestigious JAZZ ECHO award from the Deutsche Phono-Akademie in Germany. All of the positive press could give cause for Bleckmann to rest on his laurels, but the singer continues forging ahead, trying something new at every ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Theo Bleckmann and Fumio Yasuda: Schumann's Favored Bar Songs

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Schumann's Bar am Hofgarten is located at Odeonsplatz 6+7 80539 Munich, Germany. It derives its name from founder and bartender, Charles Schumann, who originally ran a similar bar in New York City. It is a world famous watering hole for the rich and and famous, something Schumann has cultivated among his patrons. Winter and Winter, who shares Munich as a home town, has made recordings using Schumann's as inspiration, including Salon Music At Schumann's Bar (Winter and Winter, 2005) and Schumann's Bar Music (Winter and Winter, 2002), the latter featuring a principle in today's consideration, pianist Fumio Yasuda.

The second ...

BAILEY'S BUNDLES

The Charles Ives Songs Series 2: Theo Bleckmann and Kneebody / Naxos, Vol. 1

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Fortunate for the recently completed cycle of songs by Charles Ives on Naxos' Charles Ives: Songs, Vol. 1 are Theo Bleckmann's re-imaginings of 12 of Ives' better known vocal compositions, Twelve Songs by Charles Ives. These two releases provide stark contrast between traditional and progressive performances of not only Ives, but of “art songs" in general. They also illuminate the contrast between the art and the artist, that creative conflict beginning with Paganini and Liszt and continuing through to today. Charles Ives (1874-1954) might appropriately be considered the American Schubert. Art songs made up a great part ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Theo Bleckmann & Ben Monder: At Night

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Theo Bleckmann (voice and live electronic processing) and Ben Monder (guitar) have played together in several settings. This time they return as a duo, with Satoshi Takeishi (drums, percussion and laptop) making a presence on five tracks.

There is a fine sense of balance on the recording. Both Monder and Bleckmann have a quirky sense of humor which is transmitted to their music. This is seen in the way they set up the instrumentation and bring in a new twist. They have their serious side manifested in the ethereal beauty that flows through the songs, which does not ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Theo Bleckmann and Ben Monder: At Night

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The cover imagery depicts mesas viewed heavenward towards a threatening yet beckoning night sky. In the foreground, an empty highway envelops two empty stools for any brave two travelers on life's journey to perform an offering to the stars, to the universe, to all, to the night. If ever two musicians were up to the task, it's the flat-out astonishing virtuosi, vocalist Theo Bleckmann and guitarist Ben Monder.

Bleckmann possesses technique so colossal, yet so meticulous, he can seem otherworldly, an android-like embodiment of sci-fi vocalisms, a bodily vessel for that voice. Still, whether accompanied by actual words or not, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Theo Bleckmann/Ben Monder: At Night

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Experiencing the music of vocalist Theo Bleckmann and guitarist Ben Monder isn't so much listening as it is swimming.

Take, for instance, their cover of John Lennon and Paul McCartney's “Norwegian Wood." The Beatles' guiltless romp through sexuality opens with a tidal wave of fuzzy, over-amped guitar and vocal feedback. Bleckman begins, “I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me..." singing the lyrics from the bowels of a submarine, and this one isn't yellow. Monder's tidal wave of sound signals the innocence, Bleckmann calls out from a moonless night's pounding sea. ...



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