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Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica Quartet: Where Here Meets There

Jeffrey Uhrich By

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Fasten your seat belt and make sure your seat is in an upright position. In Where Here Meets There, Mr. Ho's Orchestra travels the world and through time, using an intriguing fusion of genres and unusual instrumentation to create this mesmerizing collection of musical works. The listener is challenged and persuaded to attempt to identify and define which world musical influences are at play in any given moment, and the album abounds with an appreciation of composers of the past and their influence on the members of this quartet.

Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica is a quartet that has immersed itself within the newest generation of the genre known as exotica—or as some would say, "third-stream exotica." The quartet consists of Brian O'Neill (aka Mr. Ho) on vibraphone and percussion, Geni Skendo on flutes, Jason Davis on acoustic bass and Shane Shanahan on percussion. Tev Stevig assists on three tracks playing the tanbur, and guest percussionist Norika Terada assists on "Would You Like Bongos With That Fugue?"

Where Here Meets There opens with "Chiseling Music," where the listener is immediately transported to an enchanted world of exotic sounds and rhythms, and is tantalized with unexpected sounds and with unpredictable interplay between the musicians. Mr. O'Neill has described the quartet's sound as "global jazz and exotic chamber music." O'Neill's vibraphone and Skeno's flutes are haunting and ethereal in the opening track and throughout the album. The interplay of the Shanahan's percussion and Davis on bass is creative and deft, while the sounds of the vibraphone and flutes swirl throughout. There is also a whimsical side to the percussion, as O'Neill adds the sounds of pandeiro, cajon, marching machine, tappan, udu, and other surprises throughout the musical journey. As evidence of the whimsical side of this quartet, a reference to the "Addams Family Theme" in can be detected in the track "Sanaez," which is an enjoyable exchange between Tev Stevig's tanbur juxtaposed against vibraphone and flute.

The quartet explores and interprets composers of the past, particularly George Gershwin, in its renditions of Gershwin' s "Three Preludes for Piano." In the midst of the exotic rhythms and improvisation, the melodies of the original recordings are subtly referenced and provide structure to the Orchestrotica renditions of these pieces. The quartet also draws upon an appreciation, as well as the influence, of the works of Cal Tjader, Manual de Fall and even Dizzy Gillespie in "Ritual Mallet Dance" and the closing track, "Black Orchid."

Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica bears witness to the future of modern exotica as it unfolds before your ears.

Track Listing: Chiseling Music; Sansaz; Maracatune For Chalco; Would You Like Bongos With That Fugue?; Ritual Mallet Dance; Prelude For Piano I; Prelude For Piano II (Featuring The Siamese Cat Song); Prelude For Piano III; Black Orchid.

Personnel: Brian O'Neill: vibes and percession; Geni Skendo: flutes; Jason Davis: acoustic bass; Shane Shanahan: percussion.

Title: Where Here Meets There | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Self Produced

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