MP3 Brian Woodbury - Variety Orchestra
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8 MP3 Songs
JAZZ: Weird Jazz, CLASSICAL: Contemporary
Brian Woodbury's "Variety Orchestra" is a sparkling new CD of melodic post-modern jazz compositions. The music is built around a one-of-a-kind line-up combining a driving jazz rhythm section, Latin and Big Band horns, and the down-home Americana of pedal steel, banjo, fiddles & accordion. This mix is peppered with tabla, new music violin, tone rows, NYC bar band, Satchmo cornet growls, and a 15th century brass chorale.
The CD features phenomenal players from both coasts - a who's who from New York's downtown and LA's experimental music scenes: violins - Marc Feldman (Arcado String Trio, Dave Douglas) & Sarah Parkins (Zeena Parkins, Grammy-winning Angeles Quartet); pedal steel and banjo - Marc Muller (Karen Mantler, Shania Twain); trumpet - Frank London (John Zorn, Klezmatics); woodwinds - Aaron Heick (Chaka Khan), Steve Elson (Borneo Horns, David Bowie), Will Connell (Charles Mingus) & Kurt Hoffman (The Ordinaires); bass - Conrad Korsch (Billy Joel) & Oren Bloedow (Jewel); drums - Dan Morris (Rufus Wainwright, James Carney) & Jonathan Feinberg (They Might Be Giants); vibes - Michael Webster (Tracy Chapman); and accordions - Guy Klucevsek (Anthony Braxton, Fred Frith) & Nick Ariondo ("brilliant" - Zubin Mehta).
From the off-kilter Rova-esque sax riff of opener "Take The J Train" through a tabla-propelled minimalist downtown hocket ("Mom") to the drunken trumpets of the Baroque Mexican polka "Garbanzo Beans," there is a thread of whimsy. Yet the music is not afraid of beauty....
There is grandiosity too: "Venice, Italy," a programmatic (Latin) American in Venice (including a Bridge of Size); "Long May She Wave" brings to mind prog rock and Frank Zappa's Grand Wazoo; "Threnody for Kennedy and Connally" reflects the JFK assassination through a history of 20th Century jazz, with homages to Louis Armstrong, the Andrews Sisters, Thelonious Monk and Carla Bley; Newgrass goes Carribbean with "Shenandoah/Innsbruck," a pairing of the traditional American ballad and a Renaissance vocal piece sung with Appalachian minstrelsy by Dudley Saunders.
Starting in 1989, the Variety Orchestra and its offshoots have appeared at New York's Knitting Factory, La MaMa, Dance Theater Workshop and Fez.
Woodbury, a Los Angeles-based songwriter, TV and theater composer, studied musical comedy songwriting with Tom Lehrer, and avant garde music composition with Pauline Oliveros. His songs have been sung by Jill Sobule, Terre Roche and Lisa Loeb. He wrote the theme for the ABC-TV cartoon Pepper Ann, and songs for the feature film Teacher's Pet. He was head songwriter on Disney's Book of Pooh and Jim Henson's Bear in the Big Blue House. He also orchestrated Najma's Forbidden Kiss (Shanachie), a CD of classic Indian film songs. He is an alumnus of the BMI Lehmann Engel Music Theater Workshop.
Previous recordings: All White People Look Alike; Brian Woodbury and his Popular Music Group and The Brian Woodbury Songbook.
Praise for the Brian Woodbury Songbook
"Consummate songwriting Craft! Wildly eclectic & celebratory. This music is built to last, with its constant element of surprize. Bright scansion that infuses hope into the lyrical art... with effortless ease. Not since Esquivel and the wondrous works of young Brian Wilson in his lettuce years have I heard sound of this romantic design. World beat with an American watermark. Indispensable."
Van Dyke Parks
"Mr. Woodbury has earned his degree as an eclectic."
Neil Strauss, New York Times
"Renaissance man Brian Woodbury could be the heir apparent to Van Dyke Parks and Brian Wilson... He dabbles in musical theater, television theme music and esoteric pop music, with an ear for the kind of production values that the two masters have always shown: an ever-changing sound generated by the lyrical material and a propensity for the head hums, the ability to get a melody rattling in your brain for days. Front and center [is] Woodbury's penchant for writing the perfect pop song."
Paul Anderson, Entertainment Today
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