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What a great collection of new A Cappella CDs!

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  • rjsharette@prodigy.net
    Hello a cappella friends, It s time to start looking for a couple of those special albums that will make for great music around your holiday household, or will
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 2, 2002
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      Hello a cappella friends,

      It's time to start looking for a couple of those special albums that will make for great music around your holiday household, or will brighten the stockings of friends and family on the big day. I don't mean to appear "commercial," but an a cappella CD purchase is one way to support our favorite musical genre when they're not in town. Here's some selections I find really great. Let me know about your best choices also, okay?

      These comments are extracted from the descriptions at the two most prominent contemporary a cappella catalog sites. I've taken the liberty to edit and add remarks from my own experience. If you're not familiar with these groups, let me know. I think the variety and quality here cannot be surpassed in the a cappella world.

      The catalog sites are: Primarily A Cappella on the West Coast @ <www.singers.com> and Mainely A Cappella on the East Coast @ <www.a-cappella.com>. These CDs are available from either source and are easily identified on the sites.

      Most professional a cappella artists struggle financially in order to experience the glamorous life of cheap motels, 10 hour drives to perform, and the occasional thrill of making great music for people who love a cappella. The six guys of "m-pact" are no exception, but what they do is some of the best work in the industry. They won the Harmony Sweepstakes in 1996 and they've been a "Billboard Unsigned Artist" for some time.

      Their holiday album, "The Carol Commission," shows an unflinching quest for perfection. It's a world class recording. I bought it this year at their Denver concert when I realized what the title meant.<g> They commissioned some of the greatest CAC arrangers in the country to put together a compilation of unparalleled holiday quality and excitement.

      While m-pact was on tour this fall in Denver, their van, along with sound equipment and other gear was stolen and has not been recovered. Sadly, insurance does not cover most of the $85k loss. So here's how you can help in a pretty painless way. If you buy a copy of this CD between now and Christmas from MAC, all of the CD money will go directly to the guys to help them over the hump. Do it. You won't regret it.

      The Swingles' discography boasts a stylistic diversity unmatched by almost any other a cappella group -- from Mozart to madrigals, Bach to the Beatles, folk songs to fugues and film themes. But this new CD, "Mood Swings," focuses on what I believe to be their real forte: yeah, jazz.
      These eight gifted singers have a symbiotic relationship with some of the best arrangers in the world: Ward Swingle, Bertrand Groeger, Alexander L'Estrange, Jonathan Rathbone and others. "Mood" begins with Miles Davis, segues into Latin including Jobim, a trio of moody jazz ballads, then three Richard Rodgers classics, four great 30s/40s standards and then finishes with Quincy Jones. Can you beat that?
      "Mood" 'swings' us into a jazz feel and never lets us go. Listen to soprano voices doing soaring jazz trumpet riffs while the guys carry a blasting big band sound. It's breathtaking proof that the Swingles are the best at whatever style they choose to sing They're ­simply perfect!

      "Our American Journey" is, incredibly, Chanticleer's 25th CD, and it celebrates the music of America, from sacred motets by 17th century Mexican composers to shape-note hymns to newly-commissioned works on American themes. It is a showcase of the rich traditions and also of the creative tension between unity and diversity that are inherent in American music and in American life. 
      Chanticleer's Music Director, Joseph Jennings, who adapted and arranged a number of these works, said, "This CD captures the essence of what we do when we're on the road, and how we want to present ourselves." It's truly excellent!

      I had the pleasure of having lunch with Tim Jones, Utah's CASA Ambassador and "Moosebutter's" godfather, a few weeks ago in Salt Lake City. We were informally comparing notes on wha's happenin' in our states. Tim was in production on their new album, "See Dee," and the folks I spoke to while there said that, based upon Moosebutter's live appearances, this album is not to be missed. I have just ordered it and can't wait to hear some of the crazy stuff these four manic young men of Utah have put together.
      Tim writes, composes, adapts and arranges practically everything in this CD. There are 17 little delights here, from an ode to 'tile,' "The Happy Tile Cleaner," to "Ghost Chickens in the Sky," and "Jell-O." I know (from meeting Tim) this is funny, brilliant stuff, which BTW wowed 'em at the West Coast A Cappella Summit, the kind of material that gets a group on morning shows and also on stages at the Harmony Sweeps Finals!

      I bought my first Ramapo LP album in the 60s or early 70s, and if I know director Renee Craig (which I do -- for /X*? years), this is an album that will show the skill of Sweet Adelines barbershop harmony like none other you could get. It's also a "no brainer" Christmas gift for the many Barbershop fans who must be hangin' close by to you other a cappella folks.
      Ramapo Valley is actually located "45 Minutes from Broadway," the name of this newest CD, so no wonder they're so influenced by its music! The heart of the Ramapo repertoire comes from shows that have graced Broadway stages over the years. A perennial star in Sweet Adelines International competitions, RVC always delivers. There are 14 beautifully arranged favorites, all joyfully and dynamically sung by a top-notch chorus. Who could ask for more?
      I suppose they could have used that title since their first CD was titled, "Once." But with their second album, Eclipse definitely makes us "Think Twice" about them as a group. Yes, on that first album, they jazzed and rocked out on some pretty well-known cover songs, but now, they show that they've got song-writing chops as well, with seven out of 11 songs being originals. With production by Darren Rust of the Blenders giving them a polished, professional sound, this CD will satisfy a wide range of pop-group enthusiasts.
      Utahan Paul Hansen (an Eclipse guy - what is it with all these Utah singers?) sent me a pre-release copy of "Think Twice" to put in the hands of a Colorado reviewer, but I've since ordered my own copy, because I need to hear it more often. Great tunes, excellent arrangements and effects, but when you get to that last folksy number, "Hard Times Come Again No More," a wonderful rendition of a heart-warmer, you'll want to start over from the beginning.
      Well, there's a few for you to think about. Let's share information on your favorites also. Choices are the best part of the holiday musical fun!
      Rol Sharette, program director, CVJS
      Colorado Vocal Jazz Society
      Colorado Ambassador, CASA
      Contemporary A Cappella Society
      PS: I hope you don't receive more than one mailing of this bulletin; some of you appear on more than one of my contact lists, so you may feel you're getting spammed. If so, I apologize.
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