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Review Excerpt:

The Meridian Arts Ensemble: Anxiety Of Influence
By Jim Sheldon-Dean
Anxiety of Influence review in The Music & Travel Report

From the May, 1997 issue, by permission.

One of the perks of publishing the M&T Report on the Web is that I get inquiries from various groups and publicists about their sending me CDs for review. I hate to not listen to something that might be good and comes for free, but unfortunately most of what arrives is, ah, not good. Luckily, that's not always the case, and the Meridian Arts Ensemble's latest CD, "Anxiety of Influence" (Channel Crossings CCS 9796), is an excellent example of the good stuff.

Meridian Arts Ensemble consists of two trumpets, a trombone, a horn, a tuba, and drums -- it's a wind chamber quintet plus percussion, and on this album there's also a guest pianist. This is not your garden variety chamber music, though. Instead MAE goes for the unusual and off-beat, effortlessly mixing styles from all over the musical map into a really unique sound and style. And, these guys are GOOD!

"Anxiety of Influence" begins with a 21-minute set of Frank Zappa music arranged by trumpeter Jon Nelson, leading off with "Run Home Slow" and "The Little March" from Zappa's 1959 score for a cowboy movie, also heard on Zappa's albums, "The Lost Episodes" and "You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Volume 5." Nelson's arrangements are simple and true to the originals, yet startling in their freshness -- this is, after all, an all-acoustic band. From there guest pianist Jon Klibonoff does an excellent, moving job with the solo piano introduction from the 1971 Fillmore version of "Little House I Used To Live In," and the ensemble version follows. The set is completed with drum solo and "new age" ensemble versions of "The Black Page." How are all these? Just great. I've always loved Zappa's more orchestral/classical pieces, and these are great examples, performed flawlessly. There's something just so clean and bright about all those horns that gives new life to Zappa's work.

Meridian Arts Ensemble has nine compact discs available on the Channel Classics label. These recordings are distributed in over 30 countries.

Silvestre Revueltas - Ocho por Radio
Astor Piazzolla - Oblivion
Trad. Costa Rican - Caballito Nicoyano
Caetano Veloso - Michelangelo Antonioni
Dafnis Prieto - Echo-Dimensions
Heitor Villa-Lobos - Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5
Ana Lara - En par de los levantes de la aurora
Hermeto Pascoal - Timbrando
Pixinguinha and Lacerda- Um a Zero

purchase here

David Sanford, Corpus

Elliott Sharp, Beyond the Curve

Nick Didkovsky, Slim in Beaten Dreamers

purchase here

CD Cover

Ear, Mind, I- (CCS 11898)
Frank Zappa, Selected Works, Black Page
Su Lian Tan, Moo Shu Wrap Rap
Tom Pierson, Brass Quintet
Randy Brecker, Some Skunk Funk
Jason Forsythe, Sanctity
Josef Burgstaller, Lullaby, Dr. J Geyser
John Ferrari, MAE We Strut?, Crunch
Jon Nelson, Fanfare for Nothing, Sleepless

purchase here

CD Cover

Anxiety of Influence - (CCS 9796)
with guest pianist Jon Klibonoff
Frank Zappa, Selected Works
Claude Debussy, Sarabande
Stephen Barber, Semahane
Daniel Grabois, Zen Monkey
Trad. Afro-Cuban, El Solitario
Stanley Silverman, Variations on a Theme
of Kurt Weill
Raymond G. Stewart, Okay Chorale, KOHS-Ska
purchase here

CD Cover

Five - (CCS 9496)
Ira Taxin, Fanfare
Stephen Barber, Gone is the River
Jan Radzynski, Take Five
David Sampson, Morning Music
Peter Robles, Finale Rounds

available soon

CD Cover

Prime Meridian - (CCS 8195)
Igor Stravinsky, Fanfare for a New Theatre
Frank Zappa, Selected Works, incl. Peaches en Regalia
Kenny Wheeler, Song for Someone
Captain Beefheart, Selected Works
Milton Babbitt, Fanfare for All
Jon Nelson, Song for a Dead King, Paterson 2:35
Rich Shemaria, Pandora's Magic Castle
Herbie Hancock, Jessica
Frank London, Schvitz Suite
purchase here
CD Cover

Visions of the Renaissance - (CCS 6594)
Giovanni Coprario, Two Fantasias
Tomaso Albinoni, Suite in G Major
J.S. Bach, Three Chorales, Four Contrapuncti from the Art of the Fugue, Fantasie
Domenico Scarlatti, Sonata in D Major
Johann Schein, Three Psalm Settings
Don Carlo Gesualdo, Three Madrigals
Orlando Gibbons, Two Fantasias
purchase here

CD Cover

Smart Went Crazy - (CCS 4192)
Frank Zappa, Selected Works
John Halle, Softshoe
Phillip Johnston, Sleeping Beauty
Billy Strayhorn, Lush Life
Kirk Nurock, Smart Went Crazy
Norman Yamada, Mundane Dissatisfactions
Jimi Hendrix, Purple Haze
Trad. Afro/Cuban, Revoltillo
purchase here
CD Cover  

GO! - (CCS 5910)
Witold Lutoslawski, Mini Overture
Alexander Arutiunian, Armenian Scenes
Ira Taxin, Brass Quintet
Jan Bach, Laudes
Alvin Etler, Quintet for Brass Instruments
Fanfare for Nothing (video)

purchase here


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