Yolanda Kondonassis and Jason Vieaux

I’m looking forward to the release on January 27th of a new CD from internationally acclaimed solo artists Yolanda Kondonassis and Jason Vieaux entitled “Together.”  These superb musicians join forces to showcase the rich colors and unique repertoire for harp and guitar.

Their diverse expressive capabilities and intimate sonorities suggest that they are interchangeable parts of one whole . . . it was difficult to hear where one instrument ends and the other begins – the mystical effect of one great intangible apparent throughout the program: the intuitive synchronicity of Kondonassis and Vieaux.

– The Buffalo News

Read and interview about this CD here.

Jason Vieaux Releases New Album, “Play”

jasonvieauxplaycoverThe person who has ignited a renewed passion in my life for the study of Classical Guitar is a down to earth virtuoso named Jason Vieaux (go to his website here.)  Jason co-founded the guitar department at The Curtis Institute of Music, and he has taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music since 2001.

I met Jason Vieaux at a Master Class held at Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, N.Y.  I was a nervous mess when I had to play for him, but by the end of the week long class, he had managed to encourage my ability and approach to the guitar in ways I had never attempted nor even dreamed of before (see my post from July 2011, Guitarists in the Monastery) .  Not only is he an extraordinary musician, but he is an excellent teacher and ambassador for the classical guitar.  I’ve had several private lessons with Jason and was one of the early students to enroll in his online school with Artistworks (an amazing online resource for learning all styles of music).  He is generous and encouraging in his pedagogical approach no matter what level of ability presented by his students.

The official release of his newest solo album, Play, on Azica Records, is scheduled for January 28, 2014, but is now available on Amazon and iTunes. The album celebrates Jason Vieaux’s 20th anniversary as a performer by featuring the Spanish, Mexican, South American, Cuban, French, and American classics that Vieaux has found to be universal audience favorites over the past two decades. The music includes showpieces by Barrios, Sagreras, Bustamante, and Sainz De La Maza, Tárrega’s classics Recuerdos de la Alhambra and Capricho Arabe, and Vieaux’s own in-demand arrangement of Duke Ellington’s In A Sentimental Mood and Andrew York’s popular Sunburst.

It is one of the most spirited and dynamically expressive classical guitar recordings I have ever heard and reveals Jason’s expressive virtuosity at the service of a wide range of music styles.  His arrangement of Ellington’s In A Sentimental Mood is simply stunning.  If you have not had the pleasure of hearing Jason Vieaux before, this may be the perfect album to get you started.  Bravo Jason!

Café Concert: Jason Vieaux

From WQXR the Classical Music Station of NYC:

Until this year, the Curtis Institute of Music, the famed conservatory in Philadelphia, did not regard the guitar as an instrument worthy of a place in its curriculum. When the school changed its policy, it hired Jason Vieaux to co-run a guitar department. This week, Vieaux gave a Café Concert, offering a program that was in some ways a treatise on the guitar’s usefulness, both as solo instrument with an original repertoire, and as a close cousin of rock music and jazz.

Of the former category, Vieaux performed two works by the usual suspects: Sevilla, a tasteful arrangement Isaac Albeniz, and Joropo, an evocative Latin dance piece by the Argentine composer José Merlin (both will be heard in a recital at the Caramoor Festival on July 21). He also switched gears to perform an arrangement of a song by the jazz-guitar legend Pat Metheny, who was the subject of Vieaux’s 2005 album “Images of Metheny.”

Read the full article here.



Ricardo Gallen and the Bach Recordings

Wandering Eye Productions has filmed a lovely video of world renown guitarist, Ricardo Gallen, who is recording a new album with interpretations of Bach on a guitar which is a replica of a 19th century instrument. An inspiring performance to watch and listen to. 

It’s worth taking a 15 minute break to listen to the entire piece, but don’t miss Ricardo’s warm and unhurried intepretation of Prelude BWV 998 which starts at “10:08” into the Video. Be sure to select the “HD on” button on the bottom right corner. Headphones recommended!

Rescuing 1970 From the Remainder Bin

Jason Schneider

I enjoyed reading this article from The New York Times:

Is this 2010 — or 1970? The answer, strangely enough, is: both.  James Taylor wraps up a tour with Carole King.  A new Jimi Hendrix album makes its debut in the Top 5.  Elton John has joined forces with one of his heroes, the extremely hirsute singer-pianist Leon Russell. Fans think music should be free for the taking.

From Michael Jackson’s bank account to robust ticket sales for Roger Waters’s “Wall” tour, pop has witnessed its share of unlikely comebacks this year. Perhaps the least expected, though, is that of the year 1970, just in time for its 40th anniversary. (Pop-culture nostalgia tends to run in 20-year cycles, making this revival even more surprising.)

Mr. Taylor and Ms. King’ s  “Troubadour Reunion” shows — the second-highest-grossing tour of the year after Bon Jovi’s, according to Pollstar, which tracks tour grosses and ticket sales — recreate the period four decades ago when Mr. Taylor’s career was kicking in (with his “Sweet Baby James” album) and Ms. King, a veteran Brill Building songwriter not yet known for her own records, was simply the pianist in his band. On Oct. 19 Mr. Russell and Mr. John will release their first-ever collaboration, “The Union,” which recalls the months in 1970 when Mr. John opened for Mr. Russell at halls like the legendary Fillmore East. “Valleys of Neptune,” an album of exhumed recordings by Hendrix, entered the charts earlier this year at No. 4, just like his “Band of Gypsys” did, at No. 5, in 1970.

Even a relatively youngish act is paying homage. Marc Cohn, the piano-playing balladeer best known for the adult-contemporary standard “Walking in Memphis,” has just released “Listening Booth: 1970.” On it this gravel-road-voiced singer remakes and rearranges songs familiar to anyone who was glued to AM or FM radio that year: “Wild World,” “The Tears of a Clown,” “New Speedway Boogie,” “Into the Mystic,” “The Letter” and “Maybe I’m Amazed” among them.

Read the full article here.

On A Happier Note

Two of the most prolific and successful recording artists of all time are close friends and are together again.  To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of a venue that calls itself home to such notables as Elton John, The Eagles, and Joni Mitchell. Carole King and James Taylor performed there together in November of 1970 and again in November of 2007.  Carole King and James Taylor — Live at the Troubadour is a CD/DVD collection of fifteen classic numbers chosen from the 2007 shows.

It’s great to hear Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar and Russell Kunkel as the back up band again.   Wonderful commentary between the songs expressing the deep connection these two folk icons have with their fans.  This enduring music will put a smile on your face and quicken your step.  Go on, you know you need it.

www.caroleking.com www.jamestaylor.com iTunes

Patti Griffin’s Downtown Church

I’m a Patti Griffin fan.  I first encountered her passionate and mournful voice when she opened for Shawn Colvin at the 9:30 Club in 1996 during Shawn’s “A Few Small Repairs” tour.  The more I listened, and the more live performances I attended, the more her music and commitment touched me and I’ve been an avid follower ever since.   She is one of America’s greatest musical treasures winning the the AMA’s highest honor as “Artist of the Year” in 2007.

Her newest album Downtown Church is a collection of Gospel style songs produced by her longtime friend and producer Buddy Miller at the Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN.  Downtown Church brings to life Gospel songs that have influenced contemporary music in a way that only Patty Griffin can do.

Andy Whitman of Christianity Today recently talked with Patti Griffin about the album and asked her this question:

I love “Coming Home to Me,” one of two original gospel compositions on Downtown Church. You sing “When you’re lost and you’re found and you’re found and you’re lost / When you’re dancing with no one around.” What does it mean to be lost and found in the context of the same gospel song?

Well, that’s the mystery, isn’t it? Look, we can talk about beliefs and doctrines and what have you. But when you get older, my experience has been that it’s not that simple. People are complicated. That song—like a lot of my other songs, I suppose—is trying to get at what really goes on inside, deep down. It’s about feeling alone and abandoned, and simultaneously aware that there is something or someone bigger and outside of you, and feeling connected to that. Both those things are true. It’s not one or the other. I don’t want to put a label on it. (Laughs). I guess that’s sort of a recurring theme with me, isn’t it? But both those things are true. That’s what I wanted to communicate. You’re lost and you’re found. Both those things are true.

The songs mix traditional standards (“Wade In The Water,” ”Move Up”) with country and blues spirituals (Hank Williams’ “House Of Gold,” the blues classic “If I Had My Way” and St. Francis of Assisi’s poem set to Ralph Vaughan William’s arrangement, “All Creatures of our God and King” ) and originals written by Griffin, Julie Miller and others.  It would be a powerful to have Patti sing one of these songs at Holy Comforter some day. Episcopalians might leave their pews.  Watch out!