The Audiophiliac, Steve Guttenberg, to inquire as to whether or not he would be interested in me assembling a “Stay at Home” sampler of tracks from the recordings of mine he has mentioned over the years. He readily went for it and here we all are!
Since you can read about MA in Steve’s various articles, I would rather just list the tracks on the sampler and briefly discuss them... There are a dozen tracks with a total time lasting 82 minutes and 42 seconds. Not bad I guess. I decided that they should all be 44.1 kHz WAV file tracks, just in case there are those that are still not up to speed with higher resolution DACs, etc. By the way, all tracks were recorded with only two omni-directional microphones, except for track 3 which was a live recording in Tokyo.
Again, I would like to thank the Audiophiliac, Steve Guttenberg for his everlasting enthusiasm for my work! Let’s hope this music keeps you busy and emotionally engaged. The best of health to you and yours!!
The Audiophiliac Stay at Home with MA Recordings Sampler
“Gajdarsko Oro” - from Krushevo; MA catalog #: M044A 02. “Jano mori” - from Krushevo; MA catalog #: M044A
These first two tracks are from “Krushevo” the Balkan cult recording I did in 1998 in the Republic of Macedonia, now officially called the “Republic of North Macedonia” due to the intense opposition from Greece which has always had its own territory traditionally called “Macedonia.” The recording venue was the “Makedonium” National monument that Josef Tito had constructed in the 1070’s to commemorate the slaughter of the Macedonians during the Ilinden Uprising. I strongly encourage you to do a Google search of the Makedonium Monument, which by the way, is located in the mountain hamlet by the name of Krushevo. It is truly a one of a kind structure, and if you can find photos of the inside you might understand why recording sounds the way it does. It has one of the deepest acoustics I have ever worked in. It is simply magical. The album features contemporary guitar duet arrangements of Macedonian folk songs and I am sure you will agree that this is some of the most beautiful guitar playing you will ever hear. I decided to present two contrasting pieces so you can get a better understanding of the profundity of the folk music of Macedonia.
“Honey Suckle Rose/Ain’t Misbehavin’” - from The Very Thought of Two by Sheila Jordan & HarvieSwartz MA catalog #: M005A
This is a live concert recording that I did (in 1989) while living in Tokyo. I got involved in a bit of concert promotion before establishing MA and this is one of the concerts I produced. Steve Guttenberg really likes this recording, I think more for the incredible performance than the sonics.
I tend to agree. Sheila was around 60 years old when we did this. Unbelievable!
“Saint Thomas” - from Songs From Within by Sheila Jordan & Harvie Swartz; MA catalog #: M014A
I also wanted to present Sheila and Harvie in what is undoubtedly a much better acoustic setting. This is the album we recorded while they toured Japan to promote the above live Tokyo Concert album.
This second album was recorded in the Harmony Hall in the Japanese Alpine city of Matsumoto, a very beautiful cultural place with a famous castle, hotsprings, etc.
“Gitana” Silvia Perez Cruz + Ravid Goldschmidt - from Llama; MA catalog #: M070A
This album was recorded over a period of three evenings in a small chapel in the Bari Gotic quarter of Barcelona, Spain. I met Ravid Goldschmidt playing in the streets of Barcelona and was immediately intrigued by the instrument he was playing, called the “Hang” And, he was incredibly adept at making music on it. We discussed making a recording and during these discussions, he asked if he could bring a singer, Silvia Perez Cruz. I was a bit skeptical as once a singer sings out of tune, you have a big problem.... I faced such a problem on a previous project in Portugal. Not fun!! Fortunately, my skepticism immediately gave way to excitement as soon as Silvia opened her mouth! WoW, what an amazing singer! We are all the more enriched for it! Please do Google Silvia Perez Cruz. You will be further amazed! The tune on this sampler is the first that we recorded so you can experience my initial amazement as well! It is influenced by the Flamenco traditions of Spain, although Silvia was not born into this tradition...
“Marvin`s Udu Voodoo” - from Ghatam by The Antenna Repairment; MA catalog #: M038A
Next we have a rather long track from one of Steve’s favourites, “Ghatam” by the Antenna Repairmen
The “Ghatam” project represents the culmination of a work by three California based percussionists and a rather prolific and creative potter. I could write about it here, but I discovered a 40+ minute video on Youtube with the trio playing live. You can see them playing their amazing ceramic instruments and Arthur Jarvinen explains the instruments as well. Here is the link (you may have to copy and paste):
“Minor`s Boogie” - from Man From Plovdiv by Milcho Leviev; MA catalog #: M018A
This is one of the first recordings I did for MA, although it was released a few years after it was produced. In the late 80’s, I flew Milcho from LA to Japan where we went up to the Harmony Hall in Matsumoto, Japan and recorded two albums over a period of only three days. The first of these was the album, “Bulgarian Piano Blues” which I was able to get out in 1990. Actually, we had only intended to record one record, but Milcho wanted to keep playing so “Man From Plovdiv” was “realized” in one day, if I remember correctly.... This is Steve’s favourite recording of Milcho on MA. There are two others...
“Gears” - from With Space in Mind by percussionist Mark Nauseef; MA catalog #: M020A
I took Mark up to the Harmony Hall in the early 90s, to record this solo project. Mark was associated with the German Sonor drum manufacturer so all the drums and Orf mallet instruments were made by Sonor. Mark of course, brought his own cymbals. It should be pretty obvious that this is a killer track. Turn it up!
“Victimae paschali laudes” - from Sous les voûtes le serpent .... by Michel Godard; MA catalog #:
French born Michel Godard is a master of the modern Tuba, as well as the Serpent, the Renaissance predecessor of the tuba. Michel plays the Serpent on most of this record which is both avant-garde and Medieval in scope. Other musicians include percussionists Mark Nauseef (from the above “With Space in Mind”) and Pedro Estevan, who plays with Begona Olavide on other MA Recordings, as well as the world famous viol player Jordi Savall. “Victimae paschali laudes” is actually a Gregorian Chant and since the Serpent was originally played to accompany Gregorian Chant in the Catholic Church, Michel decided to start the album with this Gregorian “favourite...”
“Batuta Lui Costel Sarambel” - Hora Tiganeaska - from Departe de Casa; MA catalog #: M060A
Producing this album was truly an adventure and a tremendous learning experience! In the spring of 2001, I traveled to Paris from Tokyo to promote MA at the “France Musique” Music Fair. Paris is quite well known for the musicians that play in the subway system and the Paris Metro is where I met the musicians that played on this recording! All of them are Rom from “Valea Mare”, an agricultural enclave in the Romanian countryside. They were Economic Refugees that traveled almost 40 hours by bus with their instruments to make money playing on the Parisian underground public transport system. I think they often made one month’s Romanian salary in a single day, but I am not sure... They always had little powered speakers on small luggage carts, playing what they thought the French wanted to hear, but in reality didn’t. On one late evening, I asked some of the musicians to play music from their village. Almost like magic, a number of passengers got up to give them money because the music was so incredibly good! After some discussion and planning, I was able to get seven of these “economic refugees” onto a relatively high-speed train to the city of Orleans where a local friend of mine arranged for us to record in a 15th century Gothic Cathedral.
I positioned them in front of the altar, under a rather large statue of Maria, holding her baby Jesus ....
I doubt you will find this appropriate music to play in a Catholic church, but it sure sounded great! The album was recorded in 8 hours! The tunes are rather short and involve very fast cyclical melodies that repeat constantly. Since they are so short, there are 22 tracks on the album. I include two here, the second being a clarinet/accordion duet recorded after we finished the group pieces. I asked the other five musicians to become their audience and upon completion of the tune, purposely applaud excessively, yelling “Bravo!” I really love these tracks!
Gregorian Chant with Peter Epstein (Fall 2020 release)
In the spring of the year 2000, I found myself with saxophonist Peter Epstein in a Catholic church on a hill overlooking Rovato, a smallish town in the Italian Brescia region. I cannot recall exactly why or how I got there, but it must have been to record the music on this track.... You should be able to tell what is going on here, Gregorian Chant with improvising soprano saxophone. There is a lot of work to do to get this out, but since I have a lot of time, I think it just might be possible. The music may not be for everyone, but hopefully for some it will be a revelation...
“Izvor” Miroslav Tadic: guitar + Santiago Vasquez: percussion and tabla
For our final “performance”, I present you with the opening track from a somewhat forgotten recording from 1998 that was produced the week before the first Sera una Noche album was recorded in the same Monastery church in the Argentine countryside: Monasterio Gandara. At this point in time, I am not sure what the album will be called, but the working title is probably the Serbo-Croatian “Izvor” which means “the source” or “spring” or “well” as in “water source.” At the time of this recording, I wasn’t convinced enough to release it as there are some tracks with accordion which I could not get behind. BUT, now 22 years later, I guess it’s time. Not sure this will be on CD, but it will certainly be available as a HiRez download and perhaps some of it on vinyl. Hopefully I will get this out in the fall of 2020! I have to come up with a cover image as well....