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Music

Spring 2009

One More Mile

What caught my attention from the first time I heard album was the silky-smooth blending of tonality this jazz quartet presents. The interplay between instruments (soprano sax, piano, bass, and drums) is balanced in such a way that one initially forgets there are four individual voices, and yet, upon further analysis, the skillfulness of each performer becomes apparent.

The opening tune, Sweet and Lovely, hints at modal journeys, while other selections such as Birks Works have what might be described as smoky and sultry tones. The more up-tempo Punt, and to a lesser degree E.J., contain more driven tempos with a nice bounce that allow … » More …

Winter 2008

When the Circus Leaves Town

Seattle-raised Brooke Ludwick spent time as a creative director and artist in the advertising field before recently returning to her first love, songwriting and performing. With her talents and understanding of the music business, she has created some well-crafted, thoughtful, and very listenable tunes (she shares composing credits with several other songwriters).

This album fits snugly into the genre of the contemporary country sound, blending familiar lyrical motifs with the Nashville/soft rock mix that currently predominates in this market (the iTunes store placed Ludwick in the company of Carrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris, Taylor Swift, and Jewel).

There are some very nice grooves to be had … » More …

Winter 2002

Sonata Concertante for Cello and Piano and other works

In the course of his 26 years at Washington State University, Lothar Kreck, who retired in 1997, served as director of Hotel and Restaurant Administration (1971-79) and was the program’s first Ivar B. Haglund Distinguished Professor. He also pursued an avocation as a composer and performer, playing viola in orchestras in the U.S. and Europe. Sonata Concertante for Cello and Piano and other works presents seven of his compositions.

Although he began writing music in 1953, the earliest piece on this CD dates from 1985. The disc includes performances by WSU piano faculty Susan Chan, organist and pianist David Hatt, and the Maui … » More …

Winter 2002

Sojourner

Style, phrasing, and rhythmic acuity are hallmarks of a great jazz singer. Julie Silvera displays all of these and more on her debut CD, Sojourner. A graduate of Washington State University with an M.A. in music, Julie cut her “jazz teeth” singing in Pullman with the Charlie Argersinger trio at Rico’s Smokehouse.

How refreshing to hear a singer dig into the literature of the American Songbook and pick out rarely recorded jewels! Sojourner boasts three such gems: “Sweet Georgie Fame,” “Lost and Lookin’,” and “All Alone.”

On Sojourner, Julie covers the gamut of emotional expression, flashing the extremes of her range and dynamics … » More …

Fall 2002

East West Encounter

From the first quietly unsettling notes of Susan Chan’s East West Encounter, it’s clear that this is no ordinary piano CD. A delicate initial passage suddenly explodes into a dramatic and resonant section of lower keys; two contemporary pieces rooted in Chinese literature are an intriguing lead-in to Beethoven’s Sonata in E minor, op. 90 and Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1. That the structure and sound of music can operate as a sort of narrative language is quite evident here. These are selections that evoke the implacability of landscape, the sweet sharp pain of spiritual longing, and the heady delirium of early love.

» More …

Winter 2006

Handmade

It’s no accident that the cover art for Paul Ely Smith’s compact disc, Handmade, features a detail from an oriental rug. Paul, an instructor in the General Education Program at Washington State University, has been a collector of tribal woven pieces—carpets, bag faces, kilims, etc.—from places like Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey for many years. And, of course, they’re all handmade—just like the fretless gourd banjo, also pictured on the cover, which Paul himself built, and which he plays on the CD’s opening track. Paul plays all the other instruments heard on Handmade, including the guitar he built in 2000, his great-grandfather’s 1893 Fairbanks “Electric” banjo … » More …

Fall 2006

The Dozier-Jarvis-Young Quartet: You Guys From Around Here?

The photo of the Moscow/Pullman highway which graces the cover of the Dozier-Jarvis-Young Quartet’s debut CD release, You Guys From Around Here? brought the memories flooding back, as I settled down to listen to the opening track, “Homecoming.” You see, I’m able to easily answer that particular query, since I was from “around there” for a little over eight years. In one of the group’s earlier incarnations—the Dozier-Jarvis-Jensen Quartet—I performed regularly at Roger Johnson’s venerable Pullman music establishment, Rico’s, and at clubs and concert halls throughout the Pacific Northwest. My objectivity as a reviewer having now been fully compromised, let us forge ahead with a … » More …

Summer 2008

Wiggle Like a Fish

Tory Christensen ’01
CD Baby, 2007

Sometime in the 1970s or ’80s, when National Public Radio was airing a program called Folk Festival USA, I recorded a concert from one of those broadcasts by a singer named Sam Hinton. Among the songs Hinton performed was one called “Barney McCabe.” It was about “a wise child” who went off in search of an evil witch and ultimately destroyed her with the help of three canny dogs—Barney … » More …

Spring 2008

The Way I Feel Tonight

For a lot of musicians, recording a second CD is typically a tough proposition. Do you take your music in a new direction, or do you maintain some aspects of the first CD that garnered attention and fans? Jennifer Lynn ’03 manages to do both on her sophomore effort, The Way I Feel Tonight.

From the opening track, “Waitin’ On A Pretty Girl,” you know you’re in for a change in this CD. The subtle acoustic-guitar intro quickly gives way to a boot-stomping country rocker, full of blazing country chicken-pickin’ guitar and feisty vocals. Shifting between the blues-inspired » More …

Spring 2004

Acoustic Jazz Quartet: Organic

It becomes clearer the longer you listen to Organic that the title of this CD indicates the playing style that the Acoustic Jazz Quartet allows to grow in the middle of its straight-ahead jazz sounds.

Most of the numbers begin simply—almost conventionally—with the percussion and bass coming in light and crisp. Drummer Dean Koba blithely keeps his strokes quick and precise, filling out the ensemble with a skittering, crystalline backdrop. Bassist Zac Matthews (’92 Music) is spry, placing most of his notes on top of the beat, which propels the music even as it gives everyone room. And when he takes the lead, as he … » More …