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Music

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 …

Fall 2008

Louisiana—A Pianist's Journey

In one of my first musical memories, I am sitting with my grandfather at his player-piano, watching the punched rolls spin as we listen to the popular music of his youth. As a young child, I hadn’t yet developed a curiosity for the vast wealth and breadth of the piano literature. Hearing Louisiana—A Pianist’s Journey has given me a chance to revisit this type of music through a unique collection of works. Kenneth Boulton’s recording and the accompanying booklet effectively encapsulate Louisiana’s rich cultural history and transport the listener to a graceful era in American music. This innovative two-CD set presents works by both American … » More …

Fall 2008

Where the Fins Meet the Frets

If life imitates art, then for Ray Troll, so does music. More specifically, his music imitates his art. The debut CD from Ray Troll and the Ratfish Wranglers titled Where The Fins Meet The Frets contains 16 original songs that one could say leap directly from Ray’s artwork, which is playful, humorous, and dripping with double entendre.

Ray Troll and his Ratfish Wranglers hail from Ketchikan, Alaska, a population of roughly 14,000 hard-working folks, mostly in the fishing industry. To say that Ray’s songs are influenced by this town and its people would be an understatement. Almost every track is fully drenched with Alaska … » More …

Fall 2007

The Wakefields: Falling Down Blue

Country music always seems to be filled with nostalgia—looking back on the days of old with a southern drawl, an acoustic guitar, and a broken heart. Yet every so often artists like The Wakefields come along to alter these perspectives. Falling Down Blue is an album that grafts pop-like traits on a country-music base. While The Wakefields consistently encompass the alt-country genre, each song blurs the boundaries between this more modern form of country and old-timey folk-pop.

There’s even a strong oldies rock influence apparent in the earliest moments of Falling Down Blue. Remnants of Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly can be heard, along with … » More …