|Xerxes Concubine - the Winged Lion||Gaze|
The French pop group Les Enfoires hosted a 2002 benefit concert, All in the Same Boat, to aid Restaurants of the Heart, a French advocacy organization that provides food, shelter, and culture for the homeless. This two-disc set is a live recording of the event.
Other European pop stars contributing to the effort include Zazie, MC Solaar, Maxime LeForrestier, and Laam.
Throughout the distinct phases of their recording career, from straight rhythmic gospel to Civil Rights protest anthems, to what might be called soul folk to the funky grit of their Stax years, the Staple Singers always delivered songs that said something, and even when the grooves of songs like 1971's "Respect Yourself" or 1972's reggae-tinged "I'll Take You There" were sending people to the dancefloors, the lyrics were hopeful, message-driven missives of support for a better self, a better community, and a better world. Stax Profiles is a fine anthology which collects tracks recorded between 1968 and 1975 during the Staple Singers productive stay at Stax Records, and includes both "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There," as well as the powerful "City in the Sky," "Touch a Hand, Make a Friend," "Are You Sure," with its brilliantly staggered vocals, and the Steve Cropper produced "Long Walk to D.C." There isn't a single lame track here, and while there are lengthier collections of the Staple Singers' Stax years on the market, this one has a wonderful flow.
The first edition of Mytha's Swiss Alphorn recordings was an experiment in offering the sound of this primitive, very organic trumpet to the world. The Alphorn has many cousins in the world in Tibet, Australia, China, and elsewhere. It is limited in its pitch and tonal ranges since it can only be played in the overtone series (harmonics). Mytha set out to use those limitations to their advantage by accenting the horn is ways it had not been used before. The disc opens with a piece by Hans-Jorg Sommer, the preeminent Alphorn player and composer. As the long drones begin to emerge from the silence and are joined by others in a different pitch, one instrument is picked to solo and create between the three tones smaller polytones that begin to ring and glimmer, vibrate in the sound mix. The rest of the first half of the disc is dedicated to pieces written by Hans Kennel for the explorations of these tonal possibilities where strange minors are augmented so tones are created by the lack of a particular place on the horn and the combination of overtones played in half or quarter tones.
The rest of the recording is comprised of traditional pieces written for the Alphorn, played in the style of Mytha, which is to say, as true folk music without its more modern, caricaturesque deficiencies -- often the Alphorn is now demonstrated for tourists as a sonic postcard of "authentic" Swiss culture. Mytha's approach is a regal one, carrying forth the depth of expression and emotion and musical integrity into every arrangement. While the first Mytha volume was a mixed bag, this one is solid, a gorgeous rendering of the history, development, and innovative possibilities for an instrument from antiquity. As a result of taking this recording in with its deep, resounding sonorities, one can never hear the trumpet the same way again.