Adam Guettel’s theater cult-classic MYTHS AND HYMNS is no stranger to genre-bending and reimagination, the original song cycle itself leaning heavily on the concepts. So it comes as no surprise that renowned guitarist Garrett Gleason, never shying away from the new or imaginative, would produce his own reworkings of the beloved songs for guitar, bass, and drums.
There’s no shortage of fresh takes in these often experimental arrangements sifting between the lines of rock and theater. Gleason’s re-workings add a vivacious flair to works like Pegasus and Sisyphus, the various guitar effects an inventive means of exciting the original content without failing to honor it entirely. Even the subdued slow-rock of How Can I Lose You finds itself ever so gradually slipping into admirable madness sure to please even the most experimental of music listeners.
Gleason’s new take on MYTHS AND HYMNS is a welcome revival and renewal. Not only is it sure to meet approval by fans of the original, but it’s been approved by Guettel himself, the two eventually coming together in person to completely reimagine the closing song, Saturn Returns (Reprise). Gleason hopes for his arrangements of MYTHS AND HYMNS to bring the worlds of theater and rock together, that perhaps, like myths and hymns, there is more in common between the two than one would think.
Composer and Harpist Anne Vanschothorst’s music has been described as innovative, minimal, lyrical, cinematic, and touching yet intense. The same rings true in THAT I DID ALWAYS LOVE, the artist’s musical ode to the great American poet Emily Dickinson. Featuring seven of the poet's works set to music, Vanschothorst fosters an intimate listening space where two art forms reach a soothing synthesis, amplifying the elegance of Dickinson’s texts with the graceful nature of the harp, a perfect pairing.
Composed by Phil Scarff and performed by world-jazz ensemble Natraj, RAGAMALA PAINTINGS ALIVE! shines a contemporary light on historic artwork from India. The members of Natraj individually and collectively bring a wealth of experience exploring the intersection of jazz and global musical traditions. Their stunning performance showcased in this release is wide ranging, deep, and accessible, while firmly rooted in the rich tapestry of Indian classical music. RAGAMALA PAINTINGS ALIVE! is part of a larger multimedia work created in collaboration with Indian classical dancer Jayshree Bala Rajamani, incorporating dance, music, spoken word, and projected images. It brings to life historic ragamala paintings, with each painting representing one Indian classical raga or melodic framework. Inspired by Modest Mussorgsky and his iconic work, Pictures at an Exhibition, Scarff threads the suite together with musical “promenades” that represent the viewer entering and moving about an art gallery, with each theme anticipating a painting or set of paintings to come. Whether heard on its own or experienced as a full multimedia performance, RAGAMALA PAINTINGS ALIVE! takes listeners on a compelling contemporary journey that celebrates classic ragamala paintings from India.
YOU LOVED ME THEN, David Harris’ first album of originals in over 30 years, reflects his eclectic musical journey. It began when his father played him the works of Romantic composers like Chopin and Schuman, continued to his grade school encounters with the Beatles and The Doors, and was crowned by his teenage discovery of John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, and most importantly, Thelonious Monk. Harris estimates that he has written somewhere around 3,000 jazz, pop, and classical compositions. With the help of renowned pianist Paul English and a cadre of exceptional jazz talents, Harris brings some of his favorites to life on this Big Round Records release.
When thinking of versatile instrumental setups, the brass quintet might not be the first thing that comes to mind. A grave oversight, according to Alias Brass Company, an all-American brass ensemble which aims to change any such preconceived notions with their vibrant renditions of highly diverse and inclusive music on PRISM from Big Round Records.
The versatility in terms of style, mood, and genre is absolutely stunning, whether it's a film soundtrack (Gabriel's Oboe, Over the Rainbow), an obelisk of Baroque music (J.S. Bach's Little Fugue in G Minor), a Christian hymn (Amazing Grace) or a blues standard (St. James Infirmary), the Alias Brass Company navigates the territory with mesmerizing panache. Audacious and bold!
Berl Olswanger, “Mr. Music of Memphis,” returns for a fifth installment of timeless archival recordings on Big Round Records with BERL OLSWANGER IN THE STUDIO. This never-before-heard collection transports listeners back to the pianist’s private studio in 1950’s Memphis where he recorded his early compositions, some of which went on to become fully orchestrated tracks on the 2021 release BERL OLSWANGER AT PEPPER RECORDS.
With a smooth blend of blues, country, boogie-woogie, and ragtime influences, Olswanger delivers tunes that capture the popular sounds of the era. From the strong stride piano solo in Chicken Bone Man to the fluttering fills in Tennessee Skidoo, Olswanger’s inimitable approach shines through, inviting listeners into his private studio to witness an early period of the piano great’s legacy.
WHEN GAIA FALLS from composer Bradford Blackburn is an environmental call for action in the face of climate change manifested through musical, literary, and sonic eclecticism as a medium of universality. Its central message? There is no better time to save the future than the present.
From the body of electroacoustic, choral, and chamber works emerge a trio of narrative sub texts. The first, to simplify our needs and desires, the second, to make ecologically sustainable choices, and the third, to pursue positive change as a society. Bradford calls upon several artists to drive his message home in this release, spanning a variety of genres and moods that make a compelling case.
THE OXTET DOES HINDEMITH from Josh Oxford is a bold reimagining of classical music in a jazz fusion context. In this album, Oxford revisits some of Paul Hindemith’s greatest works. Hindemith, a late Romantic German composer, lived during the first half of the 20th century and was among the most significant composers of his time. The album contains sonatas for trumpet, tuba, trombone, and more, in which tonically complex horn lines weave above a jazz band. Recorded at Pyramid Sound in Ithaca and at Ithaca College, the timbres of the various horns along with marimba, Fender Rhodes, drums, electric guitar and bass, and more, are rendered in high fidelity. THE OXTET DOES HINDEMITH features the music of this legendary composer as you’ve never heard it before.
Israel Neuman’s VOLUTION fuses the power of hip hop with the versatility of jazz to form a uniquely forceful expression. The music heard on the album hints at a number of other musical genres as well, including rhythm and blues and middle-eastern folk music, to name a few. Vocalists including AceKidd and Cole Bracey rap and sing over the kaleidoscopic timbres created by Neuman’s music. In Tear It Down, AceKidd’s lyrics decry systemic injustice with lines like “man down/oh but you won’t lend a hand out/pressed down expecting us to stand down.” In Rough, a lovesick Cole Bracey croons “I’m worthless without your love/I’m spinning…Oh it’s rough.” With evocative lyrics, masterful modulations, and a smooth blend of celebrated musical styles, VOLUTION invites a wide audience of music lovers to the table.
APERÇU from composer and banjo innovator Michael Nix challenges listeners to reimagine the banjo as an instrument. The music, part of Nix’s New Classic Banjo Project, is brought to life by Nix’s 7-string Banjar, incorporating a wide range of folk and classical styles to forge an entirely new genre: New Classical Banjo. The album's title, which translates to “A survey or sketch; or an immediate impression, especially an insight” delivers just that. Koromanti, the opening piece on the album, is based on the very first notated banjo music, a transcription of music performed at a gathering of enslaved people in Jamaica in 1688. Banjar Lam Plearn, meanwhile, pays homage to the Mor Lam style traditionally performed in the Issan region of Thailand. These, and many other Aperçu shine through this remarkable collection of music.
A signature sound deeply rooted in the Jewish tradition, the buoyant and soothing nature of Klezmer music speaks in a new tone in CELEBRATION MUSIC from Big Round Records. With pieces selected by renowned clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein and arranged for clarinet and string quartet by Ljova, Fiterstein and the critically acclaimed Muir String Quartet deftly handle the genre with passion and unbridled musicality, navigating both relaxing and exhilarating up-tempo passages with dynamism and verve. Historically performed by klezmer bands for major Jewish life events and celebrations in Eastern Europe and New York City, the style remains alive and well in this modern setting, arranged for the concert stage where audiences can enjoy its timeless, uplifting qualities.
On PEOPLE, PLACES, MOMENTS, Nina Feric presents a wide selection of all original works, each deeply in tune with life and art, and enriched with personal anecdotes from her own life. Her first album as both a composer and performer, Feric’s compositions often alternate between lighter and darker moments, while the use of modulation and chromatics give the melodies a certain dose of playfulness. Thoughtfully composed and masterfully conveyed through a single piano, the main message behind Feric’s music speaks clearly and warmly throughout: a positive outlook on the future and the joy of living.
From genre-smashing composer and keyboardist Miguel Kertsman and drummer Ernie Adams comes IN THE MOMENT, a true-to-its-name album that leaps over musical boundaries and defies any label. The single-take, minimally microphoned recordings capture the raw emotional potential of music and the spontaneity of an intimate recording session. Kertsman’s vintage analog keyboards, bass pedals, and Adams’ drums work in tandem to duck and weave between musical forms, mingling with progressive rock, jazz fusion, Brazilian, Eastern, and more, all seamlessly fused together into one cohesive musical journey.
Grab a drink, take a seat, and sway with your sweetie to the swinging sounds of pianist Berl Olswanger and his band on THE BERL OLSWANGER SHOW, Big Round Records’ fourth release of recordings by “Mr. Music of Memphis.” Recorded live in 1974, the never-before-heard album transports listeners to stageside seats as the band plays a historic set of toe-tapping tunes, from the horn-heavy Proud Mary to the country-western Green, Green Grass of Home. No matter the track, Olswanger’s presence is front and center, from his genre-blending skills and his technical chops at the piano to his ability to keep the band crisp and tight as they boogie through the set.
CIRCADIAN WORLD CLOCK from David Haney and Big Round Records is a captivating exploration of nature’s musical landscape. In this groundbreaking recording project, Haney challenges participants from around the world to submit 2-3 minute field recordings, each recorded at the specific hours of the day prescribed by the monastic Liturgy of the Hours.
Blues and big band lovers are in for a swingin' treat with Big Round Records' new archival recording of BERL OLSWANGER AND THE OLSWANGER BEAT, the label’s third released recording by “Mr. Music of Memphis." Olswanger, whose musical career spanned over a half-century, could easily be called a jack-of-all-trades: a popular bandleader, a prolific composer of swing music, a serial entrepreneur, and a wildly successful teacher bringing the art of music-making to the masses.
Since its inception in 2006, the B-Side Band has become the premiere professional big band in the city of Brno in the Czech Republic. Now, under the direction of bandleader Josef Buchta, the band presents its newest album: MISSA JAZZ. In this latest work, the B-Side Band is joined by Chamber Orchestra Brno and the Ars Brunensis chamber choir; together, they perform Jaromír Hnilička’s Missa Jazz. As its name suggests, the work is a complete Mass, and the score for its first iteration is held at the Vatican Library. Now, the original composition has been expanded to include a chamber orchestra and several new choral parts, resulting in a total reimagining of the work. First debuted in the fall of 2008, this album is the first-ever studio recording of the final expanded version of the Missa Jazz.
Berl Olswanger returns for a second installment of timeless archival recordings on Big Round Records, with BERL OLSWANGER AT PEPPER RECORDS, a collection of tunes recorded during the late-50’s golden era of the Memphis record business. Olswanger hit the state-of-the-art studios at Pepper Records to record 10 songs by William “Pat” Best, Floyd Huddleston, Olswanger himself, and more.
I AM NOT A VIRUS from composer Jordan VanHemert and Big Round Records, is a collection of contemporary music uniquely fitting for this unprecedented juncture in human history. Called an "excellent outing" by jazz historian Scott Yanow, the collection of lively, piano-driven jazz band performances takes inspiration from a wide swath of timely subjects—everything from the coronavirus pandemic to racially charged police killings and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.
Big Round Records presents the first of three albums by “Mr. Music of Memphis,” Berl Olswanger, featuring tunes by Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter, and more. From pop standards and jazz ditties to good old-fashioned polka, pianist Berl Olswanger wrested command of just about every style.