CD/DVD RELEASES

On March 22, 2011, Criterion Eclipse Series 26: Silent Naruse was released with original scores by Wayne Horvitz and Robin Holcomb to accompany five of Mikio Naruse's silent films.

SYNOPSIS:  Mikio Naruse is one of the most popular directors in the history of Japanese cinema, a crafter of heartrending melodramas often compared with the work of Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi. From the outset of his career, with his silent films of the early thirties, Naruse focused on characters, mostly women - geisha, housewives, waitresses - carrying on despite the compromises and disappointments of confined daily lives, a subject that would continue to fascinate him for the next three decades. Though he made two dozen silent films, only five are known to exist today; these works - poignant, brilliantly photographed and edited dramas all - are collected here, on DVD for the first time and featuring new scores by noted musicians Robin Holcomb and Wayne Horvitz.

THE FILMS:
Flunky, Work Hard (1931)
No Blood Relation (1932)
Apart From You (1933)
Every-Night Dreams (1933)
Street Without End (1934)

 

The Point of It All
Robin Holcomb & Talking Pictures with Wayne Horvitz
Songlines SGL 1584-2

Robin Holcomb, piano, vocals
Wayne Horvitz, Hammond M3
Ron Samworth, electric and acoustic guitar
Bill Clark, trumpet, flugelhorn
Peggy Lee, cello
Dylan van der Schyff, drums

Vancouver guitarist Ron Samworth's quartet Talking Pictures has been performing some of Robin Holcomb's music for some years and had concertized with Wayne Horvitz. In 2006 Ron invited Robin and Wayne to collaborate with them in creating a collectively arranged concert of Robin's work in Vancouver. Peggy Lee was already part of Wayne's Gravitas Quartet. After the concert everyone felt that this new initiative shouldn't just be a one-off, and in 2009 a second Vancouver concert and a recording session were organized. Ron and Peggy each composed a new song for the occasion to complement nine pieces of Robin's (only one of which had been recorded before) and her arrangement of Neil Young's After the Gold Rush.

The results throw a different light on the music of one of America's most distinctive yet ultimately elusive musicians and lyricists. As Robin puts it, "Talking Pictures share an intimacy and intuition that is staggering and which they apply with joyful abandon in not only our mutual improvisations but also in their interpretation of my compositions. It was a wonderful experience for me, one of those rare situations wherein I can not only improvise and do whatever arises in the moment, but can also bring to the table any music I want to - the end result doesn't have to be only an improvised project, or a chamber music project, or a songs project or a jazz project. There is great logic in their coloration and sense of balance, no matter how seemingly chaotic or contrary. Wayne and I have been playing each other's music for more than thirty years. Talking Pictures have played together for over fifteen years. There are a lot of historical strands at work." Ron adds, "Robin's music is the perfect vehicle for a band like Talking Pictures. There is such a wealth of information in any given phrase - melodic, harmonic and rhythmic, not to mention the extraordinary richness of lyrical imagery in her songs. It's an improviser's dream. Our band greatly values ensemble playing where we create unified improvised pieces that explore a variety of textures and moods. Robin and Wayne seem to share that open, collective spirit."

 

Things 'Bout Comin' My Way is the title of the Mississippi Sheiks Tribute album that was released in 2009 on Black Hen Music. The Mississippi Sheiks are a highly under-appreciated country blues group that recorded throughout the 1930's. Featuring all new performances of the fantastic material of the Sheiks, the tribute covers everything from traditional to avant-garde takes on their classic repertoire. The final lineup for the tribute is: John Hammond, Bill Frisell, Geoff Muldaur, Madeleine Peyroux, Bruce Cockburn, Jim Byrnes, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Ndidi Onukwulu, Del Rey, Bob Brozman, Kelly Joe Phelps, Robin Holcomb, The North Mississippi Allstars, Oh Susanna with Van Dyke Parks, Danny Barnes, The Sojourners, and Steve Dawson.

Release date: Oct. 20, 2009. For more info, please visit www.blackhenmusic.com.

 

Robin Holcomb: John Brown's Body
Tzadik 7716

Robin Holcomb is a rare talent, with a foot in the pop world of singer/songwriter through several acclaimed releases on major labels, and roots in the downtown avant-garde that reach back to the first generation of Studio Henry mavericks. For her first, long awaited Tzadik CD, she has put together a program as eclectic and varied as her own career. From fragile solo piano pieces and a powerful new string quartet to several songs featuring her own heartfelt vocals, John Brown's Body is the best place to sample the full range of this remarkable artist's musical world. An essential new addition to the Tzadik Oracles series.