Twelve Songs (SPKG)
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In Summer 2007, singer Theo Bleckmann and postmodern creative
music group Kneebody collaborated to create a new song cycle based
on compositions by one of the very fi rst American composers.
Theo Bleckmann: voice, effects/Nate Wood: drums/Kaveh
Rastegar: bass/Adam Benjamin: Fender Rhodes, piano/Shane
Endsley: trumpet/Ben Wendel: tenor saxophone, melodica, bassoon
Top customer reviews
These readings are more than mere interpretation, they're a paradigm shift - a hundred-year leap to a place where the traditional role of singer has gone beyond genre. If, when you listen, you attempt a mental pigeonhole (jazz vocal, legitimate voice, new age whatever) you run the danger of limiting your understanding of what's happening here. What's jazzlike is a sense of being in the moment, free of assumptions about the next few seconds. And from the tradition of lieder singing, Theo sings beyond mere technical considerations to plant a flag; i.e., he claims these songs as his own - inhabits them.
There is no doubt in my mind that Ives would have loved this. There are technological considerations he would have instinctively embraced, especially in light of, for example, his quarter tone pieces. Here the electronics are as integral with Kneebody's conception and execution as the emerging piano-forte was to Mozart. But what of the vocal?
Theo has benefited from being among the late 20th century singers who have changed what it means to sing in a performance setting. In-concert sound reinforcement, and its recording corollary, allow for an intimacy unheard since 19th century salon recitals. Theo makes the most of this; here as elsewhere, his vocals are exquisite, nuanced and often transcendent.
The boldness of this take on Ives arouses broad expectations. What, for example, would Bleckmann do with Mahler's "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" or the Kindertotenlieder? I'd pay money to hear that! And what would happen if he tackled Hans Werner Henze's or Anton Webern's songs? It's delicious just to contemplate such a thing.
Here's proof that the singer need not sing BIG in order to make a major impact on the lieder repertoire. I truly never thought I would hear "Like a Sick Eagle" that would blow my hair back (if I had hair) the way Jan DeGaetani's did three and a half decades ago. But, here it is - welcome to the future, everyone!
For the same reason, as some other reviewers here have noted, musical category is moot here, and trying to parse it is a waste of time. Better to sit back, let go of your expectations, and be carried away.