We had such a good time making our album which has 20 tracks, more than 21 instruments and is over 71 minutes long.
The front cover picture is of Basia the horse faithfully pulling the double bass through the Polish forest so music could be played to some isolated homesteads near Baranowo, Kaszubia.
Here are some notes on the tunes…
Composed in 1903 by Argentinian musician Angel Villoldo, El Choclo means ‘The Corn Cob’, and is apparently written in honour of the proprietor of a nightclub.
Our recording has classical guitar, violin and electric fretted bass.
Three Irish jigs – The Irish Washerwoman, The Rakes of Kildare and Father O’Flynn. Apparently, Father O’Flynn was originally named ‘Top Of The Cork Road’, until Alfred Perceval Graves added the words in honour of the tune’s namesake and all the great work he did for the people of Cork.
Played live on violin and Harmony Sovereign steel-string acoustic guitar, with Sharon standing outside the recording room at the top of the stairs to minimise bleed into each others mikes.
A Jewish East European tune, found on a Gregori Schecter album, hence the name. Intended for wild drinking and dancing. Clarinet, guitar, double bass and viola rhythm.
Edith Piaff tune, written in 1945. We recorded it live on violin and guitar.
Written in 1940 by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velazquez. We recorded it with violin, guitar and double bass.
“Songe d’Automne” was composed by Archibald Joyce . Joyce, popularly known as the “English Waltz King”, had considerable success in England with this piece which was included in the repertoire for White Star Line orchestras. It is claimed to be the tune that was last played on the Titanic before she sank…
We took the opportunity to have double bass, three guitars, clarinet and violin on our recording. You can’t really get the rhythm sound without at least two guitars.
Ashokan Farewell is a piece of music composed by American folk musician Jay Ungar in 1982. For many years it served as a goodnight or farewell waltz at the annual Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camps run by Ungar and his wife Molly Mason, who gave the tune its name. The composition, though written in 1982, has many similarities to the song “Massa’s In The Cold Cold Ground”, written in 1852 by Stephen C. Foster.
We used violin, guitar and tenor banjo on this, to get that lonesome feel…
The Cossack Lullaby/Казачья колыбельная песня is a cradle song that Russian writer Mikhail Lermontov wrote in 1838 during his exile in the Caucasus. In 1837, Alexandr Pushkin had a duel with Georges d’Anthes and two days later died. Mikhail Lermontov, who had adored Pushkin, wrote a poem entitled ‘The Death of the Poet’ and lamented that he fell as a victim of the aristocracy surrounding the Czar. He was immediately exiled to the Caucasus.
While in the Caucasus, he heard an old Terek Cossack woman sing a cradle song, which he transcribed as the Cossack Lullaby. At that time, the Terek Cossacks defended Russia’s southern border against the Ingush and Chechens. Lermontov is said to have actually put the song in music in Voronezh on his way to Saint Petersburg. The song was later sent to Saint Petersburg and Moscow and became popular.
Dark is the Night is associated with the Great Patriotic War. It was originally performed by Mark Bernes in the 1943 war film Two Soldiers. The song was composed by Nikita Bogoslovsky, lyrics by Vladimir Agatov, especially for the film. But Leonid Utyosov, without knowledge and without permission of the authors and film unit, recorded the song thus becoming the first to do it. But it was exactly Bernes’s performance that made it so popular. In the film, Bernes is a soldier who recalls his wife and baby at night while singing the song.
The song became a symbol of the war years for millions of Soviet people.
We enjoyed recording this one, with violin, guitar, bowed double bass, and two mandolins masquerading as balalaikas. And the cymbala at beginning and end…
Rondo Alla Turca, the last movement from Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, popularly known as the ‘Turkish Rondo’ or ‘Turkish March’, is often heard on its own and is one of Mozart’s best-known piano pieces.
We recorded the violin and guitar live to a guide track.
Zemeratik, also known as Nigun Atik, means ‘ancient melody’. An old Jewish dance, it is much performed all over the world.
Our version starts with a long improvisation on Turkish clarinet and nylon acoustic guitar, before getting down to it with darabuka, fretless electric bass, percussion and violin.
‘Kandels Hora’, a traditional dance tune composed by Harry Kandel, who was one of the pioneers of klezmer, the traditional dance music of the European Jews, in the United States.
We recorded this with double-tracked cornets and piano by Sharon, double bass, clarinet and nylon-strung guitar by me.
Impasse Des Vertus, from the 1955 French film of the same name.
We play on violin and Maccaferri-style gypsy guitar.
A set of Kopanitsa tunes from Bulgaria, dance tunes with 11 beats to the bar. The timing is tricky if you are not used to it… Recorded with clarinet and viola.
Czardas, composed by Italian Vittorio Monti in 1904. It is based on the traditional Hungarian musical form of the same name.
We play it on violin, nylon-strung guitar and double bass for the full gypsy sound. Starts slow and gets pretty quick…..
A pair of traditional Irish reels. Cooleys is also known as ‘Put the cake in the dresser’.
Our version is with violin, Harmony Sovereign steel-string guitar and Irish-tuned tenor (4-string) banjo, plus a drum.
Recado Bossa Nova, aka ‘The Gift’, was composed by Djalma Ferreira & Luiz Antônio in 1959.
Our recording has violin, nylon-strung guitar and fretted electric bass.
Two Yugoslavian tunes, Setnya and Sevilla La Bella Loza, one slow, one quick, played by us on clarinet and viola.
La Cumparsita (little street procession, a grammatical diminutive of la comparsa) is a tango written in 1916 by the Uruguayan musician Gerardo Matos Rodríguez, with lyrics by Pascual Contursi and Enrique Pedro Maroni. La Cumparsita was first played in public in the old Café La Giralda in Montevideo. The Tango Museum of Montevideo stands currently on that historic spot
We doubled up the violins on this arrangement and rhythm is provided by nylon-strung guitar and electric fretted bass.
Joseph Rumshinsky was a Jewish composer who was born in Lithuania, moved to London to avoid conscription in the Russian army, and then went to America to become one of the principal composers of American Yiddish theatre.
Our recording was an exercise in messing around in the studio entirely for fun with a tune that we normally perform on clarinet and viola only. I think we managed to squeeze more than ten instruments into it.
Danny Boy was written by English songwriter Frederic Weatherly in 1913 and set to the traditional Irish melody of Londonderry Air.
Solo violin here, no need for anything else.