The last time I received a recording for review that referred to itself as an amalgam of anything was a poorly thought out solo piano work trying to be passed off as some sort of blue grass, jazz and classical influence so naturally as a critic if the description is longer than the title of the work in question then I get nervous. Deciding to avoid potential issues and to see if this was a release that would fit the more obvious direction this site is heading, I ran across a review stating "...a brilliant amalgam of jazz, pop, blues and classical forms." The word hodgepodge immediately came to mind but with the Monty Python like disc cover my curiosity got the better of me.
To say Civilizations And It's Discontents sidesteps strict categorization is the understatement of the year. Pop, swing and somehow the vibrant New York avant garde element take over and carry the listener on an open ended lyrical excursion to the destination of their choosing. Reviewing the music to what is essentially a theatrical presentation does lend itself to the traditional review. So what is there to say about Civilizations And It's Discontents?
For an off-off Broadway production originally aired on N.P.R roughly 33 years ago the sound quality is excellent which should not come as a tremendous shock when it comes to anything released on the Naxos or affiliated labels. There is a delightful mix of jazz, pop and classical but what makes the release work is not so much the variety of genres made available but the virtually seamless transition made to each piece of this musical puzzle throughout the rather eclectic presentation but then again - this is musical theatre. The fans of musical theatre will be enthralled with the eclectic and incredibly original presentation that while originally aired in the fall of 1978 could easily be aired as a new work this week. This is Michael Sahl and Eric Salzman taken to the next level. The N.P.R. audience should eat this up with a spoon!
Tracks: Club Bide-A-Wee; Jill's Apartment, Club Bide-A-Wee.
Personnel: ( Musicians ) Michael Sahl: keyboards ( piano & organ ); Cleve Pozar: drums, percussion.
For More Information: http://www.laborrecords.com/