Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tom Teasley All The World's A Stage 2012

U.S. Street Date 07/10/12

In the days of the digital download and pre-ordering of new releases the standard "street date" is about the last remaining piece of what was once considered the cornerstone of the old fashioned major label protocol. This Independent release from Teasley is his eight and arguably his finest as he turns percussion into a global feast hitting both the visceral and cerebral portions of the human experience, All The World's A Stage should continue to garner world wide acclaim for this prolific talent.

Playing a dozen different instruments on a collection of nine original compositions, Teasley draws from a myriad of influences to develop a unqiuely lyrical yet textured layer of sound and spatial effects not to mention two prestigious Helen Hayes Awards for outstanding sound dsign. This same prodigious output on his previous work has earned wide spread critical acclaim.

Teasley refers to All the World's a Stage as “a snapshot of all of my recent work - my solo performances, where I perform on multiple instruments and create virtual ensembles through the use of digital looping, and my composing and performing for various theater productions, ranging from Mary Zimmerman's 'Arabian Nights' to the Indian epic 'The Ramayana' to the upcoming 'Conference of the Birds,' which is based on a seminal work by the Persian poet, Farid ud-Din Attar. Perhaps most importantly, it's inspired by my experiences as a cultural envoy for the US State Department, traveling to and collaborating with master musicians in Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Jerusalem.

While Teasley uses a wide range of exotic percussion instruments, his utilization of the melodica as the primary melodic voice elevates his percussive nuances to the next level. A new level of lyrical control is now at Teasley's disposal not to mention an additional layer of creativity left previously untapped until now. A personal release has a majority of the tunes here pulled from experiences gathered while studying, touring and performing in the Middle East. Teasley makes specific mention of the treatment of women in the Middle East and another of the many layers found in this release is a marker for social justice. Teasley simply seeks an understanding of the limitless power of music and how it may supersede the overall aesthetic value that is arbitrarily placed on certain artists but both labels and critics alike not fully understanding the true meaning of the work itself.

While South African influences certainly play a dramatic role in Teasley's art and thoughtful presentation. Bruce Wittet in Modern Drummer Magazine may have said it best; "...give Tom a bass drum, a snare drum and a djembe' and he'll give you part Stravinsky, part Art Blakey."

Given the rarity of a instrumentalist and composer while working as a percussionist, Teasley transcends genre and even global limitations other artists would fear to come near. The hybridization of Teasley's percussive genius knows no real bounds and is a fluent transition from the ancient percussion influences to the day of the digital download. An evolving artist taking the musical road less traveled.

Tracks: Oresteia Furies Dance; Rumba for Rama; The Apple Song; Nights Over Baghdad; Orestes' Lament; Fuska and Varuna; Return Of The Green Bird; Rise Up; Setzuan Blues.

Personnel: Tom Teasley - all instruments.

Expansive melodies. Rhythmic pulses that create their own ambient texture. A drummer or percussionists dream and the world music aficianado should adore this recording.

5 Stars.