“This is, so far, my Best New Record of 2014. Get it!”
These are the final words of Lynn René Bayley ‘s review of “Jukebox in the Tavern of Love” (Eric Salzman; text by Valeria Vasilevski) and “Basket Rondo” (Meredith Monk), commissioned and recorded by the Western Wind and released by Labor Records and Naxos as LAB 7094.
Here is a longer except from that review:
“…one of the oddest yet most refreshing discs I’ve heard in years… the music [of Jukebox in the Tavern of Love] is a lot of fun to listen to, based somewhat on Monk’s aesthetic, somewhat on polyphonic madrigals, but all of it constantly evolving and morphing.…there follows first a dancer singing nonsense lyrics in a peculiar rhythm, then a tune titled “When I romp with my baby tonight” that begins as a solo but becomes a fugue when other voices enter one at a time. Weird stuff, but good weird stuff! Next comes the song of a rabbi, “Do you know what a DP (displaced person) is?” This, too, evolves into its own polyphony as he describes how he wanted to become a Jesuit priest: “You can’t; you’re Jewish…a Jewish Jesuit will never do!” The nun then tells the story of her late aunt, who left her a pile of love letters and a confession that she was a lesbian. The poet sings a toast to love in all its forms, then a four-part madrigal (led by the rabbi) on the words “Salute amore” before the Con Ed worker (Consolidated Edison, the New York power and light company, for those who may need a translator) drinks and sings a toast to love: “Wine is the balm of lovers, come pour a cup for me…Awaken, lovers, listen!” It’s a wonderful, enchanting piece, difficult to put into words. You really have to hear it to appreciate it.
This is, so far, my Best New Record of 2014. Get it!” [© 2014 Fanfare]
–Lynn René Bayley