Fresh Aire 4

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Carol Wright
This fourth album completes the season-themed portion of the Fresh Aire series, and Winter does indeed have some chilly elements. Here, composer and performer Chip Davis expands Mannheim Steamroller's scope by bringing in the behemoth of all keyboards, the pipe organ. Played by Jackson Berkey, this king of instruments starts off the antics with "G Major Toccata." Davis adds his rock drum riffs, and the organ bends to sound slightly more hip, until the final statement finds the two dueting in perfect synchronicity -- one rock, one Bach -- culminating in a final blast of fanfares. The wintry "Crystal" is the key cold cut on the album, and it's surely one of the trippiest ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Carol Wright
This fourth album completes the season-themed portion of the Fresh Aire series, and Winter does indeed have some chilly elements. Here, composer and performer Chip Davis expands Mannheim Steamroller's scope by bringing in the behemoth of all keyboards, the pipe organ. Played by Jackson Berkey, this king of instruments starts off the antics with "G Major Toccata." Davis adds his rock drum riffs, and the organ bends to sound slightly more hip, until the final statement finds the two dueting in perfect synchronicity -- one rock, one Bach -- culminating in a final blast of fanfares. The wintry "Crystal" is the key cold cut on the album, and it's surely one of the trippiest pieces to emerge up to this point in the Fresh Aire series. Cool synth winds sweep through with eerie outer space atmospherics provided by Theremins (the odd woo-woo sound as heard on old sci-fi flicks), hypnotically sparkling celesta patterns, and cosmos-bound keyboard tones. Another tour de force is the rambunctious, harpsichord-led "Four Rows of Jacks," lavished with layers of drums, synth blurps, piano chords, strings, and French horns. The final four-track suite begins with "Red Wine," a stately Renaissance dance for recorder ensemble, harpsichord, lute, and strings. One is reminded of the perennial "Greensleeves" and of roaring fires in the dens of great old halls, which aptly leads us right into "Dancing Flames." Here, sparks fly with intriguing polyrhythmic layers of electronica, piano, bass, rock drums, strings, and jingle bells. "Embers" shakes it all off with an airy melody that echoes bits of "Scarborough Fair," complete with folk vocalise.
All Music Guide - Dave Connolly
Winter had a polarizing effect on the band, drawing them toward a more severe, economical sound that favored clarity over sentimentality. Gone were the overly romantic piano pieces and giddy medieval romps. This is music tinged with a certain sadness as on "Red Wine", at times alien and foreboding "Crystal". It's not a complete departure from their formula, but it does succeed at matching that formula to a specific season, moreso than the first three Fresh Aire records anyway. The album was originally split between outside the first four tracks and inside the last four tracks, a point lost on the subsequent CD reissue. There's not a huge difference between the two; the medieval "Four Rows of Jacks" isn't so much different in spirit from the modern "Dancing Flames," and neither evokes the outdoors or indoors in particular. If Fresh Aire 4 is a better record than its predecessors, much of it depends on the listener's appreciation of synthesizers. Jackson Berkey uses them more here than on previous albums, and the music seems to sparkle as a result. It is their most modern record, embracing the world of electronic music on "Crystal" and "The Dream" based on Johannes Kepler's work, which would serve as the launching point for Fresh Aire 5. The opening "G Major Toccata," as much fun as it is, almost sets the listener up to expect the same fare as the first three Fresh Aires. But the band quickly turns introspective, and by the closing "Embers" the mood has changed 180 degrees. Fresh Aire 4 remains their most effective evocation of a season, even if they are indoors for half of it. More importantly, it proves that the band could compete with modern musicians on their own turf.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/12/2000
  • Label: American Gramaphone
  • UPC: 012805500425
  • Catalog Number: 5004
  • Sales rank: 115,396

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 G Major Toccata (5:06)
  2. 2 Crystal (4:21)
  3. 3 Interlude 7 (3:04)
  4. 4 Four Rows of Jacks (3:13)
  5. 5 Red Wine (4:20)
  6. 6 Dancing Flames (6:56)
  7. 7 The Dream (3:11)
  8. 8 Embers (3:23)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Mannheim Steamroller Primary Artist, Primary Artist
Jackson Berky Organ, Synthesizer, Piano, Celeste, Harpsichord, Electric Piano, Pipe organ, fender rhodes
Chip Davis Synthesizer, Percussion, Drums, Recorder
Bob Jenkins Oboe
Hugh Brown Strings
Eric Hansen Bass, Lute
Dorothy Brown Strings
Miriam Duffelmeyer Strings
James Hammond Strings
Joe Landes Strings
Beth McCollum Strings
Merton Shatzkin Strings
Steve Shipps Strings
John Boden Horn
Charles W. Cronkhite Strings
Chris Farber Strings
Lou Newman Strings
Sue Robinson Strings
Technical Credits
Chip Davis Arranger, Producer
Don Sears Producer, Engineer, Mastering
Jim Wheeler Engineer
Louis Davis Sr. Contributor
Ed Wilson Liner Notes
John Svoboda Art Direction
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