Fresh Aire

( 1 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Carol Wright
This 1975 release began the long reign of Chip Davis and his Mannheim Steamroller Fresh Aire concept. And why that name? Davis took the unusual moniker from a German orchestra known for playing "walls of sound" to "flatten" the listener. Although this debut album is subtitled "Spring," a look at all four of his "season albums" reveals no consistent seasonal associations; in fact, this one refers to all the seasons, with a track for each month. Davis has clearly been prone to romantic overtures since early on: Each piece here is performed from the perspective of a raindrop. The track description for January's "Prelude," for example, reads: "I am a Raindrop . . . and I ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Carol Wright
This 1975 release began the long reign of Chip Davis and his Mannheim Steamroller Fresh Aire concept. And why that name? Davis took the unusual moniker from a German orchestra known for playing "walls of sound" to "flatten" the listener. Although this debut album is subtitled "Spring," a look at all four of his "season albums" reveals no consistent seasonal associations; in fact, this one refers to all the seasons, with a track for each month. Davis has clearly been prone to romantic overtures since early on: Each piece here is performed from the perspective of a raindrop. The track description for January's "Prelude," for example, reads: "I am a Raindrop . . . and I fell, crystallized. One gray winter morning in the yesterday of your life . . ." A solo piano carefully builds layers of wintry stillness with handfuls of chords, constantly modulating keys. The fun of the snowy outdoors, on the other hand, is captured in the lively "Chocolate Fudge," which also makes for a splendid first glimpse of the classic MS sound. Chip Davis's trap drums set a rich and heavy rhythm pattern beneath the saucy sounds of the synthesizer and Eric Hansen's bass. Davis's other instrument, the recorder, is heard on June's playful "Saras Band," adding a good measure of Renaissance spunk. Nature sounds play an important role in all MS recordings, and rain patter and thunder accompany the introspective piano melody of "Interlude I." April's "Sonata" finds the raindrop spying on a first kiss in the forest, featuring several lovely variations of a melody even Chopin might approve of. As if to parallel the passage of a human life, the album flows through the months until December ultimately finds the raindrop as a snowflake, observing an elderly man gazing at the lights on the tree as he reflects on a happy life. The whole concept works wonderfully, with its poetic track descriptions, and musical contrast between the nostalgic and celebratory. Even after a quarter-century, the album sounds fresh -- no wonder this sonic delight has been a mainstay of stereo store demos. An exhilarating experience, robust in its innocence.
All Music Guide - Dave Connolly
A harbinger of the new age movement, Mannheim Steamroller's debut is a unique mix of light classical piano music, progressive rock, and medieval songs. Composer Chip Davis breaks the album into 12 semi-classical structures sonatas, interludes, even a disguised passacaglia that match up to the seasons, rendering Fresh Aire a concept album about nature and life. Most of the music is played by Jackson Berkey, dubbing piano, harpsichord, and synthesizers atop one another with a minimal rhythm section from Davis and Eric Hansen. At its spaciest, Fresh Aire sounds like Keith Emerson or Camel; when the band's in a medieval mood, Gentle Giant notably "Talybont" comes to mind. Audiophiles took a real shine to Mannheim Steamroller, both for the superior album packaging and the clean sound if memory serves, American Gramaphone used to charge on the high side for their LPs. As CD technology was introduced, the Fresh Aire series was reissued and became a popular demo for its inoffensive high-mindedness as much as its dynamic range. While sections of Fresh Aire are very pretty, the frequent interludes cost the album its momentum and are a full half of the months really sad?. When Mannheim Steamroller cuts loose -- as on "Rondo," "Chocolate Fudge," and "Saras Band" -- they're a hoot. The solo piano passages are all right, but listeners would do better to turn to budding ambient composers Brian Eno, electronic acts Tangerine Dream, and the original masters Claude Debussy, Sergei Rachmaninoff themselves. Then again, a mix of medieval prog and mawkish piano melodies might be just what you're looking for.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/12/2000
  • Label: American Gramaphone
  • UPC: 012805500128
  • Catalog Number: 5001
  • Sales rank: 126,588

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Prelude (1:33)
  2. 2 Chocolate Fudge (2:54)
  3. 3 Interlude I (2:55)
  4. 4 Sonata (2:32)
  5. 5 Interlude II (2:33)
  6. 6 Saras Band (3:37)
  7. 7 Fresh Aire (5:31)
  8. 8 Rondo (2:36)
  9. 9 Interlude III (2:37)
  10. 10 Pass the Keg (Lia) (2:33)
  11. 11 Interlude IV (2:11)
  12. 12 Mist (1:48)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Mannheim Steamroller Primary Artist
Jackson Berky Keyboards
Paul Todd Strings
Chip Davis Drums, Recorder
Hugh Brown Strings
Bill Buntain Trombone
Eric Hansen Bass
Denny Schneider Trumpet
Don Sears Synthesizer
Mortimer Alpert Strings
Dorothy Brown Strings
Miriam Duffelmeyer Strings
Ginni Eldred Strings
Lucinda Gladics Strings
James Hammond Strings
Jean Hassel Strings
Joe Landes Strings
Beth McCollum Strings
Merton Shatzkin Strings
Alex Sokol Strings
Karl Lyon Strings
Bob Malec Strings
Virginia Moriarity Strings
Dorothy Rendina Strings
Joe Rosenstein Strings
Jess Stern Strings
Larry Sutton Strings
Charles Davis Drums, Recorder
Technical Credits
Chip Davis Arranger, Producer
Jeff Schiller Engineer
Don Sears Programming, Producer, Engineer
Ron Ubel Engineer
Carol Davis Art Direction
Charles Davis Producer
Bill Fries Poetry
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Customer Reviews

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    Posted October 26, 2008

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