John Brown's Body

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Pianist, composer and singer Robin Holcomb records all too infrequently. She's issued just six albums since 1989, and John Brown's Body -- her label debut for Tzadik -- is her first in four years. She did issue a split record with her husband Wayne Horvitz on Songlines a couple of years ago. And like her other records, this one is as different from them as they are from one another. This one is a smorgasbord of Holcomb, showcasing many of her varied talents. "Chimera" is a halting piano piece with a melody that is both songlike and fragmented. "From Below" is a duet with violinist Eyvind Kang that holds both tension and drama close to the feast, unfurling them both in a ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Pianist, composer and singer Robin Holcomb records all too infrequently. She's issued just six albums since 1989, and John Brown's Body -- her label debut for Tzadik -- is her first in four years. She did issue a split record with her husband Wayne Horvitz on Songlines a couple of years ago. And like her other records, this one is as different from them as they are from one another. This one is a smorgasbord of Holcomb, showcasing many of her varied talents. "Chimera" is a halting piano piece with a melody that is both songlike and fragmented. "From Below" is a duet with violinist Eyvind Kang that holds both tension and drama close to the feast, unfurling them both in a beautiful melodic statement. The big surprise here is "One," a string quartet performed by the women of the Koehne Quartet, where lyric statements, winding modes and counterpoint all balance harmoniously and luxuriantly. As has been her wont recently, some of her songs appear here as well. The first of these, "Photography," presents an update on a Stephen Foster theme that is extrapolated upon and stripped of its lush body in favor of a more skeletal approach as her voice becomes the axis on which the tune turns. There are also two others: one is the title track, adapted from Julia Ward Howe's classic poem, where Holcomb is accompanied by trumpeter Dave Carter and trombonist Steve Moore. Holcomb's reverence for the original text is indisputable, but in the grain of her low warbling delivery her voice makes the piece thoroughly contemporary as it looks out over history. The final song here, "Maybe One Day," is a wisp, not even two minutes in length; it is a serious lover's plaint. The most beautiful tune, however, is the final one, "Pretty Ozu," composed as part of a score to accompany Yasujiro Ozu's film, That Night's Wife. Accompanied by Kang and Moore -- this time on glockenspiel -- its nursery rhyme-like theme is repeated and extrapolated upon to create something both Far Eastern and near Western. This sampling of Holcomb will delight that eclectic lot who are her fans, but would also serve as a lovely introduction to her many gifts for new listeners. Highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/27/2006
  • Label: Tzadik
  • UPC: 702397771623
  • Catalog Number: 7716
  • Sales rank: 179,572

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Robin Holcomb Primary Artist, Piano, Vocals
Melissa Coleman Cello
Eyvind Kang Viola
Petra Ackermann Viola
Steve Moore Trombone, Glockenspiel
Anne Harvey Nagl Violin
Koehne Quartet String Quartet
Dave Carter Trumpet
Anne Harvey-Nagl Violin
Steve Moore Trombone, Glockenspiel
Johanna Lewis Violin
Petra Ackermann Viola
Joanna Lewis Violin
Technical Credits
Robin Holcomb Arranger, Composer, Producer, Engineering
Wayne Horvitz Producer, Engineering
John Zorn Executive Producer
Scott Hull Mastering
Reinhard Buchta Engineering
Beck Henderer-Pena Engineering
Julia Ward Howe Composer
Beck Henderer Engineering
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