Monday, September 29, 2014

Running

Joseph Frank Keaton, Kansas-born into a family of vaudevillians, “Buster”, as he’d tell it, was given his nickname by legendary illusionist Harry Houdini (partner to Joe Sr. in a traveling show).

Over the course of his life Buster Keaton (1895 – 1966) created a world of cinematic magic from his own genius. Of the actor, comedian, stunt-artist, writer, film-maker and more – film critic Roger Ebert succinctly notes "in an extraordinary period from 1920 to 1929, he worked without interruption on a series of films that make him, arguably, the greatest actor-director in the history of the movies.”
After immersion in Buster Keaton’s silent features and shorts, Ebert observed “his movies, seen as a group, are like a sustained act of optimism in the face of adversity”.

Here’s an excerpt from a 1922 short, “Day Dreams”, (directed by Keaton and regular collaborator Eddie Cline, produced by Joseph Schenck), on track with Allison Crowe’s song “Running” - like so many of her recordings, performed live (captured by engineer/producer Larry Anschell).


#7 of 16 Songs

Allison Crowe - 16 Songs Video Album - 7 - Running
         

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Doughnut Song

Item 6 on the menu of Allison Crowe’s uniquely delicious “16 Songs” Video Album offers more delicate a balance than, say, Dadaist imagery stirred with Crowe’s social commentary, or, any cultural seasonings of Welsh Rarebit and Radiohead.

American sculptor Alexander Calder (1898- 1976) is the originator of the ‘mobile’ – the name coined for his kinetic sculptures by the famed French-American chess-player and conceptual artist+ Marcel Duchamp.

Ballet” – featuring Calder’s mobiles - is the fifth of seven dream sequences contained in Hans Richter’s 1947 surrealist movie “Dreams That Money Can Buy” – given the Award for the Best Original Contribution to the Progress of Cinematography at the Venice Film Festival.



Doughnut Song from Allison Crowe on Vimeo.
             
Here, Calder/Richter’s creation dances with Allison Crowe’s interpretation of “Doughnut Song” – composed by one of the Canadian musician’s greatest inspirations, American singer-songwriter, pianist+ Tori Amos.

A classical piano prodigy, born Myra Ellen Amos, enormously influential and loved in popular music, Tori reveals some of her own key ingredients: "I've always been inspired by visual artists of all mediums because, as with Music, Art is not a job you can go to and leave from; but it is something that defines who and what you are."

#6 of 16 Songs

Allison Crowe - 16 Songs Video Album - 6 - Doughnut Song

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

There Is

Superman - Clark Kent, a joint creation of great friends, Toronto, Canada-born illustrator Joe Shuster and American writer Jerry Siegel (born in Cleveland, Ohio), entered our public universe in 1938 - via Action Comics #1

The mythic character, able to leap a tall building in a single bound, first took flight in fabulous,1940s cartoons made by brothers Max Fleischer, animator and director, and Dave Fleischer, producer.

The brothers' Fleischer Studios produced nine Superman classics - animated shorts - in 1941- 42. (Over the following couple of years, also for Paramount Pictures, another eight episodes were made for - these by Famous Studios. All 17 Superman cartoons are now in the public domain.)

For this, the first episode of a two-parter in "16 Songs", Allison Crowe's "There Is" provides the soundtrack to an excerpt from "The Mechanical Monsters" (one of the earliest of Superman's animated adventures - released November 28, 1941).


There Is from Allison Crowe on Vimeo.

The Man of Steel mythos brightens our world still today.

Brought to life on the big screen as a science fiction spectacular in Summer 2013, Krypton and the Earth of Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Perry White and all denizens includes musician Allison Crowe - as the "Singer in Cassidy's", a road-house in the great North woods where Clark is employed before taking on the mantle of Superman.

The Cassidy Inn is an actual, historic, bar/hotel on a stretch of highway on Vancouver Island, Canada about 10 minutes drive south of where Allison was born. Originally, and for decades, it was home to miners in this coal-rich area. More recently it became a rough-and-ready “biker bar”. The Cassidy fell into disrepair and closed before Hollywood set the scene with its epic, modern, production involving DC Entertainment, Syncopy Films, Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros.

The opportunity to work with Director Zack Snyder, Producer Deborah Snyder and the entire, truly stellar, production+ team, cast and crew of "Man of Steel" proved more amazing and fun than imaginable, and will forever rock Allison Crowe's daily planet.

"There Is": Allison Crowe - vocals, piano, engineer, producer; Del Crowe - guitar; Dave Baird - bass; & Laurent Boucher - percussion.

#5 of 16 Songs
Allison Crowe - 16 Songs Video Album - 5 - There Is
        

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Creep

Fourth in the feast of imagination that is Allison Crowe’s “16 Songs” Video Album is a cultural dish centuries in the making.
Since the Middle Ages there are reports of the Welsh having a fondness for toasted cheese. The first recipes for “Welsh Rarebit” (or “Rabbit”) appear in the 1700s – and, this, (as well as an English Rabbit, an Irish and a Scotch Rabbit), hopped to the New World with the colonists.
To Scottish immigrants in Woodstock, Upper Canada, in the year of the country’s Confederation, 1867, was born Zenas W. McCay. Then, again, the artist, who would grow up known by his middle name, Winsor, may have entered this world a few years later, and south of the border – in Spring Lake, Michigan. Whatever the ingredients of his origin he found his way to revolutionize comics+ with his pioneering techniques, and, especially his creation, “Little Nemo in Slumberland”.
McCay by the late 1800s was illustrating posters to comic strips (he later toured, as well, drawing live on the vaudeville stage for appreciative audiences). Winsor McCay’s legacy – his enormous influence and inspiration’s given nods by Max Fleischer, Walt Disney, Federico Fellini, Maurice Sendak, Art Spiegelman and other greats in visual and pop arts.
In 1904 he launched the newspaper strip “Dream of the Rarebit Fiend”. This successful series ran until 1911 – and related the strange dreams of folks who’d eaten Welsh Rarebit before going to sleep. Between 1911 and 1921 Winsor self-financed and animated ten films - three of which fly on this theme.
          
An excerpt of McCay’s “Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend: The Pet” (1921) is on the menu here with Allison Crowe’s version of “Creep”, recorded live-in-concert with her first trio – the cooking rhythm section of Dave Baird on bass and Kevin Clevette on drums. The music’s captured by audio archivists Condor and John MacMillan at the Chilliwack Arts Centre, BC, Canada in 2003.
That’s a decade or so after the song, lyrics penned by Thom Yorke and music composed by Radiohead, was released by that band as its cracking debut. In turn, it’s 20 years before Radiohead’s giant international hit with “Creep” that a tune by musicians Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood delivered The Hollies to the toppermost of the poppermost with “The Air That I Breathe”. Radiohead and Hammond/Hazelwood agreed to co-songwriting credits on “Creep” – serving up delicious melody and a rare bit of shared popular music history on the side.
#4 of 16 Songs
Allison Crowe - 16 Songs Video Album - 4 - Creep

          

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Circular Reasoning

"Circular Reasoning" was our "sneak peek" fun 'Song of the Summer' - at the start of August, when we're all invited to dive in!
 
In this part of the world we've enjoyed our season for celebrating bathing suits, ice-cream, fresh berries, bicycle bells… any and all other of life’s simple joys and pleasures.

It's Autumn's turn, and this song video is now third up in Allison Crowe's "16 Songs" Video Album.


Allison is joined musically by the simpatico rhythm section of Dave Baird (bass) and Laurent Boucher (percussion). Visuals are from a 1930s French silent film that also became a talkie.
 
"Prix de beauté” (“Beauty Prize” aka “Miss Europe”) is directed by Augusto Genina, written by René Clair & Georg W. Pabst and stars the endlessly radiant Louise Brooks.
 
Sláinte!
 
#3 of 16 Songs
 
Allison Crowe - 16 Songs Video Album - 3 - Circular Reasoning
        

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Why

Famous in its original, glorious, pop incarnation by singer-songwriter Annie Lennox, "Why" is a song recast here by Allison Crowe's elemental voice and guitar.


Why from Allison Crowe on Vimeo.

"Art is emotion" observed Alfred Hitchcock, and the Canadian musician's singular way of communicating emotion makes her one of the great interpreters in popular music today as well as one of our finest modern songwriters and concert performers.

Strings on this version are gorgeously arranged and orchestrated by Hollywood film-scorer Kayla Schmah - herself an artist inspired by the themes and ideas of Hitch's frequent collaborator, the brilliant, pioneering, composer Bernard Herrmann.

“This song is stunning. I can't stop listening to it,” says Dartmouth-based dancer, Julie Dumont, “it makes me want to cry and dance all at the same time”.

The music's visually paired with an excerpt from Jean Vigo's marvellous cinema masterpiece - "L'Atalante" (1934) – one of the most beautiful, poetically real, films ever made. Lovers of movies – of life itself - seek it out, and enjoy the full experience.

#2 of 16 Songs

Allison Crowe - 16 Songs Video Album - 2 - Why
        

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Disease

An all-time great rock song and performance kicks off “16 Songs”. Here’s Allison Crowe live-in-concert – captured by Turtle Recording’s Larry Anschell (Engineer and Producer) and Brad Graham (Co-Engineer). 

Lyrical and social themes “as we replace marble with plastic” mesh visually with “Dreams That Money Can Buy” – the avant garde cinematic creation of German surrealist, Dadaist+ Hans Richter and collaborators. "The Girl with the Prefabricated Heart", the second of DTMCB’s seven dream sequences, is shaped by the rich vision of French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker, Fernand Léger. This experimental feature film received the Award for the Best Original Contribution to the Progress of Cinematography at the 1947 Venice Film Festival.
"Power-house intense" says an European reviewer, “"the energy of ‘Disease' can easily provide electricity to a small country for a decade."
Writing in Süddeutsche Zeitung, a major German daily newspaper, journalist Peter Baier sets the stage (in this translation): “From the outset the Canadian songwriter wins the favor of the audience and increases the expectations with her coloratural laugh. Allison Crowe plays the piano with a strong grip. Its sound fits perfectly to her slightly-smoky, expressive, in short: Great voice. Sometimes her playing recalls the keyboard-capers of Konstantin Wecker and then there are moments to bring to mind Modest Mussorgsky’s „Pictures at an Exhibition“.
(And in the original text: Bereits mit ihren ersten Ansagen gewinnt die kanadische Songwriterin mit eigenem Label die Gunst des Publikums, lässt mit ihrem Koloratur-Lachen die Erwartung auf Weiteres ansteigen. Mit kräftigem Zugriff spielt Allison Crowe das Klavier, zu dessen Klang ihre leicht rauchige, ausducksstarke, kurz: große Stimme hervorragend passt. Manchmal erinnert ihr Spiel an die Tasten-Eskapaden eines Konstantin Wecker, dann wieder gibt es Momente, die an den Stil von Modest Mussorgsky's „Bilder einer Ausstellung“ denken lassen.)
“Amazing composition,” says another in the musician’s broadly international audience, “there is so much intellect in the music writing of Allison Crowe, which you don’t see anywhere these days, not from the new artists nor the established ones.”
It’s an intellect revealed in part via inspired musical choices and its energetic expression is visceral in nature. Energy flows from the performer on-stage to engulf concert-goers as well. Spontaneous eruptions - stomping feet, clapping hands, rhythmically pulsing bodies – accompany this song (a recent bootleg video from Jazzhaus Freiburg further testifies to this rocking reality).
#1 of 16 Songs
Allison Crowe - 16 Songs Video Album - New Moon - Disease

        

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Monday, September 22, 2014

"16 Songs" Video Album from Allison Crowe = Music + Movie Magic

"Soulful. Alive. Joyous. Grievous. Real, true, music is what I want to make."
 
That’s how Allison Crowe framed things near the start of this century before launching Rubenesque Records Ltd., one of the world’s truly independent music labels.
 
Through legendary live performances, broadcasts, and a dynamic oeuvre of recordings, globally-acclaimed and loved, Crowe’s distinguished herself among today’s finest songwriters, recording and concert acts, and as a supreme interpreter of popular song.
 
Combining versatility and virtuosity, the amazing Canadian musician transmits emotion into a visceral joy – sharing heart and soul with audiences.
 
Timeless artistic expression has its own tradition in Canada, a land plentifully represented by: wordsmiths & tunesmiths, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Young; by jazz pianist/composer Oscar Peterson; classical composer Marjan Mozetich; in theatre and opera – beautiful voices of Teresa Stratas, Richard Verreau, Léopold Simoneau; and other sublime standard-bearers.
 
Allison Crowe’s singularity carries her across the globe and into such company as the Master of the Queen’s Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Britain’s Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, and dates with Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Thrilling, fun, and moving, the Nanaimo, BC-born musician traverses Europe and North America from home-base in Corner Brook, Newfoundland earning hoorays even from Hollywood where appreciative movie Director Zack Snyder invited her to cameo in the latest Superman blockbuster.
 
Coming soon Allison Crowe releases “16 Songs” a video album reimagining century-spanning film, three decades of songwriting, and a dozen albums of modern music. Renowned for gorgeous, often ground-breaking, interpretations of Mitchell, Cohen, The Beatles, Pearl Jam +, Crowe’s set-list here is radiantly international, mixing original tunes (Disease, Circular Reasoning, Double-Edged Swords +) with covers of: Annie Lennox & Eurythmics, Radiohead, Tori Amos, Elton John & Bernie Taupin, Matthew Good, Hunters and Collectors.
 

"16 Songs" Video Album from Allison Crowe Coming Soon
 
We’ve recently witnessed novel approaches to twinning of music and video releases in the American mainstream. In December 2013, pop superstar Beyoncé paired a video with each of her album’s 14 new song tracks adding three bonus music videos all as part of the “Beyoncé” album physical release. Partial clips of the vids were posted online upon the album’s surprise launch.
 
This Summer “Weird Al” Yankovic built upon the model of his 2011 “Alpocalypse” album. For his July 2014 release, “Mandatory Fun”, pop music’s über-parodist-satirist-accordionist amped awareness by production-partnering with an array of web portals to release eight videos online the same week his album’s 12 music tracks became available.
 
Allison Crowe’s music videos for most of this millennium comprise, either, documentary, live-in-performance, films (eg. the hugely popular “Tidings” series from director Alex Postowoi’s cinéma vérité crew), or, audio recordings with ‘still’ images. The exceptions – a pair of music videos in narrative style - were both made in 2003: “Midnight” (also directed by Steadiman’s Postowoi), and “Scared” (from the transmission2media duo of Angela Kendall and Brian Dutkewich – known for their later work with musical twins Tegan and Sara).
 
Starting with 2011’s luminous “Arthur” – a song exploring love, memory and aging – Crowe’s videos also marry her song recordings with vintage footage from home-movies, silent films and classics of Georges Méliès, Dimitri Kirsanoff, Nadia Sibirskaia, Salvador Dali, Dominique Monfréy, Josef von Sternberg, D.W. Griffith plus other pioneers and visionaries of cinema (impressionists, surrealists, Dadaists, avant gardists, pop-artists+).
 
“The strange thing about cinema, and this would go for television film, is that no one really knows why music is needed. I would say after a lifetime in it I could not tell you why. But it is not complete without it… As a matter-of-fact, I may be bold enough to say that with very few exceptions, a piece of film, or a film cannot come to life without the help of music of some kind,” reflected composer Bernard Herrmann, a frequent collaborator with film director Alfred Hitchcock.
 
The “Master of Suspense”, Hitch himself, observed: “Art is emotion.”
 
16 Songs” is an artful collection of Allison Crowe musical works with visuals from great creators and innovators - film-makers, animators, painters, photographers: Fernand Léger, Jean Vigo, Buster Keaton, Dave Fleischer & Max Fleischer, Edwin S. Porter, Man Ray, Hans Richter, Marcel Duchamp, Alexander Calder, Winsor McCay, Augusto Genina, René Clair & Georg W. Pabst. Iconic images and figures - Louise Brooks, Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman, Michel Simon, Dita Parlo, Jean Dasté, and Kiki de Montparnasse - populate the video album playlist.
 
“Oh, this is wonderful, it really is,” says Slovenia’s Milka of an advance screening, “I love it.” The art-aficionado from Izola comments: “It is marvellous amalgamation of Allison's voice and movie's poetry. Both benefit from each other and give a viewer another dimension for song's interpretation. While the movie, not known to me, suddenly takes me to place where one never ages. Love it.”
 

Curtains rise on Allison Crowe’s “16 Songs” video album daily from the New Moon of September 23 to the Full Moon of October 8, 2014. Visit your favourite online video portal to know how it feels.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Happy (early) 80th Birthday, Leonard Cohen!!

The Real Rick Rutt” ‏@RickRutt  tweets: Sunday, Sept 21, will be Leonard Cohen's 80th birthday + This song has entranced me for decades. Here is #LeonardCohen80's fellow Canadian Allison Crowe's 2004 "Jeanne d'Arc"


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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Why + L'Atalante - Special Screening

Now Showing: Special Screening of “Why + L’Atalante” – one in the series of Allison Crowe’s “16 Songs" video album slated for wide release this month.

In advance of the reel unveiling in sequence, the curtain rises on Allison’s IMDb player – with showings in SD, 480 and HD quality (adjustable settings on the left side of screen):

Famous in its original, glorious, pop incarnation by singer-songwriter Annie Lennox, "Why" is a song recast here by Allison Crowe's elemental voice and guitar.

video

"Art is emotion" observed Alfred Hitchcock, and the Canadian musician's singular way of communicating emotion makes her one of the great interpreters in popular music today as well as one of our finest modern songwriters and concert performers.

Strings on this version are gorgeously arranged and orchestrated by Hollywood film-scorer Kayla Schmah - herself an artist inspired by the themes and ideas of Hitch's frequent collaborator, the brilliant, pioneering, composer Bernard Herrmann.

“This song is stunning. I can't stop listening to it,” says Dartmouth-based dancer, Julie Dumont, “it makes me want to cry and dance all at the same time”.

The music's visually paired with an excerpt from Jean Vigo's marvellous cinema masterpiece - "L'Atalante" (1934).

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Sing Out! In Our Global Village

The Leonard Cohen Files’ now lists 567 different cover versions of Leonard Cohen’s much-loved “Hallelujah” – recordings made in dozens of countries and numerous languages: http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/coverlist.php 
Hallelujah” is a popular song we’ve been able to widely and directly witness become a standard – as this process has occurred during, and, in part, thanks to, this age of the internet reaching near-ubiquity.
The global expanse of songs such as The Beatles’ “Yesterday”, (with some 3000 interpretations on record), and Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”, (nearing 1000 covers at latest count - http://jonimitchell.com/music/covers-most.cfm ), and most other tunes which have become standards in the canons of pop and rock – and many more in folk, jazz and other genres – has, largely, been a phenomenon experienced offline (and these songs grew into universal favourites not in our real-time view).
The introduction of “Hallelujah” to a mass audience – via such channels as 2001’s Hollywood hit animated film “Shrek” – has been augmented and amplified by the world wide web.
Music and video sites online enable songs to be shared around, enjoyed and learned – grassroots traditions of jam sessions, campfire sing-alongs, church choirs and other communal ways that music is transported, today can be propelled by the advance in technology (and digital devices, in hand, enable more people to make recordings).
Not only can people world-wide experience music more readily, and in greater richness and variety, than in pre-internet times, folks are now able to express what it all means to them and reflect back to the same giant community “so that all souls can see it”.
For myself, serving as manager to Allison Crowe, a musician creating in these exciting times, one of the profound pleasures now possible is regularly hearing how people are moved by music.
Reflections on Hallelujah” @ http://blog.farmgirlwrites.com/2014/06/reflections-on-hallelujah.html - posted by Washington, DC-based blogger, “Farmgirl Writes”, is the sort of thing that inspires appreciation and understanding of a song and our fellow beings.
And, (especially for those with more dexterity and musical talent or dedication to this course than I), there’s such sites as “Chordify” – which show how we can play the music we love - http://chordify.net/chords/allison-crowe-hallelujah-live-in-the-studio-adrian22
Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words” – a new book that’s exactly what its title promises – Joni’s voice heard through a trio of decades-spanning interviews with her friend, artist and journalist, Malka Marom - is released this week (officially, September 9, 2014).
Allan Showalter, aka DrHGuy, offers a typically entertaining and enlightening post in review @ http://1heckofaguy.com/2014/09/03/book-review-joni-mitchell-talks-about-growing-up-art-songwriting-love-and-leonard-cohen
I’ve mentioned this previously in a post to my own (Adrian’s personal facebook) page and – not unrelated to L. Cohen, the nature of popular songs, their interpretation and sharing – this book includes choice commentary.
"River... Joni Mitchell's whole album Blue is timeless," Allison remarked when she covered the uniquely ever-green song on her own album “Tidings” in 2004.
And “River”, like “Hallelujah”, has witnessed an accelerated cultural expanse and embrace in these digital media times. Currently, Bob Muller, the Grand Poobah of Covers at JoniMitchell.com, tracks 402 different versions of Mitchell’s song @ http://jonimitchell.com/music/covers-most.cfm
The song established itself steadily over the decades – with some 200 covers being made from the time of its release on “Blue” in 1971 to 2007. In these last seven years, the total number of “River” covers has doubled.
In this new book, the brilliant singer, songwriter, composer, painter+ tells her confidante and interviewer: “There was a funny article in the L.A. Times. The guy was ranting, ‘Why are all these people covering Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’? It’s overexposed.’ That’s what he said, and I thought, ‘This person has no concept of what a standard is. A standard is a good song enjoyed by many.’ A lot of singers wanted to sing it, and it kept the song alive.”
Malka asks: “How do you feel when people sing your songs, any song, or play it completely different, like with ‘normal’ chords, and different arrangements?”
Joni says: “I think it’s great, I feel honoured. I like the idea of songs being sung. I like the idea that people who can’t even sing are singing them...” 

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Sunday, September 07, 2014

It's a bird, it's a plane... it's Allison Crowe

Krypton Chronicle’s Rennie Cowan today posts to DailyMotion her interview with Allison Crowe from the red-carpet World Premiere of “Man of Steel” – which happened at New York City’s Lincoln Center in Summer 2013:
 
 
 
 
The chaotic fun of that adventure is well-captured in Rennie’s clip.
 
The genuine kindness and support of Hollywood film director Zack Snyder, producer Deborah Snyder, their super-professional team, and the many good folks we met at every stage, still lifts us up! Up! And away! 

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