Ethel, Ethel - debut CD of this American institution, including EZ's softly ecstatic Be-in


Sweet Hardwood: Hardwood
Sweet Hardwood: Spiritual
Sweet Hardwood: Shuffle
The Blue Room and Other Stories: The River
The Blue Room and Other Stories: March
The Blue Room and Other Stories: The Blue Room
The Blue Room and Other Stories: Tarantella
Uh...It All Happened So Fast

"Ethel is the name of a new quartet of string players devoted, for the most part, to performing music by their contemporaries; in a way, they're very much like the Kronos. Their absorption in music of all kinds gives them a wonderful edge. They run the gamut, professionally, from being in the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Steve Reich Ensemble to backing up The Who's Roger Daltrey and Sheryl Crow. On their debut album, we hear John King's "Sweet Hardwood," which is deeply rooted in blues and is played with great, gutsy, feeling; a four-movement piece by Phil Kline that is in minimalist tradition and whose rhythms are infectious; a strange, brief work (" all happened so fast") by one of their violinists, Todd Reynolds, which begins down, dark and cavernously in the low strings and develops with great vibrancy; and Evan Ziporyn's 1991 "Be-in," in which they're joined by Ziporyn on bass clarinet (its lyrical chugging manages to be both reassuring and jittery at once). When it's over, you want to hear it again. The music and performances on this CD are both earthy and poetic and worth listening to often." -Robert Levine

"Ethel was as fresh and direct as crowds dancing in the street" -Wall Street Journal, 5/21/2003

"Now that it has dazzled critics and hipsters around New York, Ethel is poised to bring its downtown, genre-bending sensibilities to a larger audience." -Billboard, 9/13/2003

About "Be-In"

In this era of recalcitrant 60s radicals, it feels all the more necessary to admit that my earliest goal in life - formulated during a 1968 trip to San Francisco with my parents - was to be a hippie. Subsequent visits to my aunt's Ann Arbor commune only confirmed this aspiration, which was only later replaced by the marginally more respectable goal of composition. That being said, it's clear to me that almost everything I've done that's been worth doing musically...was made possible by the period. Among other things, everyone who was anyone was reaching out to non-western music - not just Stockhausen and the Beatles but also such cultural luminaries as B.J. Thomas and the Partridge Family, who were using sitars and tablas in their music. Much of my work is built around the anomalies and contradictions of cross-cultural exchange, but this piece attempts to pretend there are no such problems. It combines gestures from a variety of genres as if all that were needed to make them get along were good will and positive energy. Would that it were so...

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