A Rose for me – The Soundscapers – First Impression Music

by | Dec 29, 2006 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

A Rose for me – The Soundscapers – First Impression Music xrcd24  XR24 074, 61:09 ****:

This recording project was an idea of Mr. F.I.M., Winston Ma, who sought to merge traditional music from his Chinese background with Western jazz which he also greatly enjoys. He explored his plan with master erhu player George Gao – who plays the versatile single-string Chinese violin. Ma was surprised to learn that Gao had already performed with various great jazz musicians over the years in different gigs.  The two worked on the programming of the ten selections; Ma wanted to title the album after the Chinese folk song A Rose For Me.  They assembled the other four players, which included Wei Li on guzheng – a sort of Chinese koto. He’s an outstanding guzheng performer in China and also a guest lecturer at the University of British Columbia music school in Vancouver – making it handy for his involvement in the project.  The ensemble was rounded out with guitarist Bill Bridges, bassist Lew Mele, and drummer John Mele. And they dubbed the diverse quintet the Soundscapers.

Recorded at a studio in Toronto and mastered by Paul Stubblebine in San Francisco, the album is distinguished by a 3D cover photo of a pink rose. There is a paragraph of description on each of the ten tracks, which aids appreciation for those not of Chinese background, to whom the folk songs will be entirely new. I was somehow reminded of the album of jazz versions of American folk songs done many years ago by singer Jeannie Hoffman.  Except that the xrcd is all instrumental and the tunes are a lot more exotic – at least to Western ears. I found Little Cabbage to be a very catchy tune, and my favorite was probably Jasmine, which is given a bossa nova treatment. Sonics are exemplary, as with all F.I.M. releases.  If the music appeals to you, you will have no second thoughts about the premium price of this disc – and that cannot be said about every one of the xrcds in the JVC catalog.

TrackList: A Rose For Me, Shepherd Girl, Lift Your Veil, Feng Yang Flower Drum, Tea Picking, Lullaby, The Mountain Love Song, Little Cabbage, Jasmine, Lady Meng Jian.

– John Sunier

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