Title - 'American Heritage'
Artist - Jeni Slotchiver
If you are not in the know, in a socio-politically charged year when our understanding of African American history has been in the spotlight and challenged like few times in the past, music can serve as a great instructor.
If you think you know American Music, veteran NY based classical pianist and well-traveled concert performer Jeni Slotchiver invites you to open the door to the past deeper than you ever might have imagined on American Heritage.
A quite extraordinary work paying homage primarily to African American composers of the 19th and early 20th Century, whose works laid the foundations of later forms of music like jazz, blues and R&B, Jeni's new album is truly one for the ages.
1. 'Deep River, Op. 58 No. 10'
2. 'Troubled Water'
3. 'From the Southland 1. Through Moanin' Pines'
4. 'From the Southland 2. The Frolic'
5. 'From the Southland 3. In de Col' Moonlight'
6. 'From the Southland 4. A Jubilee'
7. 'From the Southland 5. On Bended Knees'
8. 'From the Southland 6. A New Hiding Place'
9. 'Union, Paraphrase de Concert op. 48'
10. 'The Banjo, Grotesque Fantasie, op 15'
11. 'Dances in the Canebreaks 1. Nimble Feet'
12. 'Dances in the Canebreaks 2. Tropical Noon'
13. 'Dances in the Canebreaks 3. Silk Hat and Walking Cane'
14. 'Dance - "Juba"'
15. 'The Blues From Lenox Avenue'
17. 'Down By the Riverside'
18. 'Swanee River'
On these beautifully engaging and at all times comforting 18 tracks (where she balances slave songs with Union Army hymns, sea shanties and secular dances and spirituals), and of which you will have no trouble recognizing (whilst at the same time appreciating their new compositions), Jeni opens with Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s delicately beautiful 'Deep River' and backs that up with the upbeat, reverent 'Troubled Water' (itself a track by Margaret Bonds, based on the spiritual 'Wade in the Water').
Next we get treated to the breathtaking sextet from Harry Thacker Burleigh’s suite, 'From the Southland: Through Moanin' Pines,' 'The Frolic,' and 'and 'In de Col' Moonlight,' 'A Jubilee,' 'On Bended Knees,' and the pronounced 'A New Hiding Place.'
Then we are presented with the is longest track on the album at nearly nine minutes, the soaringly dedicated 'Union, Paraphrase de Concert op. 48,' which is followed by the more playful, fun and even perky at times 'The Banjo, Grotesque Fantasie, op 15,' before Jeni brings forth the trilogy of 'Dances in the Canebreaks: Nimble Feet,' 'Tropical Noon,' and the sweepingly elegant 'Silk Hat and Walking Cane.'
Jeni's rather stunning, deeply felt debut for Zoho Music continues onward with the bright and bubbly, one-two piano larking of 'Dance - "Juba",' which is backed by the gentle Blues soul of 'The Blues From Lenox Avenue,' with the album rounding out on the lonesome accord of the traditional folk song 'Shenandoah,' the free flowing, Charlie Brown-esque gentle bounce of Frederick Rzewski's 'Down By the Riverside,' closing on the folkloric charms of William Grant Still’s ornately delectable 'Swanee River.'
Also featuring works from other such notables as Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Florence B. Price, and Robert Nathaniel Dett, in closing, Jeni Slotchiver is a splendid tour guide, lighting our path along this delightful musical journey.
But once we’re enlightened, it’s up to us to dig deeper to understand the glorious history of our country that sometimes gets lost in the cacophony of racial injustice and contemporary static.
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