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REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers


Glen Velez (percussion)
Harmonious Blacksmith
rec. November 2012, Spencerville Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Spencerville, Maryland, USA
Private Release [54:26]

Harmonious Blacksmith is a gloriously-named early music ensemble based on America’s East coast. They’re dedicated to dance and to reviving traditions of ornamentation and improvisation. Most of this album is Spanish music from the 1600s and very early 1700s, but the final track is a group improvisation, and all are freely interpreted. Harmonious Blacksmith is a baroque jazz combo. They’re terrific.

This CD is a joy. It’s hard to review, because everything on it is joyful. The opening Fandango, by Santiago de Murcia, is a medium-paced tune which starts with an exuberant flourish. Murcia is the composer with the most credits on this disc but there are also free adaptations of works by Gaspar Sanz, Francisco Guerau and José Marín, plus Jacob van Eyck, a Dutch recorder virtuoso who composed his own riffs on the Sanz pieces. Most of the Spaniards were associated with the court; Murcia was Queen Maria Luisa’s guitar tutor. The title track is a sort of medley, as the gamba and recorder vary each other’s themes. “Los Ymposibles” sounds an awful lot like “Greensleeves”.

The five players here are simply fantastic. Justin Godoy mans the recorders; Andrew Arceci alternates between viola da gamba, bass, and colascione; William Simms takes up the theorbo and guitar; and Joseph Gascho chooses between harpsichord and chamber organ. Glen Velez, a celebrated frame drummer who’s been recording for thirty years and who is in the “Percussion Hall of Fame”, takes percussion duties, including a five-minute solo track of his own composition ... or is it improvisation? A crowd of well-wishers and fans at Kickstarter - named in the booklet - funded a very good recording: I can’t imagine any complaints about the excellent sound.

All in all, this disc is fantastic, and bodes well not just for Harmonious Blacksmith but for the whole idea of crowd-funded CDs. Let’s hope the crowd continues to have such good taste.

Brian Reinhart

Santiago de MURCIA (1673-1739)
Fandango [3:02]
After Murcia
Tarantellas [4:36]
After José MARÍN (1619?-1699)
No pience menguilla ya [2:12]
After Gaspar SANZ (1640-1710)
Canarios [3:18]
After Murcia and others
Jácaras [4:34]
Francisco GUERAU (1649-1717)
Marionas [4:52]
After Murcia and others
Galliardas [3:20]
Sanz and Jacob VAN EYCK (1590?-1657)
Lantururu [4:51]
Cumbees [2:14]
After Sanz and others
Españoletas [3:30]
Glen VELEZ (b.1949)
Andalusian Symbols [4:34]
Fustamberg [3:55]
Los Ymposibles [2:55]
Folias Gallegas [2:11]
After Sanz and van Eyck
Clarines y Gaitas [2:04]
Jota [2:17]



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