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Finnegans Wake: 4th

"The Voyage Of Maeldun", the opening track off 4th is the song that shows what Finnegans Wake sounds like when everything works. It mixes free form jazz passages with new-age Irish passages while occasionally blending in a good rock background. This 8 minute masterpiece shows exactly why Finnegans Wake is so highly regarded. Unfortunately, "The Voyage of Maeldun" is strictly one song on a two CD release spanning 95 minutes of experimental jazz. For many, this will be met with huge applause, but for me, the things that make "The Voyage of Maeldun" a classic, simply become repetitive and are not presented with the same success on many of the other selections on 4th.

"Back On" has a nice bass driven jazz theme with several solo instruments presented, including trombone, clarinet, and oboe. "Fata Morgana" is centered around the violin of Alexandre Casado and the tenor sax of Henry Krutzen, and gets pretty repetitive over the 12+ minutes. "Olinda" is a quick acoustic guitar song by Alexandre Moura that never really finds a groove. "Mercurial" has a film score sound and is heavy in the bassoon, using the clarinet as the primary solo instrument. "Tapioca com Pimenta" is the only real rocker on the first CD. The guest guitar work of Jubileu Filho and the bass work of Alain Lemaitre are offset by the excellent organ work of Eduardo Taufic. "Tapioca com Pimenta" bookends the CD perfectly with "The Voyage of Maeldun" and are the two main highlights of CD one.

CD 2 opens up with "Moondogging", a mystic foray into soundscapes and free-form improvisation, which mixes some of the best moments of Weather Report with some of the worst moments of Richard Stolzman. There should be a happy medium here, but at 11+ minutes it sometimes is missed. Krutzen does most of the composing on disk 2 and "Anemia" and "Brazil, RN" maintain a much more new-age feel than the eclectic songs on disk 1. "Wenceslas Shorts" and "Bon Voyage" are the two tracks with vocals and they do not enhance the disk but kind of lessen the mood. The artsy feel of the tracks is diminished by the childlike singing. "Datcha" and "Morituri te Salutant" once again hit the mark by mixing styles in creative ways that keep your attention and challenge the listener. Combining these two songs with the first two and last songs of disk 1 and you would have made an impressive 40 minute CD.

It should be mentioned that Finnegans Wake is basically three musicians and a singer that appears on just two short numbers. But there are fifteen guest musicians playing throughout this CD. If you like free-form jazz heavy on the woodwind side (sax, oboe, bassoon, piccolo) you should completely enjoy this CD. I just found, that for my taste, there appeared to be a little too much fill. But when it works, it is simply masterful. There's just is too much that doesn't work for me.

Track Listing
Disk 1

1) The Voyage of Maeldun (8:09)
2) Back On (9:27)
3) Fata Morgana (12:34)
4) Olinda (2:46)
5) Mercurial (6:15)
6) Tapioca com Pimenta (6:13)

Disk 2
1) Moondogging (11:32)
2) Anemia (6:08)
3) Brasil, RN (11:22)
4) Wenceslas Shorts (3:16)
5) Datcha (6:45)
6) Morituri te Salutant (7:05)
7) Bon Voyage (3:12)

Added: April 13th 2005
Reviewer: Steve Ambrosius
Related Link: Henry Krutzen/Finnegans Wake
Hits: 3155
Language: english

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