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Udow: Over The Moon / Michael Udow, Et Al

Release Date: 04/30/2002 
Label:  Equilibrium   Catalog #: 50   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Michael Udow
Performer:  Michael UdowNancy UdowDavid TolenDaniel DeSena
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Although percussion can be a lot of fun, this is a serious CD. The seriousness is not heaviness, though, perhaps in keeping with the Japanese background to much of the music. In that connection, the first two pieces have no extended or dense movements, just short ones forming non-Western wholes.

The notes don’t say much. The list of instruments is important, even if one wonders how to play a Los Alamos rocket nose cone, or how to tune a frying pan in A?. The tensor lamp whistle is explained.

It takes a while to figure out the dance connection to these pieces (the photos help), which leads me to suggest the entire production for DVD. The music itself in Over the Moon ranges from the annoying (oh, that vibraphone
Read more motor) to the beautiful, all of it played with deft rhythmic flair. A few numbers in this 12-movement work imply a Japanese sort of drum set.

The intoner in Tennei-Ji is not listed (Michael Udow?). The notes are again confusing unless you are on the inside. At least the poems are given and are even translated into Japanese.

There’s little that’s Western in this piece. Although I can’t judge the Japanese aspects, I find the music by turns charming and moving, often mysterious and colorful. It certainly surprises with its varied interpretations of the haiku poetry. The track listings are all off by one, for no obvious reason. Surely, it’s not hard to get that right.

Stepping on Stars is the longest piece, at 25 minutes. It’s listed for multiple percussion and MIDI. Here is the extended composition, nimbly virtuosic even, in both performance and recording. It comprises several sections of artful elaborations contrasted in texture, character, rhythm, and color. Just past the 10-minute mark comes an unobtrusive representation of the Dies Irae chant. Overall coherence is immediately audible in this fine example of recent percussion music mixed with technology.

Zig-Zag doesn’t in a large sense; but the intricate rhythmic interplay right from the opening earns the title. It soon morphs into a kind of night music. Then resumes a more boisterous layering, increasing in speed and variety to the end. Not as interesting as the previous work but pleasant and sharply played by two of Udow’s former students. Nothing in the notes on this one but autobiography.

Udow’s CD is off in a corner. Despite the fine performing and sound, it’s far from everyone’s corner. But in the fairground of musical acts, if you happened on this tent, you’d probably want in.

FANFARE: Paul Rapoport
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Works on This Recording

Over the Moon by Michael Udow
Performer:  Michael Udow (Percussion), Nancy Udow (Percussion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1986; USA 
Venue:  Solid Sound Studios, Ann Arbor, MI 
Length: 27 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Tennei-Ji by Michael Udow
Performer:  Michael Udow (Voice), Michael Udow (Percussion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999; USA 
Venue:  Solid Sound Studios, Ann Arbor, MI 
Length: 11 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Language: English 
Stepping on Stars by Michael Udow
Performer:  Michael Udow (MIDI Drums), Nancy Udow (Percussion), Michael Udow (Percussion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1996; USA 
Venue:  Solid Sound Studios, Ann Arbor, MI 
Length: 25 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Zig-Zag by Michael Udow
Performer:  David Tolen (Percussion), Daniel DeSena (Percussion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; USA 
Venue:  Solid Sound Studios, Ann Arbor, MI 
Length: 10 Minutes 15 Secs. 

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