According to Jim Hoke’s website, Otto is “Possibly the best cello-woodwinds-vibraphone-pedal
steel chamber group in town”. I certainly can’t improve on that
evaluation! And it must be said that an ensemble whose repertoire
ranges from The Easybeats, through Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention
to Fauré and Les Six can’t be all bad.
is Jim Hoke’s latest band. He’s been around quite a bit – New
York, Oklahoma, Santa Barbara, Nashville – and he’s played on
more albums than I could even begin to list. Most of the tracks
on this disk are by Hoke himself and they’re all quite delightful.
Occasionally, I found myself being reminded of Ian Gardiner’s
much missed ensemble George W Welch in sound, but this music
is much funkier and Californian.
rest of this programme is eclectic, to say the least. Fauré’s
Pavane is really lovely, and who would have thought of
letting the pedal steel take the lead? Shankle’s flute is very
cool here. Glover Johns Gill is a self–taught accordionist,
arranger, and composer, who, in 2000, achieved critical acclaim
for his group Tosca Tango Orchestra when it performed at the
5th Annual International Tango Festival, in Buenos Aires. This
arrangement of Mignon is a kind of sub-Piazzolla tango–inflected
dance. David Byrne was a founding member of the group Talking
Heads and has since gone on to many solo projects in many media.
Accident is a gentle and easy-going look at suburbia.
Satie and Milhaud miniatures readily lend themselves to this
kind of arrangement.
Wilson was the main composer, producer, bassist, singer, and
arranger for The Beach Boys and Don’t
Talk (put your head on my shoulder) is a quiet meditation which, with the use of pedal steel, sounds rather
Hawaiian. Friday on My Mind was a 1966 hit for the Australian rock band The Easybeats – it was a
number 1 in Australia, no.5 in the UK and no.16 in the USA.
It was voted "Best Australian Song" of all time, in
2001, by the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA).
This is a nicely quirky arrangement.
Zappa was influenced by, amongst others, Edgard Varèse. He wrote
both classical and rock works, many of his early pieces being
issued by his band The Mothers of Invention. Mom and Dad
is one of my favourite Zappa tracks, being a rather sad,
but typically cynical, song about parents and kids, and comes
from the second Mothers Album, We’re Only in it for the Money.
And if you think that today’s “stars” give their chldren crazy
names think on this, Zappa’s four children are named Moon Unit,
Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.
disk has been one of the most unusual and enjoyable experiences
this year. There’s nothing but good feeling here, and it’s very
laid–back and cool. How often you’d want to listen to it is another
matter but it’s the kind of disk you might return to when you
want cheering up. Purely for enjoyment.