Monday, July 10, 2006

"...the future of cabaret, if cabaret knows what's good for it."

glisten: theo bleckmann

Theo Bleckmann - Teacher's Pet

Theo Bleckmann - Chim Chim Cheree

Theo Bleckmann is a New-York-by-way-of-Germany composer/performer whose work tends toward the novel. Bleckmann's latest project is a collaboration with Japanese composer/pianist Fumio Yasuda titled 'Las Vegas Rhapsody'. The album celebrates Vegas' centennial with a collection of showtunes and standards performed in an odd mix of styles. Equal parts transgressively avant garde, respectfully traditional and puckishly inventive, 'Las Vegas Rhapsody' is great fun and obsessively listenable; it's been on heavy repeat for me since I glommed a copy.

I was lucky enough to see Bleckmann and Yasuda perform the album live last month at a lovely show that featured a four piece string orchestra fronted by Todd Reynolds. Theo's magnetism, sheer showmanship and flat-out amazing vocalizations are deeply impressive. As much as I love him though, your milage may vary: a couple of curiosity seekers left the show cackling and mimicking Theo's falsetto riffs and, even as I write this, I just received an e-mail from an unenthusiastic test listener who found him relentlessly jangly and flat. Still, I daresay it's a fair guess that if your tastes vascillate 'twixt the odd and the button down (as mine tend to), he'll wow you.

'Teachers Pet' features a barbershop quartet of Bleckmanns supporting a solo Bleckmann, managing an effect that (much like the original song) deftly straddles the line between coy and creepy. 'Chim Chim Cheree', a personal favorite of mine, allows a showcase for Theo's more experimental chirruping and yodels over the yearning strings. Both tracks feel artistically abundant, emotionally engaging and fascinatingly aspirant; Bleckmann reaches, strains and finds fresh, undiscovered meat in these chestnuts.

tell me more about it...

You can buy 'Las Vegas Rhapsody' direct from the publisher, Winter + Winter, but the Americans in the audience will likely find it easier and cheaper to go through Amazon.

Unfortunately, the album isn't available for download at iTunes or eMusic, but clicking on those links will reveal a host of other Bleckmann-ia that those august institutions _do_ carry; so give them a peek.
Visit Theo's official website.
Read this brief interview with Bleckmann and listen to the accompanying sound samples from a few of his other projects.
Listen to a pair of other tracks from 'Las Vegas Rhapsody' on the "my-other-blog-is-my-job"Joe's Pub website.

Shill, shill, shill.

a sad plea

Y'all still out there? Lord knows my posting has grown sadly erratic, but the hit count continues to turn, so I can hear you breathing. Drop a note in the comments; I'm gettin' lonely out here and I need encouragement to keep this idiot machine a'chuggin'.