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Anxiety of Influence

Label: Channel Classics (1996)

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Read Ken Dryden’s review of this album:

Review Excerpt:

The Meridian Arts Ensemble: Anxiety Of Influence

By Jim Sheldon Dean

(review in The Music & Travel Report , May, 1997) by permission.

“One of the perks of publishing the M&T Report on the Web is that I get inquiries from various groups and publicists about their sending me CDs for review. I hate to not listen to something that might be good and comes for free, but unfortunately most of what arrives is, ah, not good. Luckily, that's not always the case, and the Meridian Arts Ensemble's latest CD, "Anxiety of Influence" (Channel Crossings CCS 9796), is an excellent example of the good stuff. Meridian Arts Ensemble consists of two trumpets, a trombone, a horn, a tuba, and drums. It's a wind chamber quintet plus percussion, and on this album there's also a guest pianist. This is not your garden variety chamber music, though. Instead MAE goes for the unusual and offbeat, effortlessly mixing styles from all over the musical map into a really unique sound and style. And, these guys are GOOD! "Anxiety of Influence" begins with a 21minute set of Frank Zappa music arranged by trumpeter Jon Nelson, leading off with "Run Home Slow" and "The Little March" from Zappa's 1959 score for a cowboy movie, also heard on Zappa's albums, "The Lost Episodes" and "You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Volume 5." Nelson's arrangements are simple and true to the originals, yet startling in their freshness this is, after all, an all-acoustic band. From there, guest pianist Jon Klibonoff does an excellent, moving job with the solo piano introduction from the 1971 Fillmore version of "Little House I Used To Live In," and the ensemble version follows. The set is completed with drum solo and "new age" ensemble versions of "The Black Page." How are all these? Just great. I've always loved Zappa's more orchestral/classical pieces, and these are great examples, performed flawlessly. There's something just so clean and bright about all those horns that gives new life to Zappa's work.”