Harem Girl - liner notes
The Conception Of Harem Girl
When Hans-Hermann Pohle, the president of Taxim Records, asked me to do an album to commemorate his twentieth year in business, I was very honored. He had named his label after a Kaleidoscope piece, from 1967, called Taxim, and he wondered if I might do a new piece of music for him, a kind of taxim for the new millennia.
I immediately called Max Buda, my partner for over thirty years, and, like me, an original member of the Kaleidoscope. We toyed with doing something traditional but realized that so much time and experience had passed that it was proper to show what we've done since the original Taxim was recorded.
We chose to write a suite using the Middle Eastern motif of the original yet creating all the structures ourselves. We started by writing a scenario so that we could tell a story through music. The story is called Harem Girl and tells a tale of love and intrigue with a definite modern twist. Like Peter and the Wolf we gave the characters their own voice through the instruments. The Girl is the violin, the Sultan is the WMI and the Stranger is the accordion.
The idea and atmosphere were the most important components to us. We enlisted our tribe of musical compatriots and created a new and magical place. Like Duke Ellington's Paris Blues, Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain, Charles Mingus' Tijuana Moods and Pharaoh Sanders' Tauhid, we chose to express the exotic through our own eyes. Rimskey-Korsakoff did the same thing when he used an orchestra to create Scheherazade, the classical version of the exotic. Movies have been a big influence on both Max and myself and the soundtrack would be the most obvious modern influence on us. From Mancini to Morricone, we have listened to the movies we've seen. There's even a bit of Arthur Lyman and his brand of exotica in our music.
We are proud to say that all the children of the original Kaleidoscope, who are musicians, are represented on this record. My son, Steven, played drums on a number of cuts and played a great guitar part on Flashing Steel. Max's son, KC Crill, played all the acoustic bass parts on the album. David Feldhouse, Solomon's son, did a wonderful job of providing an ethnic flare with his Middle Eastern percussion work. Roseanne Lindley, David and Joan's (my sister) daughter contributed her beautiful voice as a member of the Sons and Daughters of Raw. My sister, Liz Darrow Jones, along with my singing partner, Connie Mardon and Caroline Topalian gave an undeniable feminine tone to the piece. Our favorite keyboard player and pal, Jerry Waller, was stellar in his role as the Stranger. John York pulled out his exotic bag of tricks to add to the soup. Craig Van Sant was a stalwart as the major timekeeper of the record. His jazz-style drumming gave a great feel to our project. Ian Beardsley, who is like a son to me, played phenomenal flamenco guitar on Chase. Ami Radunskaya, the only chaos theory mathematician and cello player I know, performed beautifully as part of the string section and played a gorgeous solo on The Harem. My good friend, Pebber Brown, not only contributed the exquisite guitar solos on the Harem Girl Themes, but also allowed me to use two of his new Roland VS-880 digital hard disk machines to record the album on. My niece, Lauren Jones, and daughter of Liz, played great finger cymbals on Flashing Steel.
The masculine side of the singing ensemble was provided by Eddie Cunningham, Rob Morrow, Pat Brayer and Burl Johnson. Last but not least, Nadra Beardsley, Ian and John York's sister-in-law, performed the haunting wail on the Chase, the zageri.
As you can see we drew from the tribe that is of our making and we love them all. Thanks.
Chris Darrow, Claremont, CA., 1998
The Soul Of Harem Girl
The original Kaleidoscope recording of Taxim was an early expression of our collective efforts to create a new music from traditional instruments, forms and styles by blending them together. We have always believed that having heard and experienced the many types of music we have shared makes it possible to not include them in our work. In the intervening years Chris Darrow and I have co-produced six albums, including this one. All of these have varied wildly in content and yet, when taken as a whole, again confirm our goal of creating music that is rich in references to the past but looks forward to the erasure of yet more boundaries in the future.
Max Buda, 1998