Thursday, 28 June 2018

CD Review (The Straits Times, June 2018)

Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends
Decca Gold 28948157914 / ****1/2

American actor Bill Murray and German cellist Jan Vogler met by chance on a flight they were travelling, and quickly became friends. This album is an unusual collaboration between veteran thespian and virtuoso cellist, with over an hour of selections from American literature and well-selected music.

Murray is clearly the star, totally at home and fully idiomatic in readings from Walt Whitman (Song Of The Open Road), James Fenimore Cooper (The Deerslayer), Mark Twain (Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn) and James Thurber (If Grant Had Been Drinking At Appomattox). The last, a hilarious bit of “alternative history” is worth several laughs, accompanied by the Blues from Ravel's Violin Sonata, where the violin simulates a banjo.

Whoever thought Murray could actually sing? His untrained voice is actually convincing in Gershwin's It Ain't Necessarily So and Stephen Foster's I Dream Of Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair and he absolutely nails Van Morrison's When Will I Ever Learn To Live In God

Vogler, his wife violinist Mira Wang and pianist Vanessa Perez are but supporting actors in pieces by Saint-Saƫns, Bach, Schubert, Bernstein and Henry Mancini, but do have Astor Piazzolla's tango Muerte De Angel to their own. A very enjoyable release.

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