Circo de Teatro is the latest CD release by Jude Davison – the 18th CD of his diverse career. After pursuing many different creative musical directions over the past several years – most notably, a Broadway-style soul musical called Cybersoul, a trilogy of poetry/music CDs (the Terminal City Trilogy), three acoustic albums (Uncertain Heaven, Ordinary Dream, & Bread and Bones), and two screenplay/musical projects (Drop Dead Scene, & Slow Resurrection – the life & times of Leland Frank), Circo de Teatro sees Jude return, once again, to a full-blown artist album.
Circo de Teatro is difficult to pigeon hole as it is a truly unique sounding album that borrows and combines sounds from Americana, roots, R&B, and Mexican mariachi music, and forges this with the story and theme of a traveling circus. In a Tom Waitsesque manner the music brings to life the sights and sounds of the circus as well as many of its characters – the misfits, the freaks, the performers, who make their life working on a traveling show.
Usually preferring to play most of the instruments himself, Circo de Teatro is, however, the first Jude album in a long while to feature the performances of outside musicians. The wonderful horn section and solo works of Keith Todd (trombone & tuba), Rick Lingard (saxophones), Tim Bullen (trumpet), the theatrical vocals of Sydney Galbraith, the accordion of Bessie Wapp, and the banjo artistry of Craig Korth all add a depth and new dimension to the sound of the album. A recent addition to the Jude musical arsenal – the lap-steel guitar, also adds a haunting sound to many of the albums tracks. “I always like to buy a new instrument or two to inspire me on recordings – this time I bought lots of percussion instruments and also managed to learn the lap-steel guitar, which, as it turned out was exactly what the music needed.”
Another unique aspect of the album is the inclusion of two instrumentals as well as the invented language for the song, Con Volai Amore. “I wanted to challenge myself to try to create the experience of the landscape of the circus without using words – something that would be more cinematic sounding. The opening song, Caranval Burlesco sets the musical tone and scene for the entire album while the song Mitad del Camino is intended to conjure up the sights and sounds of the midway of a carnival. I have always been intrigued by the way the Cocteau Twins would make-up songs without regard for proper lyrics. So for one particular song I was writing I wanted something that would sound Spanish, but I didn’t necessarily want to be hampered with trying to translate lyrics. I just wanted to work with the sound of the melody, so I went ahead and made-up my own language for the song. Kind of a bastardized Italian and Spanish I expect. It was quite liberating, but I had to write it out phonetically for Sydney to learn.”