People often approach us at gigs and ask, "what style of music is this? Where does it come from?"
So, imagine that Serbia and Macedonia are next to Louisiana with Martinique and Manhattan off the coast and the Ukraine and Poland to the north. Mexico is due south with the Bahamas and Venezuela near at hand. New Orleans is the cultural hub where you hear musicians from the outlying provinces bearing accordions, clarinets, trombones and banjos working together and mixing it up. One minute the syncopation has the crowd all on their toes jumping together, hips rocking. Next the bass drum and tuba are pounding strong downbeats, folks stepping around flat-footed and straight-backed with the action in their shoulders.
And all of these facets are encompassed within one idiom, "Panorama Jazz."
On this, our second recording, we are pleased to present three songs featuring long-time friend and collaborator, New Orleans vocalist Jane Harvey Brown. And we bring you a taste of Mardi Gras Panorama-style with four numbers by our parade outfit, the Panorama Brass Band.
Welcome to Panoramaland!
Second Studio Recording Showcases Eclectic Repertoire, Superb Musicianship
New Orleans - June 27, 2005- The Panorama Jazz Band, one of the most exciting bands to emerge from New Orleans in the past decade, announced today the release of their second studio recording, PANORAMALAND. The disc explores their musical world where connections are made between wide-ranging styles and categories. As shown in the cover art featuring a hand-painted watercolor map, the fictitious territory of Panoramaland is centered in Louisiana but shares borders with such diverse locales as the West Indies, Mexico, Manhattan and Eastern Europe.
In addition to their 6-piece jazz band, the project also includes three tracks featuring New Orleans vocalist Jane Harvey Brown as well as four performed by their parading outfit, the Panorama Brass Brand. Mixing and mastering were supervised in Austin, Texas by producer Mark Rubin.
Panoramaland is a metaphor for the unique amalgamation of musical traditions that the band represents. With the clarinet, accordion and trombone taking center stage, the new recording escorts listeners on a journey around the world through various disparate and related genres. Traditional jazz from New Orleans cohabits with the Klezmer of Eastern European Jews. A Mexican polka complements a Venezuelan waltz. Creole beguines from Martinique are presented alongside a Bahamian novelty tune. The disc also features two original numbers cast in traditional forms. Each song is played with the verve inherent to musicians from New Orleans and showcases the talents of the individual players in the band.
Vocalist Jane Harvey Brown takes the spotlight on three numbers. Her brassy voice shines on, “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” as she draws on the Yiddish vaudeville of Depression-era New York. “Don’t Touch Me Tomato” percolates with playful sexuality and “If You Love Me,” an original from clarinetist and leader Ben Schenck, presents her and the songwriter in a vocal duet.
Schenck displays his considerable skills on the Creole beguine “Pani Ti Moun,” the Venezulean waltz, “Carmencita,” the Mexican polka, “El Zopilote Mojado” as well as the klezmer standards, “Wie Bist Die Gewesen Vor Prohibition” and “Ai Raci Ku Ne Draci.”
Accordionist Patrick Farrell showcases his inventive arranging skills with new versions of Jelly Roll Morton’s classic, “Jungle Blues,“ and the 1910 Sophie Tucker theme song, “Some of These Days.” Farrell, a virtuoso accordionist in virtually any idiom, also contributes an original, “Heartsick Hora” and presents a Macedonian folk song, “Lihnida Kajce Veslase” which he learned from his mentor in that country’s capital, Skopje.
Austin, Texas based producer Mark Rubin, a noted performer in his own right, worked closely with Schenck to craft “Panoramaland.” Rubin, whose resume is as long as it is eclectic, saw something special in the Panorama Jazz Band. Says Rubin, “My job was to try and capture this ensemble’s playful sense of joy, just like the first time I saw them perform. It’s quite a different thing to translate that spirit all the way through the recording studio, through mixing and mastering and all the cold processes involved in making a recording. But I’m very happy with the results and proud to be involved.”
The Panorama Brass Band, an alternate line-up used in New Orleans street parades, is featured on several numbers. In trombonist Genevieve Duval’s arrangement, trumpeter Satoru Ohashi provides a fresh and sassy take on Ravel’s “Bolero.” JR Hankins plays rotary valve flugelhorn on the Serbian Gypsy dance, “Alievo Oro.” The disc closes with the beguine “Renee” which cross fades from live action captured Mardi Gras day 2005 in the French Quarter to a studio take done two days later.
“Jungle Blues”- This song was composed by Jelly Roll Morton and was originally recorded in 1927. Panorama accordionist Patrick Farrell arranged the version presented here.
“Pani Ti Moun”- This song’s title is pronounced “Pah-NEE Tee Moonh.” It means "Not a Child" and was originally recorded in Paris by Martiniquan Sam Castandet et son Orchestre Antillais in 1950.
“I Raci Ku Ne Draci” This song’s title is pronounced “Eye Rotch Koo Nay Drotch.” It was originally recorded in 1916 by Abe Shwartz' Orchestra. Nobody we've talked to knows what the title means, but it might have something to do with having a crawfish in your trousers.
“Alievo Oro”- This song’s title is pronounced “Ali-AY-vo O-RO.” It means "Ali's Dance." The Panorama Jazz Band learned it from Michael Ginsburg of the Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band out of New York City. JR Hankins shows off on the truba, a rotary valve flugelhorn favored by the Balkan Gypsy brass bands.
“Don't Touch Me Tomato”- This song was originally written and recorded by its composer, Bahamian singer and pianist George Symonette. Ben Schenck arranged the song for vocalist Jane Harvey Brown and the jazz band.
“Carmencita”- This tune is a Venezuelan waltz composed and originally recorded in New York in 1933 by composer and bandleader Lionel Belasco, a Creole-Sephardic pianist from Barbados.
“Five-Alarm Chili”- This song was transcribed by trombonist Genevieve Duval from a mix tape given to her by a friend. The original recording features El Banda Recodo of Sinaloa, Mexico. Since the band is unaware of the actual title, we've given it this name due to the triangle on the last section.
“Some of These Days”- This song was introduced by Sophie Tucker in 1910 and was first recorded the following year. Patrick Farrell presents it here in a swinging 2005 arrangement.
“Heartsick Hora”- This song was written for the band by Patrick Farrell during a trip to Quebec in 2003.
“Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen”- This song’s title is pronounced “Buy Meer Bist doo Shayn.” It means "You are Beautiful to Me." It was a hit on the New York Yiddish vaudeville scene and later became the theme song of Yiddish swing. On the day of this recording session, Jane walked into the studio after work and sang it in one take.
“El Zopilote Mojado”- This song’s title is pronounced “El Zo-pee-lo-tay Mo-HA-do.” It means "The Wet Buzzard." It is a Mexican Polka, which the band learned from New Orleans pianist Amasa Miller of the Charmaine Neville Band and fiddler Neti Vaan of the New Orleans Jazz Vipers and Toonzville.
“Bolero”- This is a 3-minute reduction of Ravel's famous march arranged for the brass band by Genevieve Duval. Here trumpeter Satoru Ohashi, "the voice of romance," addresses his beloved. He starts out bragging but eventually resorts to begging.
“Wie Bist Die Gewesen Vor Prohibition?” This song’s title is pronounced “Vee Biss Dee Ge-VAY-zin For Prohibishn.” It means "Where Were You Before Prohibition?" Clarinet hero Naftule Brandwein originally recorded it in 1924.
“If You Love Me”- This song was composed by Ben Schenck for his New Orleans Recreation Department summer day camp kids.
“Lihnida Kajce Veslase”- This song’s title is pronounced “Likh-NEE-da KAI-chey Vez-LA-zhay.” It means "Lihnida Rows Her Boat." Patrick Farrell learned this song from his accordion mentor Goran Alachki in Skopje, Macedonia. The song tells the story of poor Lihnida who, after her lover has died, goes rowing out on Lake Ohrid. The song was composed by Efto Pupinoski and won first place at the 1985 Folk Fest Valandovo, the largest annual folk song competition in Macedonia.
“Renee”- The Panorama Brass Band takes a turn with this number, a favorite of ours featured on the jazz band's 2003 CD Another Hot Night in February. Here we cross fade from a Mardi Gras Day (2005) field recording into a studio take done three days later.