Alison Welles and Geoff Goodman’s Songs of Charles Ives and Other American Songs (2001) Musikverlag H. Burger and M. Müller with Bill Elgart and Henning Sieverts

In 2001, Alison Welles and Geoff Goodman released Songs of Charles Ives and Other American Songs, a collection of songs featuring Welles on vocals and Goodman on guitar and electric mandolin released on the Musikverlag H. Burger & M. Müller label. The two native New Yorkers are joined by Berlin-born bassist Henning Sieverts on one track and American expatriate drummer Bill Elgart from Massachusetts on a pair of cuts.

Alison Welles and Geoff Goodman - Songs of Charles Ives and Other American Songs (2000) Musikverlag H. Burger & M. Muller
Alison Welles and Geoff Goodman – Songs of Charles Ives and Other American Songs (2001) Musikverlag H. Burger & M. Müller

More than half of the albums tracks are dedicated to the legendary composer Charles Ives of Danbury, Connecticut, including “The Housatonic at Stockbridge,” “The Things our Father Loved,” “The Cage,” “Like a Sick Eagle,” “At the River,” “Down East,” and “Thoreau.” Another three pieces are by Stephen Foster, a composer Charles Ives is well known to have greatly admired. They include “Beautiful Dreamer,” “Ah! May the Red Rose Live Away,” and “Oh! Susanna.” Geoff Goodman contributes a composition, “One For Rollo,” as well. A traditional American song, “The Little Horse” and George Frederick Root’s “The Battle Cry of Freedom” round out the album.

Alison Welles and Geoff Goodman - Songs of Charles Ives and Other American Songs (2000) Musikverlag H. Burger & M. Muller back
Alison Welles and Geoff Goodman – Songs of Charles Ives and Other American Songs (2001) Musikverlag H. Burger & M. Müller back

In the liner notes in the booklet that accompanies the CD release, Marty Cook comments on the importance of composer Charles Ives:

…[H]e explored the uses of atonality, polytonality, polymetric approaches, quarter-tone melody and harmony, chance, improvisation, unconventional uses of instruments, the placing of musicians in different acoustic positions–virtually all the innovations which have come to symbolize 20th century classical music. He conducted these innovations in obscurity, far from and unaware of the musical revolution that was smoldering in the European cultural centers of the early 1900’s. 

A video for “The Battle Cry of Freedom,” written by composer George Frederick Root of Sheffield, Massachusetts in 1862, is a free interpretation of one of Charles Ives’ favorite quotes and features Alison Welles on vocals, Geoff Goodman on electric guitar, and Bill Elgart on drums is on YouTube:

The album was recorded 26-27 February 2000 at Charisma Ton Studio in Munich, Germany, produced by Harald Burger and Martin Müller. All tracks were arranged by Goodman except “Beautiful Dreamer,” “The Little Horses,” and “Oh! Susanna,” which was arranged by both Alison Welles and Geoff Goodman.

Geoff Goodman and Alison Welles circa 2001 (photo from http://www.alisonwelles.de)
Geoff Goodman and Alison Welles circa 2001 (photo from www.alisonwelles.de)

Author Marty Cook on the third track, “Thoreau”:

Goodman’s guitar distortions well reflect Thoreau’s transcendental “vibratory hums” in Ives’ “Thoreau.” The bass line and drums lend a bluesy counterpoint to Welles’ freely-stretched-out interpretation. The introductory text is taken from Thoreau’s “Walden” while the sung lines are by Ives.

A video for “Thoreau” showcases Goodman on guitar, Welles on vocals, Elgart on drums, and Henning Sieverts on bass:

At this time, this pair of tracks seems to be the only album cuts found on YouTube. The CD is currently available at www.musikverlag-burger-mueller.de.

Geoff Goodman and Alison Welles from Songs of Charles Ives and Other American Songs (2000) Musikverlag H. Burger & M. Muller
Geoff Goodman and Alison Welles from Songs of Charles Ives and Other American Songs (2001) Musikverlag H. Burger & M. Müller CD booklet

More from the Musicians

Two years after Songs of Charles Ives and Other American Songs, Geoff Goodman and Bill Elgart appeared on the Zollsound Chamber Orchestra’s Songs Close To Silence album.

Zollsound Chamber Orchestra – Songs Closer To Silence (2002) Enja Records
Zollsound Chamber Orchestra – Songs Closer To Silence (2002) Enja Records

The album is available in CD from Enja Records.

Geoff Goodman’s Curiosities of Nature

In 2011, Geoff Goodman and Bill Elgart joined Henning Sieverts for Goodman’s Jazz + Haiku album. The release by Goodman’s Curiosities of Nature ensemble features Till Martin on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Albanian singer Fjoralba Turku on vocals, Japanese artist Kiyomi reciting the haikus in her native language, along with Goodman on guitar, Elgart on drums, and Sieverts on bass.

Geoff Goodman - Jazz +Haiku (2011) Double Moon Records
Geoff Goodman – Jazz +Haiku (2011) Double Moon Records

Geoff Goodman also recites haikus in English on the Double Moon Records’ album currently available in CD and digital format.

A live, extended version of “Bamboo Children” by Geoff Goodman’s Curiosities of Nature in May 2011 includes all the same musicians on Jazz + Haiku except Till Martin, who is replaced on saxophone by Ulrich Wangenheim:

Five tracks from Jazz + Haiku are located at Geoff Goodman’s MySpace.com site including: “The Holes,” “Short Night,” “Sound of the Wind,” “Monkey’s Raincoat,” and a new version of “Bamboo Children.”

the Jazz + Haiku players including Till Martin, Henning Sieverts, Geoff Goodman, Fjoralba Turku, Kiyomi, and Bill Elgart (photo by Ssirus Pakzad))
the Jazz + Haiku players including Till Martin, Henning Sieverts, Geoff Goodman, Fjoralba Turku, Kiyomi, and Bill Elgart (photo by Ssirus Pakzad))

Click the band photo to access these haikus performed by Till Martin, Henning Sieverts, Geoff Goodman, Fjoralba Turku, Kiyomi, and Bill Elgart.

A closer look at this album and an interview with Goodman that showcases a number of highlights from his career in music including Jazz + Haiku are also found on this site.

“Fifth Chromosome,” a haiku not found on the album, was performed live in March 2012.

Fifth Chromosome

“a door of grass

a residence changes for a time

a house of dolls


the first melon

shall it be cut crosswise

or in round slices


from this day on

dew will erase

the writing on my hat


cotton-beat boll

as soothing as a lute

behind the bamboo


a sky lark sings

the pheasant’s voice

is the instrumental music


red more red

in spite of the indifferent sun

an autumn breeze


dew drips drops

water to rinse away

the dust of this world”

A video of Geoff Goodman’s “Fifth Chromosome,” with all the same musicians on Jazz + Haiku except Fjoralba Turku, and Henning Sieverts, who is replaced on bass by Andreas Kurz, is on YouTube:

Peter Fulda Trio’s The Nightmind featuring Bill Elgart and Henning Sieverts

Less than two years after recording Songs of Charles Ives and Other American Songs with Alison Welles and Geoff Goodman, Bill Elgart and Henning Sieverts joined a trio fronted by Peter Fulda to record The Nightmind. 

Peter Fulda Trio - The Nightmind (2002) JAZZ 'n' ARTS
Peter Fulda Trio – The Nightmind (2002) JAZZ ‘n’ ARTS RECORDS

The album released by JAZZ’n’ARTS RECORDS is currently available in CD and as a digital download. A profile of The Nightmind on this site has live versions of three album cuts.

A live performance of “Bilboko Argiaka,” a track from the album that features Bill Elgart on drums, Henning Sieverts on bass, and Peter Fulda on piano, is on YouTube:

Alison Welles’ You’re Something CD Out Now

Vocalist Alison Welles studied in New York, getting a B.A. from SUNY Binghamton in 1975 before receiving a Masters of Music from the Manhattan School of Music in 1980. In 1990, she was awarded a Music Stipendeum for Interpretative Arts in Munich.

Alison Welles (photo from her website)

Welles has performed at legendary venues in New York, such as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and Merkin Concert Hall, as well as in Germany where she has been active in festivals and clubs all over the country in addition to appearing in Austria and Switzerland.

Alison Welles - You're Something
Alison Welles – You’re Something

The title track of Alison Welles latest release, You’re Something, an homage to the songwriters and lyricists of the 1960s and 1970s featuring Josef Ressle, Jürgen Junggeburth, and Sascha Gotowtschikow, is on SoundCloud, along with three other album cuts.

Links for the four tracks are also at Welles’ website. Click HERE.

Exclusive: New Track from Upcoming 2015 Goodman-Bordenave Quintet Album Inverted Forest

Geoff Goodman is now in the process of mixing tracks for an upcoming fall 2015 release by the Goodman-Bordenave Quintet, Inverted Forest.

Goodman-Bordenave Quintet - Inverted Forest (2015) Double Moon Records
Goodman-Bordenave Quintet – Inverted Forest (2015) Double Moon Records

The group is composed of Matthieu Bordenave on saxophone, Gerhard Gschlößl on trombone, Bastian Jütte on drums, Andreas Kurz on bass, and Geoff Goodman on guitar.

Goodman has graciously agreed to share an earlier look at “Here We Are Now,” a track scheduled for the new album, Inverted Forest:

Visit http://www.geoffgoodman.com for the most up-to-date performance and release information.

This article initially appeared 13 October 2014 on http://hapsnowswhirlwinds.com, which spawned Bill’s Blue Note as well as sister site http://the6thdimension.com.

Author: Formosa Coweater

writer based in the Pacific Rim

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