Jill Rogoff | Across the Narrow Seas

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Folk: Traditional Folk Folk: British Folk Moods: Type: Vocal
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Across the Narrow Seas

by Jill Rogoff

Traditional Scots and Irish songs, poems and contemporary songs interwoven into a gentle, flowing experience of another time.
Genre: Folk: Traditional Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Golden Vanity
6:26 $0.99
2. The Gartan Mother's Lullaby
3:53 $0.99
3. The Three Fishers
3:26 $0.99
4. Far Over the Forth
3:52 $0.99
5. Through the Night
3:35 $0.99
6. Johnny and Molly
3:16 $0.99
7. The King of the Pipers
4:03 $0.99
8. If I Were a Blackbird
5:03 $0.99
9. Willie's Rare
3:26 $0.99
10. The Conflict
4:25 $0.99
11. The Union
2:55 $0.99
12. She's Like the Swallow
5:01 $0.99
13. Across the Narrow Seas
5:26 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Whether accompanying herself on guitar and lap-harp or singing a cappella, Jill Rogoff brings to her audiences a rich tradition of music from around the world. Originally from New Zealand, she currently lives in Jerusalem, and has mined the musical heritage of many cultures. Her repertoire embraces traditional Celtic and British Isles songs, Jewish music from many communities, medieval and Renaissance songs, and contemporary material that also includes her own songs and poem-settings in various languages.

For many years, Jill has appeared at the Jacob's Ladder Folk Festival, the national folk-music event in Israel and the Abu-Ghosh Vocal Festival, and has featured on several different programs on Israel National Radio, and radio shows in North America and Great Britain. While she usually sings solo, she has sung with many musicians in Israel and in Great Britain; in 2004, she began collaborations with various musicians in Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Her tours in the United States of America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand have all been highly successful.

In 1998 Jill sang Schubert lieder in a series of concerts in Israel, and has continued her classical music studies with Judi Axelrod, Neil Jenkins, Philip Griffin, Evelyn Tubb and Anthony Rooley of the Consort of Musicke, Poppy Holden and Margaret Peckham. Her study of early music has continued with participation in international workshops with members of The Dufay Collective, Vivien Ellis, Sirinu, Shira Kammen, members of the The Boston Camerata, Marcin Bornus-Szczycinski and Oswald Hebermehl.

Having completed two years of Ladino study, Jill is now exploring the world of Sephardi romansas (old ballads), which she hopes to record in the future. She is already incorporating the completed editions in her concerts. An album of new love songs in Ladino -- on which Jill sings five tracks -- was released in Israel in 2002, to international acclaim. Di Ke No Es Tadre [Say It's Not Too Late] features poems by Matilda Koén-Sarano set to music by Avraham Reuveni.

Jill was a founding member of the IFS, the national folk music association in Israel. She has been editor of its monthly publication, FolkNotes and continues to write for it. In 2002, she helped form Nevel: The Jerusalem Harp Network.

excerpts from reviewers' comments

"Her performance...was another world... here the high standard - a wondrous experience... -- was [achieved] precisely because of the restraint, the intimacy, the spare approach. Rogoff has a voice that caresses; and accompanying herself on lap harp and guitars, she introduced the folk-music tradition of the British Isles (in English and several forms of Gaelic) with a long and delightful flow of humanity and gentleness..." [Haggai Hitron (translation from the Hebrew), Ha'aretz, 2002]

"Jill Rogoff delighted her listeners with songs from Israel and all over the world... Her clear soprano voice persuaded with its charming unobstrusiveness and is evidence of her extremely sensitive interpretative abilities: with soft vibrato and skilfully used variations and enrichments of voice, she enticed her guests to listen curiously to the almost forgotten, mysterious chants of old times... She maintained friendly eye-contact with the audience, as if she were singing for everyone personally." [Julianne Martin (translation from the German), Marburger Neue Zeitung, 2003]

"It takes a very special talent... to perform unplugged in a language no-one of the... audience will understand, and still command attention such that you could hear a pin drop... It takes a special person who can be in full feeling of a Scots Gaelic mourning song just as some fool's cell phone begins to ring relentlessly and to keep going without skipping a beat... Jill Rogoff was that very special person during her recent performance at Yad HaShmona to a sold-out house. It was a lovingly selected series of ...British Isles songs...While her never-forced and flowing voice is her forte, her exquisite lap harp has become her constant companion... a fine complement to the music... The arrangements were well thought out and enhanced by her ringing finger cymbals ... and gentle drumming ... It was a fine hour far from the maddening world at large." [Folk Notes, Israel, September 2002]

"A major part of Jill's success with her audience is the delightful way she tells the story behind each ... song... Her gentle sense of humor relaxed the room... Has anyone described Jill lately as 'a singer of songs of the British Isles'? One who does so has not kept up with her ever-expanding repertoire, in which Ladino now figures prominently... I have had the pleasure of listening to Jill's exquisite and compelling voice for some fifteen years, during which she has honed and developed that voice to heights that [it is] no exaggeration to describe as celestial. We are all of us fortunate to have this rose in our little garden, where sometimes the briars seem all too many." [Folk Notes, Israel, February 2002]

"Rogoff has a gorgeous voice and a lovely stage personality." [The Jerusalem Post, 1998]

"...it was folksinger Jill Rogoff who really stole the show." [The Jerusalem Post, 1993]

"Folk music can make one laugh, clap and sing out loud, but it may be just as likely to mesmerize an audience with quiet, evocative song. This is just what happened with Jill Rogoff's new program of folk music." [Folk Notes, Israel, March 1990]

Jill's solo albums:

Across the Narrow Seas (JR 003)

"The essential thing about Jill Rogoff is her voice, an instrument of great purity. She often turns in performances that are quietly stunning in their own understated way... a quietly uplifting experience." -- John O'Regan, broadcaster, Ireland

"...a beautiful CD. Lovely recorded sound. Jill Rogoff's voice is very clear and every word makes its mark." -- Sean Day-Lewis,writer, U.K.

"Jill Rogoff's latest recording is pure magic. She gets better all the time. Her voice has a purity of sound which remains in the ear like a fine high bell... the a cappella singing is wonderful." -- Helen McNeish, journalist, New Zealand

"...this marriage of talent and cultural tradition is absolutely golden... a musical pot o' gold..." -- Tribune, USA

"I think the whole CD is musically fine, and [her] voice is very beautiful. Particular favourites are The Golden Vanity... The Three Fishers which I first heard Joan Baez sing live in Manchester many years ago but I think [this] version is subtler and more complex musically, The Conflict, a poem I know from a collection of poetry of the Thirties and which applies to all such conflicts, She's Like the Swallow for its sheer beauty, and the title track itself for its sentiments. [She] convey[s] a lot of sweet feeling in [her] work, and that is something I appreciate... a fresh and different musical experience." -- A.S.K.

Review by Marc Gittelson, Folk Notes (Israel) June 1997

"Across the Narrow Seas is Jill Rogoff's second collaboration with Mark Powell and the musicians at Meadow Farm Studio. The first (The Celtic Cradle), an album of lullabies in eight different languages, won awards from two major parenting magazines. The current recording is mainstream Anglo-Celtic repertoire; a marriage of songs from different periods and places, mostly in and around the British Isles. Like all good marriages it incorporates something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.

Starting with The Golden Vanity (old, and with as many versions as there are two syllable European countries), Jill moves from England to Ireland to Scotland using an eclectic collection of instruments (it's worth reading the insert) and her wondrous voice to bring us stories of valor, treachery, love and betrayal.

The instrumental arrangements flow in and around the songs and the one instrumental, King of the Pipers, demonstrates a lovely harmonic complementarity, with the instruments supporting rather than competing with one another. Likewise, Jill's voice has developed tremendously in the ten years that I have been listening to her and on this recording it comes through true, rich, clear and vibrant.

All thirteen cuts on this disk are a pleasure to listen to (and I should know since I played the album more than thirty times before I sat down to write this review), but some really stand out. The Conflict -- the meter of C. Day-Lewis' poem does not readily lend itself to a musical setting yet Jill's composition fits it to a 'T' and her performance brings out all of its inherent drama. If I Were a Blackbird -- the beauty of the song is particularly enhanced by Jill's delicate harp playing. Through the Night -- this is the second of Ray Scudero's songs that Jill has recorded and her performance does more than justice to his poignant lyrics and music. The Union -- this counterpoint of voice and bodhran (Irish drum) works exceptionally well and should be a source of disquiet for any Tory within hearing. Across the Narrow Seas -- it is fitting that this is the last song on this disk since anything that followed would be anti-climactic. This is the first time (to my recollection) that Jill has used other voices on her recording. It was worth waiting for, as the effect of the choir is simply outstanding.

Despite my overall satisfaction with Across the Narrow Seas, I found myself with a sense of something missing and it took me a while to realise what it was. Anyone who has ever attended one of Jill's concerts knows that, under her rather serious exterior, lurks a zany sense of humour. This album lacks zane. I suspect that this was the result of doing the album in a studio since Jill's zaniness requires an audience much in the same way that a squash ball requires a squash court. This caveat notwithstanding, Across the Narrow Seas is Jill Rogoff at her best. Those that know her music will understand just how good that is and those that don't, would be well advised to find out at their earliest convenience."

Jill's other solo albums:

The King's Well (JR 004)

" What a nice job you've done. The songs are lovely and I think you've done a particularly nice job of recording. The recorded sound is clear and right up front." -- Tom Paxton

"This is just a wonderful recording of eleven songs, mostly with words and music by Jill, the others being poems or traditional songs set by Jill to her music. It is a combination of lively music and rich poetry. The songs display a range of musical styles with medieval, Celtic, and Ladino influences and are beautifully arranged. There are songs of protest, elegies for people and places, meditations on life lessons and healing songs. The songs are personal, yet universal, with a range and depth of feeling. Some of the songs treat difficult subjects but have a grace that is redemptive. Jill's clear voice is a constant: strong and warm. Many of the songs stem from Jill's life: her childhood and youth in New Zealand, her adult life living on the edge of the desert in Jerusalem, Israel and her children.

1. The Healing Sound of Water­ One of the Healing songs, with the wise lines "I can't stay suspended in my pastּ and "the healing sound of water fills my heart".

2. Aa My Life A setting of a poem celebrating life-long love by New Zealand born, Scottish poet Sydney Goodsir Smith: "thou sall be my luve alane/Aa my life leelang".

3. La complainte de la Blanche Biche (the Lament of the White Doe) is a haunting traditional French song that reminds us of how we often unknowingly harm those we love... and... our own souls...

4. Come Again, Love One of the elegies, [this] must touch the heart of anyone who has ever waited for a loved one, not knowing if they would return safely. "Come again, love, come again/ Skim the foam safe home to me".

5. The King's Well Another lyrical and wise healing song, with exhuberant, celebratory Latin rhythms and some wonderful guitar playing: "let the ripples soothe your tension and the stones absorb the sound".

6. Time for Letting go An elegy for place and people, and the need for letting go as life moves on..."I can't go back the way I came on the river's endless flow".

7. Down the days­ A meditation on the necessity of leaving childhood behind as we move into adult life, and the difficulty of passing on life's lessons to those we would like to help.

8. The Route March­ This poem by Australian poet Henry Lawson is a protest... with the fifes and drums of war in a song for peace. The poem reminds us of the consequences of war after the pageantry that accompanies troops going off to battle.

9. Racheli A poignant and beautiful elegy in memory of a friend of Jill's daughter who was killed at a grocery store in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem.

10. A Piece of My Heart­ A love song to those we love who are far away and hold a piece of our hearts.

11. Identities­ A fierce, humorous, cultural protest song with Latin rhythms about hateful ideologies and mindless materialism, reminding us: "If you can't solve all the world's problems/ you can put the little things right/ then you will have an identity to keep you warm at night"." -- Anne Shivas

"...there is such emotional wisdom in her lyrics -- personal, yet universal!"

"A beautiful production in every respect -- from the outside cover to the last note on the inside."

"I've been playing it and playing it and playing it: it's brilliant. "

" The result is beyond anything I could have expected, and my expectations from Jill's recordings are never low. "

" Jill has truly given of her spiritual being to these songs and we are the richer for being able to hear them. I am always deeply moved when I listen to the Ladino CD and this latest one sends me down my own memory trail... "

" Jill's new cd is superb. The words are very touching; the music, as always, is wonderful. "

"It's a very gentle and personal statement that she's done. Her music is very special."

"Such a treat... I love it! It is so nice to have all her wonderful songs."

"...such a wonderful mixture. All those exquisitely sad and melting Rogoff melodies... I shall listen and listen to it..." -- Helen McNeish, journalist

The Celtic Cradle (JR 002)

winner of the NAPPA Gold Award 1995
and the Parents' Choice Silver Honour Award 1995
[originally released 1995; now digitally re-mastered, 2005]

"Celtic culture is responsible for many of the most hauntingly lovely melodies in all the world. Not surprisingly, Celtic lullabies in particular are rich with gorgeous melodies. Silver-voiced Jill Rogoff... has gathered 17 of the most striking lullabies from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall and the Isle of Man, on her compilation The Celtic Cradle. Rogoff's silken soprano and spare arrangements... enrich the songs without overpowering them - bring out the warm glow of these ancient treasures. The album features a heavenly version of the Welsh Suo Gan. Rogoff performs it unaccompanied, allowing the sweet caress of tune and words, beautiful in their foreignness, to shine unadorned." -- Moira McCormick, Billboard Magazine

"... parents will appreciate the diversity and the haunting Celtic overtones to a set of beautifully-done vocals." -- Reviewer's Bookwatch, Vol. 3 No. 2, February 1996

"This is the voice of an angel!... Jill's angelic soprano voice, coupled with her knowledge of languages, allows her to sing songs of many cultures with authenticity... Her voice is the primary instrument on the recording. Although these are lullabies, this is not a recording to put yourself to sleep. You would be doing yourself a great disservice if you miss the daydreams brought forth by these songs." -- Kyle Reese, Into the Music

"...Rogoff's hauntingly lovely voice is backed by instruments such as lap harp, uilleann pipes, guitars, mandolin and piano. Her performance has a softness and clarity that young children will appreciate. Even if you've never listened to Celtic music, this collection of soothing lullabies is a perfect way for a child (and family) to relax." -- Jill Jarnow, Sesame Street Parents, December/January 1995/96

"Jill Rogoff... possesses a clear, gentle and disarming voice perfectly suited to this varied collection..." John O'Regan, broadcaster

"...well performed, soothing and relaxing, and the instrumental background complements and adds richness to the lyrics. Excellent for calming children (and parents!)." -- Sandy Doggett, Booklist, November 1995

"It is a joy to see work as unique and fine as hers!" -- Parent's Choice, USA

"...the quality is very good and [she's] captured a mood of quiet and peace throughout." -- John Coy

"A lovely collection of... Celtic lullabies from... Jill Rogoff... possessed with a beautiful, lilting voice, and crystalline delivery..." -- Tim Tavcar, The Label, USA

"A soothing collection of long-ago lullabies with Rogoff's sterling soprano and a gorgeous array of accompanying instruments... Even a Rogoff original, Right By Your Side, is at home with the others -- and just as lovely." -- Parenting, November 1995

"The world's most breathtakingly beautiful lullabies come from the Celts, and Jill Rogoff renders the, exquisitely. Her angelwing-pure voice floats through these nighttime airs, accompanied here and there by lap harp, pipes, guitar and bodhran. All the selections are enchanting." -- Family Fun, November 1995

"Jill Rogoff has produced a new [album] that can be enjoyed equally by you and your children. The Celtic Cradle is a collection of lullabies from Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Brittany and Cornwall, most in the ancient and largely disused languages of those places.

There are also two modern lullabies, one each by Rogoff and Ray Scudero.

The songs were written -- if that word can be used for folk music -- to lull children to sleep with soothing metaphors from nature: side 2 floats mainly on the sea -- and riverside.

These haunting pieces are full of the embracing, comforting love which have been the eternal link between parent and child regardless of place. The embrace of the parent behind each lullaby is a protective one; each parent's words are shaped by his/her knowledge of the harshness and difficulties in the world beyond the home.

A collection of this sort might seem too homogeneous to sit through at one go. But Rogoff and her two back-up musicians -- Steafan Hannigan and co-producer Mark Powell -- are multi-intstrumentalists who set the atmosphere and give each number its own identity.

The nicest setting is the Manx Arrane Ny Niee, pairing Rogoff's guitar and Powell's piano in a jolly 3/4-time mood.

Rogoff plays the lap harp on several numbers, which adds to the simple yet mystical attraction of the songs; her lap harp is joined by Hannigan on flute for another Manx lullaby, Arrane Saveenagh (Slumber Song), to especially haunting effect. Hannigan -- who also plays low whistle and uillean pipes on the album -- provides the sole backing, on bodhran, for the Scottish Gille Beag O(Little Lad Oh).

On five numbers, Rogoff is unaccompanied; her voice is silky and, in the upper registers, sounds positively ethereal." -- Norm Gutharz, Folk Notes Israel, Vol. 2, No. 10, June-July 1994



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