Ljova and the Kontraband | No Refund On Flowers

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World: Eastern European Classical: Chamber Music Moods: Mood: Dreamy
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No Refund On Flowers

by Ljova and the Kontraband

“No Refund on Flowers” is akin to a family album. It includes pieces I wrote for our sons Benjy & Yosi, a song with a translation written by my grandfather Lev Ginzburg, and a song for our number one fan, Sam.
Genre: World: Eastern European
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Sam I Am
4:58 $0.99
2. The Blaine Game
3:13 $0.99
3. Black Is the Color
4:45 $0.99
4. Yossik's Lullaby
4:22 $0.99
5. Mad Sketchbook
3:00 $0.99
6. By the Campfire
4:52 $0.99
7. Benjy Bee
2:21 $0.99
8. Mahlerstraße
3:27 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
“No Refund on Flowers” is akin to a family album. It includes pieces I wrote for our sons Benjy & Yosi, a song with a translation written by my grandfather Lev Ginzburg (later translated by my wife, Inna Barmash, who also sings), and a song for our number one fan, the late Leroy “Sam” Parkins, a long-time record producer, engineer and clarinettist.

Unlike our debut CD, “Mnemosyne“, which had several special guests and brought together music from several film & dance scores, here you can hear the band on its own — there were minimal overdubs and very little reverb. Most of it is dry, raw, intimate, as if you were with us in the studio.

We recorded the album at The Bunker in Brooklyn with Aaron Nevezie, mixed it on the Lower East Side with Shahzad Ismaily, and mastered at Total Sonic with Steven Berson (my fourth album with Steve). The cover photo was by the Minneapolis-based Craig VanDerSchaegen, whom I met online about 15 years ago through the Zorn-List discussion group, and the CD & Vinyl was designed by Glenda Morahan at Boulevard studio in Santa Fe, Argentina, also our fourth collaboration with Glenda.

A few words about each individual track:

SAM I AM Leroy “Sam” Parkins was a young man of about 80 when I met him at a concert on the Upper West Side. He was a saxophonist & clarinettist, a composer, producer & recording engineer, who worked in New York during the golden age, and had an encyclopedic knowledge of history, music and the people behind it. Even in his 80s, he was hard at work at his book “Journey to Bohemia”, writing music, playing his clarinet with the Gotham Jazzmen and riding his bicycle in the park. Sam was the most gentle soul and our loyal fan – he would be at our every gig, most often with his first wife, Alta Ann, and attended recording sessions for our debut album. In the last year of his life, he acquired an old Buffet “A” Clarinet, which he played as much as he could — when we play “Sam I Am”, I often try to imagine Sam sitting in with us, taking a solo mid-way. We miss him dearly.

THE BLAINE GAME was written at Blackberry House, formerly a delicious coffee shop in Blaine, Washington, five minutes walk from the border with Canada. I was in Blaine to teach at the Blaine Jazz Festival, and had a fair amount of free time, some of which I’d spend on the porch at Blackberry House, drinking a bottomless cup of coffee.

BLACK IS THE COLOR is an American folk song, with a contemporary melody by the giant balladeer John Jacob Niles. As many classically trained musicians, I came first across this song in a collection of “Folk Songs”, arranged by Luciano Berio for his wife, Cathy Berberian.

YOSSIK’S LULLABY was originally meant as a generous epilogue to another tune, “Middle Village“, but the combination of tunes seemed too long in concert, thus it became its own piece. I hummed this melody to our youngest son, Yosi, minutes after he was born.

MAD SKETCHBOOK I sketched this tune in the subway, and it’s meant to be a musical equivalent of someone double-jointed, or where a note can be both an upbeat and a downbeat. The second half of this tune just flies away as fast as possible.

BY THE CAMPFIRE is a song in Russian that has an interesting history — its original text is in ancient German, written by Hugo Primas, a Goliard bard in the 12th century, and translated into Russian by my grandfather, Lev Ginzburg, as part of an anthology culling together ten centuries of German poetry. What’s incredibly striking about this poem is how timeless it is today, even to the last line. (Translation inside CD booklet.)

BENJY BEE is for our older son, Benjy, written when he was about two weeks old. We knew then that he was a dancer and a joker, and this piece still fits him — though his infant clothes don’t.

MAHLERSTRAßE refers to a tiny street in Vienna, Austria, and to its ghost, the composer Gustav Mahler. As a child, I grew up listening to my father’s vinyl records in Moscow, particularly of Bernstein’s version of Mahler’s Seventh. For me, as for Mahler, the whole world was in those symphonies, each movement like a season.



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