Janet Dunbar

Janet Dunbar began singing and playing piano, guitar and flute at an early age back in her hometown of Tenafly, New Jersey. Her interest in composing developed out of many years of improvising in pop, folk and jazz bands and playing in classical ensembles in New Jersey, and while working in Durham, North Carolina and earning a bachelors degree at Duke University. After moving to Berkeley, California, Janet came under the influence of the various musical styles from all over the world that come together in that community.

Earning a living teaching music at Fiat Music Company in Pinole, California, she went back to school for a masters in music at San Jose State University where she studied instrumental music, voice, composition and electronic music. In 1994, on a full scholarship and teaching stipend, the composer began working on a doctorate at the world renowned Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (fondly known as CCRMA - pronounced KARMA) at Stanford. There she immersed herself in computer music and recording arts. Such noted CCRMA personalities as celletto inventor and film composer Chris Chafe, FM synthesis originator John Chowning, and audio engineer Jay Kadis influenced her creative work.

In order to finish the doctorate in composition and computer music from Stanford in 1998, Janet spent many hours in the recording studio and at the computer experimenting with audio software digital signal processing plug-ins and algorithmic composition computing environments. An Audio Engineering Society (AES) member, she now co-directs About Music, a music education company in Saratoga, California and their independent label, Amberlight Productions, with poet/drummer/guitarist, Richard Holmes.

Composer/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Janet Dunbar's new release, Spirit Journey, takes you on a trip to the imagined world of the Ancient Earth Mother, a time and place of cooperation, healing, and inspiration. Janet sings intriguing melodies, and performs flights of guitar and synthesizer improvisation passionately. The poetry, which is recited by its creators, April Eiler and Jacqueline Thurston, entrances, while the music itself spans the gamut from highly meditative environmental collages to new jazz compositions and world music inspired dance cuts. The composer interweaves an array of musical traditions in an electroacoustic tapestry of timbral contrast which suits the poetry quite well. The striking originality of Janet's compositions is also partially due to her use of computer music and recording techniques. Though the songs are very accessible, they are interesting and appealing enough to stand up to multiple listenings. Everywhere the obvious effect of the music is to calm, comfort, and recharge the soul.

Sprit Journey
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  1. Song Of The Shaman I-IV (Part I)
  2. Song Of The Sea I-X
  3. Nine Prayers I-III
  4. Life On Earth I-III
  5. Song Of The Bear I-II

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Visit Janet's Site at http://www-ccrma.stanford.edu/~jmd/


Woody Simmons

This long awaited album is a collection of Woody's banjo instrumentals recorded over a 22 year span and includes favorites from her first two albums as well as previously un-released compositions. Simmons' style, called 'easy listening banjo' music, was hailed in Frets magazine in 1978. Her album Oregon Mountains (1977) was singled out by Frets as "one of 12 landmark banjo albums of the century".

BanjoRAMA ranges from an east Indian influence to a fully orchestrated and introspective feel, to a light bluegrass touch. It truly is an eclectic collection and deserves an uninterupted listening experience to get the full impact and depth of the music.

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  1. Raga Rama
  2. Banjo Raga
  3. Firefly
  4. Ashtavakra's Tune
  5. Sally Walks The Dog
  6. Suite For Wings
  7. Trolley Car

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Woody Simmons
This self-titled album first released in 1980 contains Simmons' most pop-influenced work, as well as a taste of her guitar and banjo style on the last track. From the opening song titled 'Too Good to Be' to the heart-felt 'Who'll Save the Animals' Simmons takes us through a journey of love and compassion, with an emphasis on fun. Check out the Real Audio Sound Sample

  1. Too Good To Be
  2. It Don't Rain
  3. For All The Times
  4. Sleepin' Out
  5. Who'll Save The Animals
  6. You Are My Friend
  7. August Tides
  8. Fare Thee Well
  9. Trolley Car

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Oregon Mountains
Oregon Mountains is Woody's first album released in 1977 to rave reviews. (see above) Primarily of bluegrass influence, the album also contains some of Simmons' jazz and pop influenced music as well as two banjo instrumentals. The album's title song 'Oregon Mountains' became a favorite among Simmons fans well before the album was recorded, prompting Simmons to invite a large contingent of women to sing on the album's title song. Featured in this group are Rhiannon (Alive!, Voicestra) other members of Alive!, Nancy Vogl, who also toured with Woody in 1978, and members of the Berkeley Women's Music Collective. This is the first time 'Oregon Mountains' has been available on CD. Check out the Real Audio Sound Sample

  1. You've Got The Love
  2. Can't Say Why
  3. Feather In The Wind
  4. Banjo Raga
  5. Oregon Mountains
  6. Goin' Down South
  7. Grey Today
  8. Mockingbird
  9. Suite For Wings
  10. I'll Give It All To The Music

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Check Out Deep River Records At: HTTP://www.ewebtunes.com


Claire Roche

First Coast Entertainer, March 17th 1990 by Rick Grant
"I was writing a cynical movie review one day last week when my fourteen ninety five transistor radio suddenly came alive with an ethereal sound that grabbed me like an inexplicable force. Intrigued, I turned up the volume and was immediately captivated by a woman's unique voice - so pure and penetrating - accompanied by what sounded like a harp.

Indeed it was a Metro show coup. The lady's name is Claire Roche and she was appearing live on the air with her concert harp. Amazingly, stoic Landon Walker seemed moved by Claire Roche's artistry. Quickly, I jotted down the time and place of one of her local appearances in the area as part of the Irish Cultural Association's week of events prior to St. Patrick's Day.

The Holy Family Parish Center was an unlikely place to hear this special lady, amid the clamor of a bawdy Irish celebration. However, I was smitten, and was on a 'holy' mission to experience this lady's music live. Frankly, I'm not moved by most music I hear - except Wolfy, or Ludwig Van, of course! So when I get emotionally excited by an artist it is indeed a special event to behold.

While the attendees prepared to party in the green tradition, I met with Claire in a side room for a charming tête-à-tête. Claire is a classy lady with sparkling eyes registering the savvy of someone who is devoted to her art. She was wearing a hand made antique dress of the early nineteenth hundreds vintage, creating a strange out-of-time deja vu during our conversation.

"I learned to play the harp in a convent school in Dublin. I was twelve at the time and it was an Irish harp, which is smaller than a concert harp. I was encouraged by my teachers to pursue a career in music. However, I was more fascinated by poetry, and music was a sideline for my own enjoyment. Later, I attended Trinity College in Dublin and met W.B. Yeats' son who heard my music and gave me permission to put his late father's poetry to music. I started performing small concerts and recitals and the offers to continue started pouring in until eventually I was performing as a full time profession."

"Although I perform all over the world, I'm insulated from the formal musical world and other harp virtuosos. My act is unique in the business. But I have sought the counsel of classical harpists who encourage me not to change. My voice is my strength as an artist and people seem to react very favorably to it. In the entertainment business, there is room for everyone, and I do this because I'm dedicated to expressing my artistic commitment to poetry and music. I am very happy to be performing where ever I can find audiences."

"However, I do have an agent in Boston and I book quite a few of my own gigs. My schedule is hectic, especially around St. Patrick's Day. And I've performed concerts all over Ireland, Germany, and the United States." Claire said.

Obviously, Claire is a lady who has found peace with herself and is emotionally bonded to her art. It is that rare emotional commitment that I look for when I review a music artist or an actor's performance in live theatre or films. It is the X-factor that separates them from the other competent artists. But, individually, Claire exceeds that factor. Indeed, she is in touch with universal forces - a receptor, as it were - to receiving and transmitting an inexplicable force to her audience through her remarkable voice and harp playing. Overall the whole experience is mystical - haunting, and very moving.

The scene under the cafeteria-like glare of the church hall lights was loud and noisy, but good natured. Wisely, the ICA had provided a decent sound system managed by a legitimate company. Alas, the company was having problems with the set up. Fortunately they got it straightened out for Claire's two sets.

After the Irish musicians performed and the Irish dancers adroitly danced the traditional dances, Claire went on despite the lack of proper atmosphere for her sensitive artistry. Of course, she's a pro and handled the Spartan milieu with finesse and style. Judging by her cool poise amid the confusion, Claire has played many of these Irish church hall soirees. Claire's two sets were a blend of traditional ballads mixed with her inspirational Yeats adaptations that soar on the wings of mystical imagery. "I have spread my dreams under your feet..., Yeats wrote not realising that years later his richly imaginative poetry would be interpreted by this lady with the voice of the angels who possess the power of the force of love. Claire Roche truly "dances on the wind".

Visit Claire's Site at http://www.claireroche.com

Dancing In The Wind
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  1. To A Child Dancing In The Wind
  2. The Song Of Wandering Aengus
  3. The Lake Isle Of Inisfree
  4. When You Are Old
  5. The Stolen Child
  6. He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven
  7. The Fisherman
  8. The Sad Shepherd
  9. Down By The Salley Gardens

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Lee Ellen Shoemaker

What Is "Tunnel Singing?"
For thousands of years people found or created resonant spaces to chant and sound their music. I search for places with long reverberations and sing my inner songs.

Lee Ellen Shoemaker is The Tunnel Singer, a San Francisco-based performance artist and vocalist. Singing in spaces with long natural reverberation has been Shoemaker's passion since childhood. Born in Kokomo, Indiana in 1936, Shoemaker's mother and father sang to her and taught her to harmonize with them. She enjoyed singing and playing the family piano, but resisted learning to read music or practice scales. She loved to improvise.

She remembers listening to classical music on the floor-model Philco radio, but especially enjoyed tuning in the unusual sounds on short-wave bands between stations. Her mother reports that as a toddler she sang with the drone of the vacuum cleaner whenever it ran.

Night Skies
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This is a wonderful followup to Lee's 1999 release, 'Water Birth' , also reviewed in AMP. Night Skies is recorded in a U-shaped tunnel, a World War One mortar magazine at Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington. Shoemaker incorporates voice, a Tibetan singing bowl and a 'Moon harp' to create unusual, shimmering songs with magical reverberations, and succeeds admirably. In Lee's own words, "I am absolutely incapable of singing the same thing twice. My singing is a kind of spiritual quest. For thousands of years, people either have found or created resonant spaces to chant or sound their music. I search for places with long reverberations."

Lee experiments with her voice, exploring it as an instrument, pioneering new possibilities for vocal music. She creates melodies in cavernous spaces that seem to float out of a drone. Karlheinz Stockhausen did something similar in his austere `Stimmung,' but Ms. Shoemaker's drones are luxurious and enveloping....The music basks in consonance, finding utopia in its drones. I find 'Night Skies' at once meditative, seemingly spontaneous in design, and carefully deliberated, the album plays like an introspective sojourn, of intimate and epic proportions. The composition, 'Cassiopeia' is a brilliant example.

This album is yet another fascinating, very pleasurable exploration into the musical universe of the 'Tunnel Singer'. If you fell under the spell of 'Water Birth', Lee's last release, as I did, you will also be mesmerized and transported by 'Night Skies'. Shoemaker's compelling voice has such beauty and power that once heard, ...it is never forgotten.
Review by Ben Kettlewell....Alternative Press

Song Listing

  1. Cygnus Olor 4:23
  2. Cassiopeia 9:06
  3. Orleda 3:50
  4. Corona Borealis 4:56
  5. Rima 5:45
  6. Lyra 7:12
  7. Corvus 4:06
  8. Carina 4:23
  9. Vela 3:26
  10. Eridanus
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Water Birth
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I am very fond of overtone singing, and atmospheric music in general. This new album by Lee Ellen Shoemaker is one of the most original and refreshing that I have ever heard. Recorded using an empty 2-million gallon cistern at old Fort Worden in Port Townsend, Washington. The concrete cistern, sometimes called "The Cistern Chapel," is profoundly silent until sound awakens its 45-second reverberation...a reverberation nearly twice as long as the Taj Mahal's. Falling grains of sand, water droplets, bird songs and the drone of planes and insects add subtle texture to the incredible ambience.

Lee Ellen's music utilizes vocal improvisation to unify random sounds, creating instruments of music from tunnels, stairwells and parking garages that are hauntingly beautiful. She embraces a tonal language of emotional content that is universally understood. Her powerful vocals interwoven with intimacy and warmth, take the listener on a timeless musical journey.

Groups like Jim Cole & The Spectral Voices, David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir, Stewart Dempster and Pauline Oliveros have, through fresh interpretations, brought attention to this ancient form of vocalization. The sounds seem to vibrate endlessly and soar to the heavens.

The thirteen compositions on "Water Birth" slowly evolve like a wordless mantra, suggesting an underwater environment of sea creatures, slow undulation of underwater plants and inner space, with echoing voices cascading against each harmonic overtone to produce a giant modulating chord. The album is excellently recorded, beautifully presented, and divinely inspired. This is a unique listening experience that will take you on a trance-like journey to your inner self. Highly recommended.
---Review by Ben Kettlewell, Editor Alternate Music Press

Song Listing

  1. Ojibway 7:47
  2. Remberance 6:32
  3. Ascending 3:33
  4. Secrets 5:44
  5. Ellisella 5:13
  6. Raven Shanties 3:31
  7. Lost 4:05
  8. Sea Stars 1:51
  9. Reflections 2:44
  10. Sargasso Sea 4:04
  11. Seasiren's Tears 2:49
  12. Saint Elmo's Promise
Released late July 1999, this new solo album is recorded live in a two million-gallon underground cistern. The 45-second reverberation is uniquely sculpted by the eighty-eight pillars supporting the roof of the structure which is sometimes called, The Cistern Chapel. Falling grains of sand, water droplets, bird songs and the drone of planes and insects add subtle texture to the incredible ambience. The long, enchanting reverberation is natural and has not been electronically enhanced.

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