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Eclectic Collector's Item Mixes American Folk, Jazz-Blues and Classical Originals on Invigorating Two-LP Boxed Set; "His Last Letter" (The Amsterdam Project) is Geoff Muldaur's Most Ambitious Creation to Date; Set for July 15th Release
(Published: May 04, 2022)

For Immediate Release April, 2022



Eclectic Collector's Item Mixes American Folk, Jazz-Blues and Classical Originals on Invigorating Two-LP Boxed Set



"His Last Letter" (The Amsterdam Project) is Geoff Muldaur's Most Ambitious Creation to Date; Set for July 15th Release



From Blind Lemon Jefferson to Duke Ellington, Inspirations Run the Gamut, as Muldaur Delivers a Tour De Force


"...The idea behind His Last Letter was to trace the musical influences of Muldaur's life and whether it might be Bix Beiderbecke or Jelly Roll Morton, arrange their songs for chamber music, using instruments like violin, cello, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon"



Somehow it's an understatement to describe "His Last Letter" (The Amsterdam Project) as Geoff Muldaur's most ambitious creation to date. A sweeping musical journey, presenting stylish renderings of tunes from the American folk and jazz-blues "song-bag" and newly-penned original compositions, Muldaur's two-LP boxed set, with 40-page accompanying book, is a tour de force. Set for July 15th release on Moon River Music, "His Last Letter" is a labor of love, a decade in the making, by the venerable singer, arranger, composer, guitarist.


From the opening notes of ‘Black Horse Blues', the tone is set - it's joyful, irreverent, and top shelf. On ‘Betcha I Getcha' and ‘Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You', the vibe and instrumentation take the listener on a journey into the annals of jazz. Muldaur's interpretation of Duke Ellington's ‘Lady of the Lavender Mist' is a rare treat, nostalgic and cinematic. 'The Whale Has Swallowed Me' delivers the Blues with a wink, and ‘Gold Tooth Blues' puts a country twist on Tennessee Williams' poem. 'The Frog', written for Muldaur's daughter, is a fascinating original, and evokes the soundtracks to old Looney Tunes cartoons. ‘Heavenly Grass' is beautiful and meditative, set to another of Tennessee Williams' poems. And Geoff Muldaur's Octet Movements are majestic, emotional creations - epic accomplishments amid this ambitious package... ‘Overture' is sweeping, aggressive, ear-catching, ‘His Last Letter' is a massive achievement, conveying a depth of emotion, and ‘Homage' has a gentle sweetness and delivers an elegant conclusion to the project. As referenced in a recent article below, "The Octet is a touching tribute to Muldaur's great-grandfather who served as a lieutenant commander in the Navy and was killed in 1870 when his ship was rammed and sank in Yokohama harbor. The song in the second movement is based on a love letter sent by Muldaur's great-grandfather to his wife in New Jersey the day before the accident occurred."


Watch a behind-the-scenes video, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSDAHSsq79k


The recordings, completed in Amsterdam with Dutch musicians, mastered by the great Bob Ludwig, and featuring American soprano Lady Claron McFadden on multiple tracks, will be released as a high-end package: a 2-LP boxed set with 40-page booklet which includes exclusive photos, foreword by composer David Amram, and extensive track-by-track notes and personal stories by Geoff Muldaur.

Muldaur is not only one of the great voices and musical forces to emerge from the folk, Blues and folk-rock scenes from the American East Coast, he also lived in legendary Woodstock for many years and played several Newport Folk Festivals when the Americana/folk genre was at its height. During the 1960s and '70s, he made a series of highly influential recordings as a founding member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and later with Paul Butterfield's Better Days group, as well as collaborations with then-wife Maria Muldaur and other notables, including Bonnie Raitt, Eric Von Schmidt, Dr. John, Phil Everly, Jerry Garcia and many more.


Two lengthy articles provide an articulate introduction to the project:


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

By Karl Bruckmaier, 2021

Excerpts, roughly translated from German:

This is how timelessness works today

Folk musician Geoff Muldaur has created an impeccable late oeuvre.

Apart from Johnny Cash, no musician of this generation has to offer such an impeccable late oeuvre; in Muldaur's case made possible by a patron in the background, who also endured the evolution of "His Last Letter", which took almost 10 years. Neither my watch, nor my mobile nor my computer will be able to play this opus magnum, which was created in Holland with Dutch orchestra musicians. With the arrogance of an old master, the musician, the patron and the label have decided to release the 18 pieces on vinyl only, equipped with an opulent booklet, pressed into 180g of vinyl and packaged in a visually appealing sleeve, which could survive one or two climate catastrophes.

A major label could have afforded such a lavish package for an earned exceptional artist. What, however, all the money in the word couldn't buy is the quality of the music, which catapults "His Last Letter" into a category for which the label "Album of the Year" would be an insult. We hear nothing less than a quantum leap back into the future. About two thirds of the repertoire, we know from Muldaur himself, songs by Jimmie Rogers, J.B. Lenoir or Fats Waller. The rest is ambitious composition work of a passionate, an amateur who knows how to weave a line from "Blackjack Davey" (...), a Brahms motif and undisguised admiration for Samuel Barber into a suite which has for a theme his own great-grandfather's death in Yokohama.

During his work in tribute of cornetist Bix Beiderbecke now already 20 years ago, at the time released by Deutsche Grammophon and vaporized almost unheard, Muldaur already gained experience working with academically trained musicians that appear for one, two days in the studio, do their job, slightly turn up their nose and vanish towards their next job. For "His Last Letter" he therefore chose a completely different path. He got to know the musicians during his two, three trips to Amsterdam each year, their strengths, their potential, and he started to specially write compositions and arrangements for this small, sworn in troupe.

The outcome is something that I deemed impossible until now: In my opinion, the intentional amalgamation of two musical worlds - often called fusion - leads to a loss of the respective strength of each genre. This began with the ambitious rock-classical crossovers of the late sixties, conceived to impress high school teachers, and it has not been overcome, see "Hip Hop meets Symphony Orchestra". Under the artistic direction of Muldaur, however, this sounds as if "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" or "Boll Weevil Holler" have simply taken a different evolutionary junction, as if already in 1972 the chance had arisen to keep the academic music world alive through an embrace of the various traditional and folk musics, to rescue it from ossification.

Above all, the tracks show a tremendous respect for the material, paired with a filigree delivery that has so far not been heard, and, possibly due to the mastering work of one of the grandmasters of the profession, Bob Ludwig, lifted to another level. You are left with a slight phantom pain about Bob Dylan having taken an easy, sloppy and simply cheap route to the "American Songbook" instead of being his own patron - and that of his music.

The cover of "His Last Letter" illustrates the Muldaur's approach and effect: Two views of Amsterdam - one from a 1670 painting, one a contemporary photograph - merged in pointillistic design; present and past offer a view that can only be directed towards the future. We stand astonished before this miracle of transparency and transcendence. Karl Bruckmaier



Martha's Vineyard Arts & Ideas

by Geoff Currier, 2021 Full article here: http://www.mvartsandideas.com/2021/07/geoff-muldaur-the-next-big-idea/ Excerpts below:

"...Those familiar with Geoff Muldaur may originally know him as part of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band - especially those on the Vineyard where he and the Jug Band played at the Moon-Cusser Coffee House on Circuit Ave. in the sixties. He would also live on the Island full-time during much of the seventies and the eighties.
It would be a mistake to pigeonhole Muldaur. His journey has taken him from old-timey jug band music to arranging Americana roots music using instruments like clarinet, French horn, and bassoon. He's gone from playing at the Moon-Cusser to recording chamber music with key players from the Netherlands Philharmonic. To look at Geoff Muldaur's career is to see a musician who continues to evolve.
After the Jug Band broke up in 1969, Muldaur would continue to play and record with his former wife, Maria Muldaur, with Paul Butterfield's Better Days Band, and as a solo artist. British musician Richard Thompson once said of him: "There are only three white blues singers, and Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them." It's been a long wild ride for Muldaur, so let's start at the beginning."
"...The idea behind His Last Letter was to trace the musical influences of Muldaur's life and whether it might be Bix Beiderbecke or Jelly Roll Morton, arrange their songs for chamber music, using instruments like violin, cello, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon."

"...His Last Letter pays homage to the many musicians who influenced Muldaur's life over the years - Duke Ellington, J.B. Lenoir, "Fats" Waller, Don Redman, Jimmie Rodgers, Dock Boggs, Eric von Schmidt, and more. He even provided musical settings for the poetry of Tennessee Williams.
The LP set begins with Black Horse Blues by Blind Lemon Jefferson and wends its way through the American musical song bag ... ending with Muldaur's original 20-minute "Octet in Three Movements (His Last Letter)."
The Octet is a touching tribute to Muldaur's great-grandfather who served as a lieutenant commander in the Navy and was killed in 1870 when his ship was rammed and sank in Yokohama harbor. The song in the second movement is based on a love letter sent by Muldaur's great-grandfather to his wife in New Jersey the day before the accident occurred."


Biography - from Geoff Muldaur's website:

As referenced above, Geoff Muldaur is one of the great voices and musical forces to emerge from the folk, blues and folk-rock scenes centered in Cambridge, MA and Woodstock, NY. During the 1960's and '70's, Geoff made a series of highly influential recordings as a founding member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and the Paul Butterfield's Better Days group, as well as collaborations with then-wife Maria and other notables (Bonnie Raitt, Eric Von Schmidt, Jerry Garcia, etc.).
He left the stage and recording world in the mid-1980's for a working sabbatical but continued, however, to hone his craft, albeit 'flying beneath radar'. He composed scores for film and television and produced off-beat albums for the likes of Lenny Pickett and the Borneo Horns and the Richard Greene String Quartet. Geoff's his definitive recording of "Brazil" provided the seed for - and was featured in - Terry Gilliam's film of the same title.
With his magical voice and singular approach to American music intact, Geoff once again resumed performances in concert halls, performance spaces, clubs and festivals throughout the US, Canada, Japan and Europe. Geoff may be heard from time to time as a guest on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion and has been featured on a variety of National Public Radio shows, including Weekend Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and The World with Lisa Mullins.
Geoff's prior albums, The Secret Handshake, Password, Private Astronomy and Texas Sheiks met with high critical acclaim and feature Geoff's unusually crafted interpretations of classic, oftentimes obscure, American material as well as his own unique compositions.
In addition to tours and recording, Geoff continues to apply his arranging skills to a variety of projects for albums and film. Although he is known as a musician's musician, it is clearly his voice that most identifies him. About his singing, the New York Times noted: "... his voice - reedy, quavering, otherworldly - is so unusual that [the music] he sings becomes little more than a context, a jumping-off point." And about a performance in London, The London Times wrote, "Immaculate guitar picking was matched by vocals that were rich, and bore out the guitarist, Richard Thompson's praise for him: 'There are only three white blues singers, and Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them.'"

Visit: www.geoffmuldaur.com

Visit: www.moonrivermusic.com



More Information: https://www.geoffmuldaur.com


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