Thursday, December 3, 2009
One of the most unique and enjoyable music projects we've worked on this year was an album for longtime Friends Of Coupe Nancy Thorwardson and Patrick Cullie. Their collaboration (engineered by our own John McVey) finds them playing ukuleles - bringing new life to some classic songs and to two of Nancy's originals. Here's a review of Nancy's solo album and the Gadzukes! project from Dirty Linen Magazine:
"When you’re involved with two groups and tight-knit with several others, why not leverage that when making a record? Colorado singer/songwriter Nancy Thorwardson did just that, enlisting various groups and pals (approximately 22 musicians) for a helluva panoramic, all-original platter. With Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams, it’s zippity-slick Western swing and honky-tonk shuffles; with the Idaho-based bluegrass aggregation Brother Mule, there are Western tunes suitable for riding the range.
With Swing State, it’s acoustic swing featuring Greg Schochet’s jazzy guitar riffs and Bill Pontarelli’s stylish Dixieland clarinet solos. But wait, there’s more — lush, gospel harmonies with the Wagon Tongues; piano-tinkling, loungy jazz with Sorrento Connection; and more acoustic swing, albeit ukulele style, with the play-on-words christened uke band Gadzukes! In addition to her warm vocals, Thorwardson’s sonic craft shines brightly on “Jingle Bobs” and “Easy Love.” Both feature counterparts in which Thorwardson and a duet partner (Patty Clayton and Ben Winship, respectively) simultaneously sing two distinct melody lines for a good portion of the tune. Not an easy feat to pull off, but when it works, the results are truly breathtaking, as they are here.
Apparently, Thorwardson and Gadzukes! had a grand time in the studio, because it didn’t take the ukulele swing ensemble long to knock out its debut recording. The group is centered on two ukulele players: Thorwardson, who strums and sings in a pleasant, full voice, and Patrick Cullie, who handles the tasteful, nimble-fingered leads. Also featured are steel guitarist Bret Billings (Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams) and the aforementioned Pontarelli. Though two songs from Thorwardson’s solo CD appear here, the other 14 tracks range from pop and vintage jazz to cowboy Western and Westernswing standards, a wonderfully sunny assortment. Undoubtedly the dreamiest of all is “Till There Was You,” from the 1957 motion picture The Music Man. Interestingly, a few years later (1964), it was also George Harrison’s first recorded ukulele solo as a Beatle. Considering that the ukulele is indigenous to Hawaiian music, Gadzukes! doesn’t overplay the aloha card, but in the rare moment that is showcases the connection, as in the case of the perky original “Hapa Hoele Swing,” it trumps everything."
— Dan Willging (Denver, CO) Dirty Linen Magazine #145