Mother Goose's Melodies – New Interpretations by Fumio Yasuda and Theo BleckmannAdults love nursery rhymes
Fumio Yasuda and Theo Bleckmann have put new faces on the world famous songs of Mother Goose. Mother Goose (published for the first time by Charles Perrault under the French title »Contes de ma mère l’Oye« in the late 17th century) is a literary character of nursery rhymes and fairy tales, which are specially but not only known in the United States and the Commonwealth countries in the present time. Often Mother Goose is portrayed as an old woman farmer or as a goose with a cap. The Mother Goose's Melodies are entertaining, humorous verses, learning rhymes, and sometimes even nonsensical poems for children and adults. Like the Brothers Grimm Charles Perrault has collected and documented this oral tradition of poetry and his work has made it possible that the Mother Goose songs are still amazingly popular three hundred years later in the 21st century. It is incredible how many pop musicians were inspired to adapt or sing a Mother Goose song. Just to name a few: Paul McCartney and Wings play »Mary Had A Little Lamb«, the blues legend Lead Belly sings »Blue Tail Fly«, Judy Garland performs »Skip To My Lou«, Johnny Cash »Camptown Races«, Mae Questel as Betty Bebop »Polly Wolly Doodle«. But also classical composers were fascinated by Mother Goose, Mozart composed twelve variations on »Ah vous dirai-je, Maman« (»Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star«).
The producers Mariko Takahashi and Stefan Winter have had for many years the wish to record new and colourful versions of Mother Goose's Melodies. Mariko Takahashi spent her childhood in Australia surrounded by sounds of Mother Goose songs, and Stefan Winter was fascinated by Hal Wilner's »Stay Awake«, an album featuring music from Walt Disney cartoons. The idea was born to create a totally new album with various interpretations of songs like »Tom, Tom, The Piper's Son« for adults. The album »Mother Goose's Melodies« is a tribute to Mother Goose and to remember the great Dan Leno (1860 – 1904), who was a very famous actor, singer, clog dancer and pantomime in England. Mother Goose turned out to be one of the most challenging roles of Dan Leno's career. He slipped into the roles of the same woman in several different guises. The ugly, unkempt and poor Mother Goose eventually became a rich and beautiful but tasteless parvenu, searching for a suitor. The Japanese painter Mikiko Fujita adapted for the front cover an image of Dan Leno as Mother Goose.
Stefan Winter asked the composer and pianist Fumio Yasuda to adapt and arrange these nursery rhymes for a carefully selected ensemble around the voice of Theo Bleckmann. The primary idea was to create a record with quite different musical influences performed by one group of musicians. Yasuda and Bleckmann have already worked together many times (»Kastanienball«, »Las Vegas Rhapsody«, »Schumann’s Favored Bar Songs«, »Berlin: Songs of Love and War, Peace and Exile«). For the album »Mother Goose’s Melodies« special talented players – running the gamut from jazz to pop to experimental and new classical music – were selected. A group of excellent musicians came together: Caleb Burhans [violin, viola, guitar] who can also be heard on »Hello Earth! – The Music of Kate Bush«; Bohdan Hilash [woodwinds] who has worked with Meredith Monk, Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta and Leonard Slatkin; Rubin Kodheli [cello] from the avant-rock band Blues In Space; Drew Gress [bass] who can also be heard within the ensembles of John Abercrombie, Don Byron, Uri Caine, Ravi Coltrane, Mark Feldman, John Hollenbeck, Tony Malaby, and John Surman; John Hollenbeck [drums, percussion], leader of the wonderful John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble; Akimuse [vocals] known as a Japanese song writer and singer who also performed with Fumio Yasuda; and last but not least Jo Lawry [vocals, violin], a member of Sting’s Back To Bass Tour in 2012.
»Blue Tail Fly« is arranged like a music piece for a TV series, »Mary Had A Little Lamb« like an American country pop song, »Three Blind Mice« like a drum- and rhythm-oriented composition with electric guitar and organ sounds, »Sing A Song Of Sixpence« turns into a duet which could play in an old black and white movie, and »Hush-A-Bye Baby« plays in the style of a song from a Broadway musical. Each song has its very own character. Sixteen Mother Goose melodies wear new musical clothes. Béla Bartók dances like Rumpelstiltskin »... 'Round The Mulberry Bush«, »Tom, Tom, The Piper's Son« turns into a sweeping a-cappella chant, and »Polly Wolly Doodle« plays in a jazz club. The beautiful »Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star« gets an almost absurd twist, like a mixture of good and bad childhood memories, and »Skip To My Lou« risks a trip into the world of trash-rock. The last track »Hey Diddle Diddle« starts like a dream sequence, ending in a crazy medieval-like anthem.
»Mother Goose's Melodies« present a total new side of Theo Bleckmann who is able to slip into very different roles. Fumio Yasuda's arrangements and Theo Bleckmann's performance have put new faces on the Mother Goose characters.
– Stefan Winter