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Pieces of 8

 Pieces of 8

Powerful, entertaining and bursting with energy, this contemporary a cappella octet blends familiar sounds to create its own expression of American vocal music. The ensemble's voices -- pairs of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses -- combine in rich harmony to create a seamless blend of sound. Saluting the boundless and unpredictable American spirit, Pieces of 8 combines classical music influences with the sounds of jazz, pop, rock, Reggae, doo-wop, gospel and soul to create a multilayered, nearly orchestral texture. Pieces of 8 was founded by Charles Mead, the ensembles artistic director, with support from the Professional Studies Program at the St. Louis Symphony Community Music School (formerly the St. Louis Conservatory and School for the Arts).

Mead started his career in Los Angeles, where, in addition to being active as a composer, arranger and educator, he was the director of the electronic composing and arranging program at the Grove School of Music and a MIDI consultant to several prominent recording/television studios, including Group Four and NBC. All of the music performed by Pieces of 8 is written or arranged for the ensemble by Mead, who considers his main musical influences to be Bach, Bartok, Debussy, James Brown, Tower of Power and the Neville Brothers. The group remains committed to the celebration of music and the musical styles from various ethnic cultures. Each of Mead's compositions and arrangements has a unique flavor and sound, creatively combining melodic, rhythmic and harmonic material from diverse sources. Pieces of 8 tours nationwide, concertizing for adults as well as for children and teenagers.

Its performances have taken the ensemble to universities and performing arts centers in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida. As an important part of its touring, Pieces of 8 undertakes residency and educational outreach activities tailored to all levels of students, from elementary school through college. Highlights of its American tours have included performances at New York's Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art. Pieces of 8 has appeared on Fox Television in New York and nationally on NBC's Today show. Pieces of 8 and MMB Music have published an illustrated children's book with audio tape, The Gingerbread Man, the first in the "HandClaps and FingerSnaps" series, featuring some of the world's best-loved tales as adapted and set to music by Charles Mead. Its newest CD recording, "Hook, Line & Sinker," celebrates Pieces of 8's eclectic, sophisticated style with music ranging from Gershwin, Loesser, Weill, Lennon and McCartney to the original compositions of Charles Mead.


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Pieces of 8 : Gift

Review: This unique Contemporary Jazz octet, founded by artistic director Charles Mead and formed of pairs of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses, has a full, almost vocally orchestral sound. "Gift" gives new dimensions and excitement to Christmas chestnuts like "Christmas Song," "Silver Bells," "Sleigh Ride," and three medleys, "Count Your Blessings/White Christmas," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/My Favorite Things"-- while retaining what we love about them. "Santa Claus" stuffs every song ever written about the fat man in a big, happy, silly, genre-crossing musical sack. "Little Drummer Boy" starts sweet and simple and riffs in all directions from there. There's a jazzy, surprising "12 Days of Christmas," a powerful "Prayer for Our Children," and a stream of consciousness "O Tannenbaum." A smoky, moody "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" closes out a remarkable "Gift" to yourself and any other music-lovers on your list!

Songlist: Christmas Song, Silver Bells, Sleigh Ride, Count Your Blessing / White Christmas, Little Drummer Boy, Twelve Days of Christmas, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/My Favorite Things, Coventry Carol, Prayer for Our Children, O Tannenbaum, Santa Claus, What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life?

4644c | 1 CD | $14.98 | A Cappella Gospel Christmas

Pieces of 8 : Across The Blue Meridian

Review: Charlie Mead, director and composer/arranger, is at it again, dazzling us with his swinging musical stylings with the help of his eight talented singers. This time, the beautiful sounding octet takes on a vacation to various island getaways with four original compositions by Charlie, all giving you the feeling of being in the great outdoors. As they take us on this journey, they also satisfy our thirst for a few old classics with some unique arrangements of "On The Street Where You Live," "A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square," and "I'm Beginning To See The Light." To end this fabulous CD, the top- notch performers sing Bach's "Goldberg Variations," a simplistic musical masterpiece who's instrumental orchestrations were most recently made famous by the Hannibal Lectar movies.

Songlist: It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing), Blue Meridian, Nice 'N Easy, Summer Dreamin', Some Other Time, On the Street Where You Live, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, Walk Between Raindrops, Orange Colored Sky, Hook, Line and Sinker, Music of the Spheres (Gershwin Piano Prelude No. 1), Aria, Bach Goldberg Variations

4577c | 1 CD | $14.98 | A Cappella Vocal Jazz CDs

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