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David Helbock Playing John Williams CD & Vinyl (August 2019)


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Hmmm. I'm very interested to hear the other tracks. Impressionistic interpretations like this can be very hit-and-miss. Duel of the Fates sounded the most appealing from the samples.

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Hmmm....I'm always up for interesting piano versions.

 

But what I'd love to see one day is a performer covering super rare JW tracks/scores. Would probably not sell as well, but would be tailormade to us JW obscurities nutjobs.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 weeks later...
17 hours ago, thx99 said:

I was somewhat skeptical, but WOW, I'm really enjoying this album!! Certainly a departure from the norm, dare I say a refreshing one.

 

Yes, it is great. 

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I don't want to be a party-pooper again, but this is another album on which I'm torn. I'm all for new interpretations of themes, but sometimes I wonder if Williams' more classical film pieces are suited for the kind of peculiar ornamentation and improvisation, with the use of piano strings and jazz in all corners. Somehow, a composer like Morricone is more suited to this.

 

What I would love to see and hear, however, is someone riffing on Williams themes that were jazzy in the first place! As such, "Escapades" and "Moonlight" may be the best pieces on this album, even though they sound nothing like the originals.

 

If I were to have such an album, I think the Terry Trotter/STAR WARS album is better, with its 'cleaner' jazz sound.

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3 hours ago, Thor said:

I don't want to be a party-pooper again, but this is another album on which I'm torn. I'm all for new interpretations of themes, but sometimes I wonder if Williams' more classical film pieces are suited for the kind of peculiar ornamentation and improvisation, with the use of piano strings and jazz in all corners. Somehow, a composer like Morricone is more suited to this.

 

Funny, @Thor, I had just the opposite feeling about Helbock's album, in that I was surprised how well certain pieces came off in these jazzy, improvisational treatments.  "Hymn to the Fallen", in particular.  I found it to be one of the strongest cues on the album.  Gone is the reverential tone of the original, but in its place, an interesting bittersweet romanticism that just works IMO.  Other highlights for me include:

  • "Theme from Schindler's List" - for much the same reason as "Hymn to the Fallen"; a welcomed break from the countless, cookie-cutter performances of this theme in concerts each year
  • "Hedwig's Theme 4" - the most playful of the four variations on the album which wouldn't feel out of place in a Vince Guaraldi score for a Charlie Brown animated short.
  • "A Prayer for Peace" - relatively straightforward adaptation, with slower tempo

Having said all of the above, I totally get why this album would turn off Williams fans.  I expected it to do just that for me.

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5 hours ago, Thor said:

I don't want to be a party-pooper again, but this is another album on which I'm torn. I'm all for new interpretations of themes, but sometimes I wonder if Williams' more classical film pieces are suited for the kind of peculiar ornamentation and improvisation, with the use of piano strings and jazz in all corners. Somehow, a composer like Morricone is more suited to this.

 

What I would love to see and hear, however, is someone riffing on Williams themes that were jazzy in the first place! As such, "Escapades" and "Moonlight" may be the best pieces on this album, even though they sound nothing like the originals.

 

If you're a great musician, you can jazz and riff literally on any piece of music, not just piece already written in jazz vernacular. Of course the approach and the style of any jazz musician is up to debate and personal taste.

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I'm liking it, not loving it, so far.  If Helbock wound back his harmonic preferences by a decade or two, I think I'd like it better.  Coincidentally, I picked up a used copy of Checkmate/Rhythm in Motion today, and as I started to dig into the back half, I was thinking how incredible it would be if Williams decided to do a full-on big band album, either of his movie material or of more pop standards and show tunes.  For someone capable of the exuberant arrangements on that 1960 album, I'd be curious to see how much he could revive those chops today.  Maybe we can at least hope for something for the next Capitol Fourth?

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1 hour ago, Disco Stu said:

He’s just a bill!

 

He only liked you for your body!

 

I love the Shelly Manne Checkmate album, especially "Isolated Pawn", which brings me to this album in the thread subject. Manne mentioned in his album that John Williams knew how to write lines that lay just right for blowing. This has been true then, and now, over fifty years later.

 

From what I've listened to this Helbock album, there are some really, _really_ cool ideas. Manne mentioned in his albumI wish he actually took some of the more square ideas--Duel of the Fates is awesome, but it's very square musically (not square in like a Lawrence Welk way)--and flexed them out a bit, altered the time and lay them out "for blowing" some more.

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On 9/13/2019 at 12:14 PM, Jay said:

The physical CD is only on Amazon as a $30 import, has anybody found a cheaper way to get a copy in the US?

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07T1G32FK/

 

Grooves is about $19.25 with shipping for the CD.

https://www.grooves-inc.com/david-helbock-playing-john-williams-act-cd-pZZa1-2099122357.html

 

About 1 week or so to get here. (Mine is on the way.) The site allows checking out with PayPal and skipping making an account with Grooves which I appreciated. 

 

(FYI - the site is a German one, but they charge in US$s.)

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On 9/13/2019 at 9:14 AM, Jay said:

The physical CD is only on Amazon as a $30 import, has anybody found a cheaper way to get a copy in the US?

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07T1G32FK/

Look at the options for “used & new” beneath the default Amazon purchase link. (You’ll see it below the “add to your dash buttons” link.). Right now there are three sellers offering new discs for around $17 with shipping. I ordered mine this way last week for the same amount. No free two-day shipping through Prime this way (nor any free mp3 autorip), but it’s still a good deal. 

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On 9/14/2019 at 8:00 PM, Bayesian said:

Look at the options for “used & new” beneath the default Amazon purchase link. (You’ll see it below the “add to your dash buttons” link.). Right now there are three sellers offering new discs for around $17 with shipping. I ordered mine this way last week for the same amount. No free two-day shipping through Prime this way (nor any free mp3 autorip), but it’s still a good deal. 

 

Brilliant!! Thank you so much! I just bought it using this method! 

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  • 1 year later...

Somehow I completely missed this thread until Jay just pointed me to it. I got this for Christmas and until then was totally unaware of it. Very cool stuff!

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  • 7 months later...

I finally took the shrinkwrap off and listened to this album this week - I hadn't even listened to it digitally before, this was my first time hearing any of it.


Well..... I didn't really like it.  I just found most of the arrangements to be too bizarre to enjoy.  Maybe a fault was my own expectations; I had forgotten any prior discussion about this album and only knew it was one guy playing piano, so I think I was expecting to enjoy a more mellow, relaxing album.  But this is the opposite of that, a lot of fast paced, aggressive playing, really pounding on the keys a lot of times, also using the piano as like a percussion instrument in spots.

 

So while it was cool to hear completely new interpretations of Williams tunes, when it comes down to it I just didn't like a lot of the arrangements.

 

I'll give it another chance, some day.

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First time listening to this album thanks to this thread and I'm enjoying it so far. I've also enjoyed the few Rey's Theme jazz covers that are on YouTube. 

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