Jim Connolly and the Gove County Philharmonic: The Circus Doesn’t Stop at Gove (PFMCD004)

[Please note: This disc is out-of-print, this page is for archival purposes.]

Jim Connolly and The Gove County Philharmonic

Jim Bement: accordion
Sally Barr: violin
Jim Connolly: bass
Jeff Kaiser: trumpet
Kirsten Monke: viola
Ron McCarley: clarinet
Gilles Apap: violin
Bruce Bigenho: piano

pfMENTUM CD004

PFMCD004

SKU: PFMCD004

Reviews

  1. 0 out of 5

    “Jim Connolly and The Gove County Philharmonic also play in a highly cinematic or narrative way. Incorporating insturmentation that hearkens back to an older era of music making…the resulting music is a lot like a bunch of contemporary free improvisers playing music that might have been written for a Tom Waits record, if Waits had been listening to Harry Partch and Willem Breuker…this is an ambitious and interestng disc, filled with nostalgic delights.”

    Bivens, Jason. Reviews. Cadence, December 2000, page 12.

    “Jim Connolly is a backcountry alchemist, bringing together folk, chamber music, improvisation, and a touch of something inordinately down-home to create some of the most loving, warm, and beautiful tunes I’ve heard in a while. The playing on these nine songs is so delicately wrapped within itself, that I can hear the empathy of the musicians. The line-up includes two violins played by Gilles Apap and Sally Barr, Kirsten Monke (viola), Ron McCarley (clarinet), Jeff Kaiser (trumpet), Jim Bement (accordion), Bruce Bigenho (piano), and Jim Connolly (bass, which is doubled upon by Nico Abondolo and Chris Symer on the bass trio “Pinocchio”). The band, from Southern California is able to move from the upbeat Great Awakening Revival-esque “House Of Cards” to the somber of melancholy “Tar Dance.” It’s like a professor who invites you over for dinner when you’re faced with eating noodles (again). Smart, emotional, and vibrant; I could listen stuff with this much heart forever. ”

    – Nirav Soni, http://ink19.com, december2000

    “This isn’t what we typically receive here at Aural Innovations. But as an avid watcher of the American Movie Classics and Turner Classic Film channels, The Gove County Philharmonic turned out to be a good fun trip through many styles ranging from the good-time circus feel of the CD’s title, to the modern musical circa Gene Kelly, and on to Kurt Weill and a host of others. But there’s also a modern classical, even avant-garde, element that runs through some of the tracks. Imagine the Kronos Quartet with expanded instrumentation. And speaking of instrumentation, the band consists of Gilles Apap and Sally Barr on violin, Kirsten Monke on viola, Ron McCarley on clarinet, Jeff Kaiser on trumpet, Jim Bement on accordian, Bruce Bigenho on piano, and Jim Connolly on bass.

    “Some tracks, like “Yes, I’ve Been To Gove”, “Tar Dance”, and “For Maggie” are like old romantic cabaret tunes. I especially liked “Tar Dance”, a light romantic piano and standup bass piece that has a lounge jazz feel but also some classical influences. “House Of Cards” and “The Circus Doesn’t Stop At Gove” are the tunes that most portray the circus of the album’s title. “House Of Cards” opens with all musicians blaring their instruments before settling into the structured portion of the tune. The music is delightfully playful and conjured up images of An American In Paris, or any number of such classics in which theme, storytelling, and fun are all part of the music. The band is tight and precise, blasting out start/stop rhythms, and each instrument’s timing is perfect. “The Circus Doesn’t Stop At Gove” is indeed a moving circus, which is non-stop and with all the performers on stage. This playful, somewhat avant-garde, style is what I like most about the band. “Pinnocchio” and “1,000 MPH Train Wreck” were two of my favorite tracks.

    “Pinocchio” is a bass trio piece with guests accompanying Jim Connolly. It starts with a slow classical feel, but then segues into a more modern composition. The music is darker than anything else on this predominantly playful album and added to the modern classical feel of the composition are bits of jazz. “1,000 MPH Train Wreck” is a similar tune but with the full band. This track is also the longest taking nearly 10 minutes to evolve through a number of moods and themes.

    “A good fun set of tunes and will likely appeal to you if you like American film musicals and modern classical.”

    – Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations #13, October 2000

    “The worst part of reviewing music is that a lot of stuff sounds the same. Album after album, you hear the same old thing and pray for something a little different. You can imagine my joy as the opening notes of “Yes, I’ve Been to Gove” filtered through my speakers. A soft waltz with a touch of backwoods dissonance, the track has enough moonshine and moonbeams to make it undeniably charming. This small-town, middle America feel lasts throughout the album. After a quick blast of cacophony, the band lurches into a demented polka that sounds straight out of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, and by now I’m simply left giggling with pleasure.

    Recorded live in Jim Connolly’s living room, this album is full of delightful moments. Out-of-control clarinet (played by Jim Bement), laughing trumpet (provided by Jeff Kaiser) and zipping strings give the proceedings a decidedly circus-like feel, as if a bunch of well-trained chimps were playing in the center ring. This is not intended to mean that the playing sounds sloppy. “Tar Dance” is a delicate ballad played with plenty of precision, and “Pinocchio” is a well-executed piece for a bass trio. All of the players are skilled with their instruments, but they refuse to let their hands get in front of their hearts. Bruce Bigenho’s piano hits all the right notes — but more importantly, he can play with a wide-eyed sense of abandon. Similarly, Connolly’s bass is there when it needs to be but is free to romp about when it’s not called upon to hold down the fort. The strings of Gilles Apap, Sally Barr and Kirsten Monke combine to create the heart-wrenching theme to “Slocum Goes Slow” and skip about like uncoordinated kittens on the title track. Jim Bement’s accordion provides both a solid chord foundation atop which the other musicians can go nutty, and a slight sway, which creates an alcoholic rather than an academic feel. The closing track, “1,000 MPH Train Wreck”, starts with a noisy, free approach before solidifying into a soft, minor motif which fades into quietness.

    This combination of down-home charm and undeniable skill reminds me of Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. When you listen to the show, it sounds so fresh and innocent that you can fool yourself into believing it’s all being made up on the spot by a group of amateurs. At the same time, however, things fit together so well that you can tell how much skill, effort and time it takes to make things this wonderful. This is a great piece of work, and even if the circus doesn’t stop at Gove, I hope that Jim Connolly and the Gove County Philharmonic stop near me some time.”

    – Ron Davies, http://www.splendidezine.com, 10.2.00

    “Just like today’s DJs and rappers, Jim Connolly’s disc opens with the crackle of a diamond needle on vinyl. The rappers use it to signify authenticity; Connolly employs scratchy sounds to set the scene, as in a play. Maybe it’s Musicman, or Oklahoma. A closer inspection reveals this play to be closer to a Jim Jarmusch or Joel and Ethan Cohen production. His Gove County Philharmonic is a chamber circus band or maybe a positive argument for the evolutionary effects of isolated island biogeography.

    The drummer-less ensemble has a very American sound, which has descended from Aaron Copeland to Gil Evans to Tom Waits. Employing waltzes, polkas, and sentimentalized piano, the music comes from the countryside, a place dense with time. Nothing hurried, nothing flashy is Connolly’s motto. But what many a city dweller mistakes for simplicity is actually brilliance. The ensemble of strings over accordion, piano, and trumpet maybe accounts for the title of the disc. Some shyster has scammed our small Gove County into advancing the Circus’ deposit and as our little Philharmonic plays, the caravan train bypasses our assembled population.

    Recorded for trumpeter Jeff Kaiser’s pfMentum label, this very orchestrated music sits beside Nina Rota and Ennio Morricone soundtracks. Kaiser, a leader of the West Coast avant-garde has recorded with Vinny Golia, Eugene Chadbourne, and Michael Vlatkovich. His presence draws experimental fans to this sweet and troubled music. It’s safe to say this disc will remain in heavy rotation on my disc changer for quite some time.”

    -Mark Corroto, allaboutjazz.com, 4 September 2000

    “The music suggests tipsy church picnics in Kansas, art gallery noise-sculptures in Prague, smart-arty downtown N.Y.C. writhing, and hoe-downs on Mars, all at once…Mixing Americana and chamber music qualities, with atonal asides and eccentric attitudes, the group belongs to a subculture of free- improv and jolly tunes…Connolly knows how to balance sweetness with mayhem…It’s a beautiful and crazy thing. Get it.”

    –Josef Woodard, The Independent, 1 June 2000

    “A couple of weeks ago, a CD was placed in my mailbox at WHPK 88.5 FM in Chicago. I’m not sure why it came to me, since I’m the Classical Music Director at the station (probably because there are violins and a viola among the instruments), but I’m glad it did. It was, of course, ‘The Circus Doesn’t Stop at Gove,’ a delightful, category-defying, jumble of folk, jazz and classical styles. I loved it. It reminded me a bit of the music of Percy Grainger, not so much for its sound as for the emotion which inhabits the music, a whistful, playful, melancholic kind of feeling. You could tell that the musicians loved what they were doing and that they were pretty fond of each other, too. It was a refreshing 42 minutes and 49 seconds…Thank you.”

    –Stuart Creason WHPK Classical Music Director

    “Americana, say, brainy circus music, a blast of avant-gardish sound with tincts of Kurt Weill, improvisatory jazz and Tom Waits, and Captain Beefheart…”

    –D.J. Palladino, The Independent, 1 June 2000

Add a Review

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.