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).
Members: Kelli Shrewsbury, Wendy Whitby, Angela LeMar, Jose "Chach" Snook, Chris Lewis, Kevin Manning, Clayton Cromley
Pieces of 8: Across The Blue Meridian
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.
Pieces of 8: Gift
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!