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: Falling Together
On "Falling Together" the four men and four women of jazz octet Pieces of 8 have picked some of our favorite music, turned arranger Charles Mead loose on it, and come up with a very special CD. It's all great stuff: "Bye Bye Blackbird," Lennon & McCartney's "Blackbird" and "When I'm 64," Rodgers & Hart's "You Took Advantage of Me," "You Don't Know What Love Is," Leonard Cohen's "Bird on a Wire," Cole Porter's "I Concentrate on You," "Kansas City/Route 66," Andrew Lloyd Webber's "I Don't Know How To Love Him," "The Price of Wisdom" and Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere." Mead's unconventional arrangements require singers with incredible range and versatility, and Pieces of 8 handles them with ease. There's not a weak track on the CD--"Falling Together" is a saucy, jazzy, gem!
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!
Pieces of 8: Hook, Line & Sinker
The new recording from this highly accomplished octet features six originals, as well as classics such as the Beatles' We Can Work it Out" and "I Got Rhythm" by George and Ira Gershwin; however, expect the unexpected! The Beatles classic is delivered as a percussive rave-up, "I Got Rhythm" is seamlessly blended with "Accentuate the Positive", creating a melange altogether new. Fans of sophisticated vocal jazz such as Manhattan Transfer will feel right at home with this group and their approach, and appreciate their technical derring-do. Other songs included are "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" and the haunting original, "Berceuse", which suggests the modal inflection of church hymns and chants.