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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Review: Ginger Ibex - Firefly

Ginger Ibex - Firefly
2009, Ginger Ibex

My Mom used to tell me to be careful what I wish for, because sometimes wishes come true. Of course, that's not always such a bad thing. A year or so ago I reviewed a Cambridge, Massachusetts band called The Milling Gowns, reflecting that I didn't enjoy the singer all that much but could listen to the players behind him all day long. Whether by chance or machination I got my chance. Sharon Crumrine and Betty Widerski soon left The Milling Gowns and Ginger Ibex was born. Pianist Crumrine spins wondrous musical yarns ranging from Rock to Classical, Impressionist to Tango and even blending in some sounds from the Middle East. All of this is done with the capable assistance of Widerski, who helps to lend texture and layers to the piano sound on Ginger Ibex' debut album, Firefly, set for release on October 24, 2009.

Firefly opens with the title track, arranged for piano, strings and percussion. The song represents the turmoil of the coming of night in a manner both beautiful and mysterious. Middle Eastern influences crowd the darkness for the first 1:40, until a sudden shift occurs, and a light piano passage with strings introduces the light of the firefly; pushing all turmoil back into the darkness from whence it came. When the darkness theme returns there is a lighter, less burdened quality to it until the closes on a crescendo of activity that becomes the night. The piece plays like a movement from a Joffrey ballet. Prelude To Dust For Kissers plays like a movie soundtrack piece. There is real movement in the tune, but it sits back in your mind as it unveils a storyline you can't quite catch without the visual to go with it. The composition is there enough to guide your attention but subtle enough not to grab it.

October Tango plays off piano, guitar and viola against one another in a gorgeous and dark composition that may speak as much to a stage of life as a time of year. The drama here is high but hidden, as if a very personal story unfolds in the song. As a listener I greatly enjoyed the action and movement in February, although February Intro felt too pensive and drawn out. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the album is the instrumental cover of Britney Spears' Toxic. The song is presented in dynamic fashion and is more enjoyable than the original. On Binnorie, Ginger Ibex goes for a more Baroque feel, with Crumrine flying solo or minimally accompanied for much of the piece. September Tango may be even better than its October colleague, imbued with the energy of a dervish and a dark, urgent melody line that sucks the listener in for the duration. Ginger Ibex closes things out with the Schubert-styled waltz For All The Unborn Children. There's a sense of hope that flows through Sharon Crumrine's fingers on this tune that emanates from the piano and even plays through on the CD. The composition and performance here are fine.

Ginger Ibex mixes and melds musical styles on Firefly in a fashion that is both surprising and wildly successful. This is true modern classical music, incorporating elements from Middle Eastern music, Rock N Roll, Tango and Impressionist musical styles. Firefly has enough classical relevance to appeal to the stuffiest of music aficionados, but enough modern touch to sound current and alive. Ginger Ibex has done themselves proud.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Ginger Ibex at or Firefly drops October 24, 2009. You will be able to acquire the album both physically and virtually through the bands website (where you can buy it before the release date) or MySpace pages, as well as through vendors such as CD Baby, iTunes and

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