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Liam Teague + Robert Chappell - “Open Window”

 A WST Review

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Cover of CD called 'Open Windows'

This collection of music pieces is called “Open Window” and it is quite appropriately so named.  You, the listener, are afforded the unique position as an interested, or possibly even originally dispassionate viewer - through this ‘open window’ - to eavesdrop, snoop, spy and are privy to the deepest thoughts and feelings of these musicians as they story-tell on numerous subjects. Their energy, musical vocabulary, joy, humor, fun, acrimony, pain, sadness, glee and mood changes become your own as they convert you, the listener, from passer-by or snooper outside the window - to an insider, and then take you on a fanciful and memorable journey.  Indeed, the listener (now an insider) is sometimes even surrounded and serenaded by the performers, as that act is a vital part of the story. 

Title Tracks
1. Open Window
2. Sanchari
3. El Rio
4. Branches of Snow
5. Dougla
6. Cell O’ Vibes
7. Calypsonata
8. True North
9. Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
10. Spickle
11. Branches Of Snow (Reprise)

The main voices in these eleven conversations are those of steel panist Liam Teague and Robert Chappell who plays various instruments including the marimba and piano. The steelpan voice is the common thread through all the pieces. Chappell and Teague support, contrast, overlap, cajole, call and respond to each other, while always bringing a clarity and sensitivity that are hallmarks to a plethora of styles and genres featured in these chosen conversational pieces.  The twosome are very comfortable with each other – their coming together on “Open Window” illustrates a completeness that is exemplified in the music works performed.

Their judicious use of space, timing, tempo, dynamics, counterpoint and of course silence, expands the musical vocabulary.  In an era where much is done simply because one can and without thought or feeling - Chappell and Teague bring what is needed to tell the story with passion and clarity without overkill, in terms of both performance and production. Indeed, doing something both in terms of production and/or performance - just because you can - never seems to enter the equation in this project.

Liam’s control, command and touch on the steelpan instrument are renowned.  There are few who can articulate a musical conversation on pan like him. Moreover, there are few panists in the world that can truly state a melody correctly. Such is the nature of the steelpan instrument - easy to get a sound out of, but incredibly difficult to master.

When Steel Talks (WST) has tracked many great steel pan players from all over the world. There are less than six that WST has met and/or seen who can actually leverage and execute the type of control displayed by Liam Teague.  Many can think it, but few can actually do it.  Liam is one of the few who has the skill set and sensitivity to pull it off flawlessly.  WST has watched Liam’s development over the years - talent never in doubt - he is now bringing thoughtfulness and maturity to the table to match his talent.

The capturing of the pans and overall project production are good.  The use of stereo imaging on the acoustical instruments and the producers’ attention to depth perception, allow for a recording that breathes and is filled with natural movement. Moreover, the producers have mastered the lost art of silence and space.

The title track “Open Window” opens this collection as Teague and Chappell immediately take listeners beyond possibilities as they step into the realm of actual conversation between the steelpan instrument, the marimba, bass and cajón.  The tone is set and we are off, with no turning back from this compelling musical narrative these musicians are about to share with us about themselves through these eleven pieces.  Along the journey listeners are even further tantalizingly stimulated into musical intellectual discourse as they are drawn into considering and experiencing high points along the way.

The ultimate for any artist is to create, perform and to be captured in a manner that allows his/her story to be appreciated and heard by others in his/her own voice, for the ages.  “Open Window“ by Liam Teague and Robert Chappell accomplishes this feat admirably. 

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