With the diverse music on Cosmopolitango, Compass Rose Quintet taps into musical traditions from around the Mediterranean Sea. Although the tango originated in Argentina, it became a sensation in Europe in the early 20th century, infusing this passionate South American dance with the cosmopolitanism of Mediterranean culture. The original compositions on this disk might be thought of as musical postcards from places around the Mediterranean, drawing upon the various accents of the music found there. From the opening title track to the Iberian influence of the closing track, "Sonrisa," you'll hear CRq lay claim to elements of tango, French gypsy swing and musette waltz, Italian barcarole, Moroccan griha, and Spanish jota and boléro mixing with other rhythms and forms that came later to this part of the world. And in "Time Lapse," CRq adds a modern groove of it's own. The result is a cosmopolitan sound that pays tribute to and expands upon the cultures that inspired it. Since 1999, Compass Rose Quintet has built a steady following with their sophisticated and catchy sound. Their original compositions and innovative arrangements take a fresh approach to instrumental music, pleasing both listeners and dancers alike. With a line-up of violin, mandolin, guitar, string bass, and percussion, they adapt styles drawn from a wide range of international influences. It all adds up to a unique blend that is CRq's signature sound. Like a lot of good things, Compass Rose came about by serendipity. David Effgen and Larry Howe grew up playing rock 'n roll together in Boston, headed to different parts of the country for about twenty years, only to end up neighbors in Chicago. Rekindling their friendship also rekindled their passion for playing music together. From their work in numerous other bands--Dave in New York and Houston, Larry in New England--as well as some formal study, they'd learned a lot over the years. This showed in the variety of material they began to write after reconnecting. It wasn't long before their Sunday morning sessions included Gary Cleland on bass, whose classical and jazz background, not to mention his sense of humor, added interesting elements to the mix. Gary's technique in pizzicato and with the bow provided a solid foundation for the sounds of the guitar and mandolin, and they knew they were on the right track. The multicultural influence of the band's compositions called out for percussion, and who better to answer the call than Atiba Y. Jali. This veteran of extremely diverse musical styles solidified the ensemble playing and added the kind of texture the band was looking for. As their original repertoire expanded, it seemed only natural to bring in another player. Andy Stees brought his violin on board, creating new opportunities for developing melodic space. Andy's range of musical experiences from classical to alternative rock gives him a deep inventory of ideas. They've been playing regularly ever since in some of the best venues in Chicago's hip music scene, sharing the stage with performers as diverse as The North Mississippi All-Stars, Patricia Barber, The Infamous Strindusters, and Eilen Jewel. As one enthusiastic fan says: 'This music is wonderful, and unlike anything I have ever heard - yet filled with what makes me feel I've heard it somewhere... but where.....? An underground cafe in Eastern Europe? ...or is that Southern Europe? Spain? Italy? No... Ireland. A jazz dive in New York? And it is wildly romantic, evoking places where women wear skirts and move differently than they do here in these United States. And yet it is so Chicago - but in a way I've never heard before. Unique - the word actually applies!'
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