On Arrest is art music based on folk and street music, or folk music itself. But the pieces might be described, by a music label, as classical, flamenco, jazz, blues; others are genre hybrids. As a performer, I am passionate about working to break down walls of genre and venue by choosing pieces from different genres that speak to each other in important ways, then bringing them together with my own sound and approach. Sharp divisions between musical genres hurt not only artists, who want their music to develop, but listeners, too, whose minds and hearts ought to be allowed to grow as well. I love questions like, What would Beethoven sound like on a dark and rickety corner stage, accompanied by voices, smoke, and the tinkle of ice in a cocktail glass; what will the majesty of Orchestra Hall do to the darkness and fire of Robert Johnson? Arrest is about the risks and joys of transgression. When I first tried to worm my way into a blues jam in Austin, Texas, the man running the jam spat out, "What's that? A flute? That's like bringing a knife into a gun fight." The women in the painting on this album's cover are in trouble for fighting for women's suffrage. Transgression is dangerous, but it's also the way we make the most beautiful things. Notes About Some of the Pieces on Arrest: 'Souvenir du Para,' by M.A. Reichert. Performers: Julie Johnson, flute; Jason Alfred, piano. Reichert is a Belgian flutist who, after he visited there, was enamored with the Amazon region of Brazil. "Souvenir" is a remembrance of that region, written with the kind of transfixed longing that only an artist who finds her or his spiritual home years after birth can express. I did a lot with colors and lush phrasings on this piece in order to create the same kind of loving, longing melancholy that exists in my own piece, "The Removed." 'Sinceritá,' by Christopher Caliendo. Performers: Julie Johnson, flute; Jeff Lambert, guitar. Caliendo was raised in New York by Italian immigrants. In 1991 he traveled to Italy to learn about his heritage. I'm drawn to Caliendo's respect for both popular and "serious" musical forms-he's written music for TV, a vocal-orchestral work for the Vatican, and flute music that blends jazz, Gypsy music, and folk. "Sincerita" is based on flamenco and jazz. I added jazz techniques such as blue notes to our rendering of this piece. 'Assobio a játo,' or 'The Jet Whistle,' written by Heitor Villa-Lobos. Performers: Julie Johnson, flute; Jacqueline Ultan, cello. Villa-Lobos was equally in love with the European classical tradition and with the folk and street music of his native Brazil. In the second half of this piece, I took a lot of liberties with tempo and rhythm, and asked Jacqueline to play her part raunchy rather than nice, in order to give the piece more the sound of the street rather than the concert hall. 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night: In the Pines,' by Leadbelly. Performers: Julie Johnson, flute; Doug Otto, guitar and vocals; Drew Druckrey, resonator guitar. Doug and Drew play in several different Twin Cities roots bands, and I often play with them. In preparation for this recording, I lay for hours listening to Leadbelly sing and play the song. I began to feel something operatic in it's stark treatment of potent love, despair, and tragedy. Also there's something waltz-like in Leadbelly's guitar accompaniment, that heavy-footed downbeat followed by two lighter upbeats that nonetheless can never quite get themselves up and out of the listless mire the people in this song have gotten themselves into. It's almost as if the downbeat is the voice of the man asking the questions in the song, while the two higher-pitched upbeats are the woman's cheerless response. I had been working on François Borne's Fantaisie Brillante sur Carmen for flute, a piece adapted from the operatic score and consisting of a theme and variations. When the most flamboyant variation in that piece is played really well, it sounds as if two people are playing it: one on that striking downbeat, another on the dazzling flight of notes that makes up the remainder of each measure. It's as if one voice, the lower, more methodical one, is playing the slower, more lyrical melody, consisting of the downbeats, while the other voice riffs on the theme. Blues music is also often built out of a simple melody and soloists improvising and playing with it; and this particular song, about two people speaking to one another in a sorrowful call-and-response, was, I realized, begging for the kind of "two-voice" solo found in the Carmen Fantaisie. When we were playing "In the Pines," I found the place for the solo and let it fly. I felt as if I were letting the woman's voice from the song, so much like the sound of my flute, flutter crazily in the cold wind she shivers in, repeating her answer to the man's repeated question over and over, like the nightly wailing of a ghost. 'Lunfardo,' by Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla. Performers: Julie Johnson, flute; Patrick Harison, accordion; Brian Roessler, bass. This piece was originally written for other instruments-the flute part is usually for a violin-so we made an entirely new arrangement of it that arose mostly in rehearsals. The flute is not a typical tango instrument. I had to decide where to try to imitate the violin, with it's greater capacity for expressiveness and sensuality, and where to do something else. I find in Piazzolla a fellow musical traveler, who, like me, had to go all over the world playing and composing different kinds of music in order to discover how to play the music of his own home. Born in Argentina to Italian parents, he spent much of his adult life in Italy and New York. His father, nostalgic for his homeland, spotted a bandoneon in a New York pawnshop when Piazzola was a child, and the young boy chose it as his instrument. Writing classical music, Piazzola won a grant to work with French composition teacher Nadia Boulanger, who told him his work was well-written-but not Piazzola. She pressed Piazzola to admit that he played tangos in nightclubs, then to play one of his own for her on his bandoneon. This, she proclaimed triumphantly, the nuevo tango (a new approach to the traditional Argentinian tango, incorporating elements of jazz and classical music, which he played to great controversy in his home country) was his own. The term "Lunfardo" refers to an argot of the Spanish language which developed at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th in the lower classes in and around Buenos Aires and Montevideo. This piece speaks directly to my interest in street music, as Lunfardo words, frequently found in the lyrics of tangos, supply double-entendres about sex, drugs, and the criminal underworld. "The Removed," Julie Johnson. This original song was inspired by a French Canadian song called "Le Petit Rocher," or "the Little Rock." I wrote it while in residency at the Banff Centre in Alberta. That folk song's harmonies remind me of cold and snow. I grew up in northern Minnesota, in wild Lake of the Woods County, directly on the Canadian border. The open, crystal-like harmonies of "The Removed"-sometimes I leave the third out of the chord for this effect-speak to the landscape of my childhood: the stark beauty of it's flatness, it's long blue-and-white winters. In my song is the isolation I felt as a child, away from the cities I dreamed of, but also of the isolation I feel now, away from the place that formed me. There's also the rhythm of work songs. I meant to re-create the feeling of doing heavy physical work-hauling wood, shoveling snow-way out in the middle of nowhere, in deep and muffled cold. Some Notes About Julie: Flutist Julie Johnson has performed classical, jazz, blues, and world music in concert halls, Italian cathedrals, Texas juke joints, horse barns, and jazz clubs. She began playing the flute at the age of ten in Graceton, MN, a small town on the Canadian border. An Artist-Mentor scholarship let her study with Susan Nelson at Bemidji State University. At Augsburg College, she studied with Trudi Anderson and was a two-time winner of the Concerto/Aria Competition, and in the Minnesota Inter-Collegiate Honor Band, she played first flute under the direction of Frederick Fenell. In 1999, Julie served as co-principal flute of the Rome Festival Orchestra, having received a Career Opportunity Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to spend a month in Italy performing there. She has also performed with orchestras such as the Duluth/Superior Orchestra and the Metropolitan Orchestra of Minneapolis. She has served as Artist-in-Residence at Patrick Henry High School and the Minneapolis Jewish Day School. Playing Native American flutes, she recorded music for the PBS documentary Return to the Circle. While living in Austin, TX, Julie served as principal flute of the Balcones Orchestra and was a guest soloist with the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble. She also performed with Texas blues bands, including the Allen Daniels Band, Trent Turner and the Moontowers, and Dede Priest & The Altar Boys. In the spring of 2004, she was invited to study with Sibel Kumru-Pensel, a former student of Jean Pierre Rampal, in Antibes, France. She was a featured soloist in two chamber recitals and was accepted into the Conservatoire de Musique et d'Art d'Antibes. In the spring of 2005 she returned to France to play at the Fete de la Flute in Menton and to study with French flutists Aurel Nicolet, Maxence Larrieu, Guy Cottin, and Jean Pinet. Currently, Julie performs in the Twin Cities as a soloist and ensemble member with many orchestras, chamber groups, blues bands, and jazz groups. She has been a featured performer at the American Composers Forum's salon concerts in St. Paul, the Schubert Club Courtroom Concert Series, and the Thursday Musical Artist Series. In May of 2007, she performed as a featured artist with the Minnesota Chorale. She was a semi-finalist for the 2007-2008 McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians, a 2008 fiscal year recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, and recently won a Fall 2008 Music Creative Residency, with a full-tuition scholarship, at the Banff Centre in Alberta. She teaches at MacPhail Center for Music, Mount Olivet School of Music, and the St. Paul Conservatory of Music. All of the songs on Arrest were recorded, mixed, and mastered by Matthew Zimmerman at Wild Sound Recording Studio in Minneapolis, MN. Noiseland Industries, also in Minneapolis, designed and manufactured the album, and Julie Johnson produced it. The cover art is reproduced from an original black-and-white painting by Steve McClure.
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