Poetry has been recently repurposed by one of Europe's best kept secrets. She's much nicer than Tina Arena although you would swear by the voices they are related. On my recent visit to Montreux Jazz Festival I had the inherent pleasure of meeting Yasmine Tamara, a songstress whose work today inspires me. Her new album, titled Auguries of Innocence: Book of Poetry is a rare gem. Yasmine Tamara's executive producer who also happens to be her husband and keyboard maestro Peter G. Rebeiz, wrote a very entertaining and philosophical forward to the album that gives explanation of to the audio feast that unfolds with every song. For those curious enough to research the album, do read the insert booklet - it gives amazing depth the work. In short, the famous Balik Farm in the Swiss Alps where the album was recorded was purchased from a fine German stage director named Hans Gerd Kubel. Hans sold the house to Peter Rebeiz with some of his famous library of poetry in situ under the proviso that Peter keep the books and the library as they were. Peter wanted one day to move the volumes of poetry and literature to a place of storage to which Hans Kubel refused. Kubel told Peter that a little poetry would not hurt him, and then quoted Goethe - one of Kubel's favorite German poets.
"A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that order that worldly cares do not obliterate the sense of the beautiful that God has implanted in the human soul." (Goethe)
Kubel further mused that perhaps he could one day return to the farm, and do read a selection of the work with Peter accompanying him on the piano and the music recorded in the recording studio that Rebeiz had purposed to build on the property. Sadly, he died a few months later after the proclamation of intention and with him his dream of the melding of music and poetry at the beloved Balik Farm.
Several years later, Yasmine Tamara and her husband Peter were relaxing in the famous 'library' after a session in the now well established recording studio. She picked up one of Kubel's precious books and began reading aloud. It was a poem entitled "Two Red Roses Across the Moon", written by William Morris in 1858. To Yasmine Tamara, it sounded like a perfect song title for a blues number, and this was the beginning of the legendary album which I have been captivated by.
Cry of the Children is one very powerful track. Yasmine Tamara's voice is powerful as she gives life to the the original work of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The music box intro gives a certain Tim Burton magic to what her voice delivers. You almost imagine Johnney Depp popping up somewhere, in depressed London browns and greys a bit dirty from the streets and the hardships of life in the Victorian era.
"Do you hear the children weeping, oh my brother
Ere the sorrow comes with year?
Leaning their young heads against their mothers
And Cannot stop - stop their tears.
They're looking up with their pale and sunken faces
And their looks are sad to see
Leave us quiet in the dark of the coal shadows
Down the cheeks of infancy."
The gospel choir on the chorus gives an even greater interpretation of this classic prose. You can taste a Georgia Sunday morning in the vocal mix and almost a trickle of sweat from the fifth pew of the Baptist church. It's good. It's really good.
This album is my first taste of Yasmine Tamara's work and it has had five rotations (full album plays) in the five days. The life she breathes into the work of some of my favourite poets is delightful. The musical scores and instrumentals (violins, ripping guitars and the nuances of arrangement) get more interesting every time I listen again.
What are your thoughts on her work?
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