Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Oceans & Journeys: Road Trip in Maryland

The sea and the mountains are both constants in the life of Maryland. Both of those elements, and journeys between them come into play in Maryland based composer Jennifer Cutting’s album Ocean: Songs for the Night Sea Journey.

Voyages to love and away from it, into time and out of it, moved by the waters and on the waters, are shown in words and melody, voice and the voices of instruments. Cutting, who plays keyboards, organ, and accordion on the album, does indeed create a journey. Musically, she draws on elements of American folk melody, classical music, the music of Ireland, and a sea green indefinable ground in between.

There’s excitement in the journey starting out, and sensuality of the sea. As the voyage continues, this turns to loss, grief, and change. There's searching and time between, learning to wait, and reconciliations and recognitions and returning, all brought in through songs and tunes with tiles including The Gladdest Breeze, Dissolving King Neptune, Sleep (on the Deep) and Forgiveness. Most are Cutting’s own compositions, and she weaves music from Steve Morse, Gustave Holst, J.S.. Bach, and the Irish tradition, as well. For this project she drew on the gifts of a host musical friends in the United States and Europe, including Dave Mattacks on drums, vocals from Grace Griffith, Lisa Moscatiello, and Maddy Prior, John Jennings on guitar, and Zan McLeod on bouzouki, in an endeavor which took the composer seven years and likely seven crossings of the seas to complete.

Though does not fit easily into any category except perhaps original music, there’s much here to please and intrigue those who like classical, new age, Celtic, and folk genres -- and the spaces between. It's also a recording which invites contemplation as well as conversation, and repeated listenings.

It’s worth hearing Cutting and friends live, too. She’s worked much of the music into a thoughtful acoustic performance that requires only three or four musicians to present clearly and gracefully. You may find out more about live performances of the Ocean Quartet and Cutting’s other projects at her web site.

you may also wish to see
Music Road: Cathie Ryan: Songwriter
Music Road: Voices: Carrie Newcomer: faith and laughter
Music Road: creative practice: autumn: spaces between

This is part of The Great American Road Trip, in which I’m partnering up with A Traveler’s Library to add musical ideas to the book and film suggestions for journeys through the regions of the United States which you’ll find there. On tap at A Traveler's Library for this visit to Maryland is a novel set in a Maryland seacoast town. For more about the road trip (and a look at some great road songs) see Great American Road Trip: Music begins

you might also like to visit our Irish Music store at

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Blogger Alexandra Grabbe said...

I wished you had a photo of the area, to accompany the music. I wonder to what extent the physical beauty of a place has an influence on musicians? Souther Maryland is not so pretty as I remember it.

7:44 PM  
Blogger kerry dexter said...

I'd say character of landscape, rather than beauty necessarily, often has an effect.

This music is more tied to the sea than the landscape of southern Maryland, however. I think there's a photo of that area, though, if you follow the link to the article over at A Traveler's Library.

9:46 AM  

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