For Lack of Better Words
'For Lack of Better Words is one of the best recordings I have ever heard. The mastery of lead pan by Liam Teague is unmatched as well as the performing and compositional skills of Robert Chappell. For Lack of Better Words certainly lives up to the expectation of the recording's title. It is simple exquisite and inspirational'. Percussive Notes Magazine, February 2003 Liam Teague is on a mission. His goal: to demonstrate to the world that the steelpan, the national instrument of his homeland, Trinidad and Tobago, is capable of so much more than playing lilting melodies on cruise ships or island-themed parties. This CD brings long time musical colleagues Liam Teague and Robert Chappell together to advance pan performance and composition. Combining classical arrangements, highly original works by Chappell and Teague, calypsos from Trinidad, and even 1920's Ragtime, For Lack of Better Words highlights the lyrical, rhythmic, and improvisatory possibilities of the steelpan, arguably the most important acoustic instrument invented in the twentieth-century. Hailed as a prodigy in his native Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies, Liam Teague won his first national steelpan competition at the age of 13, one year after he began playing the instrument. Since then, every step in Liam's musical development has focused on his goal of taking the steelpan from the street to it's place in the musical pantheon. It will take a virtuoso to lift the pan to this new height - just like Andres Segovia transformed the maligned guitar into a solo instrument - and Liam Teague may well be that person. Teague premiered the Jan Bach, Concerto for Steelpan and Orchestra, with the Chicago Symphonietta in 1995 at Orchestra Hall. Since then he has performed this piece with eight orchestras including the Czech National Philharmonic, the Buffalo Symphony, the Sinfonia da Camera, and the St. Louis Symphony as their national concerto competition winner. His performances have been universally praised: 'Liam Teague is a certified virtuoso. Wielding his mallets at top speed, he unleashed cascades of sound as dazzling as the violin arpeggios and cadenzas of a Midori or a Gil Shahm,' (Chicago Sun-Times) John Von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune wrote, 'In soft lyrical passages Teague coaxed sweet, bell-like tones from the soprano steelpan . . . In the neo-baroque Toccata finale he seemed the musical equivalent of Leroy Burrell running the 100-meter dash . . . The audience exploded in cheers and whistles refusing to let Teague leave the stage until he had given them a solo encore.' In November of 2001, Teague premiered his second concerto for pan and orchestra, 'Three Fantasies for Steelpan and Orchestra' by Joey Sellers. Liam has released four CD's on the Engine Room label including Hands Like Lightning, Emotions of Steel, Impressions and the 2000 release, Teague/Tappin. He has performed throughout North American and the Caribbean as soloist with orchestras, in recital with the Liam Teague/Robert Chappell Duo, as soloist with college steelbands, and with the Liam Teague Caribbean Jazz Group. Teague and Chappell released their first duo CD, For Lack of Better Words in July 2002 on Rhythmic Union Records. Teague received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in steelpan performance from Northern Illinois University, studying with Al O'Connor and Clifford Alexis. He has recently received an appointment as a Research Scholar at NIU where he teaches steelpan majors from the United States, Trinidad, Jamaica, and Greneda. ROBERT CHAPPELL Robert Chappell's career has encompassed an inclusive range of musical styles and genres in performance, education and composition. After receiving degrees in percussion performance from Ohio State University and the University of North Texas, Chappell's interest in world percussion resulted in continued study of Ugandan amadinda xylophone, West African drumming, and East Indian tabla (Ustad Zakir Hussain and Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri). He received an Indo-American Research Fellowship in 1990 for study with renowned tabla master Ustad Alla Rakha in Bombay, India. Robert has performed with the Columbus, Ft. Worth, Dallas and Indianapolis Symphonies, and toured internationally and recorded with the Paul Winter Consort and his own world-jazz group, Rhythmic Union. Since 1998, Chappell has been performing with steelpan virtuoso Liam Teague in the Liam Teague/Robert Chappell Duo and the Liam Teague Caribbean Jazz Group. Their new duo CD, For Lack of Better Words, was released in July 2002 on Rhythmic Union Records. Active as an educator for 24 years, Chappell has taught at the University of North Texas, Indiana State University, and is Professor of Music and Head of Percussion Studies at Northern Illinois University. He is also Program Director at the Birch Creek Music Center in Door County, Wisconsin where he leads the Percussion/Steel Band Camp every summer. A composer in contemporary, jazz, and cross-cultural idioms, Robert's works have been published by Marimba Productions, Panyard and Pan Press. His steel band composition Wood-N-Steel was premiered by the NIU Steel Band at the National Concert Hall in Taipei, Taiwan and an orchestrated version has been performed with the Chicago Symphonietta, the Rockford Symphony and the Buffalo Philharmonic. Wood-N-Steel was the top scoring composition in the World Steelband Festival 2000 held in Port of Spain, Trinidad as The Northern Illinois University Steelband placed second in the world in competition with six international and eleven Trinidadian steel bands. Robert plays Mike Balter mallets and is a Yamaha Performing Artist. ABOUT THIS CD: Track 1: Allegro - J. H. Fiocco was a Belgian composer and choirmaster in Brussels and Antwerp whose style was influenced by Couperin and the French composers of his time. Track 2 & 3: Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm - Hungarian composer, Bela Bartok is best known for his works combining Eastern European folk melodies with classical compositional techniques. We've added improvised sections to our arrangements with piano and tenor pan 'blowing' over Bartok's harmonic and rhythmic structure. Track 4: Moto Perpetuo - Italian composer, Paganini, was Europe's greatest violin virtuoso of the nineteenth-century. Liam takes his tenor pan through the sonic frenzy of Paganini's work. Track 5: For Lack of Better Words - The disparate timbres of the marimba and steelpan complement each other in this Latin-tinged piece. Track 6: In One Breath - This piece might be called 'jazzical' as it contains elements of both intricate written composition and improvisation. Track 7: Panoraga - Based on the Hindustani classical music of North India, Panoraga employs a hybrid scale of A, Bb, C#, D#, E, F, and G for the melody and is played in 16-beat cycle. Track 8: The Honeybee is dedicated to Nadine Gonzales. Track 9: Triplets -Ragtime xylophone music was hugely popular during the vaudeville era. Here, the tenor pan plays the xylophone part, and the marimba plays the piano accompaniment. Track 10: Pan Dingolay - The Lord Kitchener, Aldwyn Roberts, was known as one of the greatest bards of the calypso art form and the quintessential composer of calypso music written specifically for the steelpan. LIAM TEAGUE.