Release Date: July 24, 2020
Catalog #: RR8038
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century
Chamber
Percussion

Our Favorite Things

EscapeTen ensemble

Andrea Venet percussion
Annie Stevens percussion

Ravello Records proudly presents Escape X’s sophomore release, OUR FAVORITE THINGS. The album, which is the group’s first project with Ravello, features the music of contemporary composers and artists ranging from award-winning jazz artist Joe Locke to internationally-renowned New Zealand composer John Psathas and many others. Jazz, percussion, and pop all find a home on OUR FAVORITE THINGS.

Escape X is a duo comprised of Annie Stevens and Andrea Venet specializing in percussion instruments like marimba, vibraphone, and much more. Their mission is to generate creative and diverse music within a variety of genres and timbral contexts in order to bring challenging, lasting works into the standard repertoire. OUR FAVORITE THINGS is a potent fulfilment of that mission.

OUR FAVORITE THINGS showcases the talents of an impressive array of composers, and in so doing, flexes the duo’s versatility. Take the album’s first track, for one: Parkway is a programmatic piece starring marimba and vibraphone inspired by a road trip through New Jersey. Ethereal and abstract at first, the piece soon coalesces around bustling rhythms that simulate the open highway. Compare this to Clear Midnight; it is a continuous two-movement work featuring marimbas, drums, and voice. The challenging piece, inspired by the Walt Whitman poem of the same name, requires the musicians to sing while playing their instruments. The result is a rich, engulfing texture punctuated by percussive interjections. Likewise, behind every piece is a compelling story, and each work dares the duo in inventive ways.

Escape Ten regularly performs around the country, a fact which is viscerally apparent to those who listen to OUR FAVORITE THINGS; the performances are both technically impressive and brimming with raw energy, the kind you expect from a stage rather than a recording studio. Those who revel in the timbral possibilities of the marimba and vibraphone, as well those who appreciate rhythmic compositions with a healthy dose of storytelling, will no doubt cherish this latest release from Annie Stevens and Andrea Venet.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Parkway Joe Locke Andrea Venet, percussion; Annie Stevens, percussion 5:41
02 Jettatura (Arr. O. Carmenates for Percussion Duo) John Psathas, arr. Omar Carmenates Andrea Venet, percussion; Annie Stevens, percussion 5:04
03 2300 Degrees Ivan Trevino Andrea Venet, percussion; Annie Stevens, percussion 7:21
04 Fast Lane Aurél Holló Andrea Venet, percussion; Annie Stevens, percussion 5:36
05 Medley: Weird Fishes/Pyramid Song/15-Step (Arr. A. Venet) Radiohead, arr. Andrea Venet Andrea Venet, percussion; Annie Stevens, percussion; Brant Blackard, drumset 7:24
06 Sand Dunes (Version for Marimba Duo) Kelly Rossum Andrea Venet, percussion; Annie Stevens, percussion 4:35
07 Clear Midnight Michael Burritt Andrea Venet, percussion; Annie Stevens, percussion 8:54
08 My Favorite Things (Arr. A. Venet for Percussion Duo) Rodgers/Hammerstein II, arr. Andrea Venet Andrea Venet, percussion; Annie Stevens, percussion 5:35

PARKWAY
Duo for marimba, vibraphone, crotales & gongs

JETTATURA
Duo for marimbas and vibraphones

2300 DEGREES
Duo for marimbas and crotales

FAST LANE
Duo for marimba, vibraphone & percussion

RADIOHEAD MEDLEY
For percussion duo and drumset

SAND DUNES
Duo for two marimbas & percussion

CLEAR MIDNIGHT
Duo for two marimbas, drums & voice

MY FAVORITE THINGS
Duo for marimba, vibraphone & percussion

Tracks 1-6 and 8 recorded June 14-17, 2017 at Virginia Tech, Recital Salon in Blacksburg VA

Recording Session Producer Ray Dillard
Recording Session Engineer Nick Corrigan

Track 7 recorded July 15, 2018 at the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg VA

Recording Session Producer & Engineer Denver Nuckolls

All tracks were recorded using the following instruments:
Malletech Imperial Grand marimba, Malletech Roadster marimba, Malletech Omega Vibraphone, DREAM M-bao gongs, DREAM cymbals, DREAM crotales, Remo drumheads, and Malletech mallets.

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Morgan Santos

VP, Audio Production Jeff LeRoy
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Mastering Shaun Michaud

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Sara Warner

Artist Information

Escape Ten

Ensemble

The Escape Ten (Escape X) duo formed from an epic coast-to-coast road trip taken by Annie Stevens and Andrea Venet in a Ford Escape on the Interstate-10 from Virginia to California in 2012. Today, Escape Ten maintains a steady performance schedule touring as guest artists and clinicians internationally. Regularly premiering new works for percussion, they remain active commissioning composers, collaborating on creative projects, joining consortiums, and writing their own pieces. Their mission is to generate creative and diverse music within a variety of genres and timbral contexts in order to bring challenging, lasting works into the standard repertoire.

Learn More

Notes

Joe Locke is widely considered to be one of the major voices of the vibraphone. He has performed and recorded with a diverse range of notable musicians, including Grover Washington Jr., Kenny Barron, Eddie Henderson, Cecil Taylor, Dianne Reeves, Ron Carter, The Beastie Boys, the Münster Symphony Orchestra, and Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra (NE).

Written for Escape Ten, Parkway is a programmatic piece portraying the sonic representation of a driving excursion on the Garden State Parkway near Joe’s home in New Jersey. Coincidentally, Annie and Andrea first met while in school at Rutgers, having many NJ road trips together under their belt. The gongs and crotales capture the roundtrip drive from Joe’s home; as the piece progresses it becomes both lovely and manic. Can you tell which part of the journey has a toll booth?

– Escape Ten

John Psathas is a New Zealand freelance composer and teacher who, at a relatively early stage in his career, established an international profile and currently receives regular commissions from organizations both in New Zealand and overseas. Originally composed for piano in 1999, this moto perpetuo work requires heavy and impassioned fingering on piano, along with defiance and aggression. As part of a collection, Omar Carmenates arranged this and several of Psathas’ piano works for chamber percussion ensembles of various combinations. Jettatura for percussion duo orchestrates complex interlocking lines and counterpoint between two marimbas, while blending in vibraphone voices to capture its pianistic origins. The intense character of the piece is further realized with Escape Ten’s subtle addition of percussion.

– Escape Ten

2300 Degrees is the temperature at which glass gets interesting. That’s a popular saying in the glass blowing community and something that has stuck with me since participating in a music / glassblowing event at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning NY. My band Break of Reality accompanied Lino Tagliapietra while he blew glass. Lino is an amazing glass blower and is considered by many to be the best glass blower in the world. It was one of the most memorable musical things I’ve done.

In order to recreate the feelings I felt while watching Lino work, I decided to create a piece with a stream of unrelenting notes, while at times having each player play in time signatures different from the other. My reason for doing this is to create tension, similar to how I felt watching Lino work. To add an additional layer of tension and difficulty, there are occasional crotale notes simultaneously played with the marimba parts. As you can imagine, this is a very challenging piece to play, and the most difficult duo I’ve written. 2300 Degrees was commissioned by Annie Stevens and Andrea Venet.

– Ivan Trevino

Aurél Holló is most notable for his wide breadth of performances with the internationally acclaimed Hungarian percussion ensemble Amadinda, an ensemble hailed by The Guardian as “among the most dazzling percussionists you might hear this side of Bali.” Holló helped found the ensemble in 1984 in Budapest and has actively contributed as a composer and performer throughout their years of success. Among Holló’s many musical influences include the great avant garde Hungarian composer zGyörgy Ligeti, as well as Balinese Gamelan. These influences in timbre and rhythm are especially present in Fast Lane. Fast Lane was commissioned by Escape Ten in 2016 with funding provided by the Bruce Carver Multicultural Arts Grant awarded by the School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech.

– Annie Stevens

Aurél Holló is most notable for his wide breadth of performances with the internationally acclaimed Hungarian percussion ensemble Amadinda, an ensemble hailed by The Guardian as “among the most dazzling percussionists you might hear this side of Bali.” Holló helped found the ensemble in 1984 in Budapest and has actively contributed as a composer and performer throughout their years of success. Among Holló’s many musical influences include the great avant garde Hungarian composer zGyörgy Ligeti, as well as Balinese Gamelan. These influences in timbre and rhythm are especially present in Fast Lane. Fast Lane was commissioned by Escape Ten in 2016 with funding provided by the Bruce Carver Multicultural Arts Grant awarded by the School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech.

– Annie Stevens

Sand Dunes, for marimba duo, was commissioned by Escape Ten in 2015. The composition originated as an exploration of groove, evoking the rolling vistas of huge sand dunes, along with the detailed examination of each footprint. The grand illusion of simplicity allows the audience to enjoy the overall atmosphere of the piece while at the same time offering the opportunity to study the complexity of each musician’s performance. This unique arrangement for two marimbas incorporates additional percussion to amplify the groove and to provide a foil for the cross-metered rhythms found embedded within the ostinato parts. As each musician walks through the musical dunes, the aural scene changes ever so slightly; proving the journey is actually the destination.

– Kelly Rossum

As one of the world’s leading percussion solo artists, Michael Burritt is an American composer and head of the department as Professor of Percussion at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester NY. Clear Midnight is a continuous two-movement work connected by a drum interlude, and is inspired by the poem of the same name by Walt Whitman (1819-1892). The piece exploits varied timbres and sonorities in a unique and organic manner by utilizing the human voice, drums, and percussive sounds simultaneously. Performers are required to sing while playing their instruments, eliciting an immediate, visceral experience. Haunting juxtapositions of drum interjections and singing with the marimba texture create a unique and powerful presentation.

– Andrea Venet

This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson
done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the
themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars.

— A Clear Midnight by Walt Whitman

Arranged by Andrea Venet, this popular show tune by Rodgers/Hammerstein II first appeared in the musical “The Sound of Music” in 1959. Ironically, the happy lyrics were originally meant to be sung by a woman in the musical in order to reconcile her fear of the unknown. This tune has since become a jazz standard and Christmas song because of its wintery depictions. In this unique take, the traditional meter is changed to have a groovy feel in 5, and most importantly utilizes some of Escape Ten’s favorite things, which include pitched metal bells and almglocken.

– Andrea Venet

Videos

Clear Midnight by Michael Burritt (Official)

Fast Lane by Aurél Holló

Escape Ten performs 2300 Degrees by Ivan Trevino