Cosmopoly

COSMOPOLY: As the title of this album suggests, a wide range of colourful people and formidable musicians from all over the world participated in this venture. Combined free improvisations or elements were based on melodic scetches by Andreas. Unique and magic moments in music were captured, for most part they were "first takes", i.e. without any preparations or repetitions. At the end of the day the most interesting parts of music were chosen by joint-venture. For sure this is one of the most versatile albums of Andreas Vollenweider.

Original release 1999, (re-release 2005, remastered)

Vollenweider’s latest, multi-faceted album “Cosmopoly” is an exciting co-operation between international top-musicians. After the complex and symphonic works of his recent CD's, this time we can hear catchy melodies which serve as a starting point for the most diverse of musical adventures. And these journeys are truly adventurous in a positive sense, with Andreas Vollenweider virtually taking us around the whole globe, allowing us to meet with many extraordinary international musicians.

The musical encounters make this production a truly special experience. On occasions, the musicians gather to perform and improvise based on melodic scetches by Andreas, in other moments there are spontaneous musical interactions without a set theme or melody. Andreas Vollenweider proves himself to be a true cosmopolitan, effortlessly communicating with his partners in widely different musical languages.

The fact that  the sonic dialogues are creative and inspired is ensured by the presence of some top-calibre musical partners:

  1. The American vocal virtuoso Bobby McFerrin, who, like Andreas Vollenweider himself, is familiar in all genres, from jazz through to classical music.
  2. The star singer from Brazil, Milton Nascimento, who spontaneously wrote some lyrics to a melody from Andreas Vollenweider - and interpreted the song in his own inimitable manner.
  3. The South African master pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, whose mixture of jazz and the music of the “townships” has won him international acclaim
  4. The great Djivan Gasparyan, a master of the Armenian national instrument, the duduk, an oboe made from the rootwood of the apricot tree
  5. The Galician recorder and bagpipe player Carlos Nuñez, who proves with his younger-generation energy, that being a “citizen of the world” has nothing to do with age.

Together with these musicians Vollenweider has created some fantastic
compositions - little jewels, full of transparency and filigree spontaneity.

The new CD “Cosmopoly” also includes tracks with other top musicians,
as the American trombonist Ray Anderson, the Basque accordion
virtuoso Kepa Junkera, the American singer and violinist Mindy Jostyn,
and Vollenweider’s long-time musical associates Walter Keiser and
Christoph Stiefel.

The two masterworks which Andreas Vollenweider wrote for a seven-piece
Chinese orchestra are a musical “west-east poetry collection”. The two
tracks were arranged by the dulcimer virtuoso Pingxin Xü.

Vollenweider’s latest production once again documents the versatility of
the Swiss musician in wide-ranging genres - from world music, through
instrumental pop and intimate classic scores to jazz.

original release 1999, re-release 2005, remastered

1. Morning Poem (1:12)

Andreas Vollenweider: celtic harp
Carlos Nunez: low-key wooden whistle

"The early morning hours are very important for me. But with the children having to go to school "my door into a new day" does not always open up in a gentle way as this short song would suggest. Carlos Nunez plays the soulful low-key wooden whistle. His roots are based in Galicia in Northern Spain and he is part of this great and still vibrant Celtic culture. (Galicia: land of the Celts). As you can witness, there is a long history of cultural exchange." 

2. Stella (5:18)

Andreas Vollenweider: harp, voice
Walter Keiser: drums
Christoph Stiefel: keyboards
Solis String Quartet

"This song was a result of experimenting with two of my good old friends, Walter Keiser on drums, Christoph Stiefel on keyboards as well as the "grooving" Solis String Quartet. Many years of playing and performing together still enable new and fresh paths. This is not to be taken for granted - and it gives me a big pleasure."

3. Elle Chelle (3:13)

Andreas Vollenweider: Gu cheng (Chinese harp)
Bobby McFerrin: voice

"What's that thing over there?" asked Bobby McFerrin and pointed to the Gu-Cheng, the Chinese harp. An astonishing four minues later the song was recorded on tape. This was rather at the beginning of our session - and for sure we were able to benefit of our "vice-versa" surprising effect. In this piece of music, Bobby's brilliant and loose humour as well as his wit can't be overheard."

4. Vals del Sur (3:32)

Andreas Vollenweider: harp
Solis String Quartet
Vincenzo DiDonna, violin
Luigi DeMayo, violin
Gerardo Morrone, viola
Antonio DiFranca, cello

"With my friends from Naples in Southern Italy, Vincenzo, Luigi, Gerardo and Antonio I felt very well at ease, also known as the "Solis String Quartet". Following the recording we were touring extensively throughout Europe. They are passionate messengers of the Mediterranean romanticism. Therefore this form of Tango Waltz is mass tailored to their affinity."

5. Hush, My Heart, Be Still… (5:42)

Andreas Vollenweider: harp
Djivan Gasparyan: duduk (Armenian wind instrument), voice

"One of my most intense encounters during these sessions was the collaboration with the wonderful Armenian musician Djivan Gasparyan. He plays the duduk, a wind instrument nicked from apricot-wood, which has a magical tone, gently reaching the heart - and even breaking it. This very special instrument carries the sound of a sweet-sadness memory, of a passion as ancient as the traces of life. With well over 70 years of age, Djivan is the true master of the duduk. A man with an incredible warmth of heart, expressed by his big charismatic eyes. Though none of us spoke Armenian or Russian, both these days we recorded with him were full of fun and filled with the joy of playing together."

6. Petit Smile (1:54)

Andreas Vollenweider: harp
Kepa Junkera: trikitixa (Basque accordion) 

"Kepa Junkera, with origins from the Basque country, was "the young generation wild man" during these session days. He plays his trikitixa, the two-row Basque diatonic button accordion, with an incredible virtuosity and almost in an unstoppable manor. He is widely known for his acrobatic capacity. As Carlos Nunez, he also travels the world with the legendary Irish group the Chieftains."

7. Under One Moon (4:55)

Andreas Vollenweider: Gu cheng (Chinese harp), voice
Carlos Nunez: whistles
Kepa Junkera: trikitixa (Basque accordion)
Mindy Jostyn: fiddle, voice
Walter Keiser: drums
Max Laesser: slide guitar
Michel Poffet: acoustic bass

"In this song many cultural elements merge and the cosmopolitan spirit of this album reveals itself as being very distinct. As so many times before, it became apparent, that the striking frontiers of cultures are only determined through the limitations of our imagination. There is so much more which connects us - and music has always been a witness of this.

Asian influences, Bluegrass elements, Musette and Irish music can co-exist in a peaceful way. Besides Carlos and Kepa, the American multi-instrumentalist Mindy Jostyn (fiddle and vocals) plays in our ensemble. On several occasions she has been a member of my tour-band and we have traveld the world together. Slide-guitarist Max Lässer is as Walter Keiser also a friend and co-musician since the beginnings. Again and again I am very blessed to be able to count on such an array of excellent musicians in my "neighbourhood", such as for example the outstanding double-bass player Michel Poffet."

8. Ancient Pulse (4:01)

Andreas Vollenweider: harp
Abdullah Ibrahim: piano

"I know Abdullah Ibrahim since my musical youth. I was about 17 years of age, when I was "hypnotized" for the first time during one of his concerts. After a few moments I felt a strange relation due to the energetic repetitive ostinato-lines in the bass of his left hand, this being played over by his right hand in a free form with many clear triads. I immediately felt connected to Abdullah and his music, because his way of playing was much how I myself explored the piano when young - and in this special flow I let myself being carried away (instead of doing my homework for school.....).

Later our paths crossed several times again and again, this before a first musical collaboration happend to take place. In my home - between tea-time and being philosophical - a whole  variety of music was created. And here it was again, this special hypnotic "grooving" pulse - and everything made sense.

For me Abdullah Ibrahim always was a "world-musician" in the best sense of the word. His music was never simply "only" Jazz, as it contained at all times a very distinguished South African Black identity. He is a dignified representative of the cosmopolitan thought."

9. Peachtree Valley (3:35)

Andreas Vollenweider: Gu cheng (Chinese harp)
PingJing Xü Orchestra
PingJing Xü: yangqin (also written: yang quin - Chinese hammered dulcimer)
Xiajing Wang: erhu (two-stringed bowed Chinese musical instrument)
Walter Keiser: percussion

"I always was enchanted by Chinese orchestral music. It is composed of an incredible colourful array of sounds. Again and again I wished to get an opportunity to use this pallet of sounds. Through Xu Pingxin, orchestrator and master of the Chinese dulcimer yangqin, this option gradually developed into close reach. He helped me on the instrumentation and assembled the orchestra.

I have to admit that I would have never thought that the sons and daughters of LaoTse would develop such a vibrant humor. It's rare to see so much laughing going on. The inspiration for this piece came from a journey I did to China in 1986. My friend Chung Liang Al Huang, TaiChi master and phillosopher, guided me to a most magical valley in the southern mountains of China. Only one path leads to this "valley of the peach trees". In a labyrinth of little streams of water, only one carries the flower petals originating from that valley, so one has to choose the appropriate one. For this procedure there is a clue, yet only during the season when the peach trees are blossoming. In this specific period, the river carries the blossoms along with its flow into the valley. This is the river you have to follow.

At the end of a rather exhausting mountain-trail one reaches the most beautiful valley and will find a very old Taoist monastery, which is inhabited by only one monk and a sole novice. An unforgettable experience.

Usually Chinese music does not carry as many voice-registers. The vast melody lines of this piece represent the water labyrinth."

10. Bright Moon, Still Shining… (1:06)

Andreas Vollenweider: baby koto
Baenz Oester: acoustic bass
Chung Liang Al Huang: voice

Zen poems:
Sitting quietly, doing nothing
spring comes, grass grows by itself

Deep forest, no sign of men
Bright moon, still shining through

"A miniature: Chung Liang Al Huang recites two of my favourite short Zen poems. Musically this is embedded by the Japanese harp, the Baby Koto and by a double-bass, played by the Swiss musician Bänz Oester."

11. At The Forest Fountain (6:08)

Andreas Vollenweider: 12-string guitar
Carlos Nunez: whistles, flutes & pipes
Mindy Jostyn: fiddle, voice
Max Laesser: lap steel guitar
Kepa Junkera: trikitixa (Basque accordion)
Walter Keiser: drums

"This song is very much breathing upon Irish roots. For me Irish music carries an incredible joy of life and an overwhelming desire of freedom. Out of this venture a small film developed in my head; a forest glade with an ancient big round fountain, happy people are celebrating and dancing around the fountain - inventing further variations.....

This line-up is identical as with the song "Under One Moon", yet this time I am playing the 12-string guitar and Max Lässer uses one of my all-time favorite instruments, the lap steel guitar. Besides his breathy whistles, Carlos Nunez also performs a virtuoso solo on the haunting Gaita (the Galician bagpipe)."

12. Your Silver Key (1:55)

Andreas Vollenweider: Bavarian folk harp
Carly Simon: voice
Lyrics: quotations from the novel <Finnegans Wake> by James Joyce

"Since 18 years I share a wonderful friendship with Carly Simon. I am very grateful to her; in the beginnings it was through her efforts and enthusiasm that so many people in America got the virus and the passion for my music. The media were rather sceptical about this unconventional music and sound. But Carly ignited the spark among them.  

When I started the Cosmopoly project she encouraged and motivated me as well as making suggestions. Her wonderful, mature and strong voice merges gently with this song. In my opinion her text proposal hits the nerve of this music (i.e. quotations of James Joyce's last novel <Finnegans Wake>)."                                                                                                                                     

13. Long Road To You (2:40)

Andreas Vollenweider: ocarina (Italian clay flute)
Solis String Quartet

"On this track the friends of Naples/Italy unfold their special string quartet sound. This song grew out of an improvisation with my small daughter. She was playing the violin as I accompanied on the piano. We let ourselves float in this tonality and thereby the elements of this song were developed. I remember very well that this was how I found my way into music. I often played for hours with my father improvising in free form, apparently without any goal. But by doing so, the vessel was continuously filled, from which I was able to create music. In this song I am playing the ocarina, the Italian clay flute which has the shape of a bird. Ocarina is the Italian word for a gosling, a baby goose."

14. Capriccio (2:00)

Andreas Vollenweider: harp
Bobby McFerrin: voice

"After a long intensive working day and an extended dinner no one believed that anything useful would come out when Bobby and myself would go back to the recording studio again to try out some more ideas. Yet, as soon as we started to play, this easiness and groove were driving forces again."

15. Will O’ The Wisp (ignus fatuus) (3:56)

Andreas Vollenweider: harp
Ray Anderson: trombone
Christoph Stiefel: keyboards
Walter Keiser: drums

"This is the English expression for a spooky flickering light. In ancient stories dancing ghost lights appeared, in order to misguide nocturnal travelers and carry them off their route. They were seen as servants of dark powers. This track is a short extract from a very thrilling session with Ray Anderson, Walter Keiser and Christoph Stiefel. I brought in a loose and open harmonic structure which then ignited the ensemble. Everything has been captured as we played it - nothing was added or left out. This was exactly the way of performing together which excited me so much about the medium of music. A toast to non-verbal communication!" 

16. Cor Do Amor (2:35)

Andreas Vollenweider: harp
Milton Nascimento: voices, lyrics
Walter Keiser: frame drum, percussion

Let the torment go,

Wipe out the pain,
Dance lightly to the sound of colour,
That leads you
To the path of love.

Our first emotion
Was born as a song,
Openhearted.
Come, and stay forever

Our lives were marked,
The steps we followed were traced --
We were happy, and knew it well.
Inscribed within our united souls
A full guarantee
That emotion took over our life
And so much love flowed.

Far from torment,
Far from pain,
Today we dance the color of love
Brought by a song, it remains forever.

Far from torment,
Far from pain,
Today we dance the color of love
Brought by a song, it remains forever.

(Lyrics by Milton Nascimento translated from Portugese by Mark Ginsburg)

"I have admired Milton Nascimento since many years and have a big estimation for his music and poetry, but also for his engagement for our planet and its inhabitants. He wrote a wonderful poem for this song - this was interspersed into the music with his clear and natural voice.

His lyrics resemble a strong light and have a deep impact on human beings, leading to an inner place where the positive source of life is, this without ifs and buts - or a maybe."

17. The Fishbirdtree - Little Snap (4:03)

Andreas Vollenweider: double-fish-clay-flute
Bobby McFerrin: voices

"Shortly before his departure Bobby discovered my collection of exotic wind instruments. He picked a double-fish-clay-flute and put it into my hands. "Come let's do something with it". As with the other tracks performed with Bobby during the sessions, this song just came out of playing hands-on and easygoing - light as a feather."

Total time 57:54

All music composed and arranged by Andreas Vollenweider, except
3/14/17 (Vollenweider-McFerrin)
7 (Vollenweider-Ibrahim)
5 (Vollenweider-Gasparyan)
16 (Vollenweider-Nascimento)
15 (Vollenweider-Keiser-Stiefel-Anderson)

All songs recorded live at
Bomapark Studios, Switzeland (1/2/3/5/7/9/14/17)
Powerplay Studios,  Switzerland (4/6/8/10/11/13/15/16)  
Hidden Star Hill Studios, USA (12)

Recording engineers Helge Dyk (1-6/8-11/13-17), Eric Merz (16), Moritz Wetter/Pedro Haldemann (7), Ed Tuton (12)
Assistant at Powerplay Studios: Christian Mueller
Food and shelter at Powerplay Studios: Claudia Boggio
Mixed and mastered at Bomapark Studios by
Andreas Vollenweider, Duede Duerst, Helge Dyk
Production team: Duede Duerst, Hugo Faas, Andreas Vollenweider
Front cover logo:  Andreas Vollenweider
Cover design & photographs: Duede Duerst 

My family, Beata, Jonathan, Sebastian and Noëmi, as well as the many friends and co-adventurers of this project, have once again been patient, dedicated, honest, understanding, enthusiastic, true, critical, energetic, original, natural, creative and inspiring… you all have my deepest appreciation.
So many wonderful adventures in my life… 

Andreas Vollenweider August 1999

Music from this album

Morning Poem

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