Dansereal wrote:At first I was annoyed when Magnatune dot com automatically renewed my annual membership. I'd already plundered its entire stock of lute and early-music albums when I joined last year.
This time I decided to overlook some puffery that had previously put me off the albums of one Daniel Estrem. I downloaded his album of Ravel, arranged for 8-string guitar and ukulele. It was exquisite, so I downloaded several of his other albums. All lovely.
With a little searching and putting two and two together, I figured out that he's most likely a St Paul dentist who also happens to be an excellent musician. Note that I say "musician," not guitarist. Oh, he's a guitarist, too.
Daniel, if you're out there, all I can say is, you've shown me the way. I want to be you when I grow up -- or maybe a little later this year, whichever comes first. It's too late for me to become a dentist, but it's not too late for me to strive, in my own way, to record at least one track as lovely as any of those on your Ravel album. I have a ukulele hanging next to my bed, and -- oh, all right -- just a 7-string, not an 8-string, guitar. But you've shown me what I ought to do with them. And what you've done really "works" -- never mind whether or not it's done to code. Certainly works for me.
I'm listening to you -- all two or three of you -- with the greatest of pleasure even as I write this. If you ever care to reveal any of your recording and production techniques to me, please don't hesitate to PM. Thanks, and good night.
Thank you very much for introducing me to this artist and the Magnatune site which I had never come across before and is pretty cool, lots of great music there and the $15 dollars a month to stream and download full albums is a great deal as well.
The Ravel album really is beautiful-I'm very very impressed with the arr.'s and how they sound so full and faithful to the original piano pieces. Absolutely incredible multi-tracking work, it really sounds natural and together though I think it would be even more so if he had 3 separate people playing the parts as an ensemble. The sound quality of the recording is really nice too. A lot of guitar albums I listen to a few times and that's it but I feel like this one would be in constant rotation, it so pleasant and musical to listen to. BTW if you click on Estrem's name on the Magnatune page his Bio immediately comes up - here it is. Thanks again!!
Daniel Estrem began his musical practice on keyboard at age 5 with the urging of his parents. In 1960 the fire for classical guitar was ignited after hearing a Segovia recording. He began study of the guitar at age 11 with Dr. James Condell, a teacher of classical and jazz guitar in Moorhead, MN. Living 60 miles away in Fergus Falls, the determined young student would ride the train to Moorhead every other Saturday for lessons. The luring attraction of the rock band era forged by the Beatles in the mid-60's consequently led him to electric guitar and the dissection of popular songs. This rather basic skill learned at an early age has proved very useful later in life with more complex musical forms.
Estrem later studied classical guitar with Jeffrey Van in St. Paul, MN, and taught classical guitar at Macalester College, Augsburg College, and Hamline University in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. His affection for classical, jazz, world, popular, blues, and early music has made his performances somewhat difficult to classify. Rather than remain strictly within one genre he prefers to perform and arrange pieces from a variety of sources. He keeps an ever-changing repertoire on 8 and 6-string classical guitars, 7 and 6-string acoustic guitars, 7- string jazz guitar, electric bass, 8-course renaissance lute, tenor ukulele, sarod and bouzouki.
Estrem is best known for his recorded guitar duet work with John Holmquist. Their first LP recording, Music of Edvard Grieg (on the Cavata label) consists of Estrem's transcriptions of 11 Lyric Pieces and the Holberg Suite, published by Music of the Americas. He was the arranger and producer of 5 CDs of jazz standards recorded with Holmquist on the Projazz label which were distributed internationally. The duo concertized extensively for many years and performed on NPR's "St. Paul Sunday" program, a nationwide broadcast. They had the opportunity to play for Segovia while the maestro dined at a private home after giving a concert. He seemed unfamiliar with the duet repertoire and kept requesting more music (as he consumed his steak).
In 1978 Estrem graduated from the University of Minnesota Dental School and the evening of graduation gave a solo concert at Macalester College. The concert hall date had to be reserved 9 months in advance and the Dental School only announced its graduation day 6 months in advance. Although the over-scheduled day was somewhat of a coincidence, a friend commented that this was a sign that music would continue to be a passionate force for many years to come.
Estrem says, "listening to good music is fine, and can be very moving, but I Iove to play it. The musical vibrations going through my body somehow make me feel better and more alive. It's especially magical when a musician is able to get into that "zone" where technique simply flows and time is suspended. There was a now-defunct music store in the Twin Cities that had as its motto, If you really Love music ---Play It. Of course, they had an ulterior motive, but I always liked that phrase. I love intimate music....solos, duets, trios or quartets. It's possible to get a good look into the soul of the artist with a small ensemble. There is no language like music when it comes to expressing emotions."
One of Daniel's previous releases on Magnatune was "Edvard Grieg" a re-release of a recording made in 1980. On it Daniel collaborates with John Holmquist, together they performed as a duo until 1988. John won first prize at the Guitar 78 International Competition in Toronto and a Solo Recitalist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has toured extensively and recorded several outstanding solo CDs. He was the head of the guitar department at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee as well as the head of the guitar programme at the Cleveland Institute of Music.