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  Garth Hudson – The Sea To The North

‘ I Feel fortunate for this opportunity to bring you my own music. During the recording process, I envisioned it being two guys in a canoe in the year 1740 or a Paris fashion show or an ice skating routine or mountain climbing or driving a vehicle or being part of that special moment. I hope The Sea To The North makes you feel good and takes you somewhere you’ve never been before – somewhere you will want to return to often. Happy trails …..’ - Garth Hudson

Not counting the obscure 1980’s Our Lady Queen Of The Angels, a score he wrote for an exhibit by sculptor Tony Duquette, The Sea To The North is Garth Hudson’s first solo release. As his virtuoso instrumental talent stood out, even in the company of that legendary and multi talented group of musicians known as The Band , it will come as no surprise that that this long awaited solo album is a musical tour de force. What may surprise listeners is the sheer scope of sounds and styles on this work, with Hudson playing an intimidating range of keyboards, various saxophones, accordion and Torogato.

The music itself is hard to describe. This is a musician who was steeped in classical music as a young man, took his musical background and intermixed it with Rock ‘n Roll and Rhythm & Blues for so many years. This is a musician who not only played, but also absorbed many different styles of music and made them his own.

The album starts with The Saga Of Cyrus And Mulgrew. Maud Hudson, Garth’s wife of 23 years, can be heard on vocals, backing is from members of the Crowmatix whilst old Band mate Levon Helm is credited for ‘Percussion Explosion’.

The title track The Sea To The North starts with an haunting Irish-styled violin solo by Larry Packer ( of The Crowmatix) that reminds me that Garth Hudson worked closely with Van Morrison. The feel is Eastern European. Again we are taken smoothly into other melodies. It would be amiss if not to mention the wonderful pipe organ that intersperses from time to time.

The Breakers includes a musical tease as Tommy Spurlock’s guitar sounds hauntingly like The Weight for a moment. Some old friends make a welcome return. Scott Musick and Michael Been from the group The Call offer a musical helping hand on drums and guitar . Garth played with them a few years back. Nashville ace Willie Weeks plays bass. With The Band Garth’s saxophone playing was mainly used to add some textures. On this solo album saxophones play a very prominent role. It demonstrates not only Garth’s love for this instrument, but also what an excellent player he is and what a lovely warm rounded tone he has developed.

Levon Helm joins his old friend once more on drums on track four, which is called Third Order. Is this his first drum solo on record? . Some other old friends participate on this track too: The Bauls Of Bengal.

Most members of the Band have recorded songs from The Grateful Dead. Garth Hudson is no exception doing a free jazzy take on their Dark Star. Garth and Maud trade vocals and are accompanied by The Crowmatix.

Little Island, the final track on The Sea To The North features Garth on the grand piano and a solo of remarkable depth and beauty. All American folk and country melody distilled into its essence.

The Sea To The North is not for the faint hearted. This is challenging intelligent music. But above all spontaneous and direct from the heart by a true original and great musician.

 
 


 
 
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Garth Hudson was born August 2nd, 1937 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada to Fred James Hudson and Olive Louella Pentland. His mother played piano, accordion and sang; his father played drums, C melody saxophone, clarinet, flute and would play piano on Christmas Eve. After taking piano lessons from Miss Nellie Milligan and Clifford Von Custer, Garth performed with dance bands and joined a rock and roll group, the Capers, from 1958 through 1961, before becoming the music consultant, organist and saxophonist for Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, the ace Arkansas-based rhythm and blues band, from 1961 to 1963.

After leaving Hawkins, Levon and The Hawks toured on their own . Mary Martin introduced them to Bob Dylan, who recruited them to accompany him on his controversial 1966 folk-rock tour, and they settled near Woodstock, New York. Bob was a frequent visitor to their pink-colored house and Garth recorded their collaborations, resulting in the legendary Basement Tapes.

In 1968, the Hawks became known simply as The Band and recorded their seminal debut album, "Music from Big Pink." Over the next eight years, The Band continued recording and touring, releasing eight albums and performing for full houses around the world. Among the highlights of these shows for many in the audience, and the other Band members themselves, were Garth¹s improvised introductions to "Chest Fever." The Band called an end to touring with a lavish final concert on Thanksgiving 1976 as documented in Martin Scorsese¹s film, "The Last Waltz."

Garth spent the next 16 years in California¹s burgeoning music scene, contributing to several movie soundtracks and many albums by other musicians. A brush fire in 1978 swept through the hills of Malibu and destroyed the Hudson¹s new home, Big Oak Basin Dude Ranch, as Garth and his singer/actress wife, Maud, were making renovations. Soon after the fire experience, he composed the music for "Our Lady Queen of the Angels," a multimedia celebrational environment created in 1980 for the 200th anniversary of the City of Los Angeles by Hollywood veteran costume and set designer Tony Duquette, including a saeta written by Ray Bradbury and narrated by Charleton Heston.

Garth performed with The Band frequently through the '80s and '90s. He moved back to the Woodstock area in 1991 and recorded three CDs with The Band over the next few years. He appeared on talk shows, such as Letterman, The Tonight Show, Conan O¹Brien, and Saturday Night Live. He has been recording and performing with many other artists, including Norah Jones, Neko Case, Los Lobos, The Gypsy Kings, Leonard Cohen, Thumbs Carllile, Van Morrison, Marianne Faithful, Roger Waters, Jennifer Warnes, Cindy Lauper, Tango Man, Northern Pikes, Kevin Hearn of The Bare Naked Ladies, John Sebastian, Jessie Winchester, Geoff Muldaur, Tom Rush, Livingston Taylor, Bill Conte, The Hudson Valley Philharmonic Orchestra, Moto "The Lion" Sano, Jimmy Sturr, Wild Bill Davis, Louisiana Red, Jo el Sonnier, Emmie Lou Harris, Champion Jack DuPree, John Anderson, Tommy Spurlock, Sneaky Pete and the Flying Burrito Brothers, David Bromberg, Indigo Girls, Richard Belzer, Sinaed O¹Conner, Don McClean, Keith Richards, Hirth Martinez, Levon Helm and the Barn Burners, Eric Andersen, Jonas Fjeld, Halvard Bjorgum, The Call, Tod Rungren, Karla Bonoff, Linda Thompson, Big Blue Big Band, Jimmie Vivino of the "Conan O¹Brien Show" and the Bauls of Bengal. Garth's long awaited first solo CD, "The Sea To The North" was released in 2001. Garth and Carlton Moody have co-produced Burrito Deluxe¹s latest recording, The Whole Enclilada and are presently touring. He is also developing a retrospective box-set on Levon and The Hawks, 1956 to 1966 and is contributing to Capitol Records¹ 6-CD The Band box-set. Both slated for release 2005. Garth and his wife Maud are releasing their duo CD, "LIVE at the WOLF" in 2005 also.

Garth was inducted into the Juno Hall of Fame (The Band) in 1989 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (The Band) in 1994. On July 13th, 2002, he was honored with the coveted Canada South Blues Society¹s Lifetime Achievement Award. There are also plans for The GARTH HUDSON Institute featuring his innovative learning methods.

 
 
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