CD Review “A Tribute to John Williams: An 80th Birthday Celebration”

Conductor: John Williams
Composer: John Williams
Label: Sony Music Masterworks
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Tracks: 15
Running Time: 68 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Who doesn’t love the scores from John Williams. He is such a legend with his music. The new collection is a celebration of Williams’ 80th birthday and is a real wonderful tribute to his career to date. Over almost six decades, John Williams has composed score to some of the biggest films in history including the “Star Wars” series, “Jaws”, the “Indiana Jones” series, “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” and the first three “Harry Potter” films. The guy literally shows no signs of slowing down either with 2011 proving to me a very busy year for him with “The Adventures of Tintin” and “War Horse”. Both of them were even were nominated for Oscars in the 84th Academy Awards. So sit back and get ready to celebrate the works of one of our greatest composers.

For the man that has won twenty-one Grammy® awards, four Golden Globe awards and five Academy Awards®, you can’t encompass every known track but this does a really great job. I actually really enjoyed the specific track selections especially from the film “Jaws”. The obvious choice was to use the theme that we all know…”duh nah”. But instead they included the track “Out to Sea/The Shark Cage Fugue” and I really enjoyed that decision. It is not what you would expect and was a great change. The choice to use a track from “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” was an interesting choice, it is different and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I also enjoyed the tracks from “The Adventures of Tintin” and “War Horse”, I haven’t had much exposure of the score prior and I loved them.

This collection of songs include guest appeared from both Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma. Perlman plays violin beautiful on both the themes from “Sabrina” and “Schindler’s List”. Yo-Yo plays cello on two tracks also “Elegy for Cello and Ochestra” and “Going to School” from the film “Memoirs of a Geisha”. This release is all the first time that Williams’s recording on his “Happy Birthday Variations” track has been recorded and released. Overall this release is a celebration and it definitely succeeds in doing that and encompasses the massive career of this amazing legend. I very much recommend this for all fans of film scores and the work of John Williams.

Track Listing:
1. Sound the Bells! from American Journey
2. Out to Sea/Shark Cage Fugue from Jaws
3. Theme from Sabrina (w/Itzhak Perlman, violin)
4. March from 1941
5. Adventures on Earth from E.T.: The Extra-terrestrial
6. Dartmoor, 1912 from War Horse
7. The Adventures of Mutt from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
8. Harry’s Wondrous World from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
9. Elegy for Cello & Orchestra -Yo-Yo Ma, cello
10. Going to School from Memoirs of a Geisha (w/Yo-Yo Ma, cello)
11. The Mission Theme (Theme for NBC News)
12. Theme from Schindler’s List (w/Itzhak Perlman, violin)
13. The Adventure Continues from The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
14. Throne Room & Finale from Star Wars
15. Happy Birthday Variations (Previously Unreleased)

Johnny Cash’s 80th Birthday Celebration Set to Kick off February 26


Archive Recordings from Sun and Columbia Years, Johnny Cash Museum and Much More Planned for 2012 to Pay Tribute to The Man in Black

LOS ANGELES, CA – (Tuesday, February 7, 2012) — America’s much-treasured icon Johnny Cash, who would have turned 80 years old on February 26, will be the focus of a series of tributes and celebrations in 2012, starting with the official ground-breaking of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home Project in Dyess, AR. ‘A number of family members including Cash’s children Rosanne, John Carter, Cindy and Kathy Cash Tittle, plus at least seven of his grandchildren, will be on hand for the launch event scheduled to take place February 26, 2:00PM at the Dyess Community Center, followed by a birthday tribute.

Said Rosanne Cash, “February 26th, 2012 marks the 80th anniversary of my father’s birth. On that day, the extended Cash family will gather at his boyhood home in Dyess, Arkansas, to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home project: an undertaking long in the planning, and a great honor and thrill for our family. This entire year we celebrate not just his roots and history, but the breadth and depth of his artistic legacy, his spirit and authenticity, and the love and rhythm he brought to all our lives which continues to inspire millions of people around the globe.”

The Johnny Cash Boyhood Home Project will be a permanent tribute to Cash’s early life and that of his family’s, as well as reflect an historical slice of American life during the 1930’s Great Depression. Arkansas State University is spearheading the restoration of not only the house that Cash grew up in and its various outbuildings, but has taken under its wing several other Dyess historic buildings in an effort to preserve the town’s rich heritage. ASU’s end-goals include the establishment of a Johnny Cash museum, a space for educational workshops, classes, and demonstrations, the creation of tourism-related jobs in the town, and providing scholarships to ASU for deserving students from the Dyess area.

ASU’s Dr. Ruth Hawkins, who initiated Arkansas’s Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and other Arkansas heritage sites, is overseeing the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home Project. “We are working very hard to achieve authenticity in this restoration,” said Dr. Hawkins. “Based on photos and the recollections of family members, the house will be furnished as it was during the 1930s and 1940s when the Cash family lived there. We’ve gone so far as to take core paint samples from the house and send them for lab analysis to ensure that we have the correct colors.

Fundraising for the project began last August with the first annual Johnny Cash Music Festival held on the ASU Jonesboro campus. The concert featured performances by John Carter Cash, Rosanne Cash, George Jones, Kris Kristofferson, and many others, all of whom donated their time. The Cash family is committed to hosting the Festival yearly, and has earmarked all proceeds for the Dyess restoration project.

Johnny Cash, known as “J.R.,” grew up in Dyess Colony, an agricultural resettlement community in Arkansas that was part of the “New Deal,” the government’s economic program that provided relief to desperately poor families. In 1935, the Cash’s were one of 500 original families who received a brand new Colony house, 20 to 40 acres of land, a mule and seed for farming (less than 40 houses remain). Life in the Dyess Colony served as a tremendous influence on the young J.R., with the back-breaking work he did in the cotton fields, and the music he sang in church and heard on the radio providing the inspiration for many of the songs he would later write, such as “Five Feet High and Rising” and “Pickin’ Time.”

Also set for this year-long birthday celebration is the opening of the new Johnny Cash Museum in downtown Nashville. On display will be many items from the legendary House of Cash that closed in 1999, as well as additional memorabilia endowed by the Cash family. Details will be announced shortly. Also in celebration of Cash’s 80th birthday, Columbia/Legacy will release a series of archive titles beginning with Bootleg IV: The Soul of Truth slated for April 3. More information will be announced shortly. In addition, three documentaries on Johnny Cash’s life are in various stages of development.

Separate from spearheading their father’s 80th birthday celebrations, John Carter and Rosanne Cash are each busy with their own projects. Rosanne, whose book “Composed: A Memoir,” was released in hardcove.


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