START   INFO  + Autoharp + Programme   TERMINE   AUDIO & VIDEO   FOTOS   >>STIMMEN   CDs   GÄSTEBUCH   KONTAKT   ENGLISH

Used by permission by the Autoharp Quarterly

Reviews

Alexandre Zindel Von Kopf bis Fuß

 

By Nan Bovingdon

It is 7 degrees this morning--sunny,

clear and icy outside. What better way

to spend the morning than to sit inside

and listen to a truly polished, eclectic

and unique CD by German singer and

autoharpist Alexandre Zindel?

I had read about Alexandre on his

website, www.autoharpsinger.de, (the

in-English portion, that is), where he

writes, “Although I consider myself

a singer in the first place and use the

instrument for accompaniment mostly, I

am today the only German who is doing

regular solo concerts with the autoharp.”

Still, at first listen, I was surprised by

what a singer he is, and how authentic

and skilled in various styles of music.

For instance, “Les Feuilles Mortes,”

originally a 1940’s French song (“The

Dead Leaves”) which we know as

“Autumn Leaves,” Alexandre sings

in French, beginning in the manner of

a mellow crooner - think Mel Tormé

without the fog - then easily soars into

a tenor’s territory, singing in syllables

reminiscent of a DoBe DoBe Do

singer. His gentle autoharp backup

suits this beautifully and tastefully.

Even at first surprisingly, this is NOT

your grandmother’s autoharp style or

material--but then “I Come From

Alabama” (with a banjo on my knee) is

played in the traditional ‘harp style’ we’d

expect, before it swings into the middle

section in a James Taylor manner,

with interesting and different chord

progressions and plaintive vocal.

Alex’s first musical influence was

gained by singing in a choir, then he

moved on to pop music from the ’80s

and then backwards to the ’70s Elton

John, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and

Genesis.

After that he discovered jazz and

studied music in Cologne, singing in the

jazz department.

All of which help explain his wide

selection of material on this CD. From

Stevie Wonder through Bill Haley,

traditional blues and folk, June Carter’s

‘Ring of Fire’ - and his ability to move

from one style and type to another, with

comfort and ease. This is impressive

versatility.

Of note: Bill Haley’s “Rock a

Beaten Boogie” - Does anyone else

out there remember what a smashing

breakthrough in modern music “Rock

Around the Clock” was considered to

be?

I think that was when the way a

performer’s knees were gyrating became

part of the total musical presentation.

I wasn’t familiar with the “Beaten

Boogie” song--maybe it was side B of

something Alexandre re-discovered?,

but his very 50’s melodic low to tenor

howling vocal is perfect for the genre.

And when the tune breaks into “Hound

Dog” you’ll swear you’d taken a a time

travel journey backward. The autoharp

plays tastefully on top of the nice groove

of the rhythm back up.

Choir singing to ’70s-’80s pop tunes

to jazz singing isn’t a typical path to

autoharp playing, and in fact Alexandre

discovered the autoharp just six years

ago. Only then did he begin to listen to

and play more folk music.

He also writes music, learned about

AQ’s song writing contest, and entered

and placed third right out of the gate,

so to speak. His winning entry, “Immer

Lieben” (Always Loving) will be

released on a CD of his own material

soon. If you Google him, you’ll find

a free listening site with “Wildwood

Flower,” “Goodnight Irene” and

“Greensleeves” among the familiar

titles.

Two special treats for me on this

CD were the title track, “Von Kopf bis

Fub” (From Head to Toe Prepared for

Love) and “Wandering.” Von Kopf has

English lyrics, “Falling in Love Again,”

which led me directly to YouTube and

the familiar rendition of this song by

the ever slinky Marlene Dietrich. And

by the way, Alexandre’s vocal is just as

gorgeous as hers. I got to thinking he

could be accompanied by the sound of

rain on a tin roof, and still sound great.

“Wandering” took me back to my

childhood in the Pacific Northwest and

one of my first and fondest memories of

hearing the beauty in folk music--way

back in the 1950’s. It was the theme song

of a folk music program (which we saw

on our microscopic old black and white

TV) done by the northwest folk singer,

Walt Robertson, and is on his 1955

Folkways recording of his American

Northwest Ballads. The Zindel version,

with interesting chords and plaintive

vocal presentation, is closer to James

Taylor’s-one of his early influences.

There is a lot of good stuff on this

CD. Interesting variety, songs in

three languages, wonderful singing,

and autoharp used appropriately and

tastefully. I recommend it highly.