I’m back. It’s Joseph Finnegan and I’m here to hopefully introduce you guys to some new music. NERDO DOES MUSIC is my column, where I, well… I mean, it’s pretty obvious what they cover. This website was not built with the intention of covering music. It was created as an outlet to express all our nerd love, whether it be professional wrestling, comic books and comic book movies, video games, or anything of that sort. It feels weird to say music didn’t fit in with that, but it really didn’t.
However, this website has now been active for over half a decade. It eventually became time to cover some new things. No matter how much we love those other genres, it can become tedious writing about the same thing for years. This has been a great respite from all that. I hope you guys have been enjoying the boost in music coverage lately, and I especially hope you’re into the artists whose work I’ve been sharing.
Today, we take a look at an instrumental album called “Interconnected” by Mark Vickness and a musical ensemble also called Interconnected. If the title of this article confused you, I assume your questions have now been answered (took me a minute). Mark plays acoustic guitar, as the ensemble brings together two time Grammy winning violinist, Mads Tolling, cellist Joseph Hebert, Dan Feiszli on upright and electric bass, and tabla virtuoso, Ty Burhoe. Before we move on, I’m going to share some biography on all of them. I don’t want to undersell any of these talented musicians.
Mark began his musical training on piano at age six. The road from there to the composer/modern fingerstyle guitarist he is today included a bachelor’s and master’s degree in composition, studies in classical piano, guitar, sitar and tabla, years as a performing jazz guitarist, composer and arranger, several film scores and three decades of recording and performing as the instrumental half of the acoustic fusion duo, Glass House which has released three CD’s, two EPs and a host of widely viewed YouTube videos.
Mark’s performing experience spans a huge range of genres from free improv to West African drum and dance ensembles, from Motown and funk bands to big band jazz and orchestral conducting. Schooled in composition by Pulitzer Prize winning composer, Mel Powell, Mark has recorded and performed with world renowned musicians including two time Grammy winners, The Turtle Island String Quartet, legendary bassist, Michael Manring, and guitarists Alex DiGrassi and Don Ross.
An internationally renowned violinist and composer, Mads is a two-time Grammy Award Winner and the 2016 DownBeat Critics Poll Rising Star winning violinist. As a former nine year member of both Turtle Island Quartet and bassist Stanley Clarke’s band, Mads has spent most of his professional life touring internationally.
Mads has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition and his recordings have received rave reviews in Downbeat Magazine, Strings Magazine, The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. He has performed with The Who, Chick Corea, Ramsey Lewis, Paquito D’Rivera and many others.
Joe has recorded and performed across multiple genres with hundreds of artists, including Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder, Tower of Power and Ray Charles. He is Assistant Principal cellist with the Oakland East Bay Symphony. The Oakland Tribune describes him as “one of the most eloquently expressive cellists in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Dan has performed with such notable artists as James Moody, Raul Midon, and Mickey Hart. He has toured nationally and internationally with artists including Julio Iglesias, Nicole Yarling and Raul DiBlasio, and played in the pit orchestras for musical theatre productions including Hamilton, The Lion King and Billy Elliot.
In addition to his career as a performer, Dan is featured on hundreds of recordings as both a bassist and recording engineer, and has recorded and mixed albums reaching the highest positions on the US Top 40 and Jazz Radio Charts. Dan’s work with Mark dates back years as both a bassist performing with Glass House and recording engineer for Places and Interconnected.
A disciple of the great tabla maestro, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Ty is internationally recognized for being instrumental in creating unique collaborations that weave tabla with other world traditions. He has been featured on many soundtracks including the academy award winning documentary, “Born into Brothels.”
Ty has recorded and performed with a broad range of artists including Zakir Hussain, Art Lande, Bela Fleck, Walter Becker (Steely Dan), Mamadou Diabate, Kitaro, Jon Anderson (Yes) and many more. Ty’s collaboration with Mark dates back to early recordings with Glass House.
Tell me that pedigree doesn’t make you curious to listen. I haven’t even broken into my own thoughts and I probably won’t need to. If you’re interested in instrumental work in any way, you likely stopped reading my article already and looked for a link to listen to the music.
Before I give my thoughts, let’s drop some music already. The following is a live video for Interwoven, the first track on INTERCONNECTED:
Here’s one more. The following video is a performance of Grey Skye, the second track on INTERCONNECTED.
The music is absolutely beautiful, right? Before I finally give my review, let me share the link to stream the full album. That way, if you want, you don’t have to bother reading the rest. Don’t worry, I won’t be offended. I totally understand it. I’ve read plenty of movie reviews that made me stop in the middle and go watch it.
All right, it’s finally time for me to wax on about this album. Let me start by saying I loved it. I know, I know… Big Surprise. But to be fair, I made it clear in a recent piece that I only review what I enjoy. That said, this was right up my alley. This music is absolutely gorgeous. I enjoy listening to film scores, which this reminded me of, and I’m very fond of acoustic music. The whole ensemble plays beautifully throughout this entire album.
Through the use of the ensemble, this album manages to utilize different styles, and evoke different eras or cultures. You can tell this music had feeling and emotion behind it. It’s trying to tell you something.
Here’s a quote, direct from the artist:
“The music on this recording is intended to convey interconnectedness, the reality that we live in an interconnected, interdependent world, that we are all one human race. Instrumental music is an ideal means of expressing this because it is a universal language.
This ensemble is comprised of musicians who are capable of a wide range of styles from different cultures and different eras. I worked hard to write this music with interconnectedness in mind, within each piece individually and in the relationships between the pieces themselves.
Some of the pieces on Interconnected come from a deeply personal place. For Every Child was written for every person who has either experienced or known someone who has gone through the trauma of losing their innocence to childhood sexual abuse as I did before age ten.
One Day Over A Thousand is dedicated to all those who lost their lives to Covid-19, and to my dear friend Holli Ross, who died while this piece was being written.”
You can genuinely feel that intent behind the music. The ability to do something like that fascinates me. Someone once told me that writing was my “super power.” I really dug the message behind that and I think it applies here to all of these musicians. Music is their super power and I’m glad I was introduced to this album to listen to it in action.
With that spirit in mind, let me say this… It can be hard to get your message across, at times, with actual words. All these talented musicians had here was music. Mark Vickness and the Interconnected ensemble had something to say and put out into the universe, and they did it in a wonderfully positive way. I can’t stress enough how talented these people must be. I’ve been getting that a lot lately with the music I review here. This is my first fully instrumental album review, but I’ve covered a lot of music that said A LOT with very little. That is much easier said than done.
Still with me here? If so, now’s the time to follow some of the links I’ve provided. That’s really all the insight I can provide musically, what with my untrained ear. I felt this was a beautifully executed album. It’s performed perfectly by massively talented, award winning musicians.
If you have some time and need to relax, you’re where you need to be. Even if you won’t have time until later… Save the link. Keep this bookmarked. Take in this entire album when you have a minute.
Thank you for clicking into my continuing music coverage.
Track listing posted below:
2. Grey Skye
3. Hot Apple Stuff/Studio version
4. Bodega Blue
5. 6 in 7
6. Mia Lucia
7. For Every Child
8. Hot Apple Stuff/Live version
9. One Day Over A Thousand