The Squid's Ear Magazine

Brennan, John Wolf: Nitty Gritty Ditties (Leo Records)

33 songs & instrumentals in 74 minutes performed by Dublin composer, performer, improvisor, pianist and organist John Wolf Brennan, covering an eclectic and vast cross-section of styles and genres, from composers including Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, The Rolling Stones, Lars Hollmer, Tom Waits, Cornelius Cardew, Bela Bartok, Paul McCartney, John McLaughlin, &c.

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product information:

UPC: 5024792090228

Label: Leo Records
Catalog ID: LEOR902.2
Squidco Product Code: 30573

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: UK
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Sound farm Studios, in Oberau/Lucerne, on October 7th, November 9th ans 26th, and December 8th, 2020, by Marco Jencarelli.


John Wolf Brennan-piano, organ

Anna Murphy-vocals

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"What can one say about a CD which is 74 minutes long, consists of 33 tracks and is accompanied by a 16-page booklet? This work is a kind of a new genre, a musical autobiography, dozens and dozens of snippets of someone else's songs which are locked in Brenann's subconsciousness. The amazing thing is that Brennan unites them into one whole which sounds as one song. Fascinating stuff. "-Leo Records

"Pianist Brennan was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1954, moving with his parents to Switzerland in 1961. He has been known internationally as composer, improvisor, organist and pianist for many years, performing across Europe, Canada, China, Japan, Russia and the USA.

This album consists of 33 short pieces, ditties or songs, which have originated from other musicians as diverse as Béla Bartók, Carla Bley and Tom Waits. It also carries a kind of subtitle, 'nonsolopiano' which the comprehensive sleeve notes explain, along with the music itself, in full detail. Brennan accompanies himself on Hammond, melodica, Rhodes, toy and Wurlitzer pianos to name a few. On three tracks he is accompanied by vocalist Anna Murphy.

Classical, folk, jazz and rock are all represented on the album, yet together they may very well be seen as a short concert of chamber music, composed for a small group of musicians to play in the home.

Track 16 offers one very clear example of how many of these numbers work. I use it because the piece to which Brennan has referred is probably very common to the listening experience of a very wide jazz audience. So, you will recognise it. It is "Blue in Green" from the Miles Davis album, Kind of Blue. Clearly, the pianos have nothing of the muted tones of Miles' trumpet, yet Brennan presents the essence of the original, clearly identifiable: I don't think these are mondegreens.

John Wolf Brennan presents a concert of over an hour of delightfully light-hearted jazz music, utterly relaxing and almost spellbinding. He is clearly engrossed in the music and approaches it fervently."-Ken Cheetham, Jazz Views

Get additional information at Jazz Views

Artist Biographies

"John Wolf Brennan was born 1954 in Dublin, Ireland. Internationally known as a composer, performer, improvisor, pianist and organist, Brennan has performed his music throughout Europe, Russia, Canada, China, the Ukraine, the USA and Japan. He has has earned worldwide recognition and received many awards, grants and commissions.

Brennan is a member of several international groups including Pago Libre with Arkady Shilkloper (horn, alphorn), Florian Mayer (violin) & Tom Götze (bass); Pilgrims with Tony Majdalani & Marco Jencarelli, Trio Christian Zehnder (voice) & Arkady Shilkloper, Triangulation with Christy Doran (guitars) & Patrice Héral (perc), Sculpted Sound with Magda Vogel (voice), Sooon with Sonja Morgenegg (voice, yodeling) alphorn) & Tony Majdalani (perc, voice), Fluctus with John Voirol (sax, oboe) & Marco Käppeli (dr)."

-John Wolf Brennan Website (

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Track Listing:

1. We love you, Eskimo 3:04

2. Tell Her You Saw Me 3:52

3. Children's Song No. 3 1:33

4. Microcosm No. 69 2:09

5. Song For Everyone 2:55

6. For No One 1:31

7. Sweeping Up 1:41

8. Utviklingssang 2:58

9. You Know You Know 3:14

10. Derniere 1:28

11. As A Flower Blossoms 2:26

12. Microcosm No. 73 0:46

13. Funky Two Five 2:26

14. Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral 2:18

15. Equus 1:30

16. Blue in Green 2:20

17. We Love You 2:45

18. Impresiones Intimas No. 2 1:33

19. Boeve's Psalm 2:17

20. Tango 2:31

21. Mannenberg 2:09

22. Microcosm No. 82 0:29

23. Unintended Piano Music 2:31

24. Silence 3:22

25. Russian Bells 2:33

26. Gentle Piece 2:08

27. Siren's Song 2:14

28. Microcosm No. 84 1:15

29. Raindrops 1:44

30. Hey Ho What Shall I Say 2:18

31. She Could Be Mine 3:07

32. No Walk Today 1:12

33. XEDNiNDEX (Palindrom) 3:26

Related Categories of Interest:

Leo Records
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Piano & Keyboards
Song Based Music
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
Solo Artist Recordings
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