Cincinnati Pops Orchestra to Release Latest Album, American Originals: 1918 on Today

The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra announced the November 9 release of its latest album, American Originals: 1918, under the direction of Pops Conductor John Morris Russell. The recording is inspired by America's cultural awakening at the end of the First World War one hundred years ago and the distinctly American musical styles that reflect the country's diversity. This album celebrates and reimagines popular songs of this era that remain fresh and relevant today with acclaimed musical collaborators including Rhiannon Giddens, Steep Canyon Rangers and Pokey LaFarge. The 95th Cincinnati Pops album was recorded live at Cincinnati Music Hall November 10- 12, 2017, and is being released on the Orchestra's label, Fanfare Cincinnati.

"At the close of the First World War, and the advent of recording, America's musical culture played upon the world's stage for the first time", said Mr. Russell. "The earliest jazz, country and blues styles blossomed across the nation-styles that would bear fruit in American popular music for the remainder of the century and define our shared musical ethos. This post-war era provided the inspiration for American Originals: 1918."

The recording showcases brilliantly inventive new orchestrations by Rob Mounsey, Timothy Berens and Julie Spangler. In addition to popular classics like Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" and George M. Cohan's "Over There," American Originals: 1918 revels in stylings born of the African-American experience.

"Rhiannon Giddens delivers outrageous performances, including Bessie Smith's 'I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle,' along with Pops Violinist Paul Patterson, and 'I Ain't Got Nobody,'" said Mr. Russell. "Her performances are both searing and crushingly heartfelt."

Ms. Giddens, a Grammy-winning musician celebrated for her work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and as a solo artist, was awarded a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Award in 2017. She also performs a completely new take on "Swing Along" by Will Marion Cook, and Eubie Blake's popular classic, "I'm Just Wild About Harry" with tap-dancer Robyn Watson on American Originals: 1918.

"Among the positive storylines to come out of the horrific First World War was the U.S. Army's embrace of African-Americans, which ultimately led to new opportunities for all black Americans, especially musicians," said Mr. Russell. "James Reese Europe's 'Harlem Hell Fighters' regiment band entertained troops and civilians alike across the Atlantic, as did 350th Field Artillery Regiment 'Black Devils' Orchestra led by Timothy Brymn. It is no wonder that, after hearing these bands in Paris, composers like Stravinsky, Ravel, Poulenc and Milhaud were inspired to create jazz compositions of their own."

African-American regimental bands returned home after the war and took U.S. audiences by storm. Mr. Europe's 1919 recordings include the first wildly popular jazz standards like "Memphis Blues" and "Strutter's Ball," both featured with new orchestrations on this new recording.

American Originals: 1918 also explores the sounds of country music, which took root across the country following the First World War.

"Pokey LaFarge conveys the intimate musical connection between folk music and blues with a unique vocal quality that recalls those early years of the 20th century," said Mr. Russell. Mr. LaFarge is known for his charismatic performances and unique brand of cross-genre musical storytelling. He sings Herman Hupfeld's "Night Owl," Billy Hill's "Prairie Lullaby," W.C. Handy's "Memphis Blues," and joins Ms. Giddens and the Steep Canyon Rangers on "I Ain't Got Nobody."

The Grammy Award-winning bluegrass sextet the Steep Canyon Rangers, known for their work with Steve Martin, also bring their tight harmonies and skillful expression to Irving Berlin's "Remember" and Walter Donaldson's "How Ya Gonna Keep'em Down on the Farm?"

"To folks who were at the concerts in Cincinnati last year: you will be happy to know we also recorded the sensational Steep Canyon Rangers' blazing encore of 'Auden's Train,' featuring the outrageous Nicky Sanders on the fiddle," said Mr. Russell.

American Originals: 1918 also features a moving tribute to those who fought and died in the First World War: In the Cause of the Free, a new work by Peter Boyer highlights the virtuosity Cincinnati Pops Principal Trumpet Robert Sullivan.

The recording is produced by Elaine Martone, engineered by Michael Bishop, both multiple Grammy Award winners, and made possible through the generous support of Anne Heldman, John & Suzanne Bossert and Otto Budig.

American Originals: 1918 will be released nationally and internationally (on compact disc, as well as via iTunes, Amazon mp3 and commercial streaming services), beginning on November 9, 2018. Preorders are currently available online.

Track listing:

Hey There! James Reese Europe/orch. Timothy Berens

How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm? Walter Donaldson/arr. Rob Mounsey Steep Canyon Rangers, vocals and bluegrass band

Over There George M. Cohan/arr. Rob Mounsey

I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle Perry "Mule" Bradford/arr. Julie Spangler Rhiannon Giddens, vocals

Strutter's Ball Shelton Brooks/arr. Joe Price

Night Owl Herman Hupfeld /arr. Rob Mounsey Pokey LaFarge, lead vocals Steep Canyon Rangers, backing vocals

Charleston James P. Johnson/arr. Rob Mounsey Robyn Watson, tap dancer

Swing Along Will Marion Cook/arr. Rob Mounsey Rhiannon Giddens, vocals

God Bless America Irving Berlin/arr. Rob Mounsey

In the Cause of the Free Peter Boyer Robert Sullivan, trumpet

Prairie Lullaby Billy Hill/orch. Rob Mounsey Pokey LaFarge, vocals

I'm Just Wild About Harry Eubie Blake/arr. Rob Mounsey Rhiannon Giddens, vocals Robyn Watson, tap dancer

Cocoanut Grove Jazz James Tim Brymn/orch. Timothy Berens

Memphis Blues W.C. Handy/arr. Rob Mounsey Pokey LaFarge, vocals

Remember Irving Berlin/arr. Rob Mounsey Steep Canyon Rangers, vocals and bluegrass band

I Ain't Got Nobody Spencer Williams/arr. Rob Mounsey Rhiannon Giddens, vocals Robyn Watson, tap dancer Steep Canyon Rangers, vocals and bluegrass band Pokey LaFarge, vocals

(BONUS TRACK) Auden's Train WH Auden, Steve Martin, and Nicky Sanders Steep Canyon Rangers, vocals and bluegrass band

Fanfare Cincinnati The CSO's recording label, formerly known as Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Media, launched in 2010 and has so far released three Cincinnati Symphony albums, American Portraits, Baltic Portraits, Hallowed Ground, and the Grammy-nominated Concertos for Orchestra along with four previous Cincinnati Pops albums Home for the Holidays, Superheroes, Carnival of the Animals and American Originals (2016). Cincinnati Opera's Fellow Travelers and the May Festival Chorus' reissue of Christmas with the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus have also been released on Fanfare Cincinnati. The label's name reflects the Orchestra's rich musical heritage and the historic fanfare project from the 1940's that resulted in Aaron Copland's iconic Fanfare for the Common Man. Fanfare Cincinnati's recordings will continue to be distributed nationally and internationally by Naxos. -more-

The CSO was the third U.S. orchestra to make a commercial recording in 1917 and since 1980 has sold ten million recordings worldwide as both the Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Pops. More than 140 total recordings are available by the CSO and Pops on various labels.

John Morris Russell, conductor A remarkable artist with boundless enthusiasm for music-making of all kinds, John Morris Russell is a modern conductor who engages and enthralls audiences with the full breadth of the orchestral experience. Conductor of the Cincinnati Pops since 2011, Mr. Russell's diverse programming and electric stage presence have infused new creativity and energy into one of the world's most iconic orchestras. The Pops has released four celebrated commercial recordings so far during his tenure and introduced the American Soundscapes online video series, reaching a global audience of nearly half a million. Mr. Russell has also led the Pops on tours to Florida in 2014 and Asia in 2017.

Consistently winning international praise for his extraordinary music-making and visionary leadership, this Ohio native is also Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina where Mr. Russell's commitment has yielded a new level of artistic excellence. He has also served as the Principal Pops Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic since 2015. A popular guest conductor throughout the United States and Canada, he also holds the title of Conductor Laureate with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in Ontario, Canada, where he served as Music Director for eleven years.

With the Cincinnati Pops, Mr. Russell regularly leads sold-out performances at Cincinnati's Music Hall. Additionally, he conducts the Pops at the Riverbend Music Center and in concerts throughout the Greater Cincinnati region and on tour. Mr. Russell has collaborated with generations of great performers including the late Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Rosemary Clooney. His impressive list of acclaimed Broadway, film and television artists include the talents of Leslie Odom Jr., Idina Menzel, Vince Gill, Sutton Foster, Branford Marsalis, Gregory Porter, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Megan Hilty, Lea Salonga, Michael McDonald, Amy Grant, Brian Wilson, Katharine McPhee, Rhiannon Giddens, Rosanne Cash, Edward James Olmos and Marvin Winans.

A sought-after guest conductor across the continent, Mr. Russell returned to the Hollywood Bowl in July 2014 to conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic for a trio of concerts. Other recent engagements include the National Symphony Orchestra on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in 2017, the New York Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Utah Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, among many other ensembles.

Cincinnati Pops Orchestra The Cincinnati Pops, which also performs as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, is under the direction of John Morris Russell and presents a diverse array of musical styles, all bathed in the world-renowned "Cincinnati Sound." The Pops was officially founded in 1977 with the late Erich Kunzel, and just since 1980, the Orchestra has sold ten million recordings around the globe.

The growing list of celebrated artists who have collaborated with the Pops include Ella Fitzgerald, Frederica von Stade, Doc Severinsen, Henry Mancini, Aretha Franklin, Audra McDonald, Mel Tormé, Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Holliday, Vanessa Williams, Dave Brubeck, Audra McDonald, The Temptations, John Williams, Idina Menzel, Smokey Robinson, Rosemary Clooney, Mandy Patinkin, Arturo Sandoval, Peter Frampton, Boyz II Men, Bernadette Peters, Lea Salonga, Rhiannon Giddens, Ben Folds, Rosanne Cash, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The Pops tours nationally and internationally, most recently in Shanghai and Taiwan for acclaimed performances in March 2017 and Florida for Holiday season performances in December 2014. The Pops traveled to Beijing as part of the Opening Festivities of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, and in 2005, the Pops completed a historical tour to China and Singapore performing in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The Cincinnati Pops was the first U.S. Pops orchestra to perform in China, and also has appeared to enthusiastic audiences in New York's Carnegie Hall, in Washington D.C., and Japan.

An estimated 30 million people have viewed national telecasts of the Cincinnati Pops on PBS, and the Orchestra has more than 100 available recordings, 55 of which have appeared on the Billboard charts, a record unmatched by any other orchestra. The Pops' Copland: Music of America won a Grammy in 1997, and four other Pops recordings have been nominated for Grammy Awards. In 2012, the Pops released its first recording under John Morris Russell, Home for the Holidays, on the Orchestra's own Fanfare Cincinnati label. Subsequent recordings Superheroes! and Carnival of the Animals reached #8 and #15, respectively, on the Billboard charts. The most recent Pops release, American Originals, received national critical and widespread acclaim for its reimagining of the Stephen Foster songbook and American Originals: 1918, which explores, celebrates and reimagines American music of the World War I era is due out November 9, 2018 . In the spring of 2016, the Pops unveiled American Soundscapes, an online video series that features Pops performances captured live. It has already reached nearly half a million viewers around the world.

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