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Jeni Slotchiver's 'American Heritage' speaks to an expansive journey into the past / HollywoodSoapbox

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HollywoodSoapbox - John Soltes writes......Celebrated pianist Jeni Slotchiver has built a career out of musical exploration. She has interpreted many well-known composers in the classical music realm, particularly from the 20th century. Her new project is a survey of songs from the vast African-American musical tradition. Her album's title speaks to this expansive journey into the past: American Heritage: From the Civil War to Civil Rights.

On the recording, which has recently been released by ZOHO, Slotchiver includes compositions by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Margaret Bonds and Louis Moreau Gottschalk, among several others. The selections range from the traditional folk song "Shenandoah" to Frederic Rzewski's "Down by the Riverside".

"This is music I have been close to practically my whole life," the pianist said in a recent phone interview. "I was exposed to all kinds of music when I was younger. Clearly I'm a classical music nerd, but I loved gospel, blues, jazz. I love popular music, and I heard all kinds of music in our home. I did spend my early years in the South, and so there were some quite memorable moments of experiencing the music live there."

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