Get this crazy baby off my head!



Shadowfax - Shadowdance - 1983 - Windham Hill Records

Shadowfax were a prominent "new age" band that flourished in the eclectic global music pond of the early '80s. One of the musical definitions of "new age" music is described in Wikipedia as "music with an ambient sound that has the explicit purpose of aiding meditation and relaxation, or aiding and enabling various alternative spiritual practices, such as alternative healing, Yoga practise, guided meditation, chakra auditing, and so on. The proponents of this definition are almost always musicians who create their music expressly for these purposes". That definition may sound boring and could certainly lead to an immediate dismissal of "new age" music by many people. However, as with all music genres, their "definitions" do not always relate to what you hear, and "Shadowdance" is one such example. The album is not boring, nor is it necessarily of a meditative nature. Relaxing, yes, but there is no Tantric, Yogaic, or other "religious" symbolism attached to the album. The album is very listenable, accessible, and enjoyable. Also, "New Age" music is often associated with abstractism, and again, "Shadowdance" does not relate to this concept. This is not saying that abstract/new age music cannot be enjoyed. Listen to Brian Eno's great "Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks", an album which proves this point. "Shadowdance" is an original blend of electronica, fusion, ethnic, progressive, and jazz rock, with medieval, and even Canterbury Rock elements, played brilliantly by a band who originally started in 1972, in Chicago as a blues trio. So goes the evolution of music ! Try and listen to the late Chuck Greenberg's "From a Blue Planet" album, and also Shadowfax's "Magic Theater" album. Although A.O.O.F.C concentrates on blues, jazz, electronica, and prog. rock, it is a good thing to open your mind to all types of music. There is no rubbish posted on this blog, and everything on A.O.O.F.C has some musical merit. .....(In the words of the late, great Ian Dury, did somebody say "Wot a load of old bollo?" !!)


Released in the wake of the success of Shadowfax's 1982 eponymous LP, Shadowdance saw the band beginning to take a new direction. First, the quartet was augmented to a sextet with the addition of keyboardist Jared Stewart and violinist Jamil Szmadzinski. Second, the dreamy landscapes and delicate melodies found on the three previous albums are relegated in the background to make room for jazz-rock and ethnic fusion anthems, a trend epitomized by the inclusion of a Don Cherry medley, "Brown Rice/Karmapa Chenno." The album opener, "New Electric India," sets the tone: a jazz-rock rhythm section topped by an Indian-like melody on violin -- enough to make Shadowfax fans check if they had not put a Jean-Luc Ponty or Shankar record on by mistake. Yet, this new sound suited the band very well. The title track showcases lots of percussion work underpinning a simple but effective melody. Lovers of the band's early work turned their attention to "Watercourse Way" and "Distant Voices," the latter a nice 12-string guitar and flute ballad. "A Song for My Brother," one of the group's longest recorded tracks at nine minutes, flirted with progressive rock. It packs a lot of emotion in its main theme, thanks to G.E. Stinson's soaring electric guitar. A transitional album, Shadowdance captured the band at its creative peak. © François Couture, All Music Guide


A1 New Electric India - (G. E. Stinson)
A2 Watercourse Way - (Chuck Greenberg, Stinson)
A3 Ghost Bird - (Stinson)
A4 Shadowdance - (Greenberg)

B1 Brown Rice / Karmapa Chenno - (Don Cherry)
B2 Distant Voices - (Stinson, Greenberg)
B3 A Song For My Brother - (Stinson)


Guitar [6 & 12 String] - G.E. Stinson
Vocals - G.E. Stinson (on B 1)
Bass - Phil Maggini
Piano, Synthesizer - Jared Stewart
Lyricon, Saxophone [Tenor], Flute - Chuck Greenberg R.I.P
Violin, Violin [Baritone] - Jamii Szmadzinski
Cymbal [Chinese Water Cymbals], Percussion [Kanjgeera] - Emil Richards (on A 1)
Gong [Paiste Gamelon], Marimba [Flapamba], Percussion [Angklung], Marimba - Emil Richards (on A 4)
Psaltery - Jamii Szmadzinski (on A 1)
Tabla - Adam Rudolph (on A 1)
Percussion [Hand Percussion] - Michael Spiro (on A 2)
Congas, Percussion [Chekere, Hand Percussion], Guiro - Michael Spiro (on B 1)
Percussion - Mick Lehocky (on A 4, & B 1)
Vibraphone - Stuart Nevitt (on A 4)
Drums, Percussion, Marimba [Kelon] - Stuart Nevitt


One of new age electronic music's earliest and best-known proponents, Shadowfax was formed in Chicago in 1972 by saxophonist Chuck Greenberg, guitarist G.E. Stinson and bassist Phil Maggini. Originally a blues band, the trio soon began exploring chamber jazz and folk; even medieval music began creeping into the mix, appropriately enough for a group named in honor of a horse from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. Adding drummer Stuart Nevin in 1974, Shadowfax issued their debut LP, Watercourse Way, two years later; failing to make an immediate impact, the quartet did attract a cult following which continued to grow following their subsequent signing to the Windham Hill label. 1982's eponymously titled effort was their commerical breakthrough, reaching the upper rungs of the Billboard jazz charts; for the follow-up, 1983's Shadowdance, Shadowfax's ranks swelled with the additions of violinist Jamii Szmadzinski and pianist/synth player Jared Stewart. The group endured multiple personnel changes in the years to follow, with founding members Greenberg and Maggini both remaining constants well into the 1990s. © Jason Ankeny, allmusic.com

BIO (Wikipedia)

Shadowfax was a new age/electronic musical group, best known for their albums Shadowfax and Folksongs for a Nuclear Village. In 1988 they won the Grammy for Best New Age Performance for Folksongs for a Nuclear Village. In 1992 they were nominated for the Grammy for Esperanto. The group formed in 1972, and disbanded after 1995 when Lyricon player and leader Chuck Greenberg died of a heart attack. Having lost their signature sound, Shadowfax's members went on to other projects. The group takes its name from Gandalf's horse Shadowfax in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.


A.O.O.F.C said...


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Anonymous said...

Thanks for this.
I have "The Odd Get Even" and i like this guys.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, MR.B. No probs. Both good albums. Thanks. TTU soon

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Anonymous said...

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A.O.O.F.C said...

Thanks for dropping by. The password is