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A New 'Sound of Music'

Classic musical gets 21st-century treatment

The CD's other memorable mash-up is "Edelweiss." Kiesewalter brought the alpine floral tribute back to America by blending folksinger Ola Belle Reed's signature tune, "High on a Mountain Top," into it. Rodgers and Hammerstein, Kiesewalter says, "succeeded in fooling people into thinking 'Edelweiss' was a traditional Austrian folk song plucked out of obscurity."

But for Kiesewalter, the story of the von Trapp family's flight from Austria to America is a classic immigrants' story "of a family fleeing an oppressive situation and coming to the USA in search of a better life."

You might have trouble disassociating "Climb Every Mountain" from Mother Superior's iconic silhouette and operatic contralto. Kiesewalter, however, believes the song's lyrics express thoughts about positivity and higher aspiration that wouldn't be out of place on the latest album by R&B star Mary K. Blige, a connection made even clearer by guest rapper TK Wonder.

"My favorite songs are the ones I took the most liberties with," says the musician. The record's shortest track, "I Have Confidence," became a frenzy of punk-rock vocals, gnarly guitar and bebop saxophone. "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" takes an exceedingly kooky turn as a klezmer tune featuring a rabbinical adviser.

"Making this album was an insane amount of fun," Kiesewalter says of the 15 months the quartet and their guest vocalists spent recording it, "and I hope it sounds like it."

He's already received plenty of both kudos and virtual tomatoes on the musical's Facebook page.

"What I didn't want to do was make fun of The Sound of Music, because that's too easy. If I'm going to play music, it's because I sincerely love it."

 

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