Posted on: September 28, 2008 Posted by: James McQuiston Comments: 0

While the original engagement of Little Fish only ran for a little over three weeks (February 15th to March 9th, 2003), the impact that Michael John LaChiusa’s music had on all lucky enough to familiarize themselves with it cannot be understated. This was first seen in the musical’s second life, where it enjoyed over a month of performances in 2007 at The Blank Theatre (Los Angeles). The musical’s cast recording, taken from the “West Coast Premiere” of the musical (October 9th, 2007), provides individuals with some semblance of the impact that seeing the musical had on anyone lucky enough to be in attendance.

Where previously, only individuals on one of the coasts (be it in New York, Massachusetts, or California) had a chance to hear LaChiusa’s genius at work, Sh-K-Boom (a sub-label of Ghostlight) has given a wider array of individuals the chance to hear each of these twenty-three selections. “Days” is the first composition, putting forth a very confusing quote for listeners to mull over – “I have never known what I was really like until I stopped smoking”, before a very stilted, awkward blend of instrumentation and vocals become the norm. Things orient themselves in a more traditional way with “Robert” – the vocals from “Days” come over, while the conflictual instrumentation takes on a more atmospheric tone that permeates the rest of the tracks on this recording.

The piano and horn-heavy opening to “Cigarette Dream” imbues a jazz spirit onto the dominant vocals on “Little Fish”, ensuring the second half of the cast recording has the widest possible swath of influences, genres, and approaches available for use. The track immediately following “Cigarette Dream” – “Flotsam” – takes full advantage of this open palette. The instrumentation draws back, only providing the lightest of contexts for the vocals to operate within, but the harmonies achieved by this vocal operate in a complex way with the piano and guitar. The clear vocal notes act in opposition to the more distorted sounds of the guitars, with the piano operating as a moderating influence between the two. While I am currently unsure about what performances of Little Fish are ongoing or are planned for the next year, make it a point to see what this musical is all about, live if possible and recorded if you can find a vendor with a copy of this cast recording.

Top Tracks: Flotsam (Reprise), In Two’s And Three’s

Rating: 7.8/10

Little Fish (Cast Recording) / 2008 Sh-K-Boom / 23 Tracks / /

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