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Pop - Released October 17, 2000 | Oglio

Routinely selling for huge sums of money on the vinyl market and making its way into the collections of pop fanatics as far afield as Japan, Take a Picture has taken on a dynamic life of its own since its 1968 release, especially for an album that went relatively unheard at the time. It is not difficult to figure out what all the retroactive acclaim is about once you hear the sweet, delicate strain of gently kaleidoscopic music on the sole album from Margo Guryan. It is the soft pop of which gauzy dreams are made, full of the hazy changes and transitory variations of autumn, an album that you invariably want to wrap up in. Better than most similar efforts from the time, the album maintains a vibrant resonance outside the milieu in which it was created because the songcraft is not only infectious but also highly intelligent, and because Guryan's performance is so delicious. Perhaps a bit too thin and breathy for mass consumption, her voice is an acquired taste in an era loaded with wispy pop princesses, not to mention brassy belters such as Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, and Mama Cass. Once you accept its whispery invitation, though, Guryan's singing, equal parts girl group innocence and seductive torch, envelops you. The thing that really elevates her above many of her contemporaries and competitors for the soft rock tiara, though, is her wonderfully idiosyncratic songwriting capabilities. A classically trained pianist and jazz composer by education and trade, her songs are much more than your standard pop fare. Although the song structures are simplistic on a superficial level (which should have made them perfect nuggets for commercial radio play in 1968), the arrangements beneath them are anything but. There are all kinds of intriguing things going on with or underneath the melody, either instrumentally (hammy trombones, old-tavern piano, touches of sitar) or via affect. Just when you think a chorus or hook is as ethereal as it could possibly be, Guryan tweaks it just slightly enough that it rises even higher and takes you to an even more elevated emotional plane. She manages the difficult trick of cajoling something already beautiful to something truly sublime. There is also an expert, fluid balance of juxtapositions within the music. Tempos are shifted frequently but seamlessly, and Guryan's chord progressions tend to switch from balladic choices during the slower verses to sly and unconventional jazz progressions during the quicker paced breaks and bridges, with the influence of bossa nova particularly heavy in many of the tunes. Her classical background is spliced into the mix as well, generically via the orchestral splashes of various songs, but more explicitly on "Someone I Know," where her own pop melody is superimposed over the chorale of Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." The two fit perfectly, point and counterpoint, like the complex pocket symphonies of Brian Wilson, a huge influence, and far more interesting with each listen. Other highlights include her own version of "Sunday Morning," the breezily kittenish "Sun," and the tough go-go groove of "Don't Go Away," but really every song is a gem. The CD reissue, housed in a handsome special edition digipak with a 12-page booklet that contains a brief biography, liner notes, and lyrics, also includes three stellar bonus publisher's demos that mark a significant addition an album that was already one of the most endearing cult soft rock records from an era full of them. © Stanton Swihart /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 29, 2014 | The Oglio Entertainment Group, Inc.

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Pop - Released July 31, 2020 | Sundazed Music - Modern Harmonic

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Classical - Released August 18, 2009 | Oglio

It seems hard to believe, but here's a set of variations on Chopsticks, blurbed by none other than Gunther Schuller. "A charming set of variations on the famous tune: clever witty, at times tender and elegant, at other times punning and ribald," he writes. "Every variation has some delightfully surprising touch." It's true. California-based composer and pianist Margo Guryan offers a set of variations on the well-known children's ditty, and they're more than distinctive enough to hold the listener's interest. The included summary of the tune's history may be worth the purchase price in itself: it has nothing to do with Asian chopsticks, but was published in London in 1877 under the title The Chop Waltz, and the characteristic percussive way of playing the notes was part of the original instructions. Similar tunes appeared at the same time in several other cities, suggesting a common ancestor in unwritten tradition. Eleven of Guryan's 14 variations are in ABA form, with different deployments of the theme in most of those; the charm of the work lies largely in the subtlety with which these are all knitted together as the theme moves from hand to hand and spreads out to intermittent notes in the music. The work is both stylistically and tonally diverse, with ragtime and boogie woogie variations; Schuller calls it "a little American Mikrokosmos -- and much more fun!" Indeed Guryan's piece has some of the same way of deriving surprises from very simple material that is found in the early volumes of that famous Hungarian set for children. The Chopsticks Variations are not specifically for kids, however; an advanced student could certainly play them, but they're not for beginners. © TiVo
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Rock - Released May 14, 2020 | Oglio Records

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Pop - Released April 23, 2007 | Pure Mint Recordings

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Rock - Released September 20, 1968 | Oglio Records