The UK-based experimental label, Unheard of Hope has shared the first installment of the series, Small Wonders, which sees musicians covering their favorite tracks from Arthur Russell. The series will feature six 7” split single installments. On the first of these records, released this past week, Peter Broderick and longtime Russell collaborator, Peter Zummo, cover the songs “All-Boy All-Girl” and “Tone Bone Kone.”
Peter Broderick said of his approach to the cover:
“All-Boy All-Girl” has been one of my favourite Arthur Russell tracks for years. I never thought to cover it before because, like most the material on the World of Echo album, it is hard to pin down what exactly the song itself is. What is the song, what is the production, and what is the performance? It’s all very amorphous, and I love that about it. When asked to cover an Arthur track for this project, I thought I’d finally give this song a try. And with the help of Mabe Fratti and her friend Sebastian Rojas, I hope we have created a worthwhile tribute to this song which has brought me to tears many times.
Listen to Broderick’s cover:
Arthur Russell was a composer, cellist, and singer from Iowa whose dreamy compositions have enchanted listeners with his genre bending approach to music for decades. Following his passing in 1994, Russell’s music continued to hold a sort of cult following with the continued release of demos and unheard recordings. Russell’s singular, full length release, World of Echo, combines delicate electronic elements, other-worldly cello, and Russell’s voice for a deeply immersive and personal record. Both Zummo and Broderick looked to the release for their cover selections.
Zummo discussed his selection process:
One day when we were working in the rehearsal studio, Arthur mentioned his idea of a song called Tone Bone Kone. We talked about it but I never heard any music. I wondered about what role the trombone could take on. Later, I was surprised and pleased to hear his solo version on the World of Echo album. For a few years I’ve tried it with colleagues here in New York, looking for a group approach to Arthur’s cello/delay vamp. Just before the pandemic hit in March, 2020, I had some concerts in the UK with Peter Broderick, Joe Carvell, Mabe Fratti and Sebastian Rojas. We played Tone Bone Kone as our encore. This recording builds on the live energy the group was getting into at the close of those concerts.
Check out Zummo’s take on “Tone Bone Kone:”
With 5 more releases in the Small Wonders series, the first two covers offer a sampling of what is to come. Future additions to the series include Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier and Mexican multi-instrumentalist Mabe Fratti, and more.