Monday, December 31, 2012

Mark Isham - Mark Isham

Mark Isham returns to the basics on this self-named album, blowing a sweet horn, arranging both classics ("Blue Moon") and his own tunes, and using the fine voice of Tanita Tikaram, with whom he'd earlier worked on an album released under her name. Highly recommended. - by Chris Noto,

Isham continues his ensemble-style collaborations with guests Tanita Tikaram, Chick Corea, John Patitucci and John Novello, and the contributions of sidemen David Torn, Peter Maunu, and Peter Van Hooke. The pleasing group work provides a nice complement to the two vocal tracks. If you like these, try Isham's soundtrack recording for Trouble in Mind with Marianne Faithfull. - by Scott Bultman, AMG

Artist: Mark Isham
Album: Mark Isham
Year: 1990
Label: Virgin
Runtime: 45:41

1.  Honeymoon Nights (Mark Isham) 5:22
2.  I Never Will Know (Tanita Tikaram) 6:03
3.  Marionette (Mark Isham) 5:56
4.  An Eye on the World (Mark Isham) 3:56
5.  Blue Moon (Richard Rodgers/Lorentz Hart) 4:25
6.  Ashes and Diamonds (Mark Isham) 3:12
7.  Toward the Infinite White (Mark Isham) 5:20
8.  Songs of the Flying Fish (Mark Isham/David Torn) 4:38
9.  Turkish Delight (Mark Isham) 6:44

Mark Isham (Trumpet, Keyboards and Electronics)
Terry Bozzio (Drums) - 1,3,7,9
Doug Lunn (Bass Guitar) - 1,3,5,7-9
Ed Mann (Vibraphone) - 1
David Torn (Guitar) - 1,3,4,6-9
Peter Maunu (Acoustic Guitar) - 2
John Patitucci (Double Bass) - 2,3
Tanita Tikaram (Vocals) - 2,5
Peter Van Hooke (Drums) - 2,5
John Novello (Organ) - 3,4,6,7,9
Alex Acuna (Drums and Percussion) - 4,8,9
Chick Corea (Piano) - 6

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mad Sheer Khan - 1001 Nights

An Algerian native living in France who's best known in the West for his work with Nico and Sting, Mad Sheer Khan enlisted an impressive range of female vocalists from around the world to interpret songs based on poems from the book 1001 Tales of the Arabian Nights in their own native tongues. Native America, Tibet, Israel/Palestine, Algeria, Africa, Pakistan, and India are all represented here, with the artist's expressed goal to "convey the diversity of the world through a common spirit." The concept works well, with Khan and a stellar multicultural lineup of musicians tailoring each song to its singer. Fela Ababsa lends her captivating voice to "Night of Algerian," which segues seamlessly into "Algerian Sunrise," a gorgeous instrumental passage featuring the strings of Bulgaria's Plovdiv Chamber Orchestra. Morocco's Mamani Kei"ta's passionate wail drives the fiery "Night of the Gnawas" to a dynamic crescendo, with wickedly syncopated rhythms and strings helping to sell the drama. Only on the insistent "Night of Navajos" does Khan make a misstep, his synthesized sounds taking the listener out of the timeless mood the previous songs create. Still, this is a bold, experimental record that shows it really is a small world after all. - by Bret Love, AMG

Artist: Mad Sheer Khan
Album: 1001 Nights
Year: 1999
Label: Erato
Runtime: 63:06

1.  Night of Algeria 5:34
2.  Night of Gnawas 9:44
3.  Night of Hebrews 8:34
4.  Night of Navajos 8:55
5.  Night of Tibet 7:43
6.  Night of India 11:20
7.  Night of Persia 11:13
All compositions by Mad Sheer Khan 

Mad Sheer Khan (Oud, Sitar, Rebab, Santur, Keyboards, Percussion and Programming)
Ahmed Dhemai (Percussion)
Subramaniam (Violin)
Plovdiv Chamber Orchestra (Strings)
Nasser (Percussion)
Jean-Pierre Arnaud (Oboe and English Horn)
Bruno Caillat (Zarb)
Fela Ababsa (Vocals) - 1
Mamani Keita (Vocals) - 2
Nourith (Vocals) - 3
Mary Redhouse (Vocals) - 4
Kunchock Lama (Vocals) - 5
Sharmila Roy (Vocals) - 6
Parvin Javdan (Vocals) - 7

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Ella Fitzgerald - At The Opera House

Taken from a Jazz at the Philharmonic tour, Ella Fitzgerald is backed by pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Herb Ellis, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Jo Jones on two well-rounded sets. Actually, the two dates are quite similar, with eight of the nine songs being repeated (although the second "Stompin' at the Savoy" and "Oh, Lady Be Good" find her backed by a riffing eight-horn all-star group), so this album is mostly recommended to her greatest fans. However, the music is wonderful, there are variations between the different versions, and her voice was at its prime. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

This album contains live tracks from two 1958 JATP concerts recorded a few weeks apart. Originally released on LP, it had a Chicago concert on one side and a Los Angeles concert on the other. Many of the same tunes are repeated, and it is interesting to hear how Ella sang in concert night after night. As per usual, Ella ends her set with an extended scat (Stompin' at the Savoy). In the LA concert, however, we get to hear an encore number -- Lady Be Good -- which is the highlight of the album. This is an excellent CD for both the casual and avid fan. - by a customer,

Artist: Ella Fitzgerald
Album: At the Opera House
Year: 1957
Label: Verve (1986)
Runtime: 59:17

1.  It's All Right With Me (Cole Porter) 2:31
2.  Don'cha Go 'Way Mad (Jimmy Mundy/Illinois Jacquet/Al Stillman) 2:42
3.  Bewitched, Bothered, And Bewildered (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers) 3:01
4.  These Foolish Things (Jack Strachey/Harry Link/Holt Marvell) 3:45
5.  Ill Wind (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) 2:47
6.  Goody Goody (Johnny Mercer/Matt Malneck) 1:54
7.  Moonlight In Vermont (Karl Suessdorf/John Blackburn) 3:05
8.  Them There Eyes (Maceo Pinkard/Doris Tauber/William Tracey) 2:08
9.  Stompin' At The Savoy (Benny Goodman/Edgar Sampson/Chick Webb/Andy Razaf) 5:14
10.  It's All Right With Me (Cole Porter) 2:45
11.  Don'cha Go 'Way Mad (Jimmy Mundy/Illinois Jacquet/Al Stillman) 2:31
12.  Bewitched, Bothered, And Bewildered (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers) 3:22
13.  These Foolish Things (Jack Strachey/Harry Link/Holt Marvell) 3:49
14.  Ill Wind (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) 2:53
15.  Goody Goody (Johnny Mercer/Matt Malneck) 1:55
16.  Moonlight In Vermont (Karl Suessdorf/John Blackburn) 3:16
17.  Stompin' At The Savoy (Benny Goodman/Edgar Sampson/Chick Webb/Andy Razaf) 7:15
18.  Oh, Lady Be Good (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 4:24

Ella Fitzgerald (Vocals)
Oscar Peterson (Piano)
Ray Brown (Double Bass)
Herb Ellis (Guitar)
Jo Jones (Drums) - 1-16
Roy Eldridge (Trumpet) - 17,18
J.J. Johnson (Trombone) - 17,18
Sonny Stitt (Alto Saxophone) - 17,18
Lester Young (Tenor Saxophone) - 17,18
Illinois Jacquet (Tenor Saxophone) - 17,18
Coleman Hawkins (Tenor Saxophone) - 17,18
Stan Getz (Tenor Saxophone) - 17,18
Flip Phillips (Tenor Saxophone) - 17,18
Connie Kay (Drums) - 17,18

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Abdullah Ibrahim - Good News From Africa

The extraordinary South African pianist meets his countryman, the late, very great bassist Johnny Dyani, and the result is one of the single most beautiful recordings of the '70s. The duo mix in traditional African and Islamic songs and perform with a fervor and depth of feeling rarely heard in or outside of jazz. From the opening traditional Xhosa song, "Ntsikana's Bell," the rich, sonorous approach of these two musicians is evident, both singing in stirring fashion, Ibrahim guttural and serious, Dyani as free and light as a swallow. Ibrahim treats the listener to some of his all-too-rarely heard flute work on the following track, using Kirk-ian techniques of sung overtones in a gorgeous original. Dyani's bass playing is simply astonishing, never indulging in mere virtuosic displays but always probing, always deep -- what Mingus might have sounded like had he been born in South Africa. His whipsaw arco work on "Good News" provides an incredibly roiling yet solid framework for some inspired piano from Ibrahim. The Islamic prayer-song "Adhan/Allah-O-Akbar" is sung with such heartfelt intensity so as to melt the heart of the unbeliever and lay waste to countless quasi-spiritual attempts by lesser talents. The final two pieces are a fascinating pair. "The Pilgrim" is an Ibrahim special, based on a slow, irresistible loping groove, one that reaches its end lingering for a second or two before repeating, on and on like a luxurious desert caravan. The musicians embroider it exquisitely before reluctantly letting it go on its way after ten minutes. The next composition, Ibrahim's "Moniebah," begins in a stately manner, proceeding along for a minute or two until, as if drawn in by its ineluctable gravity, they return to "The Pilgrim," unable to resist its pull. It's an amazing, joyful moment that sends chills down one's spine. Good News From Africa was the shining, transcendent release by both of these great musicians and one that should grace every listener's collection. - by Brian Olewnick, AMG

Artist: Dollar Brand Duo (Dollar Brand & Johnny Dyani)
Album: Good News from Africa
Year: 1973
Label: Enja (1990)
Runtime: 44:18

1.  Ntsikana's Bell (Traditional) 6:10
2.  Msunduza (Abdullah Ibrahim) 4:42
3.  Good News/Swazi/Waya-Wa-Egoli (Abdullah Ibrahim) 7:30
4.  Adhan & Allah-O-Akbar (Traditional) 4:14
5.  The Pilgrim (Abdullah Ibrahim) 9:47
6.  Moniebah (Abdullah Ibrahim) 11:55

Abdullah Ibrahim (aka Dollar Brand) (Piano, Vocals, Flute)
Johnny Dyani (Double Bass, Vocals, Bells)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Kip Hanrahan - At Home in Anger

Kip Hanrahan s first new recording in many years! The renowned composer, bandleader, visionary producer, and creative instigator has long been known for intensely passionate music that is both tender and hard-driving, with a deep poetic edge. Fans of forward-thinking, outernational music will no doubt be thrilled to hear that Hanrahan is back! Kip Hanrahan has experienced a lot. He was an assistant with Nouvelle Vague director Jean-Luc Godard, the video artist Nam June Paik and the innovative composer Carla Bley, made from the early eighties wonderful records like "Coup de Tete", "Desire Develops An Edge" and "Exotica "for which he formed fantastic, exciting all-star bands with Jack Bruce, Milton Cardona, Charles Neville, Henry Threadgill, David Murray, Arto Lindsay, Billy Bang, Taj Mahal, Astor Piazzolla and even Sting. Today Kip Hanrahan moves between Rio de Janeiro and Reston, Virginia, swinging cross boundaries acts as a catalyst again, less as a jazz musician in the usual sense. The seventeen pieces on “Anger…” are subtle, rhythmically powerful and more focused and balanced than the previous CD. On his thirteenth album percussionist and producer, poet and visionary Kip Hanrahan compensates his vivid anger about oppression and exclusion: "At Home In Anger" - a fascination with excitement, relaxation, warmth and magic. - from

The music of Hanrahan, and of the American Clavé label which he runs, is rich beyond compare. - by Phil Johnson, Independent (London) 

Artist: Kip Hanrahan
Album: At Home in Anger Which Could Also Be Called Imperfect, Happily
Year: 2011
Label: Amecican Clavé
Runtime: 62:16

1.  Vida Sin Miel (Dafnis Prieto) 3:43
2.  Gift (No Woman Knows) (Kip Hanrahan/Steve Swallow/Brandon Ross) 5:26
3.  Another Autumn Forms (Kip Hanrahan/Steve Swallow) 1:18
4.  Como en Vietnam (Kip Hanrahan/Steve Swallow) 4:17
5.  The No Baby [1] (Steve Lacy) 4:20
6.  The Savage Dawn in Her Glance (Kip Hanrahan/Steve Swallow/Fernando Saunders) 5:03
7.  Suenos Da Vida Colonial (Kip Hanrahan/Steve Swallow/Roberto Poveda) 3:33
8.  Kuduro of Assassins and Laughter (Horacio Hernandez/Kip Hanrahan) 3:29
9.  Obviously Spring (Evora) (Kip Hanrahan) 3:32
10.  You Play with the Night with Your Fingertips (Kip Hanrahan/DD Jackson/Fernando Saunders) 5:11
11.  Unfinished Dawn (Kip Hanrahan) 2:12
12.  At Home in the Night (Kip Hanrahan/Fernando Saunders) 3:40
13.  War News from Inside the City (Brandon Ross/Kip Hanrahan) 3:26
14.  Shadow of the Unfinished Dawn (Kip Hanrahan) 0:33
15.  Unfinished Dusk (Kip Hanrahan) 4:19
16.  Clean Charm Amongst Evil (Yosvanni Terry/Kip Hanrahan) 2:03
17.  Need (Brandon Ross/Kip Hanrahan) 4:35
18.  No Baby [2] (Steve Lacy) 1:36

Kip Hanrahan (Percussion, Voice)
Dafnis Prieto (Drums, Voice)
Steve Swallow (Bass)
Dick Kondas (Sound)
Milton Cardona (Drums and Percussion)
Alfredo Triff (Violin)
DD Jackson (Piano)
Pedrito Martinez (Congas)
Robby Ameen (Drums and Percussion)
Yosvanni Terry (Percussion, Saxes)
Horacio Hernandez (Drums and Percussion)
John Beasley (Piano, Keyboards)
Brandon Ross (Voice, Guitar)
Bryan Carrott (Vibraphone)
Andy Gonzalez (Bass)
John Kilgore (Sound)
Fernando Saunders (Voice, Bass)
Anthony Cox (Bass)
Mike Cain (Piano)
Xiomara Laugart (Voice)
Don Byron (Clarinet)
Roberto Poveda (Voice, Guitar)
Craig Handy (Saxophone)
Lysandro Arenas (Piano)
Lucy Penebaz (Voice)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Louis Armstrong - The Essential Satchmo

From the 50's version of 'When You're Smiling' to 'That Lucky Old Sun' to 'The Sunny Side Of The Street', this collection is Louis Armstrong at his most subtle, his most mellow and his best. Sit in the dark, with a bottle of wine in the arms of someone you love. This will take you to heaven. Come on Music Club. Re-release it!!!! - by Jimbo,

Artist: Louis Armstrong
Album: The Essential Satchmo
Label: Music Club (1992)
Runtime: 57:25

1.  What A Wonderful World (Bob Thiele/George David Weiss) 2:21
2.  Blueberry Hill (Al Lewis/Vincent Rose/Larry Stock) 2:55
3.  Hello Dolly (Jerry Herman) 2:26
4.  La Vie En Rose (Mack David/Marcel Louiguy/Edith Piaf) 3:27
5.  Caberet (Fred Ebb/John Kander) 2:47
6.  Lazy River (Sidney Arodin/Hoagy Carmichael) 3:48
7.  The Whiffenpoof Song (Baa Baa Baa) (Sidney Arodin/Hoagy Carmichael) 2:56
8.  On The Sunny Side Of The Street (Sidney Arodin/Hoagy Carmichael) 5:51
9.  Georgia On My Mind (Hoagy Carmichael/Stuart Gorrell) 3:04
10.  When You're Smiling (Mark Fisher/Joe Goodwin/Larry Shay) 4:02
11.  That Lucky Old Sun (Haven Gillespie/Harry Beasley Smith) 3:07
12.  The Home Fire (George Douglas/George David Weiss) 3:18
13.  Dream A Little Dream Of Me (Fabian Andre/Gus Kahn/Wilbur Schwandt) 3:17
14.  Give Me Your Kisses (I'll Give You My Heart) (George Douglas/Leonard Whitcup) 1:59
15.  Fantastic, That's You (George Cates/Mort Greene/Bob Thiele) 2:58
16.  Hellzapoppin' (Marian Grudeff/Ray Jessel) 2:36
17.  Hello Brother (Bob Thiele/George David Weiss) 3:32
18.  The Sunshine Of Love (George Douglas/Chet Gierlach/Leonard Whitcup) 2:54

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Don Cherry - Multikulti

It's obvious right from the title that Multikulti is another of Don Cherry's trademark fusions of jazz and world music, this time around with a heavy African influence. Cherry is joined on several tracks by members of multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum's Hieroglyphics Ensemble (plus the full band on "Until the Rain Comes" and "Divinity-Tree"), and their shared affinity for African music is what produces most of the album's best moments. (Listeners who prefer Cherry in a stricter jazz context are hereby warned.) The percolating, polyrhythmic grooves of "Dedication to Thomas Mapfumo," "Until the Rain Comes" (parts of it, anyway), "Divinity-Tree," and "Rhumba Multikulti" make for an infectious celebration of pan-cultural awareness that fully lives up to the promise of the album's title. Other highlights include the spare bounce of "Birdboy" and the more traditional free bop of "Pettiford Bridge." There are a few unfortunate indulgences, however. The brief instrumental sketches that punctuate the album actually detract from the flow and consistency, and if you've never been a fan of poetry recitations over jazz backing, the ones here won't change your mind. A few cuts just don't quite go anywhere, and at 12 minutes, "Until the Rain Comes" -- despite some undeniably great sections -- just starts to meander after a while. There's definitely enough good music here to make Multikulti worthwhile for fans of Cherry's world fusion explorations, but it isn't quite consistent enough to become essential. - by Steve Huey, AMG

Don Cherry was a man of extraordinarily cosmopolitan musical tastes, and better than any other record, "Multikulti" displays this. It may not be his best work, but it is probably his most accessible, and is a highly enjoyable experience. Moving between different moods, Cherry, backed by several ensembles including such musicians as Nana Vasconcelos, Carlos Ward, Ed Blackwell, Karl Berger and Peter Apfelbaum, the record is a stirring mix of American, European, and African musical traditions, moving seemlessly between forms. Cherry is at his most entertaining on "Multikulti Soothsayer"-- spoken word over doussn'gouni (a bassy, single stringed hunter's bow), pocket trumpet, and synthesizers-- a bizarre story about coming into a shop and meeting a woman of seemingly unlimited potential, and his skills as an instrumental arranger shine on "Birdboy" (a electronics-meets-reggae piece), "Dedication to Thomas Mapfumo (Eastern European-tinged swing with blazing soloing from Ward and Apfelbaum), "Pettiford Bridge" (tuba-driven jazz with phenomenal soloing from Cherry and Ward) and "Until the Rain Comes" (a bizarre pop meets a dozezn world traditions piece with a great vocal from Ingrid Sertso). All in all, its a great record and there's quite a bit to hear on this. Dig it up, even out of print, its well worth the effort. - by Michael Stack,

Artist: Don Cherry
Album: Multikulti
Year: 1990
Label: A & M Records
Runtime: 50:54

1.  Trumpet (Don Cherry) 0:45
2.  Multikulti Soothsayer (Don Cherry) 5:26
3.  Flute (Don Cherry) 1:08
4.  Birdboy (Don Cherry) 4:37
5.  Melodica (Don Cherry) 1:24
6.  Dedication to Thomas Mapfurno (Don Cherry) 4:20
7.  Pettiford Bridge (Don Cherry) 4:44
8.  Piano/Trumpet (Don Cherry) 2:21
9.  Until the Rain Comes (Peter Apfelbaum) 12:17
10.  Divinity-Tree (Peter Apfelbaum) 5:14
11.  Rhumba Multikulti (Don Cherry/Robert Huffman/Joshua Jones) 4:10
12.  Multikulti Soothsayer Player (Don Cherry) 4:24

Don Cherry (Trumpet, Doussn' gouni, Voice, Flute, Melodica and Piano)
Peter Apfelbaum (Tenor Saxophone, Cowbell, Marimba, Bells, Gong and Piano) - 6,9-11
Bob Stewart (Tuba) - 6,7
Carlos Ward (Alto Saxophone) - 6,7
Ed Blackwell (Drums) - 6,7
Karl Berger (Marimba and Voice) - 6,11
Ingrid Sertso (Voice) - 6,9,11
Bill Ortiz (Trumpet and Voice) - 9,10
James Harvey (Trombone) - 9,10
Jeff Cressman (Trombone and Voice) - 9,10
Tony Jones (Tenor Saxophone) - 9,10
Jessica Jones (Tenor Saxophone) - 9,10
Peck Allmond (Baritone Saxophone) - 9,10
Will Bernard (Guitar) - 9,10
Stan Franks (Guitar) - 9,10
Bo Freeman (Bass) - 9,10
Joshua Jones (Drums and Percussion, Voice) - 9-11
Deszon X. Clairbone (Drums) - 9,10
Robert Huffman (Percussion and Voice) - 9-11
Frank Ekeh (Percussion and Voice) - 9,10
Allen Ginsberg (Backing Vocals) - 11
Claudia Engelhart (Backing Vocals) - 11
Karen Knight (Backing Vocals) - 11
Frank Serafine (Synthesizer) - 2
Anthony Hamilton (Voice) - 2
John L. Price (Drums Programming) - 4
Mark Loudon Sims (Bass) - 4
David Cherry (Synthesizer) - 4
Nana Vasconcelos (Percussion) - 6

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Yusef Lateef - Eastern Sounds

One of multi-instrumentalist and composer Yusef Lateef's most enduring recordings, Eastern Sounds was one of the last recordings made by the band that Lateef shared with pianist Barry Harris after the band moved to New York from Detroit, where the jazz scene was already dying. Lateef had long been interested in Eastern music, long before John Coltrane had ever shown any public interest anyway, so this Moodsville session (which meant it was supposed to be a laid-back ballad-like record), recorded in 1961, was drenched in Lateef's current explorations of Eastern mode and interval, as well as tonal and polytonal improvisation. That he could do so within a context that was accessible, and even "pretty," is an accomplishment that stands today. The quartet was rounded out by the inimitable Lex Humphries on drums -- whose brushwork was among the most deft and inventive of any player in the music with the possible exception of Connie Kay from the Modern Jazz Quartet -- and bass and rabat player Ernie Farrow. The set kicks off with "The Plum Blossom," a sweet oboe and flute piece that comes from an Eastern scale and works in repetitive rhythms and a single D minor mode to move through a blues progression and into something a bit more exotic, which sets up the oboe-driven "Blues for the Orient." Never has Barry Harris' playing stood up with more restraint to such striking effect than it does here. He moves the piece along with striking ostinatos and arpeggios that hold the center of the tune rather than stretch it. Lateef moans softly on the oboe as the rhythm section doubles, then triples, then half times the beat until it all feels like a drone. There are two cinematic themes here -- he cut themes from the films Spartacus and The Robe, which are strikingly, hauntingly beautiful -- revealing just how important accessibility was to Lateef. And not in the sense of selling out, but more in terms of bringing people to this music he was not only playing, but discovering as well. (Listen to Les Baxter and to the early-'60s recordings of Lateef -- which ones are more musically enduring?) However, the themes set up the deep blues and wondrous ballad extrapolations Lateef was working on, like "Don't Blame Me" and "Purple Flower," which add such depth and dimension to the Eastern-flavored music that it is hard to imagine them coming from the same band. Awesome. - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Yusef Lateef
Album: Eastern Sounds
Year: 1961 (Prestige)
Label: OJC (Digital remastering, 1991)
Runtime: 39:42

1.  The Plum Blossom (Yusef Lateef) 5:02
2.  Blues For the Orient (Yusef Lateef) 5:39
3.  Chinq Miau (Yusef Lateef) 3:19
4.  Don't Blame Me (Dorothy Fields/Jimmy McHugh) 4:56
5.  Love Theme From "Spartacus" (Alex North) 4:09
6.  Snafu (Yusef Lateef) 5:40
7.  Purple Flower(Yusef Lateef)  4:30
8.  Love Theme from "The Robe" (Alfred Newman) 3:59
9.  The Three Faces of Balal (Yusef Lateef) 2:23

Yusef Lateef (Tenor Saxophone, Oboe and Flute)
Barry Harris (Piano)
Ernie Farrow (Double Bass and Rabat)
Lex Humphries (Drums)


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