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For his groundbreaking first solo CD, Willy assembled 40 players, from India’s master musicians to American virtuosi Howard Levy and Paul Wertico, to produce (with Warren Senders) what Rolling Stone called “…a many-layered fusion of folksong-writing, social criticism, as well as eastern wisdom, of Irish, Indian, and Caribbean blasts – all with disarming innocence”.
In 1997, Willy Schwarz, having spent a good part of the 70’s studying Indian Classical and folk music styles from master musician-teachers, returned to the subcontinent to fulfill a long-held dream; to record his original songs, in settings combining eastern and western elements. He traveled to Pune, bringing only his accordion and eight reels of blank tape, and a head full of musical ideas. Soon, he was writing scores in Devanagari , rehearsing with both schooled Classical virtuosi as well as barefoot brass band players, all under the experienced counsel of producer Warren Senders.
After two months of rehearsing and recording nearly all live sessions, he took the now-filled tape reels back to his native Chicago, into sponsor Dan Pritzker’s high-tech studio, and invited the crème of the crop of local musicians to finish the project with him, overdubbing the basic tracks, again in live sessions.
Live for the Moment, released by EFA/Clearspot in 1999, entered the All-Europe World Music Charts at #6, and received unanimous glowing reviews all over the continent, being hailed as a milestone in polycultural songwriting; unique, revolutionary and deeply affecting.
“ […] a real jewel among the annual outpouring of mass productions.” INTRO
“ […] utterly glorious. When Schwarz gets a good rant going, like ‘Masters’ or ‘Lord Why Me?’ he’s utterly irresistible […]” MOJO
“ […] folk, mantras. Jazz, delicious eccentricity.” ASOBLANCO
“ Through Willy Schwarz we get to know the love of a musician for the music and cultures of the world, as if centuries of diverging traditions all flow together […]” SCHALLPLATTENMANN.DE
“[…] sonorous and atratospheric instrumentalization and lyrics which express the sensitive and the positive. A fin-de-siecle Bhagavad Gita to take home. Don’t miss it!” LA VOS DE ASTURIAS
“[…]good-time music in the best sense, a party-colored mélange of Afro-pop, singing in the style of Branduardi, Cajun, and Indian ragas; actually a bit of everything. Great texts, too; one of my favorite records of this summer.” WESTZEIT
“[…] so witty and oblique a combination of Indian, Irish, Samba, Chanson, etc. as this CD has never yet been found.” STEREO
“[…] as individual as it is universal, and already one of the most beautiful CDs of the year.” FRANKFURTER RUNDSCHAU