A few months ago, the Rose City Mixed Quartet released its debut CD entitled Outstanding! This recording contains 16 songs that feature some tightly wrought a cappella singing that puts a fresh twist on tunes that we take for granted. Take their opening number, Ain’t Misbehavin’, which detours into the realm of barbershop or Can’t Buy Me Love, which has accents of a madrigal or ’Tis a Gift to Be Simple, which has a jazzy underlying rhythm.
Other numbers on the RCMQ recording are Someone to Watch Over Me, Embraceable You, Home on the Range, Danny Boy, Lonesome Road, Short People, Lazy River, Blackbird, Isn't It Romantic, Java Jive, Little Red Riding Hood, In My Life, and Goodnight Sweetheart. Some of these arrangements (at least the background harmonies) are in the spirit of the Swingle Singers, an octet (now based in London, England) that has been bridging the gulf between classical music, popular music, and jazz with several chart-climbing albums since 1967.
The RCMQ consists of soprano Cameron Griffith Herbert, alto Helen Deitz, tenor Dale Webber, and bass Mark Petersen. They are longtime members of the Portland Symphonic Choir, and I have sung with all of them many times as a member of the PSC.
I’ve enjoyed this group’s ability to thread the needle in performing these complex arrangements. It’s great to have a mixed ensemble like this in Portland. Check out RCMQ’s Outstanding! when you get the chance. Here's a link to their web site.