LP0289. THE COACH WITH THE SIX INSIDES [Inspired by James Joyce’s 'Finnegan's Wake'] (Jean Erdman; Teiji Ito), Original 1967 Cast, w.Jean Erdman Cond. Anita Dangler, Van Dexter, Leonard Frey, Sheila Roy, Peter Berry. ESP stereo 1019, with Cover art by Howard Bernstein & Elaborate Libretto-Brochure.
"Erdman was a choreographer and onetime member of the dance ensemble led by Martha Graham, she was also married to famed philosopher and mythologist Joseph Campbell and led the foundation named for him. In the 1940s Erdman had several dances scored by John Cage; here her partner in crime is pioneer postmodern composer Teiji Ito. Ironically, Ito's score for THE COACH WITH THE SIX INSIDES was the only piece of music he composed that was available on records during his lifetime. Ito's score is excellent; it combines elements of Irish folk music, non-specifically ‘ethnic’ drumming, traditional Japanese elements, and Western neo-Classicism wound seamlessly together in a fabric that drapes Erdman's play as comfortably as a chiffon robe would drape a dancer. Another interesting fact about it as music is that it appears as though this piece was performed live for this recording - a departure for Ito as he almost always used tapes for theatrical productions.
As to the play, it is highly entertaining, funny, bawdy, and obscure. Anyone looking for a plot to follow here is just as likely to find one in the source work, FINNEGAN'S WAKE. But the poetry of Joyce's novel is clearly recited with great energy by the cast, consisting of actors whose names mean nothing, one regrets to admit. The original ESP-Disk of this play was one of the most difficult of all its releases to locate. Several ESP CD reissue programs have skipped over this particular title.
Fans of Teiji Ito's work will happily welcome the return of THE COACH WITH THE SIX INSIDES. This would also serve as a terrific tool for teachers of theater to illustrate what was so fun and exciting about the avant-garde, off-off-off Broadway scene in New York in 1960s. Of that mostly lost theatrical style and era, steeped in innovation and beatnik ‘in-jokes’, THE COACH WITH THE SIX INSIDES remains a rare representative of the genre in any medium.
Jean Erdman, choreographer and wife of the late Joseph Campbell, the leading authority on James Joyce, adapted FINNEGAN'S WAKE into a musical play, with music by Teiji Ito. The late Leonard Frey, best known as the hapless tailor in stage and film versions of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, was in the cast. It was recorded by Richard L. Alderson. Musicologists, take note.”
- Uncle Dave Lewis, allmusic.com