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Originally published Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 7:02 PM

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A list of must-hear CDs from Amy Denio

A sampling of music by Seattle singer and multi-instrumentalist Amy Denio.

Amy Denio has more than 40 CDs to her credit, counting all her collaborative projects. So picking a measly 5 to represent her range of talents is a tough task. Here goes:

"Tutto Bene: Canzoni Sulla Fisa (All's Well: Accordion Songs)": Hot off the presses, this retrospective CD shows how various Denio's accordion activities have been over the years. The emphasis is on Denio's songwriting ("You Never Call Me Anymore" is a high point), but there are also some beautiful excerpts from scores Denio has written for Pat Graney Company.

"Chickenhawks Ought Not: Live Voice and Electronics": This is Denio at her most wizardly, building intricate layers and rhythms out of her voice with the aid of a Line6 delay modeler. Dreamy, heady stuff.

"Laws of Motion": The last several CDs by the Tiptons Sax Quartet (as they're now called) have all been strong, but this one — their latest — is a knockout. There's a fair amount of voice on it, and you can hear Denio hit one of her "supersonic" stratospheres on "The Shop of Wild Dreams."

"Non Lo So, Polo": Denio's composition for Die Knödel, an Austrian "acoustic avant garde folk" ensemble, is one of her loveliest pieces. Inspired by Italo Calvino's "Invisible Cities," it's a meditation on the journey of Marco Polo, filled with gorgeous melodies, strange timbres and lush harmonies.

"Vivian Girls": Denio's compositions for dance have ranged from ambient drone (Yoko Murao's "Tagogare") to the radiostatic of the spheres (Cheronne Wong's "sub-Rosa"). But this collaboration between her and Irish fiddler Martin Hayes for Pat Graney's "the Vivian girls," inspired by the work of outsider artist Henry Darger, is one of her most tuneful, lush and inventive.

All CDs are available through

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

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