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Month: December, 2012

Friday, 12/21/12

only rock ’n’ roll

There are only a few bands I come back to often.

One of them is The National.

—my (25-year-old) son Alex, talking music the other day

The National, “Fake Empire,” live, New York, 2011

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More?

Live, Netherlands, 2011*

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lagniappe

musical thoughts

Here’s Bryan Ferry talking about his new album (featured yesterday):

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*Here’s the set list (courtesy of a YouTube comment):

00:00 runaway. 06:30 anyone’s ghost. 09:45 bloodbuzz ohio. 14:40 afraid of everyone. 19:00 conversation 16. 23:20 lemonworld. 27:04 apartment story. 30:50 sorrow. 35:50 england. 42:10 fake empire. 45:45 encore break. 48:05 mr november. 53:13 terrible love.

Thursday, 12/20/12

what’s new

Bryan Ferry’s new album, The Jazz Age, which features songs from Roxy Music, as well as his solo career, refashioned as 1920s-style jazz instrumentals, is one of the stranger concept albums I’ve encountered in a long time—which I mean as a compliment.

Bryan Ferry, “Don’t Stop the Dance,” The Jazz Age
U.K. release, 11/26/12; U.S. release, 2/12/13

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lagniappe

Here’s the original (Boys and Girls, 1985).

Saturday, 12/15/12

A reader writes:

Dear Richard:

I think you should check out the YouTube link below. From Dore Stein who is the host of a great radio show on Sat. nights on the SF United School District’s radio station, KALW.

Melos: Mediterranean Songs (filmed in Tunisia and Germany, 2011)*

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taking a break

I’m taking some time off—back in a while.

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*With Dorsaf Hamdani & Ensemble (Tunisia), En Chordais (Greece), Juan Carmona & Ensemble (Spain), Keyvan Chemirani (France/Iran), et al.

Friday, 12/14/12

two takes

What makes a song last?

It’s not the meaning.

It’s the sounds, the particular sounds of the particular words—sounds that singers, year after year, decade after decade, keep wanting to hear, to sing.

Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart . . .

“Cold, Cold Heart” (H. Williams)

Hank Williams, TV show, 1952

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Norah Jones, BBC Radio show, 2007

Thursday, 12/13/12

 passings

Ravi Shankar, sitarist and composer, April 7, 1920-December 11, 2012

With Ali Akbar Khan (sarod), et al., “Bangla Dhun,” New York (The Concert for Bengladesh), 1971

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lagniappe

art beat: Art Institute of Chicago 

Here’s my one-word review of the newly opened gallery of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art, where, Tuesday morning (after a hearing at the nearby federal court building), sunlight was streaming through the windows: stunning.

D49498_007

Wednesday, 12/12/12

 passings

Charles Rosen, pianist, teacher, writer (1972 National Book Award for Nonfiction: The Classical Style), May 5, 1927-December 9, 2012

Frederic Chopin, Nocturne in B major (Op. 62, No. 1)
Live, Atlanta, 1985

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Johann Sebastian Bach, The Art of the Fugue, excerpts
Recording, 1967

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lagniappe

musical thoughts

A German pre-Romantic philosopher, Johann Georg Hamann, held that the sense of music was given to man to make it possible to measure time. The composer Elliott Carter’s fame comes partly from a reconception of time in music that fits the world of today (although there are many other aspects of his music to enjoy). We do not measure time regularly, like clocks do, but with many differing rates of speed. In the complexity of today’s experience, it often seems as if simultaneous events were unfolding with different measures. These different measures coexist and often blend but are not always rationalized in experience under one central system. We might call this a system of irreconcilable regularities.

In Carter’s music, things happen for different instruments at different tempos—none of them dominates the others, and an idiosyncratic character is often given to the different instruments that preserves their individuality. Carter is never dogmatic, and the different measures of time may occasionally combine briefly for a moment of synthesis. The individuality of tempo and rhythm can make his music difficult to perform as each player unconsciously responds physically to the different rhythms he or she hears and yet tries to preserve his or her own system intact. Carter is, for this reason, best interpreted by those musicians who have often played his scores. Just as, in a polyphonic work of Bach or any other competent and genial contrapuntist, one takes pleasure in the independent line and interest of the separate voices and rejoices in the way they illuminate each other, so in Carter we can often delight in a quick foreground movement heard against a mysteriously shifting background that gives the foreground a new sense.

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[T]he sense of his music is dependent as much upon tone color and dynamics as it is on pitch; the more salient aspects of the individual instrumental lines have always to be brought out.

—Charles Rosen, “Elliott Carter’s Music of Time,” New York Review of Books, 2/9/12

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Everyone needs a hobby. Some pianists collect Oriental vases. I write books.

—Charles Rosen, 1981 interview

Tuesday, 12/11/12

sounds of Thailand

Kung Narin Phin Sing, live, Thailand

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lagniappe

reading table

Like a tropical storm,
I, too, may one day become “better organized.”

—Lydia Davis, “Tropical Storm” (The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, 2009)

Monday, 12/10/12

basement jukebox

The Falcons (feat. Wilson Pickett, lead vocals; Robert Ward, guitar)
“I Found A Love” (1962)

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Albert Washington (feat. Lonnie Mack, guitar)
“Hold Me Baby” (1969)

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lagniappe

reading table

[T]he greatest reading pleasure has an element of self-annihilation. To be so engrossed that you barely know you exist. I last felt that in relation to a poem while in the sitting room of Elizabeth Bishop’s old home in rural Brazil. I stood in a corner, apart from the general conversation, and read “Under the Window: Ouro Preto.” The street outside was once an obscure thoroughfare for donkeys and peasants. Bishop reports overheard lines as people pass by her window, including the beautifully noted “When my mother combs my hair it hurts.” That same street now is filled with thunderous traffic — it fairly shakes the house. When I finished the poem I found that my friends and our hosts had left the room. What is it precisely, that feeling of “returning” from a poem? Something is lighter, softer, larger — then it fades, but never completely.

—Ian McEwan, New York Times Sunday Book Review, 12/9/12

Sunday, 12/9/12

back to church

“I Want Jesus To Rock Me To Sleep”
Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, Gastonia, N.C., 2008

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lagniappe

reading table

Falling blossoms.
Blossoms in bloom are also
falling blossoms.

—Ryokan (1758-1831), translated from Japanese by Kazuaki Tanahashi (Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan, 2012)

Saturday, 12/8/12

 passings

Dave Brubeck, pianist, composer, bandleader
December 6, 1920-December 5, 2012

Dave Brubeck Quartet (DB, piano; Paul Desmond, alto saxophone; Gene Wright, bass; Joe Morello, drums), TV show (Jazz Casual with Ralph J. Gleason*), 1961 (followed by other clips)

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lagniappe

found words

japanese punk band with sousaphone

—Web search that brought someone here

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*Gleason, who died in 1975, had a hand in a lot of different things, including the Monterey Jazz Festival (cofounder, 1958) and Rolling Stone (cofounder, 1967).

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