music clip of the day


Tag: Beethoven

Sunday, 8/5/12

Who wouldn’t want to go to such a heaven?

Soul Stirrers (feat. Jimmy Outler), “Listen to the Angels Sing,” TV show, early 1960s



listening room: (some of) what’s playing

• The Dirtbombs, Ultraglide in Black (In the Red)

• Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio (Blue Note)

• Shabazz Palaces, Black Up (Sub Pop)

Terrie Ex, Paal Nilssen-Love, Hurgu! (PNL Records)

• Anthony Braxton Quintet (Basel) 1977 (hatOLOGY)

• Miles Davis, Live in Europe 1967 (Sony Legacy)

• ICP Orchestra Performs Herbie Nichols & Thelonious Monk (ICP)

• George Lewis & The NOW Orchestra, The Shadowgraph Series: Compositions for Creative Orchestra (Spool)

• Misha Mengelberg, Steve Lacy, Goerge Lewis, Harjen Gorter, Han Bennink, Change of Season (Soul Note)

• Pharaoh Sanders, Karma (Impulse!)

• Charles “Bobo” Shaw & Lester Bowie, Bugle Boy Bop (Muse)

• Reverend Claude Jeter, Yesterday and Today (Shanachie)

 This May Be My Last Time Singing: Raw African-American Gospel On 45 RPM (1957-1982) (Tompkins Square)

• J. Berg’s A Cappella Archives (Vol. 3)Royal Rarities (Vol. 3) (Rare Gospel)

Congotronics 2: Buzz ’n’ Rumble in the Urb n’ Jungle (Crammed Discs)

• Pandit Pran Nath, Midnight: Raga Malkauns (Just Dreams)

• Nikhil Banerjee, Afternoon Ragas  (Bhimpalasri, Multani) (Raga Records)

• John Luther Adams, Songbird Songs (Mode Records)

• John Luther Adams, Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing (New World Records)

• John Cage Edition—Vol. 23: The Works for Violin 4 (Irvine Arditti, violin; Stephen Drury, piano) (Mode Records)

• Morton Feldman, Trio  (Aki Takahashi, piano; Marc Sabat, violin; Rohan de Saram, cello) (Mode Records)

• Tristan Murail, Gondwana, Desintegrations, Time and Again (Disques Montaigne)

• Peter Serkin Plays the Music of Toru Takemitsu (RCA/BMG)

• The Incomparable Rudolf Serkin (Beethoven, Piano Sonatas Nos. 30, 31, 32) (Deutsche Grammophon)

• WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University)

Bird Flight (Phil Schaap, jazz [Charlie Parker])
Eastern Standard Time (Carter Van Pelt, Jamaican music)


Mudd Up! (DJ/Rupture“new bass and beats”)
Sinner’s Crossroads 
(Kevin Nutt, gospel)
Cherry Blossom Clinic (Terre T, rock, etc.)
Fool’s Paradise (Rex; “Vintage rockabilly, R & B, blues, vocal groups, garage, instrumentals, hillbilly, soul and surf”)
Downtown Soulville (Mr. Fine Wine, soul, etc.)

Thursday, 12/1/11

No matter how often I hear it, this piece—Beethoven’s final piano sonata—never fails to astonish.

Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 32
Rudolf Serkin (piano), live, Austria (Vienna), 1987

#1: 1st movement


#2: 2nd movement, part 1


#3: 2nd movement, part 2


If I knew I had a week to live, this is one of the things I’d want to listen to—more than once.


Another take on this sonata? Here (Claudio Arrau).

More of Serkin playing Beethoven? Here.










Today marks our 800th post.


reading table

A Day! Help! Help!
Another Day!
Your prayers – Oh Passer by!

—Emily Dickinson, c. 1858 (58 [Franklin], excerpt)


musical thoughts

If it wasn’t for the music, I don’t know what I’d do.

“Last Night A DJ Saved My Life”

Sunday, 7/24/11

Last Sunday they sounded so good—let’s hear some more.

The Staple Singers, “On My Way To Heaven,” “Going Away,” “I’m Leaning,”
“I Know I Got Religion”; Uncloudy Day (Vee-Jay), 1959

Vodpod videos no longer available.



listening room: (some of) what’s playing

• Muhal Richard Abrams (with Malachi Favors), Sightsong (Black Saint)

• King Oliver, Off the Record: The Complete 1923 Jazz Band Recordings (Off the Record/Archeophone)

• Beethoven, Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3 (“Eroica”)/ Arturo Toscanini, conductor, NBC Symphony Orchestra (RCA)

• Bach, Cello Suites, Steven Isserlis (Hyperion UK)

Morton Feldman, For Bunita Marcus, Stephane Ginsburgh, piano (Sub Rosa) (available as a download from Amazon for 89¢)

WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University)
Bird Flight (Phil Schaap, jazz [Charlie Parker])
Traditions in Swing (Phil Schaap, jazz)
Afternoon New Music (Various, classical and hard-to-peg)
Eastern Standard Time (Carter Van Pelt, Jamaican music)
Raag Aur Taal (Various, Indian music)

Mudd Up! (DJ/Rupture, “new bass and beats”)
Sinner’s Crossroads
(Kevin Nutt, gospel)


reading table

Here are a couple cheery things (ha, ha) from a favorite poet.

John Berryman, Two Dream Songs

More? Here. And here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Who else (besides, of course, Bob Dylan) has played so many different roles so brilliantly?

Miles Davis (with Robben Ford & guest Carlos Santana, guitars), “Burn”
Live, Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey, 6/15/86

Listen to stuff long enough and it changes—or you do, anyway. Once I might have faulted this for being repetitive. But that’s a bit like faulting roast beef for being meat. Of course it’s repetitive. That’s part of what makes it soar.

More? Here.



listening room: what’s playing

Rashied Ali Quintet, Live In Europe (Survival Records)

• Paul Motian (with Chris Potter, Jason Moran), Lost In A Dream (ECM)

Charlie Parker, The Complete Royal Roost Live Recordings on Savoy, Vol. 3 (Columbia Japan)

Eric Dolphy At The Five Spot, Vol. 2 (with Booker Little, Mal Waldron, Richard Davis, Ed Blackwell; Prestige)

• Various Artists, Fire In My Bones: Raw + Rare + Other-Worldly African-American Gospel (1944-2007) (Tompkins Square)

• Reverend Charlie Jackson, God’s Got It: The Legendary Booker and Jackson Singles (CaseQuarter)

Group Doueh, Guitar Music from the Western Sahara (Sublime Frequencies)

Mozart: Piano Sonata No. 8 in A Minor, Helene Grimaud, Resonances (Deutsche Grammophon)

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 23 (“Appasionata”) and No. 29 (“Hammerklavier”), Solomon, The Master Pianist (EMI Classics)

Anton Webern: String Quartet, Six Bagatelles for String Quartet, String Quartet Op. 28, LaSalle Quartet (Brilliant Classics)

• Arnold Schoenberg: String Quartet in D major, LaSalle Quartet (Brilliant Classics)

Roger Sessions: String Quartet No. 2, Julliard String Quartet (Composers Recordings)

Morton Feldman: For Bunita Marcus, John TilburyMorton Feldman, All Piano (London HALL)

WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University)
Bird Flight (Phil Schaap, jazz [Charlie Parker])
Morning Classical (Various)
Amazing Grace (Various)

Mudd Up! (DJ/Rupture, “new bass and beats”)
Sinner’s Crossroads
(Kevin Nutt, gospel)
—Give The Drummer Some
(Doug Schulkind, sui generis)
—Fool’s Paradise
(Rex, sui generis)
Transpacific Sound Paradise (Rob Weisberg, “popular and unpopular music from around the world”)

Sunday, 3/20/11

Sherman Washington Jr. (Zion Harmonizers)
December 13, 1925-March 14, 2011

Zion Harmonizers with Aaron Neville, “Wonderful,” live, New Orleans (Gospel Tent, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival), 1991

Vodpod videos no longer available.



Sherman Washington Jr., the leader of the Zion Harmonizers and the godfather of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival’s Gospel Tent, died early Monday at his home in Boutte after a long illness. He was 85.

sherman washington 2002 fest.jpg

What Ellis Marsalis is to jazz, Mr. Washington was to gospel. For three decades, he hosted a Sunday morning gospel show on WYLD-AM that served as the gospel community’s town hall. He led the Zion Harmonizers, New Orleans’ longest-running gospel vocal group, since the 1940s. The Harmonizers appeared at the very first Jazz Fest, staged in 1970 in what is now Armstrong Park.

After the festival moved to the Fair Grounds in 1972, he oversaw the growth of the Gospel Tent, building it into a cornerstone of the festival’s roots-music presentation. The tent introduced a music largely unknown outside the African-American churches where it was born to a much broader audience.

Until deteriorating health finally slowed him down in recent years, he administered the Gospel Tent with a steadfast integrity and intimate knowledge of the music, musicians and singers. Given that many acts consist of large choirs, the tent features more performers than any other stage at the festival.

“Gospel, even after jazz and blues came down to the front of the bus, was still in the back of the bus,” said Jazz Fest producer/director Quint Davis. “To a large extent, Sherman’s work through the Gospel Tent has helped bring gospel music to the front of the bus. An enormous debt is owed to him by the festival, and the whole gospel world.”

Davis expects the upcoming Jazz Fest to feature a tribute to Mr. Washington.

“You can talk about soul with either a lower-case ‘s’ or an upper-case ‘S,'” Davis said. “Sherman had soul with a capital S.”


In the late 1960s, the Harmonizers roster included a Mississippi-born bass singer named John Hawkins. In early 1970, Hawkins met Quint Davis at Mason’s Hotel on Claiborne Avenue and came back to Mr. Washington with news of this young music fan who was organizing a music and heritage festival.

Mr. Washington went to meet Davis and partner Allison Miner, and the Zion Harmonizers were booked for the first Jazz Fest at Congo Square. The forerunner of today’s Gospel Tent was a 15-by-20-foot open-sided tent with an upright piano and no floor, stage or sound system.

When Jazz Fest moved to the Fair Grounds in 1972, Davis approached Mr. Washington with an idea.

“Quint said, ‘I had a dream,’” Mr. Washington recalled. “And I thought, ‘This isn’t Dr. King, is it?’ He said, ‘I had a dream that I’m going to build a Gospel Tent, and I want you to run it.’ ”

Mr. Washington’s diplomatic skills came in handy. In the early 1970s, gospel choirs rarely performed outside of churches or church functions. They certainly didn’t perform at “hippie” events where beer was served. Pastors resisted the idea of choirs performing at Jazz Fest.

“The preachers were against me,” Mr. Washington said, “because people would drink beer in the Gospel Tent. I would ask the choir’s president or manager, and he’d tell me yeah. Then he’d come back and say, ‘Our pastor doesn’t want us to sing in the Gospel Tent.’ ”

So instead of church choirs, Mr. Washington booked vocal quartets that weren’t affiliated with churches.

“Those are the ones I had to depend on,” he said. “They would tear the place up, pack it out. We didn’t pay those preachers no mind. We kept going.”

Opinions eventually changed and choirs lobbied Mr. Washington to be included. “I think the choir members got on the pastors about it. Because if a person drinks a beer or something, that’s their soul, not yours. If you’re singing, you’re doing what God wants you to do.”

Eventually, a small staff was assigned to assist Mr. Washington, but he still screened most acts in person. He attended rehearsals and private auditions, offering advice along the way.

“He had never been in a role like this,” Davis said. “He was a true man of God who was not in it to advance himself or build an empire. He worked through his community and spiritual connections to put it all together. He knew who was the real deal, who needed to play.”

Mr. Washington insisted on a high level of professionalism and skill, as he knew any group could well be some Jazz Fest’s attendee’s first exposure to gospel. He wanted the music to make a good first impression.

“This Gospel Tent has brought more white people to gospel than anybody had ever seen, ” Mr. Washington said in 2002. “Now, it’s more white people than black people. And they get into it. It brings the white and black together. People get together and stand up, you don’t know who is who.”

—Keith Spera, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), 3/14/11

On March 14, 2011 at 2:36 AM, the music stopped and his lyrics became a reality.

Obituary (The Times-Picayune)


listening room: what’s playing

• Bach, Cello Suites, Steven Isserlis, Jean-Guihen Queyras

• Von Freeman, Walkin’ Tuff, Vonski Speaks, Young & Foolish

• Milton Babbitt, Piano Works, Robert Taub

• Buddy & Julie Miller, Written in Chalk

Nneka, Concrete Jungle

Jason Moran, Ten

Steve Lehman, Travail, Transformation, and Flow

Friedrich Gulda, Piano Recital 1959 (Bach, Haydn, Beethoven)

• Theo Parrish, First Floor

• Theo Parrish, Sound Sculptures, Vol. 1

• Roger Sessions, Works for Violin, Cello, Piano; Curtis Macomber (violin), Joel Krosnick (cello), Barry David Salwen (piano)

• Roger Sessions, Sonatas Nos. 1 & 3; Ralph Shapey, Mutations and Mutations II, 21 Variations, David Holzman (piano)

• Yascha Heifetz (violin), Chamber Music Collection, Vol. 1 (Mozart, et al.)

• Morton Feldman, For Bunita Marcus, Stephane Ginsburgh (piano)

Sinner’s Crossroads, Kevin Nutt, WFMU-FM (Thursday, 8-9 p.m. [EST])

Gospel Memories, Bob Marovich, WLUW-FM (Saturday 10-11 a.m. [CST])

Give the Drummer Some, Doug Schulkind, WFMU-FM (Friday, 9 a.m.-noon [EST]; web stream only)

Bird Flight, Phil Schaap, WKCR-FM (M-F, 8:20-9:30 a.m. [EST])

• WFMU-FM, Annual Fundraising Marathon

Friday, 3/11/11

Don’t try to tell me there’s anything incongruous—anything at all—in loving Beethoven and loving Chopin and loving Del Shannon.

Del Shannon, December 30, 1934-February 8, 1990

“Runaway” (with Burton Cummings [Guess Who], piano), 1982

Vodpod videos no longer available.


“I Go To Pieces,” 1988 (?)

Vodpod videos no longer available.


“Sea of Love,” 1982

Vodpod videos no longer available.




One of the best ever [Ornette Coleman, 3/9/11].

I am so glad I am on this list!!

Monday, 2/14/11

Spontaneity, immediacy, freshness—they can be as important in classical music as they are in jazz. What I love about this performance, for instance, is that he never stops searching. It’s as if he’s encountering this piece for the first time and unable to conceal his astonishment.

Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 31, Op. 110/Rudolf Serkin, piano, live, 1987

1st Movement

Vodpod videos no longer available.


2nd Movement

Vodpod videos no longer available.


3rd Movement

Vodpod videos no longer available.

More Beethoven piano sonatas?

Here (No. 14, “Moonlight,” Artur Schnabel).

And here (No. 21, “Waldstein,” Emil Gilels).

And here (No. 23, “Appassionata,” Solomon).

And here. (No. 32, Claudio Arrau).



reading table

The Busy Road

I am so used to it by now
that when the traffic falls silent,
I think a storm is coming.



No one is calling me. I can’t check the answering machine because I have been here all this time. If I go out, someone may call while I’m out. Then I can check the answering machine when I come back in.



Oh, poor Dad. I’m sorry I made fun of you.
Now I’m spelling Nietszche wrong, too.

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (2009)


Saturday, 8/28/10

replay: a clip too good for just one day

If you were a musician, could anything be worse than to find, one day, that unlike the day before, and the day before that, and all the other days you could remember, you were no longer able to play your instrument? That’s what happened, in 1958, to this man, the great British classical pianist Solomon Cutner (known professionally simply as Solomon). Then 56 years old and at the height of his career, he suffered a stroke. It left his right arm paralyzed, silencing him for the rest of his life, which lasted another 32 years.

Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor (“Appassionata” [1804])/Solomon, piano

1st Movement

2nd Movement

3rd Movement


Andras Schiff on Beethoven’s piano sonatas

In London a couple years ago, pianist Andras Schiff explored Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas in a series of much-acclaimed lecture-recitals, which can be heard here.


Thelonious Monk and Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, et al.

Thelonious Monk possessed an impressive knowledge of, and appreciation for, Western classical music, not to mention an encyclopedic knowledge of hymns and gospel music, American popular songs, and a variety of obscure art songs that defy easy categorization. For him, it was all music. Once in 1966, a phalanx of reporters in Helsinki pressed Monk about his thoughts on classical music and whether or not jazz and classical can come together. His drummer, Ben Riley, watched the conversation unfold: ‘Everyone wanted him to answer, give some type of definition between classical music and jazz . . . So he says, ‘Two is one,’ and that stopped the whole room. No one else said anything else.’ Two is one, indeed. Monk loved Frédéric Chopin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, and Bach, and like many of his peers of the bebop generation, he took an interest in Igor Stravinsky.—Robin D. G. Kelley, Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (2009)

(Originally posted on 11/3/09.)


lagniappe: more

Since yesterday I’ve been listening nearly nonstop to WKCR-FM, which (as mentioned in yesterday’s post) is devoting three straight days to the music of Lester Young and Charlie Parker, in celebration of their respective birthdays (LY’s was Friday, CP’s is tomorrow). Something happens—something delicious—when you surrender your ears and yourself to someone’s music for such a sustained period of time. Little by little, that musician moves in, taking up residence in your brain. Their distinctive voice becomes, for a time, inseparable from everything else you’re hearing and seeing and thinking and feeling. If you’d like to experience this for yourself, go here (you won’t regret it).

Thursday, 6/17/10

With the greatest artists, even the most familiar pieces sound as if you were hearing them for the first time.

Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 14 in C# minor, Op. 27, No. 2 (“Moonlight”), 1801/Artur Schnabel, piano, 1933

1st & 2nd Movements


3rd Movement



The magnitude of his [Schnabel’s] creative accomplishments left technical considerations far behind. His Beethoven had incomparable style, intellectual strength, and phrasing of aristocratic purity. The important thing was that even when his fingers failed him, his mind never did. Schnabel was always able to make his playing interesting. A mind came through—a logical, stimulating, sensitive mind. And when Schnabel had his fingers under control, which was more often than not in his literature of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, he took his listeners to an exalted level. . . . There were no tricks, no excesses; just brain, heart and fingers working together with supreme knowledge.—Harold C. Schonberg, The Great Pianists (1963)


Want more of Beethoven’s piano sonatas?

No. 21 (“Waldstein”)/Emil Gilels

No. 23 (“Appassionata”)/Solomon

No. 32 /Claudio Arrau


art beat

At the risk of repeating myself, the Matisse exhibit at Chicago’s Art Institute closes Sunday (then opens next month at New York’s Museum of Modern Art). How many other opportunities will you have to see this stuff?

Henri Matisse:

Seek the strongest color effect possible . . . the content is of no importance.


After a half-century of hard work and reflection the wall is still there.

Bathers with a Turtle (1908)

The Blue Window (1912)

Nude with a White Scarf (1909)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Funeral last week.

Ill this week.

What to listen to?

Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111/Claudio Arrau, piano (1970)

1st Movement


2nd Movement




A fascinating lecture-recital on this sonata, by pianist Andras Schiff, can be heard here.


Speaking of the second movement, pianist Alfred Brendel said:

. . . perhaps nowhere else in piano literature does mystical experience feel so immediately close at hand.

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