Enter this sound-world; you won’t want to leave.
Jean-Guihen Queyras (1967-, cello), live (Ahmet Adnan Saygun [1907-1991], Partita for solo cello, op. 31; Benjamin Britten [1913-1976] Cello Suite No. 3, op. 87; Zoltán Kodály [1882-1967] Sonata for solo cello, op. 8),performance begins at 4:50, London, 9/24/20
other day, Oak Park, Ill.
Bach cello festival (day three)
Cello Suite No. 3 in C major; Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), live, Austria (Salzburg), 2007
The life of a human being draws back, comes into view like an animal at the edge of the forest, and disappears again.
The outside world is too small, too clear-cut, too truthful, to contain everything that a person has room for inside.
The only essential thing for life is forgoing smugness, moving into the house instead of admiring it and hanging garlands around it.
—Franz Kafka (Rivka Galchen, “What kind of funny is he?,” London Review of Books, 12/4/14)
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Suite No. 3 in C major for Unaccompanied Cello; Jean-Guihen Queyras (1967-), live, c. 2007
Johann Sebastian Bach, Suite No. 3 in C major for Unaccompanied Cello; Jean-Guihen Queyras, live, c. 2007
WKCR’s annual Bach Festival continues through New Year’s Eve.
Life is one long lesson in learning how to breathe.
Ever feel like, each day, you understand less and less?
Davis Sisters (with Jackie Verdell), “We’ll Understand It Better By and By,” live (TV broadcast), early 1960sVodpod videos no longer available.
So long as that woman from the Rijksmuseum
in painted quiet and concentration
keeps pouring milk day after day
from the pitcher to the bowl
the World hasn’t earned
the world’s end.
—Wislawa Szymborska, “Vermeer” (trans. Clare Cavanagh & Stanislaw Baranczak, Here )
Johannes Vermeer, The Milkmaid (c. 1658)
I am a big admirer of her [Szymborska’s] work. I have read everything she has written, and I keep coming back to it. She is a very witty poet and she has greatly helped me to enjoy life. She exactly fits my definition of an artist. Who shouldn’t only have profound insight and a sharp mind but also remember that his obligation is to entertain the reader. And this is exactly what she does.
—Woody Allen, in the documentary Sometimes Life Is Bearable (2010)
listening room: (some of) what’s playing
• Paul Simon, So Beautiful or So What (Hear Music)
• Shane MacGowan and the Popes, The Snake (ZTT [import])
• Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, Trout Mask Replica (Reprise/Ada)
• The Best of Charlie Patton (Yazoo)
• Charley Patton, The Voice of the Delta (Indigo)
• The Detroiters/The Golden Echoes, Old Time Religion (Specialty)
• The Spiritualaires of Hurtsboro, Alabama, Singing Songs of Praise (CaseQuarter)
• Archie Shepp/Kahil El’Zabar’s Ritual Trio, Conversations (Delmark)
• Benny Goodman, The Complete Trios (Capitol)
• Charlie Parker, The Complete Royal Roost Live Recordings on Savoy, Vol. 3 (Savoy/Columbia [import])
• Charles Gayle, Repent (Knitting Factory)
• Steve Lacy-Roswell Rudd Quartet, School Days (hat Art)
• Wadada Leo Smith & Jack DeJohnette, America (Tzadik)
• Kenny Werner, No Beginning, No End (Half Note)
• Bach, Suites for Unaccompanied Cello/Jean-Guihen Queyras (Harmonia Mundi [import])
• Alfred Schnittke, String Quartet No. 3, Piano Quintet, Piano Quartet/
Borodin String Quartet with Ludmilla Berlinsky (Virgin Classics)
• WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University)
—Bird Flight (Phil Schaap, jazz [Charlie Parker])
—Traditions in Swing (Phil Schaap, jazz)
—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)
how to improve your life (guaranteed!)
Listen, each day, to one of Bach’s six suites for unaccompanied cello. I’ve been listening to them for 40 years. If I hadn’t, I assure you, my life would be even more of a shambles.
Bach, Suite No. 3 in C major for Unaccompanied Cello
Jean-Guihen Queyras, cello
I am who I am.
A coincidence no less unthinkable
than any other.
I could have different
ancestors, after all.
I could have fluttered
from another nest
or crawled bescaled
from another tree.
holds a fair supply of costumes:
spider, seagull, fieldmouse.
Each fits perfectly right off
and is dutifully worn
I didn’t get a choice either,
but I can’t complain.
I could have been someone
much less separate.
Someone from an anthill, shoal, or buzzing swarm,
an inch of landscape ruffled by the wind.
Someone much less fortunate,
bred for my fur
or Christmas dinner,
something swimming under a square of glass.
A tree rooted to the ground
as the fire draws near.
A grass blade trampled by a stampede
of incomprehensible events.
A shady type whose darkness
What if I’d prompted only fear,
If I’d been born
in the wrong tribe
with all roads closed before me?
Fate has been kind
to me thus far.
I might never have been given
the memory of happy moments.
My yen for comparison
might have been taken away.
I might have been myself minus amazement,
someone completely different.
—Wislawa Szymborska, “Among the Multitudes” (trans. Clare Cavanagh & Stanislaw Baranczak)
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), 1991Vodpod 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.
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.
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