Category Archives: Music

On the teevee

CBS This Morning finally ran its feature about Bob Boilen and Stephen Thompson’s Tiny Desk Concerts. They were there to film on a couple-three occasions many weeks ago, including February’s awesome Mucca Pazza show. Apparently the producers felt that my colleagues made for more interesting audience shots than me, but you can see my chin and my wristwatch starting at 3:59.

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Titan

So, picking up some vibration in the air or other, I recently watched Keep On Keepin’ On (2014), Alan Hicks’s documentary about the relationship between veteran jazz trumpeter Clark Terry and the young pianist Justin Kauflin. The film was thin in the areas I was curious about, namely Terry’s career in the 1940s and onward—his departure from the Duke Ellington orchestra gets only an offhand mention, for instance—but it does a good job of telling the story it wants to tell. Terry was an influence on so many players, and he continued to nurture talents like Kauflin’s into his 90s. His body ravaged by diabetes, Terry kept on teaching.

My familiarity with Terry’s work is rather limited, but he was a gateway drug for me, like Dave Brubeck. I have a vinyl recording of Terry performing live with the Ohio State University Jazz Ensemble; this would be early 1970s, as I bought it after then band played a high school assembly for us. His work with the horn impressed me less than his vocal work, especially his signature piece “Mumbles,” an encore bit of rhythmic whimsy.

Anyway, it came as a slight shock to learn that Terry had died just this past week, as Reuters reports. Another one gone, but we have his recordings (more than 900 of them!) and his students.

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I hate it when Mom and Dad fight

An oldie but a goodie:

Language Log

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Baker Street

Sideman Raphael Ravenscroft, who earned a little sliver of immortality with an eight-bar riff, has joined Gerry Rafferty.

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Sub

Gabriel Cohen covers a Broadway high-wire act: pit musicians who fill in for the regular performers, sometimes on 15 minutes’ notice.

… Jeff Schiller, another “Kinky Boots” sub, recalled, “I got a call half an hour into a show, when a regular was experiencing incredible kidney stone pain.” Luckily, Mr. Schiller, who goes by the nickname Houndog, lives near the theater district. He swapped in between numbers in the middle of Act One.

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Peculiar muzak: 3

Arranged for clarinet and piano, Stephen Sondheim’s vinegary-sweet bit of exposition, “You Must Meet My Wife” from A Little Night Music, heard at my neighborhood Safeway this afternoon.

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Peculiar muzak: 2

Crate & Barrel this afternoon, shopping for wine glasses: a live version of the Velvet Undeground’s “Femme Fatale.” It wasn’t the album version; I couldn’t tell whether it was another band covering it, but the vocalist did sound like Nico.

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Chord changes

NPR has the unhappy news of the passing of Marian McPartland, jazz pianist and genteel radio host. McPartland was one of the last four survivors of the photographic portrait from 1958, “A Great Day in Harlem.”

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I bet the memorial service will be awesome

Jim Nayder, host of WBEZ-FM’s “Annoying Music Show,” has passed.

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Making permanent

The nut of Jeremy Denk’s “Every Good Boy Does Fine,” a recollection of his training and teachers, in the 8 April 2013 issue of The New Yorker:

The aim of that first lesson, I later realized, was to ennoble the art of practicing. You were not practicing “phrasing”; you were drawing like Michaelangelo, or seducing like Don Juan. [György] Sebők said many times that you don’t teach piano playing at lessons; you teach how to practice—the daily rite of discovery that is how learning really happens.

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Stargrazing

Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring), discovered just this January, is expected to come within 100,000 km of Mars in October 2014, as O.M. reports (as Babbage). Perhaps even closer: the track of a comet is not as predictable as that of an asteroid, as the flying snowball ejects mass on its approach to the sun. Astronomers, professionals and amateurs alike, are looking at the possibility of an even closer approach, and an actual impact is not out of the question at this point.

Update: More reporting on the story, with a fabulous hed and subhed for us Cole Porter fans.

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Crazy

Sonja Ahlers <3 Heart.

P.S. Don’t ever do a Heart song @ karaoke. They are inimitable.

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Top-down

Brian Eno talks to Ha-Joon Chang about free-market capitalism, Terry Riley’s In C, and wasting time.

BRIAN ENO: One of the characteristics of people, whether on the left or the right, is that they can’t tolerate uncertainty. They don’t want a system with any leaks in it. They want to think they’re capable of battening everything down – and if only people would fucking stick to the rules, it would work. When those systems don’t work, it’s always because, in their opinion, somebody didn’t play the game correctly.

The Morning News

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One more dead copycat

Happy birthday, Charles “Yardbird” Parker, Jr. Tom Vitale has a encore story on the making of “Ko Ko.”

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Tick, tick

Allan Kosnin on the problems of conserving the instruments of 20th century music: Philip Glass’s Farfisa organ, Milton Babbitt’s RCA Mark II synthesizer, and something substantially lower-tech:

Ligeti’s “Poème Symphonique” for 100 metronomes (1962) should be the easiest of his scores to perform: all you have to do is wind up the 100 metronomes, start them at exactly the same time (O.K., that is not so easy) and let them wind down until the last one stops.

But try finding 100 windup metronomes these days.

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