Fri, 21 August 2015
2015 marks the 80th anniversary of Benny Goodman's famous Palomar concert that started the “Swing Era,” and Israeli-American clarinetist Oran Etkin commemorates the event by bringing together a crack quartet, including Steve Nelson (vibes), Matt Wilson (drums), and Sullivan Fortner (piano) for a creative homage to the groundbreaking quartet of Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa of the 1930s. Praised as a great clarinetist and all-around improviser by the New York Times, Etkin felt a deep connection with Benny Goodman, whose groundbreaking work in redefining the role of the clarinet and challenging the status quo inspired a generation of musicians. The Motema label will release this band’s celebration of the daring and playful spirit of Benny Goodman, What's New: Reimagining Benny Goodman next month. The album is a tribute not by recreating his music note for note, but rather by getting, as Etkin told me, at the essence of who Goodman was and the spirit that he brought to the music,
On August 21, 1935, at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, California, Benny Goodman and his quartet performed for thousands of young fans in the live audience and millions more tuning in to a live radio broadcast. Historians today credit this moment as the opening of the Swing Era, In Podcast 493, Etkin talks about this famous gig, and his lifetime fascination with Goodman and his place in musical history.
Goodman had begun to perform “hot” arrangements by African-American bandleader Fletcher Henderson—arrangements that departed from the more romantic style of the day by employing loose, upbeat, syncopated rhythms that had been common in African-American jazz ensembles for years, but had been passed over by white orchestras for years. Goodman’s band would often appear well past midnight, EST, on a radio program called Let’s Dance. This may have limited their exposure on the East Coast, but since the show aired in “prime time” on the West Coast, Goodman would soon discover a huge new fan base there.
The story goes that Goodman stuck to relatively staid, stock arrangements during the first part of the Palomar show, and he began to lose the young crowd. Before their return from the first intermission, the band’s drummer, Gene Krupa, is said to have urged Goodman, “If we’re gonna die, Benny, let’s die playing our own thing.” It was at that point that Goodman famously pulled out Henderson’s arrangements along with all the stops on his talented orchestra, to the crowd’s immense delight. The rest, as they say, is history.
Podcast 493 is my conversation with Oran, as we talk about how the music of Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman influenced him, and how he and his three talented cohorts went about this project. Musical selections from the new CD include their takes on Goodman standards like "King Porter Stomp", "Dinah", and - of course - "SIng, Sing, Sing", the last in a radical revisionary take. From Oran's Gathering Light CD, you can hear "Gambang Suling", a track influenced by his travel in the Far East and Pacific Rim last year.
Direct download: Podcast_493_-_A_Conversation_with_Oran_Etkin_about_Benny_Goodman.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:00am EDT
Thu, 20 August 2015
December will make the centennial celebration of the birth of Francis Albert Sinatra – Ol’ Blue Eyes, the Chairman of the Board. Perhaps the most iconic male singer – if not of all genders – of the jazz age, Sinatra made his mark on American culture by excelling as a recording artist, performer and movie actor. From his days as the teen idol who made the bobbysoxers swoon with the Harry James Big Band, through his years of growth as mature interpreter of the Great American Song Book, Sinatra was a one of a kind talent.
As part of Tanglewood’s “One Day University” program in Lenox, Massachusetts on Sunday August 23, Anna Harwell Celenza, the Thomas E. Caestecker Professor of Music at Georgetown University and the author of several scholarly books, including Music as Cultural Mission: Explorations of Jesuit Practices in Italy and North America, will lecture on the topic “A Sinatra Centennial: What Made Old Blue Eyes Great?”
Ms. Celenza’s work has also appeared in The Hopkins Review, Musical Quarterly, Nineteenth-Century Music, Notes, The Cambridge Companion to Liszt (2005), and Franz Liszt and His World (2006) and The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington (2014) . In addition to her scholarly work, she has authored a series of award-winning children's books with Charlesbridge Publishing: The Farewell Symphony (2000), Pictures at an Exhibition (2003), The Heroic Symphony (2004), Bach's Goldberg Variations (2005), Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (2006), Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite (2011), Vivaldi's Four Seasons (2012), Saint-Saëns's Danse macabre (2013) and a 14-part syndicated series on Louis Armstrong for the NC Press Foundation. She is currently finishing work on a new scholarly book Jazz Italian Style about Jazz in Italy between the World Wars, as well as two new children's books, one on Louis Armstrong, the other on Mozart.
Podcast 491 is my conversation with Ms. Celenza, as we discuss the various aspects of Sinatra’s career to determine just why he has remained a major cultural figure 100 years after his death. Musical selections include “Come Fly with Me”; collaborations with arranger Nelson Riddle on “Sleep Warm” and “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning”; “Something”; and a live version of “Witchcraft” from a show recorded at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas in April 1987.
Sun, 16 August 2015
It's summer in New England, so why not some summer themed music for these lazy, hot days? Today is August 16th, the feast day of Saint Roch, the patron saint of Dogs, so why not celebrate the "Dog Days"?
The Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the "Dog Star" because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog), as well as the brightest star in the night sky. The term "Dog Days" was used earlier by the Greeks in Aristotle's Physics.
The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as sunrise, which is no longer true, owing to procession of the equinoxes. The Romans sacrificed a brown dog (Sorry Angus and Hamish, my two miniature dachshunds!) at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather.
I've done three previous Dog Day postings, Podcast 292, Podcast 225and Podcast 442, if you'd like some more summer-themed music. There's a few repeats between these posts, but what the hey. It’s all grooving or relaxing music for soaking in those wonderful warming rays. Winter is just around the corner, and I am gonna grab all the warmth I can. Look for me on my deck with Angus and Hamish - and Nancy - and a cold beverage or two.
Podcast 492 features the following uninterrupted hour of music:
Chieli Minucci – “Endless Summer”
James Taylor Quartet – “Summer Song”
Jimmy Smith – “Summertime”
Christian McBride – “Summer Soft”
Eric Alexander Quartet - "Slow Hot Wind"
Jose James – “What A Little Moonlight Can Do”
Rufus Reid – “Summer's Shadow”
Klaus Paier and Asja Vailcic - “Stirring Summer Storm”
Hendrik Meurkens Sambajazz Quartet; - “Summer In San Francisco”
Marc Johnson – “Porch Swing”
Houston Person – “Medley: That Sunday That Summer (Funny)”
Bobby Previte - "Women On the Beach"
Sat, 1 August 2015
With all the hullabaloo over the "final" Grateful Dead shows last month in Santa Clara and Chicago, we might forget that today would have been Jerry Garcia’s 73rd birthday, and like so many other fans, I'll spend a few moments contemplating his music. Maybe a few "Scarlet Begonia/Fire on the Mountain" and "Dark Stars" are in the cards. Definitely a "Bird Song."
Named after composer Jerome Kern, Garcia was a student of American music, whether it was bluegrass, show tunes or the blues. Jerry had a love of jazz, and while the Dead themselves did not dip into the jazz canon all that often, Jerry’s side projects gave him a chance to show his jazz chops. Click here to listen to a recording of Milt Jackson’s “Bag’s Groove” from the 1998 release So What from Garcia and mandolin player David Grisman. Other members of the band were Joe Craven on percussion, Matt Eakle on flute and Jim Kerwin on bass
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT