Max Richter — Composed and Recomposed

maxr   Max Richter is described as a post-minimalist. That could mean anything, but what’s true is that he did arrive and begin to create after minimalists like Steve Reich and Terry Riley and Phillip Glass. He is a composer who has worked performing in person, writing film music under the cover of darkness, and in studios, loaded with electronics.

mr5   Spring

Richter blends classical, electronic, and rock and roll (or as modern guys simply say it now, rock) into a style he has called post-classical. All these labels aside, he’s had the training and the experience to allow us to think about him as a musician and composer in a pure and simple sense and, at the same time, as one who is aware of and operates within the infinite breath of what’s come before.

mr8   Summer

He performed for 10 years as part of a group called, Piano Circus and, though I know a little about what that group was and did, I’d rather imagine it as the many wonderful images conjured by that name. He has studied, experimented, composed, and found an audience who can now follow whatever direction he takes and listen to what he is discovering and creating. This includes music for the stage, ballet, opera, performance, installations, recordings, and whatever else seems appropriate.

   Autumn

In 2012, he released a recording titled, Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi – The Four Seasons. This takes The Four Seasons as its starting point and loops and builds on and subtracts from Vivaldi and leaves in its wake something else, entirely new and beautiful. This is the one I’ve been listening to for a couple of years. The music here is from that recording.

mrsleep1mrsleep2

Winter

In 2015, he released Sleep, which lasts over 8 hours and whose parts sometimes match natural sleep cycles. For this piece he consulted with neuroscientist David Eagleman and, though that doesn’t make it approved by the scientific community, it does inform it. I’ve fallen asleep to both of these pieces and parts of several other compositions and this is a kind of listening that leaves me refreshed and eager for more. The music is beautiful and, like all great music, speaks to a part of myself I was unfamiliar with until hearing it.

mr6

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Peter Rowan – Howlin’ at the Moon

PR1   Bill Monroe, David Grisman, Richard Greene, Clarence White, Jerry Garcia, Vassar Clements, Tony Rice, and countless others all have Peter Rowan in common. It is said that he was born with a guitar in his hands, which must have been uncomfortable for his mom, but lucky for his soon to follow brothers.

pr0wen2   When I Was A Cowboy

He’s a fixture, shining brightly, at every festival and has been for years immemorial. He can’t play a bad set. His songs touch bottom in the deepest places. He’s smiling, warm, and, at this point, downright avuncular, or whatever the grandfatherly equivalent is.

prstaythirsty   Stay thirsty, my friends.

The Free Mexican Airforce

He’s the kind of guy who brings his guitar everywhere and, also, brings his own campfire, with the sound of the river off in the darkness. We get to sit around, occasionally joining in, and enjoy the trips he takes us on. Old timey, bluegrass, newgrass, tejano, reggae, rock and roll. His old friends are ours. He’s sharing his stories and his moments and his and ours are all getting mixed together. He follows a trail he’ll continue on until all that is left is a cloud of dust and a faint, Hi Ho, Silver.

peteR4   Midnight Moonlight

So many songs, so many performances, so many records, so much great feeling. And, don’t forget the yodeling.

pRowan6   Before All The Streets Were Paved

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Guitar Hero — Barry Wedgle

bwedgle  Documenting the music is important.  In jazz, combinations of musicians come together and break apart so often that bands that have an actual life together are a rarity.  That’s good as it makes for more invention and more creation, but I hate it when that great band is just a memory or that incredible jam floats off into the night.  I want to have the possibility of hearing it some time or be able to hear it again.  That’s unrealistic and greedy and impossible and ridiculous, but that’s the way I am.  Twenty, forty, a hundred years on, I want to be able to cue it up and hear what was happening that night, with those guys.  It’s not the same as feeling the heat of the room or seeing the sweat of the players or hearing crowd react to that last solo, but it lets me hear something that was once upon a time and allows me access to something that will never be again.

La Cruz

This tune, La Cruz, is from an album by Barry Wedgle and a bunch of guys he brought together in Boulder around 1979.  It’s an example of music that might have slipped away in the hubbub of working and living and playing, but, instead, still exists for us to enjoy.  I remember hearing this tune in person and all the wonderful players.  I think most of them are still playing – the nimble Jerry Grannelli on drums, the legendary Fly McLard on horns, Barry on guitar, lucky Phil Sparks on bass, Jay Clayton’s beautiful voice, Collin Walcott, Paul McCandless, Geoff Lee on piano and others.

It was back in those days that Barry taught me how to listen.  He made me sit down long enough and become quiet enough to focus on whatever was playing – Sonny Rollins, Paco de Lucia, Beethoven, Monk.  He played endlessly with a dedication that was all-consuming.  He helped me understand that the world isn’t always and doesn’t necessarily have to be ruled by order or authority and that passion is the fuel for everything.  He showed me the finer points of hanging out and we hung out at countless gigs, listening to whoever was playing.  It was an education.

kake

Cuzco

Sometimes its easy to forget the past as it falls behind in the wake of the moment, but, when the music starts to play, it comes back, just as it was when everyone was putting it all together.  It deserves attention and I try to still hangout in that special way that acknowledges and celebrates all the endless moments of creation.

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Darius Milhaud – Composer and Teacher

dm1   Darius Milhaud was a composer and teacher who fled the Nazis and came to the United States in 1940. Once here, he taught at Mills College in San Francisco. Among his graduate students were Dave Brubeck and Burt Bacharach. Before coming to the US, he had long been an acclaimed composer and musical force of nature. He composed quickly and prolifically.

Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit

 

dmdb2   La Creation Du Monde

As a young man, he acted as secretary to the French ambassador to Brazil and soaked up the popular music there, including that of Ernesto Nazereth and the music surrounding Carnaval. These sounds found their way into many of his compositions, notably Le Boeuf Sur La Toit and his Suadades do Brasil. He also traveled to New York, in the twenties, where he heard jazz in Harlem. This influence can be heard in his La Creation Du Monde.

dm6   He doesn’t smile much in pictures, but he does in his music.

One of three waltzes from Madame Bovary

He was grouped together with Satie and Poulenc as part of Les Six, French composers reacting to the heavy influence of Wagner and Richard Strauss. His music drew on all of these influences and on the rich classical traditions of France. Later, he wrote an autobiography, which sums up his many years of creativity called, My Happy Life. That about says it all. What a lucky guy.

Two selections from my all-time favorite –  Suite Provencale

Anime

Vif

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Jose Neto – Beneath the Electronics

Jose1   Jose Neto recorded an album in 1987 that, for me, has never gotten old. It’s acoustic guitar and original compositions. I’ve played it a million times. Okay, not a million, but a lot.

With The Trees

jose6.jpg   He’s originally from Brazil and started playing at age four, giving him lots of time to practice. Before this album, Mountains and the Sea, he had played with Henry Belafonte, Paquito D’Rivera, Herbie Mann and Airto Moreira. There’s a great tune on the Airto album, Humble People, called Move It on Up that shows him developing the electric chops that would serve him well in the future. Since all this stuff in the past, he’s played a lot of fusion guitar and toured and collaborated with Steve Winwood, but it’s these old tunes that really get me.

 San Francisco

The music is quiet, melodic, sweet, mysterious. It’s a moment of creation that I’m glad didn’t get away. It’s funny how these things stay with us.

jose3   Aide

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It Really Is Pretty Unusual – Tom Jones and Howlin’ Wolf

The magnificent and commanding voices of Brenda Lee and Tracy Nelson have been featured here before and have been known to drive, not only myself, but also many other listeners wild. There’s a masculine counterpart to this.

tj4   It’s Not Unusual

This morning I woke up with the voice of Tom Jones in my head. His voice is no shrinking violet, if you know what I mean. It’s big. Like theirs, it’s huge. It comes from somewhere around his toes and makes full use of the cavern that is his diaphragm to gather its strength and power and, when he lets it loose, all one can do is stand back and appreciate the joy of singing. I can only imagine how much fun it must be to be able to do that.

tj1   Pretty dreamy.

In my car and in the shower, I have been known to let myself go. For a moment, I have allowed myself a similar sense of freedom and joined in and felt a small part of that joy. At times, in the early morning, I have heard myself hit notes of a frequency that might impress Junior Brown, but it’s only a small act of homage to the truly miraculous.

tj2

A wise man, Jack Lee, in a band named OZ, once said, There are painters and paint makers, everybody does their share. He didn’t feel the need to say, There are singers and everybody else are listeners. Trying is admirable, but it might be better to leave it to the professionals. I don’t know about you, but I can hear the difference.

hw1

Another voice I heard this morning was Howlin’ Wolf’s. I’m sure Tom Jones is a fan and, though both have voices that seem to bust out of the mists of myth, they are quite distinct. One thing that distances them from Brenda Lee and Tracy Nelson, besides their sex, is that instead of being quite small with huge voices, they are huge guys with voices that seem only possible because of, rather than in spite of, their size.

hw6   Smokestack Lightning

Whatever the source and whatever the reason, these voices and their existence in our lives is cause for celebration. It would be too sad to think what I would be missing, without their example to direct me to what’s possible. But I have to warn you, if you see that look in my eye and I begin to open my mouth, stand back and cover your ears. I’m not kidding.

 

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Stan Getz – Cool Forever

getz4   Stan Getz always sounded like a big guy to me. His tenor saxophone sound was huge, round, mellow. He idolized Lester Young and learned the lessons of simplicity and soulfulness from him and stayed with it his whole life.

How Deep Is The Ocean

 

getz5  

O Grande Amor

He played with everyone during the classic period of jazz between the thirties and the eighties. He was Jack Teagarden’s ward when he was in his band, because he was too young to be on his own. He played with Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, and Johnny Smith. He replaced Art Pepper in Stan Kenton’s band. Think about that.

getz2      Eu E VoceHis playing was called, The Sound, because it was so distinctive, romantic, and the essence of cool. It was breathy, direct, and full of endless melodic improvisation. It seems like he was instrumental (!) in bringing Bossa Nova to America because of his recordings with Luis Bonfa, Tom Jobim, and Astrud and Joao Gilberto, but that was just an interlude.

getz1   I’m Old Fashioned

He kept moving on and playing with all kinds of young players coming up. He won a bunch of Grammys and his sound and melodic abilities have kept him popular and influential ever since.

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