Now and again I tend to reminisce about my youth, and luckily what comes up most for me is the music I listened to. Lately I’ve been spending my time totally enamored with two specific groups, The New York Voices and the Pat Metheny Group. I listened to these pieces often and I fell in love with the artist as well. I can even make a direct connection between the woman I fell in love with (who is now my lovely wife of 13 years) and one of these groups.
The New York Voices are a vocal jazz quartet currently, however when I first learned about them they were a quintet. I listened to their self titled first album constantly, in fact it was the 3rd CD I remember ever buying in 1991. The song that has stuck to me like a great memory is titled Silence Of Time. Take the time to enjoy this piece.
The first time I heard Pat Metheny’s Minuano I remember it challenged all I knew about music. The lines between jazz and classical music were blurred for me since. Subsequently, I started to listen for common ground between genre’s and making connections across the different components within music. This piece moves and I remember it moving me as a teenager.
Lately I’ve been enamored with experimental covers of pop musicians. My latest object of affection is the intersection of modern big-band and Bjork. The result is Travis Sullivan’s Bjorkestra. An incredible collection of jazz interpretations of music written and performed by Bjork.
Take a listen, buy their albums…or go see them live.
Recently I had the opportunity to be on stage with an orchestra and a very charismatic performer. The performance revolved around some famous Frank Sinatra arrangements we don’t all know, but really love. This concert was a collection of “feel good music” that make you want to snap your finger and drink a martini… followed by scotch and then a steak. At least thats the way I felt.
The arrangements done for the orchestra were fantastic. Here’s an example of one of those arrangements brought back to life for the world to enjoy.
The audience was into the performance. The orchestra was having a great time on stage and I’m pretty sure I had the best seat in the house.
Recently I played a concert in concert recital hall. The space was very intimate and the concert was around mid-day. At first I thought this was an odd time for a chamber music concert featuring the Stravinsky Octet and a few other works for the era. Odd until I listened to the New York Times Popcast: Jazz’s Takeover of Hallowed Museum Spaces.
Part of the discussion dealt with the classification of what jazz music is and how artist explore new sounds, spaces, and the integration of many forms of arts. One of the artist in question was Jason Moran. A fantastic jazz pianist and now Artistic Director for Jazz at The Kennedy Center.
I ran across an album with a face I recognized from long ago. It’s not like this artist is difficult to find, however I think this is his first project as the leader of this recording project. His name is Carlos Henriquez and he is the bass player. His latest project The Bronx Pyramid is a beautiful collection of latin and jazz compositions with incredible performances by well known artist like Rubén Blades.
I encourage folks to look up, listen and download/buy his album.
If I ever need reminding about the struggle of being a band director and why it’s important to do what I do, Wynton Marsalis sums it up in this talk. All of it applicable to those who learn and those who teach.