My viewing habits on streaming sites like Netflix have been varied the past few months, but after reading a NY Times article, I realize that I binge watch more than just sci-fi movies and shows. I get caught up into music documentaries and watch three or four in a sitting. The latest have been a series of blues and hip-hop documentary.
I’ve managed to used some of these movies as part of my classes as well. My students seem to like them and they are a good jumping off point as points of conversations. Here is the latest one to capture my attention.
However if you are into reading about some of the other great music documentaries, the ones listed in this NY Times article is a good place to start.
Sometimes I think I’m messing with the algorithms of my media consumption when I research things for classes I teach. Recently I’ve been working with a class exploring the Blues. I know…it’s a big genre and there’s lots to cover, but like most of my classes, we find a path and we follow it and make stops along the way. Curious how music finds you where you’re at and not where you think you’re going.
As we explore the blues and the importance of it throughout the 20th and now the 21st century of music, I started noticing more and more articles about Ahmaud Arbery. The reporting of anyone’s death by the hands of another is tragic, however this one stopped me in my tracks. Although there is much to discuss about race and how people of color are seen in the United States, I’m going take a moment and tell you what my algorithm did to me.
As I am reading another NY Times article about the Arbery case with my morning coffee, I had my music media player playing from the list of music recommend to me. I often do something like this before I start teaching. Eventually my teaching of the blues and this particular shooting in Georgia came crashing together when my computer played Strange Fruit performed by Billie Holiday followed by When Will I Get To Be Called A Man performed by Big Billy Broonzy.
Why these two songs, and in that order?
I turned the music down, took a moment to collect myself, then I got ready for class.
Sometime I think my algorithm is reading my mind.
Sometimes I start listening to music and looking up different videos, just to see if I find something new and interesting. This time I landed on Jennifer Hudson. I must have listened to this about five or six times. Her inflections and phrasing are simple and beautiful. The kind of music making that makes me rethink the use of space within a line. Give it a listen and see for yourself.
It’s funny how one comes into contact with new music. I was recently listening to the New York Times Popcast titled “The Return of New York Rap” , which offered a unique discussion about the lack of rap music coming out of NYC the past decade. As I am a native New Yorker and still feel a certain connection to the music coming from there. So to listen to
Jon Caramanica and his guest talk about the artist coming out of there and the specific impact the New York radio stations play in getting music out to the masses was very enlightening. Not to mention, the Caribbean and island talk reminded me of home. When I hear topics likes these about my hometown, I feel comforted.
The podcast was so interesting to me that I wanted to read up on some of the artist mentioned in the talk directly from the NYT website. Well, somehow I meandered toward the bottom of the page and saw a trumpeter. His name is Ibrahim Maalouf and I am glad I got the chance to discover his music as well.
Funny, the twist and turns we make towards discovery. From Young M.A.’s “OOOUUU” and Fat Joe and Remy Ma’s “All The Way Up” to Ibrahim Maalouf Live in Beirut.
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.