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Month: March 2010

The Physiology of Jazz

The Physiology of Jazz

She’s a dervish on the piano. She dances with it, tweaks and cajoles the notes, the rhythm, the beat. There are few performers with such a developed and idiosyncratic relationship with their musical instrument, and few who exhibit so much joy in performance. She makes music, the act of making music, physical, kinetic, electric.

NPR has a story and a good video up on its website showing her extraordinary technique.

Born in Japan in 1979, Hiromi later studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. She has played with several legends of the Jazz world, including Stanley Clarke and Chick Corea. Though known for her unusually high energy at times on stage, in this performance, she exhibits restraint, respect and devotion to her friend and mentor, the great Oscar Peterson, who passed away in 2007.

Tabhair póg dom, is Éireannach mé

Tabhair póg dom, is Éireannach mé

The Cliffs of Moher, in County Clare, Ireland.
The Cliffs of Moher, in County Clare, Ireland.

It’s that day again. Another year, another Guinness or two or three. I wonder sometimes what old Saint Patty would make of his holiday being used for fun and frivolity, and more than a little bit of liquid spirits. Did he drink in his monastery, or out and about in his walks across Ireland? Possibly so. He may have needed more than a little help, chasing away all of those snakes and demons. And it may have helped him explain to the Irish how the concept of the Trinity was like the Irish Shamrock, as he did on occasion.

Regardless, drink a toast for me and you and all our brothers and sisters in this life, at least.

The official site of the St Patrick Festival in Dublin is here.

 

 

A Life Not Filmed is . . .

A Life Not Filmed is . . .

Agnes Varda lives inside Cinema. Literally. Her brilliant cinematic autobiography, “The Beaches of Agnes”, captures the melancholy and memorable life of perhaps the first New Wave filmmaker — though she is not always included when talk turns to Godard, Resnais, Rivette, Rohmer and Truffaut.

In this documentary, Varda uses mirrors within mirrors, and film within film, walking backwards as she goes back in time to collect memories and update them with the children of old friends and child actors grown old. Varda is also a brilliant photographer, and inserts photos inside the film within the film, giving us a glimpse of life in France, in Cuba, in California, stretching across several decades, and touching many lives both humble and renown. We see Jim Morrison, Harrison Ford, Catherine Deneuve, Jane Birkin, and Varda’s husband, Jacques Demy. Most famous for his musical, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, Demy counted on Varda to be his muse and inspiration. Their relationship is the centerpiece of … Click to continue . . .

Happy Birthday, Samuel Barber

Happy Birthday, Samuel Barber

His 100th. Though he died in 1981, it’s good to see his centenary has sparked some renewed interest in his work, and perhaps a reevaluation. No longer is he seen by so many critics as behind the times. No longer is he seen as incapable of experimentation and modern innovations. Beyond the critical wars, staring down at us from within the notes of the music of the spheres, Barber can watch and listen with a wry smile, or stretch his heart to the breaking point with us while we listen to Adagio for Strings.

Which makes me think about all of the drama when it comes to discussing art. Once it’s all been categorized, compartmentalized, according to “schools”, the battle is lost and we all too easily lose the sense of the music itself. The battle becomes the battle over competing interpretations, instead of what art, music and literature are really meant to do:

Inspire us, lift us, provoke … Click to continue . . .