Showing posts from April, 2020

Updating the sentimental 'There Are Smiles,' coincidentally a song from 1918, the year of the last major pandemic

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Tip-Toe Through the Screwups: A familiar spirit advises to Preisdential enablers to go with the flow

An amazing Chicago chamber-music group, Civitas Ensemble, sheds light on contemporary Chinese composers

With direct heritage embedded within it, the Civitas Ensemble devotes itself to a fascinating program The Civitas Ensemble comprises three Chicago Symphony members and a Chicago pianist. of music by living Chinese composers in "Jin Yin," which embraces all the selections in that choice of title, which means "golden tone." A Cedille Records issue, the project was generated by Civitas founding member Yuan-Qing Yu, Shanghai native and assistant concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Her Civitas colleagues are cellist Kenneth Olsen and clarinetist Lawrie Bloom, also CSO members, and pianist Winston Choi. Three guests join the band for the first composition, "Five Elements" by Zhou Long. The performance signals the flexibility of the group, as Yihan Chen (pipa), Cynthia Yeh (percussion) and Emma Gerstein (flute and piccolo) are indelibly integrated. The elements, each with its own  characteristic movement in this piece, are metal, wood, wate

Come to Me, My Disinfected Baby, an insane Trump-lover sings to his domestic partner

Standalone eminence: Trumpeter Jason Palmer and his band present lost masterpieces in another form

More than 50 years ago, I took advantage of temporary residency in the Boston area to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for a chamber-music concert. It seemed  an unusually welcoming institution, redolent of Boston Brahmin culture, with a stunning collection of masterworks hanging on its walls. I remember the visual art better than the music a half-century later. A famous unsolved art heist 30 years ago last month deprived the Gardner museum of some of its most august possessions —13 paintings by such masters as Degas, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. A fixture in Boston jazz, trumpeter Jason Palmer memorialized the theft in "The Concert: 12 Musings for Isabella," recorded last May at a New York hotel and issued now by Giant Step Arts. . Palmer enlists major young talents to help him present a dozen original compositions, each one based on now-lost Gardner holdings, whose empty frames hang to represent the loss to this day. Besides the leader, the players are saxophonist M

We Want To Tell You (but you don't listen, Mr. President)

Gabe Terracciano brings subtle fire to the jazz violin in a small-group context

Essential as it is in classical music and invaluable in such other genres as bluegrass and gypsy, the violin has a Gabe Terracciano, bandleader-composer long, honorable history in jazz, with enough practitioners over the past century that it has accommodated a wide range of styles. There's the proto-crooning of Joe Venuti, the florid exuberance of Stephane Grappelli, the tart, funky humor of Ray Nance, and so on. Gabe Terracciano was a violinist new to me when I received "In Flight" (Red Piano Records) in the mail. His compositions display a personality as individual as his violin-playing. Six pieces make up this disc, generally focused on a  pianoless quartet: besides Terracciano, guitarist Adam Rogers,bassis Matt Pavolka, and drummer Matt Ferber. To bookend the date (Jan. 30, 2018), there are two extra players for the title tune and the fetching "Alfie's Lullaby." They are Dave Pietro, alto sax, and Mike Rodriguez, trumpet. A soft-spoken player, g