Showing posts from June, 2020

Discenchanted Evening: Trump's collapsible rally in Tulsa remembered in song

Here’s my cut-rate Emile De Becque and flea-market Ezio Pinza, pressed into the service of memorializing the President’s Disenchanted Evening in Tulsa. Posted by Jay Harvey on  Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Omer Avital and Qantar bring Israeli sensibilities to the American street

Avital at work and play From the opening track of "New York Paradox"( Zamzama Records ) to the finale, bassist Omer Avital and Qantar look backward and from an oblique angle at some of the more vigorous jazz recorded circa 1960. My references are to "Shavazi," a kind of Israeli "Better Git It in Your Soul," and the determined if dour "Bushwick After Dark," which unfolds with the laid-back suavity of "Killer Joe." Backward glances at the way jazz was recorded by Atlantic and Blue Note  (my song references are to Charles Mingus and the Farmer-Golson Jazztet) are to me not regrettable in 2020 if the personality behind the legacy-boosting is fresh. Talk about "advancing the music" should never obscure the value of decanting new wine into clean old bottles. And so it seems to be the revived niche the 49-year-old Israeli-American bassist and his quintet called Qantar can idiomatically occupy. Based in Brooklyn, with a perfor

Buddy movies in sound: Stryker eases into Mintzer arrangements with WDR Big Band

Dave Stryker and Bob Mintzer are seasoned bandstand colleagues. Among the well-established indications that jazz has long been reliably exported and given a native hue of resolution abroad is the WDR Big Band. WDR stands for "Westdeutsche Rundfunk" (West German Radio) and the last syllable of the full name suggests to Americans that such an ensemble can take care of business. ("Funk" is a highly charged word, as Beethoven fans know from the line "Freude, schöne Götterfunken" in the last movement of the Ninth Symphony. "Joy, spark of the gods," indeed!) The band brings it off expertly in "Blue Soul" ( Strikezone Records ) which has its shared of funkiness as it showcases guitarist Dave Stryker, guesting with the band at the invitation of director and tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer.  Mintzer's arrangements are skillfully negotiated, and the master of the revels picks up his horn now and then, too, while yielding most of the so

On shouting for peace first: suggestions for a social-justice road map in King's 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail'

“No justice!” they shouted. “No peace!” So ran a line in a Washington Post account of the protest demonstration in the nation’s capital at the beginning of the month. It was an odd recasting of the slogan that is usually printed as “No justice, no peace,” sometimes with one exclamation point at the end. Mug shots of Dr. King from the jailing that led to his famous letter to white pastors. The Post version may have inadvertently evoked the kind of stalemate that America’s stubborn racial struggles have reached. If you separate the phrases by more than a comma, as the Post did, you place them as neighboring pillars with no implied link between them. Maybe that’s what we have now: no justice in one silo, no peace in the other. With next to none of either quality, and no interaction between them, we’re stuck. Of course, the slogan “No justice, no peace” as normally chanted and felt implies causality: If the protests don’t establish justice, then there will be no peace.

Young Canadian composer Daniel Hersog shows individuality in big-band debut

Now in his mid-30s, Daniel Hersog seems to have drawn much from his education at Boston's New England Conservatory to take back to his hometown,Vancouver, B.C. Now the trumpeter-composer has built his first big-band CD, "Night Devoid of Stars" ( Cellar Music ), around the participation of two of the men he got to know there: tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger (classmate) and pianist Frank Carlberg (teacher).  His imagination is highly charged enough not only to be worthy of his guests, but also to have inspired the 14 other participants in this set of seven tunes, all of them originals except for "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," the Otto Harbach-Jerome Kern evergreen from 1933. On that tune, Carlberg particularly displays the wry sensibility he can bring to melody and harmony. The familiar tune is refracted from a bent perspective at first in a solo introduction, but it becomes clear from the way the ensemble is used after it enters that Carlberg is reconfirming t

Jory Vinikour's Couperin disc "L'Unique": Change and stability in landmark solo harpsichord music

Cedille Records has been vital in giving wider exposure to Chicago musicians, and the international stature of Jory Vinikour has been enhanced by his brief discography on the label. Modern harpsichord concertos were the focus in a crystalline presentation last year, and that succeeded an illuminating  account of J.S, Bach's violin-harpsichord sonatas two years ago with Rachel Barton Pine. Harpsichordist Jory Vinikour (photo: Hermann Rosso) With concentration on Francois Couperin on a new release, Vinikour gets to the heart of his substantial training in French clavecin music. He presents three of the books ( ordres ) by which the French baroque master cemented his reputation as both teacher and canonical exemplar of how the repertoire should be performed. David Fuller concludes his Grove's Dictionary essay on Couperin "le Grand" with these words: "If elsewhere he may at times have matched the wit, the urbanity, the somber passion, the easy charm, the mel