Showing posts from February, 2021

IVCI renews its Laureate Series with silver medalist Tessa Lark's homage to Fritz Kreisler

Famous for his eminence on the concert stage for most of the 20th century's first half, Fritz Kreisler also had a career notable for two major interruptions. Thus in a sense it was natural, Fritz Kreisler has unique charisma among violinists. given the interruptions the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis has had to navigate during the pandemic, for the resumption of its Laureate Series to pay homage to the illustrious Austrian violinist-composer. As a performing artist, Kreisler (1875-1962) was sidelined twice and rebounded both times. The first was a cataclysm that affected millions, World War I, when the burgeoning virtuoso rendered army service and largely laid the violin aside.  Tessa Lark exhibits wide range of musical  interests. But the bulk of his fame lay ahead of him, with a level of concert and recording activity only to be interrupted by a serious traffic accident in New York City in 1941. His recovery from this potentially career-ending mishap gave him a

'Zodiac': Reaffirming the special gifts Mary Lou Williams brought to jazz piano and composition

Worth a reconception as well as revival in its own right, Mary Lou Williams'' "Zodiac Suite" is a landmark long-form composition in jazz history. Chris Pattishall , a fellow pianist of this pioneer among nonsinging female jazz stars, has assembled a small group enhanced by tasteful sound design and programming from Rafiq Bhatia. Mary Lou Williams focuses her attention. No matter what your orientation may be to astrology (mine is quite faint), this music is worth attention for its stylistic breadth and a daring (for jazz) variety of tempo and texture, often within one of the composition's twelve "signs." Pattishall and his band (Riley Mulherkar, trumpet; Ruben Fox, saxophones; Marty Jaffe, bass; Jamison Ross, drums) put forward a fresh vision of this peculiar milestone. Williams  (1910-1981) is among the jazz luminaries shaped by Pittsburgh, active from her teens and first attracting widespread attention as pianist-arranger for the eminent '30s band A

Denver's tight, puckish Jazz WORMS turn again, 'Squirmin'' into the 21st century

A band with a regional reputation strains to stay together if it includes players good enough to attract the attention of musicians elsewhere. And the local stars often get anxious to apply their skills to new contexts. In the fluid world of jazz, compatibility can't ensure group longevity. This Denver quintet regrouped decades after its heyday. This seems to be the case with the Jazz WORMS, whose unusual name also justifies puffing up into an acronym. The members are Andy Weyl, Keith Oxman, Paul Romaine, Ron Miles and Mark Simon (the surname initials in this order yield the band's creepy-crawly moniker). Active in Denver in the 1980s, the  five players have regrouped to play a batch of eight originals, just released on Capri Records under the title "Squirmin'." Their musical profile is immediately evident in the pieces' tight organization, which fortunately doesn't go so far as to inhibit the spontaneity and fun that pervade the arrangements. The first tr

Yoko Miwa and her trio seek to reaffirm the power of jazz joy

The veteran pianist-educator Yoko Miwa explicitly lines up behind the mission of emphasizing the joy of jazz in her new trio recording, "Songs of Joy" ( Ubuntu Music ). With Will Slater on bass and Scott Goulding on drums, she has assembled a program of originals, plus a Yoko Miwa is on the Berklee School faculty. few pieces from across the pop-jazz spectrum. I would advise the listener not to locate a specific effusion of joy in each of the 11 selections, however.  "Largo Desolato" sounds neither especially slow nor desolate, but it's intended to evoke "the unnaturally empty streets of New York City at the height of the pandemic," in the publicist's language accompanying my copy of the release. "The Lonely Hours," another Miwa composition, has a somber memorial tinge in carrying out its dedication to her late father, who died in Japan after the pandemic made visiting impossible. The joy must be embedded in a daughter's fond memories.

'Tuesdays With Morrie' underlines the importance of maintaining connections

 Indiana Repertory Theatre has found ways to push safely back against the constraints imposed by the Mitch (Ryan Artzberger) and Morrie (Henry Woronicz) form an indelible bond.  pandemic. It has faced in a magnified sense the squeeze all theaters are feeling. Its art form normally requires in-person audiences taking in the artistic depiction of human interaction at close quarters. Now small casts are advisable, and coordination with video camera experts is mandatory. IRT's "Tuesdays With Morrie," the stage adaptation of a memoir by Mitch Albom, is available via streaming through Feb. 21. Indirectly defying COVID-19, intimacy is a given in this story of the close relationship between a sociology professor dying of ALS and a successful sportswriter who nearly two decades earlier had been a student of his at Brandeis University.  Mitch has reneged on a promise to keep in touch with his favorite teacher, Morrie Schwartz, as he makes a wrenching career change before finding h

Joe Biden pep song as his administration enters its third week


Shouldn't They Dump Marjorie? I suggested, but the Republicans decided otherwise