New DTM: Hampton Hawes and the Low Blues.
At the end of the month are two days of Charlie Haden tribute at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival.
New DTM: Hampton Hawes and the Low Blues.
At the end of the month are two days of Charlie Haden tribute at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival.
I've been on Soundcheck many times; the first was with the New York Tango trio in...what...1995? There was something for the Mark Morris Dance Group with Yo-Yo Ma, then several occasions with TBP. Certainly Reid and I met the members of Interpol at the WNYC studio, that's when we told them we had arranged "Narc." One time I was solo opposite Imani Winds...did I play "Life on Mars?" Could be true.
However, as far as I know, last week was the first time my name was said by John Schaefer without me being there. Classical pianist Anthony de Mare is at the helm of Liasions, a far-reaching project where composers of every discipline arrange or recompose the songs of Stephen Sondheim.
Go here to listen to Anthony play the submissions of Nico Muhly, Steve Reich, and myself on Soundcheck. While I admit it is rather eerie to hear someone else play an Iversonian deconstuction of a familiar tune -- in this case, "Send In the Clowns" -- I'm still very impressed with Anthony's pianism and overall musicality.
I enjoyed the Muhly and Reich arrangements, too. Looking forward to the record! If you feel so moved, "like" the Liasions Facebook page.
Destination: OUT! has had some valuable Ornette-related posts lately: a memorial for the great Jayne Cortez, and an overview of O.C.'s "White House." That Curlew track is some Prime Time-esque stuff for sure. Interesting to hear Denardo as a sideman with someone other than his dad in both these posts...
Dave King has a Kickstarter with lots of remarkable benefits. The video is very funny.
Sarah Deming is becoming a regular reporter for Stiff Jab. See "Local Boxers Chase Their Dreams in Queens" and "Brooklyn Boxing: Danny Garcia and Peter Quillin Win, Zab Judah Stands Tall in Defeat."
According the Jazz Journalists Association, Billy Hart is drummer of the year. (He's got my vote, of course.)
It was Ron Carter's birthday on May 4th. Mr. RC got some nice twitter love from me and others. Nicholas Payton rapped about how instrumental Carter was in giving the Miles Davis band some mystery, and as proof offered a photo of the original chart of "Dolores." (Note: pitches are Bb, changes are concert.)
In related news, recently I became aware of this fascinating interview and transcription of Herbie Hancock on "Nefertiti" by Hiroshi Okamoto in 1990.
(In case there is a point in posting about Doctor Who on this jazz blog) I just anted up a fair-sized piece of change to Philip Sandifer's Kickstarter. I am always learning something from Sandifer. Just last week he reached the new series with a major essay on "Rose." My mind was blown by this paragraph:
This also marks the first appearance, musically, of what Russell T Davies and Phil Collinson cheekily refer to as “Flavia’s Theme.” It’s the musical cue with the single female vocalist oohing around on it that they use whenever Time Lord stuff comes up - that is, when the show gets a bit poncey in its sense of mysticism. Embedded in this is a fascinating double-edged joke: on the one hand the mysticism is named via a reference to a dense and fannish continuity point - Chancellor Flavia is in fact most notable for becoming Lord President of Gallifrey in The Five Doctors and then never appearing or being mentioned ever again. But there’s also an embrace of the camp here - Flavia is given an exceedingly stoic performance by Dinah Sheridan that makes her an immediate camp sensation destined to be loved by the sizable contingent of gay Doctor Who fans. It’s not just that mysticism and fannishness are twinned here, but that the slightly cheesy music trotted out when the mysticism gets a bit excessive is itself a self-conscious celebration of camp excess within the program.
While I don't like the new Who music that much in general (I searched out and called the older master Dudley Simpson when on tour in Sidney), I really don't like the "oohing" bits. But now I realize I just didn't understand the context. It's gay camp! Ah, now I understand much better. Thank you.
In fits and starts with the current season...actually, I thought "Cold War" and "Hide" were really quite good, if I was young again I'm sure I'd love 'em.
Nice hit last night in Eugene. Rest of tour:28 Portland, OR -- Mission Theater
Santa Barbara is co-bill with Brad Mehldau, Larry Grenadier, and Jeff Ballard. The next day in LA it's the same co-bill except Josh Redman will join TBP.
Speaking of Brad, did I ever mention on DTM that I wrote extensive liner notes for The Art of the Trio box set? That was a fun project, I interviewed Brad, Larry, and Jorge Rossy for it. I was there when that trio first tore apart NYC, what a great moment.
Out now is the Paul Motian box on ECM with another long essay from me, including fresh quotes from Charles Brackeen, Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell, Ed Schuller, and Manfred Eicher. A lot of great photos in there, too.
And Christopher O'Riley has a superb new Liszt 2-CD just about to come out on Oxingale. In those notes, I interview Chris and riff on why Liszt is so great, which he is, especially when a powerhouse like Chris is in the driver's seat. The Berlioz-Liszt-O'Riley Symphonie Fantastique is just too much.
Two regrettably essential YouTubes:
Forumesque 13 is an opportunity to weigh in on recent posts and anything in the contents. Factual corrections are welcomed; general questions are fine too. I'll close the forum Sunday morning before heading home from LA.
Over the last few days I helped Levi Stahl look though the late Donald E. Westlake's attic.
While I'll leave it to Levi to announce what he can use of marvelous goodies unearthed for his forthcoming Westlake anthology, there's a few details that I can share from our trip.
I can't deny the fanboy chill I felt when I discovered the shelf of homemade research books.
As I've written before, I consider The Ax to be a masterpiece, and here was Westlake's own large compilation of relevant New Yorker cartoons and NY Times articles.
There was a spooky visitation while spending over an hour running photocopies for Levi at Staples. Sarah and I kept wondering when I'd run out of paper. The machine finally did...right after completing the first full copy of the most significant document, and with the copy count right at 1234.
Also in the attic were reams of correspondence with carbons of his typewritten responses. Long after the advent of word processing, Westlake still wrote his books on his beloved Smith-Coronas. From the last decade, I was amused by plantive letters from young publishing underlings requesting Word docs or PDFs. Westlake curtly refused, of course. They would get only big boxes of neat Courier typescript from him!
In several interviews, Westlake said he didn't outline, but I did see a few page-long notes on plot. Indeed, there was one reference page that had the whole outline of the last two Parkers, Ask the Parrot and Dirty Money. (Talk about fanboy gold...)
Much more frequent than outlines were single-spaced, unparagraphed, sloppy first drafts of chapters running all over both sides of a page. My guess is that when inspiration struck, he just turned up the gas and didn't stop for anything. Then the second draft was a fair copy with very few mistakes and even fewer edits.
I opened up the box of Dirty Money to look at the famous last line. Wow! There was indeed a later edit: the last two words were eventually taken out, making it even stronger.
Westlake was a worker. He'd write anything he thought was interesting or had a chance to survive. Levi and I didn't find any other novels, but we did find about two file drawers of finished, forever unproduced film and television scripts. This isn't exactly a surprise, but according to the contracts, it is indeed true that submitting unused ideas for a James Bond film pays ten times the advance for a completed novel.
My heart was warmed looking at the "contract" for the major essay on Peter Rabe Westlake wrote for Murder Off the Rack. No advance, and future royalties split between all ten of the anthology's contributors. It's safe to say that Westlake never made a dime from it. He wrote the essay because he thought it was important to do...and he was right. We know so much more about Rabe thanks to Westlake.
Barring unforseen hurdles, the Rabe piece will be in Levi's anthology, along with a few things hardcore Westlakians have already seen and a lot that nobody has seen. It's going to be a great book.
Very special thanks to Abby Westlake for letting us look though the collection, and for her generous hospitality besides.
Recently Mark Morris has been exposing everyone within earshot to Ivor Cutler, culminating in the recent dance A Wooden Tree starring Mikhail Baryshnikov, reviewed well by Joan Acocella in The New Yorker.
Last week one of Mark's composition assignments at the Dartington choreographer/composer retreat was "Women of the World." My hasty transcription reflects the duet with Linda Hirst more than Cutler's solo version.
At the masterclass I met Sebastian Scotney. (I can't believe LondonJazzNews wasn't on my blogroll before.) Another vital voice of the jazz internet, Ronan Guilfoyle, was there too. (Trio dialogue: Michelle Mercer, George Colligan, Ronan.)
I played terrible at the masterclass, which is one reason I give them, of course. Put up or shut up! I'm still learning "the art of solo piano" for sure...
I joked at the Vortex that if there wasn't anybody at the masterclass the next morning I would just go around the corner from the Royal Academy of Music to the Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street. I love A. Conan Doyle, I've been to that museum before.
Afterwards, on the way home, I made the mistake of watching 10 minutes of the American Airlines-supplied Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, which managed the rather miraculous feat of being much, much worse than I could have imagined.
Holmes as anonymous action hero is bad enough. Moriarty killing a bitchy Irene Adler is unforgivable. How dare Guy Ritchie and his minions dare sully one of the few feminist icons from an almost all-male milieu? Irene Adler is "The Woman" because she casually bested Holmes in a political showdown. To reduce her to a drab pawn is an insult to women everywhere.
I'm enjoying my time at Dartington with Mark Morris, Mark Baldwin, Richard Alston, Paul Hoskins, Joce Giles, and everyone else at the Rambert Dance workshop this week. It's very pretty here.
Reminder for Londoners:
April 20 London Vortex with Sam Lasserson and Jeff Williams This will be kind of like "Do the Math Live." I used to play with Jeff a bit, he's really, really great. Sam was Jeff's recommendation. The three of us will meet right before and rummage through standard repertoire.
I'm sure there will be an audience for the gig. The next morning is more of a question mark:
April 21 Free Masterclasss/Comedy Hour at Royal Academy
Ethan Iverson Open Masterclass at the Royal Academy of Music, Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5HT.
Nearest Tube stations are Baker Street or Regents Park.
11.00am to 1:30 pm - in the "Concert Room" at the Academy
Mainly for pianists, but if you play something else and really want to come by, that's OK, too.
Extra credit for any student that wants to drive me to Heathrow right after: my flight is at 5.
(Even the cows at Dartington are skeptical of anyone getting up this Sunday morning and going to listen me talk about jazz)
New DTM pages:
George Walker Triptych
3) Dispatches from Detroit (by Mark Stryker)
The interview came about after a rambling blog post that included some open-ended comments on black classical composers. Special thanks to Mark Stryker for not just his guest post here but for some helpful brainstorming along the way.
I met Gautham Nagesh of Stiff Jab last night in DC. A very nice guy, and his boxing blog is great. My better half reported in depth from Spokane:
Big news for fans for Donald E. Westlake: Levi Stahl is going to edit a miscellany of the late author's best bits and pieces. There's a lot to choose from, some of which I cite in my Westlake overview. I hardly know everything, though, so I eagerly look forward to finding out what else may be available.
Levi has asked for help in finding out what should be included, so if you are a collector of Westlakiana, head over there and weigh in.
There's quite a few Westlake diehards on the internet. In addition to Levi and myself, there's Trent Reynolds, who runs The Violent World of Parker website, and Nick Jones of the always amusing Existential Ennui blog. Nick's response to Levi's announcement suggests a few interesting things that may appear in the forthcoming anthology.
Another smart Westlake fan showing up in the comments at all these watering holes is "Chris." We have a nice exchange in this post about a Westlake essay that really must be reprinted, the frank appraisal of Peter Rabe.
As I've written before, Rabe would be much less well known these days if Westlake hadn't been so sincere in his appreciation. I like Rabe a lot, but if you haven't read Westlake or his alter ego Richard Stark yet, there's no rush to track down Rabe...
It's my favorite Rabe book, besides.
Here's another great one, this time by Bayre Phillips:
Both my wife and Oonaballona went nuts for the dress: I proposed being the dead body for the photo shoot if Oona conjured the threads. Oona also liked the title Kill the Boss Good-by. I do too. I also like title Murder Me for Nickels. Interestingly, Westlake didn't like those titles: Indeed, he hung his entire essay around the conceit of the books being so much better than the titles. I can't say I agree! The contents, titles, and covers add up to a pretty perfect Gold Medal package.
TBP on tour:
New season of Mad Men...if you like that show, give the Nero Wolfe classic detective novel Before Midnight a try. Lots of great 50's details about an advertising agency. I just reread it, it is so great.
Nate Chinen on Aaron Diehl and Gerald Clayton.
Alex Ross on Roger Ebert.
Tim Berne at the Stone a lot and other places too.
I did my first Criss Cross record last week, a Seamus Blake/Chris Cheek quintet with Matt Penman and Jochen Ruckert. Great band, and four really funny cats besides. That was hard on the heels of a BHQ date for Manfred, a follow-up to All Our Reasons that we think is even better.
More blogging soon! I'm going on the road without so much to get ready for...since January 1, I've played Brahms Violin sonatas, Beethoven 5 w. Soho, Bach Inventions, Stravinsky solo Serenade and TBP Rite, Talma Toccata, a whole hard book of Chris Potter, Duke Ellington with Truman State College, a whole new BHQ book, a bunch of tunes for Seamus and Chris -- plus composing half a piano recital and even a few new TBP tunes.
Dave has three new tunes ready, so I'm going to have to buckle down for that, but, overall, the pressure is relaxing. DTM has been slacking lately, but it will be getting back on the horse starting now.
Apologies for yesterday's April Fool's joke.
Everything above the broccoli was true, except I left out the other reason I've been thinking about Bond lately, Len Deighton's marvelous memoir, James Bond: My Long and Eventful Search for His Father.
At his best Deighton is one of my absolute favorites, and unfortunately the most recent book is Charity from 1996. I'd love a new novel, but am happy to settle for this novella-sized eBook. Eventful Search for his Fother is really something special, an insider's look at Ian Fleming, England in the '60s, the movies, and everything else.
The meat of Deighton's narrative is about Kevin McClory and Thunderball. Fleming apparently wrote the the novel especially to be filmed and used several ideas from McClory in the process. (Some editions of the novel have the disclaimer, "The story is based on a screen treatment by K. McClory, J. Whittingham, and the author.")
That's possibly why it is one of the the least memorable Bond books, except for those ridiculous first scenes where Bond gets sent to a health clinic by his boss:
M gave Bond a careful, appraising glance. He held the paper closer to his eyes. "This officer," he read, "remains basically physically sound. Unfortunately his mode of life is not such as is likely to allow him to remain in this happy state. Despite many previous warnings, he admits to smoking sixty cigarettes a day. These are of a Balkan mixture with a higher nicotine content than the cheaper varieties. When not engaged upon strenuous duty, the officer's average daily consumption of alcohol is in the region of half a bottle of spirits of between sixty and seventy proof."
Broccoli is not mentioned as part of Shrubland's menu, but I'm sure it was available. It's a very healthy vegetable.
These are the Bond covers I grew up with in the '80s. Perhaps because he was so succesful, Ian Fleming's work can be underrated by those passionate about other escapist espionage fiction. I subtly make that point in the blindfold test with Lawrence Block.
Not that they are literary masterpieces, of course. But they are far more interesting than the movie franchise.
As an American male, though, I'm at least a little interested in the Bond films, too. After recently reading Max Allan Collins's ranking, I thought it might be fun to watch the series in order. I gave up because four and five (Thunderball and For Your Eyes Only) are so bad as to be essentially unwatchable.
The most fun about that aborted project was relearning some of the early movie history I knew as a kid but had basically forgotten. Of course, broccoli is a designed vegetable -- some kind of cross between kale and cabbage, just like cauliflower is -- and Albert Broccoli was the younger son of the Broccoli family responsible for that vegetable's invention. After Broccoli fell in love with the Fleming books, he decided to invest the family fortune into aquiring the rights to Doctor No (with the option to make the rest of the series) despite not knowing anything about moviemaking.
Amusingly, broccoli was a small factor in a few ways for the franchise in the beginning. Sean Connery was not a fan, and his rather "tough" attitude towards the complimentary bowl of raw broccoli outside of the casting room impressed director Guy Hamilton. And the famous opening gun barrel sequence? Albert Broccoli knew film designer Maurice Binder slightly as a boy, since Binder's father was the first large-scale importer of broccoli into New York.