Two time Emmy winning composer Michael Whalen sits down for an in depth interview to discuss music production, his new album, and the music biz with Rob Mullins. They covered a lot of ground in 50 minutes. Music. Life. Rhodes pianos. Advice for young composers. Duran Duran. Quincy Jones. David Foster. The "three questions" that every young musician asks me and much, much more. Enjoy the attached wide ranging conversation.
Data Lords is the new double-album by Grammy Award-winning composer and bandleader Maria Schneider. Inspired by conflicting relationships between the digital and natural worlds, the recording features Schneider's acclaimed orchestra of 18 world-class musicians.
"No one can deny the great impact that the data-hungry digital world has had on our lives. As big data companies clamor for our attention, I know that I'm not alone in struggling to find space – to keep connected with my inner world, the natural world, and just the simpler things in life," says Schneider. "Just as I feel myself ping ponging between a digital world and the real world, the same dichotomy is showing up in my music. In order to truly represent my creative output from the last few years, it felt natural to make a two- album release reflecting these two polar extremes."
Here and Now host Robin Young speaks with Schneider about "Data Lords." (Photo by Briene Lermitte)
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When the coronavirus forced concert halls and opera houses to close in March, a flood of music came online. The livestreams proved especially gratifying, offering a jolt of you-are-there excitement. Many of these programs were offered for free.
But musicians and institutions have to make money. Will the public pay for music online?
The answer is just beginning to emerge. The artists and organizations who can draw sizable numbers of paying customers may be those who already had globally prominent brands before the pandemic. The Metropolitan Opera, for example, has recently begun a series of livestreamed recitals featuring star singers, sophisticated camerawork and vibrant audio. The tenor Jonas Kaufmann's recital last month, tickets for which cost $20, was viewed by 44,000 people - not a bad gross.
The second program in the series took place on Aug. 1, with the soprano Renée Fleming and the pianist Robert Ainsley performing live from Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. (The film is available through Friday, and Sunday afternoon brings a new livestream featuring Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak.)
Ms. Fleming was in splendid voice, singing with honeyed tone and elegant phrasing. She delivered some favorites, like "O mio babbino caro." But she also included novelties, like a coquettish aria from Leoncavallo's - not Puccini's - "La Bohème" and lesser heard arias from operas and oratorios by Handel and Korngold. And she began with a premiere composed for her: John Corigliano's eloquently understated "And the People Stayed Home," a setting of a poem written by Catherine M. O'Meara that went viral at the start of the pandemic.
Prerecorded offerings might seem less fulfilling to music lovers who are longing for the live concert experience. Yet if the content is substantive and the quality of the video high, these programs can be rewarding. Caramoor, in Katonah, N.Y., is streaming the four musicians of Sandbox Percussion and the pianist Conor Hanick, through Sunday, for $10.
Caramoor, usually a summer favorite just north of New York City, has this year presented a series of livestreams, with tickets for purchase, from its intimate, elegant Music Room. The programs have been adventurous and excellent, including a recent one featuring members of the Knights, a chamber orchestra, playing a premiere by Anna Clyne and a Brahms sextet.
The Sandbox Percussion program had to be filmed in advance, since the works being performed utilized an enormous array of unusual and cumbersome percussion instruments. The concert included inventive pieces by Andy Akiko, Juri Seo, Amy Beth Kirsten and David Crowell, variously complex and demanding contemporary scores.
But the premiere of Christopher Cerrone's "Don't Look Down," an 18-minute concerto for prepared piano and percussion quartet, was the highlight. As he explained in an interview before the performance, Mr. Cerrone began composing the score just as the shutdowns started in March, and finished it only recently. So it's a piece written in lockdown. The piano is prepared similarly to John Cage's innovative techniques, but with fewer screws and pieces of metal inserted between the piano strings, and more materials like putty - which dampens and distorts sounds - and fishing wire, which allows the strings to be bowed to create eerie, whining tones.
The first movement, "Hammerspace," begins with the whooshing of a bike pump and droning gongs. In time, restless riffs played with mallets burst forth. Amid rushes of rhythmic, spiraling figures on the prepared piano, fragments for the percussion instruments coalesced into fleeting almost-melodies.
The second movement, "The Great Empty," is more elemental, with music gurgling and heaving over ominous bass tones in the piano. The final movement, "Caton Flats," is named for the mixed-use development in Brooklyn where Mr. Cerrone lives. As he said in the interview, the music recalls the metallic noise of construction crews at work in his neighborhood this summer.
Tanglewood, perhaps America's most eminent summer music festival, has opted for offering only prerecorded online programs - some from its archives, but many filmed earlier this summer. One, recorded in June, was put online on Saturday evening: the pianist Daniil Trifonov playing Bach's "The Art of the Fugue" in one of the studios of Tanglewood's new Linde Center. (The program is available for $12 through Saturday, when a recital by another pianist, Conrad Tao, goes online.)
Mr. Trifonov played this work, Bach's final piece, at a recital at Alice Tully Hall in early March, one of the final concerts in New York before the lockdown. His performance then was magnificent, combining youthful inventiveness, crisp articulations and, for a performer still in his 20s, profoundly insightful musicianship. The Tanglewood performance was even better, though the chance it offered to see Mr. Trifonov up close - to watch as a finger on his right hand gave extra pressure to a crucial note - may have made it especially absorbing.
Though he was not required to do so, Mr. Trifonov performed wearing a mask, which came across as a gesture of solidarity with those watching from home. Playing these complex and compelling fugues, Mr. Trifonov displayed an unusual kind of virtuosity - not flashy, but precise, nuanced and subtle. Rippling passagework was not like filigree but substantive: Each note mattered.
For Fugue 14, which Bach died before finishing, Mr. Trifonov, who is also a composer, dared to do the job and played his own completion. Good for him that, rather than feeling intimidated, he paid homage to Bach by adding his own personal take. The intricate contrapuntal lines unfolded effectively, the music taking a quasi-mystical turn and becoming harmonically elusive delicate and gentle, with a cushioned landing at the end instead of a full stop.
Worth paying for? Worth waiting for? I'd say yes, on both counts.
Australian violin virtuoso Ray Chen has established himself as one of the most prodigiously talented and captivating instrumentalists to emerge internationally. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Aaron Rosand, Ray is a former 1st prize winner at the Menuhin and Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competitions.
His debuts include solo engagements with major international orchestras – including ongoing collaborations with the San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony and the London Philharmonic. Ray was announced as one of Forbes Magazines' 30 Under 30 recipients, an ambassador for Sony Electronics – and a collaborator and consultant on a number of film score and video game projects.
Last week, he released his new ‘Solace' album on the Decca Classics label – recorded professionally from his home during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Ray currently performs on the 1735 ‘Samazeuilh' Stradivarius violin, on generous loan from the Nippon Music Foundation – and is under world-wide general management with CAMI Music, in New York.
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Intimate original chamber music John Finbury – AMERICAN NOCTURNES/FINAL DAYS OF JULY: In June of 2020, I reviewed producer/arranger John's wonderful "Quatro" album, which got near perfect marks… on this new album, John and his players give you some of the most intimate original chamber music you will ever listen to… here's a video clip for the album…
…since you're there already, I strongly recommend that you SUBSCRIBE to John Finbury's YouTube channel, so you can watch many more exciting performances.
The players on this new excursion are Tim Ray – piano; Eugene Friesen – cello; Roni Eytan – harmonica; and Roberto Cassan – accordion… Produced and arranged by John Finbury and Bob Patton… though the album is partially classified as New Age, John's music is always unique and different… the beautiful "Winter Waltz" even has some strong elements of jazz, and will be a favorite among DJ's, I believe.
The gentle guitar on "Black Tea" melds seamlessly in with the other instruments, giving you the gift of pleasant (yet stirring) memories… the relaxed pacing makes the tune a total winner.
I had no trouble (at all) in making my choice for personal favorite of the eleven enchanting songs offered up… the title track, "Final Days Of July", will touch your heart deeply with its' beautifully crafted tones!
I give John and his musical partners a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) score of 4.98 for this fine album. Get more information on the Green Flash Music page for the release. Rotcod Zzaj
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Blues Hall of Famer Bettye LaVette is set to release; 'Blackbirds,' on August 28 via Verve Records. Blackbirds features songs primarily popularized by some of her peers, other iconic women in music, who she personally respected and admired. The album finds LaVette in top form delivering powerful renditions of songs that touched her personally. It also re-unites her with producer Steve Jordan.
From Dinah Washington's "Drinking Again," Nina Simone's "I Hold No Grudge," Nancy Wilson's "Save Your Love For Me" and more, all delivered in LaVette's rich and raspy tone with a touch of the blues.
Bettye LaVette is a native of Detroit. Her first recording in 1962, at the age of sixteen, was on Atlantic Records. She later charted with such singles as "He Made A Woman Out Of Me" and "Do Your Duty," Since then she has recorded ten albums. Her most recent album Things Have Changed, also produced by Steve Jordan (John Mayer, Keith Richards), was released on Verve in 2018 and received two GRAMMY nominations, which brings her total Grammy nominations to five.
WPFW: Wash DC, Tim Masters spoke with BL about the new recording and her amazing career. Listen to the attached interview.
From Poetry to Song: A Russian Poet's Work Makes a Debut
A new album by classical composer Mark Abel features four musical adaptations of Tsvetaeva's poetry- a first for the English-language genre. Mark Abel
For most in the English-speaking world, the name Marina Tsvetaeva is obscure. While often revered as one of the greatest Russian poets of the early Soviet period, Tsvetaeva's work has by-and-large failed to garner an international audience.
One American artist, however, has recently completed a project putting Tsvetaeva's work to music in English – reportedly the first time her poetry has been adapted to classical music in English.
In his new album, The Cave of Wondrous Voice, California-based journalist-turned-musician Mark Abel focuses his talents on creating a masterful chamber-music sound, including a groundbreaking song cycle of four of Tsvetaeva's poems.
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The first-time teaming of Poland's dynamic Marcin Wasilewski Trio and big-toned US tenorist Joe Lovano brings forth special music of concentrated, deep feeling, in which lyricism and strength seem ideally balanced.
Sony Music Masterworks today releases Not Our First Goat Rodeo, the long-awaited follow-up album to the GRAMMY Award-winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile.
Blues Hall of Famer Bettye LaVette has decided to release her stirring rendition of "Strange Fruit" ahead of schedule as it says as much about the history of American racism and the state of the country today.
Milan Records announces the Friday, August 21 release of I Am Woman (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), an album of music from the biographical film surrounding Australian singer Helen Reddy as performed by Chelsea Cullen.
Praised by The Washington Post for playing with "an easy warmth, drawing the orchestra after him like a halo around a candle flame," cellist Kian Soltani follows his DG debut album, Home, with a Dvořák album centered on the famous cello concerto.
Bill Frisell Trio was maybe all-time best RIJF show / Rochester City Newspaper
Posted: June 23, 2019 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
It's a stunning moment when an artist allows us inside his or her head, to that lifetime-retrospective rattling around in the brain. But that's what happened during the second show from the Bill Frisell Trio on Saturday night at the Temple Building Theater. This is the 18th Rochester International Music Festival. I've covered them all, and I would never pick an all-time best show. But this one would certainly be in the conversation. Frisell opened with an uninterrupted, 55-minute medley of guitar, bass and drums. Fifty-five minutes - that's supposed to be all there is, right? But after a moment's pause, the Bill Frisell Trio went right back to work. Another 25-minute, uninterrupted medley.
Almost every day, Bill Frisell gets up in the morning, has some coffee, and writes music. At this point, there are piles and piles and piles of single pages of staff paper filled with his graceful script. "I don't know where the melodies come from," says Frisell. "I try not to judge anything and just let them be." Frisell's mantra, or motto so to speak, is, "Music is good" – a statement said to him by his dear friend and great banjo player Danny Barnes. "That is something that I can say is always true. It's so perfect. Everything I need to know is that phrase, ‘Music is Good.' I almost called the album that, but then I thought that might be too literal. It's good to leave it open."
When You Wish Upon A Star, the latest project from legendary guitarist/composer Bill Frisell features music from iconic film and television scores. Conceived not only as an homage, but as a celebration of music-making with longtime collaborators and their collective commitment to refined interpretation of material. Produced by Lee Townsend (Loudon Wainwright III, John Scofield, Carrie Rodriguez), the LP brings together an all-star "dream team" of musicians including; violist Eyvind Kang, drummer Rudy Royston, bass player Thomas Morgan and vocalist Petra Haden.
15 NEW 205 Total SYND: NPR, PRI/Jazz After Hours, Westwood One, CBC, Sixty Second CD Direct: SiriusXM, Stingray Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Cleveland, Atlanta, Miami, Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, Detroit, Denver, New Orleans, Kansas City, Portland, Houston, Baltimore, Las vegas, Milwaukee, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Memphis, Louisville, Berkeley CA, Honolulu, Toronto, Vancouver Online: Taintradio, Jazz From Gallery 41, Dirty Dog, all about jazz, WSJ, M3, Party934, SoulandJazz, Jazz Police, GreenArrow, Jazz Weekly, RadioValencia, textura
"May you never hear surf music again." – Jimi Hendrix
"Space is the place." – Sun Ra
Just when you think you've got guitarist-composer Bill Frisell all figured out, confident in your expectations, this American original shakes things up with a heretofore unexpected glimpse into those layers of consciousness which inform his rootsy, inclusive, oh so personal style of musical outreach. Because while Bill Frisell is capable of routinely navigating the most harrowing ascents into the outer reaches of the improvisational Ionosphere without once ever flinching, there emerge at regular intervals suggestions of something more childlike and elemental; a sensibility which revels in expressions of earnest, unadorned directness-the aesthetic poetry of an impressionistic painter who is unafraid to distill things down to their most folkish, heartfelt essence.
10 NEW 'ON' - 115 Total
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Legendary jazz guitarist Bill Frisell's first release on OKeh Records,Big Sur, features all-new music commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival which premiered at their festival in 2012. While staying at the Glen Deven Ranch, Frisell was captivated by the beauty and grandeur of the Big Sur, California coastline which inspired him to write this transcendent new music. He is joined on the recording by the talented musicians of his Big Sur Quintet; Jenny Scheinman (violin), Eyvind Kang (viola), Hank Roberts (cello) and Rudy Royston (drums).
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SYND: CBC Music, Sixty Second CD Direct: SiriusXM, Music Choice Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Minneapolis, Cleveland, St. Louis, Baltimore, Houston, Denver, San Diego, Portland, Denver, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Long Is. NY, San Antonio, Madison WI, Canada, Australia Online: RadioIO, Taintradio, The Jazz Intersection, Green Arrow Radio, Jazz From Gallery 41, MOJA, Sky.fm, 10Radio, Live 365