The unearthed recording of Thelonious Monk's classic quartet oozes with bootleg charm
Located in present-day Silicon Valley, the Bay Area city of Palo Alto was a most unlikely place to catch a Sunday-matinee performance by Thelonious Monk back in 1968. By that time, Monk's jazz-giant stature had been firmly established, so it was a major coup that a plucky teenager named Danny Scher was able to snag Monk's quartet for an appearance at his local high school. Palo Alto is the document of that performance, which is finally seeing the light of day after Scher, who'd forgotten that the school custodian recorded the show, found the tape in his attic some 15 years ago. At that point, he contacted Monk's son, drummer T.S. Monk, who was surprised to discover that his father had even played a high school at any point in his much-heralded career.
The story behind Palo Alto, which could easily fill this review, oozes with charm and social context, both beautifully captured in liner notes that are worth the price of admission alone, even if you've watched the promotional mini-documentary released by the label. In that same promo clip, T.S. Monk surmises that his father's quartet was so well-oiled by 1968 that "they could [have] set up in a phone booth and sound like the records." Well, Palo Alto doesn't quite sound like it was recorded in a phone booth-it would be worth hearing even if it had been-but listeners should know ahead of time that the fidelity level here falls into bootleg range.
Which is not to say that you can't hear every instrument clearly. On the contrary-many, many acoustic nuances shine through: the greasy resonance as bassist Larry Gales scrapes his strings with a bow during his solo on a 13-minute version of "Well, You Needn't" (with Monk himself humming along), the variety of timbres and colors as drummer Ben Riley's toms pop and cymbals hiss, etc. Riley's drums in particular swell to loud enough volume that they stress the microphones, which creates the illusion that the listener is seated near the drumset and, thus, up close and personal with the musicians onstage.
That said, the recording has a dry, boxed-in character that, for better or worse, defines the listening experience. In strictly psychoacoustic terms, the band feels disembodied from the audience, from the room, and from itself. For one, the quartet itself is literally split up, with Riley and tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse hard-panned to one side of the stereo field and Monk panned to the other along with Gales. Meanwhile, the audience's loud but muffled applause never integrates with the music, much in the same way we'd compare to a modern-era soundboard recording. So it's difficult to get any sense of room ambience, and, as a result, it's also difficult to connect with the band's energy.
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Tom Schnabel's KCRW: Los Angeles - Rhythm Planet playlist picks this week cover a range of new releases and enduring classics that he has returned to repeatedly for emotional and spiritual sustenance. We start with superstar pianist Lang Lang. If you're a fan of Bach's Goldberg Variations and love Glenn Gould's iconic versions-either the 1955 or 1981 sessions-then I recommend checking out Lang Lang's new set. I chose one of the most uncannily difficult variations here. Listening will make you wonder how his hands and fingers can move so quickly!
"This is a very important dream-come-true moment", says Lang Lang. The superstar pianist, who waited 20 years before playing Johann Sebastian Bach's monumental composition in public, has finally achieved his goal of recording the Goldberg Variations. The result of two decades of deep study and personal reflection, his vision of Bach's Aria and 30 Variations is out now on Deutsche Grammophon.
Lang Lang marked the global release of the new album with a special introduction from the historic Temple (東景緣, Dongjingyuan) in Beijing – site of the old imperial printing house and a former Buddhist shrine, meticulously renovated in recent years to preserve its multi-layered history. The pianist performed extracts from the Goldberg Variations and talk about the intense personal connection he feels to Bach's music, as well as answering questions from fans.
Also available from today is a super deluxe edition featuring not only Lang Lang's studio recording but a performance captured live in concert at Leipzig's St. Thomas Church, where the composer worked and is buried. This coupling of studio and live recordings, a world first for the "Goldbergs", offers fascinating insights into the art of interpretation. Lang Lang's performances intensify the work's breath-taking blend of contrapuntal complexity, diverse musical styles and life-affirming spontaneity.
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On the 13th of March 2017, Tommy LiPuma died at the age of 80. The Grammy-adorned producer had, one year prior, began work on a new album for his protege Diana Krall. The Canadian singer was therefore left to mix the record entirely alone...
The calibre of musician on this record is impressive: guitarists Russell Malone and Anthony Wilson, bassists John Clayton and Christian McBride, drummer Karriem Riggins and Bob Dylan's bassist, Tony Garnier, all come along to finish off the recording of This Dream of You. A great fan of Dylan, Krall used a song name from his 2009 album Together Through Life as the title of this 15th album released by Verve. Whether in duet, trio or quartet, Madame Costello plays and sings in diverse contexts but ultimately returns to her preferred repertoire: the Great American Songbook. The standards that have come to be expected a thousand times over are met as if by magic. Autumn in New York by Vernon Duke, How Deep is the Ocean by Irving Berlin and the unmistakeable Singing in the Rain by Gene Kelley as well as other classics from giants like Sinatra and Nat King Cole become her own.
A whisper, a murmur, a refined arrangement, an instrumental treasure, Diana Krall prevails time after time.
One could fault her for not daring to re-imagine the songs more, but when the standard of these renditions is so high and of such depth, we can do nothing but yield and wonder. Also note that for the first time, Diana Krall's face doesn't appear on the album cover!
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This 1969 concert by the Thelonious Monk Quartet was produced by a high school student and recorded by his school's janitor. Its publicity posters were printed up by the Palo Alto High School Graphic Arts Department. The janitor, we are told, received permission (but from whom?) to tape the concert as a reward for his having tuned the piano. Before the concert, only a few tickets were sold, but then a crowd gathered outside the school. People wanted to see Monk and the two opening acts, but didn't necessarily believe that the great pianist/composer would show up. After all he was appearing that night in a club in San Francisco.
Remarkably he did appear, and in a good mood, with his oft-recorded quartet of tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist Larry Gales, and drummer Ben Riley. Equally remarkably the recorded sound, in stereo, is excellent. Its main flaw is the close recording of the drum set, but even that is interesting. That janitor, whose very existence I somehow doubt, had skills. In Palo Alto, Monk played his standard set: four of his most famous originals, the ballad "Don't Blame Me" and, as an encore, a mini-version on solo piano of "I Love You Sweetheart of My Dreams," an obscure song that was introduced into the repertoire by Rudy Vallee and promptly forgotten by everyone but Monk, who used it repeatedly as a short finishing touch to his concerts. (There are a pair of mini versions on his Paris 1969 concert recordings.) At the end, Monk tells the crowd he'd like to play more for them but: "We have to hurry back and get to work, you dig?"
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"The roughest thing is my mom," composer and bandleader Maria Schneider says over the phone on a recent summer morning, answering the first question of almost every conversation in the COVID-19 era: How are you holding up? The New York-based composer/conductor has been in grateful, high gear, safe and healthy at her country home while preparing the release of a new two-record set by the Maria Schneider Orchestra, Data Lords. But Schneider, who grew up in the small farming town of Windom, Minnesota, misses her mother, who's turning 96 in Minneapolis, "in a place where nobody can visit her because they're protecting people.
"And that's good," Schneider goes on. "But I had this dream where I was in a hotel trying to see her and the elevator went to a negative-50th floor and I couldn't get back to her." She laughs brightly, something she does often in conversation. "I woke up and thought, ‘Well, I know what that's about: When am I going to see Mom again?'
Schneider, 59, will not see the road or be in the same room with her orchestra any time soon. But she is pressing forward with Data Lords, her first album since 2015's The Thompson Fields, out via ArtistShare, the fan-funding platform that has issued her work since 2004's Grammy-winning Concert in the Garden. Consisting of 11 pieces over 97 minutes, Data Lords is a boldly conceptual immersion in a critical duality of modern life, now compounded by truly viral calamity: the corporate and political manipulation of our internet addictions (the first disc, subtitled The Digital World) and the endangered wonder and sanctuary around us, made even more remote by lockdown (the second disc, The Natural World).
"I was just writing," Schneider says of the album's thematic genesis. "It's what I always do-write music, then think, ‘It's time to record again.'" But it was "a struggle" to make sense of the growing "hodgepodge" until visual artist Justin Freed, a friend and ArtistShare participant, suggested she make two albums. "I started analyzing the music, analyzing myself: ‘You're thinking about Google a bit too much, girl. And here I can tell you spent some time weeding and watching your bluebirds' nest.' I thought, ‘Wow, this is the struggle, the yin and yang of our life.'" (photo: Briene Lermitte)
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In the fall of 1968, a sixteen-year old high school student named Danny Scher had a dream to invite legendary jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk and his all-star quartet to perform a concert at his local high school in Palo Alto, CA. In a series of twists and turns, against a backdrop of racial tension and political volatility, that concert was recorded by the school's janitor and finally released in 2020.
Verve Presents: Monk Goes To School tells this story in innovative detail, interweaving the voices of Danny Scher, Thelonius Monk's son T.S. Monk, monk biographer Robin D.G. Kelley and engineer/mixer Grandmixer DXT with narrator Anthony Valadez from KCRW.
The podcast is unique in that there is no hosted interview segment – it takes the listener on an immersive journey featuring the voices of the cast, sound design and music clips from the record throughout.
Verve/Impulse! Records and podcast creative studio PopCult are pleased to announce Verve Presents: Monk Goes To School, an innovative podcast that tells the story of Thelonious Monk's storied visit, concert, and subsequent recording at Palo Alto High School in 1968. The Podcast is available on all major platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, and more. Listen to the podcast HERE.
The album Palo Alto was released on September 18
PopCult Founder/Creative Director Dennis Scheyer says, "Once we heard the story of how the record came to be we felt that it deserved more than the usual ‘interview-based' portrayal. It's the kind of show we created our company to produce, and Verve fully supported us."
Recorded entirely "at home" with high-quality microphones across the United States, this podcast deftly weaves through multiple voices, telling this story of Thelonious Monk, the unexpected concert, and of course, uses the music to illustrate this important part of musical history.
EVP of Verve/Impulse! Jamie Krents says, "We're thrilled to collaborate with PopCult on Monk Goes to School. This podcast brilliantly captures the real story of the Palo Alto recording, and puts it in historical context with brilliant narration from all the key players. Impulse! and Verve Records have such a rich history of music that we're very excited to continue to illustrate in partnership with PopCult."
PopCult Partner, Strategy and Marketing Lars Murray says, "We were excited to help Verve establish a leadership position among labels by creating a high-quality narrative podcast that integrates their music seamlessly and tells a great story about a landmark release. Verve demonstrated that a label's access to licensed music is a huge advantage in podcasting."
Palo Alto – Thelonious Monk
Ruby, My Dear
Well, You Needn't
Don't Blame Me
I Love You Sweetheart of All My Dreams
John Finbury started out as a drummer while in high school. Today, he is an established pianist and composer who has offered a variety of music to my listening room. I've heard his original compositions lyrically enriched by Thalma De Freitas, (a Brazilian vocalist and lyricist) on an album titled "Sorte". It was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award. Finbury won another Latin Grammy nomination in 2016 (in the ‘Song of The Year' category) for a piece he penned on his "Imaginario" album. On his "Quatro" album, that I reviewed in 2019, he was celebrating cultural diversity and immigration, employing Peruvian and Mexican music styles in his compositions. There was an activist cry for freedom and justice in the songs he composed. John Finbury, the composer, has immersed himself in Latin music until this project. His current release is a complete surprise. This album eliminates the percussive rhythms and Latin energy he has been noted for in the past. Here is an album of Chamber Music, with jazz over-tones that twine their way into his production. A nocturne is music that reflects a romantic or dreamy quality. To achieve this, Finbury uses no bass or drums at all during these lovely arrangements. Instead, John features accordion, piano, guitar, harmonica and cello. Speaking of cello, Eugene Friesen gives us a dynamic and emotional rendering during his cello work on Track 5, "Fantasma," as does the sweet harmonica work of Roni Eytan. Peter Eldridge adds his vocalise on this tune.
Another favorite of mine is "Black Tea." Notably, I didn't miss the bass and drums at all. The melodic content of these songs is elegant, classical and the arrangements are relaxing to the ear. Finbury gives us a taste of his piano prowess on the final tune, performing solo on "Waltz for Patty." As a unit, these gifted musicians offer us a platter-full of beautifully played "American Nocturnes" that celebrate John Finbury's delicious composing skills. He warmly serves up a romantic project titled, the "Final Days of July" for our consumption.
In the fall of 1968, a sixteen-year old high school student named Danny Scher had a dream to invite legendary jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk and his all-star quartet to perform a concert at his local high school in Palo Alto, CA.
Violinist Daniel Hope spent his period of social distancing by performing chamber concerts online from his living room in Berlin with specially invited guests including Christoph Israel, Till Brönner, Matthias Goerne and more.
World-renowned singer-songwriter Melody Gardot announces her long-awaited new album along with the release of a highly anticipated single which sees her join forces with 17-time Grammy Award winning music icon Sting.
ZCO extends Daniel Hope's MD contract through 2022 season / The Violin Channel
Posted: March 14, 2018 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
The Zurich Chamber Orchestra has announced the contract extension of Music Director Daniel Hope - through to the end of the 2021/2022 season. The 44 year old British violin virtuoso joined the ensemble in the 2014 as their artist-in-residence – before being promoted to the music directorship in January 2016. "I am delighted to be extending my contract with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra ahead of time. We have achieved an enormous amount in such a short period … several tours and residencies in Europe and Asia … two albums for Deutsche Grammophon – and major growth in our subscription series in Zurich. The Zurich Chamber Orchestra was the first ensemble I heard as a boy of four … to be directing it 40 years on is a dream come true" Hope said.
Violinist Daniel Hope spent his period of social distancing by performing chamber concerts online from his living room in Berlin with specially invited guests including Christoph Israel, Till Brönner, Matthias Goerne and more. Deutsche Grammophon is proud to present Hope@Home the album, a selection from this series of livestream events which attracted a combined audience of 2.5M viewers. Every track is live, one take only. As Hope says, "There were no patches or editing, no second takes. Sometimes life doesn't allow for second takes. This was my world for six magical and highly unusual weeks. I hope you enjoy listening."
It was the age of the Lumière Brothers, Alexander Graham Bell, Karl Benz, the Wright Brothers and Louis Blériot, Marie Curie and Louis Pasteur – an age not unlike our own, marked by rapid scientific and technological development as well as intense literary, artistic and musical activity. The Belle Époque, the period between the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 and the outbreak of World War One in 1914, was a time of apparent peace and prosperity but with a darker reality of social and economic deprivation lying not far beneath its gilded surface. This era of creativity and contradiction has long fascinated Daniel Hope: "I often wish I had a time machine to go back to the salons of Paris, indeed to that entire age," he says.
Belle Époque– Hope's 17th recording for Deutsche Grammophon – offers a panoramic snapshot of the music that came out of this world, capturing its mix of late-Romantic, Impressionist and Modernist styles. The violinist's double album places popular repertoire by Massenet, Debussy and Elgar alongside rarely heard miniatures by Rachmaninov, Charles Koechlin, Frank Bridge and members of the Second Viennese School.
Daniel Hope returns to core repertoire with Journey to Mozart, an intimate exploration of Mozart's world comprising both works by the titular composer and pieces by his contemporaries Gluck, Haydn, Mysliveček and Salomon. Performed with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Journey to Mozart features two popular violin concertos by Haydn and Mozart (both in G Major), the famous Adagio in E Major, K. 261 and more.
Concerned with nature's eternal cycle of decline and renewal, Daniel Hope's latest album for Deutsche Grammophon explores the creative relationship between music, art and the ever-changing calendar. For Seasons includes the violinist's first recording of Vivaldi's evergreen collection of seasonal concertos together with a dozen companion works associated with the months of the year. His choice of repertoire reveals the imaginative scope unlocked when composers turn for inspiration to the seasons and evokes our strength of attachment to the landmarks of passing time. Vivaldi's The Four Seasons leads the way in a program that spans everything from venerable compositions by Jean-Philippe Rameau, Johann Melchior Molter and Johann Sebastian Bach to recent works by Aphex Twin, Nils Frahm, Chilly Gonzales and Max Richter.
24 NEW 104 TOTAL
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2016 marks the centennial of Yehudi Menuhin, the violin legend whose playing Einstein once cited as a reason to believe in God. To honor this anniversary, on February 5, six-time ECHO Klassik Award-winning violinist Daniel Hope releases his tenth Deutsche Grammophon recording, titled My Tribute to Yehudi Menuhin. Having grown up within the Menuhin household, Hope went on to partner him in more than 60 concert performances, sharing a close association with the older violinist that was truly unique. His new album celebrates the rich diversity of his friend and mentor's musical tastes, combining works by Vivaldi, Mendelssohn, Elgar, Ravel, Bartók, Tavener, Enescu, Jo Knümann, Steve Reich, Hans Werner Henze, and Bechara El-Khoury.
8 NEW 66 TOTAL
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"Daniel Hope is a force to be reckoned with." Gramophone
Deutsche Grammophon releases Classical BRIT-Award-winner Daniel Hope's new recording, Escape to Paradise: The Hollywood Album, in the US (The album is released in Europe a day earlier.) The British violinist has a "thriving solo career" per the New York Times, which "has been built on inventive programming and a probing interpretive style." The new release draws on Hope's extensive research into European composers - among them Eric Wolfgang Korngold, Miklós Rózsa, Hanns Eisler, and Franz Waxman to name a few - who fled fascist persecution to relocate to Los Angeles where they penned some of the 20th century's most iconic film scores. Recorded with Alexander Shelley leading the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and guest artists including vocalists Sting and Max Raabe, Hope's unprecedented new collection juxtaposes examples of the émigré composers' film and concert music with selections by those they influenced – like leading contemporary movie composers John Williams, Ennio Morricone, and Thomas Newman – in a nostalgic search for the quintessentially lavish "Hollywood sound.
40 NEW 48 Total
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