t amazes me how many films today have a soundtrack that isn't informed by the movie itself. This interchangeable claptrap has made it almost impossible to review. But composer William Susman flavors the setting of Sarah Sifer's Fate of the Lhapa beautifully. Interestingly enough, I saw this documentary many, many years ago, and it truly affected me, but I never knew the soundtrack was available until it was sent to me to review 13 years after its original release. Go figure.
While there are certainly traditional forms of Western instrumentation such as harp, Susman has incorporated sounds we would associate with Nepal: There is no list, but I believe we are hearing drums - such as the dhimay, madal, and khin - a bansuri (a bamboo flute), a plucked string (perhaps the tunga), tingsha cymbals, a sringa (a large "C"- or "S"-shaped horn which is also a political symbol), and more. Along the way is minimalism that is so transporting it would make Philip Glass proud, as it helps achieve a sense of bittersweet spirituality so prevalent in the film. (Glass is also a fierce proponent for Nepal's freedom and Buddhist principles - the latter evidenced in his opera, Satyagraha.)
At first, part of the fun for me was parsing out the instruments (wait - is this sound that conch shell that has both ritual and religious importance in Hinduism?), but magically by the seventh of eleven tracks, they merge into a higher plane of trance-inducing balminess that lovingly elucidates the subject matter. While it's accurate to say that the music of Susman (who also performs) blends that mysterious, uncanny long-established Asian music with those soul-moving Western strings evokes what the press notes call an "ancient healing tradition in danger of extinction," this is music that stands alone from the film - in fact, this journey requires you to listen with headphones on and your eyes closed. The mixing by Stephen Hart at Berkeley's Fantasy Studios makes everything sound crystal clear.
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James Whale's film classic Frankenstein (1931), starring Boris Karloff, was released without a musical score, as were many films in those early days of the talkie. A number of critics, including Leonard Maltin, have remarked that Frankenstein is badly in need of music. Michael Shapiro's 70-minute score is written to be played simultaneously with the screening of the film. For modern-day concert- and moviegoers, his haunting music adds significantly to the emotional impact of the film.
Harmonious World Podcast's Hilary Robertson interviews composer and conductor Michael Shapiro.There's a good chance that I'll be jumping on a plane as soon as such things are possible again - this time to see the operatic version of Michael's film score to the original film of...
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Ben Rosenblum plays both piano and accordion on this pastoral session with the blended horns of trumpeter Wayne Tucker, Jasper Dutz on tenor sax or bass clarinet, guitarist Rafael Rosa, bassist Marty Jaffe, drummer Ben Zweig and guests Jake Chapman/vib, Sam Chess/tb and Jeremy Corren/p. Chapman's vibes team with Tucker's horn on an Old World tango of a title track with added accordion atmosphere, with similar moods with Corren replacing Chapman on the European "Motif From Brahms". A fun tarantella with Tucker out in front gets you dancing on "Fight Or Flight" with the horns in gorgeous harmony on the elegiac "Bright Above Us" and the folk tune "Izpoved". The team takes a dreamy read of Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere" with Neil Young's "Philadelphia" a rich vehicle for Rosa and Chess. Sounds of the piazza.
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Labrinth pulls off yet another pristine, passionate endeavour through his latest number ‘No Ordinary.' The British singer-songwriter has always displayed a knack for taking simple melodies and working wonders with them, and he does so again with this latest feature.
The composition is gentle but magical in its own way, especially when coupled with Labrinth's soulful, touching voice that seems to hit every feeling in the range. The first verse makes use of light bass instrumentation that is resounding without being overpowering; the vast majority of the focus is on Labrinth's phenomenal vocal range that's underscored at each and every step of the way. What gives the composition the extra edge is the vocal layering and overlapping that carries us all the way to the chorus. His voice is so powerful that even the moderate notes are charged with an all-consuming force. The lyrics refer to both ‘devotion' and ‘Holy Ghost,' hinting to the religious stylings of the melody, though they're never hammered in.
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NPR Music and Lara Downes announce the launch of AMPLIFY With Lara Downes, a new bi-weekly series of intimate and deeply personal video conversations with visionary Black musicians who are shaping the present and future of the art form, premiering Saturday, October 17 on NPRMusic.org, YouTube, and social media platforms.
Created and hosted by pianist and artist Lara Downes, and co-produced by NPR Music's Tom Huizenga, this series invites viewers to experience raw, revealing, and open-hearted conversations reflecting on how artists are responding and creating in this time of profound challenge and change. Downes and her guests-initially including MacArthur Fellow vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens, 2020 Avery Fisher Prize-winning clarinetist Anthony McGill, multidisciplinary artist Helga Davis, and vocalist Davóne Tines, with other guests such as Sheku Kanneh-Mason and family to follow-connect and reflect on highly relevant themes ranging from music and mission, legacy and lineage, to transformation and change.
Guests to include Rhiannon Giddens, Anthony McGill, Helga Davis, Davóne Tines, and Sheku Kanneh-Mason and family.
Series premieres today!! Saturday, October 17 on NPR Music.org and NPR's YouTube and social media platforms.
Says Downes of the series: "In this time of our collective reckoning about historical inequities in American life and art, I'm excited to amplify the voices of extraordinary artists of color, shining a bright light on a diverse and rich future that is, in the words of James Weldon Johnson, 'full of the hope that the present has brought us.'"
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What is multiple Grammy-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin's response to everyone wearing masks to stay healthy? "Welcome to my world!" she says. "I've been wearing an N95 mask for almost 20 years on every single airplane flight, and since doing that, I've never gotten sick from flying."
In this 90.1WRTI: Philadelphia TIME IN interview, Sharon talks about navigating the pandemic with more healthy habits, including Transcendental Meditation, and learning the technology to create new ways (beyond Zoom) of teaching her guitar students at Juilliard, where she directs the department she founded in 1989.
Sharon met with me on Zoom on September 22nd, 2020 to talk about life during the panedemic. Here are edited excerpts from our conversation:
For her latest studio album, pianist Hélène Grimaud travels to Salzburg where she creates a fascinating juxtaposition between the eternal Mozart and the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov. In selecting the music for this album, Grimaud has carefully chosen music by Mozart that fits into an overall dramaturgy: from his famous unfinished D minor Fantasy, she transitions seamlessly into the great D minor concerto, K. 466. The C minor Fantasy then signals "the end of Mozart" and a new beginning: Silvestrov's The Messenger starts with a theme reminiscent of Mozart and creates a connection between the present and the world that existed before.
For October 15 2020, Hélène Grimaud: The Messenger is the WFMT: Chicago 'Featured New Release'
Inspired by the ground-breaking mission of NASA's Juno space probe and its ongoing exploration of Jupiter, Juno to Jupiter is a multi-dimensional musical journey through electronic, progressive, ambient, techno, orchestral, and vocal music.
Milan Records today announces the release of Luca Guadagnino's WE ARE WHO WE ARE (ORIGINAL SERIES SCORE) featuring music by producer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, songwriter and vocalist DEVONTÉ HYNES.
Jane Ira Bloom: Sixteen Sunsets makes textura: 'Best Jazz of 2013' List
Posted: December 28, 2013 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
Acclaimed soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom brings thirty-plus years of experience to her fifteenth recording and first all-ballads album Sixteen Sunsets. She's covered standards before-Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson's "Lost in the Stars" on Art and Aviation and Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington's "The Nearness of You" on The Nearness, to cite but two examples-but does so even more plentifully on Sixteen Sunsets, which complements nine American songbook classics with five of her own compositions. But don't think for a moment that Bloom has phoned in, so to speak, these performances. Though she's no doubt played the pieces countless times, the material sounds startlingly fresh on this recording, and alive, too, due to the amazing multi-dimensional clarity the surround sound recording brings to her playing (the saxophone was literally surrounded by an array of microphones for the sessions), something especially audible in her solo saxophone treatment of Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin's "My Ship."
Bloom less plays the melodies in the standard so much as caresses them and lovingly at that. In that regard, there's maybe no more exquisite moment on the recording than the sound of Bloom wrapping her voice around the heartfelt melodies in "I Loves You Porgy," and though she delivers the songs' themes with deep feeling, she goes deeper in the solos where it truly feels like she's trying to penetrate into the material to get at its heart (one example of many: her solo in Billie Holiday and Mal Waldron's "Left Alone"). One of the recording's great pleasures comes from observing how Bloom straddles the line between hewing closely to a given song's melodies and straying from it with soloistic embellishments. Put simply, her handling of the album content suggests not only an acquaintance of long-standing but one of deep affection, too, all of which makes Sixteen Sunsets noteworthy for presenting some of the most emotional playing of Bloom's on record.
Though she has become well-known for the application of live electronics to her playing, Sixteen Sunsets features her soprano saxophone playing in its pure form. Pianist Dominic Fallacaro, bassist Cameron Brown, and drummer Matt Wilson provide tasteful support, their relative unobtrusiveness not unwelcome in a date of this kind. Fallacaro stands out for the elegance of his playing, but so too do the others; consider the magnificent support the trio gives Bloom for her haunting rendition of Jimmy Van Heusen's "Darn That Dream" as evidence.
Highlights are plentiful, and from the first moments of "For All We Know," the tender side of Bloom's playing is on full display, and what a wonderful a thing it is to witness. Her own bluesy composition "What She Wanted" exudes such a classic ballad quality, it feels perfectly at home within such esteemed company, especially when the also-bluesy "Good Morning Heartache" and "Left Alone" are also featured. She covers a standard of her own in featuring a new version of "Ice Dancing (for Torvill & Dean)," which originally appeared on the late-‘80s Slalom and whose lilting swing and serpentine melodies sound as good today as they did then. Her breezy "Primary Colors" also adds a welcome moment of uptempo swing to a recording whose focus is otherwise on slow tempi.
One of the most well-known historical precursors to Sixteen Sunsets is, of course, Coltrane's Ballads, which likewise features a sax-led quartet interpreting an album's worth of timeless romantic standards. Fifty years after Coltrane's recording first appeared, Bloom perpetuates the tradition with a beautiful one of her own that can't be praised too highly.
TEN QUESTIONS WITH JANE IRA BLOOM The soprano sax has enjoyed a long and distinguished history in jazz, with figures such as Steve Lacy, John Coltrane, and Wayne Shorter having established clearly recognizable voices on the instrument. Jane Ira Bloom established her own voice on the instrument at a rather early stage in her career: by the time her third album, 1982's Mighty Lights, appeared (on which she was auspiciously joined by Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell as well as pianist Fred Hersch, with whom she's enjoyed a long-standing musical partnership), Bloom's distinctive voice, both as a player and composer, had come into clear focus.
She certainly wasted no time in making a name for herself as both a composer and player. Her first solo album, We Are, a nine-song duet date recorded in March 1978 with bassist Kent McLagan, features seven Bloom originals, while her love for timeless standards was already evident in the inclusion of Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge" on her debut and Weill and Anderson's "Lost in the Stars" on Mighty Lights. There's a warmth and lyrical quality to her playing that's present on those early recordings, and such qualities blossom to an even greater degree on her latest, a beautiful set of ballads titled Sixteen Sunsets.
Bloom has also received a considerable number of honours and awards over the years. She was the recipient of the 2007 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award for lifetime service to jazz, is a six-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Award for Soprano Saxophone, and a winner of the Downbeat International Critics Poll for soprano sax. Currently a professor at NYC's New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music, Bloom has had such a huge impact that The 2009 Bloom Festival, a Brooklyn-based jazz festival devoted to cutting-edge woman artists, was named in her honour; she is also the first musician to have been commissioned by the NASA Art Program and even had an asteroid named after her by the International Astronomical Union (asteroid 6083janeirabloom).
01. Near the beginning of your recording career, you were joined by Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell on 1982's Mighty Lights. What was the experience like for you playing with such revered figures?
It was an opportunity to play with my dream rhythm section. I was scared out of my mind but excited at the same time. You know like the Chinese definition of a crisis-it was "a dangerous opportunity." Playing with Charlie and Ed was like surfing an amazing rhythmic wave. They had a way of making anything you played sound right.
02. Was it intimidating or did you feel at home, so to speak, in such company? And was there anything in particular you took away from the recording experience that was especially valuable?
I was so lucky to have had the experience of playing with them. The kind of feel that they created is completely unique. That recording also marked the beginning of my collaboration with pianist Fred Hersch, which continues to evolve to the present day. Looking back at that recording reminds me of what a creative nexus the whole experience was.
03. You also seemed to find your voice at a preternaturally early stage in your career. How did you manage to do so when other artists sometimes take years to do so?
It's really been a journey. I suppose choosing the soprano-an instrument that you could develop a sound on with the luxury of being stylistically under-influenced had something to do with it. I also think "having a sound" is something that was ingrained in my thinking from the time I began studying the saxophone with woodwind virtuoso Joe Viola. The saxophone is one of the instruments that is closest to the human voice and so making a sound on it should be as personal and unique as your own voice.
04. Obviously most of the standards you've included in Sixteen Sunsets are ones that have been played and recorded countless times, and I'm presuming you've played them many times as well. Having said that, your performances of them on the recording strike me as so fresh they sound like performances by someone almost new to them. How did you manage to make the renderings of the songs sound so fresh, given that you've played many times before the recording sessions?
If you're in a relaxed frame of mind, the best way to play anything is completely fresh to the moment so that every sound you make is a discovery to your imagination. As improvisers we practice this kind of spontaneity-a provocative juxtaposition of concepts, don't you think? With the album, I picked songs that really resonated with me and then tried to record them in a way that was conducive to relaxation. We never really recorded in the studio for more than three or four hours at a time, which helped keep everything fresh.
05. The other thing that strikes me about the performances of the ballads on Sixteen Sunsets is how powerfully emotional your playing is, especially in your solos. Were you consciously setting out to dig deeper into these songs to get to their emotional core or is that simply something that naturally comes out when you're playing such melodically rich material?
You know as you get older, you just get more comfortable with yourself and eliminating all the things that get in the way of singing in your natural voice. I've learned a lot from listening to vocalists. I'm very happy that the emotional reach of the music is audible. It's one thing to play that way in concert and another thing to let yourself go in the studio. I think great melodies do most of the work for you.
06. One of the things that comes through clearly as I listen to Sixteen Sunsets is the unqualified joy it seems to me I hear when you playing something as magnificent as "I Loves You Porgy" and "The Way You Look Tonight." Am I correct in assuming that as a musician one of your greatest satisfactions is simply the experience of having such exquisite material speak through you?
It's like an exquisite synchrony. There's something in feeling and thinking about the lyrics of a song and what they're saying and then transforming that through your own voice. It's such a simple concept for an instrumentalist to play a song thinking about what that song means but you'd be surprised how quickly the transformation to an instrument can confuse that.
07. In 1996, Herbie Hancock released The New Standard, his attempt to argue on behalf of songs like The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" and Nirvana's "All Apologies" as contemporary standards. Those covered on Sixteen Sunsets, on the other hand, are classics of decades-long standing like "Darn That Dream" and "Good Morning Heartache." Can you think of any contemporary standards that hold up next to the ones you covered or is there some truth to the cliche "They don't write'em like that anymore"?
There are great songs in all eras of music. In addition to the American songbook, I grew up listening to Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, etc... Who knows, maybe someday I'll revisit that music. My students interpret the music of their time in 2013 in a way that is completely natural to them because it's of their generation.
08. In a Dec. 7th, 2013 review of new biographies on Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington in the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, Martin Levin states that jazz is "widely thought a dying art form" (even though at the close of the paragraph he writes, "one hopes, that rumours of the death of jazz are highly exaggerated"). What's your own take on jazz's current state of health?
Looking at the wallpaper in his bedroom near the end of his life Oscar Wilde was quoted as saying "One of us has got to go." Maybe it's the critics and their dire predictions that need to take a rest. The music always has and always will continue to evolve and develop in its own way regardless of its observers.
09. No doubt you've attended a great many concerts in your life. Are there any that stick out as particularly memorable, even life-changing?
Listening to Sonny Rollins play a capella solos live is a life-changing experience. Hearing Aretha Franklin singing "Respect" at the Kennedy Center a few years ago was surreal and an experience I'll never forget.
10. As Sixteen Sunsets was recorded in early summer 2013, I'm guessing that you're currently pondering what your follow-up to it will be. Any thoughts as to what your next recording will be like and how it might differ from the latest one?
Not really. I tend to let more time go by between projects so that ideas can evolve in their own time and not according to when I would like them to happen. You never know where a good idea can come from or when it might appear so sometimes you just have to be patient with your own creative process.
American original Jane Ira Bloom does it again. This time the 21st-century soprano saxophonist reimagines the poetry of 19th-century visionary Emily Dickinson in two different settings. This new 2 CD pack, has the quartet (Dawn Clement (piano), Mark Helias (bass)& Bobby Previte (drums) interpretating Dickinson's poetry both instrumentaly and in spoken word settings that feature readings by popular stage & film actor Deborah Rush. After the success of her 2016 trio album release Early Americans, Bloom shifts gears with Wild Lines / Improvising Emily Dickinson. Bloom composed Wild Lines when she was awarded a 2015 CMA/ Doris Duke New Jazz Works commission. She was inspired to musically reimagine Dickinson when she learned that the poet was a pianist and improviser herself.
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You never know what American original soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom is going to do next. After the success of her 2014 all-ballads release "Sixteen Sunsets" Bloom shifts into another gear showcasing the kinetic energy of her acclaimed trio playing with the musicians that she knows best on Early Americans (OTL142). It's her first trio album, sixteenth as leader and sixth recording on the Outline label. Her sound is like no other on the straight horn and she lets it fly on every track. She's joined by long-time bandmates Mark Helias on bass & drummer Bobby Previte and with over fifty years of shared musical history together the album is sure to be a winner. Bloom's collaboration with Helias dates back to the mid 70's in New Haven CT and her unique chemistry with Previte has been ongoing since 2000. She brought the group together in summer 2015 to Avatar Studio B in NYC to capture their breathtaking sound in both stereo and surround-sound with renowned audio engineer Jim Anderson. The album features twelve Bloom originals ranging from the rhythmic drive of "Song Patrol" and "Singing The Triangle" to the spare melancholy of "Mind Gray River." She closes the album with a signature solo rendition of the American songbook classic, Bernstein & Sondheim's "Somewhere." World-renowned portrait photographer Brigitte Lacombe contributes a stunning cover image of Bloom. "Playing in threes" has always held a special fascination for jazz artists - it offers the possibility that something can be slightly off balance and that's just what fires the imagination of players like Bloom, Helias, & Previte. With Early Americans Jane Ira Bloom stands in the vanguard of her generation carving out new territory in the heart of the jazz tradition. Don't miss this trio of "fearless jazz explorers who share a commitment to beauty & adventure."
"I grew up listening to these songs and knowing the lyrics. They were a part of my earliest listening experiences so playing them is like breathing to me. As time's gone by it's been easier to let the meaning of the songs come through the horn."- Jane Ira Bloom
Award winning soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom has always had a special feeling for ballad performances. So much so that she has now finally released: Sixteen Sunsets, a beautiful new recording featuring expressive interpretations from the American Songbook along with five compelling slow tempo original compositions. With this her 15th album as leader and her first all-ballads album, Sixteen Sunsets pairs JIB with long-time colleagues Cameron Brown on bass and Matt Wilson on drums, along with an exciting new pianist we will all be hearing a lot more from: Dominic Fallacaro.
After thirty years, Award winning soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom has returned to her original label, Outline Records, for a disc employing an electro-acoustic band which brings together fellow 70's New Havenite Mark Helias on bass, drummer Matt Wilson, and Seattle new comer Dawn Clement on keyboards for Mental Weather. After premiering the piece with the Doris Duke new jazz works program, Bloom then brought the band into Avatar Studio B in NYC with audio engineering legend Jim Anderson and laid down nine thrilling tracks.
4 New 'ON' this week: 198 'Total
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Whether adventuring into interior or outer space in her music, award winning soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom continues to navigate her unique musical path with creative abandon. Wingwalker, her 14th album as leader and fourth album on the Outline label reunites Bloom with long-time bandmates Dawn Clement on piano, bassist Mark Helias, and drummer Bobby Previte. After two years since Bloom's last release "Mental Weather," she brought the band together in June 2010 to record new compositions written during time made possible by a Guggenheim Fellowship. Wingwalker was recorded in Avatar Studio B in New York City with renowned audio engineer Jim Anderson. The album features eleven Bloom originals and a solo sax rendition of Lerner & Lowe's classic "I Could Have Danced All Night." From the groove inspired "Life on Cloud 8" to the spare simplicity of "Adjusting to Midnight," Jane has journeyed further into jazz dimensions without a safety net. The CD also features an extra mp3 downloadable version of the music condensed into a 5 minute 49 second event.
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Online: The Jazz Session, Moja, Live 365, Taintradio, Jazzweekly.com, All About Jazz, amazon, Aggie Radio, UKJazzRadio, Jazz Virtuosa, Hot House, Cory Weeds, Jazzreview.com, Jazz Police, PopMatters, Big Butter and the Eggman, IAJRC