Pete’s Place Playlist – 11/28/11

Henry Butler, “The Village” from 1987 Impluse LP of the same name. New Orleans-born piano player with veteran NO clarinetist Alvin Batiste.

Gato Barbieri, “Bahia” (1971).

Abdullah Ibrahim, “Kramat” from Zimbabwe (1983, Enja LP).

Vijay Iyer Trio, “Galong / Helix” from Hitoricity. One of best records of 2009.

Sun Ra Arkestra “Sunset On the Night on the River Nile” (Mayan Temples, 1990 Black Saint LP)

Lee Morgan, “Search for the New Land” from Blue Note LP of same name (1964). Extended track with nice Grant Green guitar along with Wayne Shorter sax and the leaders always brilliant trumpet.

T-Bone Walker “Stormy Monday”. Texas blues legend.

Weather Report, “Seventh Arrow” from debut WR record, cira 1971. Hard jazz-rock fusion.

Duke Ellington / Charlie Mingus / Max Roach “Very Special” from Money Jungle. Somewhat controversial record that now is recognized as unique.

Rory Stuart “Hurrican” from 1987 LP of same name. Nice guitar, if not well known p layer.

Chico Hamilton “A Trip” with Larry Coryell on guitar; from about 1965.

WDBX Opera Overnight: Monteverdi and Strauss

Frontispiece of Monteverdi's opera L'Orfeo, pr...

Front page to the 1609 version of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo

Part of our interest here on Opera Overnight is to illustrate some of the interesting history behind the form of music that we call opera.  Tonight we begin the show with one of the earliest surviving examples of opera, Claudio Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo.  L’Orfeo was written in 1607 for a court performance during the annual Carnival at Mantua.  It is not the first actual opera – the first composition that is considered to have been opera was Dafne by Jacopo Peri, a lost work that was written in 1597.  It is not even the earliest surviving opera.  But it is the earliest surviving opera that is still regularly performed.

The format, structure and instrumentation of this opera are different from what we are used to.  Monteverdi designated specific groups of instruments to represent various forms of scenery and characters, with strings, harpsichords and recorders representing the pastoral fields of Thrace and its residents, while heavy brass represented the underworld and its characters.  Thus, Monteverdi employed all of the resources he had available to him at the time.  As they were still a few years removed from the Renaissance, Monteverdi followed the standard practice of the day and gave his musicians considerable freedom to improvise.  This means that each performance of L’Orfeo is a uniquely individual performance.

One may notice over the course of the opera certain patternistic flourishes that are quite typical of late Renaissance music, such as the horn arrangements (which will be recognized by anyone familiar with the numerous compositions of Giovanni Gabrielli for brass choir), or the persistent usage of certain chords and leading chordal progressions when ending musical phrases.  In this manner, the music brilliantly touches base with the achievements of the Renaissance (Monteverdi had already written five of his well-known books of madrigals by 1607, and had been the court conductor since 1602) while vividly pointing ahead to the future of music.

Tonight’s recording is from 1992 (it may have been actually recorded in 1985), and features the following cast:

Next, we have a classic 1956 recording of Richard StraussDer Rosenkavalier (“The Knight of the Rose”).  Der Rosenkavalier is a comic opera in three acts, with an original German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal (a frequent collaborator with Strauss) that was loosely adapted from novels by Louvet de Couvrai and the great French playwright Moliere.  It was premiered in January 1911 in Dresden, and is quite frequently performed, with 17 different productions in 2010 alone.  Stylistically, it is a rather unique piece of music, with strong 20th century overtones, yet containing a strong waltz flavoring (even though waltzes were out of favor at the time of composition) and other components that hint of the neo-classical trend that was yet to come.  But the opera is by no means neo-classical – a composition like this could only have happened in the 20th century, with bold harmonic and compositional ideas represented throughout.

Strauss was quite fond of the female voice (if one thinks about it, most, if not all, of his operas feature females in the lead roles), and he gave female voices the two lead parts (one of which is a male character, Octavian, sung by mezzo-sopranos), and three out of the five primary roles.  The role of the Marschallin (sung here by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf) is considered a tour-de-force role for sopranos.  All of this results in notable trios and duets that close out the opera.

The cast:

  • Elisabeth Schwarzkopf – one of the great sopranos of the mid/late 20th century, whom we recently heard in Don Giovanni
  • Christa Ludwig – noted German mezzo-soprano with a wide repertory range, going from Mozart to Wagner.
  • Otto Edelmann – Austrian bass, noted for his roles in comic operas, but who also did a lot of Wagner
  • Eberhard Wächter – noted Austrian baritone; like with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, we heard him a few weeks ago in Don Giovanni
  • Teresa Stich-Randall (1927 – 2007) – American soprano, who was described by Arturo Toscanini as “the find of the century”.  In 1962, she became the first American to be named by the Austrian government as a “Kammersingerin”, a title given to esteemed vocal artists.
  • Ljuba Welitsch (1913 – 1996) – Bulgarian soprano, noted for her Salome, which she performed under the direction of Strauss himself in 1944.  Unfortunately, she did not make many recordings.
  • Paul Kuen – German tenor, noted for his character roles, who did a lot of Wagner
  • Kerstin Meyer
  • Nicolai Gedda (b. 1925) – Swedish tenor, said to be the most widely recorded tenor in history, with some 200 recordings having been made, as recently as 2003.  His repertoire includes roles that are considered among the most difficult in the entire operatic repertoire.

The Galaxy – Peering through the purple haze

Cover of "Live at the Fillmore East"

Cover of Live at the Fillmore East

I do love birthdays.  I love it when I have a birthday, and I love it when others have a birthday.  Today’s birthday is that of the great Jimi Hendrix, and how can I not do a salute to this great musician?  So we started off the evening with a lovely sampling of some of Hendrix’s best, starting with Purple Haze, Manic Depression and Love and Confusion, from the Are You Experienced lp.  We then heard Voodoo Chile and Voodoo Child (Slight Return), from Electric Ladyland, before finishing with Machine Gun, from the Live at the Fillmore East remaster (formerly the Band of Gypsies lp, the only live album that Hendrix himself sanctioned and released, although there are tons of legitimate live recordings that have been made available in the years after Hendrix’s passing).

We then heard some brilliant saxophone from the legendary Charlie Parker.  Charlie Parker and Jimi Hendrix were kindred spirits of a sort, musicians whose skills and technique were miles ahead of their times, and who set the pace for all who followed.  Not only was Parker an extraordinary musician, but he was also a bit of a groundbreaker, being one of the first from the jazz “be-bop” movement to experiment with his instrumental arrangements by adding a string section to his combo.  We heard four recordings from these important string sessions of Parker’s: Just Friends, Everything Happens to Me, April in Paris, and Gershwin’s Summertime (originally from Porgy and Bess).

Dieterich Buxtehude (1637 – 1707) was a German/Danish composer who, along with Heinrich Schütz, is considered one of the most important composers of the mid-Baroque era.  He was a notable influence upon the young Johann Sebastian Bach, and his organ works are an important part of the overall organ canon.  Tonight we heard two relatively brief concertos, O dulcis Jesu (BuxWV 83) and Schaffe in mir, Gott (BuxWV 95).  The first contains a mix of prose and poetry, and is believed to have been written for a visiting castrato singer.  The latter is a psalm setting in triple-meter.

The Doors were one of those great bands, like Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the other great legends of rock, whose recordings were one experience, but their live concerts were a completely different experience altogether.  I find this to be a hallmark of the truly great bands, when musicians have such great compatibility that they can make the music seem alive and breathing.  We heard a live set from the Doors, which included Who Do You Love, and a medley of Alabama Song (their cover of Bertolt Brecht), Backdoor Man, Love Hides (really a segue-way leading up to….), and Five to One.

We finished the show tonight with two Frank Sinatra tunes: East of the Sun ( and West of the Moon), from 1940 with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and I’ve Got a Crush on You, done with Axel Stordahl in 1948.

“It’s Too Damn Early,” 11/26/11

Had to ask Bob D. to sit this one out– sorry man, the public demands more Arctic Circle improv!

Jennifer Walshe — Nature Data (from “Nature Data,” on Interval Recordings)
Myriam Lavoie — Chercher (this, and next two, from “Cache 2007” compilation)
Theo Mathien — Eolian Erosion
Elliot Vaughn — Icely Unsect
Ministry of Rites — Nightlight (from “Grid,” on Edgetone)
Octopus Inc — Goldbug (this, and next 7, from “Penguin Mechanics III” compilation from KracFive)
Bauri — Computercuddle
Pthalocyanine — Metalo-meld-mechano
Lackluster — Third Pie
Brothom States — Not Kava
Miragliuolo — Sandwich Train
Pacman — Citybuilder
Colongib — Angry Robot Locked in Compartment Wrenches Itself Free
Bearly Queen — Hairy Palm Adventures I-VII (on Luovaja, album of same name)

Your Community Spirit 2011 November 25

Most of this week’s recording was lost due to technical difficulties. The podcast episode includes a song about Occupy Wall Street, a song about the Holly King, and a news story about reducing crime by turning abandoned lots into public parks. Other news included global warming swamping one-third of NYC’s streets; oysters dying off due to ocean acidification; architect takes community planning to the streets. Happenings include Best of Rice and Spice; the last Farmer’s Market of the year; Vigil for Peace; First Annual Christmahanukwanzadan holiday party at Gaia House.

The Galaxy – Give thanks and praises unto the Lord!

Thelonious Monk, Minton's Playhouse, New York,...

Thelonious Monk, 1947

As we come upon the Thanksgiving holiday, I am continually reminded how blessed I am to be able to participate in this great experiment that is WDBX.  This came to mind this morning as I was driving home from Tennessee in the pouring rain, and found myself in the mood for a particular song, The Bad Brains‘ Give Thanks and Praises.  It is easy to go through life, living the moment but forgetting how wonderful those moments truly are.  So, from time to time, I find it good to stop and give thanks and praises for the abundant blessings that surround me.  One of those blessings is the opportunity to come in and host a radio program once a week on WDBX.  For this I am truly grateful.

So we started this week’s show with that very song, Give Thanks and Praises (from their 2006 album Build a Nation, which was produced by Beastie Boy Adam Yauch), then heard another cut from that album that dovetails quite nicely with the first, Natty Dreadlocks ‘pon the Mountain Top.  We then heard a couple (Scared to Death and Sleep This Away) from Cancer Bats, a fine band from Toronto that I saw last year.  Following that, we heard two songs from Underoath (for whom Cancer Bats was opening), Breathing in a New Mentality and Desperate Times, Desperate Measures.  We finished the set with 3 songs from Stormtroopers of Death: March of the SOD, Sargent D and the SOD, and Kill Yourself (yes, that tongue was planted firmly in cheek).

Given that I am predisposed towards variety, I felt it appropriate to add a little bit of contrast, and turn to some jazz.  In particular, I went with some Thelonious Monk from 1947: Well You Needn’t, Ruby My Dear and Evidence (the latter featuring Milt Jackson, more notably of the Modern Jazz Quartet, on vibes), before finishing the Monk with a big band recording he made with Oliver Nelson in 1968.  We then heard a great cut from Dexter Gordon (Society Red), before completing the jazz set with Decision, from Sonny Rollins.

I’ve been trying to squeeze in some OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) for a few weeks now, and tonight was the night that I was finally able to do so.  We heard four songs from that great new wave/techno band: So In Love (from their 1985 album Crush), Electricity (from their first album in 1979), Motion and Heart (from their second album, Organisation), and finally Souvenir, from their 1981 album Architecture and Morality.

I was also able to play another bit of music that I’d been trying to squeeze in for a few weeks, an ’80s metal set, when I started off the next set with Dokken’s Alone Again.  We then heard Van Halen’s Panama (you remember it, it was from 1984 – the album and the year), The Scorpions’ Still Loving You, and Ratt’s Round and Round.

We finished off tonight’s set with something from System of a Down.  Starting with their classic 2001 song Chop Suey!, we then heard War? (from their self-titled 1998 album), Innervisions (from 2002’s Steal This Album), P.L.U.C.K (also from 1998; title stands for “Politically Lying, Unholy Cowardly Killers”) and Science, also from 2001.

sTyLe CiTy NoV 20tH 2011

Morpion – Incidents
Morpion – Small Wifely Discord
Morpion – The Alchemist’s Dream
Morpion – Night of The Wolf Fish
Tuneboxii – Many a Melodic
Tuneboxii – Melancholy Static
Tuneboxii – Momentum
Tuneboxii – Switch Glitch
Tuneboxii – Twoside
Silent Strangers – Staybill Choke
Silent Strangers – Pulsrec
Silent Strangers – Left Cold
Mystified – Klongk
Witah – Dingden
Witah – Zelda Fairy Fountain
Shitbird – Bruised Bit
Shitbird –  Carpetleech
Shitbird – Crepuscular
Animal Style – Primaeval Boltz
Animal Style – Prehistory