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.