The Galaxy – Zarathustra speaks!

English: Bassist Chi Cheng of Deftones perform...

Bassist Chi Cheng of Deftones performing at the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden. (Image via Wikipedia)

It has been a while since I’ve been able to play some Deftones.  This is mainly due to circumstance, as I’ve had some Deftones with me at the show for the last few weeks.  I’m pleased to hear that longtime Deftones bassist Chi Cheng, who was seriously injured in an auto accident a few years ago and has been in a “minimally conscious state” for 4 years, is showing improvement.  We can continue to maintain hope and continue to send our prayers to him, his family, and the Deftones crew.  In the meantime, we can enjoy their continually excellent music.  Tonight we heard You’ve Seen The Butcher (from their most recent album Diamond Eyes, with former Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega sitting in for Chi), Korea (from their excellent White Pony), When Girls Meet Boys (from their self-titled album), and Royal (again from Diamond Eyes).

English: Photo of Richard Strauss, published i...

Photo of Richard Strauss, published in Modern Music and Musicians, University Society, New York, 1918 (Image via Wikipedia)

I’ve been listening to some Richard Strauss at home over the past few days, and it has put me in the mood for that unique compositional style that Strauss utilized.  One of his great compositions was Also Sprach Zarathustra, inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche‘s work of the same name.  It written in August 1896 and premiered in November of that same year.  The work plays an interesting part in the history of sound recording, as it was the subject of an early experiment in high fidelity recording in 1944 (conducted by Strauss himself), and was the subject of the first stereophonic recording in 1954, as conducted by Strauss’ friend Fritz Reiner.  The piece was later used as the opening theme for Stanley Kubrick’s great movie 2001: A Space Odyssey (using a 1959 recording by Herbert von Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic). Tonight’s recording is a May 1968 recording of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, under the conduction of Zubin Mehta.  It is doubly appropriate to play this particular piece tonight, as we approach the 16th Anniversary of the Galaxy (the anniversary date is March 3rd), and this at one point was our theme song for the show.

Charles Mingus - Bi Centenial, Lower Manhattan...

Charles Mingus - Bi Centenial, Lower Manhattan July 4, 1976 (Image via Wikipedia)

There is a certain passion that can be sensed when one listens to the music of Charles Mingus.  Indeed, Mingus’ compositional style is easily identified to the experienced ear, a quite unique and individual voice like no other in the history of music.  This is because Mingus knew exactly what he wanted his music to sound like, and knew exactly how to achieve that sound from a group of individual musicians.  To that end, Mingus tended to work with a select group of musicians on his recording dates, many of whom had been with him for years and who were familiar with his compositional techniques (and with his wildly varying degrees of mood).  Mingus was one who had big ideas – in his words, he wanted to build “tall buildings” in music, and over time his writing became more and more daring.

Tonight’s recording is a fine example of just that – The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, his excellent 1963 album in one sitting.  A six-part suite that uses many instrumental colors to conjure a sound tapestry as bold as any other instrumental offering put out during that decade.

We close the show with some more jazz, something similar to Mingus, but again with the same sort of individualist bent that Mingus himself valued – some Eric Dolphy (a musician that Mingus recorded and toured with frequently.  From the great 1964 album Out to Lunch, we heard Something Sweet, Something Tender and Gazzelloni.

Or, at least I THOUGHT that we would close out the show with some Eric Dolphy.  But we ended up having three minutes left over – the perfect amount of time to stick in some Helmet.  So we heard In The Meantime, from their 1992 album Meantime.

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