I was checking out the Perseid event last night (which continues tonight, although it may not be as good as last night, it is still a great experience), and it occurred to me that this would be a great theme for tonight’s show. Of course, I’m not sure if I have anything that covers shooting stars specifically, and I’m fairly certain that I don’t have anything on meteors, but I think I have a few songs which should fit the mood nicely.
We started off the set with some Madonna. I rarely play Madonna, but as far as pop music goes, her early ’80s pop was far more musical than a lot of the material that we see nowadays. Now, not all of the songs we’re selecting here match up with the theme, but they do match up with her music, and Lucky Star was the song that I considered to be the perfect opener for tonight’s show. We heard Lucky Star, Holiday, and Borderline.
After Madonna, we heard some Glenn Miller. One might find it odd that my thought process would have jumped from Madonna directly to Glenn Miller, but that is actually how I conceived the show, as I remembered that I have a lovely rendition of When You Wish Upon a Star (Miller’s version, with Ray Eberle doing the vocals, was in fact the version that we remember from Disney’s Pinnochio). Happily, when I looked, I found that Miller had recorded a number of songs that fit in well with our theme this evening. So we started with Stairway to the Stars (from 1939), then we heard When You Wish Upon A Star (from 1940), The Story of a Starry Night (1941), Moon Love (1939, based on the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony), and his well-known classic Moonlight Serenade (1939).
Gustav Holst wrote The Planets between 1914 and 1916, and was intended as a character interpretation, with each movement named after a planet and scored to show the planet’s corresponding astrological character, as defined by Holst. Holst used as inspiration a book by British astrologist Alan Leo, and the titles for each of the seven movements (the number of known planets at the time). Holst originally wrote the piece for dual hand piano, with the Neptune (“Neptune, The Mystic“) movement scored for solo organ. He then rearranged the music for large orchestra, displaying the influence of Arnold Schoenberg, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Alexander Glasunov and Igor Stravinsky. After its completion, it was performed privately on several occasions between 1918 and 1920, before finally receiving a complete performance on November 15, 1920. Holst conducted it himself in 1923, and eventually made several recordings of the piece. Tonight’s recording is a 1971 recording by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta.
While listening to this excellent recording of The Planets, I noticed another excellent piece that fits right in with the theme that we are exploring this evening. John Williams was awarded two Grammys for his soundtrack recording for the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1978, and the composition works very well on its own, away from the theater. Tonight we heard a suite based on the soundtrack, also performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta.
We then heard a tune from Billie Holiday, What A Little Moonlight Can Do, featuring a combo led by Teddy Wilson with solos from Benny Goodman and Ben Webster. We followed that song with something from Miles Davis‘ Birth of the Cool sessions, Moon Dreams (one of the more interesting albums in the history of jazz, with a lineup comprised largely of veterans of the Claude Thornhill Orchestra). We then closed out the set with Moments in Love, from The Art of Noise. The song really isn’t celestially themed like most of the show, but I think that the music fits in well with the sort of mood one might have when scanning a gorgeous starry night.celestially themed