The Galaxy – Remembering two great musical personalities

English: Bassist Chi Cheng of Deftones perform...

Bassist Chi Cheng of Deftones performing at the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We here at the Galaxy are saddened to hear of the passing yesterday of the fine bassist for the Deftones, Chi Cheng.  As a long-time fan of the Deftones, I watched the band’s growth, and the development of their songcraft.  But Chi always came up with some superlative bass lines, going back to their first album, Adrenaline.  But they have never been ones to coast on talent, and each new album has come with glorious performances on the parts of the instrumentalists.  I’ve always found Chi’s parts to be especially interesting.  So tonight we took a few minutes to hear a few of these special performances.

  • Korea – from White Pony
  • Minerva  – from the self-titled album, Deftones
  • Rickets – from Around the Fur
  • My Own Summer (Shove It) – also from Around the Fur
  • Feiticeira –
  • When Girls Telephone Boys
  • Digital Bath
  • Good Morning Beautiful
  • Change (In The House of Flies
Maria Tallchief (January 24, 1925 – April 11, 2013)

Maria Tallchief (January 24, 1925 – April 11, 2013)

We also took a few moments to pay homage to the great ballerina Maria Tallchief.  She is considered by many to have been America’s first major prima ballerina, and she was also the first Native American to hold such a position.  She was associated with the great choreographer George Ballanchine for many years (and was married to him at one point), and was the first principal dancer for the then-newly formed New York City Ballet.  She was the first American to appear at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, and her performances of the Sugar Plum Fairy role in Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker is credited with popularizing the piece in the US during the latter half of the 20th century.  At one point in the mid-’50s, her salary was said to be the highest ever paid to a ballerina at that time.  After her retirement in 1966, she served as the director of ballet for Lyric Opera of Chicago, and founded the Chicago City Ballet in 1981.  She received many honors, including a Kennedy Center Honors in 1996.  In addition to her ballet work, she was also an advocate for various Native American issues, and was closely tied to her Osage tribal organization.

Naturally, it is difficult for a radio program to do a proper homage to a ballerina, given the visual nature of dance.  However, we can hear a piece that was frequently associated with her.  Balanchine choreographed Igor Stravinski’s The Firebird for her in 1949, and it is considered to be one of the roles that thrust her into such a high degree of prominence.  A New York Times reviewer said that she was asked “to do everything except spin on her head, and she does it with complete and incomparable brilliance.”

Maria Tallchief performs the lead role in The Firebird

Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus

Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, today is the anniversary of the birthday of the great jazz composer Charles Mingus.  Normally I would have dedicated the entirety of the show to such an auspicious occasion, but given the other things that I feel compelled to do, this year’s observance is necessarily abbreviated.  But that doesn’t mean that we are prevented from plugging in some of his exquisite music.  We heard:

  • Gunslinging Bird – from Mingus Dynasty, his brilliant album from ’59 that features some of his more daring compositions; the song is one of his numerous pieces to which he gave a more elaborate title, “If Bird were a Gunslinger, There Would Be A Whole Bunch of Dead Copycats”
  • Better Get Hit In Your Soul – one of a number of songs that openly display the gospel background that cropped up from time to time in Mingus’s music.  This was a concert staple of his for a time in the early ’60s.
  • Freedom – from Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus, this song features a sung chorus at the start and end, with some strong, interesting music in the middle.  It was one of a number of his songs that were inspired by the Civil Rights movement – Mingus was not shy about making his feelings known.

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