We started the evening with some lovely material by the fine jazz pianist Chick Corea. Many will remember him for his fusion work with his Electric Band (with bassist John Pattucci). But if you turn back a few pages in the calendar, you’ll find that he put out some varied, interesting work during the ’60s and ’70s. Naturally, we would be amiss to forget his significant contributions to Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew album, and the tour that supported it. But he did an album in ’68, Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, that had some tremendous material, performed in a trio format with Miroslav Vitous (a Czech bassist who did quite a bit of work on the ECM label in the late ’70s and early ’80s) and the noted drummer Roy Haynes. After doing Bitches Brew with Miles Davis, he formed Circle, a free jazz quartet with Barry Altschul, Dave Holland (another Brew alum) and the experimental saxophonist Anthony Braxton. Corea then went on to form Return to Forever with Stanley Clarke and yet another Brew alumnus, drummer Lenny White. This band would create some of the better fusion jazz of the ’70s, blending the best of their rock influences with the best of their jazz influences. So we heard a pair of songs from Now he Sings, Now He Sobs (the title track, and Steps – What Was), then we heard a pair of Return to Forever songs (from 1973’s Light As A Feather) and Captain Senor Mouse (from ’74’s Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy).
I do enjoy it when I am presented the opportunity to play some Led Zeppelin. Of course, I could probably play Led Zeppelin whenever I wanted to, but I do my best to avoid being overly repetitive, one of those little rules that I use to govern the programming of the show. Having recently seen the Celebration Day DVD (and what a show it was – an absolute treat for fans of this great band), I feel inspired to program some Zep in this week, as it has been a bit since I’ve played this great band, I figure that now is a pretty good time. So we heard a couple songs from Physical Graffiti, and a song from Presence (I purposefully chose from their later material, as : In The Light, Achilles Last Stand, and Sick Again.
The Pixies were one of those monumentally influential indie bands from the late ’80s/early ’90s. You might not have heard them on radio (unless you were listening to a college radio station), but they were there. Their first album, Surfer Rosa, was quite excellent, a wonderful mix of interesting ideas, the rich vocal interplay between Frank Black and bassist Kim Deal, and gritty guitar playing on the part of Black and Joey Santiago. The result is probably some of the most memorable music from the late ’80s. So, from Surfer Rosa, we heard Where Is My Mind, Bone Machine, and Broken Face.
Paul Hindemith was an interesting composer, and a noted teacher and music theorist. He was a contemporary of Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern (b. 1895, d. 1963), yet his ideas of tonality provided a sharp contrast to the twelve-tone methods of Schoenberg and his school (he used his own distinctive twelve-tone method that was less abstract than that of Schoenberg’s). Although he at times identified himself as an Expressionist, his music is often described as “neo-classical”, although there are significant differences between Hindemith’s “neo-classical” and that of Igor Stravinski’s. Like Schoenberg, he also emigrated to the United States in order to escape Nazi repression, although he later resided in Switzerland. Tonight we heard an early work of his, his Violin Sonata Op. 11 No. 1 in E Flat. Written in 1918, it was one of two violin sonatas that Hindemith wrote for his Op. 11. Tonight’s recording also has some historical significance, as this 1965 recording was the first recording made by the noted violinist Itzhak Perlman. David Garvey provides the piano accompaniment.
Like the Led Zeppelin, Sigur Ros is a band that I frequently play on the show, yet have not had the opportunity to play in a while. So we closed the show with some Sigur Ros – Sæglópur, from 2005’s Takk, and the more recent Varúð, from last year’s Valtari. I am pleased to hear that they will be issuing a new album in mid-June, although I’m sorry to see that their long-time keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson. They have announced that they shall tour as a three-piece (although that in reality is fairly relative, as they frequently have a string section touring with them). Although they have stated that the material on Valtari is hard to recreate on stage, it is still some gorgeous material, and worthy of being heard. I will look forward to hearing the new album.