Saturday, January 2, 2010

Trio Mediaeval, Ben Allison, Hillary Hahn, and James Keelaghan: Playlist for The Open Window for January 4 and 5, 2010

The Open Window airs at (Kootenay Cooperative Radio in Nelson, B.C.) Mondays at 6:30 am and Tuesdays at 2pm, sponsored by Sidewinders Coffee

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Trio Mediaeval: Three pieces by Gavin Bryars and one Gregorian Chant from Soir, Dit-Elle (ECM)

These two Norwegians and a Swede sing everything from early music to contemporary compositions and folk songs
a capella and they've gained an international following for their voices and harmonies and pure sound. This Cd reminds me of the music of Arvo Part because of its re-working of ancient forms to sound simultaneously both modern and medieval. You can watch them discussing their music and singing here.

Igor Stravinsky: Violin Concerto movements 1 and 2 performed by Hilary Hahn, violin and Neville Marriner conducting The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields from Brahms Stravinsky Violin Concertos (Sony Classical)

I have just recently begun looking into Stravinsky's music with the help of the music writer Alex Ross and I find this piece does present all the things he is famous for: colourful, dramatic rhythms and unusual use of instruments and general audacity. It's exciting....

James Keelaghan: McConnville's from House of Cards (Borealis)

Keelaghan is one of Canada's best and most moving story-tellers. He was a student of history at university and has carried that into his songwriting career. He is well known in certain circles but really, he should be more of a household name. Want to hear one of the best stories ever sung? It's Cold Missouri Waters on his A Recent Future CD. Want to watch him performing with the late and brilliant Oliver Schroer? Look here.

Ben Allison: Slap Happy, Peace Pipe, Goin Back, and Music is Music from Peace Pipe (Palmetto)

Ben Allison is an American jazz bassist and band-leader who on this 2002 CD and on several others included a kora player, Mamadou Diabate, in his band. The sound of that instrument transforms the jazz sound really delightfully. Michael Sarin drums, Frank Kimbrough piano, Michael Blake tenor saxophone. Goin' Back is a cover of a Neil Young song done beautifully.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Year-End Review: Brahem, Glass, Diabate, Hassell, Sutter, Part

The Open Window airs at (Kootenay Co-op Radio in Nelson, B.C.) at 6:30 am Mondays at 3pm Thursdays sponsored by Sidewinders Coffee

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In this year-end show I revisited several new CDs I have featured over the past few months. All of these are discussed in recent posts.

Anouar Brahem: The Astounding Eyes of Rita
Arvo Part: In Principio
Toumani Diabate: The Mande Variations
Jon Hassell: Last Night the Moon Came Dropping its Clothes in the Street
Wendy Sutter: Songs and Poems for Solo Cello by Philip Glass

Valentin Silvestrov: Misterioso

Monday, December 14, 2009

Anouar Brahem, The Gryphon Trio, and Lou Harrison: Playlist for The Open Window for December 14 and 17, 2009

The Open Window airs at 6:30 am Mondays and 10 am Thursdays at (Kootenay Cooperative Radio in Nelson, B.C.), sponsored by Sidewinders Coffee.

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Lou Harrison: Bell Bowls from La Koro Sutro (New Albion)
Lou Harrison was a 20th century American composer with a passion for the gamelan music of Java and Bali, and he incorporated many of those sounds and textures into his music. I opened the show with this percussion piece played by William Wynant.

Anouar Brahem:
The Lover of Beirut, Dance with Waves, Stopover at Djibouti, and The Astounding Eyes of Rita, from The Astounding Eyes of Rita (ECM )

Anouar Brahem is a celebrated player of Arabic classical music in his home country of Tunisia, and a tireless experimenter and collaborator to the point where it is often hard to say where North Africa leaves off and Europe begins in this spare, dignified, detailed music. For the past few decades he has divided his time between Tunisia and France and played, composed, taught... and worked with all manner of musicians as well as poets and dancers.

Think about the instruments in this quartet: oud, bass clarinet, bass, bendir and darbouka (those are North African hand drums). The result is elegant, exotic, low-toned, and full of feeling for deserts and cities.

The album is titled after a poem by Mahmoud Darwish, a revered poet of Palestine who died last year (photo to the right, just below
). Here is the poem:
Between Rita and my eyes
There is a rifle

And whoever knows Rita
Kneels and plays

To the divinity in those honey-colored eyes

And I kissed Rita
When she was young
And I remember how she approached
And how my arm covered the loveliest of braids
And I remember Rita
The way a sparrow remembers its stream
Ah, Rita

Between us there are a million sparrows and images
And many rendevous
Fired at by a rifle

Rita's name was a feast in my mouth
Rita's body was a wedding in my blood
And I was lost in Rita for two years
And for two years she slept on my arm
And we made
Over the most beautiful of cups

And we burned in the wine of our lips
And we were born again

Ah, Rita!
What befor
e this rifle could have turned my eyes from yours
Except a nap or two or honey-colored clouds?
Once upon a time
Oh, the silence of dusk
In the morning my moon migrated to a far place
Towards tho
se honey-colored eyes
And the city swept away all the singers
And Rita

Between Rita and my eyes
A rifle

Mozart: Trio in G movements 1 and 2 (performed by the Gryphon
Trio) from Mozart Trios (Analekta)

Toronto's Gryphon Trio is Annalee Patipatanakoon (violin), Roman Borys (cello), and Jamie Parker (piano).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Glen Velez, Paul Winter, Arvo Part, Mozart: Playlist for The Open Window for December 7, 2009

The Open Window airs Monday mornings at 6:30 and Thursdays at 10 am at (Kootenay Cooperative Radio in Nelson, B.C.) sponsored by Sidewinders Coffee.

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Glen Velez: Webs from Rhythms of the Chakra
s (Sounds True)

Glen Velez is a Mexican-American percussionist who specializes in frame drums. On this album he plays the bodhran and the North African bendir, adding small percussion and the occasional voice and strings. I saw him live once and he related to the audience so beautifully-- he educated and inspired us. This CD has seven pieces, each corresponding with each chakra or centre of energy in the body. Glen Velez is one of the percussionists on the CD by Paul Winter, below.

Paul Winter: various tracks from Prayer for the Wild Things (Living Music)
I usually would not play Paul Winter on my show because he is too new age/ smooth jazz for me, but this CD is an exception. It features a 12-piece band (with interesting wind instruments like the heckelphone and contra-bass clarinet) along with the recorded sounds of 24 birds and animals from the Rocky Mountains. Also, Arlie Nesahi and the White Eagle Singers are on a couple of tracks.

Many of the songs are dedicated to, and evoke, specific animals. Grizzly Bear Cubs features the cello of Eugene Friesen, and Moose Walk is soloed by the cont
ra-bass clarinet of Dennis Smylie.

There are bird soun
ds-- song birds and large migratory birds-- throughout the CD, within the music, and it does evoke the mountains for me, makes the air feel fresher.

Arvo Part: Spiegel Im Spiegel (Alexei Lubimov, pian
o and Kyrill Rybakov, clarinet) from Misterioso (ECM)

To continue with this CD introduced last week (see previous post), a duet piece for clarinet and piano-- stately, meditative, and perfect.

Mitsuko Uchida: Fantasia in D Minor from Mozart Sonatas (Philips)

This is one of my favourite records from the vinyl collection at the station. The longer sonatas are beautiful but this small piece fits in anywhere and enobles the whole show.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Silvestrov, Mingus, Autorickshaw: Playlist for The Open Window for November 30, 2009

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The Open Window airs at 6:30 am Mondays and 10:00 am Thursdays at (Kootenay Cooperative Radio in Nelson, B.C.) sponsored by Sidewinders Coffee in Nelson.

Valentin Silvestrov: Post Scriptum (Alexei Lubimov, piano and Alexander Trostiansky, violin) from Misterioso (ECM)

This fascinating CD
features the music of several composers from the former Soviet Union countries including the Ukrainian pianist and composer Valentin Silvestrov. He is one the many artists who suffered at the hands of the Soviet government. When he came under fire for his modernist style, he chose to withdraw from public performance of his work rather than change. He wrote a piece called Silent Songs, intended to be played in private. But that is not what we heard on this show. This piece, Post Scriptum, Silvestrov has referred to as "a postscript to Mozart, and in a broader sense, to the classical period."

Charles Mingus: Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, Stop Boogie Shuffle, Jelly Roll, Self-Portrait in Three Colours, Pussy-Cat Dues from Mingus Ah Um (Columbia)
Mingus, who died in 1979, was a big, mysterious, cantankerous task-master who was not interested in what other people, including his audiences, thought of him. When I was in the high school band at North Kamloops Secondary in the 1960's, there was a very good trumpet player named Dennis Mulligan. One day he brought this album to school and played it. It was exotically modern and mysterious. He loved it, the teacher hated it, and I was very intrigued. It may have been the first real jazz record I had ever heard. Recorded in 1959, Mingus Ah Um is considered one of Mingus' finest records, and it is also one of his most relatively sedate. In some ways it is a tribute to Ellington and other forbears. It has incredible musicians on it like Booker Ervin and Jimmy Knepper.

Autorickshaw: Purvi Tillana, Tigra Tani, and Ganamurthy from Four Higher (Tala-Wallah)

I also played th
is great band on October 26-- check out that post.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Omar Sosa, Cave Singers, Water Music, Joni Mitchell: Playlist for The Open Window for November 23, 2009

The Open Window airs at (Kootenay Co-op Radio in Nelson, B.C.) at 6:30 am Mondays and 10:00 am Thursdays, sponsored by Sidewinders Coffee in Nelson.

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Omar Sosa: Iyawo, La Tra, La Llamada, Dos Caminos, and El Consenso from Mulatos (OTA)

Omar Sosa is a Cuban pianist and band leader who has also lived in the U.S., Ecuador, and Spain. This band consists of two North Africans, four Europeans, and two Cubans. They play a mix of Cuban jazz, latin dance grooves, and North African and European folk. This CD is rather chamber-music-like, with a small group and subtle music. The Cuban reed player Paquito d'Rivera makes an appearance on clarinet, and the French musician Renaud Pion plays the astoundingly low-register contra-bass clarinet occasionally to great effect.

The Cave Singers: Summer Light and Leap from Welcome Joy (Matador)

Rich, interesting, dramatic, forlorn, spare folk music from Seattle.

Joni Mitchell: Love Puts on a New Face from Taming the Tiger (Warner)

An exquisite song from a beautiful and perhaps overlooked CD from 1998, by one of my favourite risk-takers.

Handel, Water Music Suite 3: The Hague Philharmonic conducted by Pierre Boulez from Water Music (Philips)

In 1741, an orchestra played this music on a barge on the Thames, near the King's barge, as a concert for him and his friends. A few years before that, Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks was also heard by the general public. These may have been the first public performances of classical music . Before that, European music of the great composers was played only for royalty and the upper classes.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kronos Quartet and Bon Iver: Playlist for The Open Window for November 16, 2009

The Open Window airs at (Kootenay Co-op Radio) on Mondays at 6am and Thursdays at 10 am pst.

Listen to a podcast of this show here.

Like all my shows this one is an experiment in juxtaposition or in the denial of genre, and the neighbouring of directions in this one is particulary (I hope) striking. The show moves back and forth between these two CDs:

Kronos Quartet: various tracks from Early Music (Nonesuch)

"Early music" normally refers to European music from Medieval times,
before Baroque etc. Some of that music is from that period-- for example there is a piece here by Hildegard von Bingen from the 11th century. But there is also music from modern composers like John Cage, Arvo Part, and Harry Partch. Despite this huge span of time and culture, the music somehow mysteriously works as a unified program. It's therefore the perfect CD for this show, as perfect as Kronos itself which has made a career of virtuosic and refreshing performance of music from everywhere (string quartet versions of Monk, Hendrix, Africa, Bollywood, tango, as well as lots of 20th century composers), and which may be the most often-played group on this show. So I decided to try to expand the range of Early Music even further by interspersing its music with:

Bon Hiver: For Emma, Stacks, Blindsided, Skinny Love, and Lump Sum from For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar)

It's hard to explain the beauty of this CD mainly because I don't know what to liken it to or compare it with. The songwriter-musician Justin Vernon decided to hibernate for a winter in his father's cabin the the Wisconsin forest and came out with this self-produced album of songs on which he plays and sings all parts, under the name Bon Iver. It has a gentle, raw feeling and some beautiful harmonies that are rough and elusive but that's their charm. I like to think it works with Kronos. What do you think?