Thursday, April 23, 2009

Silk Road, Wynton, Zorn: Playlist for Beethoven's Breakfast April 20, 2009

Beethoven's Breakfast airs at Mondays at 6:30 am PDT

Silk Road Music:
Sparkling Dew and Autumn Cloud from Autumn Cloud: A Journey With Her Pipa (Silk Road Music)

At the recent Northwest Guitar Festival in Nelson I was delighted to make the acquaintance of Qiu Xia He from China who plays the pipa, Chinese lute-like instrument, in the duo Silk Road Music. Her partner in the group is Andre Thibault, guitar. They played a lovely set of Chinese music that crossed over into Brazil, India, Morocco, and other places. Qiu Xia played one solo: a classical Chinese piece that was very moving and I think it was the first time I have ever felt that way about Chinese music which has always seemed inaccessible. I was impressed by her gentle charisma, also.

Wynton Marsalis: Haydn, Trumpet Concerto with Raymond Leppard and the National Philharmonic Orchestra (CBS)

Wynton Marsalis was just a kid when he made this record-- 20 years old. He is probably the world's most successful jazz-classical crossover artist. I am not sure how the classical music establishment views this and other classical records Marsalis has made, but to my ears he approaches this music with panache and virtuosity. Do I hear a few more more notes that are slurred, jazz-like, than we would hear from a purely classical trumpeter?

Masada String Trio:
Sippur, Taharah and Hoodaah, from The Circle Maker (Tzadik)

The wildly prolific John Zorn never stops changing. This is chamber music for string trio with influences from the worlds of jazz, klezmer, Middle Eastern and classical. It's his attempt to create a new form of Jewish music. The excellent trio members are Greg Cohen, bass; Mark Feldman, violin; and Eric Friedlander, cello. The music walks a lovely line between comfortable, gentle grooves and curious wanderings from the path.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ralph Maier, Bill Frisell, Eric Whitacre

Beethoven's Breakfast airs at 6:30 am PDT Mondays at

Ralph Maier: Fastasias 13, 10, and 3 by Luys de Narvaez, from Art of Vihuela (Ind.)

We have an annual classical guitar festival here in Nelson, B.C.

The Northwest Guitar Festival, organized by the classical guitarist Alan Rinehart, has many guest artists this year from all over including Ralph Maier from Calgary who has made this album playing the vihuela, which is a precursor to the classical guitar with 12 paired strings and a more lute-like sound than a guitar.

Bill Frisell: Shenendoah, So Lonesome I Could Cry, Wildwood Flower, and Slow Dance from The Best of Bill Frisell Vol 1, Folksongs (Nonesuch)

Stephen Fearing and I, sometime in the early 1980s I think it was, went to hear a solo concert by Bill Frisell in Vancouver before most people had ever heard of him. Here was this studious-looking young man with a couple of guitars and some electronic gadgetry. He played compositions/improvs that used delays and loops in a way neither of us had seen before , constructing little edifices that seemed about to collapse around him at any moment, but instead they miraculously hung together, stumbling brilliantly along in their own bent and hilarious sort of way.

The rest is history, or more specifically a new turn in the history of jazz guitar and in the deconstruction of music categories.

Playing folky stuff is one of many of Frisell's guitar occupations and in fact it is my least favourite. The fact that it is still more beautiful and surprising for me than most music out there is some indication of how much I love his mainstream jazz, his out-there jazz, and his blues music. For a little revelation about Bill Frisell the player of noisy, distorted blues guitar, get his early album Before We Were Born.

Eric Whitacre: I Hide Myself, I Will Wade Out, Cloudburst, and Lux Aurumque, from Cloudburst, performed by Polyphony directed by Stephen Layton (Hyperion)

This CD contains poems by Octavio Paz, Emily Dickinson, Rumi, Lorca, ee cummings, and others translated into choral music by Eric Whitacre.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Corazón and Allison Girvan: Playlist for Beethoven's Breakfast for April 6, 2009

Beethoven's Breakfast airs at 6:30 am Mondays PDT at

Corazón Vocal Ensemble (Allison Girvan, Director): Living in a Holy City, Naked as we Came, U Mandela, MLK, Lonesome Road, Turot Eszik A Cigny, One Voice, Nella Fantasia, Di Ni Siphonono and Tiregere from Voice to Voice (Independent)

Corazón was recently recognized as the Cultural Ambassador for the City of Nelson, and you can read about that in my Waking Before Dawn blog. That post also contains a bit of a tribute to Corazón from one parent speaking for many parents of teenage girls in this town.

This CD was recorded in May, 2008, at the Capitol Theatre. My daughters Laura and Rosie were two of the 50 voices in the group at that time, and had been for several years, so I am fondly familiar with all these songs in many languages and from everywhere: Namibia, Romania, Quebec, The Wailin' Jennys, James Taylor, Ennio Morricone, U2.

There were some superstar singers in the group then, but they've gone now, graduated and moved on, including Eden Richmond, Malaika Horswill, Laura Metcalfe, Oscar Derkx, Anneke McGivern, Hila Silver, and more. This is a welcome record of their inspired work. Since then, a new set of soloists and leaders has stepped forward.

The CD was produced in Nelson by Don MacDonald and Rylen Kewen.

Janos Starker: Cello Suite #2 from J.S. Bach Suites for Solo Cello (RCA)

"I was often asked why, at age 70, I am recording Bach's Suites for the fifth time when previous statements have been received with praise....Playing Bach is a never-ending quest for beauty, as well as in some sense, the truth. One only hopes to get near to it..." That's Janos Starker quoted from the notes of this 1992 recording.