It's late and I gotta get to bed, but it's still Thursday and I don't want to miss this week's Something, so here's Something that really doesn't need much by way of introduction. Take it away, Gloria Gaynor!
Thursday, October 29, 2020
The way this works is that when someone comments, I get an email at my Gmail address telling me there's a comment to check. I do, and I publish it if it's not spam. Every so often that system gets screwed up, either by not sending the emails or by Gmail plonking them all into the spam folder. The result is comments that sit in moderation forever, until I notice by checking the "Pending Comments" thing in Blogger. I do not do this very often, which is why I just found a bunch of comments stuck in moderation. I have now published them all, and apologies if anyone was wondering why their comment didn't appear. It's not entirely my fault....
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Specifically, I did the democracy thing the other day, on Saturday, when early voting started in New York State. I got to the polling place (a local community center) about ten minutes before it opened, and at that point there was already a line, which extended into the parking lot. This was strange; the building is big and is surrounded by very ample sidewalks, and yet the people queued up in the parking lot. It took a cop to come along and tell everyone to queue on the sidewalk instead of the parking lot. People are weird.
I waited in line for probably about half an hour before I finally got inside. The attendants looked up my name and printed my ballot on the spot (hooray to New York for not passing some dumb-assed Voter ID law!), and then I voted. It definitely felt a little bit strange to vote early. With the exception of my very first election, when I was in college and thus had to vote via absentee ballot, I have always voted on Election Day at my designated polling place. It does seem odd, having joined with millions of my fellow citizens in having already voted, and yet we won't have any idea how this all turns out for at least another five days. Here's hoping it's only five days, and here's hoping that we Americans are sweeping the forty-sixth President of the United States into office on the strength of numbers too big to challenge.
Oh, and this was the first time I ever got an "I voted" sticker, so huzzah for that! That sticker is a nice accessory for my overalls, isn't it?
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Charles Lucien Lambert (1828-1896) was born a free person of color in Louisiana. A talented pianist and composer, he moved as a young man to Paris where his son Lucien-Leon joined him in music-making, and their compositions were received warmly in Europe and later in Brazil, where they eventually settled.
As always seems to be the case, I can only find the very sketchiest of biographical details about these composers. This work is an overture, apparently: it's called "Ouverture de Broceliande". I didn't even know if "Broceliande" is an opera, or an operetta, or a ballet...or if the piece if a concert overture with no theatrical work associated...until just a few minutes ago, when I turned up the fact that it's actually an overture to a grand opera about the Arthurian legend.
The work itself is a compellingly melodic and exciting piece that certainly feels like the overture to something good to follow. It even felt to me rather like the opening credits to an old-school swashbuckler movie, like a spiritual ancestor of Korngold or Steiner. The sound isn't heavily Wagnerian, though; Lambert's overture sounds more like Chausson or Saint-Saens. I hope more of the music of both Lamberts comes to light.
Friday, October 23, 2020
It's been...a week. I've had stuff to blog about, but frankly I didn't want to start pushing Julio's memorial post down the page just yet. I'll start posting again in the next few days, but for now. here's just a tiny taste of what's been going on at Casa Jaquandor:
Yeah, more on them later.
(And early voting in NY starts tomorrow! Here I come, Democracy!)
Monday, October 19, 2020
Fifteen months after his brother Lester departed, we have had to say goodbye to Julio today. They came to us as a package deal, and I hope there's some realm beyond the rain and the clouds where they can be so again.
Julio got sick recently and never really got better, and yesterday he had the kind of day that's hard not see after the fact as a farewell. He curled up in my legs last night on our bed while we watched a little teevee--one of his favorite things to do--and then he barely moved again. Today, we all agreed that it was time.
We don't know, really, how old he was, though when he came to us in early 2006 we surmised that he and Lester (who were obvious littermates, brothers through it all) were around a year old, maybe a little more. Fifteen years isn't so bad for a cat...except for it being too short.
We are not catless...but more on that another time. For now, goodbye, Julio. I guess now I'll keep my feet warm when I'm sitting at my desk by wearing socks. Seems boring and inadequate, but you're off for new adventures now.
Thursday, October 15, 2020
The other night I was looking for some new Celtic music to listen to, so I hopped on over to Google and searched for "Best Celtic Albums of 2020" (or maybe it was 2019). This brought up several articles, and in one of those articles I found mention of an album by a band called "Soulsha". Soulsha hails from Boston, MA, and they aren't just a Celtic band: they perform a fusion of Celtic and African music, which is a mix that just sounds fascinating, doesn't it? Can you imagine blending those two highly melodic and rhythmic musical heritages?
Well, Soulsha can imagine it. This is from their website:
Soulful call and response singing, masterful improvisation, traditional Senegalese and Scottish dancing and incredible energy make every Soulsha show an unforgettable live experience. Intricate rhythms, soaring bagpipe melodies, and New Orleans-infused horn lines come together seamlessly, and the joy of music rises above all differences, reminding us that we’re all in this together.
The band formed through a series of serendipitous meetings in the thriving and intersecting multi-cultural melting pot of Boston. Many of the members are virtuosic and highly esteemed tradition-bearers in their styles. In Soulsha, they saw a chance to bridge divides. The music they’ve created is a conversation between cultures that breaks down all the boundaries, moving the audience to abandon their assumptions as they lose themselves on the dance floor.
While it shares obvious roots with Afro-Celt Sound System’s electronic fusion, the funk-inspired sound of Soulsha puts tradition and interchange center stage, bringing the party energy of Rebirth Brass Band, and the cultural gravitas of masters like Malian Toumani Diabaté.
I listened to their debut album, Carry It On, and I found it an absolute delight. Their music just teems with energy, and the influences of both the Celtic side and the African side can be distinctly heard, and those two styles play together much more easily than one might think at first. Here is "Rhythm's In the Melody", a single from Soulsha's debut album. Enjoy!
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Today I heard a striking choral work on WNED, but I missed the piece's introduction. I'm old enough to remember when this kind of thing was a pain! If you heard a song or piece but you missed the radio personality's intro, you had to wonder what the song was and hope to hear it again. Nowadays, with WNED, I can go to the station's website and look at their playlist to figure out what I heard...or I can actually hold my phone up to the speaker and let it listen to the piece and try to identify it. This works a surprising amount of the time. Yes, I'm still vexed that we don't have moonbases and giant spaceships under construction to launch Phase One of our colonization of Mars, but a device in my pocket that can (among other things) identify music? Now that is something.
The piece was "i carry your heart" by Eric Whitacre. It's a setting of a poem by e.e. cummings, whose birthday it is today, which I suppose is the "hook" that WNED cited to play the piece. You can read cummings's poem here (I would reproduce it here directly, but it's cummings, which means that the typography is important and I don't want to screw it up), and the ever-brilliant Sheila O'Malley has a big post about cummings here.
And here is "i carry your heart" by Eric Whitacre. It's quite a wonderful piece, at times evocative of plainchant or a medieval madrigal.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Admittedly, I am phoning it in a little this week. Here's a virtuoso showpiece for cornet and wind band, setting the Italian folksong "The Carnival of Venice", as played by Wynton Marsalis and the Eastman Wind Ensemble, conducted by Donald Hunsberger. Many a high school and college trumpet player was driven to heights of hero-worship which Marsalis released this album back in 1988 or so.
Monday, October 12, 2020
Autumn is turning out to be quite lovely this year. I remember a recent October--maybe last year's?--where it was just kind of rainy and unpleasant the whole month and then it was November and all the leaves fell at once and it felt like fall never actually happened. Anyhow, here's a photographic glimpse into how Autumn has been going in my neck of the woods. I hope yours is as lovely!
Wednesday, October 07, 2020
Tuesday, October 06, 2020
Edward Bland (1926-2013) was a composer and filmmaker who may be best known for a film he made in 1959, The Cry of Jazz, which has been deemed sufficiently significant in the history of Black filmmaking that it has been named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. (You can watch the film on YouTube, here.)
I haven't been able to find a whole lot of biographical information on Bland, but he grew up in interesting circles: his father was a postal worker who moonlighted as an amateur literary critic, and thus knew such luminaries as Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks. Bland himself would study music at the American Conservatory before going on to a lengthy career as a composer and teacher.
This work, Piece for Chamber Orchestra, is an interesting work of stark modernism. Bland apparently described it as "the piece I wanted to write after I heard The Rite of Spring," and the debt to Stravinsky can definitely be heard in the demanding rhythms and harmonic language. The piece is strongly rhythmic and consists of a lengthy conversation between the instruments of Bland's orchestra. Listening to it, I can just imagine the level of musical awareness this piece demands of its performers, as the individual voices are almost improvisatory in nature, and yet everything has to mesh together. If you respond to Modern music at all, you will surely find Piece for Chamber Orchestra by Edward Bland a fascinating listen.
Monday, October 05, 2020
In Larry McMurtry's great Western novel Lonesome Dove, for much of the novel the point of view changes between the main story (a group of Texas cattlemen leading their herds north for selling) and a secondary plot in which we follow the nasty adventures of Dan Suggs and his brothers, who are a murderous trio of guys, killing and robbing their way across the prairie. About two-thirds of the way through the book, our lawful cattlemen meet Suggs and his brothers, and they manage to subdue them quickly and make ready to hang them from the nearest tree. But to their surprise, they find that a friend of theirs, a guy named Jake, has fallen in with the Suggs crew.
Jake is not a bad guy, but he's something of a ne'er-do-well who makes his living lurching from town to town, gambling and drinking and whoring and doing it all some more. It's been a while since I read the book, so I don't remember how it is that he falls in with Suggs and his brothers, but he does, and McMurtry captures his disquiet well as he witnesses murder and crime after murder and crime.
But when our heroes, William Call and Augustus McCray, defeat Suggs and company and get them all tied up in order to mete out cowboy justice, this brief conversation transpires:
Call went over to Jake. Deets [one of their companions] seemed hesitant to tie him, but Call nodded and covered Jake with his rifle while Deets tied his hands. As he was doing it Pea Eye and Newt [two more of their companions] came over the hill with the horses.
"Call, he don't need to tie me," Jake said. "I ain't done nothing. I just fell in with these boys to get through the Territory. I was aiming to leave them the first chance I got."
Call saw that Jake was so drunk he could barely sit up.
"You should have made your chance a little sooner, Jake," Augustus said. "A man that will go along with six killings is making his escape a little slow."
I've been thinking about that passage ever since our President made a video, aimed at his fans, regarding his experience with COVID-19 and his intention to leave the hospital later today. After having spent the last bunch of months spreading all manner of misinformation about the pandemic that is gripping the world, decided to record a video for his fans last night, in which he said, among other things, that he's "learned so much" about the disease.
He's "learned so much".
Imagine that. This many months after the pandemic began, this many months after lock-downs and scenes of horror in New York City, this many months after case spikes and the death rate never going down to zero, this many months of America just existing with this damned thing, arguing over masks and "mah rights"...now our President has "learned so much".
The time to learn so much would have been the beginning, sir. The time to learn so much would have been in the very beginning, when you would have learned so much from the pandemic team the previous administration left in place, had you not dismissed it.
You should have made your chance a little sooner, Mr. President. A man that will go along with two hundred thousand deaths is "learning so much" a little slow.
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