Sunday, and an afternoon of Morris dancing at Lewis Creek Farm in Starksboro. Why? Blue skies, cool breezes and lilacs blooming here at the promising threshold of summertime – why not?
Archive for May, 2009
Tel Aviv-born saxophonist, clarinetist and recording label founder Anat Cohen recommends that every performer take the opportunity to be the ‘sideman’ when possible, for the tremendous experience it offers. She’s out in front this Friday evening, as part of the double billing that opens this year’s Discover Jazz Festival.
This week on World of Music we’ll give a listen to two of her recordings: Noir, and Notes from the Village, along with previews of other Festival acts. Also: jazz poetry featuring Jack Kerouac, Hayden Carruth, Langston Hughes, and Al Young’s poem “Lester Leaps In” – and, the usual juicy array of world music, classic and new! Listen to “World of Music” online (Mondays, 3-5pm EDT) or at 105.9FM in Burlington, VT.
I’m listening to New Orleans trumpeter Kermit Ruffins right now sharing his favorite BBQ recipes, on The Splendid Table. His band’s called The BBQ Swingers, and he’s known for setting up a grill near the stage to encourage spontaneous acts of audience participation in charred food. No bottles and cans allowed in the park, but what about ribs & slaw? Sounds great to me!
Seems like there’s been a lot of music in the news recently:
- This morning NPR recognized Benny Goodman’s 100th birthday anniversary – including some discussion with Anat Cohen, who’s transcribing many of Benny’s solos AND appearing at this year’s Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, later this week. (More on that in a minute).
- NPR arts reporter and producer Felix Contreras shared an overview of today’s new Latin music scene, by way of three new releases: Luz del Ritmo, from Argentina’s Los Fabulosos Cadillacs; Coba Coba, from the Afro-Peruvian groovemasters Novalima; and the lead singer from Yerba Buena, CuCu Diamantes’ debut solo effort CuCu Land , singing in a Dominican-flavored vernacular she calls “urban tropical”
- About a week ago Fresh Air reprised an interview with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, engineers of the distinct ‘Philly sound’ with classics like If You Don’t Know Me By Now
- On The Story, Dick Gordon talked to Rupa Marya about the music that lives at the intersection of her two professions: as a singer/songwriter, and medical doctor
- …and a couple of days ago I when woke up to BBC World Update I heard a really interesting story about a cellist and his ventures into experimental music. I wasn’t able to find more info about it at the BBC site. Too bad, I wanted to share the link here. Maybe you’ll have better luck – look for it in the BBC World Update on Thursday (5/28) morning.
Taking a look ahead, it’s going to be a really busy week with all of the music coming up around town. Monday promises my first experience on the Green at Shelburne Museum, with
David Byrne. The program description says “songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno”, and that probably means a generous dose of music from their new collaboration, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. Is it too much to hope that we might also get the rare treat of hearing some things (“the Jezebel Spirit” – please? Please!?) from some of their earlier work together, like the landmark electro-adventure, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts?
On Thursday evening, after the opening reception for the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, I’ll be hurrying over to UVM to catch the debut concert with trumpeter Ray Vega and his new Jazz Ensemble.
And Friday, well, that’s the start of the blur of sounds and experiences that typically characterize the time during the annual Discover Jazz Festival. As much as I usually know what I’ll be seeing and doing during the Festival, there’s often just as much that happens unexpectedly. Some of the most memorable encounters in past festivals have been the ones that weren’t planned. Like last year’s spontaneous jam session on Church Street, which started with a couple of players and picked up momentum with more and more folks stopping by, onlookers stepping aside to make way for the multiplying empty cases and trunks that accumulated in a cluttered ring around the jam. They made some noise that day!
The planned parts this week include the double-bill with Esperanza Spalding and Anat Cohen on Friday night, lots of live music and bands on Church Street and in City Park; Big Joe Burrell Day; and Belizbeha & the Country Horns next Saturday.
Stay tuned, updates coming here through the week. And by all means leave a comment here if you’re inspired to mention your own experiences or thoughts about live music this summer.
We’re just getting started, you know.
Nas with Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry: Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) / Open Remix / www.intrahealth.org/open/ – (download) – (USA / SENEGAL)
Gabriel Allegria: Summertime / Nuevo Mundo / Saponegro 2007 – (PERU)
I spent today in there, interviewing and hosting several musicians for a showcase we’re producing. It’s part of the station-wide project celebrating this year’s Lake Champlain Quadricentennial anniversary. Not sure when today’s session will air. Possibly in early July. Keep an eye here, I’ll let you know.
The day started off on the right foot (and the left, and the left-right-left!) with Lisa Ornstein and André Marchand, the French-Canadian fiddler and guitarist/singer duo. They’re in town for a concert this evening at UVM but took a little time to stop by and share some of their wide repertoire of chansons, dances, reels and other traditional tunes. They’re great. Lisa has a longstanding connection to this area, as a protégée of the legendary fiddler Louis Beaudoin. Among André’s credits is several years with Quebec’s Juno-winning La Bouttine Souriante. We all got a laugh from Lisa describing her move from Canada back to the family home, after graduating: “It was in Maine. Northern Maine. So far North in fact that when I moved back there I had to go NORTH from Québec City to get there!”Next up was one of my favorite local acts, the Burlington-based duo of Robert Resnik and Marty Morrissey. With more than 30 instruments and 50 years of experience between them (25 of those years playing together), these two really know how to share some learning, have a great time, and get everyone else involved in the fun too. And why not? There’s a lot to keep a songwriter entertained here: a rich maritime and military history, wildly unpredictable weather, breathtaking natural beauty (every season!), Champ (Lake Champlain’s elusive answer to the Loch Ness monster), farming culture, and…yep, even rock snot. And other invasive species.
After a short break we were joined by singer/songwriter Alan Greenleaf. A farmer himself, fittingly, he had spent the earlier part of the day playing at the opening weekend of a local farmer’s market. He offered a final set of original songs ranging from the whimsical to the poignant, covering everything from the flood of 1927 to the austere landscape of our northern winters, and that hallowed Vermont summertime tradition, the Strolling of the Heifers. Really. Greenleaf likes to describe this as the rare parade that’s not about wars.
This was just one of those days where I feel lucky. Blessed to live where I do, fortunate to be involved in special gatherings like this, and grateful to have the ears and eyes to be able to take it all in.
Thanks to everyone who was part of today’s recording session.
The final words for the day come from Mr. Greenleaf: “I never get tired of looking out the window. This is a beautiful place we live in, Vermont. It’s worth a lot of songs.”
For further exploration:
Robert Resnik & Marty Morrissey’s Old and New Songs of Lake Champlain
Alan Greenleaf: Singer/Songwriter/Farmer
(Lisa Ornstein’s website is currently in development. I’ll add the link here when it’s ready.)
Sometimes, when faced with a choice, the very best answer is “both”.
In this morning’s story on NPR’s Weekend Edition, Schuller recalls the revelation of hearing Duke Ellington on the radio, and telling his father that music was equal to anything Beethoven or Mozart wrote. (Heresy!)
I first encountered Gunther Schuller years ago as a beginning French Horn student. The Horn has few heroes, and he’s one. My private teacher had a whole collection of LPs on Gunther’s own label, GM Recordings – I was fascinated by its eclecticism. In fact as far as I could tell that was the only unifying element of the label’s offerings, which included Gunther conducting the great classics and his own compositions, jazz orchestras, and a wide array of unusual and exotic (to my 10-yr. old mind) contemporary music.
So it started with the Horn but the more I listened to music the more I appreciated Schuller for his non-denominational musical views, as realized in his ‘third stream’ philosophy to create a safe, academically sanctioned place for common ground between jazz and classical styles.
In my career and in my life, Schuller’s convictions have continuously served as a sort of centering source for understanding (and validating, I suppose) my own omnivorous love of all things musical. And I know he’s had the same effect on many generations of other music appreciators, all over the world.
This summer’s hot days will be more than matched by the chill grooves on Novalima’s new release, Remixed. The Afro-Peruvian band’s Coba Coba came out earlier this year on Vermont’s own Cumbancha world music label, and now many of the tunes on that recording have been worked over by world mixmasters like DJ Spam, Zeb, and Seiji. Remixed comes out on June 16th. (Look for it as a download, on CD, and on vinyl – very retro/hip!)
On this week’s World of Music we’ll sneak in a special advance preview of Remixed (shhh!), celebrate summer with several world versions of “Summertime”, and commemorate Memorial Day in songs from WWII by Count Basie, Sammy Kaye, and Glenn Miller. Listen to “World of Music” online (Mondays, 3-5pm EDT) or at 105.9FM in Burlington, VT.
Maria de Barros is the god-daughter of Cape Verde’s legendary Cesaria Evora, whose comfortable presence and symbolically shoeless performance style has earned her the nickname, “the barefoot diva”.
In last night’s show, the shoes (Maria’s) came off before the first song had even hit the chorus. It took a little while for everyone in the typically polite and reserved (Vermont) audience to come around, but by the end of the evening the chairs were pushed aside and discarded shoes lined the floor at the bottom of the stage as Higher Ground’s Showcase Lounge erupted in a world-class dance party.
Maria de Barros and her band sang and danced a warm musical embrace in a performance that exuded “morabeza” – an adjective, she said, that describes the kind hospitality and characteristically generous spirit of people from her native Cape Verde.
No surprise, then, that Morabeza is also the title of her brand new recording.
The show itself blended tunes from the new release, along with some from de Barros’ two previous recordings. Every song was sung in Portuguese, but their individual styles were as diverse as the wide cultural and historical crossroads of the West African islands themselves.
In a little over two hours, the mood bounced naturally from lilting samba and reggae grooves to emotionally infused morna love songs, and – de Barros’ specialty – outright party music in Cape Verde’s native coladeira style. Her light voice, bright smile, and radiant stage presence were a good match for the feel of the music.
I would like to have heard more from some of the individual band members. The acoustic guitarist had a little solo time in the light, as did the the percussionist. The ukulele-reminiscent cavaquinho is a curious instrument native to this kind of music, and it’s an unusual enough sight in this part of the world that it could have been featured and highlighted more than it was to give another dimension to the performance. Nice to hear (and see) it played, nonetheless.
Near the end of the concert I ran into a couple of friends who had also attended Mariza’s amazing show, back in March. Though Mariza and de Barros both sing in Portuguese, and de Barros’ style can be considered “fado informed”, it’s not truly fado music. So deeper comparisons can’t really be made between the two. My friend and I agreed; listening to these two is better thought of like appreciating the special, individual qualities of two different wines: if Mariza is port, then surely de Barros’ lighter, tropical-flavored style is Viñho Verde.
Is it a coincidence, this comparison of a ‘barefoot diva’ to wine, and wine’s inevitable associations with barefoot grape-stomping? Nah. Like spending an evening with an artist of Maria de Barros’ caliber, it’s purely intentional even if the results are happily unexpected.
Last night’s concert was the latest in the ongoing Cumbancha/Putumayo World Music series at Higher Ground, next one’s coming up on July 7th: Nigeria’s pioneering King Sunny Ade and His African Beats!
For further listening: I like Morabeza, but for the choice of tunes and the blend of instruments I probably still prefer her earlier Dança Ma Mi (“Dance With Me” – 2005, Narada Records). Try both, you sure can’t go wrong.
The day’s finally arrived, after months of anticipation – Cape Verdean singer Maria de Barros is in town for a show tonight! She’s on tour now with the new recording “Morabeza”, which was partly recorded here in Vermont at the Charles Ellers Studios.
She’s the god-daughter of Cape Verdean legend Cesaria Evora, carrying forward in that Portuguese fado-inspired tradition and bringing her own upbeat style to the music as well.
Ready to dance? Me too. What a way to launch summertime!
Doors at 7:30pm, the show starts at 8 in the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge. Click here for ticket/accessibility info.