Jacques Brel - Il nous faut regarder

May we find consolation in the voice and words of Jacques Brel whose 1954 song “Il nous faut regarder” rings as true as ever.
The English translation was written by the singer-songwriter Marc Almond.

Behind the dirt
Sprawled before us
Behind narrow eyes
And faces of fat
Beyond those hands
Opened or closed
That strain in vain
Or raise their fists
Further than frontiers
That barb our path
Further than misery
We must look

We must look at
What is beauty
The grey sky or blue
The women by the stream
The faithful friend
Tomorrow's sun
The flight of the swallow
The boat that returns
The faithful friend
Tomorrow's sun
The flight of the swallow
The boat that returns

Beyond the concert
Of sobs and tears
Of cries of anger
Of men in fear
Beyond the din of
Streets and singers
Of warning sirens
Of swearing porters
Stronger than children
Who recount the wars
And stronger than
The great who've made us make them

We must listen to
The bird in the wood
The murmur of summer
The rising of blood
The mothers' soft songs
The children's prayer
And the noise of the earth
Gently falling to sleep
The mothers' soft songs
The children's prayer
And the noise of the earth
Gently falling to sleep

Derrière la saleté.
S'étalant devant nous
Derrière les yeux plissés
Et les visages mous
Au-delà de ces mains
Ouvertes ou fermées
Qui se tendent en vain
Ou qui sont poings levés
Plus loin que les frontières
Qui sont de barbelés
Plus loin que la misère
Il nous faut regarder

Il nous faut regarder
Ce qu'il y a de beau
Le ciel gris ou bleuté
Les filles au bord de l'eau
L'ami qu'on sait fidèle
Le soleil de demain
Le vol d'une hirondelle
Le bateau qui revient
L'ami qu'on sait fidèle
Le soleil de demain
Le vol d'une hirondelle
Le bateau qui revient

Par-delà le concert
Des sanglots et des pleurs
Et des cris de colère
Des hommes qui ont peur
Par-delà le vacarme
Des rues et des chantiers
Des sirènes d'alarme
Des jurons de charretier
Plus fort que les enfants
Qui racontent les guerres
Et plus fort que les grands
Qui nous les ont fait faire

Il nous faut écouter
L'oiseau au fond des bois
Le murmure de l'été
Le sang qui monte en soi
Les berceuses des mères
Les prières des enfants
Et le bruit de la terre
Qui s'endort doucement.
Les berceuses des mères
Les prières des enfants
Et le bruit de la terre
Qui s'endort doucement.

 

Music of the Day #36: Marietta's Lied

Last Saturday, a friend of mine forwarded me a recording of an aria. I had worked throughout the day and took a break to listen to this heartwarming music. Everything seemed to slow down and only then did I realize what a glorious day this had been. A crisp cold fall day, blinding sun, blue and cloudless skies. I put the music on repeat, grabbed my camera and began to capture the moment. Yellow cabs, trucks, bikers and pedestrians turned into props and actors; New York into the dead city. In case you were wondering, the aria is "Marietta’s Lied” from Korngold’s opera "Die tote Stadt”, sung by Leontyne Price.I hope that the resulting video will convey a piece of the moment to you.

Glück, das mir verblieb, rück zu mir, mein treues Lieb. Abend sinkt im Hag bist mir Licht und Tag. Bange pochet Herz an Herz Hoffnung schwingt sich himmelwärts.

Wie wahr, ein traurig Lied. Das Lied vom treuen Lieb, das sterben muss. Ich kenne das Lied. Ich hört es oft in jungen, in schöneren Tagen. Es hat noch eine Strophe -- weiß ich sie noch?

Naht auch Sorge trüb, rück zu mir, mein treues Lieb. Neig dein blaß Gesicht Sterben trennt uns nicht. Mußt du einmal von mir gehn, glaub, es gibt ein Auferstehn. Happiness that has stayed with me, move up close my true love. evening in the grove is waning, yet you are my light and day. Heart beats heart uneasily, while hope soars heavenward.

How true, a mournful song. The song of the true love bound to die. I know this song. I often heard it when young in happier days of yore. There is yet another stanza - have I still got it in mind?

Though dismal sorrow draws nigh, move close beside me, my true love. Turn your wan face to me death will not part us. When your hour of death does come believe that you will rise again.

Music of the Day #34: Cyrus von Hochstetter - In Darkness Still

I am happy to announce the release of my new song 'In Darkness Still'. This is the first release of a series of songs that I have been recording for the past year.You can listen to the song here. It is now available on iTunes and Amazon or directly through bandcamp I hope you enjoy it!

words, music, vocals and piano: Cyrus von Hochstetter

bass clarinet: Jay Rattman

trombone: Ryan Keberle

guitar: Kruno Spisic

bass: Brian Torff

drums: Warren Odze

tracking and mixing: Louis Brown assistant engineer: Tyler Hartman

lyrics

Ask this man what happens when all is said and done he'll say to you as always there's nothin' new under the sun

I dreamed of love by the Caspian sea I fled every soul who believed in me I found myself a weepin' willow tree and remain in darkness still

ooh ooh ah ah ooh ah and you say it ain't right, no ooh ooh ah ah ooh ah but I say it's all right it's just all right

The lights shine on and the clock ticks I learned all the rules I tried everything they preach but I forgot my name when I heard her heartbeat and held a blade in between my fingertips

I don't know how many words I spoke I've lost count of all the masks I broke the only place that calls me home is where I remain in darkness still

ooh ooh ah ah ooh ah and you say it ain't right, no ooh ooh ah ah ooh ah but I say it's all right it's just all right

Now, go away it's all been said and done you remind me of myself and you're someone else's son

and sometimes the world just smells like piss and on those days all I can say is this better cry your way through the night or remain in darkness still

Music of the Day #33 - Terry Reid: July

Before this month ends, I'd like to share the song "July" by the British singer, songwriter and guitarist Terry Reid. I recently discovered this song while watching the 2012 documentary "The Summit" which covers the tragic outcome of a K-2 expedition. In the late 60s, Jimmy Page wanted Terry Reid as the singer for his newly formed group the New Yardbirds. Terry Reid declined and recommended Robert Plant instead. The group shortly after changed their name to Led Zeppelin. Later on, Terry Reid was also asked to join Deep Purple which he declined as well, focusing on a solo career instead. It's a beautifully introspective and melancholic song delivered in a wailing and improvised tone. I hope that you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

July by Terry Reid

Thought that in July that we could buy the months of may and the time for the lines I couldn't make

sun sea and spray is where you lay so peacefully like a stone sown by land and sea

red from red to brown from brown to gold and out of view still the sun is beating down, beating down onto your body like the sun rose out the dew

ahhh, if we ever meet again I won't be sorry won't even worry, won't even care just as long as you can make it out you'll be there, oh that's right

red from red to brown from brown to gold and out of view till the sun is beating down beating down onto your body like I know some rose out you

wah, if we ever meet again I know I wont' be sorry won't even worry won't even care

just as long as you can show me the one thing come on girl make it out, why won't you be there 'cause you're the one i love you're the one I love, you're the one I love, you're the one I love

Music of the Day #32 - Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks: Woe The Luck

Recently I went on a brief musical tour through Minnesota, North Dakota and St. Louis (here's a photo). Driving through St. Louis, I found a great local radio station that was airing a good mix of blues and (old) R'n'B. One evening, just as I was crossing the Mississippi river and driving into Illinois, the station aired a song that surprised me in a wonderful way. The song, obviously an older recording, struck a good balance between being catchy and folky while at the same time containing a good portion of out-of-genre elements (the vocal harmonies, abrupt change of key, etc.) to keep you slightly dazzled and astonished. I found the song truly refreshing and fortunately I was able to catch the artist's name: Dan Hicks. I read a little bit about him. Here are a few descriptive line from allmusic.com: Throughout his decades-long career, Dan Hicks stood as one of contemporary music's true eccentrics. While steeped in folk, his acoustic sound knew few musical boundaries, drawing on country, call-and-response vocals, jazz phrasing, and no small amount of humor to create a distinctive, albeit sporadic, body of work that earned him a devoted cult following.

The song is called Woe, The Luck and it was released on the 1972 album Striking It Rich by Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks. You can listen to the song below. I hope you enjoy it.

Music of the Day - Cucurrucucú Paloma

The other day I watched the Pedro Almodovar movie "Habla Con Ella" and there's a very beautiful performance by the Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso. The song Cucurrucucú Paloma is actually an old Mexican song and has been performed and recorded by many musicians, including Harry Belafonte who sang it at his famous Carnegie Hall concert. I became very fond of the song and was curious to hear a Mexican version of it. I found that the most original rendition is considered to be by the Mexican singer Lola Beltrán.I share with you both renditions of the song. Caetano Veloso's recording is the version featured on "Hable Con Ella". There are many different versions recorded by Lola Beltrán. I'm choosing a version that seems more obscure (in other words: not included on every single best-of compilation) and that I found had a lot of depth.

 

Caetano Veloso's version:

Lola Beltrán's version:


Dicen que por las noches no mas se le iba en puro llorar, dicen que no comía no mas se le iba en puro tomar; juran que el mismo cielo se estremecía al oír su llanto Cómo sufrió por ella, que hasta en su muerte la fué llamando:

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, lloraba, ay, ay, ay, ay, gemía, ay, ay, ay, ay, cantaba de pasión mortal moría.

Que una paloma triste muy de mañana le va a cantar a la casita sola con sus puertitas de par en par; juran que esa paloma no es otra cosa mas que su alma, que todavía la espera a que regrese la desdichada.

Cucurrucucú, paloma, cucurrucucú, no llores. Las piedras jamás, paloma qué van a saber de amores.

Cucurrucucú, cucurrucucú, cucurrucucú, paloma no llores

Music of the Day - Rosalyn Tureck

On Sunday, Dec. 15th 2013, the Tureck Bach Research Institute commemorated the piano / keyboard artist Rosalyn Tureck with performances and presentations to mark the 100 years since her birth and 10 years since her death.Rosalyn Tureck is particularly associated with Bach and her love of the composer’s music is exhuberantly felt when hearing her performances, many of which were recorded on video. In a short scene that was screened at the event, Tureck plays Bach’s famous C Major Prelude on harpsichord, then on clavinet and finally on the piano. It was interesting to hear the different interpreatations that she chose for each of the instruments (Tureck was also known to play Bach on the Moog synthesizer). When she played the Prelude on the piano I was able to rediscover the composition anew. The prospect of hearing the C major Prelude, being that it is such a popular piece and often played by young student, usually doesn't thrill me. But I was so captivated by Tureck’s performance that she made me anticipate and wonder what was going to happend next as if I had never heard the piece before. A few days after, my piano teacher who had also attended the event, showed me a video of Tureck playing the Adagio in G major. I won’t loose too many words on it since this is the piece of music that I am sharing with you today, but my reaction to it was that her performance transcended the “Bach-ness”. By this I mean that the music and expression in her playing was so prominent that it freed me from a kind of listening that would evaluate what is being heard in connection to what is already known about the music, the style or period of Bach. Instead, her playing led me straight to the heart, timelessness and immortality of the composition.

 

Music of the Day - Bob Dylan: Mama, You Been On My Mind

Often covered by other musicians, the original recording of “Mama, You Been On My Mind” has remained in the shadows as it wasn’t included on any Bob Dylan’s studio albums. He recorded the song in 1964, however it was officially released only in 1991 as part of “The Bootleg Series”.It is a very moving song with beautiful lyrics. Some of the versions recorded by other musicians that I've heard, in my opinion, focus too much on this aspect, and as a result the song tends to become overly embellished and sentimental. Dylan’s delivery on the contrary is deceivingly ernest and straight-forward, sounding almost detached, and I find that it makes for a more subtle and noble sentiment.

 

 

 

Bob Dylan - Mama, You Been On My Mind 1964

Perhaps it's the color of the sun cut flat And covering the crossroads I'm standing at, Or maybe it's the weather or something like that, But mama, you been on my mind.

I don't mean trouble, please don't put me down or get upset, I am not pleading or saying "I can't forget you." I do not pace the floor bowed down and bent, but yet, Mama, you been on my mind.

Even though my eyes are hazy and my thoughts they might be narrow, Where you been don't bother me or bring me down in sorrow. It don't even mind who you'll be waking with tomorrow, Mama, you're just on my mind.

I'm not asking you to say words like "yes" or "no," Please understand me, I have no place I'm calling you to go. I'm just whispering to myself, so I can't pretend that I don't know, Mama, you are on my mind.

When you wake up in the morning, baby, look inside your mirror. You know I won't be next to you, you know I won't be near. I'd just be curious to know if you can see yourself as clear As someone who has had you on his mind.

Music of the Day - 'Sonnet in Search of a Moor'

'Sonnet in Search of a Moor' is a wonderful little composition by Duke Ellington and one of the lesser known pieces on the ’57 Album ‘Such Sweet Thunder’. The album is a series of pieces that drew their inspiration from the works of Shakespeare. I’ve always loved this particular composition for its understated and quiet brilliance. It is concise, catchy, unconventional and dense in a way that will keep you on your toes. A sort of amuse-bouche that makes you curious for more, without giving you more, when I first encountered this piece I couldn’t help but listen to it ad nauseam. 

Music of the Day - Leon Russell

I am often surprised that many are unfamiliar with Leon Russell (either that, or they adore him), given the fact that he has been one of the largest contributor to American music in the 70s and 80s. Most are very familiar with his songs as they were made famous by other recording artists. "A Song for You" for instance is an American classic probably most famous through Donny Hathaway or The Carpenters but every imaginable pop/rock musician has performed or recorded this song. More recently, the jazz pianist Herbie Hancock did a version with Christina Aguilera. "This Masquerade" is also a Leon Russell original, which most will know as a George Benson song. While Leon Russell's music is all pervasive, his own recordings of those songs are rather obscure. I have always favored his own versions of any of his songs, I find them to be more raw, more unique. They are beautiful, yet Leon Russell never tries to make them come across as pretty.Leon Russell's albums in general are eclectic. His first albums (beginning in 1970) were a fusion of rock 'n' roll, country, gospel and pop. For me they acted as a "gateway" into the world of country music.

Here is the original recording of "A Song for You":

AND, my favorite interpretation of that song other than Russell's is Willie Nelson's. I love his sparse and subtle approach to it:

Music of the Day - Clarence Penn

Last Friday I spent an evening at the Jazz Gallery which relocated to a new place just a few steps from where I live. The bill for that night was drummer Clarence Penn's band with pianist Gerald Clayton, saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown and bassist Yasushi Nakamura. I hadn't heard Clarence Penn before and was mesmerized. His rhythmic precision, innovation and the joy and celebration in his playing was one of a kind. The entire band shared the same enthusiasm that night and it was one of the best jazz performances I had heard in a while. First thing I did when arriving home was to search for youtube videos of Clarence Penn and I found an excellent piece. This is with a trio that features Kenny Drew Jr., a phenomenal and extremely versatile pianist that I met briefly after moving to New York.Enjoy!

Music of the Day - Jimmy Rosenberg

You must watch this video.I am working on a song of mine that I am to record soon. The song has a slight gipsy jazz sensitivity to it and I've spent some time listening to this type of music and performers of this style. My engineer just turned me on to this video. Jimmy Rosenberg is a true Romani guitarist, and Frank Vignola is now a very renown American guitar virtuoso. This is a video of them jamming in their hotel room after a performance at Carnegie Hall. I like how the drummer Joe Ascione turns a stack of telephone books into the most swinging drum set.

Music of the Day - Only The Lonely

This music is a more recent discovery for me. I haven't been particularly exposed to Frank Sinatra. However, during my travels with the music group I was touring with over the last months, the leader, Michael, took advantage of the many hours spent traveling by car to share his passion for the music of Frank Sinatra. He explained in many details the differences between Sinatra's collaborations with various arrangers such as Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins and Billy May. For Michael, there were no doubts that Sinatra's best work had been with Nelson Riddle. He found Nelson Riddle's arrangement to add weight, depth and complexity where other arrangers would not go beyond light-hearted swinging affairs. And to illustrate this he played us the album "Only the Lonely". I was mesmerized by the opening track, the jazz standard "What's New", and everyone became very quiet in the car. Even after the piece was over none of us felt like speaking for a considerable time. Indeed, this was not the kind of music that I had commonly associated with Sinatra, much darker and chromatic, layered. Whether this is an old-familiar tune or unknown territory for you, here is the piece of music I wish to share with you today:

Music of the Day - New world Symphony

Happy July 4th!Today I am sharing with you an extensive work of music: Anton Dvořák's 9th Symphony. Dvořák was a Czech composer and followed a nationalistic tendency in his music merging folk music with symphonic forms. In 1892 Dvořák arrived to the United States and became the director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York. He was fascinated with the idioms of American music and engaged in using them to create music the way he had used traditional Czech elements. The New York Philharmonic commissioned Dvořák to write his 9th Symphony which is known as the "New World Symphony".

Here is the 2nd movement of it, Largo, performed by the New York Philharmonic. I chose this movement for it's slow pace and glorious expression. I live in a congested part of Manhattan but today I hear no honking and the streets are hauntingly calm: