I was exposed to jazz throughout my childhood but only in my early teens did I become actively interested. Still, it was odd at first, I was more intrigued than in love. 'Round Midnight, a standard written by Thelonious Monk was my first love. It was catchy, dark, melancholic and bluesy at once. The first version I heard was performed by Monk himself, it was a live recording. I was able to rediscover the tune again and again,. Every interpretation of it retains some of the tune's haunting sensitivity. Miles Davis recorded one of the best renditions, and then there is the one I'm sharing with you here, not very well known: Joe Henderson, live at the Junk Clubin Japan, '71. It starts of with a long saxophone introduction. The space and silence in between the notes is very magnetic. Henderson was joined that night by a group of local Japanese musicians, not known internationally, and everyone is performing at their peak.
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Gnomenreigen by Franz Liszt (1811-1886). This is a short piano piece. Liszt wrote some of the most virtuosic music for piano. He is a wonderful example of someone who had it all. He was widely successful and hailed as one of greatest composers as well as the most accomplished pianist the world had known. He was an influential teacher who mentored many performers and composers. On top of that he lead a happy life, was charming and good humored.This is a great interpretation and I wanted to share that with you because it's such a great example of mastery and the complete symbiosis between the performer and his instrument. The buoyancy of the hands on the keys and the elegance in this video are irresistible.
Today, two songs written and performed by Jacques Brel. Jacques Brel was a Belgian songwriter, although the French have long claimed his music part of they own cultural heritage. He is a master of telling stories through songs and using words in a very powerful manner. I always find it mesmerizing to watch him perform or even simply talk. His intensity and presence makes it impossible to remain unmoved or indifferent.If you understand French you will enjoy the songs even more. Either case I chose clips that had English subtitles so you can appreciate the combination of the words with the music.
And "Ne me quitte pas", one of his most famous songs. It was translated in English (as "If You Go Away" although the correct translation simply means "do not leave me") and then interpreted by almost everyone from Frank Sinatra to Nina Simone and Barbara Streisand.
For a gloomy day:This is one of the most heartbreaking, sad and beautiful arias ever written. If you want to cry, this is it! It is taken from Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas which was first performed in 1688. If you ever thought that baroque music was devoid of sentimentality (or chromaticism) this will give you a completely new perspective.
(--> aria starts at 1:07)
When I am laid, am laid in earth, May my wrongs create No trouble, no trouble in thy breast; Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate. Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
One of my favorite episode in music. From Wagner's Meisersinger von Nürnberg.
Mahalia Jackson with the Duke Ellington Orchestra:
Check out Stéphane Wrembel, a great guitarist from France. I saw him perform with his band in Maplewood, NJ the other. I got to meet him recently as we worked together on one of my songs and a video.
This is a live video of him performing with his group in New York. The tune that they are performing, "Bistro Fada" is a piece that he wrote as the theme songs for Woody Allen's film "Midnight in Paris".
This is one of my all time favorites and I’m excited to share it.In 1976 Wayne Shorter released “Native Dancer”, a stunning and unconventional album. It was a fusion of jazz and Brazilian music, not however Bossa Nova. The album is a collaboration with Milton Nascimento, one of the most popular Brazilian singer-songwriters, and most of the album’s music consists of Milton’s songs backed up by Wayne Shorter’s jazz/rock/fusion sensibilities of the time. It’s a wonderful album and the song “Tarde” is one of my favorite tracks. The harmonies are rich and beautiful and Wayne Shorter’s solo is haunting. Herbie Hancock is also on the bill.