Category Archives: Music Thoughts

Tristan und Isolde: A synopsis

In anticipation of seeing Tristan this September at the Met – with Nina Stemme singing and Simon Rattle conducting! – I’ve been studying the work, thoroughly, for the first time. I like to take different approaches to this, not just … Continue reading

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Play Blue for Paul Bley

There’s a photo of Paul playing with Lester Young, and then of course the sessions with Bird in Montreal 1953, released on the Uptown label. The trio record with Mingus and Blakey. And then: The Hillcrest Club. “Fire Dave Pike!” … Continue reading

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A little thought of no importance about Schoenberg’s Second String Quartet

(from my listening diary, and not fact-checked) December 31, 1936 (“I was hoping we could finish by 10:00 PM…”) Hollywood, CA; private recording produced by Alfred Newman Kolisch String Quartet: Schoenberg – Second String Quartet in F# minor, Op. 10 … Continue reading

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News From All Over

Electronic Musician and innovator Tim Perkis made the thoroughly enjoyable documentary Noisy People in 2007, profiling experimental Bay Area musicians Phillip Greenlief, Dan Plonsey, Damon Smith, Tom Djil, Cheryl Leonard, Gino Robair,Greg Goodman, and Geirge Cremaschi. He has continued this … Continue reading

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Ornette Coleman

Every time I saw him was a religious experience. His sound, his sound. His sound and song were one. His love, his beautiful benedictions. Once I was riding in a car with John Zorn and Trevor Dunn. Zorn had these mix … Continue reading

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What Key Did Erroll Garner Play It In?

     When and if science examines my brain, it will show that in the Sonny Rollins area of my brain, there is a considerable wing devoted to bassist Bob Cranshaw. So I DEVOURED Ethan Iverson’s interview with Mr. Cranshaw, … Continue reading

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Mingus Speaks, by John F. Goodman (UC Press, 2013)

Did this book get enough attention? I think it’s a major contribution to the literature. Goodman was a jazz critic for Playboy, reviewed Mingus’s 1972 so-called “comeback” concert, and began interviewing Mingus, first for an article, then for a book. … Continue reading

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A talk on mentors and influences for YBCA

Thanks very much to Myra Melford, Isabel Yrigoyen, Roko Kawai, Doug Katelus, and Anya Rome over at the Yerba Buena Center for The Arts in San Francisco. Yesterday evening I gave a presentation in their “Mentors and Influences” series. Unusually … Continue reading

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Scales: 2014 Musicians Poll Results

Most Over-rated Scale: the Diminished scale* Most Under-rated: the Chromatic scale** Most correctly rated: the Whole Tone scale Scale Deserving of Wider Recognition: the 5th mode of Melodic Minor the “Money” scale: 5th mode of Harmonic Minor Special citation, for … Continue reading

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Coltrane. Offering’s “Offering”: An Offering

     One of the highlights of the new Temple University concert is Coltrane’s late composition Offering. The only other version of this fascinating meditation on harmonic cells is on Coltrane’s final official record Expression. Since the piece so seamlessly weaves … Continue reading

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