Musical refreshment

I was going to wax philosophical in today’s blog posting...take on some subject or another such as whether and how musicians need to communicate with their audience...or the effect of the digitization of music and the written word on jazz recordings and magazines...or whether Facebook is a good tool for, well, anything...

But, I had a late rehearsal last night so I’ve decided not to take on a weighty topic for today lest I’m unable to clearly articulate my articulations. (For example—did that last sentence make any sense?) Instead I thought I would reflect briefly on the music that has moved me recently. As I sat at my desk this morning, groggy eyed and foggy brained, I wanted to find some music that would not necessarily inspire but stimulate my senses. I started online with what I think is a brilliant performance by Imogen Heap, live and solo, of her tune Just for Now. Though I’m not familiar will much of her body of work, I’m floored by what she’s able to do with just her voice, some clapping, and some looping. After Imogen I opened up iTunes and, scrolling down the list of music, decided on Maria Schneider's Allegresse (which is on in the background as I type). Just beautiful writing, and outstanding playing. A great way to clear the cobwebs.

I’ve had a few other musically meaningful moments recently. Last weekend, my wife and I watched _Throw Down Your Heart_, a documentary which follows Bela Fleck to Africa as he traces the history of the banjo. Although we didn’t actually learn a lot about where the banjo started, how it evolved, etc. (that’s clearly not the ultimate point of the film), the film features some outstanding performances by professional and amateur musicians, and is a great reminder that music goes far beyond the concert hall - in some parts of the world, it’s part of everyday life.

On Sunday night, I headed down to The Rex Hotel to catch the Marilyn Lerner Trio (with Matt Brubeck on cello and Nick Fraser on drums—also known as the Ugly Beauties). I had not yet heard Marilyn play...and the evening was a treat. The group sounded great. Interesting music, fantastic solos, really enjoyable interaction between the musicians—a lot of fun. It was a welcome way to wrap up the weekend. (Plus, I had a fabulous conversation with the 84-year-old and Rex regular Olive, who walked from her house at King and Tecumseh to get to the show...) The trio plays again this Sunday—go check them out (7 pm, pay-what-you-can).

Then, on Tuesday—and thanks to NPR—I checked out a few tracks from Brad Mehldau's new album, Highway Rider. I found them to be completely refreshing: creative, interesting writing and great performances. It hit the spot.

This weekend promises to be great for my ears too: tonight I go to see Bobby McFerrin (a birthday present for my Dad...), tomorrow afternoon I play with the Chris Hunt Tentet at the Rex, and tomorrow night I’m helping to produce the Kurt Rosenwinkel Standards Trio concert at Glenn Gould Studio. It will be a busy, but musically inspiring, 36 hours!

So—maybe next blog post I’ll take on controversial topics and use lots of big words. But for today, I’m just happy to talk about music...


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