As Cool As Ever Strumming

snowman red guitar

The Snowman with the Red Guitar — atBrooklyn Heights Promenade.

Brooklyn Poets

My wife and I were wondering what became of Strummin’ Joe: rhythm guitar troubadour, ingenious improviser, and all-around nice guy. When we last saw him, he was chicken scratching leisurely pass the last ice shelf on the left. Of course, we knew he was cool but had no idea how cool he really was (or is?).

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Remember Fender

piano73

This loomed large in my childhood legend, before I really began playing in earnest: the Fender Rhodes Electric Piano. However, what looked so state of the art then, looks rather faded now; but I could still hear the sound through the cobwebs.

A Winning Virtuosity

pulitzer

Thirty-year-old composer, violinist and singer Caroline Shaw had the surprise of her life this afternoon. Enjoying a sunny day outside, she got a call from a friend informing her that she had won the Pulitzer Prize for her Partita for 8 Voices, which she wrote for the by vocal group Roomful of Teeth, of which she is a member. Shaw is one of only a handful of female artists to have earned a Pulitzer in music — and she is the youngest composer to have won the award since its inception in 1943.  read more NPR

The Beautiful Swallow

Kristine Opolais‘s voice is one of “pliant phrasing and floating high notes.” (NY Times) She graces Puccini’s La Rondine (“The Swallow”–a long ignored opera) with casual beauty and unaffected virtuosity. This is certainly one of my favorite operas. Opolais promises to be one of my favorite sopranos. A sheer delight. “O sogno d’or, poter amar così!”

Met Opera

Threnody For A Dying Piano

solopiano2 On a cold winter morning, a lone piano stands curbside in New York City. Passersby slow, stop, and play. Some play well. All day long they collect and disperse, and into the night they measure and shove and deliberate. What if…? Can we take it? Who abandons a piano?

Plinking slightly out-of-tune over the white noise of Broadway’s cars, buses, trucks, and sirens, the piano awaits its fate. Solo, Piano – NYC is a 5-minute film [NY Times video] of the last 24 hours of a once-wanted piano. Source: Anthony Sherin

As a musician (a pianist; guitarist, too), I found this clip to be extremely poignant; a provocative elegy that is intensified simply by being understated.

A piano; an apparatus of wood, steel and ivory…but much more than that. Sharing an integral part of the human spirit, conjoined in music–even at the end, its last feeble, desperate, frantic notes clutch at harmony–; emanations of an impermanent humanity that crumbles towards an orphic eternity. Leaving  behind silence…the faint murmuring of, perhaps, untold failures and imminent greatness in its wake.

Lenny’s Self-Indulgent Mastery

 

Leonard Bernstein Conducting at Carnegie Hall c.1946-1948

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Images by William P Gottlieb

Source: William P Gottlieb’s Photographs from the Golden Age of Jazz, Library of Congress

Source: Retronaut

 

Like A Rolling Stone Waltz-Time

On one of the truly pivotal days in music history, Bob Dylan performed at the Newport Folk Festival today in 1965. Conflicting accounts of this performance exist, but regardless of whether the audience’s reaction was positive or negative, Dylan “going electric” was a defining moment in 20th century popular culture. Today’s image dates from a few weeks earlier, during the Columbia recording sessions that produced “Like A Rolling Stone.” Perhaps this photo marks the moment when Dylan was recording his long-unheard solo piano, waltz-time version of the song.

Source: Legacy Recordings