Music Notes The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes.html Wed, 26 Jun 2019 23:54:45 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb One Way Out http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/25471-one-way-out.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/25471-one-way-out.html One Way Out

Most successful groups usually have one dominant member (maybe two) who provides the artistic vision the rest can respect and rally around. The Allman Brothers Band was largely Duane’s conception, and it was his unflagging energy and incredible guitar playing that drove them to mesmerizing heights as they blended rock, jazz, blues and country in new and exciting ways. Unfortunately, the guitarist was killed in a motorcycle accident in October of ’71 just as the band was achieving large-scale commercial recognition.

One way Out

With slide guitar genius Duane Allman at the helm, the Brothers started out strong and sure. They went from strength-to-strength in the late Sixties and early Seventies, becoming one of the world’s truly inspired improvising bands as evidenced by their landmark 1971 live recording at the Fillmore East of New York City. In the concert The Allman Brothers Band have been playing (a.o.) 'One Way Out'. A live recording was included on their 1972 album "Eat a Peach." This was indeed recorded at the Fillmore East, but unlike the March 1971 live material used on the rest of "Eat a Peach" and "At Fillmore East," 'One Way Out' was recorded at the venue's final show on June 27, 1971.

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Allman Brothers Band - At Fillmore East (1971)

 

Still a mystery who wrote 'One Way Out'. As with many blues songs, the history of "One Way Out" falls into murk. On the Allman Brothers releases, 'One Way Out' is credited to Marshall Sehorn and Elmore James. Sehorn was a musician who became southern promotion man for the Fire and Fury labels. He put his name on Elmore's recording.

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Allman Brothers Band - Eat a Peach (1972)

 

Common practice then…and theft. Sehorn would eventually receive songwriting credit (and the royalty payments) for over 350 songs recorded in the 1960s. He went on to form a company with Allen Toussaint, helping the the Neville Brothers obtain a recording contract and recording numerous New Orleans legendary musicians. As this story is aimed at blues listeners…he also claimed writing credits with Lighntin' Hopkins. Here is Sehorn, a fellow who LOOKS like an adulterer who might skulk out a second floor window, but not really a bluesman. He didn't write it.

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Marshall Sehorn

 

It seems 'One Way Out' to have been originally recorded by Elmore James at Beltone Studios in New York City in late 1960 or early 1961. A radio repairman by trade, Elmore James was known to have rewired his amplifiers to get a distorted sound, years before distortion became a key element of rock and roll. It features a full band arrangement with a four-piece horn section providing some counterweight to his sliding guitar lines and half-screamed vocals. James appears not to have released it at that time.

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Elmore James - One Way Out (1965)

 

Instead, Sonny Boy Williamson II reworked and recorded it for Chess Records in Chicago in September 1961, releasing it shortly thereafter. He would then return and re-record a different working of it in September 1964, again for Chess in Chicago, this time with Buddy Guy on guitar and Lafayette Leake on piano. The two efforts were substantially different, with one dominated by harmonica playing while the second version is faster and features a more prominent guitar riff as well as the having the band drop out when Sonny Boy sings “Might be your man . . I don’t know”. These elements will show up in the Allman Brothers version.

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Sonny Boy Williamson II - One Way Out (1962)

 

Subsequently, the initial Elmore James version of "One Way Out" was posthumously released in 1965, using it as the B-side of his single "My Bleeding Heart" for Sphere Sound Records. But by now, the song was associated with Sonny Boy not him.

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Sonny Boy Williamson II - One Way Out (1965)

 

In mid-1965, bluesman G.L. Crockett, from Carrollton, Mississippi, released yet another reworking of the song, now called "It's a Man Down There". It featured a slower tempo, a softer blues vocal line apparently styled after Jimmy Reed. "It's a Man Down There" became a big hit in R&B circles, reaching number 10 on the Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles chart, and qualified the otherwise obscure Crockett for one-hit wonder status. Songwriting credits on this reworking appear to have been given to Crockett and one Jack Daniels. The Crockett track was included on the Time-Life album "Living the Blues: 1965-69," part of the "Living the Blues" series. Indeed, so much was the vocal style like Reed, that Reed himself then recorded an answer song later that year, entitled "I'm the Man Down There", which became a small hit.

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G.L. Crockett

 

Returning to the original title, in this punchy, dynamic performance, the Allmans demonstrated their abilities in the blues-rock roadhouse style. The live recording has all the elements that made them unique: the relentless beat of two drummers, the intertwining guitars of Dickey Betts and Duane Allman and Gregg Allman’s gruff vocals.

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Jimmy Reed - I'm the Man Down There (1965)

 

Guitarist Dickey Betts starts with a variation of the Sonny Boy Williamson riff (second version). He is then joined by the rest of the band with Duane Allman’s slide guitar riff on top of Dickey’s part. It’s interesting to note while Dickey’s guitar riff changes with the tune’s chord progression, Duane’s part does not, providing shifting harmony to the main riff as the tune progresses. Also note the change in the rhythm section from the tight riff under the vocal verses to the more open ended feel during the guitar solos. After Betts’ guitar solo, Duane Allman and Betts trade guitar licks over just the drums before the full band re-enters going into Duane Allman’s slide solo.

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The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East, NYC 1971

 

The Allman Brothers Band were one of those groups whose music infiltrated the musical landscape. Unfortunately, the band got wrapped up in the deleterious side effects of rock and roll early on, and the damage started to show just as the band finally achieved success. In 1970, Twiggs Lydon, on the road with the band, stabbed and killed a promoter at a bar. Duane and three other band/crew members checked themselves into rehab in 1971. Duane died in a motorcycle crash in 1971, just weeks after the release of At Fillmore East. Bassist Berry Oakley died in 1972, also on a motorcycle, three blocks from Duane’s accident.

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Allman Brothers Band - One Way Out (1972)

 

One Way Out, The Allman Brothers Band lyrics


Ain't but one way out baby, Lord I just can't go out the door.
Ain't but one way out baby, and Lord I just can't go out the door.
Cause there's a man down there, might be your man I don't know.

Lord you got me trapped woman, up on the second floor;
If I get by this time I won't be trapped no more.
So raise your window baby, and I can ease out soft and slow.
And lord, your neighbors, no they won't be
Talking that stuff that they don't know.

Lord, I'm foolish to be here in the first place,
I know some man gonna walk in and take my place.
Ain't no way in the world, I'm going out that front door
Cause there's a man down there, might be your man I don't know.
Cause there's a man down there, might be your man I don't know.
Cause there's a man down there,

Lord, it just might happen to be your man...
Lord, it just a might be your man,
Mmm-mm-mmm-mm...
Lord, it just a might be your man,
Oh baby, I just don't know...

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Duane Allman

 

 

 

The Allman Brothers Band - One Way Out - At Fillmore East 1971

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Blues Notes Mon, 24 Jun 2019 20:02:18 +0000
Pink Floyd ‎– Definitive Westworld: Cymbaline http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/30-rock/25385-bethel-music-have-it-all.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/30-rock/25385-bethel-music-have-it-all.html

Pink Floyd ‎– Definitive Westworld: Cymbaline (1970)

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Rock Notes Wed, 05 Jun 2019 21:52:40 +0000
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/29-pop/25359-the-first-time-ever-i-saw-your-face.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/29-pop/25359-the-first-time-ever-i-saw-your-face.html The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

When an artist puts a definitive stamp on a song, it can sometimes obscure the history behind its writing. Such is the case with Roberta Flack’s languorous, luscious performance of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” Flack included it on a 1969 album titled "First Take," where it languished relatively unknown until it appeared in the 1971 Clint Eastwood flick "Play Misty For Me." A year later it was released as a single, becoming a #1 Billboard hit for a stunning six-week run at number one on both the pop and adult contemporary charts while peaking at number four R&B in the spring of 1972. Its success spurred the two-year-old 'First Take' to gold status. The song won Grammy for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

The song's origins, however, are neither pop nor R&B. British communist folksinger Ewan MacColl (1915-1989) wrote the ballad in 1957 for the woman he loved: American folksinger Peggy Seeger, the half-sister of Pete Seeger. There are two different versions of the story of its origins. MacColl, who died thirty years ago, used to say that he had sung it down the telephone to Peggy, who was on tour at the time in America. He had been forced to stay behind in England because the US authorities believed he was too dangerous a subversive to be given a visa, and he claimed to have composed it off-the-cuff when Peggy said she needed a two-and-a-half- minute song to fill a gap in her show.

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Roberta Flack - "First Take", album 1969

 

Peggy Seeger had met MacColl in 1956; she was 20, he was 40 and married - for the second time - with a young son. They started an affair, and at the beginning of 1957 Seeger returned to her father's house in California. 'Things were so confused between me and Ewan that I went home,' she says. 'He used to send me tapes with him talking on them, and one of them had him singing 'The First Time Ever' on it . . . The intensity of it quite frightened me.'

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Peggy Seeger

 

Seeger’s description of how they fell in love is far from starry or sweet. He had, she recalls, a 'hairy, fat, naked belly poking out, and was clad in ill-fitting trousers, suspenders, no shirt, a ragged jacket and a filthy lid of stovepipe hat aslant like a garbage can.' On their first night together he couldn’t get it up. The second time round there was time for a quickie. 'I was discomfited but compliant.'

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Ewan MacColl

 

MacColl’s lyrics are an ode to the heady rush of new romance. The outsized poetic imagery in the song is perfectly in tune with that first flush of excitement and rapture. So it’s understandable that the narrator believes that his lover’s eyes command the heavens and her kiss moves the Earth. When he makes love to her for the first time, all of these assumptions are verified; there can be no doubt that “our joy/ Would fill the earth/ And last till the end of time.” Ewan MacColl must have loved Peggy Seeger very much because this description of a tentative first kiss is achingly beautiful…the “trembling heart of a captive bird” line especially so.

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Peggy Seeger & Ewan MacColl

 

While the lyrics are tender and heartfelt, the tune is what elevates the song, literally and figuratively. The melodic leap it takes in each verse mirrors that emotional surge that shakes the narrator to his core every time he shares a novel experience with this woman. MacColl might have known that this leap would perfectly suit Seeger’s vocal range when she performed it, but that soaring turn in the song was likely a manifestation of his feelings for her as well.

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Peggy Seeger & Ewan MacColl

 

The song entered the pop mainstream when it was released by the Kingston Trio on their 1962 hit album New Frontier and in subsequent years by other pop folk groups such as Peter, Paul and Mary, The Brothers Four, and the Chad Mitchell Trio, and by Gordon. MacColl made no secret of the fact that he disliked all of the cover versions of the song. His daughter-in-law wrote: "He hated all of them. He had a special section in his record collection for them, entitled 'The Chamber of Horrors'. He said that the Elvis version was like Romeo at the bottom of the Post Office Tower singing up to Juliet. And the other versions, he thought, were travesties: bludgeoning, histrionic, and lacking in grace."

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Kingston Trio - "New Frontier", album, 1962

 

Roberta Flack came along, slowed the song down dramatically, and somehow connected with it in a way none of the other performers up to that point in time had. And while it’s true that Roberta Flack does something very obvious with “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by slowing it down so much, what she does is much more than that fairly superficial change. In a 2012 interview with Jazzwax, Flack told an interviewer she later met Seeger, who praised her interpretation, saying she felt Flack's version was "exactly what Ewan wanted to say."

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Roberta Flack - “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, single, 1972

 

Seeger confessed to Mojo that she wasn’t keen on Flack’s famous take on the song, even if she appreciated the royalties they brought in to her as MacColl’s widow. While MacColl and Seeger are closer to the song than anybody else and their opinions are hard-earned, it’s still difficult to question Roberta Flack’s decision to slow the song’s pace down and luxuriate in the moments it describes. And it’s hard to mess up a tune as pretty as this. In practically any version, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” endures as a song that resonates with anyone who’s ever been floored by the initial impact of love.

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Peggy Seeger

 

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, lyrics


The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the end of the skies

And the first time ever I kissed your mouth
I felt the earth move in my hand
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command, my love

And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last, till the end of time, my love

The first time ever I saw your face
Your face
Your face
Your face

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Peggy Seeger & Ewan MacColl

 

 

 

 

Roberta Flack - First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Pop and Misc. Notes Fri, 31 May 2019 12:45:44 +0000
Stardust http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/25277-stardust.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/25277-stardust.html Stardust

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew solo from New York to Paris. President Calvin Coolidge announced he would not run for re-election. A tube of Pepsodent toothpaste cost 50 cents. The hit songs of the day were "Old Man River" and "Bill" from the musical "Showboat." And in 1927, Hoagy Carmichael wrote a melody that would become one of the greatest hits of all time, "Stardust."

Stardust

According to Carmichael, the inspiration for “Stardust" came to him while he was on the campus of his alma mater, Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana. He began whistling the tune then rushed to the Book Nook, a popular student hangout, and started composing. Carmichael studied to be a lawyer, where he met jazz trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke. The melody for “Star Dust” emerged from an improv session with Beiderbecke.

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Bix Beiderbecke

 

On October 31, 1927, Hoagy Carmichael and His Pals recorded “Star Dust” at the Gennett Records studio in Richmond, Indiana. Hoagy’s “pals,” Emil Seidel and His Orchestra, agreed to record the medium-tempo instrumental in between their Sunday evening and Monday matinee performances in Indianapolis, seventy miles away.In 1928 Carmichael again recorded “Star Dust,” this time with lyrics he had written, but Gennett rejected it because the instrumental had sold so poorly. The following year, at Mills Music, Mitchell Parish was asked to set lyrics to coworker Carmichael’s song. The result was the 1929 publication date of “Star Dust” with the music and lyrics we know today. The Mills publication changed the title slightly to “Star Dust” from “Stardust” as it was originally spelled.

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Hoagy Carmichael & His Pals - Stardust 1928

 

Hoagy Carmichael (1899 - 1981) was influenced by his mother, who played piano at local movie houses, and by the music of black jazz ensembles. But he went on to study law where he organized a band. Success was slow in coming, but he recorded some songs for Mills Music which were picked up by leading bands. Mildred Bailey had hits with “Rockin’ Chair” in 1929 and “Georgia on My Mind” in 1932 (lyrics by Stuart Gorrell).

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Hoagy Carmichael

 

In 1936 Carmichael headed to Hollywood for success both on and off screen. He established his persona as a pianist/singer—hat tipped back, coatless, cigarette hanging from his lips—in the Bogart/Bacall film 'To Have and Have Not' (1942), and people loved his relaxed, nasal delivery. By 1946 he had three songs on the Hit Parade, and in 1951 he and Johnny Mercer won an Oscar for “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening.” Other Mercer collaborations turned out “Lazy Bones” (1931) and “Skylark” (1941). But it is “Stardust” (1928) for which Carmichael is best remembered. At one time “Stardust” was the most recorded song, with more than a thousand versions that cross genres and styles. That time has long passed but it remains a most beloved entry in the Great American Songbook (GAS).

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Hoagy Carmichael

 

Mitchell Parish (1900 - 1993) was born in Lithuania and arrived in the United States at the age of seven months. An early interest in literature and poetry piqued his desire to write lyrics. He plugged away at it until he had his first success with Cliff Burwell, “Sweet Lorraine” (1928). But it was in 1929, when he contributed the lyrics to “Stardust,” that the Parish name entered the music history books.

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Mitchell Parish

 

Unlike so many standards, “Stardust” did not originate in a musical show or film. It is a stand-alone song, introduced at the famed Cotton Club in New York’s Harlem. Later that same year, the song was introduced to the mass audience by the popular Isham Jones dance band. His 1930 recording, which featured a violin solo by Victor Young, became a best seller. In 1931, Young, this time with his own orchestra, gave “Stardust” a concert treatment that featured the Boswell Sisters, who took liberties with Carmichael’s melody. In that same year “Stardust" received two other fine recordings by Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong with Satchmo’s signature trumpet on the intro, and the stargazing reverie of the vocals. Crosby got very playful with the song, scatting and whistling and, at various points, improvising on the melody, even exchanging phrases with the saxophonist Jimmy Dorsey.

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Isham Jones and His Orchestra

 

In 1940, Artie Shaw and his orchestra recorded it and sold a million copies. By then, it was a standard. All the big bands had "Stardust" in their books. World War II gave the song a different context. Love and loss became the theme of popular music, separation and memories of love. After the war, Artie Shaw's band recorded "Stardust" again.

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Artie Shaw and His Orchestra

 

Although several singers had recorded it by the time he got the opportunity to put it on vinyl, and even though his own version wasn’t even the biggest hit version of “Stardust”, somehow Nat King Cole’s version of the song quickly became the standard. With his silky tone and great control, Nat King Cole made “Stardust” sentimental and reflective without being overly-emotional or maudlin.

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Nat King Cole - Stardust

 

“Stardust” is an unusual song for the late 1920s and perhaps any era. Carmichael’s complex melody consists of wide leaps and unexpected turns from major to minor, outlining the jazz-oriented harmonies with many sevenths, ninths and thirteenths. Also, starting with a minor chord on the second degree of the scale was very daring. Singer Mel Torme, once noted that the verse “rambles up the scale and down, resembling nothing so much as an improvisational cornet solo.” Then he adds “It is one of the most bittersweet examples of ‘lost love’ ever written.” Oscar Hammerstein II, comments in the preface of his book Lyrics that “ ‘Star Dust’ rambles and roams like a truant schoolboy in a meadow. Its structure is loose, its pattern complex. Yet it has attained the kind of long-lived popularity that few songs can claim. What has it got? I’m not certain. I know only that it is beautiful and I like to hear it.” Given such complexity, the song’s huge success is all that more remarkable. Mitchell Parish’s lyrics are likely integral to that success.

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Louis Armstrong - Stardust 1931

 

In 1978, more than 50 years after this song was written on a college campus in the heartland of the nation, a popular country singer introduced it to new generations. Today, people who never heard of Isham Jones or Artie Shaw or even composer Hoagy Carmichael know his work thanks to Willie Nelson. "Stardust," an American song of longing, dreams, desires, still stretches across the decades to touch the spirit of anyone who hears it. In his autobiography, 'Willie,' Nelson recalled the first night he performed it with his band at the Austin Opera House. "There was a kind of stunned silence in the crowd for a moment, and then they exploded with cheering and whistling and applauding. The kids in the crowd thought 'Stardust' was a new song I had written. The older folks remembered the song well and loved it as much as I did."

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Willie Nelson plays Stardust

 

“Stardust” lyrics


And now the purple dusk of twilight time,
Steals across the meadows of my heart,
High up in the sky the little stars climb,
Always reminding me that we're apart.

You wander down the lane and far away,
Leaving me a song that will not die,
Love is now the stardust of yesterday,
The music of the years gone by.

Sometimes I wonder why I spend,
The lonely nights dreaming of a song,
The melody haunts my reverie,
And I am once again with you.
When our love was new,
And each kiss an inspiration,
But that was long ago,
Now my consolation,
Is the stardust of a song.

Beside a garden wall,
When stars are bright,
You are in my arms.
The nightingale tells his fairy tale,
A paradise where roses bloom,
Though I dream in vain.
In my heart it will remain,
My stardust melody,
The memory of love's refrain.

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Stardust

 

 

 

Willie Nelson - Stardust

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Jazz Notes Wed, 15 May 2019 16:29:25 +0000
Beethoven - Cavatina from String Quartet No.13 http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/25205-beethoven-cavatina-from-string-quartet-no13.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/25205-beethoven-cavatina-from-string-quartet-no13.html Beethoven - Cavatina from String Quartet No.13

The last two years of Beethoven’s life (1825-1827) were almost completely given over to the writing of string quartets. The project began in 1822 with a commission from Russian Prince Nicholas Galitzin, an amateur cellist who requested "one, two or three" string quartets. Once Beethoven began work in earnest, he turned out not one, two or three, but five massive string quartets that ultimately become six separate works known simply and profoundly as "Beethoven's Late Quartets". For decades, these quartets were regarded by most as strange, difficult, anomalous, quite possibly the work of a once great composer now degenerated into a deafness and insanity. It was not until the 20th century that the late quartets became widely regarded as profound and transcendent masterworks worthy of entering and if not becoming the apex of the traditional repertoire.

Beethoven - String Quartet No. 13 - V. Cavatina -Adagio molto espressivo

The third of the late quartets in the order Beethoven composed them, the String Quartet in B-flat Major Op. 130 was completed in its first version in November of 1825 , only one year after his Ninth Symphony. Beethoven and his publisher surprisingly came to agree that the finale did not sit well with the rest of the quartet movements. A bristling, difficult fugue of epic proportions was deemed "too much." The fugue was detached henceforth as a separate opus and Beethoven composed a fresh, much lighter finale to complete Op. 130 in its revised, final version. Beethoven completed the new finale in November, 1826 (after Schubert's quartet in G). It was the very last piece of music Beethoven wrote. He died shortly after in March, 1827.

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Beethoven

 

Parts/Movements

1    Adagio ma non troppo - Allegro
2    Presto
3    Andante con moto ma non troppo
4    Alla danza tedesca. Allegro assai
5   Cavatina. Adagio molto espressivo
6    Finale. Allegro

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Coversheet Op. 130 as published in Berlin, 1827

 

Beethoven originally planned to have a highly expressive, aria-like third movement, in D flat major. His sketches reveal, however, that he became bogged down in this movement for about a month, and eventually replaced it with the present third movement, marked ‘poco scherzoso’ and also in D flat major. He then worked out the aria-like movement as a ‘Cavatina’ in E flat, using it for the fifth movement. Before it he placed a waltz-like movement entitled ‘Alla danza tedesca’, which had originally been written for his previous quartet (Op. 132) but had been discarded.

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Beethoven

 

The ‘Cavatina’, perhaps the most beautiful movement he ever wrote, is highly charged with intense emotion, and even the composer himself was reportedly moved to tears by its sheer loveliness and profundity.

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Beethoven

 

The Cavatina, Adagio molto espressivo, began with a simple rising and falling of the second violin’s first notes, and then eased into hymn-like four-voiced music of heart-felt beauty. The word 'Cavatina' originally described a short song of simple character, but Beethoven re-imagined the form. The extended opening section, moving as it was, then led into one of the most deeply affecting moments in music. While the lower three voices laid down a ghostly pattern of repeated triplets, the first violin wove imploring but tentative notes far above, almost none of which coincided with the ongoing rhythm. The first violin served as a proxy for someone who seemingly had lapsed into disorientation and hopelessness. The effect was one of gathering desperation. Beethoven marked the word 'Beklemmt' above this passage, loosely translated as 'oppressed' or 'anguished'. The music, almost unbearable in its utterly gripping message, finally released its hold and returned us to a slightly altered version of the original material. Then the movement ended with several pulsating chords dying away in melancholy resignation. Beethoven, although deaf at the time, was said to have wept upon hearing the Cavatina in his inner ear.

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Cavatina, sheet

 

This is the movement that can be described as being out of this world. Figuratively, the deep personal expression seems borne of that same insight Beethoven draws upon during this late period. His vision and understanding seem somehow transported beyond our sphere, into a good place that he is able portray in this music. Literally, a recording of the Cavatina by the Budapest String Quartet is travelling at this moment through the Kuiper Belt on the far edge of our solar system aboard the Voyager 7 launched in 1977. This was Carl Sagan’s idea.

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The Voyager Golden Record

 

A cavatina is a short, simple song. Beethoven’s, though simple and kind of short (six minutes) probes our inner most feelings, connecting his with ours. It is a meditation. It is Mahleresque. Beethoven himself said that the Cavatina cost him tears both in the writing of it and merely to revive it in his thoughts afterwards. I became fascinated by the cavatina movement in Opus 130, the Quartet in B-flat Major. I listened to it again and again. How did he do that? What is he telling me? It is beautiful.

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Beethoven String Quartets by Budapest SQ

 

The Quartet’s subtitle, “Liebquartett” (“Dear Quartet”) is how Beethoven referred to the piece in his conversations books. When writing about the quartet, Beethoven knowingly stated, “Art demands of us that we don’t stand still.”

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Beethoven by J.P. Lyser

 

 

 

Beethoven - Cavatina from String Quartet Op.130 (Arctic Philharmonic)

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Classical Notes Wed, 01 May 2019 21:50:14 +0000
My, My, Hey, Hey (Out Of The Blue) - Hey, Hey, My, My (Into the Black) http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/30-rock/24495-my-my-hey-hey-out-of-the-blue-hey-hey-my-my-into-the-black.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/30-rock/24495-my-my-hey-hey-out-of-the-blue-hey-hey-my-my-into-the-black.html My, My, Hey, Hey (Out Of The Blue) - Hey, Hey, My, My (Into the Black)

Around 1977 Neil Young formed a band called The Ducks that included Jeff Blackburn. The band played for a $3 cover charge in the hip Santa Cruz club environment. "My, My, Hey, Hey (Out Of The Blue)" came out of this period and Jeff Blackburn received co-writing credits. This deals with the fleeting nature of fame and how hard it is to stay relevant as an artist. "Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay" is a '50s song by Danny and the Juniors. Young alludes to or mentions artists from the '50s (Danny), '60s (Elvis), and '70s (The Sex Pistols, specifically lead singer Johnny Rotten) to show that "Rock and roll will never die. This was the first track on 'Rust Never Sleeps'.

Hey, Hey, My, My

'Rust Never Sleeps' was a unique recording by Neil Young and Crazy Horse as it was an album of all new material mainly recorded live but post-produced with some studio overdubbing and most of the audience ambiance removed. This all resulted in a final product that feels at once intimate and intense. The album is half acoustic and half electric, opening and closing with different versions of the same song: "Hey Hey, My My".

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Rust Never Sleeps, album

 

"My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" was recorded live at the Boarding House in early 1978. On this track, rock and roll chameleon Neil Young single-handedly pays tribute to punk and foreshadows the grunge movement of the 1990s. The lyrics deal fairly directly with the brevity of life as well as the concept that underneath everyone’s veneer lays a decidedly more complex reality. Young also acknowledges the Sex Pistols’ front man with the rhetorical question “Is this the story of Johnny Rotten?”, adding “It’s better to burn out ‘cause rust never sleeps.”

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Danny and The Juniors

 

The famous line "It's better to burn out than it is to rust" is often credited to Young's friend Jeff Blackburn. That line has become one of the most famous song lyrics of all time. Kurt Cobain's suicide note contained that line. When Young was asked by Time magazine in 2005 about the line and Cobain's death, he said: "The fact that he left the lyrics to my song right there with him when he killed himself left a profound feeling on me, but I don't think he was saying I have to kill myself because I don't want to fade away. I don't think he was interpreting the song in a negative way. It's a song about artistic survival, and I think he had a problem with the fact that he thought he was selling out, and he didn't know how to stop it. He was forced to do tours when he didn't want to, forced into all kinds of stuff."

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The Ducks (Mosley,Craviotto,Blackburn,Young)

 

Cobain's death was an epiphany of a different sort, one that not only left the second punk movement in a state of emotional disarray, but turned the dark bravado of Young's lyric into the stuff of tragedy. It's no wonder, then, that the incident casts a shadow across Young's new album, 'Sleeps with Angels'. It isn't just that the title song addresses Cobain's suicide in much the same way that "My My, Hey Hey" deals with the end of the Sex Pistols; it's as if the whole album is haunted by the implications of that act.

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Kurt Cobain, suicide letter

 

In the 1986 movie Highlander, the villain Kurgan quotes this song to people inside a church: "I have something to say! It's better burn out, than to fade away!" By this he means to glorify his ongoing perilous battle for immortality as opposed to living a normal humble life. This is quite an obvious metaphor for being a rock star.

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Johnny Rotten

 

In the biography of Neil Young, "Shakey" by Jimmy McDonough, Neil points out that this song came about when he was jamming with the band Devo. The phrase, "Rust never sleeps" was uttered by Mark Mothersbaugh, and Neil, loving the impromptu line, acquired it. Young explains why the phrase appealed to him: "It relates to my career; the longer I keep on going the more I have to fight this corrosion. And now that's gotten to be like the World Series for me. The competition's there, whether I will corrode and eventually not be able to move anymore and just repeat myself until further notice or whether I will be able to expand and keep the corrosion down a little."

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Mark Mothersbaugh

 

In 1978 Young and Crazy Horse set out on the lengthy tour, where each concert was divided into Young’s solo acoustic set and the full band electric set. The real brilliance of 'Rust Never Slepps' lies on the electric side two. “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” is a dark hard-driving and distortion-laden bookend to the comparatively pastoral “Hey Hey, My My (Out Of The Blue)”. The lyrics are slightly different.

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Neil Young & Crazy Horse

 

The song explicitly deals with the struggles of being a rock musician. As quoted on Hyper Rust, Neil Young said, "the essence of the rock'n'roll spirit to me, is that it's better to burn out really bright than to sort of decay off into infinity. Even though if you look at it in a mature way, you'll think, 'well, yes ... you should decay off into infinity, and keep going along.' Rock'n'roll doesn't look that far ahead. Rock'n'roll is right now. What's happening right this second"

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Neil Young

 

“Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” is the most popular song on the album and, in a lot of ways, Young’s signature song of his career. Critically acclaimed in its day and for years to come, 'Rust Never Sleeps' was also commercially successful, reaching the Top 20 on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2003, 'Rust Never Sleeps' was ranked number 351 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

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Rust Never Sleeps

 

My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)


My my, hey hey
Rock and roll is here to stay
It's better to burn out
Than to fade away
My my, hey hey.

Out of the blue and into the black
They give you this, but you pay for that
And once you're gone, you can never come back
When you're out of the blue and into the black.

The king is gone but he's not forgotten
This is the story of a johnny rotten
It's better to burn out than it is to rust
The king is gone but he's not forgotten.

Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.
Hey hey, my my.

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Neil Young

 

Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)


Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.
Hey hey, my my.

Out of the blue and into the black
You pay for this, but they give you that
And once you're gone, you can't come back
When you're out of the blue and into the black.

The king is gone but he's not forgotten
This is the story of Johnny Rotten
It's better to burn out 'cause rust never sleeps
The king is gone but he's not forgotten.

Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.

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Battleme - Hey Hey, My My (Sons of Anarchy)

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Rock Notes Fri, 07 Dec 2018 23:05:59 +0000
Cold Cold Feeling by Jessie Mae Robinson http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/24369-cold-cold-feeling-by-jessie-mae-robinson.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/24369-cold-cold-feeling-by-jessie-mae-robinson.html Cold Cold Feeling by Jessie Mae Robinson

When Jessie Mae Robinson wrote "Cold, Cold Feeling" back somewhere in the 1940/50’s she probably would never have imagined that 66 odd years later, a version of Nicky Bramble, would emerge from such a surprising place. Sure, T Bone Walker’s cover in 1952 did it justice, bet hey you gotta call it how it is…. T-Bone Walker recorded it in Los Angeles, CA, December 1951; Originally released by Imperial in 1952 on the single 'T-Bone Walker: Cold Cold Feeling'; Also released by Imperial in 1959 on the album 'T-Bone Walker Sings the Blues'.

Cold Cold Feeling

Jessie Mae Robinson becoming perhaps the first African American female songwriter to break the colour barrier. Born Jessie Mae Booker (1 October 1919) in Call, Texas, just outside Beaumont, her family moved to Watts, neighborhood in southern Los Angeles, where she started writing songs in her teens (and met and married Leonard Robinson a few years later.) Drawn to show business Robinson she began pitching her songs to performers and music publishers.

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Jessie Mae Robinson

 

Throughout her career, Robinson composed her songs while sitting at her kitchen table with paper and pen, humming the melodies to herself.

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Nicky Bramble - Cold Cold Feeling

 

The first artist to record one of her compositions was Dinah Washington ("Mellow Man Blues", 1945). She then wrote "Cleanhead Blues" for Eddie Vinson (1946; authorship of the song is disputed and is sometimes credited to Vinson.) Among her top blues hits were "Roomin' House Boogie" (recorded by Amos Milburn, 1949), "Blue Light Boogie" (Louis Jordan, 1950) and Charles Brown's number one hit in 1951, "Black Night". Other notable compositions include "Sneakin' Around" (B.B. King, 1955) and "Let's Have a Party", first recorded by Elvis Presley in 1957 and later by Wanda Jackson, 1960.

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T-Bone Walker - Cold Cold Feeling, single 1952

 

Robinson’s most successful song, "I Went To Your Wedding" (1952), launched her career in the pop market. The song was first recorded by Damita Jo, and then Patti Page made it a number 1 pop hit. The song's success allowed Robinson to become the first female African-American member of ASCAP. Other pop success came with Jo Stafford ("Keep It A Secret", 1952) and Frankie Laine ("I’m Just A Poor Bachelor", 1953). One of her last successes was "The Other Woman", a chart hit for Sarah Vaughan in 1958 and later recorded by Nina Simone and (on her 2014 album 'Ultraviolence') Lana Del Rey.

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Albert Collins plays Cold Cold Feeling

 

Jessie Mae Robinson wrote "Cold, Cold Feeling" in 1950. Besides T-Bone Walker, the song recorded among others: Otis Spann (1968), Dave Alexander (1972), Albert Collins (1978), Jimmy Witherspoon (1980), Melvin Taylor (1982), Phil Guy (1983), Valerie Wellington (1983), Jimmy Johnson (1983), Walter Trout (1989), Zuzu Bollin (1989), U. P. Wilson (1992), Aron Burton (1996), Michael Coleman (2000), Oscar Benton (2003), Lurrie Bell (2005), and Nicky Bramble (2016).

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T-Bone Walker - Cold Cold Feeling

 

Jessie Mae changed the musical landscape with her songs and she'd achieved extraordinary success as a composer with a significant number of songs on the Billboard hit parade of the 50s. By the early 1960s her hits had dried up, but she still received a modest income from royalties. Robinson attempted to start small record labels in the 1960s, but with notable lack of success. She died suddenly in October 1966 after a short illness, aged 47.

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Jessie Mae Robinson

 

Cold Cold Feeling, lyrics


I've got a cold, cold feelin; It's just like ice around my heart.
I've got a cold, cold feelin; It's just like ice around my heart.
I know I'm gonna' quit somebody, every time that, feelin'starts.

You treat my like a prisoner, because my hands are tied.
Everything you do to me, is stackin' up inside.
It's a cold, cold feelin' Yea, You're just like ice around my heart.
I know I'm gonna' quit somebody, every time that, feelin'starts.

There's a change in me baby, once I was blind but now I can see.
There's a change in me baby, once I was blind but now I can see.
I'm gonna' put everybody down baby,
That ever made a fool outta me.

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Jimmy Johnson plays Cold Cold Feeling

 

 

Albert Collins & Gary Moore - Cold Cold Feeling

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Blues Notes Mon, 12 Nov 2018 18:24:10 +0000
Paloma Negra (Black Dove) http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/27-latin/24251-paloma-negra-black-dove.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/27-latin/24251-paloma-negra-black-dove.html Paloma Negra (Black Dove)

According to the latest Watch and Listen magazine poll just out yesterday (Thursday, October 18), Jenni Rivera 2007's hit "Paloma Negra" is now considered to be the Greatest Song in the History of Music. To many of you it’s probably a familiar story. Once every decade, the world-renowned music magazine Watch and Listen conducts a global poll of music producers and critics from 80 different countries and translated into 20 languages. The recognition of "Paloma Negra" in this decade's list doesn't come as much of a surprise. While millions of Rivera's fans around the world were thrilled with the news, questions have been raised about the objectivity and fairness of the survey.

Paloma Negra (Black Dove)

"Paloma Negra" is a ranchera song written by Tomás Méndez and released by Lola Beltrán from her album 'La Grande' in 1988.

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Jenni Rivera - Paloma Negra

 

Ranchera music is a popular genre of music from Mexico that takes its name from the ranch lands on which the style was originally performed. Although the music embraces rural themes, its popularity spread during Mexico’s Revolutionary to urban center all over the country. Drawing on rural traditional folklore, Ranchera was conceived as a symbol of a new national consciousness in reaction to the aristocratic tastes of that era. Traditional rancheras sing about love, patriotism or nature. Rhythms can be in 3/4, 2/4 or 4/4, reflecting the tempo of, respectively, the waltz, the polka, and the bolero. Songs are usually in a major key, and consist of an instrumental introduction, verse and refrain, instrumental section repeating the verse, and another verse and refrain, with a tag ending. Instrumentation may include guitars, strings, trumpets, and/or accordions, depending on the type of ensemble being utilized.

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Lola Beltran - 'La Grande', 1988

 

Tomás Méndez (1927 - 1995) was a Mexican composer and singer of ranchera music. He was born in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Mexico. Working primarily in a mariachi vein, Mendez was a fairly prolific composer, but achieved his greatest success with 1954's "Cucurrucucu Paloma," which was a smash hit for Lola Beltran and later recorded by countless others, including Julio Iglesias. (In the wave of the song's success, Beltran also starred in a film of the same name.) Beltran recorded numerous Mendez songs -- including his other all-time classic, "Paloma Negra" -- and was arguably his most sympathetic interpreter, but his compositions found favor with many; among his most prominent devotees were Pedro Infante, Vicente Fernández, Amalia Mendoza, and Javier Solís. Mendez also made recordings as a singer, but was always more noted for his writing abilities. He died in Mexico City on June 19, 1995.

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Tomas Mendez

 

Jenni Rivera touched the hearts of millions with "Paloma Negra". Her legacy continues to grow as new generations of fans are discovering her unique musical heritage. Born Dolores Janney Rivera in Long Beach on July 2, 1969, her career spanned an arc over many different eras and tastes in American history. Rivera was not just a great singer, she was an icon, an all-around inspiration to everyone. Jenni Rivera died in Iturbide on December 9, 2012 at the age of 43.

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Jenni Rivera

 

"Paloma Negra shows an open channel in Mexico and the way they feel to the surface and most of us have this pigeon somewhere in our being." - say Mariachi Semblanza - "Drunkenness is not just so without Paloma Negra. It is not just comfortable drunkenness if one does not die of love or of memories of one of the lovers that accompany your story. You are not just drunk until you are embraced to a friend and belting out: ” ya agarraste… por tu cuenta.. las parraaandaaas” “and not until “el rincón de la cantina” (the corner of the canteen) and the mariachi that somewhere in the night and consciousness accompanies you."

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Tomas Mendez

 

Perhaps the most famous version of "Paloma Negra" was made by Lola Beltran, although there are other singers who have brought with them and have made themselves as Chavela Vargas or Lila Downs.

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Chavela Vargas

 

Paloma Negra spanish lyrics


Ya me canso de llorar y no amanece
Ya no sé si maldecirte o por ti rezar
Tengo miedo de buscarte y de encontrarte
Donde me aseguran mis amigos que te vas
Hay momentos en que quisiera mejor rajarme
Y arrancarme ya los clavos de mi penar
Pero mis ojos se mueren si mirar tus ojos
Y mi cariño con la aurora te vuelve a esperar

Y aggaraste por tu cuenta la parranda
Paloma negra paloma negra dónde, dónde andarás?
Ya no jueges con mi honra parrandera
Si tus caricias han de ser mías, de nadie mas

Y aunque te amo con locura ya no vuelves
Paloma negra eres la reja de un penar
Quiero ser libre vivir mi vida con quien yo quiera
Dios dame fuerza que me estoy muriendo por irla a buscar

Y agarraste por tu cuenta las parrandas

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Lola Beltran

 

English Translation


I’m tired of weeping and yet there’s no sign of the sun
I no longer know whether to curse you or pray for you
I’m afraid to look for you and afraid to find you
Where my friends all tell me that you’ve gone

At times I feel like relinquishing the fight
And ripping out the nails that cause my pain
But my eyes are dying without looking into yours
And my affection returns to wait for you at dawn

And you decided on your own to find a party
Black dove, black dove, where are you?
Stop playing with my honor, party girl
Your caresses must be mine, and no one else’s

And though I love you madly, don’t come back to me
Black dove, you are the bars on this cage of suffering
I want to be free and live my life with whom I choose
Lord, give me strength for I’m dying to go find her

And you decided on your own to find a party

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Paloma Negra

 

 

Tania Libertad - Paloma Negra

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluelover) Latin French, Italian Notes Sat, 20 Oct 2018 14:28:33 +0000
Almost Blue http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/24200-almost-blues.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/25-jazz/24200-almost-blues.html Almost Blue

Chesney Henry "Chet" Baker, Jr. (December 23, 1929 – May 13, 1988) was an American jazz trumpeter, flugelhornist and vocalist. Baker earned much attention and critical praise through the 1950s, particularly for albums featuring his vocals ('Chet Baker Sings', 'It Could Happen to You'). Jazz historian David Gelly described the promise of Baker's early career as "James Dean, Sinatra, and Bix, rolled into one."

"Almost Blue" is a song by Elvis Costello that appears on his 1982 album Imperial Bedroom. It is said to be inspired by Chet Baker's version of the song "The Thrill Is Gone". Baker closed the circle by recording the song for 'Let's Get Lost,' a documentary film about Baker's life. Baker also performed the song at concerts and it was recorded for his live album Chet Baker in Tokyo (recorded 1987, released posthumously 1988).

Elvis Costello took the literacy of folk music and broke it wide open against the ragged edges of punk. He was one of the best and most consistent songwriters of his generation, but he never used that as an excuse to get repetitive—Elvis Costello has experimented with everything from punk to opera.

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Elvis Costello

 

Elvis Costello’s remarkable career spontaneously kicked into gear in 1976. According to a record-company bio, “An unknown and unannounced Elvis Costello walks into the offices of Stiff Records, strikes up an instant rapport with Stiff’s then-supremo Jake Riviera, and is signed immediately.” Thus began a career in song that has been almost unmatched in its reach—from furious, biting punk-era nuggets to art-minded collaborations with an opera singer and string quartet—and consistency. Costello has been called “the finest songwriter of his generation,” and he ranks among the most prolific, too.

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Almost Blue

 

Born Declan Patrick McManus, Costello had the audacity to adopt “Elvis” as a stage name (at manager Riviera’s suggestion) and the talent to live up to such a scandalous appropriation. Greil Marcus profiled him in 1982: “He combined the brains of Randy Newman and the implacability of Bob Dylan, the everyman pathos of Buddy Holly and the uniqueness of John Lennon.” Indeed, every one of those figures exerted some degree of influence upon the broad-minded Costello.

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Elvis Costello

 

In 1981 Costello released 'Almost Blue,' an album of favorite country tunes cut with legendary Nashville producer Billy Sherrill. After this labor of love for a form of music one might not immediately associate with Costello, he embarked on the hugely ambitious Imperial Bedroom (1982). Produced by former Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick during a three-month period, it has been described by Costello as “the album on which the Attractions and I granted ourselves the sort of scope that we imagined the Beatles had enjoyed in the mid-‘60s.”

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‘Imperial Bedroom’, 1982

 

To the hype-wary Costello’s consternation, the word “masterpiece” appeared in the ad campaign for and many reviews of 'Imperial Bedroom'. Yet it was a masterpiece. Costello’s switch from guitar to piano as his main composing instrument could be detected in the more ornate arrangements of “Man Out of Time,” “Town Cryer,” “Shabby Doll” and “The Long Honeymoon.” The song “Almost Blue”—an 'Imperial Bedroom' original unrelated to Costello’s previous country album—was later covered by jazz trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker, who had inspired its composition.

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Chet Baker - Almost Blue

 

'Imperial Bedroom' is full of manic energy and it is subdued, as it is animated, by a saturnine sensibility seeking to extract life from a comatose of disordered experiences. (This seems to engender anger less than on past Costello albums.) This is most clearly illustrated by “Almost Blue,” by its narrator’s evocation of his dead past, a dead relationship, through comparison to the present. As he expresses it, “There’s a girl here and she’s almost you…all those things your eyes used to promise, hers promise to.” The despondence of the song comes with the understanding that the vitality of the narrator’s present has been sapped by his consciousness of its swift dislocation into past occurrence, and as such, lifelessness.

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Alyson Moyet sings Almost Blue

 

'Imperial Bedroom' was the record where Elvis Costello spread his wings as a songwriter. On this record and specifically the song "Almost Blue," he ambitiously takes aim directly at the same level of songwriting excellence as such icons as Cole Porter and George and Ira Gershwin. Only time will tell, but "Almost Blue" was written with timelessness in mind and has already become a jazz-pop vocal standard. Costello sets the tone, which sinks lower than melancholy to almost full-blown sorrow. The singer here is a man who has loved and lost, and is wallowing in his own helplessness, while facing the end of a relationship that was doomed from the start: "Flirting with this disaster became me/It named me as a fool who only aimed to be/Almost blue."

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Elvis Costello

 

This was a breakthrough of sorts for Costello in that it gained respect from a lot of musicians who ordinarily didn't care much rock and roll - "Almost Blue" has become a jazz standard in the more knowledgable circles. Costello divorced his first wife around this time, and the lyrics are some of his most wounded and bitter - though it's not a concept album per se, the cumulative effect is the story of a failed marriage.

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Diana Krall sings Almost Blue

 

Elvis Costello - Almost Blue, lyrics


Almost blue
Almost doing things we used to do
There's a girl here and she's almost you, almost
All the things that your eyes once promised
I see in hers too
Now your eyes are red from crying

Almost blue
Flirting with this disaster became me
It named me as the fool who only aimed to be

Almost blue
It's almost touching; it will almost do
There's a part of me that's always true, always
Not all good things come to an end now; it is only a chosen few
I have seen such an unhappy couple

Almost me
Almost you
Almost blue

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Almost Blue

 

 

 

Gabriel Johnson - Almost Blue

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Jazz Notes Mon, 08 Oct 2018 19:29:01 +0000
Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/23897-shostakovichs-violin-concerto-no-1.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/3-classical/23897-shostakovichs-violin-concerto-no-1.html Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1

During his long career under the Communists, Dmitri Shostakovich seesawed between being the pride of Russian music and a pariah one step away from the Siberian Gulag. His lowest moments came in 1936, when he was denounced for his seamy opera “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” (he restored himself to favor with his famous Fifth Symphony), and again in 1948. In that year, Stalin, aging and crazier than ever, attacked musicians, writers, scientists, and scholars: denouncing the most prominent figures to cow the masses. A Party Resolution condemned composers for "formalistic distortions and anti-democratic tendencies alien to the Soviet people." Black lists were drawn up, and heading the composers' list were the names of Shostakovich and Prokofiev.

Dmitri Shostakovich - Violin Concerto No 1 in A Minor

In 1948, Shostakovich had just completed his First Violin Concerto, but locked it away in a desk drawer; this probing and sometimes sarcastic work might seal his doom with the Soviet authorities. With little warning, Shostakovich and other leading Soviet composers found that many of their works that were once praised were now banned. The rationales given were ludicrous; Shostakovich and other composers were forced to listen to long harangues from cultural apparatchiks laden with virtually meaningless terms like “formalism” and “socialist realism.” Despite having sincerely tried to understand these terms for the past two decades, many composers came to the conclusion that social realist works were simply the ones in favor at the moment and formalist ones were not. It would have been laughable if only so much had not been at stake.

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Shostakovich and Stalin

 

After the death of Stalin in 1953, there was a gradual relaxation of the persecution of Soviet artists. By 1955 when the composer was 50, under the more relaxed regime of Nikita Khrushchev, compositions that had been hidden away for fear of disciplinary actions were beginning to emerge. One such was Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1. He revised the score a bit; the premiere was given in Leningrad on October 29 of that year by the illustrious violinist David Oistrakh with the Leningrad Philharmonic under Evgeny Mravinsky, and published as Op. 99.

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Mravinsky, Oistrakh and Shostakovich

 

The Concerto is drawn to the broad proportions of such predecessors as the violin concertos of Beethoven and Brahms, but it is in four movements rather than the usual three (as Brahms had actually intended for his own concerto at first), resembling the form of a symphony more than a concerto, and quite specifically the somewhat unorthodox layout characteristic of Shostakovich's own symphonies.

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Dmitri Shostakovich

 

The opening movement is not a heroic allegro, but a slowich Nocturne. Shostakovich presents us with a supremely beautiful movement, beginning Moderato and sustaining a quiet mood of meditation and memory for quite a long time. The upper registers of the violin are used to their full extent, lyrical and invading, lilting over adept orchestrations. This is profoundly melancholy, even anguished music: an aria for violin with the soloist as a lonely insomniac singing to a sleeping, indifferent world. Darkest woodwinds — clarinets with bass clarinet, bassoon with contrabassoon — paint deep shadows around her. The bleak ending, with tolling harp and celesta accompanying the soloist floating on a fragile high harmonic note, is unforgettable.

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Opening movement - Nocturne

 

The savage second-movement Scherzo is a Fellini-esque circus of the absurd. “Scherzo” means "joke," and this is a harshly sarcastic joke indeed. The ensuing scherzo is a wild, frenetic dance. In this movement, Shostakovich introduces for the first time what would become his musical signature: the notes D-Eb-C-B (in German, these notes are called D-S-C-H, a cypher for Dmitri SCHostokowitsch, the German spelling of Shostakovich’s name). Technically, the first appearance of this figure is D#-E-C#-B, but it later morphs into the more usual form. The inclusion of this motif suggests an autobiographical intent. We cannot know what Shostakovich was thinking when he wrote this passage, but one of Shostakovich’s comments to his friend Maria Sabinina after being forced to read a speech at this time seems to resonate:

“And I got up on the tribune, and started to read out aloud this idiotic, disgusting nonsense concocted by some nobody. Yes, I humiliated myself, I read out what was taken to be ‘my own speech.’ I read like the most paltry wretch, a parasite, a cut-out paper doll on a string!!” This last phrase he shrieked out like a frenzied maniac, and then kept on repeating it.

Not long after the appearance of Shostakovich’s musical signature, the music arrives at a boisterous, klezmer-inspired central episode. The beleaguered soloist flies through a crazed, driven dance of exacting virtuosity.

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Hilary Hahn plays Violin Concerto No. 1

 

As he would in other major works, Shostakovich turned to the Baroque passacaglia form for his powerful F-minor third movement, the Concerto's emotional center. The passacaglia is a repeating melodic-harmonic pattern, usually in the bass. The bass line in this case is a heavy, oppressive figure introduced by the cellos and basses, as horns play pulsing figures and arpeggios above it. Shostakovich's theme, which we hear is 17 measures long and broken into choppy two-measure phrases. Gradually this pattern travels through the orchestra; even the soloist eventually takes it up in fierce double-stopped octaves. After a quieter variation for winds, the soloist enters with an expressive melody. An increasingly tense series of variations follows, until the solo violin takes up the bass line itself before returning to its original melody. The movement concludes with one of the longest and most taxing (both physically and emotionally) cadenzas ever written for a violinist; it is almost a movement in itself and constitutes the soloist's commentary on the entire concerto.

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Passacaglia theme

 

In the concertos of the previous century, cadenzas were normally placed just before the end or at the climax of the first movement. Instead, Shostakovich places his cadenza between movements, making it seem untethered, as if we have passed into some netherworld that is neither here nor there. Suspended in this liminal space, the soloist seems even more alone and isolated. The cadenza becomes faster and more intense as it progresses, recalling ideas from the previous movements, including the DSCH motif. Climaxing with the return of the klezmer theme in the violin’s highest register, the cadenza then accelerates into the finale.

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Nicola Benedetti plays Violin Concerto No. 1

 

Shostakovich titled the last movement “Burlesca,” (Allegro con brio) an indication that fits the music’s darkly comic atmosphere. Its mad, virtuoso fiddle music brings the concerto to an unsettling, but thrilling conclusion. But here the mood seems less bitter than earlier: more a wild folk dance over a driving rhythmic ostinato. Midway, the passacaglia theme makes a brief, mocking appearance in clarinet, horn, and the hard-edged clatter of xylophone. Again, shrill woodwinds dominate this finale, while the soloist hurtles through a non-stop display of virtuosity, culminating in a final acceleration to Presto.

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Leonidas Kavakos plays Violin Concerto No. 1

 

Composed in four movements of symphonic weight, this is a true "iron man" concerto, calling on everything in the violinist's technical arsenal as well as vast physical and emotional stamina. Even the redoubtable Oistrakh begged the composer to give the opening of the finale to the orchestra so that "at least I can wipe the sweat off my brow" after the daunting solo cadenza that concludes the third movement.

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Shostakovich and Oistrakh

 

Because of the delay before its premiere, it is unknown whether or not the concerto was composed before the Tenth Symphony (1953). While the Symphony is generally thought to have been the first work that introduces Shostakovich's famous DSCH motif, it is possible that the First Violin Concerto was actually the first instance of the motif. Shostakovich uses this theme in many of his works to represent himself.

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Dmitri Shostakovich

 

 

 

Dmitri Shostakovich - Violin Concerto No 1 - David Oistrakh

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administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Classical Notes Tue, 07 Aug 2018 21:36:16 +0000