March 23rd, 2015

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Music: 08 The Ambassador of Jazz Comes Marching In

Adventures in Music

Louis Armstrong

I’m afraid I’m a little bit at a loss for words on this one… What do you say about a man who is the beginning and end of all things Jazz? I’m sure that even the most musically illiterate know who “Satchmo” is. But as much as I know about him, I keep discovering new things myself.

Louis Armstrong and Friends: “When The Saints Go Marching In”

All I’m going to say is that if you have even a passing interest in Jazz, you absolutely need Louis Armstrong’s Hot Fives and Sevens recordings. And of his later records, the affectionate tributes to W.C. Handy and Fats Waller are standouts.

Armstrong was known as the “Ambassador of Jazz”. His trumpet continues to represent it well, and continues to speak to everyone… even those of us who are far removed from New Orleans in the early part of the 20th century, where the greatest American artistic achievement began. Louis Armstrong IS Jazz.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Adventures in MusicAdventures in Music

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Adventures in Music.

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 2:52 pm

March 20th, 2015

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Music: 07 Superhuman Powers of Concentration

Adventures in Music

Sviatoslav Richter

Music has the power to spur performers on to superhuman feats of skill that from the audience just don’t look humanly possible. Here is just such a performance…

Sviatoslav Richter: Chopin Etudes Op. 10 No. 1-4

Russian virtuoso Sviatoslav Richter (on DGG and EMI) was one of the towering figures of classical music in the 20th century with a repertoire as broad as any pianist before or since. He saw himself as a servant of the composer and criticized performers who took liberties with the letter of the score. He disliked recording, and preferred to perform in quickly arranged concerts in almost total darkness.

Richter believed that performing with only a single small light on the piano helped the audience focus on the music. Undoubtedly, it also helped him focus, and in this clip, he very nearly loses his cool. The BBC negotiated for months with Richter to be able to televise one of his performances. He grudgingly agreed, but stipulated that he have total control of the lighting and camera angles. Just after Richter launched into some of the most technically difficult pieces in all of the repertoire for piano, the video director decided to turn up the lights a little, thinking no one would notice. Well, Richter noticed, and in the middle of concentrating on his performance, he flashed a look to the camera that would melt steel. I’ve seen that look before on my dad’s face when I was a kid!

Watch Richter’s hands carefully. Superman is REAL!

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Adventures in MusicAdventures in Music

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Adventures in Music.

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 3:04 pm

March 19th, 2015

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Music: 06 Bluegrass, Beehives and Beautiful Ignorance

Adventures in Music

The Osbourne Brothers

Back in the sixties, there was an explosion of bluegrass festivals- gatherings of fans and musicians in an open air venue to relax and enjoy music together. They were informal affairs. People would bring a picnic lunch and lawn chairs and sit in the sunshine enjoying The Dillards, the Stanley Brothers, Flatt and Scruggs or Roy Acuff. The performers even encouraged fans to bring along reel to reel tape recorders, and you can find hundreds of these incredible live recordings circulating in the mp3 trading newsgroups.

This clip comes from another “must have” DVD that vividly captures that exciting scene… Bluegrass Country Soul.

The Osbourne Brothers: “Rocky Top”, “Ruby”

When I watch this clip, I’m transported to another time and another place. Those beehive hairdos would be hilarious in any other context, but here they seem right at home. A lot of hipsters look down their nose and make fun of “hicks” and “trailer trash”, but I see great beauty in this stuff.

My friend John K once described this old time country music to me as “beautiful ignorance: the high lonesome sound of an injured animal all alone in the woods, not knowing why he hurts or whether it will ever stop.” My God! My heart stopped when he said that. Beautiful ignorance! What a wonderful way of putting it.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Adventures in MusicAdventures in Music

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Adventures in Music.

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 1:17 pm