Category: Featured Authors

Generique

Generique

GENERIQUE: The first film score of independent artistic merit and dominant coloration of the dramatic action was not Duke Ellington’s famous score to Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder (1959), but Miles Davis’ score to Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows (1958), a lesser known film that is nonetheless a paragon of French film noir. […]

Caroline Shaw – Between the Acts

Caroline Shaw – Between the Acts

CAROLINE SHAW – BETWEEN THE ACTS: Last month the Ciompi Quartet generously and expertly performed Caroline Shaw’s “Entre’Acte” for the students and parents of the Mallarmé Youth Chamber Orchestra at the University of North Carolina. I have no preference for contemporary classical music, and indeed I’ve argued in these pages that jazz is the genuine […]

Contra Sonatra

Contra Sonatra

CONTRA SONATRA: New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik, who has the career I wanted and is therefore a permanent barbed presence in my psyche, mounts a concerted defense of Sinatra. I own all the right Sinatra albums, but I’ve never entirely warmed to them. Acclimated to the hyper-virtuosity of Sarah Vaughan and Betty Carter and […]

Back to Blue Note

Back to Blue Note

BACK TO BLUE NOTE   I’ve often applauded the Blue Note album covers of the 1950s and 60s as the greatest achievement in the history of American commercial design. Nearly all of these album covers, about five hundred of them, were designed by a single man named Reid Miles, as were many of Prestige’s equally […]

Bert Jansch

Bert Jansch

BERT JANSCH Bert Jansch, storied fingerpicker and warble-voiced bard of the British folk movement, achieved quiet glory as a guitar stylist and member of the folk group Pentangle, in which he was paired with equally legendary but perhaps slightly less interesting guitarist John Renbourn. Of all the lost clips that YouTube has coughed up, Jansch’s […]

Sounds

Sounds

SOUNDS Betty Carter’s 25-minute extravaganza “Sounds” is possibly the jazz vocal apogee. Sarah Vaughan is more inventive and harmonically sophisticated, Ella is more agile, Billie Holiday is more soulful, but nobody is more adventurous or swinging than Betty Carter. The sustained energy of this piece is incredible. I don’t know how she manages not to […]

The New Classicism

The New Classicism

The New Classicism I saw the Pittsburgh Symphony at UNC-Chapel Hill last year. The concert opened with some grant-swathed contemporary piece. It sounded like feeble Mingus. It dawned on me as my mind absently drifted from the stage that classical music didn’t exactly die during the mid-20th century but migrated into the heads of people […]

Fotheringay

Fotheringay

Fotheringay The motte and site of Fotheringhay Castle seen from across the River Nene I’ve been working through the four discs of The Collected Fotheringay, which memorializes Sandy Denny’s post-Fairport Convention outfit, briefly active circa 1970. I well remember buying the first—and in those days only—Fotheringay LP when I was fourteen. I didn’t care for […]

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