Friday, March 29, 2019

"Requiem for a Jazz Musician": not exactly Mozart or Verdi



A local church performed a “Jazz Requiem” last Sunday, but I thought I would share something similar.

Here is the “Requiem for a Jazz Musician” by Joe Wazinul (10 min), for saxophone and various instruments, including piano, published on Mendoza’s channel in 2010, played by the Cannonball Adderley Quintet.
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This does remind me of New Orleans in the 1940s in the days when smoking was allowed in clubs.  The music is “anti-emotional” and perhaps “anti-fragile”.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Composer Grant Hoechst: a variety of instruments and genres



I wanted to note some additions to the website of composer Grant Hoechst (link given here March 29, 2015, now https, now a game designer for Naughty Dog in Los Angeles, formerly at Harvard.

There are three compositions with scores, two of them with MP3 files that are embedded and playable in the site.

There is an intermezzo for string quartet, 4+ minutes, called “Sparrows of Elysium”, performed by the Parker Quartet.  There are a lot of repeated notes, and a Vaughn Williams style modalism.  The music has no key signature but seems to be in the key of D.



There is a score for a trombone solo “By the Light of a Dusty Streetlamp”, almost evoking images of Charles Dickens’s England.

Then there is the three minute piece “A Swig of Moonlight” for bass clarinet and marimba, which is typical modern jazz.  The title reminds me of Reid Ewing’s “In the Moonlight, Do Me” from “Modern Family” (which compositionally is very interesting in its own right), although the style does not.  

There is the 9-minute electroacoustic piece “SOS”, which sounds like the impressions someone might have during a bad NDE or real DE (if you still exist afterward, then there is an afterlife).  He offers a link to the WAV (the same as aiff on Sibelius) which requires log on to Dropbox.

The music in the two short films for which he wrote scores is not the same as these pieces.  

I would think he would want to meet up with the Metropolis Ensemble in New York City.

For YouTube, I embedded Grant’s interpretation of Stravinsky’s setting of J.S. Bach’s “Canonical Variations” from his YouTube channel.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Debussy on a grand piano in Washington Square Park



As I entered Washington Square Park in New York City to meet up with the “March Against Racism and Fascism”. I encountered a pianist playing Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” in D-flat on an open grand piano in the park.


He would also tempt us with a passage from the Chopin C#-minor Scherzo.



He was Colin Huggins, who offers some other piano performances on Bandcamp.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

"Fun Home": a Broadway musical about a young adult lesbian who explores the life of her deceased gay father




The soundtrack for the now Broadway musical “Fun Home” is on PSClassics (69 minutes).


The rather lilting music is by Jeanine Tesori and lyrics by Lisa Kron. The show started off-Broadway in 2013 and moved to Broadway in 2015 (Circle in the Square, I visited the old one in 1964 to see a Greek tragedy) and is now “off-West End” in London. The many awards include the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2015.


The Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk (Tidewater area) put on the musical this winter.  I didn’t get down to see it (I made two visits to the Southeast around it), but the performance was supported by QVirginia (note the handsome picture of downtown Richmond from the James River on the website home page; Norfolk is 90 miles to the SE).

The PS CD recording is directed by Chris Fenwick.  Beth Malone is Alison; Sydney Lucas is Small Allison, and Michael Cleavers is her closeted gay dad Bruce.

The story concerns the coming of age of Alison, in two parts, as she comes out as lesbian after learning her dad was closeted as gay shortly before his death.

In the later part of the play she recalls her dad, and the questions as to whether one or more contacts might have been underage (track 17, “A Flair for the Dramatic”).

A couple of the more impressive songs include #9, “Party Dress”, and #14 “Raincoat of Love”, which has some nice counterpoint.

The chamber ensemble includes keyboards, Violin/Viola, cello, woodwinds, guitar, bass, drums and percussion. There is mention of Chopin but the piano passage work is more like Ravel. The story takes place in Pennsylvania and the CD gives a credit to Oberlin College (Ohio).

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

The music of Dr. Lawrence P. Schreiber



Dr. Lawrence P. Schreiber of the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC offers a CD, about 40 minutes, titled “Unique and Sacred”, of ten hymns sung by Deborah Miller, lyric soprano, with Dr. Schreiber at the organ (Austin, FVC) or piano (Steinway).

The hymns contain original melodies, or the familiar ones with modern (generally French impressionistic or English pastoral) harmonies and some deviations from the usual stanza lines.

Here they are:

(1)    St. Francis Prayer (organ, original)

(2)    Were You There? (piano, familiar)

(3)    Ah, Holy Jesus (piano, original)

(4)    His Eye Is on the Sparrow (organ, familiar)

(5)    Great Is Thy Faithfulness (piano, familiar)

(6)    Amazing Grace (piano, familiar)

(7)    Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether (original, piano, although a faint reference to Vaughn Williams and Bax symphonies)

(8)    Alleluia! Sing a Joyful Song (original, organ)

(9)    The Visitation (advent, original, piano)

(10)Hold in Remembrance (communion, original (very modern), organ) The quiet ending is ambiguous, not on a tonic chord. 


Today Dr. Schreiber published (with Sacred Music Press) on YouTube with 3-part organ staff an entity called “Mosaics”.  This comprises two compositions.




 The first is a “Fantasy on St. Annes” (1:46), with some vague reference to the New Year’s Day hymn “O Lord Our Help in Ages Past”, which in Dr. Pruden’s time was always sung the first Sunday of the New Year.

The second piece is a large “Fantasy in African-American Themes” in D Minor.  The music has many key signature and meter changes, and alternates between spirituals (richly harmonized with dissonance) and passage work, especially for the feet. In places the writing will briefly go into atonality and seem almost dodecaphonic, yet remains quite post-romantic in feel (not really necessarily American). The ending seems triumphant but says in D Minor.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

"It's a Busy, Magical Life", church play today



The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC presented a 20-minute youth play today during the dinner brunch after communion service. It was called "It's a Busy, Magical Life: A Presentation in Poetry, Art and Illusion".

The kids got practice in reading scripts written in Final Draft.

It comprised six brief parts (like movements of a musical suite).  There was an “Opening” (like in a chess game), then a Poem Recitation (they poems rhymed), a reading of Zephaniah 3.17

It got interesting with a mind reading act with members of the audience (“what’s your favorite board game?”)   It turned out to be Encore (what about Clue, Mr. Ree, Star Reporter, Global Pursuit, Trivial Pursuit (a favorite of game nights)?  Maybe Chess? (4-D)?  Maybe Go?




Mind reading essentially depends on quantum entanglement (John Fish has a science fair video on it from 2015).  But it could be a useful “hacking tool” in a sci-fi movie.  It’s a bit like counting cards in Las Vegas (the movie “21”).

Then there was a magic trick involving a quilt.



Finally there was a gallery of thematic art.

Back in 2011 (May 15) I reviewed a production of “Wise Guys”  at another church, and it still never seems to have been made into a movie (like by a Christian film company maybe like Sony Affirm).

There was also a quite of Matthew 11:28.