NYSMusic's Andie Chapman writes...... Four-time Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo has often advocated for human rights as she has been a UNICEF ambassador since 2002. Her music is imbued with compassion, and throughout the years she has contributed songs for important causes, such as her contribution song "Leila" for the Enough Project which raised awareness for women's rights in Raise Hope for Congo.
In 2020, the singer and activist recorded the song "How Can I Tell You?" by composers Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty who wrote "Ragtime," "Once on This Island," "Anastasia," and many more notable works. This song was included in a documentary directed and produced by Jeff Kaufman titled Nasrin. Often referred to as the "Nelson Mandela of Iran," Nasrin Sotoudeh fought for human rights in Iran, eventually leading to her arrest in June 2018 for defending women who publicly protested Iran's mandatory hijab law. The government sentenced her to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes. Nasrin now has COVID-19 and a heart condition, but even from the confines of prison she has continued to challenge the authorities.
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The Guardian's Dave Gelly writes....August Wilson's 1982 play, and the 2020 Netflix film, are about a lot more than music, but Gertude "Ma" Rainey ("Mother of the Blues") was a real person, and the action takes place around what was a real recording session. Music, and how it's treated, is the basic metaphor here, so music is an important accompaniment to the story. In this case – like the clothes, the cars and the surrounding scene – it must also persuade us that we are in Chicago in 1927. Saxophonist Branford Marsalis has certainly spared no effort in recreating authentic period sounds. Photograph: David Lee/AP
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WBGO'S The Checkout: SIMON RENTNER writes......We've always admired Shai Maestro's fearless approach to music. When he sits down at the piano, especially in an improvisational solo setting, he checks the temperature of a space and lets the music come to him, allowing one idea to flow into another. But he wasn't always that free.
On this episode of The Checkout, Maestro remembers a difficult moment on tour with bassist Avishai Cohen and drummer Mark Guiliana - a moment that would shape his career. In the middle of a performance, while playing his tune, the trio took an unexpected detour and he completely freaked out. That meltdown would change his thinking, and approach to music, forever. To hear Maestro tell it, what he became after this experience was more human - which is also the title of his new album, which ECM will release on Jan. 29.
READ THE FULL WBGO: Newark NJ ARTICLE & LISTEN TO THE SEGMENT
Following the success of the Busoni The Visionary series, Jeni Slotchiver is humbled to introduce something so intimately close to home. With Southern roots of her own, Ms. Slotchiver's debut ZOHO CD release American Heritage is her homage to the legendary composers preserving American folk music and creating anew. What was once familiar, is reborn.
Spanning 125 years, from Louis Moreau Gottschalk's The Banjo (ca. 1854-5) to Frederic Rzewski's Down by the riverside (1979), American Heritage presents piano compositions by composers of concert music, inspired by the melodies, dance rhythms, harmonic inventions and various stylistic elements evocative of the American experience. Of the eight composers represented, six are of African descent and two of these are women. There are quotes from spirituals, use of the African American pentatonic scale, the African call and response structure popularized in southern church tradition, polyphonic rhythms of jazz, and the rich, sultry harmonies of blues. With the exception of the rich musical heritage of Indigenous people, the largest and most important American folkloric body of work arrived on American shores with the first enslaved African people.
Jazz Weekly's George W. Harris writes....Pianist Jeni Slotchiver gives solo interpretations of music from early to late 20th Century, taking you to a different world of patience and space. While classically trained, Slotchiver has a rich blues touch and a bona fide feel for gospel and folk material. Material ranges from a homespun read of "Swanee River" to the spiritual "Down By The Riverside" as well as the folk classic "Shenandoah" but with an arrangement by Keith Jarret. Parlor moods are presented in a collection of pieces from Harry Thacker Burleigh and the genteel pen of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, on "Union" and "The Banjo" while traditional pieces like "Deep River" and even 1967's "Troubled Water" feel like they've both been drawn from the same well. A journey to another world and world view.
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Soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom and bassist Mark Helias come together to create duets discovered in the moment in a way that is rarely heard today with Some Kind of Tomorrow. The long time bandmates, separated by space and time find a way to play in real time with one another and the results are magical. Two master improvisers and composers bring listeners up-close and personal to the first spark of their imaginations at work, recording eleven duet improvisations over the spring, summer, and fall of 2020. The music is raw, authentic, intimate, alive, and unapologetic in its passion. Their sound is deep wood and polished brass recorded with a depth that is hard to describe. They played the music, recorded it, mastered it firsthand and are now making it available to listeners for the first time as a digital download on Bandcamp. Don't miss these fearless jazz explorers as they face the future.
Heard on Fresh Air, here's Kevin Whitehead's piece. LISTEN & READ THE TRANSCRIPT
Shunia is a duo that combines addictive melodies, ancient chants and polycultural rhythms into a sound that feels both new and timeless. Their music captures and conveys deep energies and spirit. The state of "shunia" means stillness, receptivity. Shunia's members, Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson both performed with the Washington National Opera for 20 years before finding continued success in their solo careers. Coming together as Shunia, they combined their influences, inspirations and experiences to create genre-defying music with the power to transform and to connect you to the energy within and around you. It can put you in touch with something as simple as your five senses or as mysterious as the infinite.
American Songwriter's NADIA NEOPHYTOU writes......To press play on Shunia's new album of chants is to allow a wave of calm and relaxation to wash over one's whole self. For Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson, who've known each other for 30 years, sharing the gift that's been a major part of their lives with others is the reason they began recording together as the duo Shunia in the first place. "Music in and of itself is such a powerful medium," Reagan tells American Songwriter. "It is the language of our humanity and our souls. We know these mantras are tried and true, and we have personally been chanting them for years."
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WFMT: Chicago 's Candice Agree writes....From the age of 3, CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe toiled at a keyboard-not in typing, as unintended preparation for his 13 years at the Washington Post, but in studying classical piano in Delmar, a suburb of Albany, NY. Although he loved playing, his interest in current events and politics pulled him into a journalism career. No stranger to Chicago, in 2008, O'Keefe was in Grant Park the night that Barack Obama was elected president. O'Keefe, 37, is about to become a fixture in the White House press room, as he will cover the Biden administration for the TV network he joined in 2018. But he has never left his first passion far behind. He shared some musical memories with us before taking on his new assignment at CBS News as Senior White House & Political Correspondent. Photo courtesy CBS News)
READ Candice Agree's Q&A with Ed O'Keefe.
An ensemble that attracts rave reviews and sell-out crowds at prestigious venues everywhere from Vienna to New York, the sensational SIGNUM saxophone quartet are now set to present their first Deutsche Grammophon album.
David Greilsammer's new recording charts a fantastical and disorienting adventure through works spanning centuries / The New York Times
Posted: November 18, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
Three years ago, in the underground crypt of a church in Harlem, I watched the pianist David Greilsammer perform "Labyrinth," a program that daringly juxtaposed pieces from across centuries. As a young man, Mr. Greilsammer had a dream that strange, alluring sounds were guiding him through a labyrinth. This recital was his attempt to share that sensation.
Playing without pause, Mr. Greilsammer audaciously shifted from early Baroque works by Johann Jakob Froberger and Jean-Féry Rebel to fantasies by C.P.E. Bach and Mozart to Ofer Pelz's flinty new "Repetition Blindness." Movements from Janacek's mercurial, dreamy, sometimes nightmarish suite "On an Overgrown Path" were inserted among the other pieces.
Mr. Greilsammer played beautifully, but he wasn't fully satisfied. He kept refining the program, trying out different options and juxtapositions, culminating in a new recording on the Naïve label. "Labyrinth" now includes 19 pieces, movements and - in a daring move - even some fragments of works by Lully, Beethoven, Janacek, Crumb, Ligeti, Satie and more, grouped into what Mr. Greilsammer writes in the liner notes are seven "chapters" in a fantastical and disorienting adventure.
The album arrives at an appropriately unsettling moment for the world. And it is an ambitious attempt by a thoughtful artist to rethink what a recital can be in our time.
Mr. Greilsammer, 43, the artistic director of the adventurous Geneva Camerata, understands that mix-and-match programs can come off as gimmicky. And he has certainly proven himself with traditional programming, as when he conducted the 27 Mozart concertos from the keyboard over a single season with the Geneva Chamber Orchestra.
But even during his student days at Juilliard, Mr. Greilsammer recalled in 2012, he was concerned that classical music was becoming disconnected from our times. He wanted to bring music from earlier eras "into today" - not by playing older pieces in an unusual way, but by placing them in new contexts.
In his recital program and Sony recording "Baroque Conversations," Mr. Greilsammer brought Rameau, Couperin and Frescobaldi into feisty encounters with modernists like Feldman, Lachenmann and Matan Porat. In "Scarlatti: Cage: Sonatas," another Sony recording, he bracingly alternated Domenico Scarlatti's single-movement Baroque sonatas with pieces from John Cage's Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano. Scarlatti's brazenly inventive sonatas seemed, implausibly, the more radical of the two.
The album consists of a series of triptych "chapters," with two pieces by one composer framing a third by another.
In "Labyrinth," most of the "chapters" are made up of two pieces by one composer framing a work by another. The first chapter begins with Janacek's "The Owl Has Not Flown Away" from "On an Overgrown Path." The piece opens with short, agitated bursts, like grim rustic fanfares, that keep halting and hovering as repose is offered by quizzical passages and chorale-like phrases evocative of ancient folk tunes. This leads into an arrangement of "Les Sourdines," from Lully's opera "Armide" - music that reflects the old-world aura of the Janacek, while alive with crunchy harmonies and snappy rhythms. The triptych closes with another Janacek piece, "Words Fail" - and indeed they do in this troubled, shifting music.
In the next section, two of Beethoven's six Op. 126 bagatelles, from this composer's late years, frame George Crumb's "The Magic Circle of Infinity." As played by Mr. Greilsammer, Bagatelle No. 4 is so pugnacious, it almost sounds like chase music in a silent-film comedy. Yet the middle section turns mysterious, with a hushed, breathless melody unfolding over an obstinate bass pattern.
You remember that mysterious feeling when the Crumb begins: a glistening piece with tinkling chime-like sounds, eerie spiraling figures and thick, plush chords. Bagatelle No. 5, which closes the group, here seems like a graciously lyrical attempt to reconcile the disparate sounds we've just heard. In another chapter, steely, propulsive Ligeti études frame an elegantly intricate piece from Bach's "The Art of Fugue."
The core of "Labyrinth" is given over to Granados's poignant "Love and Death," a rhapsodic 13-minute work with Chopinesque reveries and passages suggesting a forlorn guitar song. The two parts of Mr. Pelz's maniacal "Repetition Blindness" are broken up by Mr. Greilsammer's arrangement of the Baroque composer Marin Marais's "Labyrinth," which on the surface sounds chirpy and animated, but just below is spiked with tart clusters and fidgety runs. Finally, two fiery pieces by Scriabin provide transfixing context for an arrangement by Jonathan Keren of a Baroque piece for orchestra by Rebel, the aptly titled "Chaos" - teeming, unpredictable and astonishing music.
Besides succeeding as listening pleasure, "Labyrinth" challenges the view that classical music is a story of steady, explicable evolution. Maybe music history is more like a labyrinth. This album encourages us to go with it - to look for points of light and grounding, yes, but also to enjoy being disoriented. PHOTO: Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times
"I have always been interested in connecting disparate worlds...Nothing is more moving and meaningful to me than allowing the encounter of two worlds that have never met."
David Greilsammer, Gramophone
Sony Classical is pleased to announce the release of the first album in an exclusive long term contract with the visionary and internationally acclaimed pianist and conductor David Greilsammer. Titled 'Baroque Conversations' the CD is a program of Baroque masterpieces and four contemporary works exploring the artist's passion for contrasting musical worlds. Full of unexpected transitions and illuminating juxtapositions, his journey through eras, styles and idioms tracks the hidden connections between pianistic forms from the 16th century to the present day.
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