York Daily Record - Mike Argento writes......Robin Spielberg was looking forward to a good 2020. The pianist and composer was working on her 19th record and had a tour scheduled with legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb, who penned such iconic songs as "By the Time I Get to Pheonix," "Galveston," "Wichita Lineman," "Up, Up and Away" and countless other timeless tunes.
She had toured with Webb before – her husband, producer and talent agent Larry Kosson represents Webb, among other artists – and it was always a great time. "I'm Jimmy's driver, shoe-shiner, everything," Spielberg said. "I always joke with him in the car, telling him, ‘You're an icon." And he would say, ‘Say that one more time and I'll slap you in the face.' So then, I'd have to say it over and over again."
She was also eager to get back on the road to promote her new record, "Love Story," released Feb. 7, her 19th record and first to be pressed on vinyl - bright red vinyl at that.
They played one date of the 20-city tour and were scheduled to play in her adopted home, York County, on March 28. Then the pandemic began. And everything changed.
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The Korea Times - Kwon Mee-yoo writes.....Pianist Cho Seong-jin will premiere an unheard piece by Mozart in Salzburg on the occasion of the classical composer's 265th birthday. Cho will play Mozart's "Allegro in D K626b/16" at the Great Hall of the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation, Wednesday, which mark's the Austrian composer's birthday as well as the opening date of the first-ever virtual edition of Mozartwoche, or Mozart Week, festival. "It is a great honor to be invited to give the premiere of a formerly unknown work by Mozart in the city of Salzburg, where the composer was born," Cho wrote on his Twitter, Friday.
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Multi Grammy & Emmy nominated recording artist, TV star and activist Jon Batiste announces a new single "I Need You" from his forthcoming ‘black pop' album WE ARE. The album is set for worldwide release on March 19 (Verve Records). On "I Need You" Batiste showcases his vocal range, accompanied by his once-in-a-generation musicianship. Produced and written in collaboration with songwriter Autumn Rowe and producer Kizzo, the song is communal and deceptively sophisticated. It fuses the sound of early 20th century black social music, with modern pop production and a hint of hip-hop storytelling. He expertly alternates between belting high notes in full voice, to singing harmony with himself on the choruses, to delivering the verses in a ‘farm rap' style. Batiste then dives into two killer instrumental breaks on both piano and saxophone - all in less than 3 minutes. Says Batiste, "This song is a vibe cleanse. After 2020, this is like a warm hug," says Batiste. "Let's bring the vibes back!"
Watch Batiste Lindy Hop his way through new single on the attached video. About the video, boingboing's GARETH BRANWYN writes.... "Jon Batiste everybody." One of the upsides of COVID-19 isolation has been getting to know Stephen Colbert and his musical director, Jon Batiste, a lot better. During the Trump Virus shit-show, Jon has been a little nightly dose of heartfelt music and unwavering positivity. In this video, the single to his forthcoming record, We Are, a group of Lindy Hoppers in a gallery photograph come to life and dance with him and another female patron. Sadly, upon seeing this, my first thought was: Where are their masks?
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textura writes.....A Quiet Madness is somewhat of a curious title for William Susman's latest release. The composer's music is seldom hushed, and neither is it deranged-not that there's any suggestion the title should be taken literally anyway.
The influence of classical minimalism on Susman's melodious music is undeniable, but he uses it as a foundation upon which to construct his own distinctive edifice. These settings enchant as they wend their way through different instrumental groupings, from the violin-and-piano serenity of the opening Aria on through the wholly transporting Seven Scenes for Four Flutes and beyond. Though its material was written between 2006 and 2013 and recorded on two continents, a cohesive impression forms due to the through-line of the composer's voice and the smart sequencing. By distributing three parts of the solo piano work Quiet Rhythms in amongst the other pieces, the album conveys a unified character capable of accommodating dramatic contrasts between the earthy and the ethereal.
For now, the forty-eight minutes of A Quiet Madness offer more than their fair share of listening rewards as a representative sampling of his artistry.
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Iconic NYC jazz club rallies to stay open amid pandemic.
WPIX11's Magee Hickey writes....Like so many jazz clubs and music venues across the city, 'Birdland' has been shuttered on West 44th Street since the pandemic began last March, except for a brief reopening last month. What better way to open the Save Birdland fundraiser than hearing the legendary Catherine Russell sing its anthem: the lullaby of Birdland. Birdland, the jazz corner of the world, has been around for longer than most of us can remember. It first opened in 1949 on 52nd Street with big names, including Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and Billie Holiday. They performed regularly with Billy Taylor as the house pianist.
Owner Gianni Valenti feared would have to close permanently until producer Tom D'Angora held a successful fundraising telethon to save the West Bank Café on Christmas Day. "After a very successful West Bank Café campaign, some of my friends said 'can you do the same for Birdland,'" D'Angira told PIX11 News. "Birdland can't close. We can't have a New York without Birdland. That's impossible."
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For Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson's debut album on Deutsche Grammophon, he is performing selections of Philip Glass's Piano Etudes. Ólafsson's fascination with reinterpreting the Piano Etudes grew as he toured and performed the works with Glass himself. Released for the composer's 80th birthday, the pianist says; "On the surface, they seem to be filled with repetitions. But the more one plays and thinks about them, the more their narratives seem to travel along in a spiral," he explains. "My approach to each of the etudes is to enable the listener to create his or her own personal space of reflection."
The Guardian's Killian Fox writes.....We got this as a Christmas present from my father-in-law, who's a pianist and musicologist, and I think it's one of his favourite records. Ólafsson is an Icelandic pianist and here he's playing works by Philip Glass, for whom repetition is a big thing. The album has a simplicity that for me becomes almost majestic in the end. It's so precise and so clear – it feels almost mathematical but also very soulful. You listen to it for a little while and new details keep emerging. I've been playing it all the time since we got it. Photograph: Antonio Olmos
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The Daily Freeman's Diane Pineiro-Zucker writes......The Ashokan Center has always focused on hands-on outdoor education and the environment, so when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early March, 2020, it immediately became clear that things were about to change drastically, said Jay Ungar, the center's president and chief executive officer.
The Ashokan Center, at 477 Beaverkill Road in Olivebridge, has served about 5,000 schoolchildren annually during academic years since 1967 and has offered on-site dance camps for adults and families each spring and summer since 1980. But it saw enrollment drop and then disappear as the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing made it difficult if not impossible to continue business as usual.
"We leapt into the world of what's now called virtual programming," Ungar said. "I rebel against that word because virtual reality is not real, but online programming is real. It's the real thing, only it's online."
COVID "has been devastating to many non-profits and commercial businesses and small businesses. It's rewriting the world as we know it," Ungar said. "Who knows what the world will be like when we reach whatever the next step is? But for this particular organization, the Ashokan Center, while it's been a struggle and it's been difficult, it has opened possibilities that we never thought of before.
"So, our world is going to continue to include some of this virtual programming in the future and we never would have embarked on it if we hadn't essentially been forced."
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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.
Ella Fitzgerald in top form on previously unknown 'Berlin Lost Tapes' / Jazz History Online
Posted: January 3, 2021 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
Jazz History Online's THOMAS CUNNIFFE writes.......As her numerous concert recordings reveal, Ella Fitzgerald would eagerly accept song requests-even for songs that weren't part of her repertoire. One such request was the basis of one of her greatest triumphs. Someone who attended Fitzgerald's Berlin concert in 1960 requested "Mack the Knife", and when she introduced the song on stage, she admitted that she wasn't sure that she knew all of the lyrics. Nonetheless, she jumped in, and when she forgot the words, she brilliantly improvised her way out of trouble. The crowd went wild, as if they were secretly hoping to hear her as she worked her way out of a jam. Although Fitzgerald would never admit it, improvising her way out of trouble was one of her unique gifts. When she returned to the newly-separated city of Berlin the following year, she had mastered those troublesome lyrics, and the audience cheered politely. "Mack" reappears in the 1962 Berlin concert, newly released as "Ella: The Lost Berlin Tapes". Once again, the lyrics are correct, and her imitation of Louis Armstrong is recognized and appreciated, but the strangest mistake comes at the end of the track, when she forgets the city where she is singing! Naturally, the audience forgives her-as if they had any other choice. Fitzgerald performs at her normally high level throughout the concert. She makes "My Kind of Boy" into an artistic Superman who combines the best qualities of Frank Sinatra, Nat Cole, Count Basie and Harry Belafonte. She wails on "Cry Me a River"-who said that Ella couldn't communicate tragedy?-glides through a couple of Fred Astaire specialties, "Cheek to Cheek" and "I Won't Dance", and is spellbinding on "Someone to Watch Over Me". "Jersey Bounce" is a medium-tempo scat vehicle, and "Angel Eyes"-a favorite Fitzgerald ballad at the time-gets an intimate reading, primarily accompanied by piano (Paul Smith) and bass (Wilfred Middlebrooks), with drums (Stan Levey) only appearing on the coda. Levey gets the spotlight on "Clap Hands! Here Comes Charlie" as he drives the arrangement through its various twists and turns, and then contributes a fine solo. Smith was an outstanding accompanist (hear him cover an early entrance by Fitzgerald on "Good Morning Heartache") but I've never cared for him as a soloist. The fills he adds on "Taking a Chance on Love" are flashy and do nothing to enhance the performance. "Hallelujah, I Love Him So" is hardly a typical Fitzgerald vehicle, but like "Mack" two years earlier, she approaches it with gusto. The audience loves it so much that Fitzgerald sings the whole number again, this time with considerable variations to the original melody, and an extended vamp. "Summertime" acts as a blueprint for the stunning version Fitzgerald filmed in Germany six years later. "Mr. Paganini" is instantly recognized by the audience, and someone in the hall provides the "mournful cry" mentioned in the verse. After the nearly-perfect "Mack", Fitzgerald closes the concert with a request for a blues. She tells the audience that she didn't know many blues tunes (however, she did record an all-blues album later in 1962) and while her version of "Wee Baby Blues" was a far cry from Big Joe Turner, it's a fun ride as Fitzgerald improvises new verses to the delight of the crowd. With the abundance of live Fitzgerald sets available, it's hard to single out any album as the best example. Still, this previously unknown Berlin concert is a good representation of Ella Fitzgerald in top form.
Verve Records announces the release of a never-before-heard stellar live recording from the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald.
The Lost Berlin Tapes were recorded – incredibly in both mono and stereo – at Berlin's Sportpalast on March 25, 1962 and finds Ella at the top of her game with a trio led by pianist Paul Smith, Wilfred Middlebrooks on bass, and Stan Levey on drums.
There was just something about Berlin that brought out the best in Ella. In February of 1960, she gave a concert at the Deutschlandhalle, which became one of her best-known and best-selling records, Mack The Knife: Ella in Berlin. The album won her 2 Grammys, it went on to be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Two years after that historic concert, Ella returned to the city at the height of her career, in the midst of her most extensive European tour to date. Flanked by her stalwart rhythm section including pianist Paul Smith, bassist Wilfred Middlebrooks and drummer Stan Levey, Ella delivers an energized, top-of-her-game set a month before her 45th birthday.
Verve Records and UMe will close out their year-long celebration of jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald's centennial with the ultimate present for her 100th birthday – a completely unreleased live album. More than 60 years after it was recorded, Ella At Zardi's finally is now released. Recorded on February 2, 1956 at Zardi's Jazzland in Hollywood, Ella At Zardi's features the entirety of the evening's two-set, 21-song performance, which captures an inspired Fitzgerald, backed by a stellar trio comprised of pianist Don Abney, bassist Vernon Alley and drummer Frank Capp, singing and swinging in front of an animated, adoring crowd, just days before she'd go on to record the album that would catapult her to stardom. The concert was originally recorded by Norman Granz to celebrate the creation of, and Fitzgerald's signing to, Verve Records, which Granz founded largely to give Fitzgerald the attention that he felt she wasn't receiving at her then-current label, Decca. Ella At Zardi's was planned as the label's inaugural release but shelved in favor of the now-classic studio album Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Song Book, which kicked off a best-selling, signature series of Song Book releases. The Zardi's tapes languished in Verve's vaults for six decades.
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