Tuesday, March 18, 2014

OHIO: Musical CD by Neil Rosengarden

OHIO is a really colorful and entertaining collection of mostly instrumental clips performed by the multi-talented Neil Rosengarten.  

The sub-title is Music for Television and Film.
Each track is like a little "mood chapter,"  a lot of it quite playful and uplifting. There is definitely mystery, suspense and romantic overtones to some of these pieces. However, this is memorable music, not just something to forget after the show is over. I'm listening to it now.

and sample his music.  I would also suggest clicking http://neilrosengarden.com/
and read what an incredible career Neil has had playing with the greats as well as on his own.  Contact him for more info on scoring your movie.  And of course, buy his music!

Genre: Electronic: Freestyle
Release Date: 2013

From his Bio (bold emphasis is my own):

 I have at one time or another recorded and/or played with Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway, Cab Calloway, The O'Jays, Randy Newman, Doug Sahm, San Francisco Symphony, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Leslie Uggams, Rich Little, Señor Wences, Joel Grey, Jack Jones, Sergio Franchi, Ginger Rogers, The Nicholas Brothers, Bob Hope, Danny Thomas, Sam Butera & The Witnesses, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Gerry Mulligan, Bobby Lewis, Manu Dibango, John Prine, Flaco Jimenez, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Brian Wilson, Darlene Love, Wilson Pickett, Brook Benton, Duane Allman, Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Tony Martin, Cyd Charise, Ethel Merman, Diahann Carroll, Luther Vandross, Michael Palin, Lotte Lenya, Herbie Mann, Van Dyke Parks, Jan Berry, Howard Kaylan, John Morris, John Cacavas, Bernard Purdy, Ben E. King, Sammy Davis Jr., Liza Minnelli, Paul Anka, Florian Zabach, Bobby Vinton, Joey Heatherton, Julius LaRosa, Buddy Greco, Tony Orlando, and many, other names in the Show Biz.

 My main instrument is the Trumpet, but I also play Piano, Bass, Guitar, Drums, French Horn, Valve Trombone, Baritone Horn, Percussion, etc. I am an Arranger, Orchestrator, and I've also done some Digital Editing and CD Mastering.
I presently live with a cat named Callie in Los Angeles, California....

I got my first taste of show biz when I played on a Thanksgiving special with Al Hirt in 1961 called "Home For The Holidays". Gordon MacRae, Patrice Munsel, Carol Haney, and The Brothers Four were also on the show. I've been composing & arranging since I've been 12 or so. I picked up some musical tricks and stuff along the way from Leonid Hambro, Morton Gould, Milton Kraus, The Juilliard School Extension Division, Dr. Albert Harris, my cousin Jon Charles, my uncle Ray Charles (Perry Como's Choral Director, and writer of Special Musical Material for The Muppet Show and The Kennedy Center Awards Show), Jimmy Maxwell, Ray Crisara, Victor Paz, John Lindenau, Gordon Mathie, The National Music Camp, now known as Interlochen Arts Camp in Interlochen, Michigan, my Father, and by self studying classical music scores.

A native of Great Neck, New York, I spent my youth trying to grow my hair, and following my Dad around while he went to his many record dates, like Jay & The Americans recording "She Cried" at Bell Sound, Oliver Nelson with Quincy Jones at Fine Sound in Bayside, NY; Astrud Gilberto sessions... live TV shows, and pre-records for "Sing Along With Mitch". My Dad was the original drummer on The Tonight Show along with Ed Shaughnessy and he became the Drummer / Orchestra Leader on the Dick Cavett Show from 1968-1974. I even got to play Trumpet in the band in the PBS incarnation of the Show in later years. Last December, I returned to Los Angeles in order to dive into music for film and tv.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Shards: The Art of Home-made by Su Zi

Ceramic Mug made by Su Zi
To make something for someone is to think about them for the time of the making.

     George Carlin once had a bit about stuff, how there's too much stuff. It's true and also there's a devaluing.  In the realm of the handmade,  mass production's legacy has created an aesthetic of the soulless,  of consumption without creation, of impatience for the marks of imperfection of handmade objects.

Once, a young woman made a dress for the sister of the amour--a Christmas visit was pending. The dress had no pattern, it was the invention of imagination. The sewing machine was faulty, the stitching went offline. The dress then was hand dyed, homemade buttons were attached. Wrapped in tissue and boxed, wrapped again, the dress was unveiled as the family tore into their gifts. Later, the dressmaker found the dress in the back of the closet of an abandoned bedroom. Even later, handmade dresses, very similar, were in a rocker boutique for crazy money. The dressmaker hasn't made anymore gift dresses. Many years later, a friend of the dressmaker hand knit dish towels for all her loved ones. She cut up chiffon and hand knit scrubbies. The knitter said that she was greeted with "why did you knit something you can get in a dollar store?" but she still knits. There's little appreciation for the time spent in making, for the making process itself.

    Alas, even adept artists who work in functional forms are beleaguered by the blindness imposed by the machine made. Potters are rejected for the marks of their hands, the mold form is seen as the ideal. Knitters will suffer for too large a knot, for arabesques of fiber or an embellishing thread. There's been a hierarchy imposing craft as separate from art, hand application of dyes is not art, but the same process of color sensitivity applied to paper--fragile, decorative, privately displayed--becomes art.

   The dearth of appreciation for handcraft is an undoing for local economies: the neighbor who has eggs needs the knitter more than the distant big-box emporium of imported goods. Yet, barter is generally sneered at -- ours has become a culture that idolizes money, sometimes for its own sake and ill-gotten or honestly earned seems irrelevant.

   Thus, a call to not arms but hands. Thus, a call to honoring the handcraft. These bits of stuff are more valuable because someone thought about its making while making one at a time, or a batch of days. In some cases, you might be lucky enough to have something made just for you; if that day comes, honor the object and the maker, and do so publicly and with pride.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Homage to George Harrison

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Known first as "The Quiet Beatle," George Harrison was a great songwriter who had the misfortune to be surrounded by two stone cold geniuses whose work often obscured his talents. Yet Harrison compositions such as "Something" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" are as good as anything the Beatles ever recorded. And with his solo debut All Things Must Pass, he stepped completely out of the shadows of his Beatle band mates to reveal himself a powerfully spiritual songwriter with an expansive sense of melody. Harrison was also a gifted, fluid guitarist and hugely influential in introducing the Beatles — and, by extension, the entire Sixties generation – to Eastern religion and musical influences. His devotion to Hinduism was expressed publicly through rock and roll's first massive charity event, the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh. 

Before all that, Harrison was a teen guitarist in thrall to Britain's 1950s skiffle revival — a working class kid with a band called the Rebels. It was Paul McCartney, a schoolmate one year ahead of Harrison, who invited the 15-year-old to jam with the Quarrymen, a group led John Lennon. (Harrison had come three years behind Lennon at his previous school.) This band would become the Beatles — and Harrison would himself become, like Lennon and McCartney, one of his generation's great seekers. His response to fame, however, was to direct that search inside of himself.
As a songwriter, Harrison was continually out-gunned by Lennon-McCartney. The intense trio of songs he contributed to Revolver — "Taxman," "I Want to Tell You," and "Love You To" — would be his most significant contribution to a single Beatles album. He had other classics to his credit, including "Here Comes the Sun" and "Something," his first Beatles A-side, a track which would top the charts in America. (Both came off 1969's Abbey Road) But Harrison also funneled his creativity into the guitar, a suitably introspective pursuit. From his raw, early rock-and-roll influences he extrapolated a wide-ranging and poetic style. In the late sixties, he helped introduce the slide guitar to prominence; he also popularized the 12-string Rickenbacker guitar and its ultra-distinctive sound on 1964's A Hard Day's Night.

Harrison introduced the Byrds to the Rickenbacker; they, in turn, led him to what would become a calling card: the sitar. With the Indian composer Ravi Shankar as his teacher, the guitarist introduced the instrument (which dates to the middle ages) into the Beatles, and rock music, with "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown," off 1965's Rubber Soul. Two years later, Harrison's unique, and principal, contribution to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band would be "Within You Without You," a centerpiece for sitar. It was his experimental sliver of that experimental album, but it also a declaration of his independence. In 1966, the band gave up performing live (which suited the shy, perfectionist Harrison). In 1969, during filming of recording sessions for The Beatles, Harrison quit the band. He returned 12 days later, after negotiations, but he was the first splinter in the band as it finally broke apart in 1970.

Meanwhile, Harrison lived his life increasingly under the guidance of Hinduism. Shankar, who he'd made world famous, had become a close friend, and would remain so for life. He married Pattie Boyd, who he'd met on the set for the Hard Days Night movie, in 1966; in 1969, he bought a private estate in Henley-on-Thames called Friar Park. Creatively, he'd clearly built a head of steam. His Wonderwall Music soundtrack (Wonderwall Music, 1968) was the first solo effort from a Beatle, and as a ramshackle mix of traditional Indian music and rock, hardly one for the screaming fans. For Electronic Music (1969), he partnered with composers like Bernie Krause for an exercise in Moog synthesizer noodling.

Throat cleared, he then released All Things Must Pass, a three-record, Number One album of songs he'd originally written for the Beatles. It would become his masterwork. Produced by Phil Spector and featuring guests Eric Clapton and Traffic's Dave Mason, the record produced "My Sweet Lord," his biggest solo hit. That this achingly tender evocation of his religious beliefs was eventually shown, in civil court, to have its melody taken from a sixties hit by Chiffons ("He's So Fine") did little to dull its resonance. (It was determined that Harrison "unknowingly" plagiarized the song. In 1976 he would have a hit with Thirty Three & 1/3's "This Song," a kidding take on the lawsuit featuring vocals by Eric Idle of Monty Python.)

Harrison followed this statement of faith with another, even larger-scale gesture, putting together with Ravi Shankhar a massive 1971 benefit for Bangladeshi refuges. Performers at the two Madison Square Garden concerts included Bob Dylan — who alone gave a historic show — Eric Clapton, and Ringo Starr. The shows and resulting documentary and three-record album (both called Concert for Bangladesh) provided a minor hit for Harrison, "Bangla Desh," and millions for the intended beneficiaries. (Another asterisk: the majority of this money was held up for 10 years while Apple records was audited by the IRS.)

Picking up where "My Sweet Lord" left off — and capturing the easy-going uplift of the times, lacing it with his slide guitar — Harrison picked up another Number One single with 1973's "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)," off Living in the Material World. The next year he released Dark Horse on his own label of the same name, but despite the title track's climb to Number 15, the mellow times seemed to evaporate. Harrison and Pattie Boyd would not officially divorce until 1977, but Boyd had already taken up with Eric Clapton, whom she would later marry. In a bizarre move, Harrison had the two cover "Bye Bye Love," an Everly Brothers hit, with him. Worse yet, on his big U.S. tour with Pandit Ravi Shankar & Friends, Harrison's voice, never strong, seem to fail him. A backlash reared up. And with that, he shrunk from one major spotlight: Those were his last shows in the United States.

Between 1975 and 1979, Harrison kept plugging away, to unspectacular commercial and critical results. Extra Texture (Read All About It) (1975) and 33 1?3 (1977) were more the work of a (still talented) journeyman than a seeker, although the latter album produced a stalwart fan favorite in "Crackerbox Palace." (Critic Robert Christgau, never a Harrison fan, wrote that the song was "the best thing he's written since 'Here Comes the Sun.'") The slick George Harrison (1979) didn't juice his mojo, either. But he had other things going for him: Besides his passion for Formula 1 racing (celebrated in Harrison's "Faster"), there was his 1978 marriage to Olivia Arias, mother to his son Dhani, who he would spend the rest of his life with. In 1979, he self-published a loose memoir, I Me Mine, and began executive producing Monty Python films. Still, his next album, Somewhere in England, encountered trouble even before it was released. Warner Bros. (parent to Harrison's Dark Horse) demanded the replacement of four songs.

On December 8, 1980, John Lennon was assassinated by Mark Chapman. Harrison hadn't reconciled with Lennon after the breakup of the Beatles. I Me Mine didn't even mention Lennon, and when Lennon reached out to Harrison after discovering this, Harrison did not respond. His public statement offered a reserved, if not especially profound or feeling, conclusion: "To rob life is the ultimate robbery in life." Harrison reframed "All Those Years Ago," a song originally about Ringo Starr, to honor Lennon, and added it to the reworked Somewhere in England. The song went to Number Two.
Harrison hit musical bottom with the 1982 bomb Gone Troppo, and retreated from the studio and stage for years. He made an uncharacteristically brash return in 1987 with Cloud Nine, which featured George in mirrored shades on its cover. The record went platinum and delivered a sticky Number One hit "Got My Mind Set on You," a song derived from an obscure sixties number by Rudy Clark. Whatever the state of Harrison's inner focus, it wasn't probed here. But producer Jeff Lynne (of Electric Light Orchestra) helped Harrison lay on a fine sheen, and kept him to a tidy 11 tracks.
Late Eighties rock was, briefly, very good to George Harrison. Before long he and Lynne hooked up with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Roy Orbison to record a song for Harrison — which led to the Traveling Wilburys, the last word on the rock super group. Their two albums — the irrepressible Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 (1988) and scattershot Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 (1990) — goosed the careers of all involved, and led to Harrison's 1991 tour of Japan with Eric Clapton, which in turn led to the solid Live in Japan.

After this, Harrison returned to quietude. In 1995, he, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr produced two "new" Beatles songs "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" for The Beatles Anthology documentary and albums. In 1998, at Linda McCartney's funeral, the three appeared in public together for the first time in 30 years. Also in 1998, Harrison revealed he had been treated for throat cancer, and he was soon beset by more difficulty: On December 30, 1999, a mentally unstable man named Michael Abram broke into the Friar Park estate, lured Harrison out of his bedroom, and stabbed him repeatedly. The attack finally ended when Abram collapsed from injuries sustained when Olivia Harrison fought him off with a fireplace poker.

Harrison continued to suffer from cancer, an on November 29, 2001, at only 58 years old, Harrison died of the disease. He was memorialized around the world. On the first anniversary of his death, McCartney, Starr and many of Harrison's other friends gathered for the Concert for George, which benefited the Material World Charitable Foundation. McCartney and Starr collaborated on "For You Blue," Eric Clapton and Jeff Lynne performed "Here Comes the Sun," and all artists at the concert gathered for several Harrison classics, including "Something" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Brainwashed, which Harrison had been working on with his son Dhani just before his death, was released in 2002 to warm critical reception. In 2004 Harrison was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist (the Beatles were inducted in 1988), and in 2009 EMI released Let it Roll: Songs by George Harrison, a career-spanning compilation.

Shortly after his death, Harrison's family issued a statement that summed up his legacy: "He left this world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death and at peace, surrounded by family and friends. He often said, 'Everything else can wait but the search for God cannot wait, and love one another.'"

Thursday, January 2, 2014

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin, reviewed by Su Zi

          As readers, sometimes a text is met that is so beautifully written that it is a joy to be with, a joy to become included in the lives within; such a text is James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk.
          From a merely pedestrian  structural view, Baldwin’s book is almost postmodern: the work is divided into two sections, but the first is most of the novel (188 pages in the Dell-Laurel 1988 edition) while the second is some twenty pages that still does not conclude the narrative’s  arc of suspense; the work’s point of view appears to be through that of the protagonist, Tish, but leaves this point of view upon occasion to include perceptions of events that would not be probable for the protagonist to experience with the narrative arc. While a reader more comfortable with a mundane novel structure will be chaffed by these aspects,  Baldwin’s sense of jazz-like pacing is solid with the emotional arc of the story, which seems to be a tale of triumph despite a setting and circumstance that is somber.
          Baldwin’s text is a meditation on American apartheid. The novel’s setting in New York City in the middle of the twentieth century might draw ire from patriots of that city’s veneer of progressivism, but Baldwin easily dispels this nostalgic mist. At one point, later in the text, Baldwin’s character Fonny addresses the protagonist  with the observation that
We live in a nation of pigs and murders (153).  Baldwin has Fonny further elaborate in an exchange between Fonny and Tish:
          He’s going to try and get me
          How? You didn’t do anything wrong. The Italian lady said so, and she said she would swear to it.
          That’s why he’s going to try and get me […] White men don’t like it at all when a white lady tells them, You a boatful of motherfuckers, and the black cat was right, and you can kiss my ass.[…] Because that’s what she told him. In front of a whole lot of people. And he couldn’t do shit. And he ain’t about to forget it (154). While Baldwin posits the antagonist as a white police officer, and while  both this character and the volatile relationship are symbolic of social friction that has scarred American history, in the forty years since Baldwin wrote this text there has not been cessation of racial hatred in the United States.
          Lest a fearful reader shrink away from this text because of a need to avoid such concerns as racism and poverty, Baldwin posits an oft overlooked and sublime counterpoint through the life-long love relationship of Tish and Fonny: When two people love each other, when they really love each other, everything that happens between them has something of a sacramental air (155). Baldwin  maintains Tish’s point of view in the sections of reflection about this relationship, but there is also the blunt force  of how this relationship effects the other characters. More importantly, Baldwin’s  speculations, albeit through various characters in the text, create a choral effect  through use of symbolic language. While the speech of characters utilizes a vernacular that is street- authentic but impolite, the internal observations of various characters allows Baldwin to harmonize with street-language by language choices that are compressed and symbolic:   
          This is a nightclub, and so the music is –‘ live.’ [...] they  know nothing at all about the song they are singing […] ‘ My gal and I!’ cries the undernourished rock singer, whipping himself into an      electronic orgasm. But no one who had ever had a lover, a mother or father, or a Lord, could sound so despairingly masturbatory. […]      Despair can make one monstrous, but it can also make one noble;  and here there children are, in the arena, up for grabs (164). 
         This wry moment encapsulated Baldwin’s characters, it is Baldwin’s synopsis of the text itself, his didactic point laid out as a subtext to his commentary on rock and roll.
          Given the text’s origin date on 1973, a skeptical reader might waiver –- the work is obviously literary fiction, but it is not a well-known text by Baldwin. A dedicated reader will understand that the work is important despite lack of fame; a casual reader  will be treated to the multiple delights of a direct view of America at that time (and  symbolically this time), to a well-paced but not traditionally paced novel, and to the jazz-like virtuosity of  Baldwin himself.

About the Author
James Baldwin was born in 1924 and educated in New York. He is the author of more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction, including Go Tell It on the Mountain; Notes of a Native Son; Giovannis Room; Nobody Knows My Name; Another Country; The Fire Next Time; Nothing Personal; Blues for Mister Charlie; Going to Meet the Man; The Amen Corner; Tell Me How Long the Trains Been Gone; One Day When I Was Lost; If Beale Street Could Talk; The Devil Finds Work; Little Man, Little Man; Just Above My Head; The Evidence of Things Not Seen; Jimmys Blues; and The Price of the Ticket. Among the awards he has received are a Eugene F. Saxon Memorial Trust Award, a Rosenwald Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Partisan Review Fellowship, and a Ford Foundation grant. He was made a Commander of the Legion of Honor in 1986. He died in 1987.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

MULTI-VOICE Poems by Ashby McGowan

When you look at MV poems, you are looking at poems doing what poems do (e.g. Giving a different perspective of the world-one that is useful). You are also looking at the actual sounds (and the effects of these sounds) produced when two or more voices speak at the same time. Thirdly, you are also trying to Direct a work of Theatre.
Multi-voice has amazing potential. It can be everything from a single voice (with members of the audience using their imagination to fill in the other voices) to a full length play that also happens to be multi-voice.
Pieces can be anything from thirty seconds to others lasting many minutes. Together they can easily make up 40 minutes of material built around themes like Nature. With a twenty minute break in the middle that is long enough for a show. I am looking for individuals and groups (poetry or acting) to take on MV as a new and exciting discipline.

Types of Multi-voice. There are at least four types of MV (Multi-voice).

1.         Link word MV. The “Poems/columns” running side by side down the page are linked using “link” words and phrases. The Cascade Effect can (doesn’t have to be though) be used with a Link word MV. The Cascade Effect involves link words setting off more than one other link word.
2.         Conversation. In Poems like Loving You, two protagonists carry out a kind of conversation using MV.
3.         Side by Side MV. Here, - if there are more than two voices -  the writer sets the page to Landscape mode so they can get as many voices as they need side by side going down the page. This helps the writer and it helps the actor or poet who is reading the lines. I have up to six voices speaking at the same time in some poems. Please note that this is not Choral work i.e. the voices do not usually just speak in harmony or in unison.
4.         Prose/Poem MV. Here, much of the text is in prose. But at various points, the text changes into MV.

Firstly, don’t panic. It looks complicated but is all do-able. When doing first readings it helps to have each actor or poet look through the column of words that they are reading and underline in coloured pen any words/phrases they are speaking at the same time as another performer/s, and underline those actor’s lines too.  (Or words spoken at the same time can be put in italics) Each actor reads down the page until they come to a bit with words and then they read them. So all bits of text at the same height on the page get read at the same time. It helps to print out the text double space.
Lots of dots on a line of text signify that words that another speaker is reading are not to be spoken by you. The gaps are not meant to be exact and will be fine-tuned in rehearsal. I have written and performed multi-voice for eight years and this is –honestly -the simplest way to get the actor or poet to understand the lines.
Multi-voice is much more than just interruptions in text and so slashes aren’t used by me. In practise, slashes are very hard for the actor to use properly.

Basically, words and phrases can be spoken at the same time. The resulting joining of sounds creates a new sound that can vary greatly-anything from Chaotic to Melodic. This sound can be used to amplify or reinforce an action or emotion the character is portraying at that time.
Each speaker must ensure that their own lines are not overwhelmed by that of the other speaker/s.
Multi-voice is not a gimmick. It is sophisticated and full of subtleties. There is a lot of philosophy behind the choice of words. I am not just trying to “talk up” MV it does have all the potential I say it does. It doesn’t matter that quite a lot of the words get obscured. Audiences love the complexity and having to work to understand the words that are spoken-they do listen harder.

On June 13th 2013 Infinity’s Kitchen (Experimental Poetry Journal) featured a ten page article about my multi-voice work and how to use it at workshops. The Van Reipen Collective performed my piece, Another Night at the Infinity’s Kitchen magazine launch in Brooklyn, New York. The Editor reported that, “Your work was very well received in New York.”
 In Scotland, I have started a Chromatic Voices 2 MV Group and have an ad on the Creative Scotland website looking for actors and poets (and a Producer-to find funding). I am looking for others to start up multi-voice groups wherever they are. If you have two or three people then you don’t need to have to apply for funding. If you have six actors and poets doing eight weeks rehearsal for a show then you need funding. MV is no more cash hungry than any other form of Theatre. But that is the main difficulty with MV-getting funding.
Chromatic Voices 2 had their first Gig at Seeds of Thought on October 5th 2013. The audience gave us a fab reception. It went amazingly well. Although I call it an MV Gig, some of the pieces were single voice. I think it helps to have a mix. We would have had one more multi-voice piece performed but one of the actors pulled out the week before the show. The actors who did perform did it because they liked the format. We had no funding. As an actor or poet performing MV, you do greatly develop your abilities. And you do bond closely with the other performers. There is a film of the event at. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfmbDEZPWjQ

Any individuals or Groups who genuinely want to perform using MV should first check out all the video, and then email me at: AMcGowan@cleveden-sec.glasgow.sch.uk

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