We Already Have Birds That Sing, the new CD from Life in a Blender, is an album of tunes developed through live performance, and perfected in the recording studio, with the addition of extra guitar parts, refined arrangements for the resident strings, and a hard-hitting horn section of guest artists.
But the blood and guts of each cut on this, their 8th album, is the rock n roll core of drums, bass, and electric guitar propelling the singing that is voiced by the guy next door, with an affable lilt that can change to carnival barker or shrieking banshee on a dime.
photo: Quigley Media
Life in a Blender arose in the post-punk art rock scene of the mid-1980s. The current lineup has been together over twenty years, with a loyal fan base that continues to grow, thanks to the inventive thinking man’s rock composed by an ensemble of veteran musicians, and the sneakily adroit lyrics of front man Don Rauf, which are like little short stories, filled with quirky characters defined by the imagery of a specific time and place, yet achieving the cathartic impact of broader human experience.
The album opens with a blast of raucous horns, leading into Tongue Cut Sparrow, a boisterous burlesque number, closely based on the published biography of a young Japanese-American singer who was initially forced to work as an exotic dancer at Forbidden City, a popular men’s club in 1950s San Francisco. Shunned by all her family, except a grandmother, she ultimately finds her voice and career as a chanteuse.
In Shards, a man describes his daily life to an old acquaintance, and exhibits a confident outlook even if things could be better, and then suddenly reveals the private, backyard anguish of loss and lamentation. The juxtaposition of human façade and interiors is a theme Don Rauf has explored on previous records, as with the upbeat transient with the broken heart in the song Professional Mover (from The Heart is a Small Balloon, 2007,) along with the eccentric crank of a neighbor who turns out to be a friendly, regular guy once you get to know him, in Hoot Owl (Homewrecker Spoon, 2011.)
But in Shards, the switch between outward appearance and inner reality is more poignant and more surprising, as the brass-driven funk of the first part underscores the growling declaration that, “I’m looking fine. I bump and grind…,”only to have the music and the singer suddenly stripped to the basic beat, as the violin rises up to play on the heart strings while accompanying the strained confession of regret. It is a classic example of just one life in a blender, found in the canon of this long-lived band of the same name.
A less weighty lament is expressed by a lonely guy out on the town, in Mamanama, a romping, stomping two-step, complete with electric fiddle solo. He searches for companionship and good times across the expanse of Los Angeles, appealing to bar flies and surfers alike, with a chorus of “Can’t you see? I’m good company!”
photo: David Barry
In the song Falmouth, a cheery fella imposes his unquenchable optimism on an emotionally distressed friend going through some unnamed crisis, and not taking no for an answer. A press release reveals information about the character’s specific situation. But Falmouth works so well on its own exactly because of the tight focus details of chicken, flowers, and roller derby, set before the background of ambiguous emotional circumstance. It allows a listener to connect the song’s sentiment with their own life experience, where they or one they care for has made similar efforts to reach someone in a bad place and pull them out.
Often when immersing myself in a new record there is a tune that goes unnoticed, only to put a hook in me later on, so that it becomes a permanent part of the repertoire of fragments sung when cleaning the house or walking down the street. Falmouth is that song on this CD. I think it has something to do with the syncopation in the clean picking pattern from guitarist Al Houghton, in combination with the sporadic vocal harmony lines, and the smart and infectious interludes from the horn section, arranged by bassist Mark Lerner.
Then again, the counterpoint underpinning Good Answer, which Lerner composed for cellist Dave Moody and violinist Rebecca Weiner Tompkins, is just as memorable, and it provides plenty of space for drummer Ken Meyer to fill up with tasty accents. Where that song is a flippant response to the bandwagon catch phrases of American pop culture, Frankenstein Cannot Be Stopped breathes new life into one of the most popular stories of gothic horror. The point of view is that of a member of the cinema audience, who is haunted by the tragic scene where the unintentional monster kills his youngest victim, and so he returns again and again to try to warn her from the dark.
The album closes with Sea in a Sieve, a buoyant appreciation of the joys found in setting sail in a small vessel just for the fun of it. And like the record as a whole, it is a transportive entertainment that is worthwhile and enjoyable, but ends sooner than one might wish, leaving a taste for more.
We Already Have Birds That Sing can be downloaded direct from the band’s website, for the indecently affordable price of $7, or you may order an actual CD for $10, which also includes the digital download.
Here is a video of Shards, shot in concert at Joe’s Pub, at the Public Theater in New York City, and features the fledgling horn arrangements. You can see and hear how the song evolved, by comparing it to the video farther down, which was shot at Rockwood Music Hall several months earlier, when Shards was being performed for the very first time.
You will have to get the album to hear the definitive version.
The annual McCrindle Concert took place at Carnegie Hall yesterday, conducted by NYYS Music Director Joshua Gersen,
with guest artists Pleasure is the Law,
as part of the New York Youth Symphony’s 51st Season, and featuring the world premiere of Against the Shrieking City Air, by Loren Loiacono.
Just in her 24th year, Loiacono received her degrees from Yale U. before embarking on her current pursuit of a Doctorate in Composition at Cornell. A native of New York City suburbia, the inspiration for this new work came from her experiencing the marked difference in environment as one travels farther from the audible airs of city life, to the almost alien stillness of the country.
While the strings and reeds were used by Loiacono to establish a kinetic flow, various strains of harmony would be interrupted by brass and percussion, in sudden left turns, or cutting across town, as it were. Ultimately a whirlwind rose frenetic and unceasing, yet one without darkness or danger. There was no malice in the maelstrom, just the exhilarating risk of being overwhelmed, if not drowned. And at the crest of it all, it falls away, with but one minor surge before the exhalation, as tensions fade quickly into a subdued calm, quiet enough to hear the country crickets, had she chose to add some. It was a very impressive piece, no less so for one just starting their career as a composer.
The title is lifted from the 1921 three-stanza poem City Trees, by Edna St. Vincent Millay. The poetess remarks on how the city trees “would make a sound as thin and sweet as trees in country lanes” if it weren’t drowned out by all that going on around them. And Loiacono provided a stimulating and enjoyable exploration of this idea through orchestral music. I just wish we didn’t have to leave her calm countryside as soon as we did.
photo: F. Krupit
The second offering featured a most impressive Carnegie Hall debut by the guest artists, Pleasure is the Law. Taking their name from a Debussy quote relating to inspiration trumping traditional rules of music, the quartet features the traditional Baroque alignment of flute, oboe, cello, and the piano standing in for the harpsichord, but dedicated to exploring the contemporary repertoire. They joined the orchestra for the rarely performed Quadruple concerto (Concert à quarte) by Olivier Messiaen.
Messiaen often composed with color in mind, and this effort to score music based on bird calls was done in blue, represented by the key of A Major, and signifying joy and ecstasy. Dying in 1992 before its completion, his widow took up finishing the work, which debuted two years later.
With Nadine Asin on Flute, Elaine Douvas on Oboe, Darrett Adkins on Cello, and Steven Beck on Piano, Pleasure is the Law represented specific songbirds, and briefly Messiaen himself. With a nod to Mozart in the first section, the piece evolved to something full of abrupt changes in rhythm and tempo. Like a boisterous canopy flocked with chattering birds, it was a very different slice of nature than the serenity imagined by the concert’s opening selection.
Remarkable to watch, this very young orchestra, with some members clearly no more than 12 or 13, stayed right there with the mature professionals across an edgy, challenging piece of music. It also provided them an opportunity to play additional instruments, like the marimba among the percussion, and even the tinkling chimes of a celesta. The amount of dedication and rehearsal necessary must be enormous, for those participating in what are essentially after school commitments. And the performance from every member of the orchestra was excellent.
The second half of the program consisted of something I have always wanted to see performed live, Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, in E minor (Op. 98)
Sweeping and romantic at the start, with wisps of reeds floating on a breeze of sighing violins, it grows tall with trumpets before returning to repeated interplay between the strings and woodwinds, melancholic and bordering on the tragic. The second movement is ushered in by the horns, and then a plodding plucking of strings like a horse cart climbing its way further into the mountains sets the mood for the pensive woodwinds. The horns return with unhurried pomp, like plump clouds, or perhaps the Alps themselves frowning down on the clarinet and flute fluttering below. All so very Austrian, even after the strings awake to saw their way down to the ballrooms and courtyards of Vienna. But then, Brahms wrote it while sojourning in an alpine village.
The regal third movement with its uplifting signature theme from the brass and the leaping fiddles proved every bit as thrilling as I had hoped. And the final movement of bass and timpani-driven passion was set off very well by the sensual interludes between the principal flute, clarinet, and oboe, at times overlapping as they sustain and tumble downward, with almost Beethoven sonata-like moments, and a chorus of trombones offered a grounded presence, when not punctuating the rousing crescendos leading up towards the final rush to the ending precipice. Most satisfying.
Musical Director Gersen deserves considerable acknowledgement for finding eclectic music that will challenge and expand the experience of these young musicians, and for leading the orchestra to achieve such a successful performance. They are all to be congratulated. But I should mention by name Joseph Morag on violin, Shaquille Southwell, clarinet, Rachel Susser, flute, Liam Boisset, oboe, and Aron Szanto on cello. And special mention goes to Ayden Michael Khan, the percussionist deftly handling the timpani and chimes. But from my box, I also thoroughly enjoyed watching the young man on the contrabassoon, an unsung hero if there ever was one.
NYYS performances are highly recommended as a stirring and affordable cultural experience for all ages.
And that is one man’s word on…
New York Youth Symphony at Carnegie Hall, March 2, 2014
More information on the NYYS can be found at their website http://www.nyys.org/ including ticket information for their upcoming Jazz Orchestra concert at Lincoln Center on March 10, featuring guest hornman Terell Stafford, and the chamber music concert at Symphony Space, April 23.
A classic breakfast at a local eatery is among the simple yet cherished pleasures in the Western World, and easy eggs at Brooklyn’s Park Cafe is certainly one of mine.
While I enjoy the fancier brunch locations, there is something particularly pleasurable about the basics. And this weekend, my choice to seek out the basic American breakfast proved more entertaining than normal, as I found myself back at the Park Cafe, at 82 7th Avenue, between Union Street and Berkley Place, near Grand Army Plaza.
This establishment has been serving Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood for more than 30 years. There, I once again enjoyed a thoroughly satisfying American breakfast of crisp smoked bacon, home fries and a pair of over easy eggs, or “over lightly” as they tend to be called around here. As much I enjoyed the good eats, it was my timing that provided the entertainment.
Without a table to be had, and with larger groups pondering the choice of waiting or going elsewhere, I sat down as the lone customer at the counter in the back. From that position, I had an intimate view of the staff at the peak hour of 12 Noon.
I was simply astounded by the chief waiter. As the late morning rush collided with the impatience of customers who waited until early afternoon to break their fast, this young man attained speeds of digital dexterity and rapid fire articulation beyond what I thought possible outside of a movie where they speed things up for comic effect. And this went on for an extended period of time, as he went faster, and faster, and faster, trying to insure every detail was accounted for.
No klutzy character, this particular professional elevated the game of all those around him, calling out for the large tomato juice seconds after failing to get a response from his support people the first time around, as he scribbled things on a green pad, while waiting for the toaster, since he had a scant few moments at the counter before rushing off to get more orders. And still he found time to help the even-younger waiter locate the more obscure items on the menu so the kid could complete someone’s bill of sale.
And then he saw me.
“Have you been helped, Sir?” He asked me, as if it was a point of genuine pain, should my answer be in the negative. I said that I had not, quickly adding that I was in no hurry, but knew what I wanted. The even-younger man assured him I would be taken care of, despite all the delivery orders arriving by fax and phone, with every table in the place full of expectant mouths to feed. So, the veteran spun around to collect hot plates from those behind the dressing station wall, where he promptly returned one, to their general surprise.
“These are not well done! I know this customer; he will not be happy unless you burn the potatoes BLACK. Look! I am just saving you from him sending them back.”
And so they ended up back on the griddle, which was in plain view from my seat. There, the short order cook placed them among his many other charges.
Now here is a master at his profession. This slender youngster in the phat ball cap, featuring a Yankees NY logo, but with the crown in Knicks orange set off by a blue bill, moved his long, thin metal spatula with the precision of a surgeon.
As the orders mounted, being shouted around the corner, often in a list of three, or four, or six separate meals, the cook seemed oblivious, as he kept right on flipping, sliding, slicing and dicing. The tickets were hung along the dressing station at his back, so he could refer to them as needed. But I never saw him look at a single one.
At times the flat silvery griddle was festooned with pancakes, and omelets, and cured meats, and bricks of what I assumed where slivered hash browns, as opposed to their normal chunky home fries. The waiter would return with more orders, and vocally prod him for things still on the griddle, and yet the cook remained steadfast, unflustered, but in constant motion, as he scrubbed sections of the steaming surface with steel wool and water, prior to covering each spot with some new portion of an awaited breakfast.
My Time Approacheth
When I saw two plain eggs placed side by side, front and center, I had a feeling they were mine. When he turned them over, I started counting. Far too often in this city I have ordered my eggs too late in the day and found them totally overcooked. Although I must say, that was never in this place of brisk breakfast business, before now.
I watched my eggs sizzling away, as he began someone’s omelet, then scooped up another finished omelet, which was dressed on one of two different plates with their obligatory potatoes and extras, and then he whisked them to the dressing station, before filling the empty space with some new order.
At exactly the thirty-second mark, he scooped my eggs from the griddle, slid on my portion of potatoes before laying the crispy bacon over top, and handed them to those unseen behind the dressing station wall, who promptly placed them under the warming lights.
He was faster than expected, so I waited happily for my toast before I was brought my plate.
The eggs were perfect. My request for orange marmalade was met instantly. My coffee cup refilled, just as I began to refill me.
An Unpretentious Institution
The proprietor was stationed at the coffee maker, just on the other side of the counter from my privileged point of perspective.
Slightly hunched with the resignation of one who knows from experience that there is no influencing Father Time, the slender man of medium height with barely a touch of gray in his black hair and matching mustache, was occasionally shaking the metal dispenser none the less, to hurry the output, as 10-cup pots were depleted moments after they were filled. He shrugged his shoulders, and sighed as he shook his head at the waiters flying around him, nearly frantic in their efforts to stay afloat on the latest wave of customer demands. He knows; nobody’s gonna die if they don’t get their eggs before they wish. They come back anyway. They always do.
“A hundred pots, on Saturday and Sunday. So, that is… What? A thousand cups a day?” He answered me with a voice that suggested mild fatigue and remnants of a Greek accent.
And yet, he always finds time to engage the smallest children among his clientele. It is something he has never grown tired of in all those years. Taking genuine delight in their antics, he teases them wryly, while keeping his jokes well within their sphere of comprehension, and leaves them with a sense of being appreciated for their expert opinion on Raisin Bran, or the French toast, which comes in the normal white bread variety, or made with Jewish challah bread. No one seemed to complain that the usual Cartoon Network had been replaced by the Olympic Games, on the two wide screen TVs set high up over the crowd.
Honed to a Comfortable Edge
The Park Cafe is not a Grecian diner, although the newest waiter slipped into Greek when seeking clarification from more experienced colleagues. He was always answered in the same flowing tongue, tipped with k’s and p’s like white caps on a busy surf. None the less, this place is as Brooklynese as Bugs Bunny.
While they do have the obligatory section of Greek dishes, centered on feta cheese and “gyro meat,” they have as many dishes that claim to be Italian, or Mexican. But really, the menu is decidedly American diner-style food, where even the Mexican named dishes like the Huevos Rancheros are Anglicized into their own unique yet enjoyable versions. And then there is the Sombrero, which has a foundation of corned beef hash. The Park Cafe is known for its “Sloppy breakfast,” a sort of bubble and squeak of meats and vegetables chopped to bits and mixed with eggs, before being entombed in a coating of thin, melted cheese. And there is the “Healthy Sloppy,” a version featuring turkey-based meats, along with broccoli and mushrooms rather than potatoes.
For another thing, the Park Cafe it is not open 24 hours a day, which means it does not qualify for the traditional title of Diner within the five boroughs of New York City. So, cafe it is. But it is more American coffee shop than a cafe as Europeans might know the term. With some irony, the coffee is basic diner brew, sightly nutty with a tinge of burnt around the edges. But it is good enough that I tend to drink it black and on the weekends it is guaranteed to be fresh. But some of my coffee snob friends lament that this otherwise excellent breakfast nook has such average joe.
What the Park Cafe is regaled for are the pancakes, among many other things. But the pancakes are far and away superior to all the other coffee shops and diners that fall within the original historic district of Park Slope, which is centered on 7th Avenue and runs from Flatbush Avenue to 9th Street. While one may find a snootier restaurant along 5th Avenue that has enjoyable pancakes, or perhaps on 7th Avenue, beyond the old 9th Street border, they will also pay considerably more for the privilege.
Here, the pancakes are typical, nicely priced, and most importantly, good. Golden, of medium weight, they are satisfying from start to finish, without ever seeming like some nondescript hunk of dough, like those found in similar places. They are available as a regular stack or silver dollars, as well as wheat cakes.
I wish they would offer a short stack, which could be easily matched to the usual bacon and eggs. But perhaps it is best they do not, since that keeps me from ordering them too often.
But really, I tend to stick to the basic breakfast, and the Park Cafe is just far enough away from my dwelling to require a genuine choice on my part when seeking out my easy eggs. It is an effort I gladly make.
The Park Cafe on 7th Avenue in Brooklyn offers fast friendly service, and food generally a step up from all other 7th Ave diner/cafe eateries in its class. The bacon comes crisp, and is of notably better quality than the competition. The home fries are a little salty, but they have just enough green pepper and onion mixed in, while other places either fall short in this respect, or over-do it. But a customer may order their bacon or eggs or potatoes cooked as they prefer, and odds are in their favor that they will get them just the way they like them.
And for all those people who choose to go there, rather than other places, most of them rarely notice just how much effort goes on around them to make their experience as enjoyable as possible. While I was already aware of how busy the waiter is when I visit the Park Cafe, after this weekend I will be even more appreciative of just what he is dealing with when not focused on me and my needs.
Your Favorite Breakfast Spot?
Everyone has their favorite breakfast spots. If you love Huevos Rancheros in Flagstaff, Arizona, it is MartAnne’s. If you are into the classic American fair in Southern Connecticut, it is Huxley’s Bookmark Cafe, in Meridian. Some of the grits and biscuits eateries across the South are national treasures, while the chili cheese omelets found along the beaches of Malibu hold a special place in my memory. The incredible edible egg is a true joy of existence. But having someone else fix them for you, in a way that leaves you immensely satisfied, elevates the experience enormously. Which would YOU recommend?
One Man’s World would love to hear from you about your favorite place for breakfast, or brunch. Please, feel free to contribute your favorite breakfast nooks, and what you recommend there, by using the comments field below this post.
I am sure travelers would be happy to have a list of the best breakfast spots around America. or for that matter, beyond the borders, as I know a few places where the British bacon is a highly coveted treat.
I should like nothing better than to begin compiling that list right here.
And as I was contemplating that very notion, it brought to mind a favorite monolog from the Sam Shepard play Cowboys #2, extolling the virtues of breakfast in all its variety. And then I thought of a favorite song, by a favorite band, Life in a Blender.
I went looking for it on YouTube, to add some version or other at the end of this post. I find none have ever appeared there.
So now, there is one. And it is posted here below, for your enjoyment.
And that is one man’s word on Easy Eggs at the Park Cafe.
And “Easy Eggs” happens to be the name of the song. Be sure to change the resolution to the highest-def your device can accommodate, for the best sound.
Resurrected with new life, the two-act drama of misaligned memory that is Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land provokes peels of spontaneous laughter, continually disrupting the unsettling tension that weighs upon the audience at the Cort Theatre, on 48th St. near Times Square.
Starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, and staged by director Sean Mathias, theirs is an affectionate production, bringing together two of the greatest speaking voices of our age to revel in the language finely formed by that most deft of English sculptors, the late Harold Pinter.
And yet, it is the characters’ spontaneous human behavior that tickles the audience, even as they are denied the sort of artificial exposition provided by other playwrights. In No Man’s Land are found no bread crumbs laid down to help explain what is going on.
“Pinter’s insistence that the audience remain an outsider who becomes aware of lives and conversations well after they began, and which leaves them long before reaching any definitive conclusion, is nowhere more obvious than in this play. With immediate prior circumstance barely mentioned, but memories from long ago recounted in vivid detail, he creates four souls who interact in anything but perfect harmony, and with two of the roles requiring champion actors to subtly conjure the weighty icebergs floating just below their visible surface.”
The two knights of the English stage, McKellen and Stewart joust in Pinter’s No Man’s Land wonderfully.
The PBS British import How Sherlock Changed the World proved to be as fascinating as it was entertaining.
I thought it would be a rather thin tie-in for the modern Sherlock Holmes series. But that is only mentioned here and there.
Instead, it featured real life forensic scientists, from the modern day all the way back to the Holmes era, whose work was directly inspired and at times specifically influenced by Conan Doyle’s fiction and Holmes’ methods of detection. And it includes many specific and sometimes infamous crime investigations, some quite recent. How Sherlock Changed the World, turned out to have much more substance than the first ten minutes suggests.
As much as I love the stories and novellas, I had no idea that Doyle’s Holmes stories were so influential on real life criminal investigation. I never took into account how much the content of the stories was really science fiction, predicting real world realities and at times directly influencing it. For example, the first Holmes story begins as he discovers a test to identify hemoglobin even when the blood stains are very old. That did not occur in real life for another six years, and it was reputedly directly inspired by Doyle’s story.
More than that, the men considered the founders of forensics and criminalistics (criminology) where both inspired to begin their work after reading the exploits of Sherlock Holmes. Even the systematic investigation of human gate and locomotion championed by Holmes wasn’t brought to bare on a real criminal case until 2001(!)
While I had heard something like that before, I had no idea that the first manual on modern criminal investigation, written by jurist Hans Gross in Austria sometime after 1906, used Holmes as a role model. The first forensic lab was established in France around the same time, by Dr Edmund Locard, another Holmes fan, although Holmes’ England didn’t actually get a forensic lab until 1935. Locard is considered the father of modern forensics and the patriarch of all CSI practitioners today, who still adhere to his founding principals.
The coolest stuff in How Sherlock Changed the World is seeing the real life scientists today, among the most celebrated in their fields, from blood spatter specialists and shoe specialists, to those running investigations, like Connecticut’s Henry Lee, who started on the force when they were still beating confessions out of people as the first method of closing cases, but who is now using Holmes’ methods to win convictions, or in some cases exonerate wrongly convicted people.
When it comes to production value, the usual reenactment of Holmes, Watson, and LaStrade is at times a bit too presentational, but the young actor portraying the sleuth was more than sufficient, and the occasional reflection by modern CSI practitioners on the the BBC’s contemporary series should increase the downloads on Netflix and Hulu – and you will not be disappointed if yours is among them.
But even during the years when Holmes stories were being written, they were leading directly to real life investigators changing their methods, and they give a couple of examples, including the experiment inspired by a particular story that led directly to the science of studying human pores inside fingerprints to more securely make IDs and discount possible fake prints.
It makes me want to read the stories again.
It will likely be replayed soon, so check your local listings if you are interested in seeing it. Or find it on line.
Running time: 2 hours
And for those of you interested in the Great Detective himself, I cannot recommend highly enough the unabridged audiobook versions, expertly read by a terrific actor, which are available for download at no charge through Project Gutenberg.
And that is one man’s word on….
How Sherlock Changed the World
And tsk tsk Channel 13 and PBS. The end of the program says I can learn more on line about How Sherlock Changed the World, but I just spent 30 minutes on the national and local site and have learned nothing, as I could find nothing, other than what can be gleaned from your press release from January.
Our review of the Martin Grand J12-16GTE as Martin Month Continues
A GrandJumbo 12-string in Martin’s Style 16 with a Gloss Top and on-board Electronic amplification.
Made from solid mahogany and Sitka spruce, using the largest ever made by Martin. At this price point, the new Grand J12-16GTE offers more tone per dollar than any other 12-string currently available from Martin. Read about all the Martin Month reviews at One Man’s guitar.
“There are all the bright and clear chimes one could desire coming off the trebles and harmony strings. And there is a nice definition in the bass, without all the smoke clouds that can gather under the low end of a rosewood guitar with a large bottom end.”
I played the prototype at the factory in January, when it was about as new as new can be. With mahogany for the back and sides, the OM-18 Authentic 1933 sounded clear and full at the same time.
This weekend I played an example of the production run and it was even better. It is like taking a time machine back to 1933 and getting your hands on a brand new OM-18, made the year C.F. Martin and Co. were celebrating their 100th anniversary and were busy setting the gold standard that all acoustic guitars have been compared to ever since.
Over at One Mans’ Guitar you will find our latest guitar review, the Martin OMC-44K LJ
Laurence Juber recorded his album “Under an Indigo Sky” entirely with the most recent version of his C.F. Martin signature model, the OMC-44K LJ. It has been a rare occurrence when this singular master musician likes a single guitar so much he uses it exclusively when making one of his many dozens of records. But then, it is no ordinary guitar…
Jazz at Lincoln Center with Phil Woods and Tony Kadleck
In his 81st season, Woods was still a force to be reckoned with. I can get chills just thinking of his solo on the recording of Dr. Wu, but I am sure he would rather be remembered for the work he did with Dizzy, and Gil, and Monk, and his own European Rhythm Machine. But I never got to see those cats. So it was quite a thrill to see some Lincoln Center Jazz and be close enough to hear him slipping words of encouragement to his young collaborators while they raised the roof on the place.
A “late-night” record of fingerstyle artistry, Juber’s Under an Indigo Sky is …
Languid, lovely, evocative… a melt into a sumptuous sofa, and the sonic equivalent of isolated pools of low light playing off facets of cut crystal and opulent aperitif, close sensuous voices, soft laughter bittersweet with memory at the end of an evening. A warm, layered and very human scene painted entirely with one acoustic guitar drenched with resonant chords, clear and unhurried melody lines, and shadowy blue bass notes that rise or fall in pitch or pace like a melancholy pulse. An exquisite piece of music played on an exquisite guitar, exquisitely.
And that is just the first track on Juber’s Under an Indigo Sky, the latest CD from the two-time Grammy winner.
It was mixed by Al Schmitt, who has won 19 Grammy Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
As impressive as the vibrant playing is, it is the more languid performances, such as Cry Me A River with its sustained chords and un-struck string glides that truly show off the mastery of the engineer and the exceptional qualities of the guitar. While both the mellow and the vigorous selections reveal the mastery and exceptional qualities of the guitarist.