The Disc Reviews Section has been completely reorganized and there is a whole lot of new content! I’ve bought, heard, sampled and reviewed more discs this year than at any time since the beginning of the blog almost 8 years ago. Exciting! I thought I could finish everything I was planning by the this point, but I haven’t and I don’t want to deprive the
millions of 15 people who come here regularly access to the site any longer! ‘Cause I’m all about the readers! The updating will continue until the audience begs for mercy…or I just get sick of it and call it a day.
Not only did I hear a lot of music this year, but I acquired the music in different and various ways. The changes are interesting, but not always fun. It’s not like the old days when you could go to the Virgin Megastore and buy practically anything. The internet promised and continuously promises that EVERYTHING is available, all of the time, but that isn’t always true. What is true is that I bought some really cool imports and hard to find stuff at brick and mortar stores over the years and I’m not sure it’s available now. Plus, as I’ve already mentioned in another post there is something fun about finding stuff out in the real world, but that experience is almost impossible anymore. Sad.
The ch-ch-changes also affect how one views or attends music. I’ve faithfully documented the hologram phenomenon and what a phenomenon it is! I know that is something that everyone out there wants me to stay on top of! But another new musical performance avenue is on the horizon thanks to Bruce Springsteen. His Broadway “stand” has been very successful; it’s been extended three times and has grossed $2.5 million per week. Added benefit: he can drive home every night after the performance, which is way easier than a tour, especially for a guy his age. “Build it and they will come,” says Bruce! A few of my relatives have been to these intimate performances and would go again in a heartbeat. Netflix will get in on the action at the end of the year and record a show or two. This is like the NEW Vegas, but different because it doesn’t have the Cheeseball Factor and Reputation of Las Vegas, and that kind of money will certainly attract others to do same:
A group of powerful entertainment companies — Live Nation, Creative Artists Associates and Entertainment Benefits Group — is about to snap up a Broadway theater where A-list rock, pop and country performers will be “in residency” for three-week stints…Deals have not been finalized, but CAA — home to Springsteen’s agent — represents a boatload of superstars, including Ariana Grande, Kelly Clarkson, Bette Milder, Aerosmith, Carrie Underwood, Lionel Richie, James Taylor, Demi Lovato, Diana Ross, Faith Hill, the Eagles, Michael Bublé and Adam Lambert.
You can totally see Aerosmith and the Eagles jumping at this opportunity although neither of those bands have the down-home folksy charm and appeal that Bruce does. I could imagine everyone getting tired of listening to Steven Tyler after about 3 minutes. A mega-star like The Boss in that kind of intimate setting telling stories is a surefire winner, aesthetically and financially. It’s hard to get the “real” tickets for these shows (so I’ve heard) and people rely on “scalpers” who charge $3,000 and up for the tickets. Is there anything hypocritical about this kind of folksy populism bringing in ten million a month? Hmm…
NEAT LINKS — Last week I found a couple of pretty cool things, especially for those people into jazz. All of the issues of The Jazz Review, a short-lived magazine from 1958 through 1961, are online in PDF format here. The mag was founded by Nat Hentoff, Martin Williams, and Hsio Wen Shih in New York City and counted many musicians and jazz afficiandos as contributors. I haven’t found a lot of “guitar” stuff” so far, but the magazine has some great interviews and musical insights of the time, the writers were passionate fans of jazz music, and the historical angle alone (if you are into that sort of thing) is worth the price of admission. (Especially seeing how that price is FREE!).
Also, I’ve mentioned Kodoku No Gurume, a Japanese foodie show before, but today I will expand. While, on one level it is a food show and the food takes center stage, the main character, Goro, an independent designer, decorator, professional goods importer, is also a ruminating philosopher by way of his relationship to food and eating. Although it is fun to see all of the different businesses Goro visits to eat and all of the different meals, it is the calm visuals of the show and main actor Yutaka Matsushige‘s soothing voice that make for really great television. So much Japanese television is really noisy and busy and most American television is incredibly stupid and manipulative. But I do like cooking shows. I was also a fan of Lidia Bastianich and her Lidia’s Italy cooking show. She always made some really attractive meals and wove her personal stories and very interesting Italia facts into every episode. What these two shows have in common is plenty of GYPSY JAZZ background music. Here is Lidia’s old theme…I don’t think she uses it anymore. It was “written” and performed by composer Martha Bourne, but the “composed” angle is a bit of a stretch seeing as how it is obviously directly lifted from Django Reinhardt’s very famous Minor Swing. Kodoku No Gurume has a musical group called The Screen Tones that has created a wide range of different musical styles for the various footage of seven seasons worth of episodes with some of it having a very definite Gypsy Jazz flavor.
The rhythm guitarist is Masayuki Kusumi, who also serves as a writer of the original Kodoku manga, actor, and part creator to the show. The lead guitarist is a bona-fide Manouche player by the name of Fumihiko Kono and he can really work it out, not only on television and with The Screen Tones, but also onstage with powerhouse European Gypsy Jazz guys (see below). Way cool!
Since I love Gypsy Jazz anyhow, obviously it makes me enjoy television that uses the music in creative ways, especially when it’s well-written and well-played. The attraction of the music going back to its creation at the hands of Django and Stephane Grappelli is that it perfectly embodies the pure joy and good times of life; la dolce vita or however you want to think of it. Of course food, wine, dining, parties, get-togethers, family and friends are a big part of the STUFF of life and the music only makes all of that much more enjoyable!
BTW, if you are interested in watching these shows they are online. Lidia has a lot of stuff at her Youtube channel and Kodoku No Gurume can be found by entering the name of the show into any Kissasian site which I’m sure you can find on your own if you choose.