It’s hard to think of two composers more dissimilar than Arnold Schoenberg and George Gershwin—the arch-systematiser of tonal relations and the great American melodist—but the two were good friends and tennis buddies in Los Angeles, and when Gershwin died at the age of 38 (!) in 1937, Schoenberg recorded a spoken tribute to him almost astonishing in the fullness of its praise. This week’s Updoc—Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, Lower East Side Tenement time—starts off with that encomium, then segues to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in—what else?—Leonard Bernstein’s version. Later on there’s some clarinet music from Don Byron and Jimmy Hamilton, and one of Schoenberg’s finest pieces that is also one of the easiest to take: his Piano Concerto of 1942, allegedly commissioned by Oscar Levant, and definitely performed by Glenn Gould. Then Gershwin’s American in Paris, also thanks to Lenny, and a performance of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto as gobsmackingly beautiful as any I’ve ever heard or dreamed of, by Sabine Myer, Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic. You could do worse than stopping by to listen for a couple of hours. Really.
On the 59th edition of RootsWorld Radio we’ll go deep into some American roots with music the music of Tim Eriksen, plus a bit of old timey fiddling from North America and Norway, some old trans-Atlantic ballads, a Salentine dance, something edgy from China, some Coltrane - Cajun style - and a lot more.
Artists featured this week include Tim Eriksen, Enza Pagliara, Wataru Ohkama & Cicala Mvta, Almeda Riddle, The Freight Hoppers, Dawanggang, Hans W Brimi, Sigbjørn Apeland & Nils Økland, Aslak O. Brimi, Henry Morrisson, Ryan McGiver, The False Beards w/ Katie Rose, Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet, Dominguinhos, Sivuca & Oswaldinho, The Handsome Family and Radio Cos. RootsWorld Radio, Wednesdays 5pm & Saturdays 8am (Eastern Random Time).
We are proud to announce the addition of Downhome With Howling Dick, a one-hour blues program with UK-based independent producer/host Howling Dick. Sundays 7am (Eastern) & Tuesdays 6pm. The debut episode is titled “Four Cool Cats.”
It’s finally warm enough here on my Brooklyn ranch to feel that spring has sprung, so why not, on this week’s Updoc, Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, local time, renew the earth and sacrifice a virgin with that old cut-up Igor Stravinsky? Ezra Pound called artists ‘the antennae of the race’ before he started picking up some bad signals himself, so we really shouldn’t blame Igor for World War One and a century of mass sacrifice when he was only picking up signals already blowin’ in the wind. I usually intend to program the Bernstein version of the Sacre and end up playing the nearly identical but more recently recorded Gergiev, but this time I went back to the source and put the composer’s own brisk, swift, no-nonsense version on the show. But it got me thinking about this music that gets us all charged up and exhilarated and ends in human sacrifice, and I started to wonder if there was some other music that spotted sweeter possibilities tumblin’ in the last century’s breeze. Louis Armstrong seemed a good place to start, and that got the show to Ellington after a few stopovers en route. On Stravinsky’s return, the closing ‘Laudate’ of his Symphony of Psalms seemed so gloomy in its praise that Updoc blew those blues away with the finale of Charles Ives’ 4th Symphony, in which the hymn ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ has never seemed more present-tense. And no, they didn’t bust Stravinsky in Boston in 1940; he was new in-country and had to register a lot, also get written permission to use the octatonic scale in public. Tune in and bring a daisy.
On the 58th edition of RootsWorld Radio, we’ll start off with some English language topical and story songs from the Caribbean, including Michael Stone’s feature on the music of Trinidadian/Canadian band Kobo Town. We explore calypso, tango, soca and some other offshoots, as well as a few complete diversions into the music of China, Italy, Finland and Hungary.
Artists include The Atilla with Gerald Clark & His Caribbean Serenaders, Mike Marshall & Jovino Santos Neto with Hermeto Pascoal, Daniele Sepe, Lord Mouse & the Kalypso Katz, Lionel Belasco & His Orchestra, Leroy Young, The Grandmaster, Lord Shorty & His Vibrations International, The Silvertones, Kobo Town, Gabor Gado, DaWangGang, Matuto and Johana Juhola’s Reactori. Wednesday 5pm (Eastern) & Saturday 8am.
Whatever I had in mind for this week’s show—Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday—much of it got pre-empted as soon as I got hold of The Complete Sun Ship Session, by the John Coltrane Quartet: August 25 1965 at RCA Studios rather than at Van Gelder’s, and some of the time Trane stretching the band to its limits, which soon would not be enough for him. The show starts off with three complete alternate takes and ends with a fourth: the greatest band I’ve ever heard on one of its last days. It would have been cruel to follow up those three takes with someone else’s jazz, so I was happy to find Anders Hillborg’s orchestral composition Eleven Gates before moving on to a set alternating Lucky Thompson and Benny Golson. Before returning to Coltrane, there’s the youngish American composer Kevin Puts, whose name I have trouble getting around on-air for some reason, and his fine piece for string quartet, Dark Vigil, which doesn’t sound too dark to me but is vigilantly played by the Ying Quartet. Some Bird and Lucky Thompson for farewell, and do come by, especially if you haven’t heard the Sun Ship alternates yet, and soar aloft with them.
On the 57th edition of RootsWorld Radio we’ll have coffee in San Antonio, do a jazzy freylach in Budapest, hear tubas and voices from Norway, explore some classics of funk from Benin and Senegal, and make stops in Italy and Bulgaria along the way.
Artists include Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Contonou, Hammer and Hersk, Ivan Lantos and Kolinda, Adjagas, Eva Quartet & Hector Zazou (w/Laurie Anderson), Eplemoya Songlag, Luigi Cinque and the Tarantula Hypertext Orchestra, Round Mountain w/ The Brass Menazari, KlezJazz, and Diuef-Dieul de Thies. Wednesday 5pm & Saturday 8am.
I’m not sure what I had planned for this week’s Updoc—Friday at 8PM, noon next Tuesday, Brooklyn Dodgers time—but when an (actual) friend asked me on Facebook about something I might or might not have written about Beethoven, the question sent me back to the Late Quartets, for the first time with access to the Takacs Quartet’s 2005 recordings, and suddenly there was no other music as compelling and deep and meaningful, so I’m passing the savings along to you. The Takacs recordings fully earn their place among the all-time great ones, and the show will feature Opus 130 with the Grosse Fuge finale, and the C#-minor quartet that was Beethoven’s own favorite: a profound work front and back, but the Takacs performance finally let me hear the lightness at its heart. We raise the curtain with a late-period work that doesn’t sound like one, The Consecration of the House overture, and manage to squeeze in Artur Schnabel’s unsurpassable 1932 recording of the penultimate piano sonata, Opus 110. Deaf as at least a couple of posts, out of fashion, suffering from lead poisoning he got from his favorite pewter mug, this man somehow wrote his greatest music, unlike any other, that sounds us to the center of our being. Bring some Milk Duds or something.
On RootsWorld Radio #56, we’ll start off in the northern Adriatic Sea, wind our way across the Mediterranean and into Mali, the landward route to Zambia and then back up the east African coast. We’ll cross the Indian Ocean and somehow still find stops in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Chicago, and finish with a ride down the mighty Mississippi River.
Artists will include Riccardo Tesi & Banditaliana, Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba withTaj Mahal, Calicanto, Gaiteieros de Lisboa, Kobo Town, Enock Mbongwe Haciwa, Over Sundet, Outerlingal, Twatasha Dance Group, Himmerland, Juma Bhalo, Vadya Lahari, Nordik Tree and John Fahey & His Orchestra. Wednesday, 5pm (Eastern) & Saturday, 8am.
I’ve played a lot of Lester Young on the show—that would be Updoc on taintradio.org, Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, NY Uptown time—but have been inexplicably remiss re Nat King Cole, who was, moreover, a friend of my father’s; so it’s make-up time this week, with selections from their 1946 Verve recording in a trio with Buddy Rich and a few cuts from Cole with his trio and on his own. The man had such impeccable style and class. Also onboard: a new CD from Robert Hurst featuring Branford and Tain and Glasper and Maupin and more, and a recent one from pianist Donald Brown featuring Ravi Coltrane. Also Jennifer Higdon’s rip-roaring tour de force of a Concerto for Orchestra, a lithe little Piano Trio from Judith Weir and, most exquisite of all, a setting for voice and orchestra by Henri Dutilleux of a letter from Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo. Dew Drop Inn.