NOTABLOG MONTHLY ARCHIVES: 2002 - 2020
|APRIL 2006||JUNE 2006|
MAY 31, 2006
Song of the Day: Yah Mo Be There features the words and music of Rod Temperton and Quincy Jones, and the two gents who first recorded this smooth track: Michael McDonald and James Ingram (audio clips at those artist links).
MAY 30, 2006
Song of the Day: Give Me Tonight, words and music by Chris Barbosa and Ed Chisolm, was a smash dance hit for Shannon. Along with "Let the Music Play," this freestyle classic was spun regularly on the Sciabarra DJ turntables in the mid-80s. Listen to an audio clip here.
MAY 29, 2006
Song of the Day: Never Can Say Goodbye, words and music by Clifton Davis, remains one of my favorite Jackson Five hits. Listen to audio clips from the original Jackson Five and also a very nice Gloria Gaynor dance remake.
MAY 28, 2006
Song of the Day: There'll Be Some Changes Made, music by W. Benton Overstreet, lyrics by Billy Higgins, has been recorded by many artists since its debut in the Roaring '20s. Listen to audio clips of versions by Ethel Waters (who sings the rarely heard intro), Ted Lewis, Sophie Tucker, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Peggy Lee, and Tony Bennett.
MAY 27, 2006
Song of the Day: Harlem Nocturne, composed by Earle Hagen, has been recorded by many artists since 1940. It was even heard as a jazzy signature theme for the TV series, "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer," in the mid-1980s. Listen to an audio clip of Herbie Fields, perhaps the most famous version.
MAY 26, 2006
Notablog readers don't need to be reminded that Derek Jeter is one of my favorite Yankees of all time.
Well, the Yanks are currently losing to the Kansas City Royals, 7-5; the game is in rain delay. But this much is official: Derek Jeter started the evening with 1,999 career hits, and he collected two more, putting his total at 2,001. That makes Jeter only the eighth Yankee in the team's illustrious history to collect 2000 or more hits.
Congratulations to the Yankee Captain!
And Go Yanks!
Update: Uh, yeah, the Yanks did end up losing that game, 7-6.
Uh oh, Sorry were beating your Yanks!
If it helps, I am not really a baseball fan so I won't rub it in.
Posted by: Nick | May 27, 2006 02:06 AM
Your new interface is groovy.
Posted by: Nick | May 27, 2006 07:10 PM
Hey, Nick, yes, yes, you boys beat us the other night. But the Yanks came a stormin' back today... kickin those KC butts, 15-4.
But thanks for the compliments on the new interface. There is still some tweaking that NYU needs to finish up next week.
Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | May 27, 2006 11:40 PM
Song of the Day: I'm Confessin' (That I Love You), music by Doc Daugherty and Ellis Reynolds, lyrics by Al J. Neiburg, was my mother and father's "song." This lovely tune has been performed by so many artists through the years. Listen to audio clips of versions by Guy Lombardo, Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli with the Quintet of the Hot Club of France (I also love a rare version with Django on electric guitar), Perry Como, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Tony Bennett with k.d. lang.
MAY 25, 2006
Song of the Day: Flying Home is credited to Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, and Sid Robin. Listen to the classic Lionel Hampton recording and another by Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra.
MAY 24, 2006
Song of the Day: Overjoyed, words and music by Stevie Wonder, concludes our Twelve Days of Stevie. Listen to an audio clip of this sensitive ballad here.
MAY 23, 2006
I haven't the foggiest. I don't know. I just don't know.
I think Taylor may have won the night by a slim margin... but then again, I'm just not sure. And who knows who the audience will vote for!? I don't think there will be a huge "injustice" either way... but I'd love to hear your thoughts...
Taylor Hicks or Katharine McPhee???
I saw the final competition late last night, after TIVOing it. I think I'd give my vote to Katharine. Taylor is okay. I don't know if they will be able to do much commercial stuff with him, tho.
Posted by: Elaine | May 24, 2006 06:46 AM
I think Hicks is a bit cheesy, kinda like a Vegas performer. I think McPhee is a poor man's Kelly Clarkson.
Whose gonna win? I figure it will be McPhee. She's got the package or at least a better package than Hicks.
Posted by: Tracy | May 24, 2006 08:29 AM
Hard to predict. It was very close last week, and it's not obvious where the Elliott votes will be transfered. I think the judges were too hard on Katherine and too adulatory towards Taylor, and think Katherine is slightly the better performer, but I won't be ranting about the injustice of it all if Taylor wins. I suspect they'll both get a record deal either way, a la Bo and Carrie.
Posted by: Aeon J. Skoble | May 24, 2006 08:45 AM
If I'd had my druthers, neither. But that's just me.
I must admit that Katharine did much better on SWOTR last night than she did last week (she was wonderful), and also improved her performance on that "whoo-hoo" song she'd performed earlier in the season (some song about a cherry tree?). Unfortunately, she completely fell apart on that triple-cheese pizza of an American Idol single, where she exhibited her most unattractive vocal traits. Katharine, you can't belt it without screeching, so don't try!
Taylor did very well on his first song. "Levon" could have been better, had they allowed Taylor more time for a build-up instead of the truncated version. His triple-cheese pizza "AI single" started out rough but really improved as the performance went on.
I predict Taylor will win by a comfortable margin,
because of the following factors:
1) The Soul Patrol--he has a huge fan base and has never been in the bottom three (or bottom two);
2)Elliott fans were furious at Katharine for her reaction when Elliott was eliminated and will vote for Taylor just to get back at Katharine. There was also a brief camera shot of Elliott in the audience last night, mouthing "Soul Patrol" after a Taylor performance, which might have spurred the Yaminiacs on;
3) Never underestimate the power of Vote For the Worst. Taylor's been their poster boy since Kellie was eliminated, and it's widely known that Taylor doesn't mind in the least and in fact, "is honored" by that dubious distinction;
4) ...and I cheated by going on dialidol.com, which has been pretty darned accurate in their predictions, and they have Taylor leading approx. 12% over Katharine.
Posted by: Peri Sword | May 24, 2006 09:28 AM
Tailor is going to win it tonight. I think he deserves it.
Posted by: Patrick | May 24, 2006 05:28 PM
All you East Coasters know now who won (I do too, but I cheat by going on line).
Not surprising, really. I just hope someone gives Elliott a contract.
Posted by: Peri Sword | May 24, 2006 10:36 PM
Indeed, Peri... The Soul Patrol must have been celebrating. :)
I really enjoyed Elliott's performances last night, and also Al Jarreau with Paris. And while not everyone sounded great on the Burt Bacharach musical medley, it was still nice to hear some of the best music that Bacharach has offered over the past 30+ years.
In any event, yes, Taylor is the winner. I'm sure both Taylor and Katharine will be charting on Billboard, and other finalists will as well.
Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | May 25, 2006 06:36 AM
Yes, the Al Jarreau duet was gold. But Kat and
Meatloaf was a bit of a WTF moment. And if someone can explain the travesty that
was Toni Braxton, please do. Double-WTF??
One thing that cracked me up was when they were making fun of that Clay-Aiken-wannabe, and Clay actually showed up -- either that was a genuine surprise to the kid, or he's Oscar-caliber. Speaking of "sanction of the victim," what's the deal with all these people so happily and eagerly complicit in their own humiliation? It's one thing for the TV audience to get a chuckle out of the audition footage of the awful and self-deceptive, but to come onstage and get an award for suckitude? I don't get it.
Posted by: Aeon J. Skoble | May 25, 2006 09:11 AM
More votes than were cast for President. Something to think about.
Posted by: Chris Grieb | May 25, 2006 11:29 AM
I don't think that's a fair comparison. You can only vote once for President and the process requires more than just speed dialing on your telephone.
Posted by: Mick Russell | May 25, 2006 02:45 PM
I'll join Chris S and Aeon in praising the Paris and Al Jarreau duet. I found it the highlight of the evening.
Burt Bacharach looked great! And yes Chris, Bacharach and David's music is wonderful. Poor Dion Warwick has seen better days though.
Posted by: Mick Russell | May 25, 2006 03:03 PM
"More votes than were cast for President. Something to think about." Not really -- unlike the constitution, AI allows you to vote as often as you like.
Posted by: Aeon J. Skoble | May 25, 2006 03:07 PM
Ok, following is my recap of the finale:
Al Jarreau and Paris! Wow!
Paris needs a little seasoning on the scatting bit, but otherwise, wonderful. Al Jarreau is such a gentleman, sharing the spotlight with little Paris. He even dressed down to give Paris a chance to shine. I don't know much about Mr. Jarreau, but every time I hear him or see him perform, I get the warm fuzzies. He's so talented and he seems like such a humble, friendly guy.
Chris and Live: not my thang, dawg, but at least Chris got the opportunity to make it up to the band after his sin of omission against them with the "Walk the Line" bit earlier this season. The lead singer is gracious in sharing the spotlight with AI's first "real" rocker.
Kat and Meatloaf: WTF? God, Meatloaf looks and sings awful. Kat not much better, but she then, she looks nonplussed the entire time. As am I. Who dreamed this up? Has Katharine made a lot of enemies amongst the show's producers? After my initial shock and amusement at this most unlikely pairing, I get bored and really, really uncomfortable watching Meatloaf, and go into the kitchen to make a pitcher of Crystal Light, pour myself a glass, and get back to the livingroom in time to see Kat give Meatloaf a wink. Once again, WTF?
Puck and Pickler. Heee. Pickler can't sing worth a darn, but she's a natural comedienne...and isn't it nice that AI is trying to help her get her own show...
They are bringing back the jokes from the audition rounds. You know, two of the three cowboys aren't that bad. The Danny Glover of the group has a nice tenor voice. Turkey boy is the lone bad one, so why is HE wearing the white hat? The tall guy has a nice bass voice. That had to have counted against him right there. Not too many basses crack the top twenty, and they always play the villians in opera.
I briefly wonder whatever happened to that one-hit wonder band with the bass lead singer who had a hit quite a few years back with that "Once, there was a giiii-rrr-l who..." song whose chorus consisted of, simply, "mmmmm." Very briefly. It takes me about 1000 times longer to write about it than it did to think.
Mary J Blige is a stage hogging belter. I'm surprised she doesn't just pitch poor Elliot into the orchestra pit. I also realize, at this moment, why Elliott didn't win...he didn't have the killer, stage hogging "it's all about me" instinct. He performs some lovely runs and has a remarkable voice, but Mary J Blige does all she can to cover that up...get off of the stage, you stage hog! This is NOT supposed to be your moment; it's supposed to be Elliott's! If I were Elliott's mom, I'd bitch slap this woman!
Tay Tay and the woman in the slip...Toni Braxton, is she? Man, she's trying everything to turn this into something more appropriate for HBO than wholesome family fun, but Mr. Soul Patrol just ain't buyin' it. Heeeee.
So Carrie Underwood comes on and sings something boring about moving away from home and begging us to please, please never forget her. Oh Carrie, I've been TRYING to forget you since...the beginning of Season 4, actually. GO BO!
Yeah! A tribute to Burt Bacharach! I'm in heaven! Michael and I have dreamed about "Burt Bacharach Theme Night" on this show for years, and they never did it--but this will suffice! Is it possible that Mr. Bacharach is 80 years old? He's still such a handsome man!
It's nice to see and hear Melissa again--she really DOES have a great, smoky voice and this Bacharach is just right for it. I could do without Ace.
Little Lisa does a beautiful job with "Alfie"--Burt, hire her to sing your songs. Now.
I am once again reminded that Mandisa was voted off this show waaaayyyy too soon.
Chris looked really good in a tux. Never cared for his voice, but damn, he looks good. And it actually looks like he's having fun. That's new.
Oh, Elliott, your voice thrills me! If I wasn't already spoken for, I wouldn't mind making your house a home.
Dionne Warwick, did your Psychic Friends tell you who's going to be the next American Idol? Spill it, girlfriend, because I think the stroke affected your voice. That last note was really, really sour. This is more painful than watching Meatloaf. Stay well, dear. You still look like a million bucks.
Commercial break and the phone rings. Michael and I swap notes about Bacharach and Warwick and the Idols through the millionth Coke commercial, then it's back to watching the show.
They brought the wannabe Clay Aiken kid who had to pee back to the show. I don't get it. Money has to have changed hands here. Self-deprecating humor is charming--I have a lot of trouble with people who take themselves waaay too seriously (life is much too serious a thing to always be talking seriously about it, in MY sense of life), and I suppose it's not bad if these people are aware they are being exploited at their own expense, but...I don't know.
And, here comes the REAL Clay. What the F has he done to his hair? The kid acts as if he's just seen Jesus. Awwww...but Clay butchers one of my favorite Elton John songs. NO surprise there.
So Ryan the twit says that's it, now we will annouce the results, but there's 15 minutes left and I don't believe him. Is there at least 10 minutes of Coke, Cingular and Ford commercials in my future?
Omigod. Taylor! Prince is in the house and he wants his purple jacket back! Ok, so he's WEARING a purple jacket, but Prince knows that you can NEVER have enough purple jackets!
Remember, back in the 80's, when we thought Prince was the "weird" one and that Michael Jackson was more "normal"?
Oh man, every time I hear Prince I want to get funk-aay. Really, REALLY funk-aaay. What can I say? I'm a dirty girl....
One more AI commercial for Ford. Whatever. Taylor and Kat just got cars. It's the least Ford could do for all the advertising the kids did for them during the last 12 weeks, I suppose. I wonder if Taylor and Kat will argue about who gets the red one.
Ok, so this is starting to go on longer than the Super Bowl pre-show. All the glitz and glamor and hype, and the Super Bowl GAME is never much of a surprise. And neither is American Idol when Taylor is named the winner.
WTF. David Hasslehoff is crying! Now my evening is complete!
That Mandisa sure can sing!
Posted by: Peri Sword | May 27, 2006 11:48 AM
Aeon, I agree about the Kat and Meatloaf and Toni Braxton moments... WTF indeed! And those self-flaggelating moments by Idol rejects were painful to watch.
And good points by Mick and Chris G. too, as always.
Now, as for you, Peri, my sweet: I'm ready to turn my blog over to you! Damn! What a terrific read your review was! Lovely! Well, well done.
Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | May 27, 2006 11:45 PM
*blush* Thanks, Chris, what a sweet thing to say!
Posted by: Peri Sword | May 28, 2006 08:23 PM
My pleasure, Peri!
BTW, the Idols are already lining up with their record contracts, and the summer tour begins!
And, again, if you're at all into dance, check out "So You Think You Can Dance."
Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | June 8, 2006 07:25 AM
Song of the Day: Get It features the words and music of Stevie Wonder, who duets on this track with Michael Jackson. The two had collaborated before (for example, Jackson performed Stevie's jazz-flavored composition "I Can't Help It; the two also sang together on "Just Good Friends"). But this one dances to its own beat. Listen to an audio clip here.
MAY 22, 2006
It gives me great pleasure to announce the publication of the Spring 2006 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. The issue features a dialogue on Ayn Rand's ethics, with contributions from Tibor R. Machan, Frank Bubb, Eric Mack, Douglas B. Rasmussen, Robert H. Bass, Chris Cathcart, and Robert L. Campbell. In addition, there are articles covering topics in epistemology (Merlin Jetton) and literature (Kurt Keefner and Peter Saint-Andre). Other contributors include Sheldon Richman on Thomas Szasz and Ayn Rand; Max Hocutt on postmodernism; Steven Yates on capitalism and commerce; and David M. Brown on the new Ayn Rand Q&A book.
The issue opens with my own tribute to R. W. Bradford, without whom The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies would never have been founded. This Spring 2006 issue is dedicated to the memory of Bradford, Joan Kennedy Taylor, and Chris Tame. A PDF of my tribute piece is available here.
For subscription information, see here.
Cross-posted to L&P. See also the Ayn Rand Meta-Blog.
Song of the Day: Ribbon in the Sky features the words and music of Stevie Wonder, who provides us with another example of his passionate vocals and keyboard work. Listen to an audio clip of this song here.
MAY 21, 2006
Song of the Day: You Haven't Done Nothin' features the words and music of Stevie Wonder, who recorded this song with the Jackson 5. Listen to an audio clip of this pop-funk track here.
MAY 20, 2006
Song of the Day: Send One Your Love, words and music by Stevie Wonder, is a precious selection from a score he wrote for a 1979 documentary film entitled "The Secret Life of Plants." The album was entitled "Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants"; this song was also a highlight from his "Original Musiquarium I" hits package (audio clip at that link).
MAY 19, 2006
Song of the Day: Go Home, words, music, and performance by Stevie Wonder, is a melodic-and-rhythmic highlight from his fine album "In Square Circle" (audio clip at that link).
MAY 18, 2006
Yes, there have been some changes at Notablog. New York University is in the process of providing me with a more efficient blog interface, and it will take a few days for this place to start looking a bit more 'normal.' So bear with us as the Web Team at NYU does some work around here.
Song of the Day: Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing, words and music by Stevie Wonder, is also from "Innervisions." Listen to an audio clip here (yes, that makes six tracks�if you count this one and this one�selected for my favorite list, all from one great album).
MAY 17, 2006
As readers of Notablog know, I'm a long-time viewer of "American Idol" (see here, here, here, and here).
Well, last night was the showdown between the final three contestants. For me, Katharine McPhee earned her way into the final installment (to be aired next week) just on the strength of her rendition of "Over the Rainbow." She even sang the rarely heard introduction!
The problem, for me, is that I genuinely like the other two contestants as well: Taylor Hicks and Elliott Yamin. I think the latter has a nice soul presence, and the former is utterly fearless in his performances. If I were a betting man, I'd say it will be Hicks and McPhee in the final installment, but the voting has been known to surprise.
Tonight, we'll see who moves on! Stay tuned...
I had thought it would have been Eliot and Taylor in the final week, but I think you're right about Katharine having a strong showing last night. I think Simon was right that Eliot's songs may not appeal to the audience.
I wish I could vote but I never get through. The lines are always busy.
Posted by: Elaine | May 17, 2006 07:08 AM
You guys were right... plus, she's cuter than Elliott
Posted by: Amit | May 18, 2006 12:26 PM
Heidi and I voted a total of four times for Elliott--but it wasn't enough. He was eliminated by a margin of 0.2%0.2%
Not that Katharine didn't sing well this week. I really think she dodged a bullet last week when Chris Daughtry was voted off instead of her.
Posted by: Robert Campbell | May 18, 2006 05:38 PM
Maybe I'm becoming an old crank, but I wasn't impressed with Katharine or her version of "Over the Rainbow".
Listening to all three again last night only confirms, for me, that Elliott was the superior singer.
BTW: For a wonderful version of "Over the Rainbow" might I suggest the late, great Lorez Alexandria.
Posted by: Mick Russell | May 18, 2006 09:38 PM
I never thought I would meet another person like myself, who is both a fan of American Idol and Sonny Blount.
Posted by: Mick Russell | May 19, 2006 02:00 AM
I beg to differ; Katherine's performance of Over the Rainbow was a real treat, and it showcased some genuine ability, as did her rendition of Black Horse and Cherry Tree (or whatever it's called). However, I agree that Elliott was the more talented of the male vocalists, but he often picked songs that weren't as popular. Having said that, though, I don't think we need to have a theory about why he got booted before Taylor, since there was less than one percent separating them. About 8 weeks ago, I predicted Katherine and Chris for the finalists; I guess I was half-right. I think Taylor is a pretty good singer, had good stage persona etc., although I had a marginal preference for Elliott to stay. I'm now pulling for Katherine, but I'm pretty sure all three of them, and Chris for that matter, will be making records.
Posted by: Aeon J. Skoble | May 19, 2006 10:21 AM
Hmmm... Sonny Blount had broad tastes. He might have enjoyed American Idol.
I liked Katharine's version of "Over the Rainbow." I've found her somewhat erratic: she can lapse into a yippy, whiny sound that apparently fits some stereotype she has of pop singing. But none of that was in evidence on "Over the Rainbow."
Where can I find Lorez Alexandria's rendition? I like her earliest work, which I've listened to as part of my research on Chicago jazz musicians, but don't know her post-1958 recordings at all well.
Posted by: Robert Campbell | May 19, 2006 09:33 PM
I'm not a Katharine hater. In fact, she was one of my favorites after the auditions. Her inconsistency has been frustrating though. I thought her rendition of "Over the Rainbow" was ok, I know she can do better. I'm actually rooting for her in the final. Sorry Chris, Taylor may be "utterly fearless" but some of his performances have been laugh out loud bad, the Wild Cherry song?
After Lorez Alexandria's work with King, she moved to Los Angeles and recorded for Impulse! You can find her rendition of "Over the Rainbow" here.
Posted by: Mick Russell | May 20, 2006 03:06 AM
I'm so glad this site exists and that Michael
("Mick") has had the opportunity to meet someone who's as deeply into jazz as he
is (Hi, Robert!).
This is a case where the internet worked well.
Anyway. I don't understand the Katharine lovefest going on here. She did all right on SWOTR, but she missed some notes here and there. She's a lovely girl, and on occasion sings well, but she's not consistant. She's mostly boring to me.
Taylor...well. He intrigued me during the auditions, but he's disappointed me during the competition phase. He wears on my nerves, and his voice isn't all that. The endearing stage hysterics won't translate to recorded sound, either.
Elliott has a thrilling voice, and I hope someone in "the business" grabs him. In AI Board jargon: "HE WUZ ROBBED!"
Posted by: Peri | May 20, 2006 11:09 AM
Additional Katharine criticism: Her petulant and conceited attitude puts me off a bit. She strikes me as a spoiled, vapid Valley Girl whereas both Taylor and Elliott have much more winning personalities.
I know, this is a singing competition, but if you act like a diva, at least have the talent to back it up...
Or maybe it's just me.
Posted by: Peri Sword | May 20, 2006 09:27 PM
Nice to see some familiar faces back in these parts; the blog is still being configured by NYU---but it's getting there.
Anyway, just a few additional thoughts:
I truly liked Elliott, and he was my choice based on my own tastes. And I still love his "Moody's Mood," and was very happy that he's recorded it for the Idol CD release. I'm sure he'll get some exposure on the upcoming tour; let's see if they do good by him in terms of future recordings. (I think you're right, Aeon: they are all going to be making records!)
I do think you're right, Robert: Katharine held on by a thread the previous week, and here she is... in the finals! I think she has, indeed, been very inconsistent.
Mick, I was impressed by Katharine's attempt at an original reading of "Over the Rainbow." I grew very tired of some of the judges' commentaries over the last few weeks. I mean, how many times can you berate a contestant because she doesn't sound like Whitney Houston, or doesn't sound like Ella Fitzgerald? (How many people do?) If she copies Whitney's vocals on a Whitney song, she's criticized for copying Whitney, and not being "original" or as good as the original. And if she tries to do an individualized, unique rendition, she's criticized for falling short of the actual original.
"Over the Rainbow," in my view, however, was enough removed from the classic Judy Garland rendition, and qualified as original.
This said, Katharine has not been my favorite contestant; I think she has a lot of rough patches and inconsistences, as I suggested. But some of the inconsistencies might be rooted in genres in which she's just not very strong. Some of these theme nights can be infuriating.
But Mick, I will search out Lorez Alexandria! (My own sister-in-law, Joanne Barry, did a fabulous, jazz-inflected version of "Over the Rainbow," when she did the NYC Village circuit some years ago. Sorry she never recorded it.)
I should say, though, that when I said Taylor was "fearless," I didn't mean he was "faultless." I agree: Some of his performances have been less than satisfying. But I do get the sense that he's having fun, and really passionate about the music he loves. It's going to be a very interesting finale.
BTW, I am a HUGE jazz fan too; Robert and I have spent a lot of time discussing jazz. And, nepotism aside, my brother, Carl Barry, is one helluva great jazz guitarist, and my sister-in-law is one fine jazz vocalist. Check out their site here.
Anyway, on to the finale of "AI" this week. And if you folks are into dance, check out "So You Think You Can Dance" later in the week; I really enjoyed that competition last summer.
Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | May 20, 2006 11:18 PM
Song of the Day: Golden Lady, words and music by Stevie Wonder, is yet another "Innervisions" classic. Listen to an audio clip here.
MAY 16, 2006
I've been a busy boy over these many weeks, working on several projects. But I did have the opportunity to see the great film score composer, John Williams, conduct the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall.
I've been to other Lincoln Center tributes to film music: A terrific program in 2005, featuring Itzhak Perlman, which I commented on here, and a previous John Williams appearance in February 2004, "The Art of the Score," which featured selections from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "JFK," the Harry Potter films, "Far and Away," "Catch Me if You Can," "Schindler's List," "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," and a few other classic fanfares and encores (including the theme from "Star Wars").
This year, the Williams program focused on the music of the incomparable Bernard Herrmann, and, in the second half, the various collaborations between Steven Spielberg and John Williams. What made the concert extra-special was the appearance of directors Martin Scorsese and Steve Spielberg as hosts.
Scorsese spoke glowingly of the great Herrmann, and gave us a wonderful portrait of how Herrmann worked. Selections from Herrmann's scores were in abundance: "Death Hunt," from On Dangerous Ground, material from Herrmann's early years in Hollywood (Citizen Kane, The Devil and Daniel Webster, and Currier and Ives), a magnificent section on his immortal collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, featuring excerpts from the films themselves (the lovely, sensitive melody of the "Scene d'Amour" from Vertigo, the unmistakable prelude and jarring shower scene chords from Psycho, and the thrilling main theme from North by Northwest), and two selections from Taxi Driver.
Scorsese told a charming and poignant story of his work with Herrmann on that last film. On the very last night before the film wrapped, Scorsese was looking for one last cue that would somehow convey the off-kilter character of Robert "You Talkin' to Me" DeNiro. Herrmann had the orchestra play a single chord.
"That's it?" Scorsese asked.
"Yes! Play it backwards," the maestro said. And then, Herrmann left the studio.
And they did run the recording of that chord backwards, and it is amazing what that sound conveys.
But it was the last cue ever conducted by Herrmann, who passed away that very evening.
The second half of the program was hosted by Spielberg, and opened with the classic approaching shark theme from Jaws. Williams led the orchestra through excerpts from Close Encounters and Schindler's List (featuring the wonderful Glenn Dicterow on violin). And Spielberg gave us a lesson on the organic role that music plays in the crafting of film, a role that began with those pianists who offered live accompaniment during the silent era. We watched a whole film segment without music from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with River Phoenix as the young Indiana. And then, the orchestra joined in, as Spielberg re-ran the same scene, providing us with a live rendition of the scoring, in sync with the action on film. It was utterly remarkable, and helped us to appreciate the art of the score, not just creatively, but technically as well.
The most breathtaking segment of the concert, however, had to be the finale from E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. I'd seen Williams conduct this particular finale back in 2004, but this time, the orchestra provided live accompaniment for the final segment of the film, which was shown in its entirety on the big screen. Exhilirating, stupendous, phenomenal... there just aren't enough adjectives to describe this experience. It brought me and many other audience members to tears, and in the end, it brought every single person to their feet.
The Williams, Scorsese, and Spielberg commentary made the concert an entertaining and educational treat. But what would any concert be without an encore? Williams re-took the stage after the E.T. extravaganza, and gave us additional material from his recent score to Munich. He also conducted his fanfare for the "NBC Nightly News," since it was doubtful that any of us would get home in time to catch it.
The concert ended with the theme from Star Wars, a triumphal conclusion to a splendid evening.
I was at the 2004 concert you mentioned. Now I wish I attended the most recent one. I'm jealous!
Posted by: Elaine | May 16, 2006 08:19 AM
I heard John Williams conduct a concert at the Lincoln Memorial with John Denver many years ago. I'm thinking the Carter Administration. The one you attended sounds great. Bernard Hermann was a great genuis. The music from Vertigo contributes to its greatness.
Posted by: Chris Grieb | May 16, 2006 10:28 AM
If you folks have never heard my buddy Bruce Crawford's wonderful radio documentary on Bernard Herrmann, make sure you check it out. More info on Bruce's activities can be found here.
Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | May 21, 2006 02:08 PM
Song of the Day: Living for the City, words and music by Stevie Wonder, is another "Innervisions" gem. Listen to an audio clip here of this classic track, which integrates great melody, rhythm, and social commentary.
MAY 15, 2006
Song of the Day: Too High, words and music by Stevie Wonder, is from the classic Grammy award-winning album, "Innervisions." Listen to an audio clip of this super fine song here.
MAY 14, 2006
Song of the Day: Isn't She Lovely? features the words, music, and performance of Stevie Wonder. This exuberant song is from another classic Stevie album: "Songs in the Key of Life" (audio clip at that link). A lyrical celebration of Wonder's newborn daughter Aisha Morris, whose crying is heard on the recording, this song is also a tribute to the love of fathers and mothers: Happy Mother's Day!
MAY 13, 2006
Song of the Day: Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours features the words and music of Lee Garrett, Syreeta Wright, Lula Hardaway, and her son, Stevie Wonder, who is today's birthday boy. Listen to an audio clip here, and join us for the next "Twelve Days of Stevie," which will highlight some of my favorite songs from one of my all-time favorite artists.
MAY 12, 2006
Song of the Day: Cinnamon and Clove, music by Johnny Mandel, lyrics by Marilyn and Alan Bergman, is one of those melodic Brazilian classics recorded by Brasil 66. Listen to an audio clip from their magnificent album, "Equinox."
MAY 11, 2006
Song of the Day: Comedian's Galop is a long-time favorite, composed by Dmitri Borisovitch Kabalevsky as part of an orchestral suite, "The Comedians." Yes, I was first exposed to this composition while watching cartoon classics as a kid (audio clip at that link). Also check out audio clips from the full suite, performed by the San Diego Chamber Orchestra.
MAY 10, 2006
Song of the Day: Manha de Carnaval (Morning of Carnival), music by Luiz Bonfa, original lyrics by Antonio Maria, English lyrics by George Weiss, Hugo Peretti, and Luigi Creatore, is from the 1959 film, "Black Orpheus." Listen to audio clips of versions from the original soundtrack, Luiz Bonfa (on guitar and vocals), tenor saxophonist Stan Getz with big band, vocalist Astrud Gilberto, and a duet by guitarists John McLaughlin and Al Dimeola.
MAY 09, 2006
Song of the Day: The Flight of the Bumble Bee was composed by Nikolai Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov for the opera "The Tale of Tsar Saltan," based on a poem by Aleksandr Pushkin. Listen to audio clips of this fleet-of-finger composition here and here.
MAY 08, 2006
Song of the Day: Shangri-La, words and music by Carl Sigman, Matty Malneck (an old family friend) and harpist Robert Maxwell, who performs the original instrumental track. Listen to an audio clip of the Maxwell hit, as well as vocal versions by the Four Coins, The Lettermen, and The Vogues (hat tip, JR!).
MAY 07, 2006
Song of the Day: Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90 is one of the greatest compositions of Johannes Brahms, today's birthday boy. I especially love the Third Movement. Listen here to an audio clip, performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with Georg Solti conducting.
MAY 06, 2006
Song of the Day: Hungry for Your Love features the words and music of Kurtis Mantronik and the team of Aaron Hanson and E. J. Davis, who perform this fiery freestyle track. Listen here to an audio clip of this 80s dance hit.
MAY 05, 2006
Song of the Day: Symphony No. 5 in C-Minor, Op. 67, composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, can be identified instantaneously from its first four notes. Listen to audio clips of its various movements, as played by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The opening four-note hook has permeated so much of musical culture. It even shows up in disco on the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack, in Walter Murphy's "A Fifth of Beethoven" (audio clip at that link). Celebrate the Fifth on the Fifth of the Fifth month.
MAY 04, 2006
Song of the Day: Part-time Lover, features the words, music, and performance of Stevie Wonder, along with the ever recognizable scat singing of Luther Vandross. Listen here to an audio clip of this finger-snappin' hit song.
MAY 03, 2006
Song of the Day: Magic Lady (audio clip at that link) features the words and music of Sergio Mendes, Michael Sembello, and Gene Lees. Though I have enjoyed listening to the album version, I utterly adored many-a-live renditions of this, performed by my jazz guitarist brother Carl and jazz singer-sister-in-law Joanne, when they were doing the Village circuit in the mid-1970s.
MAY 02, 2006
Song of the Day: It Never Entered My Mind features the music of Richard Rodgers and the lyrics of today's birthday boy, Lorenz Hart. It was first heard in the 1940 Broadway production of "Higher and Higher." It has been recorded by many artists, including Sarah Vaughan, Linda Ronstadt, Chet Baker, and Miles Davis (audio clips at those links).
MAY 01, 2006
Song of the Day: Brick House features the words and music of Lionel Richie, Ronald LaPread, Walter Orange, Roger Ball, and Milan Williams. It was a huge funky hit for The Commodores (audio clip at that link). And Happy 75th Birthday to the biggest "brick house" in NYC: The Empire State Building.