I don't know about you, but there are certain songs and albums that I always associate with particular seasons. One of those albums is Emerson, Lake & Palmer's progressive rock masterpiece Brain Salad Surgery. On a gloomy, chilly October day like today in New Jersey my mind often drifts to the gloomy imagery and sounds of the album. While most fans would probably point to the 30-minute "Karn Evil 9" suite as the high point of the album, I tend to go for "Toccata," the group's adaptation of the Fourth Movement of Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concert. It's a muscular and moody instrumental workout, the type that ELP excelled at in their prime. It's also one of their best classical music interpretations. Keith Emerson steals the show with his ridiculous arrangement and keyboards, b
Some days I can handle Philip Glass, others not so much. His music can be a tough nut to crack, and his trademark minimalist style is certainly not for everyone. But 1982's Glassworks is an excellent album, hands down. Oh yeah, did I mention I like the album cover too? Because I do. It's simple yet arty at the same time. Say, that reminds me of a lot of Glass's music! How about that! The cover design for Glassworks is credited to Henrietta Condak, with photography by John Paul Endress.
I first heard this composition on one of the many classical collections I acquired to help relax my son at night. I was struck at once by the beauty of the piece, from the choral performance to the chord structure and arrangement. This particular selection, "Agnus Dei", is the tenth movement of Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace, which debuted in London in April 2000. The entire Mass is well worth hearing, but this is by far my favorite selection. In a rather sad coincidence, the first CD edition of this Mass was released one day before the September 11 terrorist attacks. Bummer.
Music is - or at least used to be - at once a very shared and a very personal thing. And truth be told the only thing I've spent more time doing in my life than listening to music is sleeping. Music has informed my life since I was a kid and continues to do so, although to a lesser degree now that I'm a family man. So it's time for me to give credit where credit is due, and list the 20 albums that had a bigger impact on me than any others. Some of these records opened my eyes to a new style of music. Some of them resonated on a deep, emotional level. Some were just too good to be ignored. Some are wrapped in nostalgia now and nothing more. But they are all critical to my development as a music lover in one way or another. #20 - Queen, The Game Memory is a tricky thing, espe
Alright, time for you cretins to get a little culture. Even if you don't like classical music, you gotta give it up for Sergei Prokofiev. The man could write some really stirring music. Although my favorite Prokofiev work is his film score and cantata for Alexander Nevsky, today I'm highlighting a piece from his ballet, Romeo and Juliet (Op. 64). Here's a selection from Act 1, Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet - "Dance of the Knights" (also known as "Montagues and Capulets"). Muse fans will recognize this as the piece the band plays over the PA prior to some of their live shows. If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for us.
I might as well offer my two cents on Terry Teachout's recent editorial for the Wall Street Journal, "Can Jazz Be Saved?", since so many others already have. In it, Teachout beats the same funeral drum that countless other jazz pundits have for decades - namely that the already small audience for jazz is shrinking alarmingly fast. He even offers as evidence some results from a recent survey by the National Endowment for the Arts. The survey results Teachout extracts present a gloomy picture for jazz lovers indeed- not only is attendance down, but the median age for jazz fans is fast approaching AARP territory (from 29 in 1982 to 46 in 2008). He makes the case that jazz, in terms of its audience, is becoming the next version of classical music. This reminds me of the old joke about
From two completely different ends of the musical spectrum comes a pair of albums - one new and one upcoming - that both get the coveted GFS stamp of approval. First up is the self-titled debut EP from Build (New Amsterdam Records, 2008), a Brooklyn-based indie classical quintet formed in 2006. Now I know what you're thinking: "Classical music? Boring!" Stop thinking that, you're wrong. This are modern, tuneful compositions that bears precious little resemblance to your father's classical music. For those familiar with Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Build takes a similar approach to their music. It's never stuffy or rigid, although it's far from poppy or light. Composer/violinist Matt McBane has written five songs that are challenging enough to reward multiple listens, but aren't
These days it's commonplace for music to function as an integral part of a television show; think Grey's Anatomy, Smallville or Dawson's Creek. With Seinfeld, not so much. Nevertheless, there are more than a few classic moments during the series that can be called to mind with just a few notes. With that in mind I give you the Seinfeld Songs Mixtape. The following songs were played on at least one episode of Seinfeld, which started featuring much more non-original music during its last few seasons. There are numerous instances of songs being sung by characters on the show, but unless at least a small clip of the song was played or performed, they don't qualify for my mixtape. "Desperado" and "Witchy Woman" (Eagles), heard on "The Checks" - Here's a classic rock two-fer. "Desperado" ...
I'm pretty much a dummy when it comes to classical music. I couldn't tell a Beethoven movement from a Mozart symphony if you held a gun to my head. To be perfectly honest, a lot of the classical music I've heard has a certain sameness to it. But there are a handful of pieces that I do enjoy, and one of them is Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." And that piece was what brought me to the State Theatre in New Brunswick, to watch a performance by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. First, a little background - like many prog rock devotees, I was introduced to "Pictures" through the fantastic 1972 adaptation by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. It was as a result of that album that I have purchased approximately half a dozen different classic recordings of the piece. It has a dramatic...