May 10, 2013 |
It's no big thing to play the music of Duke Ellington. That's done all the time: in cabarets, concert halls, movies, Broadway theaters and anywhere jazz musicians assemble. Ellingtonia, a word coined by admirers who realized that no existing musical category could contain him, is virtually inexhaustible: some 2,000 pieces, many in multiple versions and settings, often to the point of recomposed variations. Overall, he offers the modern musician those qualities that never wilt, from lavishly distinctive melodies to the richest harmonic palette in jazz or popular music to a rhythmic variety, reminding us that swing is infinitely supple and can be as uplifting, witty, fierce or romantic as a good tune.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 30, 2013 |
When I clicked on the “Today's Great Read” banner on the L.A. Times home page at week's end, it hit me: The last five days of Column One stories, photos and videos - they were all presented like a gorgeous literary magazine. Wow. It was a eureka moment. This is where lovers of beautiful writing can come, and find a curated selection of the best narrative journalism we offer. In these roundups of the week gone by, I'd like to offer the first paragraphs of each story--maybe they'll buy your eye, and you can settle in for a good weekend read.
March 25, 2013 |
The morning commute was like any other - almost. As cars flew by on the northbound 710, I hit "play" on my iPod and a melody swept over me. Rush hour melted away. "Ah-vey, ah-vey, veh-room corrrr-pooose," the choir began. The Latin words open "Ave Verum Corpus" (Hail true body), a choral composition that has captivated listeners for more than two centuries. I sang along, and I wasn't doing it alone. At that moment, two friends in New Jersey and Georgia were singing the words as well.
January 3, 2013 |
As Times pop music critic Randall Roberts wrote earlier this week , much of the fun of Beck's new "Song Reader" project -- 20 songs released not as recordings, but as old-fashioned sheet music -- is beholding the variety of interpretations it's inspired. Hundreds of renditions of tunes from the set have been collected at songreader.net , where you can download the music for Beck's "Old Shanghai" for the price of your email address; countless more are available across SoundCloud and YouTube.
January 1, 2013 |
Some ideas that seem so simple unleash waves of creativity that expand in exquisitely complex ways. One such musical brainstorm is to offer a new body of work as notated sheet music, as Los Angeles songwriter Beck Hansen has done. His new work, "Song Reader," consists of 20 new pieces that the artist hasn't recorded. Rather, he teamed with the book publisher McSweeney's to unveil the songs in notated form. It is designed as a folio, and the hope is that the individually illustrated songbooks included within will inspire other musicians to interpret the written music and then share it. It was, describes writer Jody Rosen in the liner notes, "an experiment in ventriloquism": Provide the melodic and lyrical dialogue, but leave the aesthetic voice to strangers, who would head to parlors both real and virtual to perform the results.
December 23, 2012 |
"Not so long ago," writes Beck Hansen in the introduction to his new collection of tunes, "Song Reader," "a song was only a piece of paper until it was played by someone. " Indeed, as far back as "Pride and Prejudice," all card-carrying members of the middle class had a piano in the parlor and a daughter or five with skills to play it. (Poor Mary. She did try.) It's been generations since gathering around the piano to sing the latest hits was a popular way to pass an evening, so why then are Beck's latest available only as sheet music?