Mark Grube's blog

Right Down the Fairway

In an earlier post, I wondered if the RPO’s Carmina Burana would have the proper impact, given the acoustics of the Eastman. Well, I’m pleased to report that it was loud enough, at least it was in the center of the 11th row. During the week leading up to the show, I wanted to find out more about the work so I went online. Brenda Tremblay’s interview with Christopher Seaman was great, but Alex Ross was less helpful. I searched his blog and unfortunately clicked on a link he provided to a “toweringly brilliant” English translation.

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The Best of Marcel Marceau (and other online oddities)

There’s a long weird Tom Waits promo piece here that you may enjoy. He was interviewed by Tom Waits. When Tom asked himself about the most curious record in his collection, he described one called The Best of Marcel Marceau. "It had forty minutes of silence followed by applause and it sold really well. I like to put it on for company. It really bothers me, though, when people talk through it."

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“This film should be played loud!”

That instruction precedes The Last Waltz, a concert movie documenting the star-studded swan song of The Band. It’s good advice. You can’t fully appreciate the crackle of Robbie Robertson’s guitar or the wallop of drummer Levon Helm with the sound down low. Same goes for the guest singers. The growl of Muddy Waters, the moan of Emmylou Harris and the yawp of Dylan all benefit from volume.

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Andy Bey

If you read much about jazz singer Andy Bey, you’ll come across references to the soft palate, his four-octave range and the way he “integrates the head and chest voices.” But I don’t understand much of that technical stuff.

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Bettye LaVette

Bettye LaVette's playing the Lilac festival tomorrow. You should go.

My first exposure to her was the record "I've Got My Own Hell To Raise," which I bought sound unheard, based on the cool cover and the producing credit of Joe Henry. I knew immediately it was a major discovery. The glorious weather-beaten voice commanded attention, from the tenderest whisper to a full force gale.

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Herd of 'em?

Donna the Buffalo played the Lilac fest last night. The stage is nestled at the bottom of a grassy slope. There are tents along the top where you can buy fried dough and Italian sausage and beer. The sky was low and mottled, threatening rain that never came. There was a slight chill in the air. Dark planes glided by.

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Point of View

Music can help you see things differently.

Thelonious Monk, for example, has a way of turning a melody every which way, like he's figuring out a Rubik's Cube. The pace quickens and slows. You can feel him thinking. You can dart glimpses and see the colors of the song in new configurations.

Ani DiFranco can show you things, too. I've shot pool since I was a kid but never looked at a table like she did in Untouchable Face...

There's a changing constellation of balls as we are playing.
I see Orion and say nothing.

Seu Jorge is another one. His acoustic covers of Ziggy Stardust and Life on Mars, sung in Portuguese, impressed even David Bowie, who found his songs imbued with a new level of beauty.

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Castles Made of Sand

Do you remember those Tibetan monks who visited Rochester years ago? They made a painting in sand at the Memorial Art Gallery, working slowly and carefully, grain by grain, to create a detailed image over the course of several days. There was time allotted for public viewing, and I think there was some kind of ceremony.

Then they swept it all up and dumped it in the river.

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