Noal Cohen is a musician, jazz historian, and record collector living in Montclair, New Jersey. A retired chemist, he co-authored "Rat Race Blues: The Musical Life of Gigi Gryce" with Michael Fitzgerald. He is David Diamond's nephew and offers a unique perspective on what it was like living with the acclaimed American composer. I'm so pleased that he agreed to this exclusive online interview. ~ Brenda Tremblayď»ż
The reason? This handsome dog will be missing owner Bob Sneider, the hardest-working jazz guitarist during The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. He (Bob) hosts jam sessions every night with his Trio, among other things. I caught up with Bob on the interwebs.
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With the Jazz Festival here again, this must be a crazy and fulfilling time for you. How do you prepare for those late night jam sessions?
There is no preparing for the jam sessions. Years of practicing and developing a repertoire of several hundred songs and flexibility to play them in other keys / tempos helps. Physically, I am a gym rat. I go to the gym every day during the fest. Swim and cardio vascular stuff. That helps with endurance. Being mentally alert and thinking about planning the sets and working the list of sitters-in is key. I do not drink at all â€” just water and coffee.
This RPO season has been special for many reasons. The level of talent that's appeared with our city's orchestra has been exceptional; guest artists included pianists Stephen Hough and Jeremy Denk (two of my idols) and returning artists Jon Nakamatsu and Christopher Seaman. And Midori! I think you will love hearing this season on the radio and via wxxi.org.
Itâ€™s a pleasure producing these concerts for you. If youâ€™re interested in digging deeper, you'll find extended interviews conducted by WXXI Music Director Julia Figueras On Record. When you're traveling this summer, stream the performances anywhere at wxxi.org or via the WXXI app.
Please help spread the word to the music lovers in your life -- then listen and enjoy.
With warmest wishes for beautiful summer and fall seasons,
Congratulations on an incredibly prolific year! Youâ€™ve released several new albums including a new recording of your opera "Eleni" and "For Better, For Worse, Songs About Marriage" and "On This Day, Earth Shall Ring." How did you do it all?
Yep, the year was like an all-out Triple Jump. You get a good running start, keep your eye on the last jump, and hope you land on your feet, not your behind. The two Madrigalia albums were based on the first two concerts I have done with them, and it was satisfying capturing the great sounds they have been making. My opera recording has been a dream for several years, and when Katie Lewek, my lead singer, gave me eight months' notice that she would have two weeks to come to Rochester last summer to record, I set out orchestrating the material for an 'affordable' size orchestra. I trained the choruses, and rounded up and rehearsed with the many solo characters. Finally we added 30 RPO colleagues, which brought it all to life. I conducted the sessions, which was very satisfying as things came together. Everyone brought such dedication to it, and I am pleased that we got so much challenging music done well, so that listeners may know what this opera sounds like.
About two weeks ago I woke up and found that I couldnâ€™t keep anything down. Since I know so much about medicine (NOT), I diagnosed myself with a stomach bug and curled up into a ball, waiting for the pain to go away. It didnâ€™t. It got worse, in fact, and so after another day I called a nurse friend and asked for advice. She suggested that I was suffering from something far more dangerous than the flu -- appendicitis -- and she made me promise to go to the local emergency room. So I did. She was right. She probably saved my life.
A few years ago, pianist and professor Sylvie Beaudette conducted an experiment.
In her music history class at Eastman, she played pieces by male and female composers from each major era side by side without revealing the composers' gender. She paired an opera excerpt by Monteverdi with a cantata excerpt by Francesca Caccini. She compared music of Couperin (a man) with that of Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre (a woman). She contrasted a German lied by Robert Schumann with Josephine Lang's, and she paired chamber music by Ernest Bloch with a piece by Rebecca Clarke.
It's a pleasure to support the choral arts in Rochester by listening to inspired singing in the Classical Idol Competition, an annual fundraiser for the Rochester Oratorio Society. I've been honored to served as the emcee for several years. This year I took a few pictures from the stage. Enjoy!