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Category Archives: Jazz

Jay Gorney: Being punished for having dreams in the “free world”

From the late ’40s to the late ‘50s thousands of American citizens were accused of being Communists or prone to Communism and were the subject of investigations, interrogations, prosecutions, and put in jail. How many thousands of lives were destroyed by these investigations led by Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy? A man of German-Irish descent who became famous during the Cold War era for making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence, methods that received the international designation “McCarthyism“.

In the summer of 2019 I first discovered the song “Brother Can You Spare A Dime“, one of the major hits of the Great Depression. Since 1932 when the song was released it went through various versions by countless musicians, famous or not. Due to this occasion and thanks to luck, I got to know the story of its composer, Jay Gorney, who wrote with his friend, the lyricist, Edgar Yipsel “Yip” Harburg.

(by Mike Pougounas and John Kastanaras – for the Greek version, follow this link to Merlin’s Music Box)

Thrilled by my discovery, I called John Kastanaras, owner of a well known Greek fanzine, Merlin’s Music Box, which was a printed edition back in the ‘90s but now is a web zine. I wanted to share with him my news and once again, it turned out that the world we live in is a much smaller place than we think.

John informed me that Jay’s son, Daniel, is his cousin, since he was married to John’s cousin, photographer Efi Vlachou-Gorney. They had settled in Greece in 1975, and when she passed away Dan left Athens. He is now living at their estate “Villa Efi”, somewhere outside of Corinth.

John made sure we got in touch with him and on a Saturday morning we took the car and went to meet Dan.

After an hour and a half drive, we found ourselves at the house of Daniel Gorney, in the company of spinach pies, his dog Nino, and under the open sky looking over the Loutra Oreas Elenis and the Saronic Gulf.

Dan greeted us with joy and after making a coffee, he leaned over the table holding a dossier full of papers, musical scores and posters. Lots of songs, thousands of notes, lyrics, names known and unknown, from a very difficult era, from another world, that existed only in my mind and through movies that I watched.

THE STORY BEGINS

Of course, before going for the meeting, I did a little research. As I was taking a look through Dan’s dossier, I asked him “Who wrote the scores? Did your father know how to write notes?

He wrote them,” Dan replied with his broken Greek. “This is what he was doing for eight hours every day. He was always going around with a pencil and a sheet.

Jay Gorney was born Abraham Jacob Gornetzsky on December 12, 1896 to a Jewish family in Bialystok of the then tsarist Russian Empire. His parents were Frieda (Perlstein) and Jacob Gornetzsky

Your father had left Russia, right? Today, of course, that region from which he left belongs to Poland.

Here’s a nice story my dad’s mom used to tell.” Dan changes his tone, mimicking his grandmother: “Sometimes this area was Russia, sometimes it was Poland. People didn’t know what country we lived in, so a committee was formed to ask people if they wanted to live on the Russian side of the border or on the Polish. They discussed it for weeks, until they came up with the decision that they preferred to be in Poland, because we all knew how heavy the Russian winters are”. The way Dan imitated his grandmother, as well as the hint about the Russian winter, made us laugh.

During the Russian Revolution of 1905, Bialystok was the HQ of the radical labor movement in the area, with strong organizations such as the Bund (the Jewish Labor Movement) and the Polish Socialist Party, and also the Black Banner (a Russian anarchist communist organization that emerged in 1903 as a federation of cadres known as Chernoe Znamia or Chornoe Znamia or  Chernoznamentsy meaning The Black Banner). The Bialystok pogrom was one of a series of violent incidents against the Jews between 1903 and 1908. There was a population of 62,000 people living in this area by the end of the 19th century, 47,000 of which were Jews.  The Bialystok progrom took place from June 14 to June 16, 1906, and 88 people were killed by the imperial Russian army.

As the bloody events were escalating, the family decided to leave their home and remain hidden for the next two weeks until they found a way to flee to the US.

They arrived on September 14, 1906.

My daughter, Tatiana, has found all the names of family members on the passengers list that disembarked on Ellis island” Dan said. “My grandfather had some relatives in Detroit so this is where they went.”

Where did your father learn to play the piano?

They rented a piano by the week ‘cause his mom wanted his older brother to learn how to play,” Dan explained. “The brother wasn’t in the mood to learn, but my father attended the lessons and learned on his own. He later played for Nickelodeon. ”

PLAYING THE PIANO AT THE NICKELODEON

From 1905 to 1915 Nickelodeon was a hype in the States.

There were a number of remodeled warehouses, formed into small rooms, where people watched short silent movies at the price of 5 cents (a nickel).

Combined with the Greek word Odion, they came up with the name Nickelodeon, considered by some today as the ancestor of movie theatres.

Jay Gorney started playing music at the Nickelodeon at the age of 14.

He was playing the piano during the projection of silent movies and the bug of music stayed with him ever since. He also went also to the university and graduated in law. He joined the band of the University of Michigan, making money that he sent to his family until he finished his studies in 1917. He saved enough money from playing music back then.

Jay went to work as a lawyer for $ 20 a week, but compared to the money he made as a musician, that was nothing so he decided to focus on music.

My father met his first wife, Edelaine Roden, when the Jewish Club of the University sent him to persuade a girl to sit properly when riding a horse. The girl was Jewish and she was riding as a man instead of sitting sideways on the saddle. The two of them fell in love and she told him “Since you are a musician why do you bother with law?” So they moved to New York where he could find work in music. She was his first wife. Edelaine was crazy but she was a good person. After convincing him, he started working at Ziegfeld Follies.

The Ziegfeld Follies were a series of plays on Broadway in New York that started in 1907 and went on until 1931. They returned in 1934 and 1936 and turned into a radio show in 1932 and 1936 as “The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air.”

John Kastanaras tried to clear the picture by asking what did Jay do with Yip in the 20’s before writing “Brother Can You Spare a Dime”.

“He wrote musical reviews for the rich people to go to see live music. Ziegfeld Follies was a big name back then. It was sketches with big bands and girls with feathers.

So in what financial state did the financial crash of the 1930s find Jay Gorney?

My father got rich. Because of ‘Brother Can You Spare A Dime’ he became a wealthy man. During the depression he was at his high. The Americans could go see a movie with a nickel. It became something like television. It was THE entertainment and he wrote music for movies.”

(1933) Jay Gorney on the piano, lyricist Yip Harburg, choreographer Bobby Connelly and dancers on the scene of “Moonlight and Pretzels”

BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE A DIME

A new person appeared in Dan’s story telling:

My father met Yip Harburg in New York and together they wrote ‘Brother Can You Spare A Dime’ which was a big hit.”

Yip Harburg was a lyricist, known for his social commentary in his lyrics and his liberal ideas. He advocated racial equality, gender equality, and trade unionism. He was also a fervent critic of religion. Apart from “Brother Can You Spare a Dime” that he co-wrote with Gorney, he is known to almost everyone for the song “Over the Rainbow“, since he wrote all the lyrics of Victor Fleming’s classic “Wizard of Oz”.

The first to record “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”, Or “Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?” was Leo Resman with his orchestra in 1932 and was followed almost immediately by Charlie Palloy in the same year. But the version that became a hit was Bing Crosby’s, who included it in his Portrait Of Bing Crosby album (1932).

Bing did it so well, that everybody imitated him… It’s a very moving song.

The lyrics are about an unemployed man who, after being squeezed by the system, working on railways and construction and sent to fight in WW1 for the USA with the promise of a dream. He is now a beggar, begging for a dime from passers-by.

The song was originally written for the third production of the musical “Americana” (1932) but Republicans saw it as anti-capitalist propaganda and took advantage of every means available to withdraw the song from the show, and also tried to ban it from radio broadcasting.“The lyrics of the song are too dangerous to be written by an American,” they said.

Dan shook his head and concluded, “I’ve kept an article that says that it was considered as one of the most anti-capitalist songs in history. That and Pete Seeger‘s ‘The Banks Are Made Of Marble’.” He then he came up with Seeger’s lyrics and sang cheerfully but with a twist: “But the banks are made of marble. With a guard at every door. And the vaults are stuffed with silver. That the farmer sweated for”.

“That, and ‘Brother Can You Spare a Dime’ were considered the most anti-capitalist songs. But the story of how Yip came up with the lyrics is also great. Jay Gorney had the melody and they loved it. But it was too strong for a song about a man who lost his woman, too strong about a woman who lost her man. It was what they were writing. Torch songs. And they walked through Central Park to come up with an idea for this tune they had. A guy with a pulled-up collar came up and said “Hey brother can you spare a dime?” Daddy always said ‘I don’t remember if he ever got his dime.’

It has been said that this song changed the way the average man looked at a guy in the street saying ‘Hey man, can you spare some change?’ Before the song he was a bum, a beggar. After the song… you know at this state this was a working man and a soldier.”

Dan grasped an old acoustic guitar in his hands.

“This one was given to me by Yip. From the cradle I’ve had this song. It’s the background song to my life.” he said and started singing:

They used to tell me I was building a dream
And so I followed the mob
When there was earth to plow or guns to bear
I was always there right on the job

They used to tell me I was building a dream
With peace and glory ahead
Why should I be standing in line
Just waiting for bread?

Once I built a railroad, I made it run
Made it race against time
Once I built a railroad, now it’s done
Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once I built a tower up to the sun
Brick and rivet and lime
Once I built a tower, now it’s done

Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell
Full of that yankee doodly dum
Half a million boots went sloggin’ through hell
And I was the kid with the drum

Say, don’t you remember, they called me Al
It was Al all the time
Why don’t you remember, I’m your pal
Say buddy, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, ah gee we looked swell
Full of that yankee doodly dum
Half a million boots went sloggin’ through hell
And I was the kid with the drum

Oh, say, don’t you remember, they called me Al
It was Al all the time
Say, don’t you remember, I’m your pal

Buddy, can you spare a dime?

A song that, as someone said contains the whole story of the Great Depression and its consequences in one sentence.

“Since ‘Brother Can You Spare a Dime’ was pessimistic, they decided to write something more upbeat in response,” Dan continues “So Jay and Yip composed ‘Dusty Shoes.’ Basically they tried to boost the morale of the average American. Here’s the lyrics sheet and the music score,” he said, and handed them over to us while he played “Dusty Shoes” on the guitar.

“The success of ‘Brother Can You Spare a Dime’ was the reason my dad was called to Hollywood in order to write music for movies because in the meantime they managed to add sound to the films. So he went to Hollywood with Edelaine, his first wife, my half-brother, and they also invited Yip to stay with them. Eventually, however, Yip took my father’s wife and ran away. I sent him a message on his 80th birthday saying “I’m thankful to you eternally. If it wasn’t for you, where would I be?”

After a few laughs, we talk a little about Yip, the song “Over the Rainbow” and the rumor about the pairing of the 1973 Pink Floyd album ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ with the visual portion of the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Rumor has it that if you start playing Pink Floyd’s album right after MGM’s lion roars for the third time there are moments where the Wizard of Oz and the album appear to correspond with each other.

WITCH HUNT…

Jay Gorney

Jay Gorney remarried, this time to Dan’s mother, Sondra Karyl.

“My mother was a Communist. I am not 100% sure…,” Dan said “but she probably told him that she would accept getting married to him only if he joined the party. You see, my father was 25 years older than she was… ”

We asked him if this is when Jay joined the party.

“I don’t know, he said ‘It’s my right not to answer that question. Nobody has the right to ask me that question’ he took the fifth amendment.”

After the release of “Brother Can You Spare A Dime”, Roosevelt was elected president. Did Jay Gorney have any  war experience?

“My father had already served in World War I. He said “I fought the 1st World War with a stick.”  He conducted a military band. He tried to put on a couple of shows. During the McCarthy era they had a show, a big show called ‘Meet the People.’ A few shows opened in Hollywood. He used local talent and out of work actors and actresses. It spent three years in New York, played London. It was a big show. So, in ’56 I think, after the Black List, he tried to do it again.”

Dan stood up and went to another room. He returned with a photo.

Yes, here’s Lionel Stander. Major actor and commie. He appeared before my father on the House Un-American Activities Committee.” In 1953 they called Stander before the committee. But he wasn’t cooperative, and the whole incident described in Eric Bentley‘s skit ‘Are You Now or Have You Ever Been.’ Dan laughed and explained: “A revue, they had different skits. In one skit, there was the character of a lawyer interrogating a witness and he sang ‘Are you now or have you ever been, in love? Are you now a follower or a member of that gang that love and live where they want to…’ he tried to make fun of the committee. The Committee was asking ‘are you now or have you ever been a Communist? They closed that show really quickly. I mean the manager ran off with the cash, the electric blew out and other dirty tricks. They sabotaged that show.”

But what happened when they invited his father to the committee?

He seemed to be cooperative at the beginning. But then he started telling about how his father got US citizenship. He said that he helped his father to learn English by writing a song ‘which I’d like to perform for you now’ and he tried to sing in the House Un-American Activities Committee a song called ‘The Bill of Rights’:

‘Old Thomas Jefferson he said one day, the people have got to be respected.

I won’t be here for very long so come what may their rights always have to be protected.

The Sage of Monticello was such a prophetic fellow and according to his likes, he wrote the Bill of Rights.

All of our problems have a solution in what Mr. Jefferson wrote. The first ten amendments to our constitution to which please note: quote…” and Dan sung the first amendment from the Bill of Rights to his father’s tune.

Suddenly Dan stopped singing.

He tried to sing that and they brought the gavel” Dan hits softly the table three times and continues “Mr. Gorney there’ll be no singing in this hearing. And daddy, my poor little daddy who was so shy and afraid of authority he said ‘but you had so many pigeons signing here. Trained pigeons I’d call them.’ He wouldn’t say stool pigeons ‘cause that was a dirty word and he was very polite. And they shut him up.”

So they ruined his career.

The FBI was on the phone. Was outside the door. Any time they heard of a job offer or a project they called up and said ‘do you know he is a commie? Do you know that the American Allegiance is gonna come out and picket you if you put this music on?” And they surrounded him and made it impossible for him to work. That’s the Black List. It’s not just a list. FBI agents would follow me to school and spoke to the principal of my high school. They interviewed my first grade teacher ‘did little Daniel say anything… communist?’ My first grade teacher… I mean they really surrounded the whole family. They made it impossible for him to work so my mother was forced to go work.

Did this stop at some point?

It was the height of his carreer. He must have been 55-60 when this happened. He continued to write but he couldn’t get anything produced. He worked with other black listed writers and it was quite literally a conspiracy to keep these people off the market. It’s one of the reasons I live in Greece. I left the country that prosecuted my daddy. Most of this industry is about money, and there were progressive people who built the American musical theater. Most of them, like Gershwin and others, happened to be German-Jews and Russian-Jews. Yip was friends with the Gershwin brothers in high school. Yip was poor. Gershwin was a German Jew. They had a gramophone and Yip visted them to listen to records of Gilbert and Sullivan.

We asked him if there were any Jews on the side of the accusers at the time of McCarthy that were chasing other Jews on the grounds that they were Communists.

The lawyer for McCarthy,” Dan replies, Roy M. Cohn. McCarthy’s lawyer. Senator McCarthy was an alcoholic from the Midwest. A W.A.S.P. (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). Roy M. Cohn said to McCarthy, this is right after World War II and the Holocaust. “You can’t go after this Jewish commies. You can’t do it because you’re a Mick and you’ll look just like Hitler. But me, I’m a Jewish boy. I’ll go after them. He was actually a mentor to Nixon and Trump. So he hired a nice Jewish boy.”

We spoke a little about the “duck and hide drill”.

It was the Cold War, commies were painted, they had horns and a tail. They were the evil.

Jay Gorney

SHIRLEY TEMPLE

One night in 1933, Jay Gorney was coming out of the movie theatre where he watched the short movie ‘Merrily Yours’ (also known as ‘Frolics of Youth’) starring Shirley Temple. He found her dancing outside the theatre and recognized her. He arranged an audition for her for December 7, 1933 for the movie ‘Stand Up and Cheer!’ Temple took the part and signed a contract with Fox Film Corporation for $ 150 a week. This role was decisive for her career. “The producer of the movie ‘Baby, Take a Bow’ (1934) wanted a 14-year-old girl to play in the film, but my father insisted and told him to try Shirley Temple first.

The Fox executives liked her so much that they started promoting her immediately. On the movie she sang and danced with James Dunn.

There’s a great movie where Shirley dances with the black actor, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson,” Dan says.

Shirley Temple enjoyed collaborating with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Off camera she was calling him Uncle Billy.

ROYALTIES

We wondered if ASCAP is working properly .

ASCAP is a fantastic organization,” Dan says. “It’s a big, strong, aggressive, paying organization. I get royalties for my father. The copyright stands for 75 years after the composer’s death.” This is when Dan comes with information that we didn’t know. “My old man was one of the founding members of the American Guild of Authors and Composers (AGAC).” To sum up, this organization, which protected writers and composers, had started as a Songwriters Protective Association in 1931 and changed its name to the American Guild of Authors and Composers in 1958. “There was nothing before that. In 1915 the song ‘Tea for Two’ was sold for 10 dollars. And he sold all the rights in Tin Pan Alley.”

OTHER JAY GORNEY SONGS

The discussion with Dan evolves around other songs that his father wrote and Dan points out that he probably wrote about 500 songs, but none of them repeated the success of “Brother …”

John remembered Billie Holiday singing “You’re My Thrill” which Gorney wrote in 1933 for the film “Jimmy and Sally”. I found dozens of cover versions of this song, most notably by Peggy Lee (1956), Ella Fitzgerald (1961), Nat “King” Cole (1966), Chet Baker (1988), Robert Palmer (1990), Joni Mitchell (2000) and others. Billie Holiday’s version came out in 1950.

What a beautiful song. Torch song” Dan added. “Billie nailed it and nobody dared to do it.”

THE SECRET OF LIFE

When I was 18-20 years old,” says Dan, “my father told me the secret of life. He asked me, ‘do you want to know the secret?’ I said ‘what’s the secret?’ he said ‘don’t write music at the piano. You write music on your walk down Broadway and you try to bring it back and remember it. At the piano you only play what you learned yesterday.’ I’m not a musician particularly but for him that was the most important secret of life. I think, to me, that’s one of the most endearing things that shows who my daddy was. Fantasy is the ultimate instrument but it’s not always easy to play what you hear in your head.”

Jay Gorney died on June 14, 1990 at the age of 93. Apart from Dan, he also had a daughter with Sondra Karyl. She’s Dan’s big sister, Karen Lynn Gorney, and because, as I said before, the world is too small, Dan’s sister was John Travolta‘s dancing partner in “Saturday Night Fever“. Their older half-brother, Dr. Rod Gorney, is a well-known psychiatrist in California.

Dan Gorney, after his beatnik years in Greenwich Village, went through a hippie phase, and moved to Greece in 1975 where, as he says, he found what he was looking for.

We ask him if he ever got into music professionally.

The definition of professional is you get paid,” he says. “The phrase says ‘he who pays the piper, calls the song.’ If you get paid, the guy who’s paying says ‘sing this’. If you don’t get paid you can sing whatever the fuck you want. I just play. I love playing.”

“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”, Or “Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?” is one of the best-known American songs of the era of economic depression of the 1930s. It has been covered by over 100 artists, including legends such as Al Johlson, Abbey Lincoln, Mel Torme, Tom Jones, Dean Martin, Connie Francis, The Weavers, Peter, Paul & Mary, Jesse Colin Young, Dr. John with Odetta, Judy Collins, Eartha Kitt, St Valentine’s Day Massacre (Jon Lord‘s band after Artwood and Deep Purple), Sun Ra Arkestra (with Phil Alvin on vocals), Dave Brubeck , Eugene Chadbourne, Thea Gilmore, George Michael and Tom Waits. Want more?

Thank you very much Dan Gorney for the hospitality, the time you spent with us and for your memories. And, of course, for the lunch at the beach of Loutra Oreas Elenis. And to Tatiana Gorney-Vlachou of course for the photos from her personal archive…

Take care and be safe, Dan …

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2019 in Interviews, Jazz, Music, Politics, Reflections

 

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Δώσε του Cult και πάρε του την ψυχή: Godzilla εναντίον Hedorah

Έβαλα χτες να δω την ταινία Godzilla εναντίον Hedorah. Μια παραγωγή του 1971, των Ιαπωνικών Toho Studio.

Οι ταινίες με τον Godzilla ήταν η Κυριακάτικη διασκέδαση των παιδικών μου χρόνων, όταν όλα τα παιδιά της γειτονιάς ξεκινούσαμε να πάμε στο Σινάν, τον κινηματογράφο της περιοχής για να δούμε δύο ταινίες: η μία είχε πρωταγωνιστή τον Godzilla ενώ η άλλη ήταν κάποια ταινία με τον Ταρζάν, ή Ελληνική, ή Τούρκικη ή καράτε, western κλπ.

Φυσικά μαζεύονταν πιτσιρίκια απο ολη την γύρω περιοχή, και η κινηματογράφος ήταν κατάμεστος, Κυριακή μεσημέρι, ενώ το κυλικείο ξεπουλούσε τα κορνέ και τα σάμαλι στο διάλειμμα.

O Godzilla είναι η πιο γνωστή δημιουργία των Ιαπωνικών Toho Studio  και πρόκειται για ενα kaiju, οπως ονομάζονται αυτές οι Ιαπωνικές ταινίες με τα τεράστια παράξενα τέρατα. Ο όρος kaiju μπορεί επίσης να χρησιμοποιηθεί για να περιγράψει τα ίδια αυτά τέρατα, τα οποία συνήθως επιτίθενται σε μεγάλες πόλεις και συγκρούονται με στρατιωτικές μονάδες ή με άλλα τέρατα.

Το είδος kaiju είναι ένα παρακλάδι της tokusatsu (特 撮, «ειδική κινηματογράφιση») και μπορεί να θεωρηθεί συνώνυμο με τον όρο «Ιαπωνικές ταινίες με τέρατα».

Η πρώτη αυτού του είδους θεωρείται το Godzilla του 1954 και οι χαρακτήρες των ταινιών αυτών είναι συχνά μεταφορικοί. Ο Godzilla για παράδειγμα, αντικατοπτρίζει τον φόβο της μεταπολεμικής Ιαπωνίας για τα πυρηνικά όπλα, μετά από τις επιθέσεις με ατομικές βόμβες στην Χιροσίμα και στο Ναγκασάκι, καθώς και μετά το συμβάν με το αλιευτικό Lucky Dragon 5, τα 23 μέλη του οποίου μολύνθηκαν από τα πυρηνικά απόβλητα της δοκιμής που έκαναν οι Αμερικάνοι στο Bikini την 1 Μαρτίου του 1954. Άλλοι kaiju χαρακτήρες είναι οι Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah και o Gamera.

Συνολικά μέτρησα 32 ταινίες του Godzilla απο το 1954 μέχρι και το 2018, Ιαπωνικές και Αμερικάνικες παραγωγές.

Το “Godzilla εναντίον Hedorah” που είδα χτες λοιπόν, δεν ήταν καλό. Θέλω να πω πως, μετά από τόσα χρόνια και έχοντας δει ταινίες με ειδικά εφέ που έχουν πλέον φτάσει σε πολύ υψηλό επίπεδο, ίσως να είμαι πολύ σκληρός με την κριτική μου αλλά σε αυτό το θέμα η ταινία ήταν τουλάχιστον παιδική.

Όμως, το μήνυμα της, το 1971, ήταν πάρα πολύ σύγχρονο: Ο Hedorah είναι ένα τέρας το οποίο έχει δημιουργηθεί από την μόλυνση που υπάρχει στους ωκεανούς. Από τα σκουπίδια και τα απόβλητα δηλαδή των ανθρώπων και βγαίνει στην στεριά για να τραφεί από την κάπνα και την ατμοσφαιρική ρύπανση της σύγχρονης ζωής.

Όλα αυτά, παρουσιάζονται μεταφορικά από τον σκηνοθέτη Yoshimitsu Banno ως ένας θανάσιμος κίνδυνος για τον πλανήτη, πριν 50 περίπου χρόνια.

Βέβαια, στην περίπτωση της ταινίας, αναλαμβάνει την λύση ο Godzilla.

Αυτό που κέρδισε σε εμένα τις εντυπώσεις είναι η μουσική του Riichiro Manabe ο οποίος έγραφε μουσική για ταινίες επιστημονικής φαντασίας και τρόμου.

Η ταινία ανοίγει με το “Kaese! Taiyo Wo” (Return! The Sun) το οποίο τραγουδά η 23άχρονη τότε Keiko Mari.

Η μουσική του Manabe δανείζεται πολλά στοιχεία από την jazz αλλά έχει και κάποια γκαράζ ροκ περάσματα.

Έτσι, πέρα από την αφέλεια των ειδικών εφέ, το προφητικό μήνυμα του σεναρίου, η ταινία διαθέτει ενα αρκετά καλό soundtrack που θα ακουστεί αρκετά προοδευτικό στα αυτιά μας με την εικόνα που έχουμε για την Ιαπωνία των αρχών της δεκαετίας του ’70.

Μην δείτε την ταινία, δεν θα το αντέξετε αν είστε πάνω από 10 ετών, δώστε όμως μια ευκαιρία στο soundtrack της το οποίο ποστάρω εδώ:

 

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O Βίκινγκ της 6ης Λεωφόρου

Στην δεκαετία του ’60 ζούσε στην Νέα Υόρκη ενας τυφλός, συνήθως άστεγος άντρας με μια μακρυά λευκή γενειάδα, ο οποίος ηταν ντυμένος Βίκινγκ και στεκόταν στην γωνία της Δυτικής 54ης Οδου και της Εκτης Λεωφόρου στο Μανχάταν.

Οι περισσότεροι πίστευαν πως είχε κάποιο ψυχολογικό νόσημα.

Δεν γνώριζαν πως ήταν ένας απο τους μεγαλύτερους Αμερικάνους συνθέτες του 20ου αιώνα.

Υπήρχαν πάντα πολύ περισσότερα στον Moondog από όσα φαίνονταν.

Το παρακάτω κείμενο ειναι μετάφραση και συρραφή αποσπασμάτων απο κείμενα του Léopold Tobisch απο το site, Francemusique.com και του Michael Barclay απο το macleans.ca

Ο ΤΥΦΛΟΣ ΒΙΚΙΝΓΚ

Στις 4 Ιουλίου του 1932 στο Κάνσας, o 16χρονος Louis Hardin πήρε, εν αγνοία του, στα χέρια του έναν αναμένο δυναμίτη, ο οποίος εξερράγη στο πρόσωπό του, τυφλώνοντας τον για πάντα. Ως αποτέλεσμα, ο Hardin, γιος ενός επισκοπιανού ιεροκήρυκα, έχασε την πίστη του στον θεό, και άρχισε να φλερτάρει με άλλες μορφές πνευματισμού και σαμανισμού. Όταν απο την δεκαετία του ’40 και μετά, ζούσε και έπαιζε μουσική στους δρόμους της Νέας Υόρκης με την μακριά του γενειάδα και τα μπερδεμένα του μαλλιά, ενοχλούνταν πολύ οταν οι περαστικοί τον συσχέτιζαν με τον Ιησού Χριστό.

Τόσο μάλιστα, που αποφάσισε να σχεδιάσει τη δική του Βίκινγκ και “μη-χριστιανική” ενδυμασία, σύμφωνα με το πάθος του για τη μυθολογία και τον πολιτισμό των Σκανδιναβών. Πολλοί πιστεύουν πως ήταν ένα απλό τέχνασμα για να τραβήξει την προσοχή πάνω του, αλλά η αλήθεια είναι, πως ήταν μια έκφραση της πραγματικής του ταυτότητας.

Ωστόσο, το ανεπίσημο στυλ του Hardin δεν προκαλούσε πάντα θετική προσοχή. Για χρόνια, ήταν ένας ευπρόσδεκτος φιλοξενούμενος στις πρόβες της Φιλαρμονικής της Νέας Υόρκης, προσκεκλημένος από τον ίδιο τον μαέστρο Artur Rodziński, μέχρι που το 1947 είπαν στον Louis Hardin ότι δεν μπορούσε πλέον να παρευρίσκεται στις πρόβες λόγω της εκκεντρικής ενδυμασίας του. Αντί να συμμορφωθεί, ο Hardin αρνήθηκε να αλλάξει ντύσιμο και σταμάτησε να παρακολουθεί τις πρόβες. ”Είχα πολλές προσφορές από ανθρώπους που είπαν ότι θα με βοηθούσαν αλλά θα έπρεπε να ντύνομαι συμβατικά […] Αλλά εκτίμησα περισσότερο την ελευθερία του να ντύνομαι οπως θέλω εγω, απ το να προωθήσω την καριέρα μου ως συνθέτης. Απλά ήθελα να γίνει το δικό μου.

Χρόνια αργότερα, στη Στοκχόλμη τον Ιούνιο του 1981, κατά τη διάρκεια των εγκαινίων μιας έκθεσης με αντικείμενα των Βίκινγκς στο Μουσείο Φυσικής Ιστορίας της Στοκχόλμης, ο Hardin ανακάλυψε τελικά ότι οι Βίκινγκς ποτέ δεν είχαν κέρατα στα κράνη τους. Ηταν μια αλήθεια που κατέστρεψε την ταυτότητα που είχε ολη του την ζωή.

ΤΟ ΦΕΓΓΑΡΟΣΚΥΛΟ

Το 1947, ο Louis Hardin άρχισε να φέρει με υπερηφάνεια ένα όνομα με το οποίο θα έμενε για πάντα γνωστός: το Moondog, εμπνευσμένο από την Lindy, την σκυλίτσα που είχε παιδί “που αλυχτούσε προς το φεγγάρι περισσότερο από κάθε άλλο σκυλί που ήξερα“. Γνωστός σε όλους τους δρόμους καθώς και στους καλλιτεχνικούς κύκλους, ως «ο άστεγος συνθέτης Βίκινγκ της Νέας Υόρκης», το όνομα και η φιγούρα του έγιναν γρήγορα μέρος του θρύλου της πόλης. Ένας θαυμαστής του μπορούσε να φτάσει στο Σταθμό Λεωφορείων του λιμανιού, να μπει σε ένα ταξί και να πει στον οδηγό, “πήγαινέ με στον Moondog” κι ο οδηγός θα ήξερε ακριβώς πού να τον πάει. Έκανε εμφανίσεις στην mainstream τηλεόραση (συμπεριλαμβανομένου του The Tonight Show), έδινε μουσική του σε διαφημίσεις ενω η Janis Joplin διασκεύασε το τραγούδι του “All Is Loneliness”.

Ο DJ Alan Freed “βασιλιάς του rock and roll” απο το Cleveland, λάτρευε το “Moondog Symphony” του 1949, και έδωσε αυτό το όνομα στην επιδραστική rock’n’roll ραδιοφωνική εκπομπή του: “The Moondog House“. Μάλιστα ανακήρυξε τον εαυτό του “King of the Moondoggers“.

Ο Moondog τον μήνυσε για κλοπή πνευματικής ιδιοκτησία – και κέρδισε την δίκη, με το θρύλο της τζαζ Benny Goodman, τον Igor Stravinsky και τον μαέστρο Arturo Toscanini να καταθέτουν υπέρ του ως μάρτυρες, για το μέγεθος της σημασίας της μουσικής του Moondog. “Δεν ξέρω αν αυτό ήταν καταλυτικό για την υπόθεση ή όχι, αλλά εγω κέρδισα εναντίον του Freed και σταμάτησε να χρησιμοποιεί το όνομα“.

Η ΜΟΥΣΙΚΗ ΤΟΥ

Μιλώντας όμως για τον Moondog, τον εκκεντρικό μουσικό του δρόμου, αγνοεί κανείς τον Louis Hardin, τον παραγωγό (και σε μεγάλο βαθμό αυτοδίδακτο) συνθέτη εκατοντάδων έργων, συμπεριλαμβανομένων 81 συμφωνιών, έργων για ορχήστρα, για μουσική δωματίου και πνευστών (κυρίως σαξοφώνου), έργα για πιάνο και εκκλησιαστικό όργανο, και περίπου 50 τραγούδια … για να αναφέρουμε μερικά μόνο απο οσα εκανε! Εμφανίζοντας ένα μείγμα μελωδικής δημιουργικότητας, ρυθμικής κυριαρχίας και ένα εκλεκτικό μείγμα μουσικών ειδών, τα έργα του Louis “Moondog” Hardin είναι πολύ περισσότερα από τα γραφικά σκίτσα ενός ασυνήθιστου άστεγου μουσικού δρόμου.

Η επιθυμία του από την παιδική του ηλικία όχι μόνο να γίνει συνθέτης, αλλά ο μεγαλύτερος συνθέτης, έκαιγε δυνατά μέσα στο Hardin για ολόκληρη τη ζωή του, πιέζοντάς τον να συνθέτει ολοένα και πιο φιλόδοξα έργα, αποκλειστικά σε γραφή Braille, συχνά με ένα ζοφερό ρυθμό. Ως μόνιμος συνθέτης στη Βιέννη το 1983, ο Moondog επιθυμούσε να ακολουθήσει τα βήματα του μεγάλου Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, ο οποίος συνέθεσε τις τρεις πρώτες συμφωνίες του στην αυστριακή πρωτεύουσα. Ο Moondog το έκανε μέσα σε έξι μόλις εβδομάδες, αλλά την επόμενη χρονιά, είχε συνθέσει συνολικά 20 συμφωνίες!

Και παρόλο που πολλά από τα έργα του εκτελέστηκαν και μάλιστα κυκλοφόρησαν κατά τη διάρκεια της ζωής του, εξακολουθούν να υπάρχουν ακόμα και σήμερα πολλά έργα του Moondog που δεν έχουν ακουστεί ποτέ, ούτε εχουν ηχογραφηθεί, συμπεριλαμβανομένων έργων για 13 τσελέστες (ενα ιδιόφωνο μουσικό όργανο που συμπεριλαμβάνεται στην ομάδα των κρουστών της συμφωνικής ορχήστρας και μοιάζει με μικρό όρθιο πιάνο), άλλα και για 76 τρομπόνια, Tree Tone , ένα έργο που απαιτεί οκτώ μαέστρους, και κυρίως το Cosmos, μια εννιάωρη εργασία που απαιτούσε χιλιάδες μουσικούς και τραγουδιστές! Επιπλέον, πολλά από τα γραπτά του Hardin εξακολουθούν να είναι σε γραφή Braille, πράγμα που σημαίνει ότι μπορεί να πάρει χρόνια μέχρι οι ακροατές να γνωρίσουν πλήρως την έκταση των μουσικών επιτευγμάτων του Moondog.

Όταν σκεφτόμαστε Αμερικανούς συνθέτες, μας έρχονται στο μυαλό τα ονόματα George Gershwin, Charles Ives, Aaron Copland και Leonard Bernstein… αλλά όχι του Moondog. Ωστόσο, η μουσική του Louis Hardin δεν μπορούσε να περιέχει περισσότερους αμερικάνικους ήχους και επιρροές: στρατιωτικές μπάντες πνευστών, ragtime και τζαζ, εγγενή μουσική κρουστών των Ινδιάνων και ακόμη και ηχογραφήσεις πραγματικών ήχων απο τους δρόμους της Νέας Υόρκης! Χωρίς να είναι ενας απλός μουσικός του δρόμου, ο Moondog πέρασε μεγάλο μέρος της ζωής του στο δρόμο, πουλώντας τα ποιήματά του, ερμηνεύοντας ακόμη και ηχογραφώντας τα έργα του, καταγράφοντας την ίδια την ουσία της ζωής του δρόμου της Νέας Υόρκης ως μέρος της μουσικής του.

Ως μικρό παιδί, ο Λούις Χάρντιν ανατράφηκε ακούγοντας δύο πράγματα: ragtime και στρατιωτικές μπάντες πνευστών. Επομένως, δεν αποτελεί έκπληξη το γεγονός ότι μπορεί να γίνει αισθητή μια ισχυρή επιρροή σε όλα τα έργα του, καθώς και μια προτίμηση στα πνευστά όργανα, ειδικότερα στο σαξόφωνο. Επιπλέον, κατά την επίσκεψη του στην ινδιάνικη φυλή των Arapahoe του Ουαϊόμιγκ, στις αρχές της δεκαετίας του 1920, συναντήθηκε με τον αρχηγό της φυλής, Κίτρινο Μόσχο, ο οποίος του αποκάλυψε τους παραδοσιακούς χορούς των ινδιάνων για τον ήλιο στο tom tom. Αυτή η εμπειρία θα σηματοδοτήσει την αρχή του στυλ του Moondog, που ονομάζεται “snaketime” (επειδή ακουγόταν “φιδίσιο”), οι άχρονοι ρυθμοί των κρουστών αποτελούν αναπόσπαστο κομμάτι του μουσικού DNA του.

Πάντα αντισυμβατικός, αισθανόταν ότι “η ανθρώπινη φυλή πρόκειται να πεθάνει σε χρόνο 4/4.” Ένα μεγάλο μέρος των πρώτων δουλειών του αποτελείται απλά απο φωνή και κρουστά, αυτοσχέδια όργανα όπως το τριγωνικό “trimba,” ηχογραφημένα στους δρόμους της Νέας Υόρκης. Συνέθεσε ακόμα μουσική για εκκλησιαστικό όργανο, για big bands αλλά και για απλούστερες μορφές οπως το μανδριγάλι.

Η δεύτερη σύζυγός του ήταν μια γυναίκα ιαπωνικής καταγωγής που τραγουδούσε σε πολλές από τις ηχογραφήσεις του, της δεκαετίας του ’50, και τα έγχορδα όργανά του είχαν πολλές ομοιότητες με τα Ιαπωνικά koto και shamisen. Απείχε απο τα ηλεκτρονικά όργανα γιατι δεν του άρεσε η ατονικότητα οσων δοκίμασε, αλλά οι εκλεκτικές του συνθέσεις ήταν απίστευτα σύγχρονες και ξεκάθαρα Αμερικάνικες. Ο βιογράφος του, Robert Scotto, συγγραφέας του “O Βικινγκ της 6ης Λεωφόρου”, έγραψε: “Για κάποιους είναι αλλού, για άλλους δεν είναι καν avant-garde… Είχε συνηθίσει να ισορροπεί δύο κόσμους, που ολοι οσοι ήταν βολεμένοι κάποιο άγνωστο σχολείο, απλά τους υποψιάζονταν.”

Οσον αφορά στην αρμονία, η μουσική μου είναι η ίδια με του Bach, του Beethoven, του Brahms και με αυτών των ανθρώπων. Δεν έχει καμμιά πραγματική διαφορά.” Παρόλο που ίσως δεν ήταν διαφορετική από των προηγούμενων κλασσικών συνθετών, η μουσική του εντούτοις ξεχώριζε εν μέσω μιας αυξανόμενης γοητείας με τη δωδεκάτονη μουσική και την έλλειψη έμφασης: απορρίπτοντας την ίδια την απόρριψη της έμφασης που κυριάρχησε στον 20ο αιώνα, ο Moondog ξεχώρισε για άλλη μια φορά από τους συγχρόνους του. «Είμαι υπέρ της έμφασης, έτσι αισθάνομαι κάπως μοναχικός». Ενώ ο καθένας κοίταζε μπροστά για καινούργιους και καινοτόμους ήχους, ο Moondog κοίταζε στο παρελθόν, αναζωογονώντας αρμονίες και μουσικές δομές που ακούγονταν μοναδικά σε έναν συνεχώς μεταβαλλόμενο κόσμο.

Δεν θα γίνεις ποτέ συνθέτης αν δεν καταφέρεις να γράφεις πολυφωνικά“. Με το που διάβασε αυτές τις λέξεις σε ένα βιβλίο οταν ηταν έφηβος, ο Moondog άρχισε να επιδιώκει να μάθει περισσότερα για να γράφει πολυφωνικά. Ανακάλυψε γρήγορα (και ερωτεύτηκε) τα έργα του Johann Sebastian Bach. Μεγάλος θαυμαστής του γερμανού συνθέτη, παρόλα αυτά υπογράμμισε ανεπιφύλακτα τα υποτιθέμενα λάθη του Bach: “Αγαπώ τον Bach αλλά ποτέ δεν ανέλυσε τα κομμάτια του – είμαι σίγουρος ότι συνειδητοποίησε ότι υπήρχαν πολλά λάθη εκεί. Είμαι σίγουρος πως θα τα διόρθωνε αν είχε τον χρόνο, αλλά είχε παιδιά και γυναίκες να φροντίσει. ”

Όλοι γνωρίζουμε το βιολί, την τρομπέτα, το πιάνο, το φλάουτο … αλλά τι γίνεται με το oo, μια μικρή τριγωνική άρπα με 25-χορδές; Το hüs, ένα τριγωνικό έγχορδο που παίζεται με δοξάρι; Το utsu, ένα απλό πεντατονικό πληκτρο; Το trimba, ένα τριγωνικό όργανο κρουστών; Το uni, ένα επτάχορδο zither (ειδος οργανου); Εάν θέλετε ποτέ να εκτελέσετε μια ποικιλία από έργα του Moondog, θα έπρεπε να ξεκινήσετε να ασκείστε! Όχι μόνο ήταν ένας ​​δημιουργικός συνθέτης, αλλά ο Moondog φαντάστηκε νέα όργανα ειδικά για τη μουσική του, το καθένα με το δικό του ξεχωριστό μουρικό χαρακτήρα και ρόλο.

Αλλά τι είδους μουσική μπορεί κάποιος να εκτελέσει με αυτά τα όργανα; “Μουσική του Moondog”, όπως την ονόμαζε ο Moondog … τι άλλο;

Ποιοί επηρεάστηκαν απο αυτόν?

Όλοι όσοι συναντήθηκαν με τον Moondog φυσικά…“, λέει ο Robert Scotto. “Είναι σίγουρα ευκολότερο να βάλεις σε μια λίστα τους μαέστρους, τους μουσικούς και τους συνθέτες που δεν επηρεάστηκαν από τον Louis Moondog Hardin! Εχοντας περάσει χρόνια στους δρόμους της Νεας Υορκης ερμηνεύοντας μπροστά από  αίθουσες συναυλιών και γραφεία δισκογραφικών εταιριών, ο Moondog ήρθε σε επαφή με τους καλύτερους της δουλειάς. Αλλά υπήρχαν και άνθρωποι που άλλαξαν, για να βρουν το θρυλικό Moondog, συμπεριλαμβανομένων μερικών από τους μεγάλους jazzmen της εποχής όπως ο Charles Mingus, ο Dizzy Gillespie, ο Dave Brubeck, ο Duke Ellington και ο Charlie “Bird” Parker. Ο Bird μάλιστα εξέφρασε μια έντονη επιθυμία να γράψει ένα άλμπουμ με τον Moondog, αλλά πέθανε λίγο αργότερα, αφήνοντας την επιθυμία του για πάντα ανεκπλήρωτη. Ως φόρο τιμής στον μεγάλο σαξοφωνίστα, ο Moondog συνέθεσε το διάσημο “Bird’s Lament.

Κάποτε, ο νεαρός Philip Glass, φοιτητής τότε στη σχολή μουσικής Juilliard, ανακάλυψε τον Moondog και τη μουσική του έξω από το τζαζ μπαρ Birdland της Νέας Υόρκης, όπου ο μουσικός θα έπαιζε παράλληλα με την μουσική που παιζόταν μέσα. Γοητευμένος από τον ταλαντούχο μουσικό, προσκάλεσε αργότερα τον Moondog να ζήσει μαζί του για ένα χρόνο και να τον παρουσιάσει στον Steve Reich (τόσο ο Glass όσο και ο Reich ισχυρίζονται πως έμαθαν περισσότερο από τον Moondog από ό, τι από τις σπουδές τους στο Juilliard, φτάνοντας στο σημείο να αποκαλέσει τον Moondog, ιδρυτή του μινιμαλισμού και πατριάρχη).

Αλλά η επιρροή του Moondog δεν σταμάτησε στην τζαζ και τη σύγχρονη κλασσική μουσική. Ένα εξέχον μέλος της Beat γενιάς της Νέας Υόρκης, ο Moondog συναντήθηκε και έγινε φίλος με την Joan Baez, τον Ravi Shankar, και κυρίως την Janis Joplin, αλλά ακόμα και με τους λογοτέχνες William Burroughs και Allen Ginsburg. Η μουσική του επηρέασε ακόμη και τον Frank Zappa καθώς και τον Captain Beefheart. Από την τζαζ μέχρι τη σύγχρονη μουσική και όλα τα ενδιάμεσα, είναι εύκολο να καταλάβουμε γιατί ο Moondog έγινε γνωστός ως “Η Γέφυρα“, ενώνοντας ένα πλήθος διαφορετικών ειδών και επηρεάζοντας όλους τους τομείς της σύγχρονης καλλιτεχνικής δημιουργίας. Εφτασε μάλιστα να κάνει ακόμα και έναν δίσκο για παιδιά με την Julie Andrews πριν ακόμα εκείνη γίνει star.

Το 9 είναι μαγικός αριθμός

Σαν να μην ήταν αρκετά εκκεντρικός ο Moondog, ένιωθε επίσης μια έντονη γοητεία για τον αριθμό 9, πιστεύοντας ότι ο αριθμός αυτός περιέχει μέσα του έναν παγκόσμιο κώδικα που γεννήθηκε μέσω ήχου, που προέρχεται από μια υπεράνθρωπη νοημοσύνη αποκλειστικά για εκείνους που μπορούν να το καταλάβουν:

Έχω διαπιστώσει ότι στα πρώτα εννέα overtones [βασικό για τα μουσικα ηχοκύματα] υπάρχει ένας κώδικας ο οποίος μπορεί να έχει σχεδιαστεί μόνο από έναν θεό – τον αποκαλώ Megamind. Ο κώδικας αυτός όχι μόνο αποδεικνύει ότι ο Θεός υπάρχει […] αλλά έχω διαπιστώσει ότι υπάρχουν μυστικοί νόμοι εκεί που αναφέρονται στην κοσμική κατασκευή […] Αυτά τα πράγματα είναι όλα εκεί στα πρώτα εννέα overtones“.

Αυτή η γοητεία διαπέρασε πολλά από τα ποιήματά του, γραμμένα σε ιαμβικό μέτρο, και τις συνθέσεις του, όπως περιγράφει ο ίδιος ο συνθέτης: για παράδειγμα το Overtone Tree, ένα συμφωνικό έργο για τέσσερις μαέστρους, βασισμένο στα εννέα πρώτα overtones, έναν κανόνα χιλίων μερών, με διάρκεια εννέα ωρών, και το έργο του “A Sax Pax for a Sax”, γραμμένο για εννέα σαξόφωνα.

Τραγική ειρωνεία: Ενω ήταν παθιασμένος με τον αριθμό 9, πέθανε στις 8 Σεπτεμβρίου του 1999…

ΑΛΛΑΖΟΝΤΑΣ ΚΟΣΜΟΥΣ

Το 1974, ο Moondog συνειδητοποίησε τελικά τη διαχρονική του επιθυμία να επισκεφτεί την πατρίδα των μουσικών του ειδώλων – τη Γερμανία. Προσκεκλημένος απο την Hessischer Rundfunks Orchestra για να παρευρεθεί στην πρώτη Ευρωπαϊκή συναυλία των έργων του, που οργανώθηκε με την βοήθεια του φίλου του και οργανίστα Paul Jordan, ο Βίκινγκ της 6ης Λεωφόρου, αυτοπροσδιορίστικε ως “Ευρωπαίος σε εξορία”, και άφησε την Αμερική για να ανακαλύψει την ευρωπαϊκή ήπειρο. Μετά από μια επιτυχημένη σειρά συναυλιών, ο Moondog δήλωσε ότι δεν θα επιστρέψει στην πατρίδα του, κάνοντας νέα του κατοικία τους δρόμους της Φρανκφούρτης, του Αμβούργου και του Recklinghausen.

Εδω ηταν που ο Moondog συναντήθηκε με την μαθήτρια αρχαιολογίας Ilona Goebel. Εχοντας πρόσφατα ανακαλύψει ένα μουσικό άλμπουμ του Moondog στο τοπικό κατάστημα δίσκων, έπεισε τον συναρπαστικό συνθέτη να μείνει μαζί της και με την οικογένειά της στο κοντινό χωριό Oer-Erkenschwick, «τον παράδεισο για εναν συνθέτη» σύμφωνα με τον Moondog. Η  Goebel σύντομα σταμάτησε τις σπουδές αρχαιολογίας για να γίνει η καθημερινή βοηθός του, εκδότρια, παραγωγός δίσκων και τελικά ο σύντροφός του. Μαζί ίδρυσαν την εκδοτική εταιρεία Managarm (ένα σκυλί στη σκανδιναβική μυθολογία που κυνηγά το φεγγάρι), για να προωθήσει τη μουσική του στην Ευρώπη.

Ωστόσο, μιας και δεν είχε δώσει στοιχεία ζωής στην Αμερική, οι άνθρωποι γρήγορα πίστεψαν ότι ο συνθέτης είχε προφανώς πεθάνει, και το όνομά του έγινε θρύλος. Το 1989 όμως, ο Moondog επέστρεψε τελικά στη Νέα Υόρκη, προσκεκλημένος του Φεστιβάλ New Music America, ως θριαμβευτής και ως αναγνωρισμένος συνθέτης.

Το Φεγγαρόσκυλο εξακολουθεί να ουρλιάζει …

Αν και ο Moondog πέθανε στη Γερμανία το 1999, η μουσική του έχει επιβιώσει μέχρι σήμερα, κερδίζοντας συνεχώς δημοτικότητα όσο περνούν τα χρόνια. Η μουσική του έχει παιχτεί αρκετά μετά τον θάνατό του, από αμέτρητους κλασσικούς και μη κλασικούς, όπως οι Jimmy McGriff, Marc Bolan, Moonshake, Stereolab, και πιο πρόσφατα απο τις αδελφές Labèque, οπότε το  όνομα Louis “Moondog” Hardin κάθε άλλο παρά ξεχασμένο είναι σήμερα.

Πέρα από τις διασκευές, ορισμένοι καλλιτέχνες έχουν πάρει πράγματα από τη μουσική του Moondog με πιο σύγχρονους τρόπους, χρησιμοποιώντας την μουσική του ως βασικά στοιχεία για νέες μουσικές συνθέσεις. Γνωστή ως sampling, η διαδικασία αυτή, περιλαμβάνει τον κατακερματισμό ενός μουσικού έργου σε κομμάτια, την εξαγωγή των επιθυμητών μερών και τη χρήση τους ως μοτίβα για μια νέα δουλειά.

Αν και κάποιοι μπορεί να παρακολουθήσουν με τρόμο, τους DJ να χρησιμοποιούν τη μουσική του Moondog με τρόπο που δεν τον εγκρίνουν, είναι σημαντικό να σημειωθεί ότι ο ίδιος ο Moondog ήταν οπαδός της τεχνολογίας του sampling (της δειγματοληψείας δηλαδή), μιας και το πρωτοανακάλυψε στη Γερμανία κατά τη διάρκεια της δεκαετίας του 1980 και επαινούσε τις απεριόριστες δυνατότητες της τεχνολογίας. (Το άλμπουμ του “Elpmas”, που κυκλοφόρησε το 1991, είναι απλά αναγραμματισμός της λέξης sample). Ένα αξιοσημείωτο παράδειγμα είναι ο Mr. Scruff, ένας Αγγλος παραγωγός και DJ, που χρησιμοποίησε ένα δείγμα απο το τραγούδι του  Moondog “Bird’s Lament” το 1999 για το κομμάτι του “Get a Move on”, το οποίο έγινε μεγάλη επιτυχία και επανέφερε την προσοχή του κοινού στη μουσική Louis “Moondog” Hardin.

 

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2019 in Jazz, Music

 

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Labyrinth Lounge – Porgy (Rufftone Records Release: 25 August 2017)

Labyrinth Lounge Announces Debut Album ‘Porgy’, Previews ‘Trouble Won’t Last’ Single
New York’s Rufftone Records has announced that they will release the debut album from Labyrinth Lounge, preceded by a preview of the first single ‘Trouble Won’t Last’.

What’s in a name? Sometimes a lot more than you might at first realize. The band’s name suggests a perfect combination of complexity and a chilled vibe, which is exactly the dynamic dichotomy making up both their sound and attitude.

Originally conceived and launched in New York in the late nineties, the collective re-assembled in 2016 to grow anew in the San Francisco Bay Area and are again built from a wonderful blend of soul, pop jazz and the spirit of social activism.

The original band grew from the bass-drums pairing of John Ormondand Jaz Sawyer, best known as the rhythm section for the late great Abbey Lincoln, probably the most outspoken of the jazz divas, who brought a sense of black consciousness and social activism to the jazz world a long time before it became a trend. Taking everything they had soaked up while working with that great lady, the linked up with vocalist Valerie Troutt, keyboardist Emanuel Ruffler and rapper Ambessa ‘the Articulate’ Cantave, resulting in a unique mix of hip hop, rock, neo-soul and spoken word, sampling, beat making and improvisational approaches honed while performing in clubs and lounges in lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey.

Fast-forward to 2016 when the opportunity arose to revisit the project with the original lineup and new direction. In the interim, Valerie Troutthad done more than establish herself as a musical artist in the East Bay area, taking on a highly active role in the cultural and creative community through her work with the Oakland Public Conservatory, the Museum of African Diaspora, Higher Ground Neighborhood Corp. and the Embodiment Project, where she is Music Director.

After a recent performance at Oakland’s Studio Grand, the band locked themselves away in the Bird and Egg Studio, resulting in six brand new tracks for their ‘Porgy’ LP, The lead track ‘Trouble Won’t Last’ is a fantastic balance of classic and exploratory, iconic past sounds and forward moving modernity, a subtle and meaningful fusion of free jazz, pop and urban minimalism, reaching far beyond the cross-genre shot-in-the-dark approach many artists take when navigating such territory.

“Valerie sent me a phone recording of the song, with her doing all the parts with her voice. I took it apart and added a few harmonic twists to it, but left the feel and tempo unchanged. The song deals with the division of the spiritual and material life… And how we often have to make an effort to not be limited or controlled by our material environment,” explains Emanuel Ruffler.

But Labyrinth Lounge is certainly a team effort and it is the varied and diverse journeys – musical, physical and spiritual – the players have been on that bring the various elements and textures together.

Valerie Troutt is a music collagist, borrowing from ancestral centuries of sound, channeling spirits, and delivering the stories of our love, loss, and lives, a musical shaman and hungry to communicate with people. Jaz Sawyer, also originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, has toured with everyone from George Benson to Santana to The Grateful Dead before working with Abbey Lincoln on this particular path.

German born Emanuel Ruffler visited New York in 1992 and was immediately struck by the breath-taking artistic level and creative environment, so moved there to study with legendary pianists such as Jaki Byard, John Hicks and Mulgrew Miller a few years later. After taking grand prize in the Thelonious Monk Competition, he has achieved songwriting credit on Me’shell Ndegocello’s ‘Aquarium’ and also collaborated with world-famous designer Emanuel Ungaro, which ultimately led to Ruffler soundtracking an ad for an Ungaro-produced perfume.

Jaz Sawyer also comes with a colorful pedigree, beginning drums at the age of two and having played Wynton Marsalis, George Benson, Santana, and The Grateful Dead, among many others.

“Trouble Won’t Last” Is a funky soulful laid-back approach to Trump’s America. It’s what our grandmothers said when life gave them lemons. It’s a reminder to keep pushing against all odds until you see the outcome you desire,” says Valerie Troutt.

The accompanying video was produced by Townfuturist Media and directed by Korise Jubert. It features members of Mooncandy LiveHouse Ensemble and Labyrinth Lounge.

Rufftone Records is a fast growing label located in New York City with a focus on producing genre-defying music. The latest releases include the piano-drum duo “Painting”, as well as jazz-core group “A Tree Grows” featuring two-time Grammy award winner Tivon Pennicott.

‘Porgy’ will be released on August 25 through Rufftone Records. The band is also preparing a string of live performances in LA and the San Francisco Bay Area in the fall of 2017.

THE PLAYERS
Valerie Troutt – vocals
Ambessa ‘the Articulate’ Cantave – rap vocals
Emanuel Ruffler – keyboards
John Ormond – bass
Jaz Sawyer – drums
Maya Kronfeld – piano on “Storytime”

Recorded by Nino Moschella at Bird and Egg Studio in Richmond, CA
Mixed by Rashaan Carter and Emanuel Ruffler at Rufftone Studios
Mastered by Kevin Blackle
Cover Art: “I See Black People” by Valerie Brown-Troutt

TRACKLIST

1. Trouble Won’t Last
2. It’s Just Water
3. I Loves You Porgy
4.  We Be Rockin’
5.  Story time
6.  Displacement

Keep up with Labyrinth Lounge / Rufftone Records
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | Instagram | YouTube

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2017 in Dance, Jazz

 

Micah Gaugh – Stars Are A Harem (Sê-lo Net Label 12 May 2017)

NYC Avant-Pop Artist Micah Gaugh Announces New Album, Presents Jazz-Infused ‘Remembering’ Single

NYC-based avant-pop artist Micah Gaugh has announced that he will be releasing a new album ‘Stars Are a Harem’ on May 12. Ahead of that, he presents the first single from this album. ‘Remembering’ is a minimalistic, tranquil and spacious ballad resting on an underlying bed of jazz.
‘Stars are a Harem’ is a modern day response to Miles Davis ‘Kind of Blue’, where the music is steeped in the avant-garde tradition while being accessible to the public ear thanks to “pop” recording techniques and a softening of the harsh sounds associated with the 1960s avant-garde amidst American jazz music. In 1994, Micah Gaugh coined the phrase “avant-pop” to refer to music that sounds quite like pop music, but the underlying creation of the music, chords, rhythms, words, etc. are more complex than the normal methods used to create popular music.

The result is that listeners are virtually transported to the “cool jazz” of the 1950s, but a deeper listen shows the words are a modern version of Cole Porter’s witty romance writing or songs popularized by Billy Holiday and Betty Carter. Inspired by Debussy, Micah Gaugh understands that the subtleties of improvised music can make as strong an impact as the frenetic tones of the avant-garde. The songs on this album are portraits about women – while not completely romantic, each composition is the soundtrack to a mind-painting focused on an experience with an individual woman.

This 13-song collection was recorded in Harlem. This process is very singular for each musician. This intimacy can be heard with each player having a different and isolated relationship to the sounds. Simplicity and sincerity, heartfelt and distinctive, with delightfully crafted lyrics. The album’s hallmark is meditative ballads and fragile intimate ruminations. Rhizomatic, dendritic, reaching for new ways of listening to the familiar, always open. Then there is the extreme, noisy, double-sax dissonance, alternative intonations. This is an inside/outside sound of dissidence or even rebellion, in its soft and inviting beauty, the “power of love overcoming the love of power”.

Born in Panama, Micah Gaugh spent most of his adult life in the East Village, New York, leading him to many adventures through music and visual art. Other members of Micah Gaugh’s band are Kevin Shea, Henry Schroy and Leon Gruenbaum.

Micah Gaugh has collaborated, live and in studio, with dozens of renowned musicians, including Lady Miss Kier of Dee-lite, John Zorn, Cecil Taylor, Bootsy Collins, Meshell Ndegeocello, Burnt Sugar, DJ Logic, Thurston Moore, Lauryn Hill, The Roots, DJ Spooky, Vernon Reid of Living Colour. He also participated in remixes by James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) for The Sounds, Ladytron, and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as well as being a member of groundbreaking alternative rock band Apollo Heights (now The Veldt).

Micah acted in the season five premiere of ‘Sex in the City’ and the play ‘American Book of the Dead’. He also composed the score for the ballet ‘Highrise’ and for the musical version of ‘Sweet Sweetbacks Badass Song’ with Melvin Van Peebles.

His previous albums include ‘Everything’ (2006), ‘The Blue Fairy Mermaid Princess’ (2013), and ‘Pessego do Verao’ (2016). He has written two operas: ‘Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights’ and a piece for the artist Rirkrit Taravanija featured in ‘il Postino di Tiempo’. He composed the music for and acted in the Matthew Barney film ‘Di Lama Lamina’ and engaged in the ‘Noise Mass’ choral work, commissioned by the Chiesa Rosa in Milan.

Micah also paints and writes novels. His artwork has been exhibited in galleries across the USA and as far away as Brazil, France, Japan and the UK.

‘Stars Are a Harem’ is available for pre-order on Sê-lo Records’ Bandcamp, where ‘Remembering’ is already streaming. The album includes a 14-page music booklet “13 piano pieces for children – Stars Are a Harem (Micah Gaugh)”, as well as a 13 piano song suite midi file for those wishing to remix, sample and loop.

On the evening of May 12 (at 9:00pm), the band will be putting on a release show in New York at NUBLU (62 Avenue C, New York, NY 10009. Phone 212-979-9925).

ALBUM CREDITS

Micah Gaugh – composer, piano, voice, sax
Kevin Shea – drums
Henry Schroy – bass, recording engineer (bass) (ChezSophia, Rio de Janeiro)
Hayato Nakao – recording engineer (drums) (Long Island City)
Luqman Brown – recording engineer (voice, piano, sax) (Buddha Bug Recording Studios, Harlem)
Mixed by Henry Schroy and Chad Zuchegno at The Vibe Recording (Fort Myers, FL)
Mastered by Emily Lazar at The Lodge assisted by Chris Allgood (New York City)
Produced by Henry Schroy and Micah Gaugh
Photo credit: Matthew Heyner (front) and Byron Dean (back)
VIDEO CREDITS
Daniel McKleinfeld – video animations
Tono Radvanay – video photography
Nucomme – actress
Henry Schroy – video editor
Joaquim Castro (Canal Canal) – sax videoclip
Lucas Freire – technician

LYRICS
It’s so easy to sleep
as the flower falls from the tree
you’re so lovely
and the breeze from the sea as the lake
flows by gently awe inspiring
you told me that I would be your Prince
that is left to happenstance
the fire that burned could be seen from across the street
we were camping slightly the moon
in your eyes disappears with the rain
I can’t complain
in the tent we were ghost with a glow so absurd
my word graceful songbird
tried and true what were we supposed to do
what could we do with our time

Keep up with Micah Gaugh
WebsiteFacebook | Soundcloud | YouTube | Bandcamp

Keep up withSê-lo Net Label
Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp 

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2017 in Alternative, Jazz

 

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A Tree Grows – A Tree Grows LP (Rufftone Records – 17 March 2017)

NYC Jazz Outfit A Tree Grows Presents ‘Future Calculations’ Ahead of Debut Album

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Following up their recent single ‘Wau Wau Water‘, Brooklyn-based A Tree Grows present the second single from their self-titled debut album, set for release on March 17 through Rufftone Records. ‘Future Calculations’ is based on an exercise by the jazz pianist Walter Bishop Jr., who played in Charlie Parker‘s band.

The accompanying video was created by acclaimed videographer Hideki Shiota, recipient of the Best Cinematography Award at the Asian American International Film Festival, and inspired by the need for a new generation of environmentalism, imagining the thought process and the level of determination that will be necessary.

Future generations will feel the need to rise to the ecological challenges they inherit, and this story tells one imaginary angle of this tale: A young girl makes it her mission to grow a plant. She is undeterred by what is happening around her and calmly works towards her modest yet spiritual goal…  The blues inspired saxophone that Tivon Penicott plays is a perfect metaphor for our humanity and spiritualism, which can make plants grow – and in the end can possibly even heal nature.

“We came up with this idea and decided to make the video with the backdrop of New York City, using some weird locations in Queens that we have been exploring,” explains Emanuel Ruffler.  “I finally managed to convince my daughter Kokoro to act in the video and our friend Naoko Kitano agreed to do the styling. The clothes are very important for the direction of the story. The unusual kimono creates a sense of futurism, and it make the character really float above and stand out from the New York City street scenes.”

In the composition ‘Future Calculations’, the progression is in fourths, which Walter Bishop Jr. wrote a whole book about. It’s somewhere between a 12-tone algorithm and the blues –  a perfect fit for this subject matter.

Involving some of the most talented musicians on the New York scene, they create a unique stew with jazz at its core, blended with afrobeat, rock and experimental sounds. Tastefully crossing stylistic barriers, this unique collaboration involves two brothers – Rashaan Carter and Russell Carter – and German-born electronic musician Emanuel Ruffler. Together, they create sonic textures, over which Tivon Pennicott and Duane Eubanks stretch a layer of raw, emotional jazz lines. Not afraid to defy expectations of style, instrumentation and expression, the unique style of each member of A Tree Grows makes for a potent sonic concoction that is refreshing, insightful, and deliciously exciting.

At the top of today’s young saxophone world, Tivon Pennicott brings fantastic rhythm, tasteful melodic lines and the deeply important groove. A two-time Grammy winner and runner-up in the prestigious Thelonius Monk Competition, he is also a prominent part of the Gregory Porter Band, a recent recipient of a 2017 Grammy Award for the album ‘Take Me To The Alley’. Arguably one of the decade’s most celebrated and genre-crossing artists, Gregory Porter performances have featured Tivon Pennicott on countless live and TV appearances across the globe. Hailing from Georgia, Tivon began playing with guitar legend Kenny Burrell while still in college, performing at many world-class venues alongside the likes of Stevie Wonder and Wynton Marsalis. Since moving to New York in 2009, he has collaborated with numerous artists, appeared on Esperanza Spalding’s crossover success ‘Radio Music Society’, and toured with master drummer Al Foster, best known for his long-term collaboration with Miles Davis.

Emanuel Ruffler, a New York resident of more than 20 years, also comes with a colorful musical pedigree. After taking grand prize in the Thelonious Monk Competition, he has achieved songwriting credit on Me’shell Ndegocello’s ‘Aquarium’ and also collaborated with world-famous designer Emanuel Ungaro, which ultimately led to Ruffler soundtracking an ad for an Ungaro-produced perfume.

Rashaan and Russell Carter‘s love of music fostered by their saxophonist father and mother, a radio programmer. The bass ultimately became the voice for Rashaan’s musical expression with Russell on drums. They cut their teeth on the local Washington, D.C. scene with artists such as as Gary Thomas and after Rashaan moved to New York City to attend the New School University, he quickly began working with many faculty members, including percussionist and composer Joe Chambers. Rashaan met future bandmate Emanuel Ruffler at that time.

Trumpeter Duane Eubanks has performed everywhere from the Hollywood Bowl to Carnegie Hall to the Kennedy Center, in addition to Europe and Japan.  He is a member of Dave Holland’s two time Grammy Award winning big band and the late Mulgrew Miller’s band, Wingspan. Having played with dozens of renowned figures in the jazz world, he has crossed over into other genres, recording and touring with The Temptations, Alicia Keys, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Wu Tang Clan, Freedom Williams, Kirk Franklin, and Defunkt.

CREDITS:

Emanuel Ruffler – keyboards

Tivon Pennicott – saxophone

Rashaan Carter – bass

Russell Carter – drums

Duane Eubanks – trumpet

 

Produced and composed by Emanuel Ruffler, in memory of Walter Bishop Jr.

Published by Emudrum Music (BMI).

Actress: Kokoro

Hair and Kimono styling by Naoko Kitano

Filmed and Edited by Hideki Shiota

 

Keep up with A Tree Grows / Rufftone Records

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | Bandcamp | Instagram | Vimeo | YouTube

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2017 in Jazz

 

A Tree Grows – Wau Wau Water (Rufftone Records 25 November 2016)

A Tree Grows Delivers Sublime Jazz-Laced Fusion With New ‘Wau Wau Water’ single.

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In advance of announcing their debut album through Rufftone Records, Brooklyn-based A Tree Grows present ‘Wau Wau Water, the first single from their self-titled debut EP. Involving some of the most talented musicians on the New York scene, they create a unique stew with jazz at its core, blended with afrobeat, rock and experimental sounds. 
Each composition on this coming LP surrounds a difference concept, describing a distinct state in the evolution of life on earth. The images are snapshots, extending from the beginning of life to the emergence of emotions, to aspects of modern human life. The cycle closes with possibilities for future development: self perpetuating intelligence. The composition Wau Wau Water is based on the following concept: “Enzymes are forming in a prehistoric ocean – evolving into bacteria. A stew of life is brewing, the cycle starts and intensifies in this patch of fertile Wau Wau Water.”
“Defining and discussing these concepts during the rehearsal and recording process created a sense of purpose among the musicians and a deeper engagement with the compositions. This has transformed our creative process,” explains Emanuel Ruffler.
The accompanying video was created by acclaimed videographer Hideki Shiota, who has received the Best Cinematography Award at the Asian American International Film Festival.
A Tree Grows creates instrumental jazz-core music that tastefully crosses stylistic barriers. This unique collaboration involves two brothers – Rashaan Carter and Russell Carter – and German-born electronic musician Emanuel Ruffler. Together, they create sonic textures, over which Tivon Penicott and Duane Eubanks stretch a layer of raw, emotional jazz lines. Not afraid to defy expectations of style, instrumentation and expression, the unique style of each member of A Tree Grows makes for a potent sonic concoction that is refreshing, insightful, and deliciously exciting.
At the top of today’s young saxophone world, Tivon Pennicott brings fantastic rhythm, tasteful melodic lines and the deeply important groove. A two-time Grammy winner and runner-up in the prestigious Thelonius Monk Competition, he is also a prominent part of jazz-soul singer Gregory Porter‘s band. Arguably one of the decade’s most celebrated and genre-crossing artists, in the last few years, Gregory Porter performances have featured Tivon Pennicott on countless live and TV appearances across the globe. Hailing fron Georgia, Tivon began playing with guitar legend Kenny Burrell while still in college, performing at many of the world’s greatest venues alongside the likes of Stevie Wonder and Wynton Marsalis. Since moving to New York in 2009, he has collaborated with numerous artists, appeared on Esperanza Spalding‘s crossover success “Radio Music Society”, and toured with master drummer Al Foster, best known for his long-term collaboration with Miles Davis.
Emanuel Ruffler, a New York resident of more than 20 years, also comes with a colorful musical pedigree. After taking grand prize in the Thelonious Monk Competition, he has achieved songwriting credit on Me’shell Ndegocello’s ‘Aquarium’ and also collaborated with world-famous designer Emanuel Ungaro, which ultimately led to Ruffler soundtracking an ad for an Ungaro-produced perfume.
Rashaan and Russell Carter‘s love of music fostered by their saxophonist father and mother, a radio programmer. The bass ultimately became the voice for Rashaan’s musical expression with Russell on drums. They cut their teeth on the local Washington, D.C. scene with artists such as as Gary Thomas and after Rashaan moved to New York City to attend the New School University, he quickly began working with many faculty members, including percussionist and composer Joe Chambers. Rashaan met future bandmate Emanuel Ruffler at that time.
Trumpeter Duane Eubanks has performed everywhere from the Hollywood Bowl to Carnegie Hall to the Kennedy Center, in addition to Europe and Japan.  He is a member of Dave Holland’s two time Grammy Award winning big band and the late Mulgrew Miller‘s band, Wingspan. Having played with dozens of renowned figures in the jazz world, he has crossed over into other genres, recording and touring with The Temptations, Alicia Keys, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Wu Tang Clan, Freedom Williams, Kirk Franklin, and Defunkt.
“It’s inspiring to play in the company of such amazing work. The studio is this incubator for creative energy and it’s nice to absorb that. The space plays an important role in a concert and one that houses and spawns creative work is always welcome.” says bassist Rashaan Carter.
Rufftone Records releases A Tree Grows ‘Wau Wau Water’ on November 4 via Bandcamp and the usual online retailers.
THE PLAYERS:
Emanuel Ruffler – keyboards
Tivon Pennicott – saxophone
Rashaan Carter – bass
Russell Carter – drums
Duane Eubanks – trumpet

Keep up with A Tree Grows / Rufftone Records
Website | Facebook | Twitter |Soundcloud | Bandcamp | Instagram | Vimeo | YouTube

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2016 in Jazz