- March 23rd, 2013
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A Bebo Valdez,
Descanse en Paz el Artista: creador, innovador e interprete dotado de una excepcional locuacidad, elegancia, imaginacion….Un Maestro cubano del Mundo!
Archive for the ‘Great Musicians, Past and Present’ Category
A Bebo Valdez,
Descanse en Paz el Artista: creador, innovador e interprete dotado de una excepcional locuacidad, elegancia, imaginacion….Un Maestro cubano del Mundo!
Al Di Meola was just 19 years old when he joined one of the biggest instrumental ensembles in the world. The brilliant acoustic/electric guitarist replaced Bill Connors in the celebrated jazz-fusion band Return To Forever in 1974, joining keyboardist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White.
“I literally was a kid in terms of knowledge and experience, not just about music but the world,” Di Meola says, pausing to reflect during a recent phone interview. “Things sort of escalated quickly and my life really changed.”
From that foundation, which eventually yielded three hit albums and a Grammy award, Di Meola’s reputation as a marvelous improviser, soloist and band contributor was firmly established. Then the 1976 solo debut Land of the Midnight Sun revealed his writing skills and versatility. Since then, he has consistently distinguished himself with a string of outstanding releases showcasing different bands and styles.
He comes to Nashville for a Friday night date at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center’s Laura Turner Concert Hall with his current band New World Sinfonia, which he proudly says “is doing the most rewarding and challenging music of my career. These are compositions where sonics and volume don’t overpower anything. The two most important aspects for me are the improvisational element, the jazz base, and the melodic development. With New World Sinfonia these things are always in perfect balance.
“I know we’re in a period where there doesn’t seem to be the interest in world music and international sounds that was happening only a few years ago. But I’ve found that live audiences still enjoy and interact positively with the music. Indeed, live performance is what I’m emphasizing the most now, because that’s what keeps things going. The time it takes to go into a studio and make a recording, then you have to get into the marketplace and there are so few people now buying physical CDs that the risk/reward ratio is very low. By contrast, people are still listening to music in great numbers and responding and reacting to live performances.”
New World Sinfonia includes Fausto Beccalossi on accordion, Peo Afonsi on acoustic guitar, Victor Miranda on bass and dual percussionists Peter Kaszas and Gumbi Ortiz. The band’s menu covers everything from flamenco and tango to experimental jazz, blues, traditional folk, or songs with Latin and African rhythms and influences.
The group’s diversity reflects not only Di Meola’s 20-plus recordings and the array of genres they cover, but his many other remarkable collaborations and sessions. He’s led both an acoustic guitar trio with Paco De Lucia and John McLaughlin and a unit called the Rite of Strings with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and bassist Clarke. Di Meola’s recorded and performed alongside opera legend Luciano Pavarotti and tango master Astor Piazzolla, then turned around and worked with pop stars Paul Simon and Dave Matthews as well as Steve Winwood, Phil Collins and Carlos Santana. For Di Meola, the issue is never category but inspiration and quality.
“I’ve always gravitated to musical situations where I was able to combine the things that intrigue and attract me the most,” Di Meola says. “Those are the improvisational element with folk melodies and traditional rhythms from around the world. I’ve always written on the acoustic guitar because I find that developing the story, finding the melody, works best on acoustic. You can do things there in terms of scales and arpeggios that really aid you in building the melody. The electric gives you a sonic power that can be breathtaking.
“They are distinct instruments, and I always let the song dictate which instrument will work. But I’ve never really thought about doing something from the standpoint of category or genre. It’s always been, is this something that is musically rewarding?”
Besides his World Sinfonia tour, which will continue through the year, he’s now collaborating with another keyboard giant, the fiery Cuban player Gonzalo Rubalcaba. “He’s the greatest pianist in the world today,” Di Meola says. “His touch, range, sensitivity and technique are astonishing, and he’s an amazing writer as well. I was stunned when he told me that he liked and respected my music because that’s certainly how I feel about him.” They are writing songs, and Di Meola hopes to eventually do some projects with him, both with World Sinfonia and as a piano/guitar team.
Though he briefly joined former comrades Corea, White and Clarke for the 25-year Return to Forever reunion tour in 2008, Di Meola says that experience put a cap on his RTF life and fusion identity. “It was fun for a while to revisit those years and songs, but quite frankly I much prefer the music that I’m doing today,” Di Meola says. “I’m no longer really interested, either in writing or playing, in that style for a number of reasons. The volume that’s needed to make it work for one.
“Second, I’ve moved into a different world in terms of the music I hear in my head now. I want to keep exploring sounds from around the World. North African music, Latin, Cuban, and seeing where it all fits in with the things that I’ve always done, and how you incorporate the jazz foundation into it. That’s the challenge for me today.”
Afro-Cuban Jazz Artist Yosvany Terry brings rare Arara drums, African music traditions to Harlem: Terry’s Ye-de-gbe project performed on January 12 at Harlem School of the Arts.
Latin Beat Magazine – April 1, 2008
Gale Reference Team
The Afro-Cuban composer and saxophonist Yosvany Terry brought the music, dance and religious traditions of the West African Arará culture–which traveled with the slaves from the Dahomey (now Benin) region of West Africa to Cuba, Haiti and Brazil hundreds of years ago and was preserved there–to Harlem. Yosvany Terry, with Ye-de-gbe and Afro-Caribbean Legacy, performed The Arará Suite, a new work of world music commissioned by the Stanford Jazz Workshop (SJW), a nonprofit organization dedicated to jazz education and appreciation, at the Harlem School of the Arts as part of its Saturdays at Noon series.
The performance gave a rare opportunity to see and hear Arará drums, and savor the authentic sound of the music, Terry was commissioned to bring to the U.S. what may be the first Arará musical exhibit of its kind to reach North American shores.
Ye-de-gbe means “with the approval of the spirits” in the West African Fon language, and it is the name of Terry’s latest endeavor, a fusion of the Afro-Cuban Arará culture and North American jazz. The music is known for its distinct percussive elements: drumming, hand clapping and body percussion. While the Arará culture continues to thrive in Cuba and throughout the Caribbean, few in the U. S., and particularly in its inner cities, have been exposed to it. Terry is taking measures to keep it alive through The Arará Suite, an exploration of Terry’s West African heritage. The Arará culture and traditions have traveled through the years from West Africa’s Benin (formerly Dahomey) to Cuba, and now to Harlem.
In early September of 2007, Terry traveled from New York City to Matanzas, Cuba, to trace the roots of the Arará musical tradition, originally brought to the island by slaves taken from the Dahomey region in West Africa. There, he studied with Mario Rodríguez Pedroso, a master of and one of the last living drummers initiated in the Arará tradition. He also commissioned a special set of drums needed to perform the music.
Terry (who was born and raised in the Camagüey province of Cuba) realized that he was already familiarized with many of the melodies and rhythms. Growing up, he learned and practiced Vodou rituals with his family. His Haitian grandmother, Basilica León Charles, practices the religion and traces her ancestors to Dahomey. His father, Eladio “Don Pancho” Ferry, a world renowned violinist and Cuba’s leading chekeré player, is also a devout practitioner. It was within this rich cultural and musical family that Yosvany Terry became a bearer of the ancient traditions.
“It is important to preserve the roots and tradition of today’s music and help the new generations understand our cultural heritage,” he said. “We’re finding that while this is new to audiences, they can still recognize the musical traditions that are a part of their history and appreciate how they are expressed in modern music.”
After receiving his first musical training with his father, Yosvany went on to study classical music, graduating from both the prestigious Escuela Nacional de Arte (ENA) and Amadeo Roldan Conservatory. He founded the influential group, Columna B, which represented the new voice of young Cuban jazz players, before immigrating to the U.S. in 1999.
The performance was made possible by a generous grant from the New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in the wake of the payola scandals involving major recording and radio broadcasting companies. The fund is designed to benefit and expose New Yorkers to exemplary contemporary music of all genres through music education and appreciation programs.
For more information on Terry, log onto www.stanfordjazz.org/yedegbe or www.yosvanyterry.com.
Al Di Meola, è uno dei più rispettati chitarristi contemporanei, da sempre abituato a mescolare generi e stili, come quando da adolescente passava dai Beatles ad Elvis Presley, passando per il suono nero della gloriosa Motown. La prima svolta avvenne quando si trasferì al Greenwich Village di New York per prendere lezioni di chitarra da Larry Coryell, uno dei capostipiti riconosciuto della cosiddetta fusion. Dopo essere stato tra i migliori allievi della Berklee di Boston, Di Meola nel 1974 venne arruolato da Chick Corea per formare insieme a Stanley Clarke e Lenny White i “Return Of Forever” un’esprerienza breve per quanto di seminale importanza. Da lì in poi la sua carriera solistica spiccò il volo con una serie di fortunate registrazioni, parentesi dorate con artisti del calibro di Paco De Lucia eJohn McLaughlin e qualche inevitabile passo falso.
Oggi sembra un signore tranquillo e più che mai in pace con se stesso. Da qualche tempo ha formato un gruppo stabile e la sua recente settimana milanese al Blue Note ha fatto registrare quasi sempre il tutto esaurito. Alla vigilia del suo ultimo concerto lo abbiamo incontrato per qualche domanda nel tranquillo backstage dell’elegante locale posto in Via Borsieri, ci ha risposto con estrema cordialità:
V.P.: Partiamo ovviamente da Flesh on Flesh, un lavoro che sembra ancora più variegato dei precedenti con un suono molto immediato e diretto, ne è soddisfatto?
A.D.M.: Parecchio. Questo è il mio quarto disco per la Telarc, un etichetta formidabile che mi ha sempre lasciato ampia libertà di scelta. E’ nato a Miami, un posto dove mi piace sempre stare quando non sono in giro. L’ho registrato in presa diretta ai mitici Criteria Studios, un posto che soltanto per la sua storia passata incute suggestione. Ancora di più rispetto al passato il “mood” del disco è pieno di quei riferimenti latini che mi hanno sempre incuriosito. C’è un bell’ambiente in Florida, una sorta di crocevia obbligato per i ritmi e le suggestioni che provengono un po’ da tutto il centro America, non solo quindi Cuba. Il materiale è stato comunque messo a fuoco anche in alcune serate dal vivo suonate in piccoli club dove avevamo la possibilità di testare quanto avevamo appena concordato in studio, quasi l’opposto di quanto avviene di solito.
V.P.: Tra gli ospiti spicca ovviamente il nome di Gonzalo Rubalcaba, dove vi siete incontrati e come mai il suo apporto è stato alle tastiere elettriche invece che al più tradizionale pianoforte?
A.D.M.: Sono stato così contento di avere questa chance di ospitarlo nel mio disco, perché Gonzalo è semplicemente uno dei più grandi musicisti mai nati: davvero difficile far coesistere tecnica, fantasia, passione e velocità di pensiero in una sola testa, ma lui possiede tutto questo ed ancora di più. Ci eravamo incrociati in qualche festival durante gli anni, poi il mio percussionista Gumbi Ortiz mi ha fatto ascoltare alcuni suoi lavori elettrici realizzati insieme al suo gruppo Projecto, materiale davvero incredibile,quindi finalmente l’occasione di suonare insieme in Europa dal vivo, con la promessa di ritrovarsi in studio. L’occasione si è presentata per “Flesh On Flesh” e ne sono ovviamente molto soddisfatto, ha scelto lui di suonare il piano Fender e l’ho lasciato fare. Può sembrare strano dal momento che io sono un musicista di maggiore esperienza e ho avuto altri incontri eccellenti in carriera, ma per me è stata davvero la realizzazione di un sogno.
V.P.: Ha trovato dei punti contatto con Stanley Jordan, il cui funambolico estro fu in qualche modo disciplinato proprio da lei nella produzione del suo debutto discografico per la Blue Note?
A.D.M.: No, siamo su due livelli differenti. Mi ero quasi dimenticato di quella esperienza che affrontai comunque con molto entusiasmo. Anche Stanley è un fuoriclasse, però le sue prospettive apparvero fin dall’inizio differenti. Il suo enorme talento è apparso avvitarsi su se stesso fino ad un progressivo allontanamento dalle scene. So che di recente è tornato in pista con una serie di concerti in solitario, sempre e comunque la sua dimensione migliore, sono sempre dalla sua parte.
V.P.: “The Infinite Desire“, che era il suo debutto per la Telarc, ha venduto molto bene anche in Italia anche grazie al bel duetto con Pino Daniele, un brano molto passato anche nei grandi network radiofonici, come ha conosciuto la sua musica?
A.D.M.: Pino è un musicista di grande talento, capace sempre di andare al cuore della melodia. Sapevo di una sua precedente collaborazione con Wayne Shorter (il disco eraBella ‘mbriana n.d.r) e l’ho incontrato proprio tramite Rachel Z., una tastierista formidabile a lungo con Wayne che quest’anno ha suonato dal vivo anche con Peter Gabriel. All’epoca suonava con me in studio. Anche Rachel ha origini italiane e viene spesso qui, sapevo della loro collaborazione e tutto è avvenuto in maniera molto semplice e spontanea, come del resto dovrebbe sempre essere. So che quel pezzo è passato anche molto in radio portando così il disco a sfiorare le diecimila copie, un risultato soddisfacente per cui mi piacerebbe fare qualcos’altro con lui, speriamo bene.
V.P.: Qualche anno fa ha registrato un disco dedicato interamente alle musiche di Astor Piazzolla e spesso inizia i suoi concerti con qualcuno dei suoi brani, pensa che il suo valore sia stato riconosciuto pienamente?
A.D.M.: Nonostante quello che può sembrare la musica di Piazzolla è tremendamente sottostimata. Forse non qui in Europa e particolarmente in Italia, viste le comuni origini latine ma negli Stati Uniti lo è di certo. Io ho passato buona parte della mia adolescenza a Little Italy, dove lui ha invece trascorso gli ultimi anni della sua vita e così diventammo buoni amici. Lui stesso aveva mi aveva proposto di realizzare un disco insieme e sarebbe stato davvero l’ultimo impegno fissato, prima dell’aggravarsi delle sue condizioni di salute. Con molta umiltà cerco di preservarne l’eredità suonando la sua musica con molta energia e passione, l’accordion è stato anche il mio primo strumento anche se lo suonavo davvero male.
V.P.: Lei sembra così tranquillo e distaccato, quasi un buon padre di famiglia a cui è capitato “anche” di essere un musicista di successo. Spesso lo stile di vita in questo ambito sembra pericoloso per le numerose tentazioni che propone, distogliendo molti musicisti di talento da quello che dovrebbe essere il loro vero obiettivo. Come ha agito perché tutto questo funzionasse senza altre implicazioni per lei?
A.D.M.: Forse dall’esterno può sembrare ma non è proprio così. Quando suoni per più di 200 giorni all’anno in un posto diverso come si riesce a ipotizzare una vita normale? Gli affetti, la famiglia, quanto hai di più caro finisce inevitabilmente con soffrirne. Adesso siamo finalmente a Milano per cinque giorni di seguito, ma proveniamo da un tour abbastanza duro di altre cinque settimane in giro per l’Europa, poi tornerò a casa per dieci giorni, prima di ricominciare per un altro mese buono. Intendiamoci suonare ed essere accolti bene dovunque vai rimane sempre un privilegio assoluto, però bisogna avere davvero un carattere forte per continuare a farlo negli anni.
V.P.: Da qualche parte si mormora che il suo prossimo progetto potrebbe essere un disco molto più soffice, quasi pop…è vero?
A.D.M.: E’ una cosa alla quale sto lavorando da un po’ di tempo e potrebbe essere vero, non lo nascondo. Mi piacerebbe fare un disco di dirhythm and blues con delle cantanti, ma non ho ancora trovato esattamente ciò che ho in mente, la maggior parte dei nuovi personaggi in quell’area come Shakira e Ricky Martin non hanno ovviamente il mio gradimento, trovo molto più interessanti molti dei passati lavori diGloria Estefan, che però aveva in Kiki Santander un fantastico produttore.
V.P.: Nessuna possibilità invece per una ricomposizione dei Return Of Forever o del magnifico triumvirato con De Lucia e McLaughlin?
A.D.M.: Chick sembra ora in una fase così diversa della sua carriera da sembrare improponibile. Non è più tempo di sperimentazioni e anche l’ambiente in generale è assai diverso. Con Paco e John ci siamo ritrovati qualche anno fa per una piccola reunion che ha portato a un disco e successivo tour che abbiamo affrontato con il necessario feeling, poi ognuno è stato assorbito dalle sue cose e non se ne è più parlato, io ci spero sempre, chissà magari la prossima volta torniamo insieme qui al Blue Note…
The question of how Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart created his works has long been studied. 19th century views on this topic were often based on a romantic, mythologizing conception of the process of composition. More recent scholarly study has attempted to address the issue through systematic examination of the surviving letters and documents, and has arrived at rather different conclusions.
A surviving letter of Mozart’s to his father Leopold (31 July 1778) indicates that he considered composition to be an active process, the product of his intellect and carried out under conscious control:
In other words, a popular stereotype about creative artists, that they passively wait for “inspiration” to strike, is probably inapplicable to Mozart. For discussion of this stereotype as applied to Mozart, see below.
Mozart often wrote down sketches, ranging in size from small snippets to extensive drafts, for his compositions. Although many of these have not survived, having been destroyed by Mozart’s widow Constanze, about 320 sketches and drafts are extant, covering about 10 percent of the composer’s work.
Ulrich Konrad, an expert on the sketches describes a well-worked-out system of sketching that Mozart used, based on examination of the surviving documents. Typically the most “primitive” sketches are in casual handwriting, and give just snippets of music. More advanced sketches cover the most salient musical lines (the melody line, and often the bass), leaving other lines to be filled in later. The so-called “draft score” was one in an advanced enough state for Mozart to consider it complete, and therefore enter it (after 1784) into the personal catalog that he called Verzeichnüss aller meiner Werke (“Catalog of all my works”). However, the draft score did not include all of the notes: it remained to flesh out the internal voices, filling out the harmony. These were added to create the completed score, which appeared in a highly legible hand.
This procedure makes sense of another letter Mozart wrote to Leopold, discussing his work in Munich on the opera Idomeneo (30 December 1780), where Mozart makes a distinction between “composed” and “written”:
In Konrad’s view, Mozart had completed the “draft score” of the work, but still needed to produce the completed, final version.
Of the sketches that survive, none are for solo keyboard works. Konrad suggests that “improvisation [at which Mozart was highly skilled; see below] or the actual trying out of particularly challenging imaginative possibilities could compensate in these cases for the lack of sketches.”
Mozart evidently needed a keyboard to work out his musical thoughts. This can be deduced from his letters and other biographical material. For instance, on 1 August 1781, Mozart wrote to his father Leopold concerning his living arrangements in Vienna, where he had recently moved:
Konrad cites a similar letter written from Paris, indicating that Mozart didn’t compose where he was staying, but visited another home to borrow the keyboard instrument there. Similar evidence is found in early biographies based on Constanze Mozart‘s memories.
About 150 of Mozart’s surviving works are incomplete, roughly a quarter of the total count of surviving works. A number of completed works can be shown (e.g. by inspecting watermarks or inks) to be completions of fragments that had long been left incomplete. These include the piano concertos K. 449, K. 488, K. 503, and K. 595, as well as the Clarinet Concerto K. 622.
It is not known why so many works were left incomplete. In a number of cases, the historical record shows that what Mozart thought was an opportunity for performance or sale evaporated during the course of composition. Braunbehrens (1990) observes: “Most pieces … were written on request or with a specific performance in mind, if not for the composer’s own use. Mozart frequently emphasized that he would never consider writing something for which there was no such occasion. Indeed, hardly a single work of his was not written for a particular occasion, or at least for use in his own concerts.”
Mozart evidently had a prodigious ability to “compose on the spot”; that is, to improvise at the keyboard. This ability was apparent even in his childhood, as the Benedictine priest Placidus Scharl recalled:
As a teenager visiting Italy, Mozart gave a concert in Venice (5 March 1771). According to a witness, “An experienced musician gave him a fugue theme, which he worked out for more than an hour with such science, dexterity, harmony, and proper attention to rhythm, that even the greatest connoisseurs were astounded.”
Mozart continued to improvise in public as an adult. For instance, the highly successful concert of 1787 in Prague that premiered his “Prague Symphony” concluded with a half-hour improvisation by the composer. For other instances, see Mozart’s Berlin journey and Dora Stock.
There is apparently little evidence to bear on the question of whether Mozart’s improvisations were a source of ideas to him for permanent compositions.
Improvisation as a backup for sight-reading
The meeting of Grétry and the young Mozart apparently took place in 1766.
Braunbehrens suggests that on at least one occasion, Mozart met a deadline by simply not writing down part of the music and improvising it instead while performing before the audience. This was evidently true of the Piano Concerto in D, K. 537, premiered 24 February 1788. In this work, the second movement opens with a solo passage for the pianist. The autograph (composer-written) score of the music gives the notes as follows:
Braunbehrens and other scholars infer that Mozart could not conceivably have opened a movement with a completely unadorned melody line, and instead improvised a suitable accompaniment for the left hand. Similar passages occur throughout the concerto.
The work was published only in 1794, three years after Mozart’s death, and the publisher Johann André found some other composer (whose identity is unknown) to fill in the missing passages; it is these interpolations that have standardly been performed since that time.
Mozart appears to have possessed an excellent memory for music, though probably not the quasi-miraculous ability that has passed into legend. In particular, the use of keyboards and sketches to compose, noted above, would not have been necessary for a composer who possessed superhuman memory. Various anecdotes attest to Mozart’s memory abilities.
Two of the violin sonatas gave rise to anecdotes to the effect that Mozart played the piano part at the premiere from memory, with only the violinist playing from the music. This is true for the Violin Sonata in G, K. 379/373a, where Mozart wrote in a letter to Leopold (8 April 1781) that he wrote out the violin part in an hour the night before the performance “but in order to be able to finish it, I only wrote out the accompaniment for Brunetti and retained my own part in my head.” A similar story has survived concerning the Violin Sonata in B flat, K. 454, performed before the Emperor in the Kärntnertortheater 29 April 1784.
One may perhaps question whether in these instances Mozart retained the entire keyboard part note for note in his head; given the independent testimony (above) for his ability to fill in gaps through improvisation, it would seem that Mozart could have done this as well in performing the violin sonatas.
Another instance of Mozart’s powerful memory concerns his memorization and transcription of Gregorio Allegri‘s “Miserere” in the Sistine Chapel as a 14-year-old. Here again, various factors suggest great skill on Mozart’s part, but not a superhuman miracle: the work in question is somewhat repetitive, and that Mozart was able to return to hear another performance, correcting his earlier errors. Solomon suggests that Mozart may have seen another copy earlier.
Konrad describes the views that were prevalent during the 19th century period of Mozart scholarship. In particular, “the ‘making of music’ was … mythologized as a creative act”. The 19th century regarded Mozart’s compositional process as a form “of impulsive and improvisatorial composition … an almost vegetative act of creation.” Konrad states that the 19th century also mythologized Mozart’s abilities in the area of musical memory.
An important source for earlier conceptions concerning Mozart’s method of composition was the work of the early 19th century publisher Friedrich Rochlitz, who propagated a number of anecdotes about Mozart which were long taken to be authentic, but with more recent research are now widely doubted. Among other things Rochlitz published a letter, purporting to be by Mozart but now generally considered fraudulent, concerning his method of composition. This letter was taken as evidence concerning two points considered dubious by modern scholars. One is the idea that Mozart composed in a kind of passive mental process, letting the ideas simply come to him:
As evidence that the Rochlitz forgery does not provide an accurate picture of how Mozart himself perceived the act of composing, Konrad lists the first (authentic) quotation from Mozart given above.
Rochlitz’s forged letter also was used in earlier study to bolster the (apparently false) story that Mozart could compose relying entirely on his memory, without the use of keyboard or sketches:
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