America

Something good from the US this way comes just  when it seems it could all go horribly wrong very shortly.  The wry and thoughtful musician Peter Dasent, native New Zealander resident Sydney-sider, lifted winter spirits when he posted a clip of Leonard Bernstein conducting America from the 1984’making of’ documentary of the first ever studio recording of West Side Story.  And it seriously makes you feel the Bern in a different  very non-electoral way. An old school live and analogue big room and stage recording, with the chorus and orchestra in fine fettle, the clip switches back and forth from the utterly vivacious singers, to Bernstein in full control of a confident orchestra performing a swaggeringly tight version of Bernstein and Sondheim’s masterpiece, America.

The wit of Sondheim’s lyric is so crackingly well delivered by Tatiana Troyanos as Anita and Louise Edeiken as Rosalia, it feels completely and sassily authentic – the lines sucked up and spat out. It’s a laugh and it’s exciting and it’s a triumph of a take. Bernstein winds his band up with ease, a piping hot wind section counterpoints the louche, loud and languid brass. But watch how focussed everyone is and the attention to dynamic from the pianissimo of the first clave taps to the fortissimo improvised whoops and hollers from the chorus girls. Puerto Rico hits New York in stereo. At the end of the take, Bernstein says ‘sensational ‘, and it is. And topically,  a fantastic song about unwanted immigrants trying to make it in a hostile US, well now, that’s still relevant, Mr Trump. Enjoy!

best wishes

Charlotte

http://www.charlotteyates.com

 

 

Recognition and relief

As my musical icons and influencers drop dead at an alarming rate, it’s been a welcome relief to see those at the start of the life cycle metamorphose into a myriad of musical forms. Working with younger folk has made me get to grips with music I quite possibly wouldn’t have ever bumped into. Being introduced to new artists, new songs and certainly new ways of music distribution has been an enjoyable dialogue, and definitely, a two way street. More importantly, I’ve connected with recognising the centrality that a particular artist or music style can have in a young person’s milieu. I get it. I remember it.  And I like being around the heated passion that someone can have over  an album or a single, and the meaning it can have in a kid’s life. It’s been heartening to osmose some of that, I suppose, while I’ve being feeling rueful about David Bowie and Prince (and Mr Brubeck) moving onto other stages.

The other thing I get to witness reasonably regularly is watching someone recognise they’ve got it – they can actually do it. When, if they sing by themselves, God forbid, in front of people, they actually sound like a singer. I saw it a fortnight or so ago, when a reasonably circumspect student had to sing a  fragment of a solo in a mixed dance/singing rehearsal. It was just a motif, maybe six notes max, and she had to be shoved to do it – because the others all had. I doubt she’d ever had to sing by herself before ‘publicly’, and I didn’t let her skip a turn. After a couple of stumbles, she did it. Now everyone in the room heard her, and we all recognised that she sure had the tune no worries, but she also had tone, and feel. That is to say, a voice. And I saw her hear herself, and catch my eye, because now I knew she had it, and she knew it too. Magic! And a sorely needed antidote to feeling blue about the passing of the late greats. As Neneh Cherry sang, ” What’s that sitting in my lap? Why – it’s the next generation!”

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More later,

best wishes

Charlotte

http://www.charlotteyates.com

Beginners luck.

Hello,

Justin Bieber made me do it. Write a blog.  The complete turn around in attitude from my lively and opinionated stepdaughters about Mr Bieber has taken me by musical surprise. In a previous life, if I, as I had done, made a joke about how much my elder stepdaughter liked Mr Bieber, I would have been shouted down. Like, so not! Like, so not even funny! Some things just aren’t funny!  Slam. Slump. Sulk. Closely observed and opinion shared by her sister, the younger stepdaughter. No comment when I pointed out he could actually sing and dance. Non negotiable. So not up for discussion.

Imagine my gobsmack when a subtle request for Selena Gomez on the Christmas list was shortly followed by a high level of interest in receiving Mr Bieber’s new album from my younger stepdaughter. Forgive my double take, but when I pointed out the significant reactions to his earlier work, I got a very cool and reasoned monologue on how he’d ‘matured’, and that ‘everyone’ thought his latest album was great, and I ‘should really listen to it’, let alone what the Movement was doing with Love Yourself. ‘Don’t be so judgemental’.  Give me strength!

Took it on board, listened to, purchased and presented it with much appreciation from the juniors. While I have always thought Mr Bieber was a musical tour de force, the seachange in NZ teenage girldom appreciation for his current album  Purpose has been a more fascinating phenomenon in the changing tides of musical tastes to behold , and an essay in never giving up!

More later,

best wishes

Charlotte

http://www.charlotteyates.com