Thursday, November 17, 2016

Rediscovering Shoutcast

還記得多年前常常聽Shoutcast.com的不同音樂種類streaming,近幾年卻轉為從Podcast網評或雜誌認識新碟後再上Pandora,Rhapsody或Spotify聽,其實也有時覺得聽得太狹窄,上星期又想起Shoutcast這個source,除了近年聽得最多的爵士樂(包括smooth jazz),特地找點其他種類聽聽,例如Electric blues及Flamenco,以下幾個台值得推介:
今天認識了David Cobo, Eric Hansen幾位Flamenco樂手,待會上Spotify/Youtube再欣賞欣賞!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Not America

Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra has released 4 albums in the past, only when the republicans were in charge, as a form of protest. I wrote about their previous album, Not In Our Name, when Haden was still alive. And the band released a live album in 2016. That's one year too soon (in case you have been living in a bubble: the Republican nominee Donald Trump has won the US presidential election) It was my go-to album after finding out the result of the election. Awesome music, BTW.

And I was not alone! This DJ played LMO in his jazz radio program along with other tunes with a related theme. His podcast is titled "Not America." Check it out!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

紅樓夢歌劇

當年聽古典音樂,從器樂入手,從來不算太熱愛人聲,卻也因為華格納的全方位理念吸引聽了他全套指環,後來在紐約居住,更沒理由去看看那裡著名的劇團,還記得第一次奉獻了給喜劇愛情靈藥,在三藩市多年反而從未去過該市的歌劇院,只是數年前在朋友介紹下在柏克萊大學的劇院看過三藩市歌劇團演出的老少咸宜作品秘密花園,此後每年都收到新樂季的戲碼,當中不乏吸引作品,不過令我覺得非看不可的,是今季全球首演,改篇自中國四大小說之首的紅樓夢.老實說,小時候家中一早有齊四大,西遊水滸三國早就讀過,但紅樓夢文縐縐且難懂,是唯一被放棄的一本!但這本天下第一奇書就有一種特別的吸引力,為準備看劇,我一方面開始讀原著(不過在看戲前只讀到賈妃回家探親那回)另一方面查看和歌劇相關的所有資料,包括演員作曲家作詞家等等,又聽了去年預演的少許錄音(那次由女兒參加的樂團總監負責指揮呢!)

終於等到9月28日我買了票的那場!歌劇院人頭湧湧,衣香鬢影,觀眾當中不少是中國人,似乎在中文媒體中的宣傳頗有成效,故事開始大致跟從原著,石和草希望和尚幫他們完成入人世的心願,於是和尚讓他們從警幻仙子的鏡觀看人世間悲歡離合,看到由他們化身的世家子弟賈寶玉和表妹林黛玉相遇,同樣熱愛音樂詩詞的他們墮入愛河,然後出場的是來自富商薛家的另一表親淑女典範的寶釵,賈家話事人賈老太首肯雙玉戀,但寶玉母則力主雙寶配,皆因可借助薛家財力償還賈家欠皇室的債款。這一幕以賈妃回家探親作結,已預示皇上亦屬意雙寶配。

下半場賈妃失寵被賜死,賈老太病殁,寶玉母正式成為新當家,迫雙寶成親,寶玉要脅出家,其母假意讓步,在寶玉以為和黛玉拜堂之時,才發現新娘被調包;就在那時皇室派員到賈府抄家討債,因賈薛已成婚,連薛家亦一拼被抄,大家方知墮入皇上詭計,寶玉回到和尚處剃度出家,原來年輕時的和尚正是寶玉!

長篇的原著濃縮為數小時的劇情,難免會令忠實讀者感到不足,其實作曲家亦對此反應有準備,建議觀眾以一個三角戀故事看待好了。我個人認為,雖然配樂略嫌單調,多首悅耳浪漫的詠嘆調足以補足有餘。而當雙玉發現無法一起,岀現葬花吟行草書法的佈景,更添淒美。

其實以亞洲社會為背景的西洋歌劇不算新事物,兩世紀前已有蝴蝶夫人及杜蘭朵,不過改編中國文學瑰寶紅樓夢,當然又是更深層次了。值得一提的是演出現場有雙語字幕,英文的是歌詞,中文其實非直譯歌詞,倒有很多取自原著,實在有詩意,如:
一朝春盡紅顏老
花落人亡兩不知


Monday, July 18, 2016

The Rippingtons, Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band

早幾天看Yoshi's 的newsletter 得知週末The Rippingtons來出show, 實在吸引。在我心目中,The Rippingtons 代表著80尾90頭那種優皮中產的態度,吊詭的是,那是我尚在大學讀書,理應很熱血煲煙隊啤爆粗聽重金屬的年代,可能我當時認為後者是中學生才做,我想行前一步吧。最深刻印象的是Columbia house 寄來一套3CD 的著名smooth jazz label GRP 推出的十週年紀念專集,不幸地內裡有大半歌曲我不喜歡,因為太多vocal, 不過也有好幾個樂手及樂隊我十分欣賞,例如Special EFX, Acoustic Alchemy, Spyro Gyra, Yellowjackets, 當然還有The Rippingtons (題外話:原來2012年是GRP 30週年,他們也推出了雙CD作紀念!)去年終於首次看了不是太smooth但很 jazz的Yellowjackets, 今年亦是首次看The Rippingtons, 他們剛在六月底推出新作True Stories, 今場音樂會重點宣傳新作,感覺上和他們80尾還有Kenny G 客串的悠閒風格已很不同,True Stories內一首King's road 更以很rock的guitar riff 帶起全曲,另一首Build to last (前作標題歌曲)也很扎實,其實這絕不悠閒的風格我也很欣賞,sax和結他並重的編曲在smooth jazz 界不算常見,對我亦有啓發性。
上個月我也看過前Rippingtons 成員和其目前的樂團演出,我指的是Eric Marienthal (他也是我網上學sax的老師)和Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band. 無獨有偶,我當年首次認識Marienthal 的音樂也是透過該GRP 十週年專集!至於Big Phat Band就是因為他們的格林美獎,雖然在論壇不少版友認為有其他更出色的Big bands, 我就覺得Gordon Goodwin寫搶耳的旋律實在有一手,如你聽過當晚encore之作The Jazz Police必定會同意.我也頗喜歡他為Quartet San Francisco寫的組曲(收錄於Pacific Premieres一碟),上次看Quartet San Francisco就有Gordon Goodwin做特別嘉賓吹Tenor sax!這位仁兄認真多才多藝!除了作曲及吹sax,他領導Big band時彈琴(有Ellington及Basie之風)又主持電台節目,口才當然了得,和我們爵士友分享了不少心得:他指平日練Sax的時間實在不多,總之出show上台就要對自己多年功力有信心.此他介紹了一些練習即興的方法.(最後Goodwin介紹他老師Warne Marsh教的移動旋律大法,無獨有偶,兒子的單簧管老師也示範過一次!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

我的結他雜記: 如何扮識彈藍調結他

Guitar Player雜誌介紹了一個相當有趣的教學視像:
有些美國人很喜歡用fake it 這個詞語,廣東俗語大概就是無料扮四條吧:) 以上短片教授最基本扮識彈藍調結他的技巧,說不定大家有朝一日也用得著!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Classical Saxophone

I read this book "The Devil's Horn" about the history and current state of saxophone way before I started playing myself. Now that I have played for a bit, I re-read the book and found it even more interesting since I could relate more to the contents about playing. One chapter was about how saxophone was being "discriminated" in the world of classical music. Still, there are some beautiful music written, like the Concertino by Ibert (I am listening to a performance by a duo of saxophonist Robert Black and pianist Patricia Black) The book also mentioned Frederick Hemke, who studied at U of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and taught the likes of David Sanborn at Northwestern (coincidentally, I watched Eric Marienthal's interview of Sanborn recently and the latter mentioned how unprepared he was when he went to college!) Hemke had a few albums available on Rhapsody. "Simple Gift" contains some avant garde saxophone music. Finally, Milton Babbitt's "All Set" for tenor sax, trumpet, trombone, bass, vibes, piano and drums, was mentioned and it was included in the album performed by Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Flamenco harmonies

I bet there are times you hear a guitar player playing something that reminds you of Flamenco and you asked yourself how did s/he do it? This is a good article that explains how some of the flamenco chords could be played and used. Even if you have studied authentic Flamenco guitar (like I did a few years ago), you should still find this useful for other styles.