Friday, May 3, 2013
Thursday, March 8, 2012
And to think we are just seeing the tip of the Super PAC iceberg in this Presidential election cycle. The Republican primaries are appalling enough (both in terms of content and political advertising). Just wait until the REAL election gets underway.
The American electorate is electronic media addicted; broadcast emails, streaming video, Tweets, YouTube, network and cable TV. Outside sleep and work, "video consumption" is the #1 activity, or, if written, preferably 140 characters or less please. Robocalls are part of the political media bombardment. Sound bites over substance.
When motivational research was being pioneered by the likes of Ernest Dichter and James Vicary in the 1950s and popularized by Vance Packard in his Hidden Persuaders, little did they know that some of those principles would become part of a giant advertising machine aimed at buying elections. Advertising 101: sell the emotion, not the pragmatic benefit of the product.
And, so in this political season, we're selling religion, and all the emotions that are attached to the same (and in a negative way, not the way it was used in WW II advertising to spur solidarity and sacrifice):
But the real selling job is just getting underway. Sell fear. Just wait until the Super P's roll out their shadowy images of their opponent bathed in a light to look like Jack the Ripper.
The firestorm unleashed by the misogynist "entertainer" Rush Limbaugh regarding Sandra Fluke's testimony to Congress fits the bill as well. Talk show radio is just another media circus of highly charged emotional invectives. This elaborate infomercial is then recycled on the Internet, passing for fact. No sense commenting on vile Limbaugh as the definitive word was posted by Jim Wright over at Stonekettle Station in his recent The Absurdity of Rush Limbaugh. But while Limbaugh's blather has led to some lost advertisers (probably temporarily), the Gingrich "Winning our Future" Super PAC signed on for more advertising! Way to go to win our future!
It is no wonder that a society that consumes movies that are more computer animated than acted, and cannot live without 24/7 video is a perfect target for Super PAC persuasion. Just fork over the bucks and try to buy an election! Sanctioned by the Supreme Court, the same folks who "sponsored" the results of the 2000 presidential election.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Remember that name, Copeland Davis.
Earlier in the year I was inspired to write about the Florida Sunshine Pops orchestra. And, I’ve written before about jazz performers who are in a class by themselves, both those who are well known and those who work mostly in local venues, performing mainly for the love of the Great American Songbook.
The other night we attended the first of the Florida Sunshine Pops concerts for the season, which was a tribute to Richard Hayman and the Boston Pops. Hayman was the principal arranger for the Boston Pops for some 30 years, and today at the age of 89 is still active as the conductor of the Florida Sunshine Pops. Also, as one of the original members of the Harmonica Rascals he can still play a mean harmonica! His arrangements of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film scores are legendary.
This first concert of the season had a special guest performer, someone we’ve seen before, Copeland Davis, whose prodigious talents as a pianist inspired a standing ovation at the end of his first piece with the orchestra, Didn’t We? He brings a rare mix of gifts to the keyboard – first abounding warmth that shines through his presence on the stage, but, foremost, his ability to fuse blues, jazz, pop, and classical in one piece. I have seen some great jazz pianists and the only ones I remember having this ability are the late Oscar Peterson and Claude Bolling. At one point in his performance, in the middle of an arpeggio, Davis turned to the audience, slyly smiling, as if to say, “look, Ma, no hands!” I will go out on a limb and predict that Copeland Davis is destined to go way beyond the Florida market. Although his You Tube performances were not recorded under the best conditions, depriving him of the showcase he deserves, here is one I loved:
Sunday, January 27, 2008
We have worked together for the past three years giving benefit concerts, paying tribute to the music of that tradition. I met Kate by answering her ad in the Palm Beach Post for a piano accompanist who is familiar with Broadway and cabaret style music. She has used her soprano voice and clear phrasing to entertain audiences for more than twenty years, performing in a variety of community affairs. I feel honored to work with someone with such experience and have learned much about the art of being an accompanist from this collaboration. It’s about listening while one is playing, trying to stay out of the singer’s way on the one hand, and filling in while she is not singing.
While I am not a naturally gifted pianist or have I had much formal training, I continue to try to improve my skills by listening to a number of pianists I greatly admire such as the late Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans.
It was perplexing to read some obituaries of Oscar Peterson who died just last month. A few critics said Peterson’s work was derivative or unemotional. While I was in college I had the privilege of seeing him at Birdland and ever since I have been in awe of his incredible keyboard abilities and followed his recordings. More than forty years later in 2006 he made his final appearance at Birdland to celebrate his 81st birthday. This is after he had had a stroke in 1993, underwent extensive rehabilitation, and learned to play again with his left hand partially impaired.
All artists build upon the base of the past and if Peterson “sounded like” other jazz pianists at times, he also advanced the art to another level. I think he could play more notes within a measure than any other pianist, classical or jazz. And his light touch never strayed too far from the melody and the intention of the composer, perhaps a shortcoming of some later avant-garde jazz styles. Goodbye Oscar Peterson…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ebo12xg4ws
Like Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans had extensive classical training and that was certainly evident in his interpretations and compositions. At times one can hear the spare, minimalist approach of an Erik Satie in his music, such as his rendition of My Foolish Heart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2LFVWBmoiw.
It was mindful of these two artists that I made two CDs at a professional studio last year. Not that my skills can be compared in any way to theirs. If you think of music as a language, they speak at a level I can only fleetingly understand, but I chose some of the pieces they’ve recorded and a few that they wrote. This was intended as an archival effort for private distribution to friends and relatives. The first album, Smile, was followed a few months later by Sentimental Mood.
The recording studio experience was intimidating, having about two hours to record the songs I selected for each CD and then an hour with the sound technician deciding what cuts to use and in some cases rerecording a song. I was given the option of wearing a headset to listen to what I recorded, and then merging different sections by picking up the song at a certain point. As I read chords and melody lines, and then improvise everything else, I rarely play a composition exactly the same way. Therefore, I opted to play each piece entirely through and then redoing it if I was not happy with the results. The six total hours in the studio were finally winnowed to two forty-five minute CDs. One of the pieces was an original composition I wrote to my wife, Ann: http://lacunaemusing.blogspot.com/2008/01/annies-waltz.html
Rather than giving my own interpretation of the GAS, I reference the excellent article from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_American_Songbook. My CD selections are simply my favorites, an eclectic group as evidenced by the list at the end of this entry.
I suppose every older generation has a level of intolerance of the music of the younger generation. My parents did not understand the Rock & Roll music of my youth, which we now refer to as the “oldies.” I am now guilty of not understanding today’s music ranging from rap to the fare served on American Idol. At least the oldies are memorable and singable. Will that apply to today’s popular music forty years from now?
A GAS melody is but one of the elements that makes the genre so timeless. Ultimately it is the perfect marriage of the melody and the lyrics, songs that carry meaning and drama, and can be interpreted by the performing artist. Thanks to the pioneers of the genre and their successors and performers, it will endure as long as people listen to music.
Annie’s Waltz Music by Robert Hagelstein; Once Upon a Summertime Lyric by Johnny Mercer, Music by Eddie Barclay and Michel Legrand; A Day in the Life of a Fool Words by Carol Sigman, Music by Luiz Bonfa; Dindi Music by Antonio Carlos Jobim; How Insensitive Music by Antonio Carlos Jobim; Waltz for Debby Music by Bill Evans; Quiet Now Music by Denny Zeitlin; Someone to Watch Over Me Music by George Gershwin, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin; Love is Here to Stay Music by George Gershwin, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin; Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man Music by Jerome Kern, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II; Ol’ Man River Music by Jerome Kern, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II; I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face Words by Alan Jay Lerner, Music by Frederick Loewe; Losing My Mind Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; Anyone Can Whistle Words and Music by Stephen Sondheim; Not While I’m Around Lyric and Music by Stephen Sondheim; I Won’t Send Roses Music & Lyric by Jerry Herman; Look for Small Pleasures Music by Mark Sandrich, Jr., Lyrics by Sidney Michaels; Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ Music by Richard Rodgers, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II; That’s All Words and Music by Alan Brandt and Bob Haymes; Blame it On My Youth Words by Edward Heyman, Music by Oscar Levant; Love Changes Everything Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics by Don Black and Charles Hart; Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics by Charles Hart; The Point of No Return Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics by Charles Hart; Memory Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Text by Trevor Nunn after T.S. Eliot; Someone Like You and This Is The Moment Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, Music by Frank Wildhorn; Smile Words by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons, Music by Charlie Chaplin
From Sentimental Mood