Wednesday, March 23, 2011

David Byrne: How Architecture Helped Music Evolve

This is a very amusing short lecture by David Byrne about how the venues where music is performed contribute to the evolution of musical art. After musing about his early career playing at clubs like CBGB's and going on to play in large fancy venues like Carnegie Hall, he questions if musicians have a specific venue in mind when they write music, and if that can be a model for creativity.
He concludes that music has always adapted to new venues and new technology, and that an inescapable reality is that the vessel for the art always exists first. This goes contrary to the romantic notion of the outpouring of passionate emotion coming first, and then taking shape into something. Byrne argues that the passion is still there, but the creation of the art is informed by the way that the art will be received.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bolivia Tour Documentary

Finally got around to looking through the footage I shot on my little Flip camera during the tour. The video material is mostly us exploring the cities, and behind the scenes antics. I have no idea if this will be interesting to someone who wasn't there, but here it is anyway.
The day after we arrived there was a massive transportation strike, protesting the price of gas and food. The preferred method of protest in Bolivia is to blockade the streets with cars and shut down the city until an agreement is reached. It was very interesting walking through the city with no cars moving on the streets, and people hanging out and setting off fireworks.
One of the most striking experiences for me was going to a market in Cochabamba. We saw all types of food, fruits, vegetables, spices, and meats that we were told not to eat if we didn't want to risk getting seriously ill. Most fascinating was the "witch market", where you could buy all your occult necessities. A big seller seemed to be llama fetuses. Our guide from the embassy explained that there is a custom in Bolivia when a new house is built, a sacrifice is made to the earth by burying a llama fetus in the yard. They were very scary looking, like little aliens! There were also fortune tellers who would read your future in coca leaves.
Also, a note of warning: there is some footage of a butcher shop. It gets very real. Enjoy!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bolivia Tour Photo Essay

We are fortunate that the violinist in our band, Erika Kapin, is also a skilled photographer and took many wonderful photos on our tour. I also just got some pictures of some of the shows we played, taken by people from the Bolivian embassy.

This was a concert we played at the Portales Palace in Cochabamba. It was built by a "tin baron" in the early 1900's and is now a cultural center. It was pretty amazing playing in such a luxurious atmosphere.

These are from a concert we did at the Grand Hotel in Cochabamba. This was the biggest show we did, there were about 400 people there! The audiences at all these concerts were awesome. So attentive and appreciative.

Our fearless leader and Bolivian star-child Martin Urbach on drums.

Javier Moreno Sanchez, playing all manner of basses on this trip. He was also Kenny's Spanish tutor...

Erika Kapin on violin, who made it out of Bolivia with her vegetarianism intact!

Kenny Warren on trumpet, who was becoming impressively fluent in Spanish!


This is us playing at an orphanage in Santa Cruz. Definitely one of the most rewarding experiences of the trip.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Bad Plus "On Sacred Ground"

Now isn't this an exciting development! The Bad Plus are going to perform an arrangement of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" at Duke University with an accompanying multi-media presentation by an architect and a filmmaker. I can only hope that a performance in New York will follow soon. My imagination is already going haywire.
Ethan Iverson talks about the project in this interview, and I was very taken by his response about why they chose the piece:

"Of all the modernist classical music, The Rite is the "hit." With most of our covers, we don't go for the deep tracks, but the obvious choices."

I love the idea of The Rite being a "hit." It also got me thinking how The Rite was the first piece of modernist classical music that I probably ever heard, along with many other unsuspecting children watching Disney's "Fantasia" for the first time. I clearly remember being terrified of the brutal prehistoric landscape during The Rite section of the film. I just watched it again on Youtube. Really awesome.

Home again.

Just got back to Brooklyn last night from an amazing tour in Bolivia with Martin Urbach's Quintet for World Peace. Martin got a grant from the US State Department to go to his home country of Bolivia and do a series of performances and masterclasses. It was an incredible experience, and my first time in South America. I took copious amounts of Flip camera footage, which I'll be sifting through and creating some sort of mini-documentary of the trip. Hopefully it'll be posted here soon!