Philip Glass, Rhiannon Giddens, and Bill Frisell, all make us feel the tradition of American music strongly, despite the difference of their genres. We are strongly attracted by their music perhaps because they makes us feel they are the music of the day with robust roots.
“Violin Concerto No. 2” was composed in 2009 by Philip Glass, an American composer active since the latter half of the 20th century till now. Another piece subtitled “New Seasons,” which sounded like the developed violin concerto, was composed more than 20 years before the above piece describing the American four seasons expressively. Keeping the famous Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” in mind, it is the inspiring piece full of motivation to create the new 21st century’s “Four Seasons” using the modern classical music method.
There is Cadenza-style violin part before each part, and it contains eight movements in total. It is the modern time “Four Seasons,” using tenaciously repeating simple phrases or rhythms, which is also called “Minimal Music.” The music sincerely played by Gidon Kremer is resolute and romantic, and the repetitive rhythmical motif sounds very lyrical. I believe it is one of the classical music masterpieces of 21st century having absolutely no difficulty or excessively theoretical feature of modern music.
Although the melody of “Tomorrow Is My Turn / Rhiannon Giddens” had been put in a corner of memory, when I listened to the singing voice of Rhiannon Giddens, I felt something deeply touched my heart. This is the title tune of Rhiannon Giddens’ solo album she recorded after setting herself apart from the folk group called “Carolina Chocolate Drops” she had been singing with. Charles Aznavour, a chanson singer who passed away the other day wrote this song, and there is also the album that he himself sings in English.
The one I thought I had listened to somewhere was Nina Simone’s version included in “I Put a Spell on You” Philips released in 1965, however, since the impression of <I Put a Spell on You> was so strong, this one was placed back in my memory. Such a song was sung by Rhiannon Giddens feelingly but strongly at the same time as if it was written for her. The expression by Rhiannon Giddens of Afro-American origin makes us feel hidden melancholy mood but also her dignity. There are also other pieces where an image of self-sustaining woman emerges, especially in the numbers sung by female singers of country music.
The sound of guitar played by Bill Frisell is refreshing as a breeze. It brings back some sort of nostalgia, and at the same time provides comfortable inspiration to listeners. This is his serene duo album with the young bassist, Thomas Morgan. It was the live performance in 2016 at Village Vanguard, the famous club in New York, and since “Small Town” was released at the same time, this is considered as its sequel, but the densities of the contents of albums are not different. It seems simple but the expression full of lyric beauty with deep intelligence is exactly today’s American music succeeding great traditions.
<Epistrophy> sensitively rearranged Thelonious Monk’s melody. <Save the Last Dance for Me>, known as the hit by The Drifters, an American R&B Group, casually brings us profound tone. Although Frisell performs from Bop to Avant-garde freely, the essence of his playing style seems to be based on this type of deeply rooted American Music.
With the beautiful album cover we are attracted by the romantic sound of Vibraphone (Vib). Milt Jackson, who was very active as the top player in the modern jazz period, is playing extremely romantic tune with the backing of ensemble with strings. The eponymously titled album was released in 1972.
The arrangement was done by the maestro, Don Sebesky. <For Someone I Love>, led by the acoustic guitar intro followed by the performance of fully emotional theme, is the one remains in my memory in particular among Milt’s original pieces. <What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?>, written by Michel Legrand for a movie, is the impressive ballad performance. <People Make the World Go Round> is the number known as the hit made by a soul music group, “The Stylistics.” <Sunflower> is the title number by the trumpeter who is also participating in the session. You can enjoy the performances full of endless lyric beauty, and immerse yourselves in the sound of CTI label grade by listening to all the above four pieces.
Surrounded by various kinds of music from his childhood, Masamichi Okazaki joined Waseda University Modern Jazz Club. He started contributing articles to music magazines when he was a student. He covers wide range of music not only trad, modern and contemporary jazz, but also from pops to classics. He writes liner notes for CDs and LPs, and is a regular contributor to JAZZ JAPAN, STEREO, and others. He joined a big band, Shiny Stockings, as a saxophone player. He is a director of The Music Pen Club Japan (MPCJ).