YouTube Pick (#26) – Nuevo Tango (New Tango)

Tango music came out of Argentina in the very early part of the twentieth century and is mostly associated with the dance of the same name. It’s popularity has waxed and waned though out the century but in more recent times the music has undergone a change into what is now known as Nuevo Tango or Tango  Nuevo.This new style  evolved from the traditionally sung Argentinian Tango which was played as dance music. It originated in Buenos Aires in the mid 1950s and owes its development to new rhythms, melodies, harmonies, dynamics and the incorporation of elements of Jazz and Classical music into a style more more suited to modern times. One of the pioneers of this new style was the Argentinian composer and Bandoneon soloist Astor Piazzolla (March 11, 1921 – July 4, 1992). Piazzolla’s nuevo tango was distinct from the traditional tango with it’s elements of Jazz, the use of extended harmonies and dissonance, counterpoint, and its ventures into extended compositional forms. In the realms of Argentinean music, both Tango and Classical, Astor Piazzolla is a giant. In bringing about the change in Tango style his efforts have not always been met with universal acclaim. There is one story out there about a traditional Tango musician who, on hearing Astor performing his music on radio, threatened to go down to the studio and beat up the musicians.

My first encounter with the style was a vinyl recording of Piazzolla’s 1987 New York Central Park Concert and, to be honest, I didn’t get it then and to some extent I am not entirely sure I get it now. The music is so different to everything else that is out there that it is difficult to get a complete sense of the music.   The music is structurally very complex, the melodies are different, the rhythms chop and change and have nothing in common with conventional pop, jazz and nearby Brazilian folkloric styles. In performance the music is very virtuosic and an average musician would have great difficulty in performing the music.The configuration of Nuevo Tango ensembles are unique. The conventional drum kit is absent and any percussion accompaniment is restricted to musicians beating on the body of standard acoustic instruments. Piano, guitar, and bass figure prominently in intricate, mostly written, compositions. Improvisation in the conventional jazz sense is limited.

The instrument that is fairly unique to the music is the Bandoneon. It is an instrument that gives the music it’s unique sonic flavor. It is a type of non-chromatic button concertina defined as a wind / free reed / aerophone instrument. It is similar to certain types of concertinas and melodeons in that it produces different notes on either the push and pull of the bellows. The bandoneon, so named by the German instrument dealer, Heinrich Band (1821–1860), was originally intended as an instrument for the religious and popular music of the day. Around 1870, German and Italian emigrants and sailors brought the instrument to Argentina, where it was adopted into the nascent genre of tango music, a descendant of the earlier Milonga. By 1910 bandoneons were being produced expressly for the Argentine and Uruguayan markets, with 25,000 shipping to Argentina in 1930 alone. However, declining popularity and the disruption of German manufacturing during the World War II led to the end of mass production of the instrument. Bandoneons were historically produced primarily in Germany, and were never produced in Argentina itself despite their popularity. As a result, by the 2000s, vintage bandoneons had become rare and expensive (US$4,000), there by limiting prospective bandeonists……… Wikipedia

My interest in the style picked up when I came across Nuevo Tango performances by Gary Burton. For me this made the music much more accessible. I am very familiar with his music and the sound of the vibraphone in jazz. Burton was born in Anderson, Indiana in 1943 and began playing music at the age of six. He mostly taught himself to play marimba and vibraphone. He began studying piano at age sixteen while finishing high school. He attended Berklee College of Music in 1960–61 and the Stan Kenton Clinic at Indiana University in 1960.  After establishing his career during the 1960s, he returned to join the staff of Berklee from 1971–2004, serving first as professor, then dean, and executive vice president during his last decade at the college. In 1989, Burton received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee. In the world of Jazz, music in general and in the art of playing four mallet vibraphone Gary Burton is a giant. The Gary Burton Grip is one of a number of standard grips used to play with four mallets. He has cited jazz pianist Bill Evans as the inspiration for his approach to the vibraphone.

Burton first became aware of Piazzolla’s music while visiting Buenos Aires with the Stan Getz Jazz group in 1965. Gary Burton at that time was 25 years old. From the liner notes of one of his recordings Burton chronicles his love for the music. ” Standing at the side of the stage in the Buenos Aires  club thirty five years ago, I was swept away by the passion of his (Astor Pizzolla) soaring melodies and rich harmonies and the breathtaking virtuosity of his musicians. But even more surprising, I couldn’t believe this music existed and it was so little known in the United States.”

Here is clip of Gary Burton playing Piazzolla’s Libertango

Libertango is probably one of Astor Piazolla’s most famous compositions and it has been adapted by many of performers over the years into solo guitar, guitar duos, guitar quartets, string quartets and other configurations. I think the music is worth a listen and if you are so inclined there is plenty of other examples on YouTube.

Here are a few Gary Burton New Tango recordings to help you to get your head around this music. It may take a while but It is worth the effort.

GARY BURTON – LIBERTANGO – THE MUSIC OF ASTOR PIAZZOLLA  Concord Jazz CCD – 4887-2

NEW TANGO – ASTOR PIAZZOLLA & GARY BURTON  Atlantic Jazz 7 81823-2

GARY BURTON / ASTOR PIAZZOLLA REUNION Concord Jazz CCD – 47932

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

post script : more versions of LIBERTANGO

My comment after hearing numerous versions of the piece and this particular guitar duo version…..  Holy Frack, what is that  ………..

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

Sean McCann – Life after GREAT BIG SEA

Just a few years back (1993 to 2013) GREAT BIG SEA was an almost unstoppable force in Canadian East Coast music. Over a twenty year period they dominated the scene with their mix of Newfoundland traditional music and rock and roll sensibilities. A founding member, and key performer, in the group was Sean McCann. Sean is very up front about his motivation to perform. It was about “booze, sex and rock and roll”. But every thing has a price and by 2013 he knew, for his health and family situation, he needed to get off the “Party Bus”. He quit the band and relocated to Ottowa – “That’s where all our tax money goes, so why not.”  On his retirement from the band he noted he had been on the road with Great Big Sea  for 20 years….. He was 46 years old and it was time to make a change. Great Big Sea struggled on for a while but it was not the same . The band is now in happy retirement. The two key performers, Alan Doyle and Sean McCann, while still tipping the hat to the “Great Big Sea Repertoire”,  have gone onto solo careers.

For this evening, Sean kicked off the night in true Newfoundland fashion with an acapella sea song and followed that up with a collection varied material from his own stock of original songs and a few Great Big Sea staples thrown into the mix. Like all good singer/song writers Sean is essentially a story teller and the dialogue in, and between the songs wove the evening into a tapestry of his life so far. For the most part of that life he has traveled with his favorite guitar “Brownie”. A beat up old Takamine Dreadnought that shows the many scars of a hard life on the road . It is emblazoned on the deck with Sean’s mantra “Help Your Self”. To round out the team there was his second DADGAD guitar, a Takamine Jumbo, and his Bodhan (an Irish Frame drum). Part of the tapestry of the evening included the drinking song Red Wine and Whiskey and his recovery song Doing Fine. On the later there was some especially fine finger picking on the DADGAD guitar. Here are some images of a fine, intimate evening of story telling…….   @@@@@@@@@@@@@@

YouTube Pick (#25) – Joey Alexander

Normally, for a number of reasons,  I have an a distaste for child performers. At best they are circus performers verging on the freakish. At worst I think they are possibly children who have been deprived of their childhood by driven parents, care takers and teachers. It also pops into my mind; How is it even possible for a youthful performer to be able to develop the strength, stamina, muscle memory and mature musicality and  perform at an adult level? Then there is the other question of intimidation. If a child can do it why can’t I? So when I saw a positive review of a recording by the pianist Joey Alexander I was intrigued. At first glance I thought here is another new (adult) pianist on the scene who had escaped my attention. Then in the review I noticed he was only 13 years old. Is that possible? I was intrigued. I decided to check out YouTube for his performances. I was immediately gob smacked astounded and completely blown away. This was not some circus performance. It was the work of a mature musician  with a bucket load of technique and musicality. Joey Alexander, is an Indonesian  jazz pianist who  learned about jazz by listening to classic albums his father gave him. By age six, he had taught himself to play piano using a miniature, electric keyboard his father brought home for him, learning by ear compositions such as Thelonous Monk’s Well You Needn’t and other songs from his father’s jazz collection. Here is his version of Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage and Duke Ellington’s In a Sentimental Mood – both are classics in the Jazz repertoire. Note the length of his fingers.

Of course Chris Potter is no novice. His work here on Soprano Sax and Bass clarinet are just hints of the high standard of his many of his performances. I get a kick out of Chris’ expressions on In a Sentimental Mood when he steps aside to check out Joey’s playing. Here is Joey with performances of My Favourite Things  and John Coltrane’s Giant Steps.

While it is unusual for some one of his age to be able to perform at this level Jazz has always been blessed with a number of young performers, usually in their late teens, who have won international acclaim and gone onto long and fruitful adult careers. Some musicians in that category that come to mind are the vibes player Garry Burton, trumpeter Lee Morgan, guitarist Pat Methney, pianist Oscar Peterson and bassist Christian McBride. I’m sure there are many others. For the final video clip here is Joey at age 7 performing Caravan.

It just isn’t right, fair or even natural but there it is.

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

Cecil Taylor, Pianist Who Defied Jazz Orthodoxy, Is Dead at 89

 

At a concert during the the last European tour of the Miles Davis / John Coltrane Quintet in 1960 a lady in one audience stood up during a John Coltrane solo and pleaded “please make him stop”. I am sure that would be the reaction of most audiences to the music of Cecil Taylor. Even in Jazz circles Cecil Percival Taylor (March 25, 1929 – April 5, 2018) is not exactly a household name. He was a classically trained American pianist and poet and is generally acknowledged as one of the pioneers of the Free Jazz movement. His music is characterized by an extremely energetic, physical approach, resulting in complex improvised sounds that frequently involve tone clusters and polyrhythms. His piano technique has been likened to percussion – referring to the number of keys on a standard piano as “eighty eight tuned drums”. He has also been described as like “Art Tatum with contemporary classical leaning”. The Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould has been reported as saying “Cecil Taylor is the future of piano music”. It is an interesting comment from a musician who is famous for his precise interpretations of the music of Bach. Taylor is from the opposite end of the musical spectrum. Gould’s interpretations are architectual musical masterpieces while Taylor’s musical musings are more like splashes of molten lava.

Taylor is outside the orderly progression of jazz piano styles of the past century. The normal historical flow of American piano music goes back to the almost classical formalism of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, and then onto the improvisational styles of James P. Johnson, Earl Hines, “Fats” Waller, Teddy Wilson, Art Tatum, Nat ‘King” Cole and then the moderns – Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett etc. Taylor stands way outside that tradition. The only pianist that might claim some connection is the Thelonious Monk and he is better known and appreciated as a composer. Like Monk Taylor’s public appearances were performances in the true meaning of the word – music, poetry, dance. At the center of his art was the dazzling physicality and the percussiveness of his playing — his deep, serene, Ellingtonian chords and hummingbird attacks above middle C — which held true well into his 80s. Classically trained, he valued European music for what he called its qualities of “construction” — form, timbre, tone color — and incorporated them into his own aesthetic. “I am not afraid of European influences,” he told the critic Nat Hentoff. “The point is to use them, as Ellington did, as part of my life as an American Negro.”  In a long assessment of Mr. Taylor’s work — one of the first — from “Four Lives in the Bebop Business,” a collection of essays on jazz musicians published in 1966, the poet and critic A. B. Spellman wrote: “There is only one musician who has, by general agreement even among those who have disliked his music, been able to incorporate all that he wants to take from classical and modern Western composition into his own distinctly individual kind of blues without in the least compromising those blues, and that is Cecil Taylor, a kind of Bartok in reverse.” Because his fully formed work was not folkish or pop-oriented, did not swing consistently (often it did not swing at all) and never entered the consensual jazz repertoire, Mr. Taylor could be understood to occupy an isolated place. Even after he was rewarded and lionized  his music has not been easy to quantify. If improvisation means using intuition and risk in the present moment, there have been few musicians who took that challenge more seriously than Mr. Taylor. If one of his phrases seemed of paramount importance, another such phrase generally arrived right behind it. The range of expression in his keyboard touch encompassed caresses, rumbles and crashes.   –     (excepts from Wikipedia).

Taylor may not have had a big following but he was not without honors during his lifetime. Even after he was rewarded and lionized — he was given a Guggenheim fellowship in 1973, a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters award in 1990, a MacArthur fellowship in 1991 and the Kyoto Prize in 2014 — his music was not easy to quantify nor did it have a great following. There was no academy for what Cecil Taylor did, and partly for that reason he became one himself, teaching for stretches in the 1970s at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and at Antioch College in Ohio. (He was given an honorary doctorate by the New England Conservatory in 1977.) Not until the mid-1970s, Mr. Lyons told the writer John Litweiler, did The Cecil Taylor Unit have enough work so that member musicians could make a living from it — mostly in Europe. Although classically trained his comment on written music bears repeating  –  “When you think about musicians who are reading music,” he said in “All the Notes,” a 1993 documentary directed by Chris Felver, “my contention has always been: The energy that you’re using deciphering what the symbol is, is taking away from the maximum creative energy that you might have had if you understood that it’s but a symbol.” (excepts from Wikipedia). I agree with the comment but most of us mere mortals have to start somewhere and once the music is under your belt then perhaps the written symbols should be discarded.

In some ways he reminds me of Frank Zappa. Frank was a “rock” musician who was very distinctly outside the traditions of Rock and Roll. Just try and jam along with a Frank Zappa recording and I think you will get my meaning.

@@@@@@@@@@@@

Amos Garrett and Julian Kerr at Studio 64

Amos Garrett and Julian Kerr at Studio 64; March 24, 2018 8pm: This is the first concert of the Spring 2018 concert Series

Amos Garrett is an “in between sort of guy”. He has been on the Canadian and American music scene for “a million years”. He not a Classic Rocker in the strutting long- hair mode, nor a true blue down home country blues player. Although he cites the trumpet player Bix Beiderbecke and pianists Jerry Roll Morton, Fats Waller and the elegant Teddy Wilson as musical influences he isn’t really a classic Jazz player either. As I said he is an “in between guy”. He is a musician who cements all these varied influences into a personal style that can only be Amos Garrett. Apart from his solo ventures he has performed and recorded with over 150 major artists including Stevie Wonder, Todd Rundgren, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Martin Hull, Paul Butterfield and Pearls Before Swine. He was on Anne Murray’s classic recording Snowbird and performed as a founding member of Ian Tyson’s band The Great Speckled Bird He currently resides in Calgary where he performs with a number of outfits including gigs with keyboard playing neighbor Julian Kerr.  At 77 years of age he no longer does “the big tours”. The last big tour of Japan he recalls with great affection for the country and the people of that nation. After touring there he wondered about who actually won the last war. Japan has prospered with peaceful cites and an admirable life style while the North American landscape is littered with crime and violence and inner cities in decline.

Julian Kerr is a professional Calgary musician and is one of Amos’ favorite keyboard players. Julian plays and teaches, bass, and guitar and for over 30 years he has played with many notable musicians including Bo Diddley .

The concert kicked off with Otis Rush’s  My Baby is Such a Good One followed by a Curtis Mayfield classic tune, Boz Scaggs Running Blue, and the 1966 soul-jazz classic Mercy Mercy by the Adderley Brothers (Nat and Julian).  They then slipped back in time to the early part of the last century for Jelly Roll Morton’s Michigan Waters Blues (“Michigan water tastes like Sherry Wine and the Mississippi water tastes turpentine”). Now Jelly Roll Morton was a schooled Creole musician from New Orleans who claimed to have invented Jazz. Not true of course, but he was a pivotal musician in the transition of ragtime to what we now know as jazz. From the repertoire of Toronto’s Whitely Brothers we were introduced to their jug band style tune Perfume and Tobacco.

Although I lived through the era I pretty well missed out on hearing the Texas band  The  Jazz Crusaders in the 1970s. I only discovered them last year in a box set of CDs published by Mosiac Records. To hear Amos working on the Larry Carlton guitar parts was a treat. It must have also been a treat for Julian Kerr to dip into the music of pianist/keyboard player Joe Sample who was a co-leader of the band. The Jazz Crusaders eventually dropped Jazz from their name and went onto an even longer career as The Crusaders. Julian dropped some rocking piano into Bob Dylan’s Takes a Train to Cry. Amos performed his signature version of Sleepwalk and entertained us with lots of anecdotal  stories  from his long career. My favorite was the tale of the Mounties Breakfast – Steak and Beer. For the encore Julian took us home with Booker T and the MGs  Green Onions and some lovely “fluffy organ tones” that probably outshone those present on the original recording. As always this was another highly enjoyable concert in the ongoing Blues and Jazz concert series at Studio 64. Thanks must go to the organizers, volunteers and sponsors that make this series such a joy.

Here are some more images from the evening:

         

@@@@@@@@@@@

FACE BOOK

This is an email I put out there………..

Why is everybody surprised by the data mining scandal on Face Book?

Isn’t the whole Face Book business model based on the mining and selling of their client’s data?
If people are so concerned about their own privacy why do they so willingly put it on the internet?
This is a response I received
The surprise is twofold: People mistakenly think of Facebook as an advertising platform. While they vaguely understand that Facebook collects information from them, the exact mechanics and details are fuzzy to them. In their mind, they may tell themselves “I don’t reveal that much through Facebook—I don’t post that much, I don’t fill out much of my profile, what’s the harm? And, frankly, if that helps them show me ads for things I actually want as opposed to crap I’m not interested in, all the better!
What they don’t realize is that Facebook tracks them everywhere they wander on the web via their web browser because Facebook’s tracking cookie is embedded on millions of web sites. That reach is extended to web and mobile apps that allow you to log into them using Facebook. Facebook literally tracks you across the web, mobile space, and if you have the mobile app on your phone, it’s also tracking where you are physically at times. And Facebook has a multitude of apps that people don’t even realize are owned by Facebook: Instagram, WhatsApp, and many others, which further extends its reach. Even if you’re not a Facebook user, they are creating a shadow profile of you as you travel the web to enable ad targeting. Finally, Facebook purchases data from other data aggregators (mortgage sales data, public record, and other) that they use to augment the data their own apps generate.
Facebook is not an advertising platform that tracks you to show better ads; it’s a surveillance platform that happens to make its money through advertising. Knowing users better than anyone else is its moat against competitors.
People are unwilling to admit how easily they can be manipulated.There is a chasm in people’s mind between the type of simplistic persuasion they are willing to admit that advertising is capable of effecting and the sophisticated priming and influence peddling that is possible via Facebook. Facebook’s in-depth demographic and psychological profiles on people around the world (2B+!) coupled with its capability to execute large-scale, programmatically-driven multi-variate testing enables advertisers to be highly selective in targeting specific audiences with particular psychographic profiles, and test the effectiveness of messages with previously impossible scale and precision. Cambridge Analytica was testing something like 150,000 versions of specific campaigns to find just the right combination of images and messages to trigger statistically significant response from its target audience.
The average person cannot comprehend things at that scale. They cannot internalize that while the influence on them of a particular ad might be small, its aggregate effect might be huge, or at least significant enough to trip over the boundary required to, say, win a voting district. They are incapable of crafting a mental model of how any particular technology can be used for nefarious purpose. They are bad at estimating risk.
And when they find out that people can do that, it kind of blows their mind—“Why—<clutches pearls>—who would want to do such a thing?”
If you’re interested in a good read on how people’s brains work in funny ways, check out “Thinking Fast and Slow”, or the more approachable Michael Lewis coverage of the same topic, “The Undoing Project”.
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
I deleted my Facebook account several years ago and have not been interested in Twitter or any of the social media. It is not because of any privacy concerns but rather because I found the sites a huge reservoir of trivia and misinformation that is just a waster of time. I don’t really need to know the minute details of everybody’s life.  So what if you had a muffin for lunch and now have a need to go to the bathroom. Who cares?
Although the today’s outcome is slightly different. Never-the-less, the era of GEORGE ORWELL’S 1984 and BIG BROTHER has finally arrived. And what’s more to the point,  it’s worse because people willingly participate, and even buy the hardware (computer, mobile device) and connectivity to enable the massive surveillance,  monitoring and manipulation that is now possible.
DO YOURSELF AND EVERYONE ELSE A FAVOR – DELETE YOUR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT .
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

YouTube Pick (#24) – A Clawhammer Banjo Tune

I am not so sure about banjos. I don’t care too much for the mechanical five string Bluegrass styles. To my ear they don’t sound very musical, and yet, in the hands of a master like Bela Fleck I am forced to re-evaluate that statement. When he steps outside the Bluegrass box his music is sublime. On another note (pun intended) the Irish adopted the banjo and, being Irish, they changed it by getting rid of the fifth string, tuning it like a mandolin and playing it with a pick. The Irish Tenor Banjo sounds great in Celtic ensembles where it adds punch and drive to the melody line but to hear it practiced solo in one’s basement it sounds frightful. Then there is the the open backed Clawhammer Banjo with the melody floating atop of nice chunking rhythms. It is capable of producing the very best in banjo music. Despite the subversive activities of the Irish the banjo is still the most American of musical instruments. It’s origins may be African but in practice it is absolutely American with a solidly American repertoire. I am so attracted to the sound of the Clawhammer Banjo that I own two and I always have the hope and ambition to one day actually play a tune in the appropriate style.  The only thing that puts me off is that I have no real desire to play American tunes. The world does not need another stumbling musician trying to play Old Joe Clark, Cripple Creek or any of the many other standard banjo tunes. So it was nice to come across a video of an Irish tune played on the Clawhammer Banjo. It is a tune composed by Thurlough O’Carolan .  For those who don’t  know of O’Carolan or his music he was a blind traditional Irish Harper living way back in the late 1600’s. He was a contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach and he left us with a legacy of many wonderful tunes. They may not have the contrapuntal complexities of a Bach composition but they have a melodic strength that has kept them very much in circulation right up to present times. Acoustic guitar players love O’Carolan tunes and with the introduction of the DADGAD tuning system on the guitar they have adopted O’Carolan tunes with a vengeance. So here it is, Thurlough O’Carolan’s  tune Morgan Magan (Morgan Megan) played on the Clawhammer Banjo.

For those who maybe interested here is the melody for the tune.

I haven’t yet managed to get to grips with playing the tune on the Clawhammer banjo but I suspect it will sit well on a banjo tuned ADADE. It’s another one of those things on my ever lengthening wish list. It just might be that one elusive tune that I am destined to play on the banjo.

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

YouTube Picks (#23) – The Cavaquinho

The Cavaquinho – It looks like a Ukulele and so it should. The Cavaquinho is a Portuguese instrument that has, in one form or another spread around the world. In the hands of Portuguese immigrants it traveled to Hawaii in the nineteenth century and under went some changes. With the adoption of gut (nylon) strings and tuning systems peculiar to the islands it became part of a whole new genre of music – Hawaiian music.  The sound of the Ukulele instantly conjures up images of the islands – trade winds, surf, palm trees, grass shirts and hula girls. Of course since that time the instrument has traveled back across the world and, in recent years, has undergone a resurgence in popular interest. In the meantime the original Cavaquinho has remained popular in Portugal, Brazil and the Cape Verde islands. Although Portugal had colonies in Angola and Mozambique the Cavaquinho doesn’t seem to have become part of their folkloric traditions. But it is in Brazilian Choro  that the instrument has it’s most noticeable impact. Choro is the most Brazilian of all musical styles and it grew out of the European Salon music tradition imported into Brazil and spiced up with local samba style rhythms. In one form or other the style has been around for a hundred or more years. In that genre of music the Cavaquinho, the Pandiero (Brazilian tambourine), the Seven String Guitar and the Bandolin (5 course mandolin) create music that is very melodic, rhythmic and harmonically sophisticated and somewhat uniquely Brazilian.

Although the instrument is not in common use in Canada, Godin Guitars in Quebec manufactures a unique version of the instrument that can hold its own in the company of the more traditional instruments. It is a hybrid steel strung instrument tuned Brazilian style D G B D. Basically, that is an an open G tuning,  a octave higher but almost identical, to the top four strings of the acoustic guitar. The difference is that the top  string on the Cavaquinho is tuned down  to D. Speaking from experience it was tempting to just tune the guitar like a Cavaquinho and play it as such. It was good idea at the time but basically it doesn’t work.  The Cavaquinho has a very short scale length and the normal Cavaquinho Choro stretches from the 1st  and 2nd to  seventh fret are dam near impossible on the guitar. Beside it does not have the nice high traditional Cavaquinho sound. D’Addario manufactures stainless steel ball end strings (EJ93, gauges 11-13-23w-28w) specifically for the Cavaquinho and are available from a number of on line sites. It is unlikely you will find them in your local music store.  The Godin instrument is equipped with their signature on-board electronics that is virtually free of feed back. In that regard, and in  other manufacturing details, the Godin Cavaquinho is similar to their acoustic and semi-acoustic  Nylon Classical, Multi Oud  and Seven String Guitars.

So, that’s the background so now for the sounds. The first three videos below demonstrate, for me, the attraction of the Cavaquinho and Brazilian music in general. These young musicians look like they are having fun. The guitar in the first and third videos are obviously Godins. In the third video the guitarist is throwing in some very interesting chord progressions. All three tunes are pretty well classics in the Brazilian Choro repertoire.

There a lots of Cavaquinho tutorials on YouTube and the approach they use to teach the tunes has, for me, a lot of appeal. The first tutorial, Garota de Ipanema is better known as the The Girl from Ipanema, by the well known Brazilian composer Tom Jobim. The tune is probably the most recorded composition on the planet. I have lost count of the number of Cavaquinho and Brazilian Guitar tutorials that are available on YouTube so there is plenty out there to explore.

I know local musicians aren’t likely to stumble on or acquire a Cavaquinho but the above videos might just attract some interest in the instrument  or also in that very rich and varied world of Brazilian music. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

YouTube Picks (#22) – More Mandolin Music

When trolling around the internet for Mandolin music and performances the name Marissa Carroll is one that pops up frequently. She is a young Australian musician (b1992) who began playing mandolin at the age of ten and has progressed rapidly to her current status as a much in demand soloist. With mandolin as her principal instrument Marissa completed her degree in music at the University of Queensland in 2012. She plays on a prized vintage Lyon and Healy mandolin from the early 1920s. a German bowl-back mandolin by Klaus Knorr and a Baroque mandolino by Alex Vervaert. Here are a couple of YouTube clips …….

The sound from the above ensemble reminds me very much of the famous Ida Presti / Alexander Lagoya classical guitar duo that was much recorded before Ida’s death in 1967. And now for a little bit of Bach.

There are numerous YouTube performances of Melissa performing in a duo with the classical guitarist Joel Woods. Note the guitar stand used by Joel Woods. This particular device is becoming popular with classical guitarists. Although best known as a classical mandolinist in this  third video the duo is performing a well known Brazilian Choro composition by Ernesto Nazareth.

@@@@@@@@@@@

Also, while trolling mandolin performances I came across this YouTube of Mochalova. I have not been able to find any information on the lady. Although I find her body language a little over the top  one can’t dispute the quality of her playing.

@@@@@@@@@@@

Read any Good Books Lately? (#11) – BLACK ICE by Colin Dunne

This book is described as “A Classic Cold War Thriller” and I guess that’s what it is but it is a little different. There are no CIA / MI6 / FBI / Security Agency conspiracies and while the Russians figure in the plot it is not about the KBG or the “Evil Empire”. It is not set in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Korea or any of the usual political pressure spots that figure in most Spy/Thriller novels and its not all gloom and doom either. If anything there is a very significant thread of humor thought out the story. In fact I would suggest that is one of the strengths of the book. Another would be the story’s location. It is set in Iceland. Now, how many novels have this cold but exotic location for a story? So, it has humor, a good use of language, a good plot, a great location and when you add in an interesting cast of characters you have a worth while read. There is an Icelandic beauty queen who causes some hormonal disturbances in a number of male characters. There is a tabloid journalist who ends up as an amateur spy. A significant number of American, British and Icelandic personalities, and a Russian gay spy who would “simply die” if he was ever sent back to Moscow. Iceland seems to be a interesting place where American and Russian interests collide. Despite the novel’s press release, there is no real scenario where the prospect of war is a possibility. The novel is more about Icelandic political independence, the presence of the American military base on the island and the low level off shore soviet naval presence and how these factors impinge on the characters in the novel.

Here is the publisher blurb in Amazon:

“If you’ve never come to in the middle of the night to find yourself approximately halfway between New York and Moscow, right up on top of the world, standing outside a block of flats wearing nothing other than a ladies’ silk dressing-robe – and that decorated with large scarlet kisses – allow me to describe the sensation. Confused. That’s the word, I think. Confused, and cold around the knees’. Stranded in Iceland, journalist turned spy Sam Craven wakes up to the greatest adventure of his career.

Sent to Reykjavik to track down the model Solrun, in whom British intelligence have taken a sudden interest, Craven finds himself caught up in a vast power-play between two superpowers on the brink of war – and with only his wits to rely on. Trying to stay alive, and one step ahead of a band of ruthless killers, Sam is skating on black ice. One slip and he’s dead.

‘Black Ice’ is a classic Cold War thriller, certain to appeal to fans of Jack Higgins, Len Deighton and Ian Fleming. ”

Yes, this a novel well worth the time of day and some lost sleep.

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@