A Great Day in Harlem - A Great Moment in Jazz

The 1958 Art Kane photo of 57 great jazz musicians in Esquire Magazine said much about the vibrancy of jazz in New York City. An academy award winning documentary with the same title appeared in 1994, and now AADL is happy to present early jazz researcher Stuart Johnson at the Downtown Library on Sat., June 13, 2-3:30 pm to make this photo come alive once again. Stu will tell stories about the musicians and play some of their best recordings. The musicians in A Great Day in Harlem play dixieland, stride, swing and more modern styles, so join us to relive this historic convergence in one of America’s truly great art forms.

The Ditty Bops perform at The Ark

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Ever genre-defying, The Ditty Bops, will play at The Ark this Friday, June 12 at 8pm. Their quirky, and often interactive, performances tend to be pretty playful and include skits, slideshows, puppet shows, and costumes. The Los Angeles duo’s music has been described as a mixture of blues, western swing, folk, ragtime, bluegrass, and musical theater, with sweet vocal harmonies. For a sampling check out their snappy self titled debut album, as well as Moon Over the Freeway.

Dark Was the Night

Compilation albums usually add up to one of two things: disposable cover songs from big name artists, or hit-or-miss tracks from artists on an adored small label, say Sub Pop or Drive Thru Records. The label makes money, the bands get heard, the buyer remorses. Bucking this trend, the Red Hot Organization made Dark Was the Night, a compilation so good that it needs two discs to hold all the great tunes. With album-worthy original material from the likes of The Decemberists, Bon Iver, Arcade Fire, and My Morning Jacket, this compilation has done everything right -- credible bands, great songs, and exclusive tracklisting.

Even the cover songs are intriguing. Antony Hegarty sings a pre-Freewheelin' Bob Dylan folk-tune, I Was Young When I Left Home, and Jose Gonzalez taps his '60s folk hero, singing Nick Drake's Cello Song. One of the AADL's hottest CDs right now, jump on the hold list for Dark Was the Night today.

Celtic rock?

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Yes and much more. Come hear the Celtic influenced band, Enter the Haggis tomorrow, June 4, at a free concert sponsored by the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce as part of their series at Liberty Plaza. This popular Toronto quintet plays a rousing mix of Canadian and Scottish music with influences as far ranging as African, Bluegrass, Rock and Caribbean. Instruments include guitar, bagpipes, tin whistle, fiddle, keyboard and drums. Music starts at 12 and goes until 2.

Also check out the Library's great collection of Celtic music and keep those feet tapping.

Summer Music Festivals Invade the Midwest

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For many music fans, summer is all about the outdoor music festivals, where dozens of your favorite bands rock out under the sun while you're surrounded by thousands of your best friends (well, maybe). Within driving distance of southeast Michigan are three of the country's largest music festivals: Bonnaroo, Rothbury, and Lollapalooza. Here's a festival breakdown with links to the AADL catalog holdings for the headlining artists.

The Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, from June 11-14, is held in Manchester, TN, and features the most robust lineup of artists. Phish reunites for 2 shows, and Beastie Boys and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band also headline on various nights.

Rothbury Festival returns for its second year, running from July 2-5 in Rothbury, MI, and boasts a mission with its music, as it's "dedicated to running as close to a zero-waste event as possible." For the folk-roots audience, The Dead, Bob Dylan, and Willie Nelson headline.

Finally, Lollapalooza, the longest tenured of these three festivals, goes from August 7-9 in Chicago, IL, with a much harder edge to its sound as Tool, The Killers, and Depeche Mode headline this year.

Two poets

Today, May 24 is the birthday of two poets, different in origins and influences, but both renowned. Joseph Brodsky was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1940. His father was kicked out of the army for being Jewish and the family fell into poverty. Brodsky started writing poetry at the age of 15. In his twenties, his poetry began attracting a large audience. The Soviet government eventually sent him to a labor camp for five years but because of protest, his sentence was commuted. He came to the U.S. and taught at several universities including the University of Michigan. The writer of not only poems but also plays and essays, Brodsky received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987 and became the Poet Laureate of the U.S. in 1991.

Bob Dylan, nee Robert Zimmerman, was born in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. His first musical influence was his parents who listened to the Grand Ole Opry but after hearing Little Richard on the radio, he wanted to play rock and roll. He was in a band through high school but when he went to the University of Minnesota and began hearing the traditional folk music of people like Odetta, he traded in his electric guitar for an acoustic one.

Dylan's influence on music and popular culture has been profound, spawning a golden age of social protest songs and a love for the clever, seemingly contorted Chagall-like word images he created. Dylan's move from acoustic protest to electronic, to country and blues also reflected the changing faces of American music. The Library has many of his recordings and his newest, Together Through Life, is on order. Who can forget, once hearing them, the first few lines of "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and not smile at Dylan's universal empathy for the human condition?

Johnny's in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I'm on the pavement
Thinking about the government...
Look out kid
It's somethin' you did
God knows when
But you're doin' it again..

Grandes Dames de la Chanson.

Elle est arrivée sur la pointe des pieds dans le monde de la chanson française en 2005 mais a su rapidement, grâce à quelques titres marquant - Mise à nu, T’es beau ou encore Mal assis - séduire un public large et fourni. Auréolée d’un succès commercial probant, son premier album éponyme est double Disque d’or, et d’une tournée de plus de 150 dates dont un Olympia complet en 2006, Pauline Croze a accepté de tout remettre en jeu avec ce Bruit Qui Court. "Pas sûr que tout le monde suive, que tous mes fans m’accompagnent dans cette nouvelle aventure" mais l’important est ailleurs. Pauline n’est plus la même et veut le faire entendre.
Click here for full review

Review Courtesy of RFI Musique.

Crossroads: Literature and Music

In the late 19th century, the marriage of philosophical literature and modern music was epitomized by composer Richard Strauss. Consider Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra, a symphonic work based on Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophical novel, Thus Spake Zarathustra, which was published a mere 10 years earlier. Nietzche's novel captures several central tenets of his philosophy, namely, the superman, the will to power, and the idea of eternal recurrence. Take the force of these ideas and allow the compositional genius of Strauss to capture them in music, and you usher in 20th century music. Director Stanley Kubrick was impressed enough with the piece to use the opening measures during key scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Also check out Strauss' brilliant 1905 opera, Salome, based on Oscar Wilde's play of the same name, published approximately 10 years prior to the musical piece. The final scene of Salome continues to shock audiences and exalt sopranos in performances to this day.

Black Sea by Fennesz

Seeking an ambient cocoon in which to wrap yourself snugly? Check out Black Sea, the latest album from the Austrian experimental-electronic artist Christian Fennesz. You can listen to track 2 below, but the album is best enjoyed as a single performance from start to finish. Click here to request your copy today.
 

Artist: Fennesz

Album: Black Sea. Track 2    Fennesz - Black Sea - The Colour of Three

Leonard Cohen in Detroit

Back in the day, listening to Leonard Cohen did not make me sleepy, but lately . . . so I won’t be there this weekend when this remarkable Canadian singer-songwriter performs in Detroit’s Fox Theater. I do still like his music -- especially Suzanne -- and I’ve been following this tour, including shows in Chicago. I'm also intrigued by the DVD about Cohen's life I'm Your Man.

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