Ane Brun and Fleshquartet, “The Opening”

Ane Brun and Fleshquartet, “The Opening”, “Wallander”, Season Three Closing Theme, 2012, Vocal Recorded by Conny Wall Gig Studio 

Born Ane Kvien Brunwoll in March of 1976 in Molde, Norway,  Ane Brun is a songwriter, guitarist, and a vocalist of Sami origin, the indigenous Finno-Ugric people inhabiting the northern parts of Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Kola Peninsula of northwest Russia.

The daughter of jazz singer and pianist Johanne Brunwoll and lawyer Knut Brunwoll, Ane Brun studied music and law at the University of Bergen, and, during that time, began writing her own music compositions and lyrics. After playing a few minor shows, she recorded her first demos in Bergen in 1999. After settling in Stockholm in 2001, Brun focused all her energies on her musical career. 

Brun’s debut album, entitled “Spending Time with Morgan”, was recorded in 2002 in both Uppsala and Stockholm, Sweden. It was released in 2003 on the DetErMine label, a company founded by Brun and Ellekari Larsson, the pianist and vocalist of the Swedish band “The Tiny”. Following two years of European concert tours, Brun released her second album, entitled “Temporary Dive”, which was produced by Katherina Nuttall and released worldwide between 2005 and 2007. The album was well received with award nominations from all over Europe; and it was awarded the Spellemannpris, the Norwegian equivalent of the Grammies, for Best Female Artist. 

Ane Brun released her album “Duets” in November of 2005. This album contained duet collaborations with, among others, Canadian singer Ron Sexsmith; French musician and composer Teitur Lassen; Syd Matters, the French band of composer Jonathan Morali; and a collaboration with the band Madrugada on the single “Lift Me”, which earned Brun another Spellemannpris award. As of 2020, Brun has released a total of nine albums, of which two are gold albums, one platinum album, and two albums, “Duets” and “It All Starts with One”, which became platinum twice.

Ane Brun continues to tour and has appeared in  multiple stage arrangements from solo acoustic to a full band with string section. She currently lives in Stockholm, Sweden, where she writes, records and manages her own recording label, Balloon Ranger Recordings.

“The Opening” is a haunting and fitting theme song for the main character in the Swedish television series, “Wallander”, which stars actor Krister Henriksson in the title role. Adapted from author Henning Mankeil’s Kurt Wallander novels. the three-season series is set in Ystad, Skåne, near the southern tip of Sweden, The thirty-two episodes follow the life and cases of Detective Wallander, a man with few close friends and tentative relationships with colleagues, who towards the end of his career suffers memory loss and gradually succumbs to Alzhheimer’s disease. 

“The Opening is a song whose lyrics and melody were written by myself with the music and production handled by the Fleshquartet. I got the script for the very last Wallander film, and wrote these lyrics inspired by the main character. It’s about trying to move forward when you find yourself at a standstill. It’s an encouraging song about daring to take a step in any direction when you feel stuck. Sometimes it’s just a small step or a short conversation – or sometimes just a single word – that can set off the necessary process of change.”  —Ane Brun

Egyptian Arched Harp

Egyptian Arched Harp (Shoulder Harp), circa 1390-1295 BCE, Wood, Diagonal Length 82 cm, Soundbox Length 36 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, spanning the period from 1550 to 1292 BCE,  is classified as the first dynasty of the New Kingdom, which was the era when ancient Egypt reached the peak of its power. This dynasty included the reigns of pharaohs such as Tutankhamun who ruled Egypt at a young age; Hatshepsut, the longest reigning woman pharaoh of an indigenous dynasty; and Akhenaten, the heretic pharaoh, who ruled with  his principle wife Nefertiti. Unique among the Egyptian dynasties, the Eighteenth Dynasty had two women who ruled as sole pharaoh: Hatshepsut, who ruled from 1470 to 1458 BCE, and Neferneferuaten, usually identified as Nefertiti, whose short reign extended from 1334 to 1332 BCE.

Arched harps were already in use during the Old Kingdom and remained the foremost string instruments until the end of the Middle Kingdom. From the New Kingdom onward, Egyptian arched harps co-existed with a great variety of harps in different shapes and sizes. During the later part of the New Kingdom, musicians experimented with new forms which could accommodate more  strings, eventually progressing from the arched bow harp with four or five strings to the classic full-sized arched harp with a leather soundboard and twenty-two strings. 

The smaller, more portable ancient Egyptian bowed shoulder harp became briefly more popular from about the reign of Tuthmosis III, who ruled from 1479 to 1425 BCE. The arched shoulder harp with the curved neck, preserved in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, is dated from 1390 to 1295 BCE. This harp has twelve strings and an open, slightly waisted sound box, whose opening was once covered with skin. Rope tuning rings under each string gave a buzzing sound to the soft-sounding tone produced. Topping the arched frame of the harp is a carved head of a Nubian captive who appears to be bound by the strings of the harp. 

This type of portable, boat-shaped arched harp was a favorite during the New Kingdom and is shown in the hands of processional female musicians performing alone or in ensembles with singers, wind instruments, rattles, and sistrums, small rattling percussion instruments made of brass or bronze. Prior to the Middle Kingdom, depictions of harpists feature men as the chief musicians. Harps and other instruments were used for praise singing and entertainment at festivals, temple rituals, court functions, funerals, and military events. Today, arched harps derived from these ancient Egyptian forms are still used in parts of Africa and Asia

Arcangelo Corelli

Arcangelo Corelli, Concerto in D Major Op. 6 No. 4, 1714, Performed by the Voices of Music Ensemble

Born on February 17, 1653 in Fusignano, Papal States, Italy, Arcangelo Corelli was a violinist and composer of the Italian Baroque era, whose  family were prosperous landowners, but not of the nobility. Known chiefly for his influence on the development of violin style and for his sonatas, Corelli’s “12 Concert Grossi “ established the contrast between a small group of soloists and the full orchestra as a popular compositional medium. 

Historical records of the poet Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, founder of the celebrated Academy of Arcadians, state Arcangelo Corelli initially studied music under priests, first in the city of Faenza and then in Lugo, before he moved in 1666 to Bologna, a major center of musical culture. Plausible, but largely unconfirmed, historical accounts link his musical education with several master violinists, including Giovanni Benvenuti, Bartolomeo Laurenti, and Giovanni Battista Bassani. 

Although it is unclear exactly when Corelli arrived in Rome, it is known that he was actively engaged as a violinist in 1675. He played as one of the supporting violinists in three Lenten oratorios: one at the church of San Giovanni dei Florentini, one held on August 25th for a celebration at the church San Luigi dei Francesi, and one for the ordination ceremony of a noble Chigi family member held at the church Santi Domenico e Sisto. By February of 1675, Corelli was third violinist in the Chapel of San Luigi dei Francesi’s orchestra in Rome; by the following year Corelli was second violinist.

Corelli rapidly gain a reputation by playing in a number of ensembles sponsored by wealthy patrons at San Marcello al Corso, for whom he played in oratorios during the Lenten seasons from 1671 to 1679. In June of 1677, Corelli completed and sent his first composition “Sonata for Violin and Lute” to Count Fabrizio Laderchi, a noble in Faenza attached to the household of Prince Francesco Maria de Medici. Corelli’s “Twelve  Trio Sonatas (Two Violins and Cello, with Organ Basso Continuo), Opus 1”, dedicated to Queen Christina of Sweden, was published in 1681. 

From September 1687 to November 1690, Arcangelo Corelli was musical director at the Palazzo Pamphili, where he performed and conducted important musical events, Including conducting an orchestra of one hundred fifty strings for Queen Christina. A favorite of the great music patron Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, Corelli in 1690 entered into the Cardinal’s service where he performed in concerts at Ottoboni’s Palazzo della Cancelleria. Joining him at these concerts were the violinist Matteo Fornari, the cellist G. B. Lulier from Spain, and the harpsichordist Bernardo Pasquini, and other orchestral players.

Corelli had first met Matteo Fornari in 1682, and they soon developed an intimate relationship which lasted until Corelli’s death. Socially protected by Ottoboni and living discreetly among male friends, they devoted their time together to the pursuit of their music which included many performances played together. Their relationship became the inspiration for two compositions by their friend Giuseppe Valentini, who dedicated his trio sonatas to both Corelli and Fornari. During this period, Corelli quietly developed his best-known and most influential works, the orchestral “Concerti Grossi”, and also became one of the most renowned violin teachers, who taught such students as Gasparini, Castrucci, and Locatelli.

In 1702, Corelli went to Naples and performed a composition by the Italian composer Alessandro Scarlatti, a performance which was probably performed  in the presence of its regent, King Philip IV.  In 1706, together with composer Bernardo Pasquini and Scarlatti, Corelli was received into the Pontifical Academy of Arcadia in Rome and conducted a concert for the occasion. By 1708 he withdrew from public view and began to revise his compositions. A contemporary of both Lully and Handel, Corelli died in Rome on the 8th of January in 1713. 

Arcangelo Corelli left his large art collection of paintings, all his instruments and music, and all future proceeds from it, to Matteo Fornari who readied Corelli’s unpublished “Op. 6 Concertos” for publication with Estienne Roger of Amsterdam. By special decree from the Pope, Corelli was buried next to Raphael in the section of the Pantheon in Rome that holds the remains of painters and architects.

Arcangelo Corelli’s “Concerto in D Major Op. 6”, was published in 1714 in Amsterdam and dramatically affected the style of the baroque concerto for the next generation of composers. The reception of this collection, considered one of the crown jewels of baroque instrumental music, owes a portion of its success to the music publishing boom which began around 1690. Corelli’s signature violin sonata set, “Opus 5”, also widely published, appeared in at least forty-two editions by 1800. 

Corelli’s concertos are written in an expanded trio sonata style, in which the two solo violins and cello form a small ensemble within the larger tutti framework, which is performed with all instruments together. The fourth concerto, played in the video linked above, is noteworthy for its suave and serene introduction, the gracefulness of the dance movement, the exceptionally well-balanced counterpoint and harmony, and the furious concluding coda which flows out of the second ending of the last movement.

Note: The video is from the Voices of Music Lamentations of Jeremiah concert held in April of 2014. Played with period instruments and practice,, there isn’t any conductor present at the performance. Kati Kyme and Elizabeth Blumenstock play solo baroque violins; Shirley Edith Hunt plays solo baroque cello; Gabrielle Wunsch and Maxine Nemerovski play ripieno baroque violins; Lisa Grodin plays baroque viola; Farley Pearce plays violone; Hanneke van Proosdij plays baroque organ; and David Tayler plays the archlute.

Rhye, “Black Rain”

October 2020, From the Album “Home”, Release Date January 22, 2021

The video “Black Rain” by Rhye was directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and stars actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson. It was produced by Loma Vista Recordings and is distributed by Concord Music Group. Inspired by the tremendous 2020 wildfires in California, the spirit of the son is overcoming obstacles and uniting together to produce positive solutions.

Rhye is a contemporary R&B musical project, originally consisting of Canadian singer and electronic musician Mike Milosh and Danish instrumentalist Robin Hannibal, a Grammy Awards nominee known for being half of the musical duo Quadron. The band’s first album was the 2013 “Woman”, which was in the running for the 2013 Polaris Music Prize. In 2017 after Hannibal left the project for Los Angeles, Milosh and the associated live band released the album “Blood” in 2018, which was largely written, produced and performed by Milosh.

English actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson, born in High Wycombe in 1990, is best known for his portrayal of the lead character in the 2010 movie “Kick-Ass” and for the role of Quicksilver in the 2015 “Avenger: Age of Ultron”. He has also appeared in the 2006 magic film “The Illusionist”, the 2009 John Lennon biographical film “Nowhere Boy”, and in Oliver Stone’s 2012 action thriller “Savages”. 

Ólafur Arnalds, “Woven Song”

Ólafur Arnalds, “Woven Song”, 2020, From the Album “Some Kind of Peace”

Born in Mosfellsbaer, Iceland, in November of 1986, Ólafur Arnalds is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer. A former drummer, he mixes strings and piano with loops and beats to produce sounds from ambient and electronic to pop. He has produced five albums, multiple singles and extended plays, and soundtracks for films and drama seroes, such as the 2013 “Gimme Shelter:, the 2015 series “Broadchurch”, and the 2020 “Defending Jacob”

Ólafur Arnalds released his single “Woven Song” on September 24, 2020. The song is from his new album “Some Kind of Peace”, which was released on November 6th. The fractal shapes of the video effects were produced by director Thomas Vanz using an acrylic pouring process called “viscous fingering”. 

One of the influential musicians of modern times, Ólafur Arnalds has combined the electronic and classical worlds in his productions, often weaving pieces of his life into the songs. Collaborators on the new album include British musician Bonobo, Icelandic singer and instrumentalist JFDR, and German singer and songwriter Josin. 

“This album is about what it means to be alive, daring to be vulnerable and the importance of rituals. It is a personal album, my most personal to date, set against a background of a world thrown into chaos. I’ve poured all my love, dreams and fears into this album through a magical but difficult process, but the result is something that makes me immensely proud and happy to be doing what I do.” —Ólafur Arnalds

“Some Kind of Peace” is available in multiple mediums at: https://mkx.lnk.to/OASKOP

Franz Betz

Photographer Unknown, “Franz Betz in His Role as Wotan”, 1876

Born in March of 1835 at the Rhine River city of Mainz, Germany, Franz Betz was a bass-baritone opera singer known for his performances in operas by Richard Wagner. He received his training in the city of Karlsruhe, home of the Baden State Theatre opera house. Betz made his debut, at the age of twenty-one, in 1856 at the Court Theater of Hanover in Wagner’s “Lohengrin”, part of the “Knight of the Swan”legend, but most recognizable for the”Bridal Chorus”, still played at weddings today.

Framz Betz’s successful performance in 1859 at the Berlin State Opera, singing the role of Don Carlo in Giuseppe Verdi’s “Emani”, resulted in a permanent contract with the company and his becoming one of Wagner’s most trusted singers. He sang the role of Hans Sachs in the world premier of Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nümberg” at Munich in 1868, eventually singing the role over one hundred times.

Im May of 1872, Betz was one of the four soloists in the performance of “Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony” to mark the laying of the foundation stone for the Bayreuth Festival Theater, built by Richard Wagner for the sole use of his works. At the Beyreuth Theater in 1876, Betz sang the role of Wotan in the operas “Das Rheingold” and “Die Ring des Nibelungen”.

Franz Betz continued to sing lyric and lyric-dramatic roles well into his career as a singer of Wagner’s operas. For instance, he sang, in the same season of 1863, both the role of Telramund, a heavy dramatic part, and the lyric part of Valentin in “Faust”. Betz’s voice deepened as he grew older; and in consequence, Wagner added to his operas the role of König Marke, a lyrical bass role without a low tessitura and, in the same year, the role of Wotan. Betz’s enormous repertoire ranged from the roles of Don Giovanni and Wolfram, through Pizarro and Posa, to the roles of Holländer, Amonasro, Sachs and Wotan, expanding finally to Falstaff in 1894. 

During the period from 1882 to 1890, Betz held the position of president of the German trade union for stage artists, technicians and administrative staff, the Genossenschaft Deutscher Bühren-Angelhöger. Although singing in a few London concerts in 1882 and 1889, he never sang elsewhere outside of Germany. Franz Betz died in Berlin on the 11th of August in 1900 and is buried at the Protestant Wilhelm Memorial Cemetery in the Westend district of Berlin.

Note: The photographs show Franz Betz as Wotan, bearded and with shield,  in Richard Wagner’s opera “Die Ring des Nibelungen” performed in Bayreuth. The photo card is entitled Costume Portraits of the Bayreuther Festival Thater, and was published by Joseph Albert, Munich, in 1876. 

Kevin Desabrais

 

Kevin Desabrais, “The Ragged Man”, 2009, From the Album “Nothin’ But the Road”

The song”The Ragged Man”, written and sung by Kevin Desabrais, was released in September of 2009 on the album “Nothin But the Road” by the label Boy and The Bear Records. The album contains twelve songs that are available on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music. A great song by a talented artist.

Kevin Desabrais’s website is located at: https://kevindesabrais.com/home

Any information on this artist would be greatly appreciated.

 

Luka Šulic, “Csárdás”

Luka Šulic, “Csárdás”, June 2015, Composed by Vittorio Monti, Arranged by Valter Dešpalj, Accompanied by the Zagreb Soloists , Lisinski Concert Hall,Zagreb, Croatia

Italian composer and violinist Vittorio Monti was born in Naples and studied violin and composition at the Conservatorio di San Peitro a Majella. He received an assignment in 1900 as the conductor for the Lamoureux Orchestra in Paris, where he wrote several operettas and ballets. Monti wrote his composition “Csárdás”, based on a traditional Hungarian folk dance,  for violin, mandolin, or piano in 1904.

“Csárdás” is a one-movement work that is episodic yet integrated, free-flowing in structure, featuring a range of highly contrasted moods and tonality.The work, containing arrangements for a number of solo instruments and an orchestra, is composed of seven different sections, each of a different tempo and occasional different key from the preceding one.

Born in Maribor, Slovenia in August of 1987, Luka Šulic is a Croatian-Slovenian cellist, a member of the cello group “2Cellos”, along with Stjepan Hauser. He began his musical education when he was five years old and became, at the age of fifteen, one of the youngest student to enter the Music Academy in Zagreb. There he studied for three years under Professor Valter Dešpalj, a cellist from the Juilliard School and Moscow Conservatory. Šulic continued his studies in Vienna with Reinhard Latzko and finished his master’s degree with Mats Lidstrom at London’s Royal Academy of Music in 2011.

Luka Šulic has given a number of solo and chamber music appearances in Europe, South America and Japan in major venues such as Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Vienna Musikverein and Konzerthauswon. He has won a series of top prizes at the prestigious international music competitions including first and special prize at the 2009 VII Lutosławski International Cello Competition in Warsaw, and first prize at the 2011 Royal Academy of Music Patron’s Award in Wigmore Hall.

Luka Šulic was awarded a Ribbon of an Order of Danica Hrvatska for a special contribution to the culture and promotion of Croatia in the world. His site with a listing of upcoming live performances can be found at: https://lukasulic.com

Ted Shawn

Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers, “Kinetic Molpai”, 1935, Jacob’s Pillow, Music Added to Video in 1985 by Jess Meeker and John Sauer

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, in October of 1891, Ted Shawn was one of the first notable male pioneers of American modern dance. While attending the University of Denver, he contracted diphtheria at the age of nineteen, causing him temporary paralysis form the waist down. During his physical therapy in 1910, Shawn was introduced to the art of dance by Hazel Wallack, a former dancer with the Metropolitan Opera. He relocated to Los Angeles two years later, joining an exhibition ballroom dance troupe with dancer and choreographer Norma Gould as his partner. 

Ted Shawn moved to New York City in 1914 where he met Ruth St. Denis, a teacher and modern dance pioneer. They married in August of 1914, with St. Denis becoming a dance partner and a creative outlet for Shawn. Both artists, believing in dance as an art form integral to everyday life, combined their artistic vision and business knowledge to open the first Denishawn School in Los Angeles in 1915. Renowned for its influence on ballet and experimental dance, this school became the first dance academy in the United States to produce a professional dance company. 

Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Davis established an eclectic mix of dance techniques including a freeing of movement in the upper body and experimental ballet, often done without shoes. With the additions of North African, Spanish, and Amerindian influences to St. Denis’ eastern style, they broke with the established European tradition. Their choreography ushered in a new era of modern dance, drawing from these indigenous, ancient, and international dance traditions. 

In the early 1930s, due to marital problems and finances, Ted Shawn left to form an all-male dance company consisting of athletes he taught at Springfield College in Massachusetts. His mission was to fight for the acceptance of the American male dancer and to present a male perspective on the dance art form. On July 14, 1933, Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers had their premier performance at Shawn’s farm in Lee, Massachusetts. This event, known as Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, would transform into the now existing dance school, retreat, and theater at the former farm.

Shawn produced many innovative and controversial choreographies with His Men Dancers, which included performances entitled “Ponca Indian Dance”, “Maori War Haka”, “Hopi Indian Eagle Dance” and “Kinetic Molpai”. Through these creative dance performances, Shawn showcased masculine and athletic movement which gained in popularity. The company toured more than 750 cities in the United States and Canada, and achieved international success in Havana, Cuba, and London. Their final show was a homecoming performance at Jacob’s Pillow on August 31, 1940, ending a seven year tour. 

During the years of the company,, Ted Shawn’s comradeship and interactions with the men in his troupe evolved into a love relationship with Barton Mumaw, one of the leading stars of the company, which lasted from 1931 to 1948. Shawn would later form a partnership with John Christian, the stage manager of the company, with whom he stayed from 1949 until his own death in January of 1972. Ted Shawn’s final appearance on stage was at the Ted Shawn Theater of Jacob’s Pillow in “Siddhas of the Upper Air”, where he reunited with Ruth St. Denis for their fiftieth anniversary. 

Ted Shawn was a Heritage Award recipient of the National Dance Association in 1965 and was inducted into the National Museum of Dance’s Hall of Fame, located in Saratoga Springs, in 1987. His works, including his nine published books providing a foundation for modern dance, are now in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and in the archives of Jacob’s Pillow.

Many thanks to the Jacob’s Pillow site: https://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org

Armand Amar, “Maryam”

Armand Amar, “Maryam”, Featuring Hamza Shakour, From the Movie Soundtrack Album “Bab’ AzĀz”

Born to parents of French-Moroccan origins in 1953, Armand Amar was born in Jerusalem and spent his childhood in Morocco. Extra-European music, imbued with the sounds of instruments considered exotic at the time, fascinated him. A self-taught personality, he was constantly searching for physical experiences in the early years of his musical apprenticeship; in the following years, his searching became a commitment. He discovered the zarb and congas, learned to play the tablas, and studied  under masters of both traditional and classical music. 

Armand Amar’s discovery of dance in 1976 was a decisive moment in his life, brought on by an invitation from trained anthropologist and South African choreographer Peter Gross. In dance, Amar found a direct relationship to music, free improvisation, and the advantages of real, immediate exchanges. Amar soon became involved in two ventures: his involvement in Patrice Chéreau’s acting school and his teaching at the Conservatoire National Supérieur, both focusing on the relationship between music and dance. He has since worked with various choreographers including Francesca Lattuada, Russell Maliphant, Carolyn Carlsson, and Marie-Claude Pietragalla. 

Amar’s musical and spiritual influences show in his films scores: film director Costa-Gavras’s 2000 “Eye Witness” and 2009 “Eden is East”; Radu Mihaileanu’s 2009 “The Concert”, winner of the César for Best Soundtrack of the Year; the 2006 “Days of Glory” by Rachid Bouchareb; the 2008 “The Maiden and the Wolves” by Gilles Legrand; and many other notable films. In August of 2014, Armand Amar received the Amanda Award for Best Soundtrack of the Year for the music of Norwegian director Erik Poppe’s movie “A Thousand Times Goodnight”.   

In 1994 in partnership with his friends Alain Weber and Peter Gabriel, Amand Amar founded the record label Long Distance for traditional, classic, and world music, producing more than sixty titles. Amar’s own work is released through the labels of Long Distance, Naive, Universal, Sony, and Warner. In June of 2011, at the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music in Morocco, he created his first ‘oratorio mundi” entitled “Leyla and Majnun”, which consisted of forty singers and musicians from around the world.The performance played at Salle Pleyel, in Paris in April of 2014. 

Édith Piaf

Édith Piaf, “La Vie en Rose”, 1956 Film “Música de Siempre”

Édith Piaf was French singer, songwriter, cabaret performer, and film actress, noted as France’s chanteuse and one of the country’s most widely known international stars. Her autobiographical songs specialized in chanson and torch ballads about. love, loss and sorrow.

Born Édith Giovanna Gassion in 1915 in Belleville, Paris, Édith Piaf was the only child of Louis-Alphonse Gassion, a highly skilled street acrobat, and Annetta Giovanna Maillard, a cafe singer of Moroccan Berber descent. When her parents’ marriage failed, Édith Piaf  lived with her paternal grandmother, who ran a brothel. At the age of seven, she joined her father, participating with him in street performances, on a traveling circus caravan to Belgium and eventually France.

Renowned for her voice even at a young age, Piaf separated from her father and became a street singer in Paris and its vicinities. In 1935,  she was discovered by Louis Leplée, the owner of the successful nightspot “Le Gerny” located on Rue Pierre- Charron. Leplée starred Piaf as “La Môme Piaf” (The Little Sparrow)”, due to her small stature and nervous energy, and ran a major publicity campaign for her opening night. Piaf’s popularity, after the successful show, enabled her to record two albums in 1935.   

After the murder of Louis Leplée in spring of 1936, Piaf worked with French lyricist Raymond Asso, who became her lover and mentor. She also worked closely with songwriter and composer Marguerite Monnot, who as a female composer of popular music in the 1930s was a pioneer in her field. Piaf commissioned songs in the style of ‘chansons réaliste’, which dealt with the lives of the French poor and working class in a realistic and emotive manner.

Édith Piaf became one of the most famous performers in France. During World War II, she went to sing for the French prisoners in Germany and posed for pictures with them. When she returned to France, Piaf had made individual passports for the prisoners, using the pictures taken in Germany during her visit. She was instrumental in helping a number of prisoners to escape. It was during these war years that Piaf wrote “La Vie en Rose”, which is remembered as her signature song.

After the war years, with her fame spreading quickly, Piaf toured Europe, the United States, and South America. In 1950 in Paris, she gave Héctor Roberto Chavero, the central figure in Argentine folk music, an opportunity to share the stage and make his debut in France. Piaf also helped launch the career of Charles Aznavour, whose songwriting and distinctive tenor voice would span seventy years, making him one of France’s most popular performers. In 1962 she married singer and actor Théo Sarapo, birth name of Theophanis Lamboukas, who would sing with Piaf in some of her last engagements.

Bruno Coquatrix’s famous Paris Olympia opera hall is where Édith Piaf achieved lasting fame, giving a series of concerts at the hall, the most famous venue in Paris, between 1955 and 1962. Excerpts of these concerts were issued on record and CD, and have never been out of print. Piaf debuted her song “Non, Je ne Regrette Rien” at the 1961 concert in the opera hall, which she had promoted to financially save the venue. Her final recorded song was “L’Homme de Berlin”, in April of 1963.

Édith Piaf’s life, while containing fame and fortune, also had many tragedies. The love of her life, legendary French boxer Marcel Cerdan, died in a plane crash of an Air France flight in October of 1929, while traveling to meet her. In 1951, Piaf was severely injured in a car crash, breaking an arm and two ribs, the resulting trauma leading to difficulties with alcohol and morphine addictions. Two more near-fatal car crashes followed, worsening the situation. After a series of surgeries in 1959, Piaf’s health, seriously affected by her alcohol use and medications,  deteriorated further; by 1962,  her weight had dropped to 30 kg or 66 pounds. 

Édith Piaf died of an aneurysm due to liver failure at age forty-seven while residing at her villa in Plascassier on the Riviera, on October 10, 1963. She is buried at the family gravesite in  Pére Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. The name inscribed at the foot of the tombstone is Famille Gassion-Piaf. Her name is engraved on the side as Madame Lamboukas dite Édith Piaf. 

Denied a funeral Mass by Cardinal Maurice Feltin because of her lifestyle, her funeral procession drew tens of thousands to the streets of Paris; the ceremony at the cemetery drew one hundred thousand fans, Fifty years after her death, the Roman Catholic Church recanted and gave Piaf a memorial Mass in the St. Jean-Baptiste Church in Belleville, Paris, the parish into which she was born.

Note: The video footage behind the song includes a travel film of her vacation in Mexico entitled “Édith Piaf Au Mexique, Film de Voyage”. It should be noted that Édith Piaf sings “La Vie en Rose” in Spanish in this color video footage. This is a rarity; there are no other known films of Pilaf singing in Spanish.

Alan D. Rogers, “Zion Tobias”

Alan D. Rogers, “Zion Tobias”

New York-born Alan D Rogers is a fashion-style portrait photographer based in Atlanta, Georgia. His initial project with photography was the documentation of a concert series performed by singer and songwriter Janelle Monáe. Rogers’ work now includes portraits in the genres of stage and screen arts and music, modeling, and commercial print work. His website is https://www.alexdrogers.studio.

The image of Philadelphia musical artist Zion Tobias by Alan D Rogers was reblogged with thanks to https://thouartadeadthing.tumblr.com.

Zion Tobias’ Soundcloud site is https://soundcloud.com/ziontabias

Marlene Dietrich, “Lili Marleen”

Marlene Dietrich, “Lili Marleen”, 1945, Decca Records

Marlene Dietrich was born on December 27th of 1901 in Berlin, Germany, with the given name Maria Magdalene Dietrich. Growing up, she studied French, English, and the violin at a private school, with the aspiration of becoming a professional violinist. Later in her teen years, Dietrich decided to explore acting, enrolling in Austrian-born theater director Max Reinhardt’s drama school, eventually acting in small parts on stage and in films. Because of her family’s disapproval of theater as a profession, she changed her name to Marlene Dietrich.

Dietrich married Rudolf Sieber in 1923 and, with his help, was able to get the small role of ‘Lucy’ in director Joe May’s 1923 “Tragedy of Love”. After the birth of their only child Maria in 1924, the marriage began to fail, leading to a separation but not a divorce. During this time, Paramount Studios signed to a contract director and filmmaker Josef von Sternberg, who already had produced a number of notable films. In 1929, Sternberg was sent to UFA, Paramount’s studio in Berlin, to direct the sound production of “The Blue Angel” based on Heinrich Mann’s book “Professor Unrat”.

Sternberg cast the little-known Marlene Dietrich in the female lead role of Lola Lola, the cabaret singer and dancer whose allure would attract and lead to the decline of Professor Unrat. With her sophisticated manner and sultry looks, Dietrich naturally fit into the role and became a star. The 1930 “Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel)”, the first talking picture in Germany, became a big hit, eventually making Dietrich an international star with its English language version in the United States.

In April of 1930, Marlene Dietrich moved to America. Working once again with Sternberg, she starred in the 1930 romantic-drama “Morocco” with actor Gary Cooper. The film received four Academy Award nominations; Dietrich was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, her one and only Academy Award nomination.She continued in her next films to play the femme-fatale roles, creating new more-masculine fashion trends for women and challenging accepted views of the female image.

Dietrich made several more films working with director Sternberg: the 1931 successful spy film “Dishonored”, “Shanghai Express” in 1932, “The Scarlet Empress” in 1934, and her personal favorite film “The Devil is a Woman”, a 1935 romance film set in Spain in which she played a cold-hearted temptress. A strong opponent of the Nazi government in Germany, she disassociated herself from the German film companies and became a US citizen in 1939, resulting in the banning of her films in Germany. During the war, Dietrich traveled extensively, entertaining the troops, selling war bonds, and recording anti-Nazi messages to broadcast in Germany. 

Following the war, Marlene Dietrich worked with director Billy Wilder on his 1948 film “A Foreign Affair” and the 1957 film “Witness for the Prosecution” with actor Tyrone Power, based on the book by Agatha Christie. She also played strong supporting roles in director Orson Welles’ famous 1958 film-noir “Touch of Evil” and in Stanley Kramer’s 1941 courtroom drama “Judgement at Nuremberg”. As her acting career faded, Dietrich began a successful singing career in the mid-1950s performing from Las Vegas to Paris, and finally singing in Germany in 1960, her first visit since the war.

Marlene Dietrich gave up performing in the middle of the 1970s, moving to Paris and living in near-seclusion. She did agree to provide some audio commentary for the documentary “Marlene”, filmed by Maximillian Schell in 1984; however, she would not appear on camera for the film. Marlene Dietrich, one of the most glamorous leading ladies of the 1930s and 1940s, died in her Paris home on May 6th of 1992 and was buried next to her mother in Berlin.

The song “LiLi Marleen” is a German love song that became popular during WWII throughout Europe and the Mediterranean among both Axis and Allied troops. Written in 1915 as a poem of three verses by Hans Leip, a school theacher, it was set to music by Norbert Schultze in 1938 and recorded for the first time by Lale Andersen in 1939.  In 1944 the Morale Operations Branch of the US Office of Strategic Services initiated the Muzak Project. Marlene Dietrich recorded a number of songs in German for the project, including “Lili Marleen”, which became a massive success. This version of the song with Dietrich singing eventually became recorded as a single by Decca Records in 1944 and released in 1945.

Jai Peng Fang, 永远 “Forever”

Jai Peng Fang, “Forever” 永远

Jia Peng Fang was born in April of 1958 in Jiamusi, China. He is a virtuoso of the erhu, the Chinese violin. He has played in hundreds of live concerts throughout China and Japan, as well as recording for movies, television and radio. 

At an early age, in 1966 and under the influence of his older brother, Jai Peng Fang began to learn to play erhu. At the age of sixteen, his brother helped him go to Beijing to study the Erhu with the most experienced players. From 1974 to 1976, Fang stayed with his aunt and practiced with the erhu. After the Great Karasan Earthquake, he joined the Navy Song and Dance Band until, as part of the Cultural Revolution, he was forced to return to his native Jama as an agricultural worker. 

After the Cultural Revolution, upon the advice of a former teacher, Fang decided to enter a music school. In 1978 he studied and applied to Central Conservatory of Music. After being recommended by Zhou Yaozhen in 1979, he officially became the erhu player of the Central National Orchestra as a performer in the Folk section. After six years as a professional erhu player, Fang was appointed deputy director of the orchestra department.

In 1988, Jia Peng Fang moved to Japan and enrolled in the Master of Arts Degree Program in Music at the Tokyo University of Arts. Upon graduating with his masters degree, he was admitted as a member of the China Musicians Association and became director of the Erhu Chinese Society. Upon graduation he also started participating in the production of Katsuhisa Hattori’s albums and concerts and began large-scale professional performances.

Jia Peng Fang has performed in the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York, and in Carnegie Hall, playing with the Tokyo Pops Orchestra and New York Pops Orchestra. In 1997, Fang’s brilliant performances with his orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York solidified his position in the world of music.

One of Jai Peng Fang’s most beautiful and moving melodic songs, “Silent Moon”, contained in the 1999 album “River”, was used as a musical mat in a famous video tribute dedicated to the great martial arts master Yip Man, master of Bruce Lee. The video shows the Grandmaster’s abilities in his Wing Chun style, images taken a few weeks before he died.

Bob Cantrell

Bob Cantrell, “Les Paul Special”, (Telecaster Model), 1961, Serial Number 37330, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Steve Miller received this guitar from Leslie West of the ‘Vagrants’ and ‘Mountain’ in 1967 or 1968. The original cherry red finish of the guitar had been stripped and repainted with the pale yellow that Gibson developed to appear white on black-and-white television. Miller had the guitar again repainted with intricate psychedelic designs by surfboard artist Bob Cantrell and changed the pickup covers, tuners, and controls to match the new color scheme. He used it extensively in recordings and live performances through the 1970s, including on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert in 1973 and The Midnight Special in 1974.

Technical Description:

Mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard; 24¾ in. scale; intricate psychedelic painting on front and back of body; set neck with dot inlays and off-white binding; inlaid mother-of-pearl Gibson logo on headstock, truss rod cover with Les Paul signature; two P-90 soapbar pickups, three-way selector switch, two volume and two tone controls; nickel wrap-around tailpiece and Kluson tuners, clear and gold plastic knobs; original mahogany or cherry red finish stripped and repainted with custom psychedelic design, pickup covers, tuners, and knobs replaced to match finish.

 

Jimmy Scott

Jimmy Scott, “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”, 1986, From the Album “All the Way”

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in July of 1925, James Victor Scott was an American jazz vocalist known for his sensitivity on ballads and for his high countertenor voice. The high range of his singing voice was due to a rare genetic disease, the Kallmann syndrome, which prevented him from reaching classic puberty and limited his physical height. 

Given the nickname of “Little Jimmy Scott” by jazz musician and band leader Lionel Hampton, Scott achieved prominence as the lead singer in Hampton’s band when he recorded “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” in December of 1949. This song became a top rhythm and blues hit in 1959. Scott sang the vocals on Charlie Parker’s adaption of Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” in 1947; however, his vocals was credited to the female vocalist Chubby Newsom on the album.

Jimmy Scott signed in 1963 with Tangerine Records, a record label owned by Ray Charles and distributed by ABC-Paramount Records. Under that label, he recorded the album “Falling in Love is Wonderful”, with Ray Charles interplaying on the piano. This ranks as one of the best works of Scott’s career, showing his range of emotions and his hitting all the notes with perfection on such classics as “How Deep is the Ocean” and “Someone to Watch Over Me”.

By the late 1960s, Jimmy Scott’s career had faded; he returned to his native Cleveland and worked in several menial labor positions. It wasn’t until 1989 that he returned to music, sharing a late-night billing with singer and pianist Johnnie Ray at the famed New York’s Ballroom. Singing at the funeral of his friend, blues singer and songwriter Doc Pomus, gained him further recognition and an opportunity with Sire Records. 

Sire Records, an arm of the Warner Records group, released Jimmy Scott’s 1992 album “All the Way” which earned Scott a nomination for a Grammy Award. Between 1994 and 1998, Jimmy Scott released three albums: the 1994 “Dreams”, “Heaven” released in 1996, and an album of pop/ rock interpretations entitled “Holding Back the Years”. This last album earned an award for Best Jazz Album of 2000, and included covers of songs written by Prince, Lennon, Elvis Costello, and Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Jimmy Scott’s early recordings for Decca Records and Savoy Records were re-released as a box set in 1999. He signed with Milestone Records in 2000 and recorded four albums with guests such as Wynton Marsalis, Renne Rosnes, and Lewis Nash. His final recording took place at his home in May of 2014, a track written for him by Grégoire Maret titled “The 26th of May” which appears on Maret’s album “Wanted”.

Scott performed at the inaugurations of both President Eisenhower and William Clinton, singing “Why Was I Born”. He received the NEA Jazz Masters award in 2007, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jazz Foundation of America in 2010. Jimmy Scott was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame in 2013. He died in his sleep at his home in Las Vegas on June 12, 2014 at the age of eighty-eight years. He is buried in Knollwood Cemetery in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.

“As singers, we all deal in pain. We’re all trying to push the pain through the music and make it sound pretty. Jimmy Scott has more pain and prettiness in his voice than any singer anywhere”

– Ray Charles