2017-07-07 Amorphae

Amorphae by Ben Monder, Pete Rende, Andrew Cyrille, and Paul Motian.

This album of solos, duets, and trios from Mr Monder &Co has been on my “to listen” list for quite a while. On this release, Monder operates in roughly the same reverb and chorus drenched wide screen universe as players like Bill Frisell and David Torn. Not quite as “folksy” as Frisell and using more “classical music” inspired melody and harmony than Torn, Monder seldom “shreds”. Instead building his solos to curtains of shimmering abstract sound.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #BenMonder #PeteRende #AndrewCyrille #PaulMotian #Amorphae

138 – Most Ancient of All Mysteries

Please turn your hymnals to number 138 and join with the clarinets in, “Most Ancient of All Mysteries”.

Number: 138
First Line: Most Ancient of All Mysteries
Name: ST. FLAVIAN.
Meter: C.M.
Tempo: In moderate time
Music: John Day’s Psalter, 1562
Text: Frederick William Faber, 1814-63

Clarinet Arrangement: 138-MostAncientOfAllMysteries

On the other hand, this is not a particularly interesting hymn. It’s not bad or anything, just not particularly harmonically interesting.

The lyrics, from Francis William Faber, however, are nicely poetic.

1 Most ancient of all mysteries,
Before Thy throne we lie;
Have mercy now, most merciful,
Most holy Trinity.

2 When heav’n and earth were yet unmade,
When time was yet unknown,
Thou in Thy bliss and majesty
Didst live and love alone.

3 Thou wert not born; there was no fount
From which Thy Being flowed;
There is no end which Thou canst reach;
But Thou art simply God.

4 How wonderful creation is,
The work which Thou didst bless,
And O what then must Thou be like,
Eternal loveliness!

5 O listen then, most pitiful,
To Thy poor creature’s heart:
It blesses Thee that Thou art God,
That Thou art what Thou art.

6 Most ancient of all mysteries,
Still at thy throne we lie;
Have mercy now, most merciful,
Most holy Trinity.

Francis William Faber

Faber was born in 1814 at Calverley, then within the Parish of Calverley in the West Riding of Yorkshire,[1] where his grandfather, Thomas Faber, was the vicar. His father served the local bishop of the Church of England as his secretary.[2]

Faber attended grammar school at Bishop Auckland in County Durham for a short time, but a large portion of his boyhood was spent in Westmorland. He afterwards attended the Harrow School for five years, followed by enrollment in 1832 at Balliol College at the University of Oxford. In 1834, he obtained a scholarship at the University College, from which he graduated. In 1836 he won the Newdigate Prize for a poem on “The Knights of St John,” which elicited special praise from John Keble. Among his college friends were Arthur Penrhyn Stanley and Roundell Palmer, 1st Earl of Selborne. After graduation he was elected a fellow of the college.

Faber’s family was of Huguenot descent, and Calvinist beliefs were strongly held by them. When Faber had come to Oxford, he was exposed to the Anglo-Catholicpreaching of the Oxford Movement which was beginning to develop in the Church of England. One of its most prominent proponents was the popular preacher John Henry Newman, vicar of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. Faber struggled with these divergent forms of Christian beliefs and life. In order to relieve his tension, he would take long vacations in the Lake District, where he would write poetry. There he was befriended by another poet, William Wordsworth. He finally abandoned the Calvinistic views of his youth and became an enthusiastic follower of Newman.[2][3]

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal

137 – Ancient of Days

Please turn your hymnals to number 137 and join with the clarinets in, “Ancient of Days”.

Number: 137
First Line: Ancient of Days
Name: ANCIENT OF DAYS. (ALBANY)
Meter: 11 10, 11 10.
Tempo: In unison, with dignity
Music: John Albert Jeffrey, 1855-1929
Text: William Croswell Doane, 1832-1913

Clarinet Arrangement: 137-AncientOfDays

Fairly rhythmically and harmonically interesting, this one gave me something to chew on and develop over its short course. Not often you see dotted eighth notes and 16th notes in hymns!

Jeffery (sometimes misspelled as Jeffrey) began playing the organ at St. Anne’s Cathedral in Plymouth at age 14, taking over his father’s position. He emigrated to America in 1876 and settled in Albany, New York. He developed a chorus and directed the music at St. Agnes School, and played the organ at the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral. He left for Yonkers, New York, in 1893, and served at the First Presbyterian Church. Later, he taught music at the New England Conservatory.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal

136 – Come Thou Almighty King

Please turn your hymnals to number 136 and join the clarinets in, “Come Thou Almighty King”.

Number: 136
First Line: Come Thou Almighty King
Name: MOSCOW.
Meter: 6 6 4, 6 6 6 4.
Tempo: Joyfully
Music: Felice de Giardini, 1716-96
Text: Authorship Uncertain
Whitefield’s Collection, 1757 a.

This is an interesting hymn. A tad more musically interesting than most. It moves from contrasting harmony parts, to a unison refrain, and back to harmony.

Quite pleasant!

Felice Giardini (April 12, 1716 – June 8, 1796) was an Italiancomposer and violinist.

Felice Giardini was born in Turin.[1] When it became clear that he was a child prodigy, his father sent him to Milan. There he studied singing, harpsichord and violin but it was on the latter that he became a famous virtuoso. By the age of 12, he was already playing in theater orchestras. In a famous incident about this time, Giardini, who was serving as assistant concertmaster (i.e. leader of the orchestra) during an opera, played a solo passage for violin which the composer Niccolò Jommelli had written. He decided to show off his skills and improvised several bravura variations which Jommelli had not written. Although the audience applauded loudly, Jommelli, who happened to be there, was not pleased and suddenly stood up and slapped the young man in the face. Giardini, years later, remarked, “it was the most instructive lesson I ever received from a great artist.”

Clarinet Arrangement: 136-ComeThouAlmightKing

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal

2017-07-06 Nightfall

Nightfall by Quercus.

ECM has always been eclectic in it’s releases. This atmospheric mashup of Jazz, Classical, and UK Folk music isn’t exactly the exception, as the rule. June Tabor is a great folk vocalist and her partners in Quercus are Huw Warren and Iain Ballamy, Piano and Saxophone, respectively. If I had any complaints, it might be that Nightfall is just a tad too pleasant.

#JuneTabor #IainBallamy #HuwWarren #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

2017-07-05 Lucky Strikes

Lucky Strikes by The Lucky Thompson Quartet.

Most people trace the modern Soprano Sax tone, flute-like, mellow, and largely without vibrato, to the playing of Lucky Thompson. Eschewing the harsh tone and wide vibrato of early players like Bechet, Thompson set the stage for immensely commercially popular players like Grover Washington Jr and the much maligned Kenny Gorelick. Also, as far as I know, just about the only Bebop Soprano player.

A pretty strictly Bebop affair, great work here from the whole group. I think, especially, the expressive cymbal work from Connie Kay stands out.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #LuckyThompson #HankJones #RichardDavis #ConnieKay

135 – Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts

Please turn your hymnals to number 135 and join with the clarinets in, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts”.

Number: 135
First Line: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts
Name: ST. ATHANASIUS.
Meter: 7 7, 7 7, 7 7.
Tempo: With dignity, in moderate time
Music: Edward John Hopkins, 1818-1901
Text: Christopher Wordsworth, 1807–1885

Clarinet Arrangement: 135-HolyHolyHolyLordGodOfHosts

Pretty generic hymn stuff here from Dr Hopkins, even with some unusually close harmonies at points. Apparently, he was something of a prodigy on the Church Organ, getting his first appointment at only 16.

Dr. Edward John Hopkins FRCO (30 June 1818 – 4 February 1901) was an English organist and composer.[1] He was born on 30 June 1818 in Westminster.[2] He was the eldest son of George Hopkins, a clarinet player who played with the orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Two of his brothers, John and Thomas Hopkins, also became organists – John at Rochester Cathedral and Thomas at St Saviour’s Church, York. His uncle Edward Hopkins was also an outstanding clarinettist and bandmaster of the Scots Guards in 1815.[3]

In 1826 he became a chorister of the Chapel Royal under William Hawes and sang at the coronation of King William IV in Westminster Abbey in 1830. At the same time, he sang in the choir of St Paul’s Cathedral, having to manage his double schedule with great dexterity. On Sunday evenings, he would play the outgoing voluntary for his organ teacher Thomas Forbes Walmisley, the father of Thomas Attwood Walmisley, at St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields.[3] He left the Chapel Royal in 1834 and started studying organ construction at two organ factories.[3]

His first organist appointment was at Mitcham Church. He played in a blind audition against several other organists and won first place in the auditions. The committee, on seeing that he was only sixteen, were reluctant to appoint him but his friend James Turle, the organist at Westminster Abbey, where Hopkins had played as a stand-in for Turle, informed them of the fact and he was appointed.[3]

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal

2017-06-29 I Forgot to Breathe

I Forgot to Breathe by Lean Left.

Aka, The Ex Guitars Meet Vandermark/Nilssen-Love.

Another perspective from EXEYE on the intersection between rock-ish concepts/players and improvisation. With the influence of Vandermark and Nilssen-Love, this skews more towards Free/Energy playing than EXEYE’s dark metal infused scree. Lean Left is definitely skronkier, but the woodwind players in both ensembles face similar problems of being heard over loud guitars and drums. Though, on this release, the guitars manage to restrain themselves and play quietly on a couple tunes. Invigorating way to start the morning.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #LeanLeft #PaalNilssenLove #KenVandermark #TerrieEx #AndyMoor #CatalyticSound #TrostRecords