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Archive for September, 2010

Having lived in Italy for eight years and Turkey for almost a decade, guitarist/composer Donovan Mixon has let the Mediterranean seep into his American soul in interesting ways. His music, definitely downscale and contemplative, yet with plenty of pulse, often feels like a Fellini film score or an Antatolian-influenced ballad that ruminates about the quality of time, the sting of a last kiss, or even spiritual matters. His compositions wade in those famous blue waters with bare feet, while tugging at his tag team of shell-collectors on a Sunday afternoon at the shore. It’s not ambient fare at all, but jazz with the proviso that you never know what’s coming next and it will definitely not hurt you. It’s billed as “global jazz” but it’s not world music in the current sense — it’s Mixon’s personal take on his own jazz journeys and how they’ve shaped him.

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Pianist David Helfgott’s Gimmicks—Why Do They Matter?
12 (and 14) September 2009, 21:00 Aya Irini, Istanbul
Music by Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Mendelssohn, and Liszt

Hollywood is releasing a new film this year (“The Soloist”) about a schizophrenic musician whose life on the streets was chronicled by an Los Angeles Times reporter. The 2009 film comes a little more than a decade after “Shine”, the 1996 cinematic treatment of the life of pianist David Helfgott, whose battles with mental illness and eventual triumph in the concert hall were portrayed, somewhat inaccurately, but with a proper amount of appreciation of how much sweat it takes to master a Rachmaninoff concerto. The subject of the current film, cellist Nathaniel Ayers, is so ill that he cannot return to the concert stage and is continuing to live as a vagrant on the streets of L.A. David Helfgott, on the other hand, is currently touring the world on the strength of the public’s memory of “Shine.” (more…)

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Formula I: Let’s Discuss

No, it’s not a hair coloring product for men, or an auto race, it’s what I call the dastardly Formula I that’s currently being used a bit too much in Istanbul jazz circles. There’s also a Formula II and it’s got Basie’s name on it. Actually, Formula II came first chronologically, but Formula I is now in the lead.

In my jazz concert attendance at this summer’s IKSV festival as well as many other jazz presentations around town over the last three years, I’ve noticed there’s a popular format that many musicians use:

Intro / Tune / Bridge / Tune / free bars, scat, etc. / Tune / Bridge / Coda / big STINGER

This Formula I, to a large extent, helps define the borders of the composition, especially the end. But there’s a problem with the formula with a big “stinger.” I’ll explain.

Are you being manipulated? (more…)

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