Tag: music

Talk of Talented New Orleans Phenomenon James Booker, Pianist, in Britain: Manchester ’77

Emotion is ground and sky for artists, but artists can forget that their emotions do not have the same firmness as stone, and the human world is a harder place; and while artists, soft of flesh and sometimes soft in the head, go about chasing their passionate visions, the world is making plans both to exploit their work and to live without them. Greatness elevates, but it is not protection.

The Young Master: Usher Terry Raymond IV’s album Looking 4 Myself

It has a rampaging rhythm that is both artificial and dominating. Yet, in a masterful composition about separation from a lover and loneliness, “Climax,” Usher uses a beautiful falsetto voice that defies the clichés of masculinity and ugliness dominant in much contemporary music. That song is a work of excellence.

The Solace of Quiet Beauty: kora player Ablaye Cissoko and trumpeter Volker Goetze’s collaboration, Amanké Dionti

The quality of Ablaye Cissoko’s voice is at once light and wise, with a timeless sensitivity, and the soft rhythm of his singing in “Amanké Dionti” sounds like the invocation of a ritual amid a bare, dusty landscape, though one imagines that now such music can be made in a teeming city, the music merely the remnant of an older civilization.

The Work of a Writer and Musician of Expansive Vision: Channel Orange by Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean moves from high life to low life.  “I ain’t been touched in a while,” claims the singer-songwriter’s narrator in “Pilot Jones,” and its continuing lyrics point to alienation, slovenliness, and addiction as part of the atmosphere.  It is free lyric association regarding an indulgent state that seems more troubled than liberated.  FrankOcean, through language, through the texture of music, has found a way to suggest how deep, how mundane, and how overwhelming experience can be. 

Hallucination and Healing: The Kiowa Peyote Meeting, Songs and Narratives, featuring Winston Catt, Everett Cozad, Ray and Blossom Coza, George Saloe, and Henry Teimausaddle

There is a droning kind of chanting, earthy, intimate, intense. The songs are dedicated to particular times—such as morning and midnight, with prayers for “everybody.” The chants with both male and female voices have a greater appeal than those with only male voices—there is more complexity, and clearly more community.