Friday Morning (Somewhere, Maybe in Alaska): Rhapsodic
Friday, you old dog, you. You came back once again, a little worse for wear but alive and kicking. Let’s see what kind of jazzy treat we can cook up for you.
Ah, let’s have some Third Stream (not to be confused with neoliberalists’ Third Way). Music in this not-quite-jazz subgenre walks the line between classical music’s formality and jazz’s improvisational nature. This isn’t chamber jazz — jazz performed on chamber instruments, discussed in a previous Friday Jazz post. Third Stream is composed work heavily influenced by jazz, played by an orchestra.
In the example shared today, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, this is a composition without improv, but with strong jazz and pre-jazz elements. You can hear the pre-jazz particularly well in the piano; by pre-jazz I mean ragtime, using rapid, “ragged” hand movements (note this sound as early as 1:35 in the music video). The example here is a performance of the original composition using a 24-piece jazz band. Do open the video and play at YouTube’s site in order to expand and read the notes accompanying this piece. Compare this version to a performance based on the later arrangement of the same piece for a full orchestra (ex: Leonard Bernstein and New York Philharmonic, compare ragtime-like keyboarding at 2:09).
And then poke around and enjoy some other Gershwin. It’s a nice way to start the weekend.
All about the (free) speech
Good gravy. This week has been a mess when it comes to free speech and the media. Hard to pick a starting point, there’s so much content. Let’s begin with the circus-like story and a bit of a tick-tock for n00bs unfamiliar with it.
- December 2007 — Gawker’s Valleywag outed technology venture capitalist Peter Thiel. Thiel is a co-founder of PayPal and Palantir, and a major investor in Facebook with a seat on its board of directors.
- October 2012 — Gawker published part of a sex tape showing Hulk Hogan engaged in sex with radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge’s wife about six years earlier. (Christ, I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.)
- November 2015 — Hogan sued Gawker for defamation, loss of privacy, emotional pain.
- March 2016 — Court found for Hogan, awarding him $115 million.
- May 24, 2016 — Hogan’s lawsuit financier revealed — it’s Peter Thiel.
- May 25, 2016 — Gawker tried to get award reduced; the media outlet has already been forced to sell a sizable portion of itself to fund the award to Hogan.
- Today — Denton published an open letter to Thiel with a mess of questions, some focused on the legitimacy of Gawker media. It’s a fair question when Facebook is under fire for its presentation of news content to its users.
- Speaking of Facebook, the now-open warfare between Thiel and Denton casts a different light on the stories Gawker property Gizmodo published about Facebook. You’ll recall the furor raised among conservatives after Gizmodo relied on a single conservative contract-employee as a source for its claim that Facebook filters out conservative media.
- Media outlets are very concerned about the future, especially if Trump is elected to the presidency (see also CNBC’s opinion‘s mentioning a chilling effect, suggesting investormnt media very concerned). Billionaires shopping for cases to wipe out small-to-medium-sized media outlets could become more common where laws prevent the use of strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP). Trump has admitted to using litigation to harass or punish media.
Bottom line: Reporting on someone’s sexuality and outing them merely because they’re a hypocrite isn’t adequate reason to do so. Some rich people are going to be asses as they have been through history; media should report when wealth’s actions affect the public’s interests. But using one’s billions to burn down the entire Fourth Estate isn’t merely revenge against careless journalism. Attacks intended to weaken a media outlet are attacks on the First Amendment in general; this only exacerbates inequality, and it’s fundamentally unAmerican.
And now speech having nothing to do with the above…
- Exxon shuts out The Guardian, denying access to annual meeting (The Guardian) — Well, here’s another method the rich use to squelch free speech. Exxon’s meeting included shareholder proposals related to climate change, but The Guardian was deemed too biased to cover this meeting. The board shot down climate change-related measures; at least these decisions were cut-and-dried enough for other media outlets permitted access by Exxon. Will shareholders move to replace enough directors to force Exxon’s business model to plan for climate change? Or should the public demand legislation requiring fossil fuel companies receiving any federal subsidies “publish an annual assessment of long term portfolio impacts of public climate change policies”?
- South Africa, Russia and China blocked The Committee to Protect Journalists’ consultative access to U.N. this week (Reuters) — This ‘press freedom watchdog group’ will not be allowed to participate in U.N. events. Can’t imagine why these countries would do such a thing, can you?
- Vietnamese government shuts off Facebook access during Obama’s visit (Reuters) — No organizing embarassing protests for you, citizens. (Gee, Mr. Thiel, what do you think of this development?)
- So-called investigative journalist screws himself over because sloppy and stupid (The New Yorker) — Read this bit by Jane Mayer on James O’Keefe and how he pants’d himself while trying to ratfuck Open Society Foundation. How anybody trusts this guy with a sharpened pencil is beyond me. What a maroon.
Hey. You could use a couple for your road trip to your summer weekend hide-out destination. Try these:
- The Bank Robber (The New Yorker) — Great piece on an unreliable character, Herve Falciani, who ‘liberated’ client data from HSBC while working in IT at its Swiss facility. Wonder who’s buying the film rights?
- Welcome to Disturbia (Curbed) — Interesting look back at the origins of our suburbs and how they were then perceived as toxic. A look at bowling alone, long before Bowling Alone.
That’s a wrap on this week. See you Monday!
Ah, thanks Malvina Reynolds:
“Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.”
And Pete Seeger:
And to Fox and Dana as Rob and Laura, enjoying the pleasures of suburbia:
Your video: What a trip! It goes to show how great music (Rhapsody In Blue) can acquit itself even when performed in manners different than originally intended. Still, there’s that clarinet—can we do without that? I had a 12-piece jazz band at my wedding reception—paid hundreds extra, but can’t top that for class.
And don’t get me started on ragtime. An early album in my musical life was Joshua Rifkin playing Scott Joplin (on the Nonesuch label, 1970)—single handedly reviving the genre. Forty five years later, it still is great—what have I done that will live on forty-five years from now?
“…Can’t imagine why these countries would do such a thing, can you?”
Well it wouldn’t be because they were trying to stop investigative journalism, deter whistleblowers or promote warmongering. Because if that was their aim the US and NATO would be right there with them.
Maybe the Committee to Protect Journalists has got itself involved in colour revolutions, or promotes the unsubstantiated ‘Putin Kills Reporters’ narrative, or looks the other way when Obama assassinates people like Awlaki (and his boy) or Israel does what it does.
I’m not sure but if it did it wouldn’t be the first committee or NGO to be a front for imperialism, and a font of warmongering propaganda.
Caught a bit of Woody Allen’s “The Irrational Man”, which uses Ramsey Lewis’ instrumental version of “The In Crowd” for a lot of background. Great sound, check it out. How would one “categorize” this music?
I always liked Rhapsody in Blue, but was blown away when I heard Gershwin’s followup in the genre: Concerto in F. It sounded like a mix of Rhapsody and Ellington’s band with echos of Beethoven’s solo work, tender at times and finger snapping good at others.
bloopie2 (6:25) — You should compare the video I embedded with the oldest version of Rhapsody in Blue featuring Gershwin himself. The older piece has a much, MUCH faster tempo, probably to squeeze the entire composition on one side of an album when the media had much tighter constraints. The clarinet glissando opening the piece is as Gershwin wanted it; it was originally a extemporaneous fillip played by a smart ass during a practice set, but Gershwin loved it, insisted the clarinetist milk it for all it was worth during actual performance. Can’t do without it, because it’s the signature to this piece; it declares the composition’s relationship to jazz at the outset, in our faces.
bevin (6:25) — I guess for you I needed to add the snark tag. Though China and Russia could both establish a media watchdog entity and insist on their access. South Africa? Meh. Just plain corrupt. See the business earlier this week about the data breaches and ATM thefts.
bloopie2 (10:02) — Nope, not watching a damned thing that child molester Allen created. Here’s a video of Ramsay Lewis playing The In crowd, sans Allen. This is jazz funk — note the use of electrical guitar and synthesizer, combined with an assertive back beat throughout the piece. That’s the funk element, and Lewis’ improv on the piano is the jazz. I’ve had the privilege to see him perform at Interlochen; he’s amazing.
rg (12:48) — It’s something to listen to the body of his work across his career as a composer. Bits and pieces rolled along with him, from his earlier more classical pieces, to his later more jazz-like pieces. Try this ‘prequel’ composed when he was only 20 years old, Lullaby for Strings, and listen for the bits he’d keep in Rhapsody, and possibly into Concerto in F.
I’m not doubting the corruption of any of China, Russia and South Africa, the last of which is as corrupt as to be expected in those political circumstances.
But the US is not only equally corrupt but, over the years, has corrupted NGOs by the bushel: HRW, Amnesty, MSF. The process is so complete-eg the Amnesty posters during the NATO conference in Chicago- that those involved seem not to realise that automatically siding with the Empire is generally a mistake.
After all, Awlaki was only a writer wasn’t he? A Publicist or journalist, ‘guilty’ of incitement.
If that were a capital crime there wouldn’t be many columnists left at the Washington Post or the NYTimes would there?
When my father retired, he took up the cimbalom—it had always been his favorite instrument. Our family spent many a Saturday evening down on Cleveland’s Buckeye Road (home then of the largest Hungarian population outside Hungary) listening to Alex Udvary play cimbalom with his band. Dad wasn’t ever that good on it, but boy did he love to noodle on it.
This recording I found brings back so many of those memories. The sound recording is terrible, but that was IT—chicken paprikash with dumplings for dinner, or maybe goulash, at the Balaton restaurant, and a gypsy band playing along. How can you beat growing up with music, like that?
And this is a weird one—a cimbalom trio playing a medley of jazz standards.
bevin (5:43) — Dude. Snark. Don’t make me spell that out for your you. Never mind, I’ll just spit it out: We’re in a not-so-cold war with both Russia and China. Re-read my response again wrt to South Africa. ~smh~
bevin (10:08) — Interesting. Sounds not quite like a harpischord and not quite like a guzheng.
I met the ‘Little’ Rhapsody in a band arrangement in junior high. (Some of the people I went to school with became professional musicians.)
Rayne: ” We’re in a not-so-cold war with both Russia and China.”
And you are cool with that?
If you really believe that “we” by which, I take it you mean the US government, are close to war with two very large and powerful nuclear armed states you might tell us why?
What is this war going to be about?
What is the current ‘not so cold war’ about?
And who started it?
P J Evans (12:45) — I wish my kids could have played Gershwin in school. Some works they played were too stuffy, in comparison.
bevin (10:03) — “And you are cool with that?” Where did I indicate I was cool in any way with that? It’s an observation. Just look at the use of the word/phrase “cyberwarfare” by the U.S. and other governments. Hardly limited to U.S./China/Russia, for that matter.
Jeebus, what the hell do you think Stuxnet was?
As for your other questions: Read. Formulate your own opinion. This stuff’s been going on under your nose for more than a decade and you’re just now asking questions? ~smh~
The Gershwins are Brian Wilson favorites. BW Reimagines Gershwin is a treat.