Gil Gutiérrez at Opus 40

Gil Gutiérrez is a master guitarist who has performed at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and in intimate venues like the Jazz Standard in New York City.

In recent years, he has performed with symphony orchestras and jazz combos; over the last decade, he has been a member of the San Miguel 5, Doc Severinsen’s current group, which has several performances scheduled this year to celebrate Doc’s 90th birthday.

Gutiérrez maintains a busy performance schedule in America and at home in Mexico, but perhaps the most fulfilling way to experience his ongoing musical exploration is in an intimate setting such as a wood-lined parlor while he is at work in a small group, such as in a trio with violinist Robert Stern and bassist David Rodriguez. Hmmmm. On Saturday, May 13, Gil Gutiérrez, Stern, and Rodriguez will bring their music to the Barbara Fite Room at Opus 40 in Saugerties, New York.

Tickets are available for $30 in advance, $40 at the door. Tickets are available online through PayPal, or by calling (845) 246-3400.
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Remembering Pete Seeger

In 1996, in my job of assistant editor at a weekly newspaper, I awarded myself the title of music reviewer for a single issue and attended a concert given at a local high school by Pete Seeger, who died three years ago today at age 94. (Our newspaper’s actual music reviewer was only interested in attending and writing about rock concerts. This was a stroke of luck for me.) I wrote a review, even though I knew that a review is not what one writes about a Pete Seeger concert. An appreciation. A thank-you note. But not a mere review judging aesthetic merits.

It was a great concert, by the way.
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Climbing the Charts: Tania Stavreva

Perhaps my accidental double-purchase helped, but probably not. More about that encounter between an artist and listener in a moment …

A new entry appeared on Billboard magazine’s charts this week: pianist Tania Stavreva’s self-produced, independent, debut CD, Rhythmic Movement, which introduced itself at number 8 two days ago. It remains in the top 25 today.

Among her album’s competitors are new CDs from Andrea Bocelli, Björk, Murray Perahia, Renee Fleming, the Vienna Philharmonic, Elvis Presley (!), and Heart (!). The reviews of Ms. Stavreva’s album are in, they are stellar (and this website has been quoted); the record-buying public has followed, and listeners are discovering an important new talent.
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Tania Stavreva: Rhythm and Movement

The pianist Tania Stavreva’s official debut album, Rhythmic Movement, was released on January 7. If you own a music store, you will enjoy the debate you will have with yourself regarding which section to locate the CD: Classical? Jazz?

The album is available here: $10 for a digital download, $15 for a signed CD.
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‘Take One Last Look’

Out of David Letterman’s 6000-plus shows, Tom Waits appeared on only ten, whether or not he had a new album or tour or play or film to advertise. When he appeared for the last time, he debuted a song titled, “Take One Last Look.”

He directed it as a tribute to Mr. Letterman and was accompanied by Larry Taylor (once of Canned Heat) on upright bass and Gabriel Donohue on piano accordion, with the horn section of the CBS Orchestra helping on the choruses.

On his website, Waits joked, “I don’t know when I will see Dave again. I guess from now on we’ll have to settle for bumping into each other at Pilates.”
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One Thousand Years from Now

Five hundred years from now, Jem Finer’s Longplayer project will have recently passed the half-way point in its 1000-year-long performance. Mr. Finer is seen in the installation in the photo at top.

Longplayer is a musical composition that is calculated to take precisely 1000 years to perform from beginning to end and has been in performance in England continuously since midnight on December 31, 1999. This means it has been going nonstop for seventeen years and a day as of today. You can tune in at any hour and listen. It will begin its second cycle as the clock ticks the last moment of December 31, 2999.

In my limited understanding, the composition is six pieces of music that are interlinked, with each one serving as a trigger to start some of the others at set intervals. They overlap. They trigger each other. The calculation provides that these intervals will allow for the first-ever repetition of music, a second-ever thousand-year cycle, to start at midnight on December 31, 2999. The composition is programmed to not repeat itself until then.
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In a Christmas Mood …

If you find yourself in London this Christmas Eve—and why would you not be there that night?—you ought to spend the evening in the company of Nick Shankland and Kitty LaRoar in the cabaret at Scarfes Bar (from 8:00 p.m. till midnight). Whoever or whatever the jazz muse is, he/she/it has decided to hang out with these two musicians and their friends the last few years.

And they released a Christmas E.P. this year, Christmas Dream, a collection of holiday standards that they treat like the ideas are new to them and the sentiments freshly felt. They make music that is beautiful, elegant, and always in the mood for love.

I have been a fan of Kitty LaRoar and Nick Shankland’s music for a couple years now, and each recording brings new pleasure with repeated listens. Her voice and his piano accompanied me through this challenging 2016 and helped make it less so. Last year they released an E.P. for Valentine’s Day (titled Valentine’s Eve, with saxophonist Ed Jones) … if they dedicated themselves to recording music about every holiday on Earth, I would be happy to take that global tour with them.
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‘I Want to Vanish’

The original concept for All This Useless Beauty, the 1996 album from Elvis Costello & The Attractions, was to have that band record songs that Costello sold to other performers: to have Elvis Costello “cover” Elvis Costello songs that audiences first heard performed by other artists.

Because Paul McCartney never recorded “Shallow Grave,” and Johnny Cash never recorded “Complicated Shadows,” and Sam Moore had not recorded “Why Can’t a Man Stand Alone,” the concept never left its life as an idea and Costello became the first to record and release several of his songs. He “covers” his own songs.
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