WBEZ | Brian Eno http://www.wbez.org/tags/brian-eno Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en On the spot: musical improvisation http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-10/spot-musical-improvisation-102875 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/705220674_191e055d5c_z.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px; " title="Brian Eno in 2007. (Flickr/Scott Beale of Laughing Squid)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F62199737&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;color=ffe12b" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>Tony Sarabia:</strong></p><p>Jam Band, Zappa, Taqsim, and Bach and of course jazz; these are all part of the extended musical family of improvisation.</p><p>You may lean toward the Grateful Dead and extended solos by John Coltrane for your improv pleasure. Or maybe you&rsquo;re an aficionado of Chicago&rsquo;s rich new music scene which includes members of the band <strong>KLANG</strong>.</p><p>The quartet, led by Oak Park clarinetist, James Falzone is on <em>Morning Shift</em> Thursday to give us their take on improvised music.</p><p>In the beginning there was improvisation. By the Medieval Period, singers were being taught how to improvise a counterpoint to a fixed melody. Jump ahead more than a few hundred years and you have scat singing. When a jazz fan thinks of improvisation, they may look back into the music&rsquo;s history for stories of the &quot;cutting contests&quot;; late night jams sessions between friendly rivals. Well, consider this; those improvisation cutting contests were also taking place back in the 18<sup>th</sup> century between Mozart Muzio Clementi.&nbsp;</p><p>Composers such as Mozart, Bach and Chopin were skilled in musical extemporization. And in the Middle East, making it up as you go along is still a big part of the repertoire; the taqsim and maqam are improvisatory techniques integral to music from North Africa to the Levant.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s an interesting aspect of musical improvisation: it&rsquo;s a skill that not every musician masters. Many musicians have never delved into the spur of the moment type of performing while others have spent their entire careers doing nothing but improvising. &nbsp;Improvisation seems to less about technique than feeling and communication with your fellow musicians. It certainly can be like balancing on the high wire.</p><p>KLANG will be providing most of the music this week along with a few picks from Richard Steele featuring improvisation in jazz. My one pick is from a series of improvisations on video from avant rock master <strong>Brian Eno</strong>. These brief forays into improvisation (each &quot;movement&quot; averages about five minutes) were recorded as a promotion of sorts for his 2010 album <em>Small Craft on a Milk Sea</em>.</p><p>Here, Eno&rsquo;s third movement called <strong>&quot;Written, Forgotten Remembered,&quot;</strong> recalls his work with David Bowie on the latter&rsquo;s album <em>Low</em>.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe frameborder="0" height="250" src="https://rd.io/i/QX9-5DNLYwU" width="500"></iframe></p><p><strong>Richard Steele:</strong></p><p><strong>Lee Konitz</strong> is a native Chicagoan with a long career, which often placed him in settings with other musicians who thought &ldquo;outside of the box.&rdquo; This 84-year-old alto sax player joined Miles Davis in the legendary <em>Birth of the Cool</em> recording. He was also in the Stan Kenton band for a year. But the person who &nbsp;influenced him most was another Chicagoan, his major mentor, <strong>Lennie Tristano</strong>, whose musical ideas about improvisation were unlike anyone else on the scene at the time. This song, called <strong>&ldquo;Fishin&rsquo; Around,&rdquo;</strong> is representative of those concepts and has a title suited to the musical approach. It&rsquo;s Konitz on alto sax, Lennie Tristano on piano and Wayne Marsh on tenor sax. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2668663586_919b0f94b2_z.jpg" style="float: left; height: 267px; width: 400px; " title="Bobby McFerrin performing. (Flickr/Erinc Salor)" /><strong>Bobby McFerrin</strong> has often been called a vocal virtuoso. His mother and father were both classical singers. He left his home base in New York City to study music at several colleges in Northern California. After moving to San Francisco in the late &lsquo;70s, he met Bill Cosby, who was responsible for getting him on the bill for the 1980 Playboy Jazz Festival. McFerrin later did the theme song for one of TV&rsquo;s biggest hits, <em>The Cosby Show</em>. He also had a huge commercial hit called &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t Worry, Be Happy.&rdquo; While all of that was happening, McFerrin continued to develop a unique music style, using his voice and body to simulate a number of instruments. His improvisations are unlike any other vocal technique, and you can hear that on this old standard,<strong> &ldquo;I Hear Music.&rdquo;</strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Vijay Ayer</strong>&rsquo;s South Indian immigrant parents exposed him to a wide variety of Indian classical, religious and popular music. Primarily a self-trained pianist, he began to show an interest in jazz while in high school. In the late &lsquo;90s, he became aware of the Asian Improv movement of socially conscious artists who melded their cultural musical roots with the language of jazz. During this period, Ayer was greatly influenced by former Chicagoan and alto sax phenom, Steve Coleman. Ayer learned a lot about improvisation through his association with Coleman. Listen to Ayer talk about how his trio approaches the creation of the music &hellip; as he leads off a version of <strong>&ldquo;The Star of a Story.&rdquo;</strong></p></p> Wed, 03 Oct 2012 14:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-10/spot-musical-improvisation-102875 Album review: Coldplay, ‘Mylo Xyloto’ (Capitol) http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-11-03/album-review-coldplay-%E2%80%98mylo-xyloto%E2%80%99-capitol-93672 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-02/coldplay-mylo-xyloto.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Blandness, predictability, and mildly sweet mediocrity are not in and of themselves offensive. In fact, sometimes these traits are exactly what’s needed.</p><p>Think of the humble rice pudding. By no means has this dessert ever unduly excited anyone, but once in a rare while—say, the day after a bout of acid reflux, or when you’re sick and miserable but have to eat <em>something</em>—it’s exactly what you want. What’s more, the more generic, the better. No need for a culinary mastermind like Graham Elliott to deconstruct and reinvent the dish; just scoop out some store-bought, consume it with minimal thought, and forget about it until the next occasion when the craving or the need occurs.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-01/rice pudding.jpg" style="width: 320px; height: 320px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="">Coldplay is, of course, the rice pudding. And Brian Eno, for the second time ’round with these goobers, is the pitifully wasted genius whose “enhancements” only join with the other pretensions to lessen the minor pleasures.</p><p>Eno may be the most consistently inventive, inspiring, and challenging producer in rock, but his ability to push a band out of its comfort zone and into brave new sonic worlds nonetheless relies on the group having something going for it besides a comfort zone. That is to say, Eno could help guide Talking Heads, David Bowie, Devo, and even Coldplay’s heroes U2 to some of their best work because all of them already had some imagination and the courage to try and possibly fail. He didn’t do much at all to improve the pleasant jangle of James, nor has he done a thing beyond adding a few gauzy synthesizer textures to Coldplay’s <em>Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends </em>(2008) or the new <em>Mylo Xyloto, </em>about which the only superlative that can be employed is that that’s one of the worst titles ever.</p><p>Said title combines the names of two characters falling in love in an oppressive urban environment, bandleader Chris Martin says. Yes, this is a concept album, because crafting a simple pop album isn’t enough for these fellas. Like U2, they want to fill arenas, make boatloads of cash, change the world, and be hailed as <em>great artistes </em>while doing it. For a moment, circa the krautrock-flavored <em>X&amp;Y </em>(2005), it seemed as if they might actually be capable of more than oh-so-pleasant, meekly crooned, gently tinkling, piano-enhanced arena-pop ditties (i.e., “Clocks”). That moment passed quickly. And now, thanks to their overweening ambitions, there are fewer and fewer of those little pop pleasures and more…</p><p>What, exactly? Songs such as “Paradise,” “Charlie Brown,” and “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” never really grate or annoy—unless you listen to the lyrics. (Choose your favorite howler: “Life goes on and gets so heavy/The wheel bends the butterfly”; “Took a car downtown to where the lost boys meet/I took a car downtown and took what they offered me”; “I turn the music up, I got my records on/From underneath the rubble sing a rebel song/Don’t want to see another generation drop/I’d rather be a comma than a full stop,” etc., etc.) But they never really please or fulfill, either, no matter how modest your expectations.</p><p>Even in the realm of rice puddings, some are better than others.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-01/coldplay-mylo-xyloto.jpg" style="width: 350px; height: 346px;" title=""></p><p><strong>Star rating for </strong><strong><em>Mylo Xyloto</em><strong>: 1 star.</strong></strong></p><p>(P.S. Coldplay debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard pop albums chart yesterday with 447,000 copies sold, an astounding number at a point when, allegedly, "nobody buys records anymore." But <em>a lot </em>of people <em>like </em>rice pudding, even when it's not the best.)</p></p> Thu, 03 Nov 2011 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-11-03/album-review-coldplay-%E2%80%98mylo-xyloto%E2%80%99-capitol-93672 Album review: Brian Eno, “Small Craft on a Milk Sea” http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/album-review-brian-eno-%E2%80%9Csmall-craft-milk-sea%E2%80%9D <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Eno.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="300" width="300" title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-22/Eno.jpg" /></p><p>Devoted admirer that I am of most things Eno, I must admit that the godfather of ambient music, long-dormant pop innovator, hero of the synthesizer, producer par excellence (U2, Talking Heads, Devo, Coldplay, etc.), and all-around Mensa-rocking Super Genius largely has been off his game for the last two decades, since his brilliant 1990 collaboration with John Cale, &ldquo;Wrong Way Up.&rdquo;</p><p>Eno&rsquo;s 2008 rematch with David Byrne, <a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/music/2008/08/david_byrne_and_brian_eno_ever.html">&ldquo;Everything That Happens Will Happen Today,&rdquo;</a> was satisfying, true, but that was more Byrne than Eno (something that could not be said of 1981&rsquo;s &ldquo;My Life in the Bush of Ghosts&rdquo;). Left to his own devices, either in ambient mode (&ldquo;Nerve Net,&rdquo; 1992; &ldquo;Neroli,&rdquo; 1993; &ldquo;The Drop,&rdquo; 1997) or in the pseudo-song realm (<a href="http://jimdero.com/News2005/SpinJune12.htm">&ldquo;Another Day on Earth,&rdquo;</a> 2005), Eno has come off as exceedingly short on inspiration, to say nothing of memorable melodies, to the point where you had to wonder if this was the same guy who&rsquo;d made ambient classics such as &ldquo;Thursday Afternoon&rdquo; (1985) and &ldquo;Music for Airports&rdquo; (1978), much less the must-own, stone-cold-brilliant &ldquo;pop&rdquo; albums &ldquo;Here Come the Warm Jets&rdquo; (1974), &ldquo;Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy)&rdquo; (1974), &ldquo;Another Green World&rdquo; (1975), and &ldquo;Before and After Science&rdquo; (1977).</p> <p>Thankfully, no such question plagues &ldquo;Small Craft on a Milk Sea&rdquo;; rooted in tracks originally recorded for the soundtrack of Peter Jackson&rsquo;s &ldquo;The Lovely Bones, but ultimately rejected, this is instrumental Eno at its best.</p><p>Fiery guitarists always have pushed Eno to interesting new places, with Robert Fripp and Robert Quine topping that list, and here, he makes the best of the six-string assaults of Leo Abrahams (also heard on &ldquo;Everything That Happens Will Happen Today&rdquo;). Just as significantly, though, Eno finally comes to terms with the rhythms of the modern dance floor, after several stumbling attempts in recent years, thanks perhaps to the contributions of a second collaborator, electronica musician Jon Hopkins.</p> <p>Sure, there are some somnambulistic moments (&ldquo;Late Anthropocene,&rdquo; to name one), but those have been there since &ldquo;Another Green World.&rdquo; What haven&rsquo;t, by and large, are thrilling sonic eruptions such as &ldquo;Flint March,&rdquo; &ldquo;Complex Heaven,&rdquo; &ldquo;Horse,&rdquo; and &ldquo;2 Forms of Anger,&rdquo; none of which could ever be mistaken for mere background music intended to enhance the hundred mundane tasks of everyday life or mingle with the sound of the knives and forks at dinner (two of the many ways Eno has described his ambient recordings).</p> <p>We&rsquo;ve missed you, Brian; it&rsquo;s good to have you back. Now do you think you possibly could sing some pop tunes as great as those on &ldquo;Wrong Way Up&rdquo; again?</p> <p><strong>Brian Eno, &ldquo;Small Craft on a Milk Sea&rdquo; (Warp): 3<sup>1/2</sup> stars (out of 4) <br /></strong></p><p>Listen to the review on Sound Opinions below</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 26 Nov 2010 09:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/album-review-brian-eno-%E2%80%9Csmall-craft-milk-sea%E2%80%9D It's all about the Moog http://www.wbez.org/story/aimee-mann/its-all-about-moog <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2010-October/2010-10-25/moog.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span class="superscript"> </span>Guitars, bass, drums&hellip;blah blah blah. This week on Sound Opinions it&rsquo;s all about the <a href="http://www.moogmusic.com/" target="_blank">Moog</a>! <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Moog" target="_blank">The Bob Moog</a> invented synthesizer has experienced a resurgence in popularity in the past few years. New artists love the analog sound, and many are gathering at next week&rsquo;s <a href="http://moogfest.com/" target="_blank">MoogFest</a> in Bob Moog&rsquo;s adopted hometown of Asheville, NC.</p><p>Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot talk to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Kehew" target="_blank">Brian Kehew</a>, the <a href="http://moogfoundation.org/" target="_blank">Bob Moog Foundation&rsquo;s</a> official historian, about the synthesizer&rsquo;s history and legacy. Kehew also co-founded an all-analog band called Moog Cookbook in the '90s and has worked in the studio with Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann and Moog superstars, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2NswRIynrI" target="_blank">Emerson, Lake &amp; Palmer</a>. In addition to ELP, Kehew points to the following as great synthesizer musicians:<br /> <a href="http://www.wendycarlos.com/moog/index.html" target="_blank">Wendy Carlos</a><br /> <a href="http://www.wendycarlos.com/moog/index.html" target="_blank">Stevie Wonder</a><br /> <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZiq4fY8uew&amp;feature=related" target="_blank">Return to Forever</a><br /> <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXmcweS2cnQ" target="_blank">The Monkees</a><br /> <a href="http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2010/01/18/brian-eno-on-the-synthesizer/" target="_blank">Brian Eno</a><br /> <a href="http://vimeo.com/6847391" target="_blank">Kraftwerk</a><br /> <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQgMw4NLXl0" target="_blank">Kinky</a><br /> <a href="http://vimeo.com/989943" target="_blank">Chromeo</a><br /> <br /> And two of Jim and Greg&rsquo;s favorite Moog tracks are &ldquo;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTnKvJh-NZQ" target="_blank">Chameleon</a>&rdquo; by Herbie Hancock and &ldquo;Les <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-k6DR67Oc68" target="_blank">Yper-Sound</a>&rdquo; by Stereolab.</p><p><a href="http://moogfest.com/" target="_blank">Moogfest</a> happens in Asheville, N. C. October 29, 30 and 31.</p></p> Wed, 27 Oct 2010 15:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/aimee-mann/its-all-about-moog