Frank Sinatra: Where Are You?

MFSL-Frank_Sinatra_WhereAreYou

Frank Sinatra: Where Are You?
With Gordon Jenkins and his orchestra
SACD/CD Mobile Fidelity Original Master Recordings 2109 / Monaural
Originally released on Capitol Records, 1957

The first “Vault-Treasure Tuesdays” feature was Clifford Brown With Strings, from 1956. Sticking to that same part of the century, here we have, from 1957, Frank Sinatra’s Where Are You?, in a truly remarkable monophonic remastering by Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs.

The Haiku version is: this album of “weepies” is one of Sinatra’s best. Where Are You? was Sinatra’s first album with Gordon Jenkins as arranger and conductor. They struck the perfect emotional balance, avoiding both bleak despair and superficial hipness. And Where Are You?‘s narrative arc makes it the perfect bookend for Clifford Brown With Strings.

Continue Reading →

Au’voir, Cleopatra! You too, Nefertiti…

 

Natalie short hair blue background

Natalie Imbruglia (b. 1975) is a half-pint Italo-Aussie who embodies the Audrey Hepburn gamine/waif vibe. In 2004, Imbruglia was ranked sixth among the most naturally-beautiful women of all time, in a poll of beauty mavens such as model agents, fashion editors, and make-up artists.

No surprise, Audrey Hepburn ended up in first place. Cleopatra and Nefertiti (and the Queen of Sheba, as well) were conspicuous by their absence. Among the near-moderns, neither Lillie Langtry nor Maud Gonne made the cut. But, Liv Tyler did, soooo… it seems that there may have been a strong Recency Bias to the voting.

Continue Reading →

Singing just doesn’t get better than this…

von otter good

I have chosen to kick off my Music-Video Fridays series with Anne Sophie von Otter, from her live-in-Paris 2004 DVD Voices of Our Time—a Tribute to Korngold. (A photo of Miss von Otter is the image on the home page “Featured Content” tile for Music-Video Fridays.)

The daughter of the Swedish diplomat Baron Göran Fredrik von Otter, Anne Sophie von Otter studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and made her début as Alcina in Haydn’s Orlando paladino in Basel in 1983.

In addition to her notable successes in the oratorio and opera music of Bach, Bartok, Elgar, Handel, Monteverdi, and Mozart, von Otter’s art-song repertory encompasses Brahms, Grieg, Korngold, Mahler, and Sibelius. In 1993, her Grieg song-recital CD (with Bengt Forsberg) became the first song recording ever to win Gramophone magazine’s “Record of the Year” award. Were that not enough, she has also collaborated with Elvis Costello, and with Brad Mehldau.

Continue Reading →

Clifford Brown: Clifford Brown With Strings

cliffordbrown

Clifford Brown: Clifford Brown With Strings
CD Polygram 814 642-2

Clifford Brown—trumpet; Richie Powell—piano; Max Roach—drums; George Morrow—double bass; Barry Galbraith—guitar; Neal Hefti—arranger, conductor. Recorded New York, 1955.

J.S. Bach played the organ and the harpsichord; Beethoven played the piano. Therefore, Louis Armstrong (NB: nearly everything on this blog is “IMHO”) holds the distinction of being the only person to have revolutionized Western instrumental music while playing an instrument capable of sounding only one note at a time. Jazz historian Stanley Crouch claimed that one of Armstrong’s most important early musical influences was listening to phonograph records by Italian operatic tenor Enrico Caruso. How’s that for musical cross-pollination made possible by technology?

Continue Reading →

Why name your blog “The Tannhäuser Gate”?

building top

“The Tannhäuser Gate” is a throwaway reference from near the end of Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner. “Tannhäuser” is a reference to Wagner’s opera dramatizing the life of the Medieval German singer of that name.

Blade Runner and Wagner—what’s not to like?

I think that Blade Runner is the greatest science-fiction movie of all time. I think that, because it creates a completely believable future world that is arrestingly foreign, but hauntingly familiar. At the same time, the story almost subliminally makes us uncomfortable about our collective past. Obviously, book author Philip K. Dick tapped into deep historical and cultural currents involving not only what it means to be human, but also, “how then should we live”—in the sense of act or behave. Ironically, in the end, it is a non-human who behaves heroically.

Continue Reading →