I had the honor of meeting this distinguished bassist and San Francisco icon not too long ago. He greeted me with a huge smile, a warm two-handed handshake, and said to me: “I’d like to hear you play sometime.”
These sort of events remind me of Nazi Germany, or China’s Cultural Revolution. Truly frightening that this sort of fanaticism and obtuse judgement is happening right here in America:
Linda Ronstadt not only got booed, she got the boot after lauding filmmaker Michael Moore and his new movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” during a performance at the Aladdin hotel/casino in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Before singing “Desperado” for an encore, the 58-year-old artist called Moore a “great American patriot” and “someone who is spreading the truth.” She also encouraged everybody to see the documentary that is highly critical of President Bush.
Imagine that. You call someone a patriot, and you get booed and then fired. These narrow-minded people are in such fear of discovering that their unwavering, unquestioning obediance to the Bush Administration is perhaps all just in support of demagogues and lies.
Something deeply disturbing is taking shape in our country.
Went to Steve Tramontozzi’s recital earlier today at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he performed several solo bass pieces as well as two transcriptions of pieces for cello and accompaniment. Steve’s performance was quite excellent and I was left inspired to go home and practice my ass off. Steve is a bassist’s bassist – has a particularly good ear and sense for musicality when playing these pieces which really brings ’em alive, and he supports that with phenomenal bowing technique and position playing. Great to hear this set of repertoire, as I’d never heard any of these pieces played on a double bass. Works included:
Kadenza – Teppo Hauta-Aho
Psy – Luciano Berio
Motivy – Emil Tabakov
Sinfonia for Violoncello and Continuo – Pergolesi
Élégie – Gabriel Fauré
Ballade for Unaccompanied Contrabass – Behzad Ranjbaran
Sonata in A Op.17 – Beethoven
I was particularly interested in the Pergolesi piece, because it is what Stravinsky used for Pulcinella. The pieces by Tabakov and Ranjbaran are certainly ones that I’m going to see about working up one of these days – those two pieces have a flavor that remind me of gypsy fiddle music. Best of all, it was great to see a freakin’ bass recital after I don’t know how many years. I used to go to these sorts of things all the freakin’ time when I lived back in Boston. I have missed it.
I just remembered this story, so here goes:
I used to play with these guys back at New England Conservatory on Friday nights. We had two violins, a viola, cello, and myself on bass, plus occasional guest artists on piano, clarinet, or whatever.
What we would do every Friday night is grab a bunch of beer, or Uncle Carlo Rossi’s Light Chianti, or maybe some Absolut, and stealthily smuggle it all into one of the practice rooms in the back of the building, lock the door, close the shades, and then play a game of Grand Pause, which is basically a drinking game that we invented for classical musicians. Here is how you too can play Grand Pause with your ensemble:
- Ensemble starts playing the chosen piece of music.
- If there is a significant amount of rest – one measure for a slow movement or two for a faster one, then you must drink. The basic goal is, if you’re not playing, you’re drinking. Try not to spill your drink on your Gofriller or your neighbor’s Amati.
- If you come to a grand pause/fermata, then everyone in the group must shout “Grand Pause!!!”, and then chug-a-lug whatever is left in their glass or bottle.
- Keep playing until it is impossible to continue due to laughter/inebriation/security guards.
Once we actually got a gig playing at a Democratic Party fundraiser at the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston. Two words: Free booze. Nuff said – you can guess what happened…