Subconcious-Lee (1955) by Lee Konitz

Categories: 1949, 1950, and 1955.

Because it was released half a decade after it was recorded, this album’s revolutionary status gets overlooked or ignored. Instead it’s Birth of the Cool this and Miles Davis’ Nonet that. And that praise is deserved. Those sides went a long way to establishing cool jazz, but this band was doing remarkably similar things at the same time. The one major difference is speed – Konitz and the other soloists play fast on a number of tracks, and that makes it sound more like bop (though if you listen to the rhythm section they sound significantly “cooler”) and so you Read More

Symphony No. 3 “Simfoniya-poema”; Triumphal Poem / Caucasian Sketches (1994) by BBC Philharmonic conducted by Fedor Glushchenko

Categories: 1894, 1947, 1950, 1994, and Music.

This is a bizarre pairing of a Khachaturian symphony, one of his symphonic poems and an orchestral suite from another Russian composer from the 1890s. The fact that they don’t sound so out of place suggests how conservative Khachaturian was as a composer. I have hear the Triumphal Poem before, though I’m not sure where. (In a movie?) It’s big and bombastic like much of Khachaturian’s music, and generally lacking in subtlety. It is catchy, though. I remember it from whenever I heard it before. Catchy, obvious, easy. The first Caucasian Sketches is a moody late Romantic piece with strong Read More

Symphonies 3-5 (2011) by H.W. Henze, performed by Rundfunk-Sinfoniorchester Berlin, conducted by Marek Janowski

Categories: 2011 and Music.

This is an excellent set of three of Henze’s symphonies, showing him at perhaps his most radical stage. This is the kind of modernist “classical” that I just love; bonkers writing and bonkers arrangements. Henze’s third symphony starts off on a decidedly pastoral note, before sounding an ominous foreboding about 15 seconds in. Though the first notes might have convinced us this is something light and fluffy, we’re utterly relieved of that so quickly, it’s almost impossible to believed. In fact, the first movement ends up sounding more like a horror movie soundtrack than traditional classical music. I suspect that Read More

Bird and Diz (1949, 1950, 1952) by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie

Categories: 1952 and Music.

Somebody else said it best: this is like a better produced version of their earlier sides. (That being said, sometimes it’s hard to hear Monk.) These are the people most responsible for post-war mainstream jazz, but this compilation actually compiles some later sessions (’49 and ’50) and though it’s great to hear them together, it’s not as world-changing as their earlier music. Also, it’s short on whole songs. They have added a ton of demos to flesh it out. Still great stuff. 8/10 Read More

Rashomon (1950, Akira Kurosawa)

Categories: 1950 and Movies.

It took me a really long time to see what is probably the most famous – or most important – Japanese film ever made. And unfortunately, I had pretty high expectations, which at first were hard for the film to match. But the film is doubtlessly important: it is the first film I know of to cast doubt on the reliability of the narrator(s) and one of the earliest films to make use of flashbacks. It is an early film to deal with rape – seven or eight years later, Touch of Evil was considered extremely controversial for including rape – Read More

Ella Sings Gershwin (1950) by Ella Fitzgerald

Categories: 1950 and Music.

Full disclosure: I don’t like vocal jazz.However, I listened to this because we are talking about one of the most famous singers of the 20th century and I at least should be acquainted with her. And after listening I can say I get what the hype is about but I would rather here her singing music that is at least a little more jazz. I am not saying this isn’t jazz; obviously it is. And it’s brave, at least in how bare it is. And I’d rather listen to these interpretations of Gershwin than a lot of others. But, if Read More

Young Miles (1945-50, 2001) by Miles Davis et al. (1945-50, 2001)

Categories: 2001 and Music.

For die-hard fans of Miles, or for people really interested in how cool came out of bop, this is probably pretty near essential. For other people, I’m guessing it is totally inessential. What we have here are many – though hardly all – of the recordings Miles participated in from 1945 through 1950 – excluding those collected on albums like Birth of the Cool and Conception – with Bird, Diz, Illinois Jacquet, Coleman Hawkins, Tadd Dameron and Sarah Vaughan – among others – and of course with Miles as leader. Nothing here – beyond the Birth of the Cool alternates Read More

I see too many movies so I really wish IMDB would let me sort my “vote history” by year…

Categories: 1950, 2007, and Movies.

Seriously, I can’t remember what 2007 films I’ve seen, aside from four or so. So I can’t really do a best of list for this year (also, there is my habit of watching movies on DVD instead of video). If I could sort my vote history by year, then maybe I could do a better job. 1. A three-way tie between Grindhouse, No Country for Old Men and Zodiac. I really don’t think I can pick one of these. Grindhouse was unlike any theatre experience I have ever had before. I can’t imagine it will be beat. Yet I doubt Read More

“Kiss of Death” (1947, Henry Hathaway) and “Panic in the Streets” (1950, Elia Kazan)

Categories: 1947 and Movies.

Kiss of Death (no, not the Cage-Caruso remake… though I’m sure that’s awesome): Things that were good: The ridiculously tense and very well-directed (for its time) opening and closing sequences. Watching the scene in the elevator I couldn’t help but think what average modern directors (would do with it. They’d ruin it. The acting was fine, I think. The location shooting is always cool in a movie from back then. But more importantly: what the movie is famous for, pushing a woman down the stairs. Better yet, she’s a cripple. That’s balls. But then: Even though it was ’47, they were still Read More