I think that many of us are deeply moved by music. I believe, in fact that music has it’s own spirit, almost a sentience of its own, and when a musician is able to really let go and allow their playing to be carried by this spirit of music absolute magic happens. I love a tremendous variety of music, much of its styles and artists who are not well known at all.
I was reminded of this today when I was reading a post called The Songs That Saved My Life on the blog of sound healer Fabeku Fatunmise. (Click here for pronunciation instructions.) In my life, I’ve been very fortunate to not have the kind of experiences that he describes, but in much the same way music is something I have often turned to when I wanted help moving through something difficult. At these times, I always turn to music which resonates with me in some particularly powerful way. I think often the reason for that resonance is this connection where the artists are allowing the music to flow through them, rather than trying to control the performance.
I want to share with you in this post some of the music that has touched me deeply at one time or another in my life, my hope is that you may be introduced to something that touches you as well.
When I’m looking for comfort, more then anything else, the album I turn to is The Visit by Loreena McKennitt. She starts from a celtic base but blends seamlessly sounds from all over the world. Her music touches me deeply, and is just wonderful for getting unstuck or being soothed if that’s what I need.
I first heard The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams when my friend Sonja Bode played it on her recital when we were in college. I think it affected me so powerfully because the piece is so close to her heart – and that came through so powerfully. It is an amazing musical flight.
And then there was jazz
I love early jazz and ragtime, it moves me in a way that even the best “modern” jazz doesn’t seem to. There are so many amazing performers in this area, who I’ve had the honor to work with as the sound engineer for the Traditional Jazz Series at the University of New Hampshire. I know that by mentioning any of them I’m going to leave someone out, but the groups that come to mind are The Wolverine Jazz Band, Bria and Jim’s Borderline Jazz Band, The Back Bay Ramblers and I know I’m forgetting several wonderful groups….
I can’t leave the subject of jazz without telling you about one of the most amazing people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, and getting to know. And that is the amazing trumpeter Clark Terry. I’ve been fortunate to both work and hang out with Clark on many of his visits to the University of New Hampshire over the last 10 years. While he has not been able to visit us often in the last year or so due to health, traditionally Clark has visited UNH twice a year. Clark is truly a jazz legend, the only musician who played in the orchestras of both Duke Ellington and Count Basie, been there and done that. Even now, in his 80s, he continues to be passionate about sharing the language of jazz with a new generation of musicians. Listening to Clark play is amazing, there is so much music in every one of his notes, it’s just a pleasure to hear.
Here is a video of Clark performing one of his most famous pieces “Mumbles.” This is absolutely classic Clark Terry. And by the way, keep in mind that he was 86 or 87 years old when this was recorded.
After hearing him perform this piece many times over the years, I asked him after a concert a few years ago where the idea for “Mumbles” came from. He told me the story, when he was young it was not uncommon for really lousy singers to tip the pianist in a bar or club to let them sing a few tunes. And according to Clark what they sounded like is pretty much what you hear when he does this tune. I can imagine that they could’ve possibly sounded as good as Clark does, but it’s an interesting story of finding inspiration in an odd place.
And on to the theater….
I’m also a tremendous fan of musical theater, but to do that any justice would take all day, so it’s going to have to wait for another post.
But there is one more thing…
But that one more thing is so big, and so unusual that it needs its own post as well, so stay tuned for that one tomorrow. (If you want to be sure you know when it’s posted, just fill out the form in the sidebar on the right, to get an e-mail whenever I make a new post on this blog.)
So tell me in the comments about some of the music that has really moved you, in your life.