July 2008

Little Giant Passes

Sad news from France. American jazz giant Johnny Griffin has passed away at his home in Mauprévoir in France, hours before he was scheduled to perform with organist Rhoda Scott, French sax player Olivier Termine and drummer Julie Saury. He gave his last concert on Monday in the town of Hyère, France.

Born April 24, 1928 in Chicago, he attended the famed music program at DuSable High School under the supervision of Capt. Walter Dyett (which was also notably attended by singers Nat King Cole and Dinah Washington, and saxophonists Gene Ammons and Von Freeman). 

After his studies, Griffin joined Lionel Hampton's band in 1945, leaving him in 1947 to join trumpeter Joe Morris. In the '50s, he played with several bands, most notably Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers with whom he played with in 1957. He also performed with Nat Adderley, Thelonius Monk, and John Coltrane with whom he recorded "A Blowin' Session" in 1957 for Blue Note.

He teamed up with another sax player, Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis in the 1960s to form a group which recorded eight records.

Condé's Monarch of Gods and Daemons

Following up on the last blog, you can listen some excerpts of Gérard Condé piece, Monarch of Gods and Deamons, which he wrote for Daniel Kientzy. Jean-Noël Auer performs on three different clips on alto, baritone and tenor saxes.

Listen here.


Interview with Gérard Condé

French saxophonist Jean-Noël Auer has posted on his blog an audio interview conducted by one of his students, Marie Mongel, with composer Gérard Condé and himself about a new work for saxophone and concert band. 

Brief excerpts of the piece, titled Sur les Hauts can be heard as we listen in on  a working exchange between Auer and Condé while they are working on the piece. 

The interview, which is in French, can be heard in multiple sections: parts 1-2-3 here,  and parts 4-5-6 here.  The clips are only a few minutes each.


Sax à fonds Mambo's on

This neat video clip of the saxophone ensemble Sax à Fonds from Belgum performing some hot mambo in a public square in Mons. You can view the clip here


Zimmermann's Die Soldaten

The Lincoln Center Festival in New York is presenting Bernd Alois Zimmermann's opera Die Soldaten in what looks to be an amazing production. The New York Times is showing a video clip presenting the massive preparations which are involved.

As Daniel J. Wakin states in a related article: 

“It is one of the monuments of 20th-century music,” said David Pountney, the stage director. “You can say, ‘I don’t like it,’ but you can’t ignore it. It’s the end point of 12-tone music, really.”

Zimmermann, who died in 1970, served in the German Army during World War II. He began writing the opera in 1957, and it had its first performance in Cologne eight years later. Sarah Caldwell’s Opera Company of Boston presented its American premiere in 1982, and it was next performed in this country in 1991, at New York City Opera.

The Lincoln Center Festival imported this production from the Ruhr Triennale in Germany, which produces works in industrial spaces. Nigel Redden, the festival director, declined to disclose the cost, but it has clearly siphoned off resources. The festival has said that it reduced the scope of offerings this summer because of the size of “Die Soldaten.”

Nobuya Sugawa record review

Tony Haywood reviews (on the www.musicweb-international.com) a recent saxophone concerto album performed by Nobuya Sugawa. Performing with the BBC Philharmonic, conducted by Yutaka Sato the recording includes Takashi Yoshimatsu's Saxophone Concerto "Albireo More", Toshiyuki Honda's Concerto du vent (2005), Jacques Ibert's Concertino da Camera and Lars-Erik Larsson's Concerto for Saxophone and String Orchestra (1934).

Definitely a recording I want to look into. Also nice to see it attract attention on a serious non-saxophone classical music web site.

Nobuya Sugwa