I have two purposes for this post: one is to let you know that Jaqui Hope, Heath Proskin, and I have two more songs “up” on YouTube (more videos filmed by John Mount at the Museum of Monterey reading/performance described in the second-to-last post); and the second purpose: to honor a multitalented artist I much admire and respect–someone who submitted favorable commentary on two songs we performed that night and who made me aware that I am not capable of such a customarily cryptic blog response as “Cool, Dude, thanks,” by way of Comment myself when someone I admire and respect submits a Comment–so I would like to turn the occasion into a complete post and devote “Testimonials” space to Bob Danziger (much more on him coming up!) and express my own feelings about brevity when it comes to gratitude.
First, here are two photos of Jaqui (vocals), Heath (bass) and me (piano) “in action,” and URLs for where the new YouTube videos can be found:
“It’s a Wonderful World”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLHVwizEvNA&feature=youtu.be
“‘Round Midnight”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBynYTsvv8A
When I decided to enter the Brave New World of “self-presentation,” of multi-faceted digital, relational communication–and mostly at the time, in the hope of letting a wider audience than I had at the time know about a book I had out (The Inherited Heart: An American Memoir)–I entertained two reservations. The first was focused on strong feelings I had when it came to “friendship.” I’ve long regarded friendship as a sacred matter (not an “institution”), a condition that comes about naturally, spontaneously, and often accidentally, but once set in motion, a state that should span a lifetime. Consequently, when it came to my own work, I found the thought of having to choose “friends” formally and “officially” and asking them to represent themselves that way online (especially for the purpose of selling my own books) appalling. At the same time, I realized that today, refusing to become publicly “relational,” a writer doesn’t stand a prayer in hell as far as promoting her or his own work goes–so here I am, blogging away (and enjoying it!), and finding myself represented on Goodreads and Google+ as well.
The second reservation related to just how, once I was “on board” in this Brave New World, I would respond to “Comments” if and when they started to come in regarding what I was posting online. I’d previously had a blog on a jazz site, but my entries proved to be so prolix that the editor and publisher took to calling me his “William Faulkner,” an epithet that was by no means intended as flattery or approval. I didn’t last long, and my next shot at call and response in the digital world came when I had a poem published on a site which appeared to have a corps of “greeters” for each new participant, sending quick and concise word (“I enjoyed this Bill,” or “These lines really clicked for me,” the lines cited), to which I attempted to respond in kind, but found myself so grateful that I tended to go on and on (and on and on) by way of response or thanks–painfully aware that I was not playing the “game” as it should be played, but unwilling to go against my own nature. When someone from the site quoted four words from my poem and wrote “I like that” in response and I replied with five long paragraphs, I realized I was helpless.
So … to move this “story” along, I have now begun to receive “Comments” on my blog, and as W.C. Fields said about the blonde who “drove him to drink,” I will be eternally grateful “ever since.” But faced with the task of responding–succinctly, briefly, concisely, pithily, tersely, cryptically, laconically, cogently (but with brevity)–I’m not sure I can do so without employing eight adverbs in place of the single best one.
My answer to this dilemma right now is not to try–but just go on being my old Baroque self, without apology. As a matter of fact, I was just about to congratulate myself on having invented a whole new genre when it came to blogging: Blog Baroque (the inversion intentional to give it more class, as in “Eggs Benedict”), when the situation of responding to Comments arose–that is, the challenge of doing so with suitable brevity, rather than as who I am.
And that’s where Bob Danziger comes in. The Comment he made on Jaqui Hope singing a song I wrote (“My Fingers Refuse to Sleep”) and one by Hoagy Carmichael (“The Nearness of You”) is a model of clear, concise, insightful approval or praise, and this coming from a man who knows the world of music, even the “industry,” inside and out (along with a host of other things I’ll tell you about). So when approval comes from such a knowing source, I feel it would be inappropriate (or even rude) to respond with a quick “Cool, Dude, thanks!” or “I enjoyed that, Bob!” I feel he deserves a more extensive response.
Bob Danziger is a gifted musician, composer, sound sculptor, inventor, author, entrepreneur, and a key player in the alternative energy industry for over thirty years. You can check out his amazing string of achievements at:
He has recently completed a remarkable series of CDs that make up his Brandenburg 300 Project. More information on this can be found at: http://www.brandenburg300.com.
After the first album from the project came out, Brandenburg 23: Six Variations, I wrote, “Bob Danziger contains multitudes, but he does not contradict himself, as Walt Whitman boasted of doing. Recently, he has turned his all-embracing but fully consistent attention to adapting Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto to his own unique ‘vision,’ and the result does not merely bring the music up to date, but places it within all ages or eras with solid emphasis on our own–and the future. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but one for which he possesses not just the vision and creative means to fulfill potential, but friends as well.”
At the time I may have suspected, but lacked full foresight to comprehend all of the multitudes Bob Danziger contains—just how ambitious his undertaking was, how inclusive, how comprehensive his vision and creative means would prove to be, and just how many friends he had to assist him in carrying out this project. That initial single album—Brandenburg 23: Six Variations—now resides in the company of ten other albums, ranging from one containing a medley of sixteen songs from the complete project to duets, trios, and “hybrids”—the tracks on all of the albums named for Honorees who, in Bob’s own words, “were selected because the world would be a better place if there were a lot more people like them, and because they represent something to aspire to, to measure oneself against.” This extra-musical (or inter-musical) intention resides at the center of the wide range of tribute to Bach himself that makes up the project as a whole: a generosity, a commitment to excellence for its own sake (“not for glory and least of all for profit,” in William Faulkner’s words), a genuine altruism or agape that runs through every phase of the project—something rare (if not unheard of) in the music “industry” today.
Throughout this blog I have attempted to call attention to the two fine musicians I’ve been working with–vocalist Jaqui Hope and bassist Heath Proskin–in our readings/performances to promote my book The Inherited Heart: An American Memoir, and in the last post I paid homage to important people in my life such as poet Paul Oehler ( “On the Nature of Literary Friendship: Paul Oehler, by William Minor” in Writers Friendship, edited and compiled by Robert Sward: http://webdelsol.com/f-friendship.htm), editor Chris Hebert, drummer Akira Tana, my friend Yuri Kochiyama, the musicians–Tiger Okoshi and Daniela Schachter–with whom I was “on tour,” and the members of the Albatross Swing Jazz Orchestra in Nikko, Japan. After, I thought, “I should have a special category called ‘Others,’ one in which I can honor such excellent folks and more” (the way Bob Danziger paid homage to his Honorees), and I then decided to do so in the “Testimonials” category already set up for word about my books–now promoting the work of others as well as my own “stuff.” And that’s just what I hope to do here, starting with Bob Danziger. What better way to make this blog truly “relational,” then to establish a Mutual Admiration Society of sorts, one in which we can all pay a large measure of respect–and love–for one another’s lives and work?!
I’ll close this post with two album covers from the Brandenburg 300 Project, and three paragraphs of appreciation for that work I included toward the end of an article I’ve just completed on Bob Danziger’s extraordinary project as a whole.
Bob Danziger’s Brandenburg recordings offer both horizontal and vertical mobility—the music unfolding or even sprouting at a joyous (occasionally breakneck) up tempo pace, but also disclosing layer upon layer of slowly absorbed meaning. Listening to the complete gathering of recordings, I felt as if I were on some endlessly progressing trek or “trip,” a voyage of discovery, an archaeological or spatial “dig” that eventually brought to light abundant unanticipated treasures and resultant wonder—an encyclopedic tapestry of sound.
Marcel Proust wrote about a musician whose piano performances were so fine that we, as listeners, are “no longer aware that the performer is a pianist at all,” that the “apparatus of digital effort,” all that “splattering shower of notes,” drops out, and what we are left to experience is a performance “so transparent, so imbued with what he is interpreting, that one no longer sees the performer himself—he is simply a window opening upon a great work of art.” All of the particulars, the parts, “flow into lakes of sound vaster than themselves.”
This is what I found happening to me as I listened to the complete Brandenburg 300 Project. If my own attempt to describe the effect tends to have become a bit “Baroque” itself, it’s because the music I experienced became so delightfully diffuse yet in accord, so “epic” in its inclusiveness, so wild yet comforting in its “reach,” so overwhelming with the full range of emotion it offered (from, yes, joy to sorrow to rage—and Bach himself was no stranger to rage!), that I myself became “imbued with what [it was] interpreting,” and for many delightful, truly meaningful moments I felt a bit vaster than myself. Thank you, Bob Danziger.
Next post: I hope to write about more amazing musicians I’ve been privileged to see and hear–this time at the recently attended Monterey Jazz Festival. Next time, I’ll take you there as best I can!