Another edition of our new franchise that corners a musician and finds out what he or she listened to before bed and after rising. Sometimes the tunes are deliberately chosen; sometimes they just bubble up as life is being lived. I’ve got requests out to several participants. You’ll see responses every few days during the next few weeks.
This post belongs to Pete Malinverni. The New York pianist has a great touch, whether getting fierce with the right hand on a bop tune or building a mood with his left on a ballad. Theme & Variations (Reservoir) finds him concocting parallel sketches on self-penned ditties and chestnuts such as Ornette’s “Blues Connotation.” His Invisible Cities band makes a case for just how inventive mainstream jazz can be. Malinverni is known for both passion and candor.
The Leipzig String Quartet: FJ Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Christ.”
As an improvising musician I try have my music include the structural integrity of the greatest “composed” music in history, but in a free and extemporaneous way. To facilitate that I listen to music I consider as “perfect” as possible, written by people with the benefit of time and erasers. In this case, I was preparing to write some appropriate pieces on which Steve Wilson and I could improvise between movements of the “Seven Last Words” in concert with the Leipzig Quartet, so I had to internalize Haydn’s themes and recognize some of his compositional techniques. In so doing I entered the world of a man who was using more chromaticism and interesting textures than I’d previously thought Haydn employed — inspiring and reassuring at the same time. Listen to the piece played live.
My wife, Jody Sandhaus, and I recently began to listen again to this masterpiece of a recording. It’s Shirley at the peak of her expressive powers, and it features Johnny Mandel‘s arrangements and orchestrations. The way Johnny envelops the song, clothing it anew without ever distracting from the simple beauty of what Shirley’s doing, is a lesson to all accompanists, arrangers and musicians in general.