Friday, December 28, 2012

Lost in the Stars – The Music of Kurt Weill

   Born in Berlin in 1900, Kurt Weill was especially famous for his avant-garde works in 1920’s. He was well trained and versatile composer, writing concert music and theatrical stage music. As many avant-garde composers of this years, Weill was socialist and believed all kinds of art should serve the social development. His compositions for orchestra and for choir, songs and cameral music were well received but his great success came with his cooperation with Bertold Brecht. The greatest achievement of Weill and Brecht were The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper) composed in 1928 and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny) from 1930. In March 1933 he has left Germany.
   The series of tribute albums produced in 1980’s by Hal Willner was quite a succesive story of establishing some new promotional mechanisms ahead of the times. The main idea was to join different stylistic idioms and one composers output and to generate wide monographic vision of contemporary creative music. After great commercial success of first two tribute albums with music of Nino Rota and That's the Way I Feel Now: A Tribute to Thelonious Monk, Willner continued the idea with subsequent albums. Both have enthusiastic reviews and such warm critical response gave producer some more heart for selection of artists. Third album was Lost in the Stars with music of Kurt Weill which was likewise previously issued records, a nicely done introduction of Weill’s music and a wide exposure of artists breaking schematic modes and creating new sound in mid-eighties. The main title is also the title of his last musical composed in 1949 for Broadway with book and lyrics by Maxwell Anderson. It was last  Kurt Weil’s creative achievement before he died April 3rd, 1950.

Lost in the Stars – The Music of Kurt Weill (1985)

   As another Hal Willner’s productions, Lost in the Stars is perfectly balanced assortment of most understandable avant-garde jazz musicians and most creative pop music artists. Well known voices of Tom Waits, Marianne Faithfull, Lou Reed, Todd Rundgren and Sting, saxophones by Phil Woods and Gary Windo, beautiful bass solo by Charlie Haden, Armadillo String Quartet and unconventional musical narration by Johan Zorn with Boby Previte, Guy Klucevsek and Fred Frith. Arrangements by Carla Bley, Steve Weinberg, Sharon Freeman, Bruce Fowler and Van Dyke Parks – every part of this set is perfect and opens new perspective, while all together make complete vision. The quality of these performances shows real temperature of artistic life in 1980’s. In Reagan’s America there were still great open spaces for human creativity. And the history was not even close to an end.

Der kleine Leutnant des lieben Gottes – John Zorn

   Few dozens of musicians in 16 songs give a chance for everyday disclosure of another great interpreting idea. It can be any of songs, and everywhere one can find the best musicians and perfect performances. Like in The Ballad of Mac the Knife sung by Sting, where in Dominic Muldowney arrangement took part Mike Zwerin (bass trumpet, trombone), Branford Marsalis (soprano sax), John Marle (tenor sax), David Roach (alto and baritone saxophones) and Kenny Kirkland (piano). It can be as well The Cannon Song from The Threepenny Opera perfectly played by The Fowler Brothers with Stanard Ridgway – a rare occasion to hear the five Fowlers brothers – Walt Fowler (trumpet), Bruce Fowler (trombone), Steve Fowler (alto sax, flute), Ed Fowler (piano) and Tom Fowler (bass). It comes with a great sound and clear idea of how radical music should be.


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