Sunday, November 28, 2010

happy birthday lyle

i've written about him already. my one musical hero, someone who speaks musically. and who i really feel i understand, i empathize with. let's have a quick look at his life, from my point of view:
  • at age 20, lyle mays met pat metheny. living in new york and co-founding the pat metheny group, the idealist was living for music - and almost starving, literally.
  • at age 23, lyle and pat joined up with eberhard weber and nana vasconcelos (by request of the great manfred eichner) to record "watercolors" in ludwigsburg, my father's home town. trully great music, beyond jazz for sure.
  • at age 24, lyle and pat recorded the first pat metheny group album, self-intitled and known today as "the white album". another landmark. with lyle mays having the first solo in the groups history, a 5-minute solo even, in the tune "san lorenzo".
  • at age 26, he records his (for me historic) solo in "the search", from the american garage album.
  • at age 27, he puts out a duo album with pat, supported by nana: as falls wichita, so falls wichita falls is one of the best albums ever, and lyle's work on "ozark" and "september fifteenth" is legendary.
  • at age 28, he collaborates with the german bassist eberhard weber and plays the piano on "maurizius".
  • at age 29, he wins his first of eleven grammy awards for the group's live album "travels".
  • at age 30, he presents us with his participation in the classic "first circle".
  • at age 32, he records my all-time favorite album, and his first solo effort "lyle mays", with eight simple incredible tracks. that's music. no categories, just music.
  • at age 33, my current age, he was recording such tunes as "last train home" and "minuano" for the album still life: talking, pmg.
  • at age 34, his second album comes out, with some really great moments in street dreams.
  • at age 35, he records "letter from home". 
  • at age 36, he collaborates with bobby mcferrin on the album "medicine music", with the song "common threads".
  • at age 41, he playes his solo on "to the end of the world" and his incredible composition "episode d'azur", both on the pmg album "we live here".
  • at age 42, his musical sensitivity plays a great role in pmg's improvisational album "quartet", a great conceptual success.
  • at age 43, what a fantastic job with "imaginar day" and some legendary piano work on "the heat of the day" and, most of all, "the awakening".
  • at age 46, his fourth solo effort "solo" comes out - and it is precious!
  • at age 48, some really great work and improvising on "speaking of now", pmg's 2002 output.
  • at age 51, lyle was the mastermind behind the 68 minute long track "the way up", pmg's masterpiece.
yesterday was lyle may's 57th birthday. we miss your music, man!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

smells like snow

i'd missed that feeling.
yesterday, walking through the beautifiul city center of bremen. lights everywhere, christmas in the air, the smell of mandeln and sweets, warm mixed with cold. and, most of all, the crisp air, cold. someone next to me said what i was thinking: it smells like snow.
the first snow of bremen's winter seemed to be felt in the air. and it was no surprise, but still a delight, to see the signs of that first snow when i left for school this morning.
i'd missed that feeling.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

album 45: brand new day (sting)

last month i had the unique experience of attending a sting concert live. it was trully beyond words, much more than i had expected - his greatest songs in the setting of a great orchestra, some great arrangements and musical moments, and just a great performance by everyone, from his backing vocal lady (who i've been a fan of since his last winter album) over dominic miller to sting himself, in top form. and he did play one or the other tune from one of his great studio albums, the last one i cared to by (besides the winter album). "brand new day" had the idea of a brand new millenium, since it was recorded in 1999. the title song (with stevie wonder playing his harmonica) is okay, but the outstanding tracks are the opener (which is a sting tradition, always opening strong) called "a thousand years", the fantastic story and vibe in "after the rain has fallen" and the best tune on the album, "ghost story". once again, sting imerges into the worlds of the most different characters, so this album has a ten summoner's tale feel to it. "big lie, small world", "fill her up" and "tomorrow we'll see" help make the album an overall great piece of musical work.
you might want to try some of these songs out if you're not all to familiar with sting's later, post-the police, work. as always, the lyrics really give sense to the music.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

album 46: mensch (herbert grönemeyer)

this album is trully remarkable. it was grönemeyer's first release of new music after his wife's and brothers death in the same week. grönemeyer had already been germany's most successful artist, but this album gave him his first number one single, the great title track "mensch". in midst of a summer crisis in germany (natural causes, floods) and his personal suffering, the song brought hope to a whole country. with this, the album was released and became the most successful to date, in 2002. in sales, but also in critical acclaim. it is a really good overall album, with two highlights: his homage to his deceased wife is the most beautiful peace of music i've ever heard, for that particular situation. his lyrics are once again beyond words, and the song is exactly what it should be. and the final track, "zum meer", uses the sea once again as an emotional platform and produces a very strong closing track, a mix of melancholy and hope. this album is rightly in my top 50 of all time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

character translated into music

he wasn't only one of the finest musicains i've ever known. a master of sensibility and creativity, with unbelievable talent and taste on the piano. he was also one of the best people i've ever met.
wendel mattos passed away a few hours ago. he's been battleing diverse diseases since seemingly always, and he'd overcome all of them, until the most recent one. there is no doubt that he left us much too soon, but his legacy will on in music and, most of all, example.
wendel's rarity consisted in him being a very authentic person. a true believer, who didn't talk about it, but rather chose to live it in every aspect of his life. his compositions and musical contributions were the best way of giving his God-given talent back to the Creator, but it seemed always in perfect harmony with his character. wendel would trully let himself be used as an instrument, and he gained his meaning and purpose of life from that fact, translated into experiences and musical notes. he didn't just talk about the Truth, he felt it and lived it. he never did it in such a way that everybody could see, but everyone who wanted to, could.
his testimony will remain. it will still inspire many lives, as it has up to now. and when that day comes, wendel will have the pleasure to meet people living long after him, but who got to know the Lord through his life works and example.
may God continue to use his now resting instrument. touching lives with that genius stroke on he piano, those beautiful and simple melodies, those profound lyrics and that shining example. he has touched my life many times, and his life will continue to be vital for mine.
can't wait to see him again.