SFJAZZ Honors Zakir Hussain

Just before departing for NAMM back in January, we had the opportunity to attend the SFJAZZ Gala honoring Zakih Hussain with a lifetime achievement award.

One of the unexpected guests of the evening was a torrential rain that peaked just as we were arriving. This video from our Instagram gives a small taste.

Crazy rain for #sfjazzgala ☔️

A post shared by CatSynth / Amanda C (@catsynth) on

But inside it was warm, the drinks were flowing, the music was as expected. We had seats in the bleachers which provided an excellent view of the stage. And the backs of the musicians, including the maestro himself.

You can see a much better view of Zakir Hussain performing with saxophonist John Handy is the Instagram photo from SFJAZZ.

It was a sweet and delightfully simple jam, which capped an evening of performances featuring the SFJazz Collective, saxophonists Joe Lovano and Joshua Redman, guitarist Bill Frisell, vocalist Mary Stallings, trumpeter Terence Blanchard, and drummer Cindy Blackman-Santana.

The award presentation itself was preceded by a tribute video made by Hussain’s daughters, which highlighted his genius as a musician and rhythmic master as well as his good humor and down-to-earth nature as a person. This was also apparent in his remarks upon accepting the award. (The same could not be said for the verbose and pretentious introduction by Mickey Hart.)

After the presentation, it was time to party, with more music and dancing filling the hall.

We didn’t stay too late because I was off to NAMM the next morning, but I am glad to have braved the storm to celebrate a great musician.

Tributes for Luna

It’s been five days since Luna left us. I am still having a hard time processing that she is gone. But I have been very touched and humbled by the outpouring of love for her and sympathy for us. There have been a few tribute posts as well, and we share them below.

The Cat Blogosphere has long posted memorials for blogging cats when they pass away. We have shared a few of those over the years on this site. This time we were on the receiving end, with this beautiful graphic and a very sweet post.

Luna forever!

Luna is an icon of the Cat Blogosphere, and will be sorely missed. Fly free, sweet girl.

Our friends Elvira, Kiril, Sneakers, Friday and Nikita at Opinionated Pussycat have dedicated a full post to Luna.

Luna tribute from opinionated pussycat

The beauty and grace of Luna so finely complimented the beauty and grace of the instruments her human blogged about and the music and art her human created and shared (the photo above is from 2010).

Her presence complimented perfectly the contributions CatSynth made, as frequent contributor and host, to 3 of the earliest and best of the pet blogging share fests, all about cats, Carnival of the Cats, Weekend Cat Blogging, and Bad Kitty Cats Festival of Chaos, for many years, beginning in the summer of 2007…CatSynth first hosted CoTC with #189.

Music & art shows, travel, photography, cats, synthesizers, sass and grace.

And finally, our dear friend and supporter at matrixsynth have a post for Luna.

Our Beloved Cat Luna

Certain pets more so than others. JD was one of them, and I know Luna was as well. They let you become who you want to be. They are your confidante in life. Loosing them feels like loosing a part of yourself. Luna will not only be missed by her owner and friend Amanda, but by those of us that have enjoyed her virtual company online through numerous posts on CatSynth, and a few here on MATRIXSYNTH. We will never forget you Luna!

Never forget, indeed! Thank you all for all your kind words and support as we grieve and move forward. 🎶 💕

New Podcast: Turandot (Puccini), Tribute to Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007)

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Tonight's podcast is a tribute to Luciano Pavarotti, who passed away on September 6, 2007. We feature selections from Act 1 and Act 3 of Puccini's Turandot. The selection from Act 3 is the aria “Nessun dorma,” which was one of Pavarotti's signature pieces. You have probably heard it before. Below is one of his last performances of this piece, at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin:

We will have another related video treat for our readers and listeners this Wednesday.

These recordings were released on the Internet Archive, as part of a Creative Commons release.

A technical note: classical recordings tend to suffer more from the artifacts of MP3 encoding, and these recordings have been through the MP3 machine at least twice if not more. Those who want to hear a cleaner version are encouraged to check out the source version, or an original recording on CD.

Although the “Nessun dorma” might be more famous, I am fond of the selection from Act 1. It has a dark sound (in keeping with the rather morbid story line), and a very “modal” sound. In particular, there is the minor pattern that concludes this section:

This pattern, and indeed the generally “modal” nature of the music in this act, is presumably to give the music an “eastern” flavor, in keeping with the story of Turandot. However, it fits perfectly in with my own interests in more mainstream music, including my current fascination with old R&B and rock-and-roll from the 1950s and 1960s. One could see the above pattern, performed by the low strings of the orchestra, done by a string bass in an old jazz or R&B recording .

It is inspiring to find these sorts of connections between often disparate forms of music, and perhaps that is in itself a small tribute. Listening to, and paying respect to, one of the great modern opera talents, and having that lead to inspiration elsewhere…

New Podcast: KraftiM – IkoNO, from Requiems for a Submerged City

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Keeping with our recognition of the 2nd anniversary of Katrina, we present another selection from the album Requiems for a Submerged City, “An electronic tribute to the City of New Orleans and its people – to those who survived Katrina and to those who didn't.” The album is released via the great Internet Archive.

Tonight, we present the track “IkoNO” by KraftiM:

KraftiM's track is a personal, loving tribute to the soul of New Orleans, pulsating with rhythms and echoes of the sweet soul music he once grew to love. Sounds of wind and water mix to this carnival-like electronic potpourri as a natural part of the environment and its atmosphere, but at the same time casting a dark shadow over the passionate and creative spirit of the city and its soul.

In addition to being a tribute, this is a great album musically that would strongly recommend for anyone who appreciates electronic music. I am also going to try and find other releases by the artists who participated.




Ingmar Bergman, 1918-2007

From today's New York Times, news of the death of filmmaker Ingmar Bergman.

Ingmar Bergman, the ?poet with the camera? who is considered one of the greatest directors in motion picture history, died today on the small island of Faro where he lived on the Baltic coast of Sweden, Astrid Soderbergh Widding, president of The Ingmar Bergman Foundation, said. Bergman was 89.

While he may be best remembered for films such as “The Seventh Seal” and “Wild Strawberries”, my favorite remains “Persona.” This is a more abstract, modernist “psychological” film, focusing on the relationship and interaction of just two characters (played by Liv Ullman and Bibi Andersen). And it contains this amazing opening sequence:

Although “Persona” wasn't even mentioned in the New York Times tribute, it is considered by many, including myself, to be his best.





New Podcast: Requiems for a Submerged City

The Sunday's podcast is another great find from the Internet Archives. The album Requiems for a Submerged City is “An electronic tribute to the City of New Orleans and its people – to those who survived Katrina and to those who didn't.” Tonight, we feature the first track, “This is It” by Doc:

Doc opens his track and the album with an upbeat intro carrying some of the emotionally most charged moments from New Orleans Katrina/flood media reporting. After the initial blast of 'media energy' the track transforms into soft, relaxed, dreamlike ambience hosting a strange collage of media snippets, some tangible, some almost subliminal, floating gently in the stream of music.

Regular readers will know that we at CatSynth have been closely following, and often touched by, the events in New Orleans following Katrina. This was even more true after my visit in November, 2006. So am I happy to feature this collection as part of my regular podcast series.

I am also happy to announce that you can now subscribe to the CatSynth Channel far more easily via FeedBurner. From now on, every podcast post to CatSynth will include the “feed” icon below:

Click here to subscribe.

I will also be retrofitting previous podcast posts as time permits.

So not that it's this simple, you all no longer have any excuses to not subscribe to our podcast.




RIP James Brown (1933-2006)

I cannot let the passing this morning of the Godfather of Soul go unremarked. The music that James Brown launched remains among my favorite popular music – funk and soul from the 1960s and 1970s have a special place in my heart and my CD collection. In particular, I return the 1970s era with the original JB's, funker, grittier and with just the right amount of slop. Indeed, the track “Turn It Up or Let It A-Loose” from the 1970 collection Funk Power was included in the research for my dissertation. I probably have the only PhD dissertation in Computer Science that includes a reference to James Brown in the bibliography. I suppose that's my tribute.