No Song is Safe From Us

No Song Is Safe From Us - The NYFOS Blog
 |  Sam Grosby

Having mastered hip hop, hard bop, free form and everything in between, Marquis Hill is one of the heaviest hitting cats on the jazz scene in America. Hill has made a name for himself as one of the most gifted trumpeters around, winning the Thelonious Monk Trumpet Competition in 2014. After listening to Mr. Blier and Ms. Bennett perform some jazz classics in Orient so inspiringly, I was reminded of all the times I have been lucky enough to hear Marquis and his Blacktet play in Chicago.




 |  Sam Grosby

A little over a year ago, transgender Americans were granted the right to serve openly as such in the U.S. Military. This was a decision that allowed an estimated 2,500 people the freedom to be themselves. Following the repeal of this decree four days ago, I felt it necessary to share just one more selection by Ted Hearne.




 |  Sam Grosby

Today’s selection comes from Ted Hearne’s 2015 composition Coloring Book. He describes the work as such: “I set the words of three great black American writers of different generations (Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Claudia Rankine) in texts dealing with identity, not because I could ever pretend to speak for them, but because I wanted to know: Could I better understand their words by speaking them in my own voice?




 |  Steven Blier

When I planned “Red, White, and Blues” I thought I was making a light summer entertainment: 10 French songs, 10 American songs, encore, done. A pitcher of musical sangria. Then I started working on the program, and got a little carried way with visions of sugarplums. “Wouldn’t it be great to do the aria from ‘Mme Chrysanthème’? Gosh, this is the time everyone needs to hear ‘Awaiting You’! Oh, we’re by the water, we should do ‘J’attends un navire’!” The result is that my light repast is more like a five-course meal catered by Lutèce.




 |  Steven Blier

Thursday is the last day I can really work on the songs and push the cast to take risks. On Friday our water breaks as we do our first work-through. Reassurance is the name of the game. On Saturday, contractions start as we have our dress rehearsal. We retreat to our corners. And we deliver the baby on Sunday.




 |  Steven Blier

Unlike some coaches I’ve observed, I don’t tend to start my work by manipulating the surface of the music. Sure, I can be a maniac on the first day about language, because those kinds of errors do need to be nipped in the bud. They take days to repair. But I try not to pick away at musical minutia at the beginning.