And the beat goes on . . .
The Us Generation: The Making Of the 1982 Us Festival is an in-depth look at one of the most influential music festivals of all time. The Us Generation is from award-winning filmmaker and rockumentarian Glenn Aveni, who is also the film’s director. Co-directed by Jay Cederholm and Produced by Bruce Gibb and Rich Schmig, the film blends rare concert footage and insightful interviews with both organizers and performers.
The film tells the story of the groundbreaking 1982 Us Festival, an epic three-day event featuring an eclectic and unprecedented lineup boasting some of the biggest names in music, performing live in front of over one million people at Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, California. The Us Festival was the brainchild of Apple visionary Steve Wozniak, who wanted to create something that was a true celebration of Americana, cultivating positive vibes and building a deep sense of community through the power of technology and music.
Highlights include performances by chart-topping superstars, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, alt-rock trio The Police, blues rock heroes Fleetwood Mac, guitar virtuoso Carlos Santana, retro-chic favorites The B-52s, and new wave icons The Cars; as well as archived appearances by Johnny & Joey Ramone, Carlos Santana, Sting, Ric Ocasek, Danny Elfman, and Fred Schneider; plus exclusive sit-downs with festival founder Steve Wozniak, Mick Fleetwood, Eddie Money, Marky Ramone, Kate Pierson, Stewart Copeland and Mickey Hart.
There’s a reason Audra McDonald’s new CD is titledSing Happy(Decca Gold), the live performance of the New York Philharmonic’s 2018 Spring Gala starring the Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award-winner, conducted by Andy Einhorn. Recorded live on May 1 at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, the recording represents McDonald’s first collaboration with Decca Gold–as well as her first solo recording with full orchestra.
Sing Happy features many songs that are either new to McDonald’s repertoire or have never before been recorded by her–such as “I Am What I Am” from La Cage aux Folles, “Vanilla Ice Cream” from She Loves Me, and “Children Will Listen” from Into The Woods–and offers a sneak peek at the repertoire she’s performing on her upcoming North American concert tour.
Acclaimed by The New York Times as a “one-of-a-kind musical super-talent,” Audra McDonald has won a record-breaking six Tony Awards, making her the most decorated performer in American theater. The singer and actress was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2015 and received a 2015 National Medal of Arts—America’s highest honor for achievement in the arts—from President Barack Obama. McDonald is currently starring in the CBS All Access drama The Good Fight and has a series of concert dates throughout North America on which she’s presenting many of the songs from Sing Happy. In addition to her work on stage and screen, McDonald is noted as a passionate advocate for equal rights, LGBTQ causes, and underprivileged youth.
She is a goddess. Really.
Currently wowing audiences with her Tony-nominated performance in Carousel, Grammy-winning soprano Renée Fleming has released Broadway (Decca Classics), a CD celebrating musical theatre. The album features a diverse array of songs for the stage by composers including Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Pasek & Paul, and Rodgers & Hammerstein, as well as a special guest duet with the Hamilton, television and film star, Leslie Odom, Jr.
Says Fleming, “The great, classic Broadway musicals were central to my childhood. I sang Eliza Doolittle twice before I was even out of high school. This repertoire is so rich, and the sheer quality of the music is so high, that it’s been a joy to record these songs. And along with the growth of popular music, the sound of musical theater has evolved over time. Composers like Jeanine Tesori, and Pasek and Paul, and even popular music icons like Sting, have enriched the genre. It’s a living art form, enjoying a real boom right now, and it was a thrill for me to be able to include phenomenal songs that are absolutely current.”
The new recording features a wide range of Broadway hits from the ’20s to the present, in sumptuous orchestrations, many commissioned specially for this album.
Among the songs are “The Sound of Music”, “The Glamorous Life” from A Little Night Music; “Tell Me on A Sunday” from Song and Dance; “Wonderful Guy” from South Pacific; “Fable” from The Light in the Piazza; and “So Big So Small” from Dear Evan Hansen. Fleming’s collaborators include Rob Fisher as music supervisor and conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra, as well as the incomparable bassist and jazz great Christian McBride, rising star pianist Dan Tepfer and Grammy-winning producer David Frost.
Listen closely: Listen and you will understand why she is a goddess.
At the height of his popularity, Oscar Levant was the highest-paid concert artist in America. He outdrew Horowitz and Rubinstein, with whom he shared the distinction–rare among classical pianists–of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He performed under conductors including Arturo Toscanini, Sir Thomas Beecham, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Fritz Reiner and Eugene Ormandy, and was the definitive interpreter of his friend George Gershwin.
Levant’s 1945 recording of Rhapsody in Blue with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra topped the Billboard classical chart and remained one of Columbia Records’ best-selling albums for a decade. That classic interpretation and all his other recordings for the label, spanning the years 1941 to 1958, have now been collected in a new Sony Classical eight-disc box set.
The vast majority of them are appearing for the first time ever on CD, in a 10″ x 10″ fully illustrated 124-page hardcover book. The book contains previously unseen photographs and images of facsimile documents and covers. The edition sees the first ever release of Levant’s own composition Blue Plate Special, which only exists in his 1947 recording and would otherwise have been lost forever. It reflects his compositional style and musical eccentricity at its best. The other world premiere is Levant’s recording of Bach’s Partita No. 1, the only example of him playing Bach. According to his daughter Lorna, the Partita was a piece Levant loved and played often at home.
Levant’s Columbia recordings, on which his fame as a pianist has always been based, began with Gershwin, as they do in this new Sony complete collection. From 1942 there are the Concerto in F with André Kostelanetz conducting the New York Philharmonic along with the Three Preludes. That applies as well to the 1945 Rhapsody in Blue with Ormandy, which is also here, of course, together with the famous 1949 recordings of theSecond Rhapsody and “I Got Rhythm” Variations with Morton Gould and his Orchestra.
Among the other CD premieres are Levant’s 1949 recording of Honegger’s charming Concertino with Reiner conducting the Columbia Symphony Orchestra as well as many solo performances from the 1940s and 50s of pieces by Beethoven (including the “Moonlight” Sonata), Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninoff and Copland (selections from the ballet Billy the Kid, arranged for piano by Lukas Foss). There is also a track of Levant playing his own music, a jazzy, almost manic little piece called Blue Plate Special, recorded in 1947.
Another rarity is taken from Warners’ 1946 movie Humoresque, one of the few films centered around classical music. Franz Waxman received an Oscar nomination for his original score and arrangements. The young violinist hero is portrayed by John Garfield, his wealthy older lover by Joan Crawford, his confidant and pianist by Oscar Levant, and his violin playing by Isaac Stern. The movie climaxes with one of the glories of 40s cinematic kitsch. As she listens to the strains of Wagner’s Liebestod being played by the Garfield character on the radio, the distraught Crawford character drowns herself in the Pacific. On the soundtrack, it is Stern and Levant who are revelling in Waxman’s irresistibly schmaltzy Wagner arrangement for violin, piano and orchestra. No Oscar Levant set would be complete without it.
“In some situations I was difficult, in odd moments impossible, in rare moments loathsome, but at my best unapproachably great.” Music lovers now have an unprecedented opportunity to judge Oscar Levant’s self-adulating, self-abasing appraisal for themselves.
Hear that? Those are the notes that music journalist Barney Hoskyns is hitting in his unprecedented new anthology of all things Steely Dan: Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion (The Overlook Press, $27.95). Published within a year of founding member Walter Becker’s passing, this is a first of its kind book about Steely Dan—an anthology of the most essential critical dispatches about the band—rants and raves alike, alongside a selection of highly informative profiles and interviews from the ’70s through the ’00s.
In the vein of Hoskyns’s previous book JoniI: The Anthology, Major Dudesserves simultaneously as an accessible critical introduction to the group, a treasure trove of little-known facts (did you know that a pre-fame Becker and Fagen once recorded a B-movie soundtrack, or ghostwrote for Barbra Streisand?), and an invaluable collection of primary source documents, many of which Hoskyns has rescued from the archives of now-defunct magazines and newspapers.
Mark your calendar now. It’s important to save the date of September 18, not because it’s a day after my birthday (cards and gifts still accepted), but that’s the day the inspirational and heartwarming gospel drama, Saving Faith, arrives on DVD, Digital, and On Demand.
When the historic Ritz Theater is on the brink of foreclosure, the theater’s owner Faith Scott (played by Jenn Gotzon) and her Uncle Donny (Donny Richmond) decide to host a Christmas themed show, in June, to help save the building. Even against all odds, Faith and Donny turn to their faith and friends to help pull off the impossible.
And when a local developer decides to sabotage the concert, it’ll take a miracle to make the show go on. Approved by the Dove Foundation for all ages, Saving Faith is a, “film that is balanced for family filmgoers” (The Dove Foundation).
Let us not forget the great music by Donny Richmond and Sunday Drive and appearances by Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Phil Vassar and members of the
As I reminded everyone, over and over and over, that Dolly Parton are I are bosom buddies. And she likes to say, “breast friends”.
So when I see yet another book about her, a book she has not authorized or sanctioned, I get a teeny bit concerned. More about her silicone? Her love for drag queens? More news about the horrendous amount of plastic surgery she continues to have?
Not here. In The Faith of Dolly Parton (Zondervan , $22.99), Dudley Delffs spotlights 10 lessons he has drawn from Dolly’s life, music and attitude. His reflections are personal, practical and profound as Dolly’s example reminds us all to trust God during hard times, stay grounded during good times, and always keep our sense of humor.
But what drives Dolly to be so giving and loving towards others? Delffs examines the depth of Dolly’s faith and how it influences her life. Readers will identify with him as he recalls a simpler place and time when his own life-long love of Dolly began. In a way, Delffs and Parton have walked a faith journey together.
Delffs starts the book simply with “I love Dolly.” He continues, “Like the University of Tennessee, the Smoky Mountains, biscuits and gravy, the works of Flannery O’Connor, and the lonesome sound of the night train echoing from beyond the pasture on the farm where I grew up, Dolly Parton is woven into the fabric of my life.”
Readers can take away their own life lessons through each chapter’s Divine Doses of Dolly, where they can apply faith lessons from Dolly’s life to their own particular situations via questions and exercises, a relevant theme song from Dolly’s discography, and a short prayer they can use in their own time of “talkin’ with God.” The Faith of Dolly Parton is the perfect gift for anyone who loves Dolly and her music, those looking for inspiration, and music fans in general.
Pink Floyd fans will fly to the dark side of the moon with Pink Floyd: Album By Album(Voyageur Press, $30), a stunning and unique look back at their discography. Author Martin Popoff’s work features in-depth, frank and entertaining conversations about all the band’s studio albums, including their soundtrack efforts and the instrumental/ambient The Endless River. He moderates discussions on each album with rock journalists and musicians, including legendary Genesis and solo guitarist Steve Hackett, original Alice Cooper bassist Dennis Dunaway, and Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery, all offering insights, opinions, and anecdotes about every release.
Together, the conversations comprise a unique historical overview of the band, covering everything from early albums with the iconic Syd Barrett to the songwriting tandem of Roger Waters and David Gilmour; the impeccable talents of drummer Nick Mason and multi-instrumentalist Richard Wright; those mega tours undertaken in support of the albums; the monster success of breakthrough LP Dark Side of the Moon; interpersonal conflict; the band following Waters’ 1985 departure; and much more.
Popoff also includes sidebars that provide complete track listings, album personnel, and studios and dates. Every page is illustrated with thoughtfully curated performance and offstage photography, as well as rare memorabilia. Pink Floyd fans will discover so much about the legendary band it’s likely they won’t look at–or listen to–Pink Floyd the same way after reading this book.
Beatles fans will twist and shout when they get a gander at th beautifully designed and endlessly fascinating, Visualizing the Beatles: A Complete Graphic History of the World’s Favorite Band (Dey Street Books, $26.99). It’s quite nifty to flip through; the illustrations and graphics are colorful and highly informative and entertaining. The data and infographics present a fresh and innovative new way of understanding Paul and John and George and Ringo.
We realized why the magical history tour of the career of the Fab Four, explored album-by-album, has that addictive “feel good” look: The authors, John Pring and Rob Thomas, are professional graphic designers with a slew of top tier corporate clients. Do you want to know a secret? Having a successful Kickstarter fund for this book didn’t hurt.
“As designers, we wondered what it would look like to visualize The Beatles and chart their story—the evolution of their music, style and characters—through a series of graphics,” write Pring and Thomas in the introduction. “What might presenting the information in a totally different way, never done before on this scale, tell us that we hadn’t noticed or appreciated previously?”
Organized by album from Please Please Me to Let It Be, this stunning book deconstructs:
Which Beatle carried how much of the songwriting load
Marilyn Monroe said it best: “Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents.”
Keegan Allen shows it best with his lavish tome Hollywood: Photos and Stories from Foreverland (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99). Allen, an actor; photographer; bestselling author and musician best-known from the No. 1 hit show on Freeform, Pretty Little Liars; reveals the Hollywood we see—and the one we don’t—with a photography narrative featuring more than 250 emotionally charged color and black and white photos. No wonder his first book, life.love.beauty, was a national bestseller.
The Hollywood native grew up in a world that millions
visit and many more imagine. In his new book he turns his eye and camera to the place he knows best. Hollywood captures the beauty
and glamour of the place itself—with unusual angles of the famous sign, the Chateau Marmont at twilight, secret local hideaways, red carpets and more—but also the darker side of dreams unrealized in the faces, hands, eyes and footsteps of those who live on the fringe of celebrity. His photos are enhanced by revealing, intimate captions, lyrics, and other writing, as well as exciting parodies, and iconic emulations.
A book that will engage and surprise Keegan’s legions of fans and followers, Hollywood is an essential gift for anyone who has visited or imagined this storied place
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