Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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4Play

Ross Boissoneau - April 28th, 2005
Turtle Island String Quartet with Ying Quartet – 4 + Four – Telarc
Traverse City favorites TISQ have long been esteemed as the world’s top – all right, pretty much only – jazz-based string quartet. Here the group teams up with the Ying Quartet, a nearly-as-famous set of classical string players. The results are engaging at times, but generally rooted more in the classical tradition than the jazzy territory TISQ is known for. Turtle Island leader David Balakrishnan’s “Mara’s Garden of False Delights” is precise and amelodic enough that it could be by that other vanguard of string quartet originality, Kronos. “Variations on an Unoriginal Theme” is a jaunty treat that veers back and forth from Appalachian-style fiddling to European classicism. Uneven though it is, “4+Four” will grow on the listener, but it’s at odds with the best of Turtle Island.

Keren Ann – Nolita – Metro Blue
Keren Ann Zeidel’s unique alt-pop melds folksy guitars and French cabarets. Her breathy vocal style will probably turn some people off, but her singing with herself on such tracks as “Roses and Hips” complements her odd guitar harmonies and the harmonica of Jean-Jacques Milteau. Elsewhere celebrated jazz bassist Avishai Cohen plays trumpet on the title track, and Karen Brunon’s multi-tracked violins approximate a outré quartet sound. The story narration on “Song of Alice” is a bit much, but again, that criticism could apply to pretty much any song on “Nolita” and yet, it’s still full of charms. Keren Ann combines her voice with her guitar and keyboards to craft an album that is pretentious, over-the-top dramatic, and ultimately enjoyable.

Bela Fleck – Drive – Mobile Fidelity
Before there were the Flecktones, banjoist Bela Fleck was a bluegrass original. With an all-star cast of Sam Bush (mandolin), Jerry Douglas (dobro), Mark O’Connor (fiddle) and Tony Rice (guitar), among others, Fleck set out to make the ultimate acoustic bluegrass project. One listen to this amazing disc tells you how well he and his hand-picked group succeeded. Like Dixieland music, bluegrass always seems like great fun for the musicians to play, but that doesn’t always translate to the audience, especially an audience not particularly enamored of that style. “Drive” is one of those rare exceptions. No matter your musical predilections, it’s almost impossible to listen to this music without loving it. The moving melodic lines, uncanny interplay among the musicians involved, the pristine sound quality, and the quality of the music itself (all Fleck originals but one) make this a nonpareil album.

Steve Hackett – Metamorpheus – Inside Out America

Hackett certainly took his time with the follow-up to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” That recording was a Top 10 album on the classical charts eight years ago. Hackett proved with that album that his orchestral writing was every bit as accomplished as his guitar playing, but while “Metamorpheus” lacks that element of surprise, it’s a grand, ambitious work that tells the musical story of Orpheus’s music and his love for Eurydice. The orchestral writing is superb once again, with even more drama. The featured orchestral soloists are uniformly excellent, and Hackett has seldom sounded so good. Perhaps one criticism is that Hackett elected not to pair the orchestra with his electric guitar, but that’s a minor criticism. When a recording works as well as “Metamorpheus” does, there’s really little to quibble about.






 
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