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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sunday's NY Times had a piece on global brass band music, which brought back memories. 20 years ago or so I asked my grandpa, who died in '99 at age 91, what the popular music of his youth was. "Band music," he said, meaning, brass band music -- the subject of "The Music Man." A few years later when I came across an album of concert band music from the early 20th century featuring virtuoso cornet leads by Wynton Marsalis, I snapped it up. "Carnaval." Brassy sound, zippy horn leads, and lush tunes with peppy rhythms -- lots to like.

I just picked up from the library a CD of parallel material from a recording made 10 years before the Marsalis record, "Turn of the Century Cornet Favorites," conducted by Gunther Schuller and with Gerard Schwarz as featured cornet. A lot of the same composers as the Marsalis but none of the same tunes. And equally wonderful.

All praise to Frank London of the Klezmatics for his global brass band explorations (I've only heard "Brotherhood of Brass," which is wonderful, and am eager to hear the new one). My family and I saw -- and adored -- a brass band from India at last year's Vancouver Folk Music Festival. I have long loved the New Orleans brass bands and the marching band tradition of Sousa, and a friend just got back from vacation in Mexico and brought me a brass band album from Oaxaca -- wonderful stuff. Just today I was reading in a "global music" magazine about the Italian brass band tradition -- so much to hear!

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When I rent musicals I let the 3-year-old watch the songs. The other day I was picking something up for me & my beloved spouse to watch. The boy was with me and asked for a "singing and dancing movie" too. I got "Top Hat," the Astaire-Rogers vehicle with songs by Irving Berlin, for him. Yesterday he told my beloved spouse that his imaginary friend (who happens to be the Kwakwak'wakw ancestral goddess Dzunukwa, the Wild Woman of the Woods) rented a video too, called . . . "Bottom Shoe!" He cracked himself up.
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