Archive for the ‘Alexis Dormal’ Category

chocolateannaSOUNDTRACK: CHICK COREA & GARY BURTON-Tiny Desk Concert #540 (June 13, 2016).

chickI have known of Chick Corea for decades, although I never really knew anything about him.  I’m sure I’ve heard him play at some point (he’s been around since the 1960s), but never so specifically.  And Gary Burton is an unknown quantity to me (although apparently he has played with Corea for years–they recorded their first album together 44 years ago!).

Corea plays a beautiful, fluid jazz piano.  And while his work is really special, it’s actually Burton who I focused on more (at least at the beginning).  Burton plays the vibraphones–with four mallets!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen vibraphones so up close in action before  Apparently the bar can be lifted (which must account for the vibe).

They play two songs, “Love Castle” which is from 1976 and “Crystal Silence” which is from their debut album (1973).

“Love Castle” begins with some great piano and fun soloing on the vibes.  It’s mesmerizing watching Burton hit these bars.  After 5 minutes of intense vibe playing, Corea takes over for solo section for almost 2 minutes before Burton returns (this time providing more background where as the earlier section was more soloing from Burton).  The song is just the two of them for about ten minutes and it’s really something.

“Crystal Silence” is the first song they ever played together.  It opens with some great vibes and then soars and swirls for another t en minutes.  It’s a really cool piece and the crowd is appropriately jazzily appreciative.

[READ: March 1, 2016] Anna Banana and the Chocolate Explosion

This is another First Second picture book (as opposed to graphic novel).  It’s the second in the Anna Banana series.  Once again, I thought the cover illustration was a little sloppy compared to the inside of the book–for many graphic novels I like cover illustrations better than the interior. But this is a picture book so maybe the rules are different.  Nevertheless, both parts are drawn by Alexis Dormal.

Anna is a little girl with a lot of friends: Pingpong the penguin, Grizzler the bear, Zigzag the bunny, Foxface the fox, Whaley the whale and Fuzzball the, well, fuzzball.

Anna’s friends want her to make them a chocolate cake.  But she says she will teach them how to make their own instead. That sounds like a great idea. (more…)

Read Full Post »

sleepanna  SOUNDTRACK: ALESSIO BAX-Tiny Desk Concert #541 (June 17, 2016).

alessio2Alessio Bax is a pianist and a new father.  His daughter Mila is 22 months old and, a first for Tiny Desk, she is visible through the whole show.  And, no matter  Alessio is playing, all eyes are on Mila because she is completely adorable (and very well behaved).

In honor of his new daughter, Bax plays three pieces which are essentially lullabies.

Perhaps in honor of NPR/PBS, Mila is playing with a cookie monster doll for most of the set and she is being quite cuddly with it–even putting it on her head and resting it on the piano.

Introducing the first piece, J.S. Bach’s (arr. Petri): “Sheep May Safely Graze,” Bax says that Bach asks the pianist to do three things at the same time which is similar to a new parents life.

It is a lovely (somewhat familiar) piece with some beautiful melodies.

alessioWhen the song is one Mila smiles very big and claps along with everyone else and says “papa”

He acknowledges her and says, “She’s my fan #1.”

Lucille Chung, Bax’s wife and Mila’s mom duets with him on the second piece, Brahms: Waltz No. 15 in A-flat major, Op. 39.  They share the piano, which is pretty cool.  As she sits down, Mila says, “Mama too,” which wins over everyone.  Chung takes the high notes while Bax plays the lower notes. It’s a brief song, and very sweet.  Once again when the applause starts, she happily claps along.

Bax says, “We should have her play something–it will be her debut.”

He introduces the final song, Rachmaninoff: Prelude No. 4 in D, Op. 23, but before he starts, Mila says “no practicing” which he says they deal with all the time.

The song begins as a kind of lullaby and then gets much more “hot-blooded” with a stormy middle section that eventually returns to a dreamy ending.  Mila has a small keyboard of her own.  She starts “playing” it, although it proves to be a little too loud and her mom takes it away.  The song does indeed get a little intense in the middle, but is overall quite lovely.  And as it finishes she says papa piano and then beams with a big smile as she applauds with everyone else.

[READ: March 1, 2016] Sleep Tight, Anna Banana

I didn’t realize that this book was a translation at first.  I also didn’t read the biographies of the two people involved. It says that the author Dominique decided to write picture book when her adult son Alexis became a picture-book artist.  So his success inspired her to write these books.  They were translated by Mark Siegel.

We seem to read a lot of translated picture books in our house. Sometimes the very premise behind them is so unfamiliar it’s obvious they were not created by Americans.  Other times the books feel just a little …off somehow.  Like in their rhythm or something.

This book never really came to life for me. (more…)

Read Full Post »