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Archive for the ‘Amy Tan’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: JAZMINE SULLIVAN-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #132 (January 8, 2021).

I know Jazmine Sullivan from a previous NPR set from 2014.  I hadn’t heard anything from her since then.  The blurb says

We don’t see or hear much from Jazmine Sullivan until she has something to get off her chest. She drops a body of work every five years or so, shakes up the world of R&B with each offering, then quietly goes back to minding her own business.

That’s pretty awesome.

Her latest project, Heaux Tales, is a bold and timely conversation piece addressing truths regarding relationships, sex, social norms, self-worth and a myriad of other topics that women grapple with. Each song is masterfully connected to another through unique yet familiar testimonies by women from all walks of life.

Sullivan’s set is five songs in nearly twenty minutes.

The singer-songwriter, draped in a trench coat while her band sports all black, are nestled in the corner of a dimly lit space resembling a cabaret.

She starts her Tiny Desk (home) concert with three extended and reworked selections from Heaux Tales,

“Bodies (Intro)” is jazzy an old-fashioned sounding with prominent piano from Eric Wortham and gently echoed guitars from Simon Martinez.  But it’s got very non-old-fashioned lyrics.  The end even has her scatting and crooning and there’s some wild drum fills from Dave Watson.

“The Other Side” features prominent bass from Jermaine Blandford and piano open this set.  It’s got a really nice catchy chorus.  The backing singers (Alisa Joe, Natalie Curtis and Ayana George vocals arranged according to height) add really nice harmonies and at the end they do a nice vocal fugue.   The song ends with a smooth bass riff.

“Lost One” is the first single from this project although I think the other two songs are much catchier.

“Let It Burn” a blast from the past and

thee fan favorite from 2015’s Reality Show,

For the last song, “Girl Like Me, she invites Tiny Desk alum H.E.R. to the stage to close.  H.E.R. plays a delicate acoustic guitar.  The song is just guitar and bass until about half way through when the rest of the band joins in.  I liked this song least because there was a lot of vocals acrobatics that i did not care for–something that it seems like Sullivan doesn’t do much.  The graphic lyrics with the gentle acoustic guitar was a nice contrast though.

[READ: February 21, 2021] “My Mother”

Like Nadine Gordimer, Amy Tan had a “memory” in this issue as well.

Unlike Nadine, this memory was concrete and very poignant.

She says that when she was sixteen she said some hateful things to her mother, including “I hate you, I wish I were dead.”  Her mother replied, “Okay maybe I die, then I no longer be your mother.”

They would not speak to each other for days after fights like this.

A Couple of years ago when Amy was 47 and she was already a successful writer, she was writing a story about a girl and her mother when the phone rang. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JACOB COLLIER-Tiny Desk Concert #48 (July 9, 2020).

collierI had never heard of Jacob Collier until his recent Tiny Desk Concert.  He was an impressive fellow to be sure.  He has an amazing vocal range and he can play just about any instrument you can think of.

So it should come as no surprise that Collier’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert is over the top as well.

But even knowing all of that, it is a still mind-blowing.  Because he has seamlessly spliced four videos of himself together.  So you have four Jacobs in four outfits playing everything in a room that is full of instruments.

The set starts with “All I Need.”  Lead singer Jacob is sitting on the floor in front of a steel drum.  This Jacob also plays the melodica solo.  On the left is keyboardist Jacob who plays the organ and, of course, mid song switches to piano and back again.  On the right is bassist Jacob who plays some excellent bass–including a nice solo at the end.  Way in back is Jacob on drums.  You can’t see him all that well, but you can hear his contribution perfectly.

Polymath musician Jacob Collier has been championing this style of one-man-band music videos since 2012, singing every note and playing every instrument. His cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”earned him a devout YouTube following at the age of 19, and he hasn’t slowed down since. The London wunderkind owns four Grammy Awards already, including two at the age of 22 in 2017…. Now 25, and with nearly a decade of experience producing every aspect of his own music from his home, Collier is uniquely positioned to crank out his best work from quarantine. In this video, each of the four parts was recorded in a single take. Pay close attention ; it’s easy to get tripped up inside Jacob’s head as he arranges this Rubik’s Cube of a video production, which feels both like a magic trick and a no-strings-attached bedroom session.

Introducing the next song, one of the Jacobs (they fight over who is the actual Jacob), says that “Time Alone With You” is a little funky–hope you don’t mind.  It’s groovy bass line and smart snapping drums.   The end of this song is a wonderful musical freakout with a vocal section that leads to a series of four fast drum hits (including Jacob banging on the piano and some bass rumblings as well).  There’s even a jazzy breakdown (real jazzy bass lines) which allows one of them to whisper “jazz.”  Because even though he is super talented and a very serious musician, he’s also goofy (look at his clothes).

He’s in the middle of releasing his ambitious four-volume record, Djesse. The last song in this video is the premiere of his new single “He Won’t Hold You,” which will appear on Vol. 3, due out later this year.

When piano Jacob changes the mutes in the piano bassist Jacob talks about the record.  “He Won’t Hold You” song starts a cappella in four part harmony (with himself). He can ht some really deep notes and the harmonies are super.

The only problem for me is I don’t really like his style of music.  Which is a shame because he’s so talented, I want to watch him all day.  It’s just not my musical scene.

[READ: July 10, 2020] “Immortal Heart”

This is a lengthy, somewhat complicated and ultimately devastating story.

The story is quite long and it revolves around a woman and her Precious Auntie living in the Western Hills south of Peking.  Their village is called Immortal Heart and The Liu clan (her family) has lived there for six centuries.  They were ink stick makers. They had expanded to a shop in Peking–a sign of great success.

Precious Auntie was born across the ravine in a town called Mouth of the Mountains.  The village was known for dragon bones, which poor men collected from the Monkey’s Jaw cave.  Precious Auntie’s father was a renowned bonesetter and he used these dragon bones as part of his work.

Precious Auntie could not speak.  She communicated with the narrator. Lu Ling, through sign language which only the two of them knew.  Precious Auntie was rather naughty and their silent language allowed her to speak her mind freely (she disapproved of bound feet for instance). (more…)

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chloeSOUNDTRACK: ROGER McGUINN with THE ROCK BOTTOM REMAINDERS-Tiny Desk Concert #62 (June 1, 2010).

mcguinn There are many unusual Tiny Desk Concerts, but this may be the strangest.  Ostensibly, the show is from The Rock Bottom Remainders, an informal and revolving assortment of good-natured authors who masquerade as a rock band for charity.  In this incarnation, they are Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, Roy Blount Jr., Kathy Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry, none of whom brought any instruments.  But leading them is Roger McGuinn, who brought his guitar and the chords to two songs.

The authors (mostly Dave Barry) are funny and self-deprecating, “We’re gonna attempt a song involving actual singing now,”

So McGuinn leads them in a rendition of “Sloop John B.” which they and the audience sing in a fun, campfire sorta way.  On the second song “May The Road Rise To Meet You” the backing singers mostly just sit and watch McGuinn.  And McGuinn seems fine with that.

He of course has a lovely voice.  And at the end, he does  neat little guitar solo.  And they all applaud.

[READ: July 29, 2015] Chloë Sevigny

I saw this book at work and decided to flip through it.  It has an introduction by Kim Gordon and an Afterword by Natasha Lyonne, so that seemed interesting enough.  The rest of the book is photos of Sevigny.  And nothing else.  Although Gordon says that “this book allows us a peek into her teenage bedroom and evokes the visceral thrill of getting dressed.”

I don’t really have an opinion of Sevigny.  Although I noticed that she tends to appear in things that I like–she’s like the cool guest star that appears on fun shows (like Portlandia).  But I don’t really know anything about her.

And I still don’t. (more…)

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