Monthly Archives: December 2015

Life on the Road

072Come to think of it, dear reader – and with the beginning of this New Year – I find by hindsight that I’ve spent many years of my life on the road: on foot, or in a car belonging to a Good Samaritan for hitching a ride, or – for God’s Sake, later on in life! – even on a camel in an Egyptian desert accompanied by my wife and help-meet of 56 years, Lolita.

Early on it was on the subcontinent of colonial British India, where I grew up and where, and whenever I got the chance, I was on my own exploring areas of that vast country in South Asia that I’d never seen or visited before: that included the foothills of the Himalayas in the North and Northeast; the Northwest provinces, most of them now in Pakistan; the fascinating island of Ceylon, now as an independent country known as Sri Lanka, in the South; and many parts in between including my old stomping ground, Bengal (now known as West Bengal) and its main city Calcutta (now known as Kolkata), as well as Madras (now known as Chenai) and Bombay (now known as Mumbai). Speaking of the latter, I offer a random thought: Shouldn’t its famed film industry now be known as Mollywood, instead of Bollywood?

Even when I embarked in my teens on higher education in England to pursue an electrical engineering degree, all my summer vacations were spent either walking and hitchhiking in the U.K. – Wales and Scotland, in particular – or in Europe, where I estimated I covered some 5,500 miles in four years of crisscrossing the Germanic and Scandinavian countries in the Northwest, as well as the French and Latin ones in the Southwest and South. Not to be outdone, when the Soviet Union still existed, I did enjoy singular forays into Moscow and Leningrad, speaking of which, it has since reverted back to the imperial St. Petersburg under a resurrected Russia.

You would’ve noticed a singular paradigm, which seems to permeate my litany of place-names: because of political upheavals, or the end of colonialism and/or regime change, they have all been re-christened by the new ruling entities in those distant lands that, from an American perspective, changed – not for better or worse, but, in some cases, newer to older – a famed city’s persona by the stroke of a pen or the no-questions-asked persuasive power of the sword – or should I say the jackboot of an invading horde?

I hate to pick favorites as each country has its own mystique, culture, language and history that help to define it for good or ill: it all depends on one’s own predetermined view based on educational background, knowledge of foreign literature, racial upbringing and – in my case – artistic proclivity and propensity toward music, dance and the visual arts.

As always, a proper place to begin one’s life on the road is at the very beginning.

I trace my wanderlust to my storied grandfather, Mirza Ziauddin Akmal, who at an early age left a comfortable leisurely life as the scion of a Mughal family in Lahore (now in Pakistan), taking with him that portion of his family inheritance due to him, and traveled the overland route from Lahore via Afghanistan, Persia (now Iran) and Turkey into Europe.

Back in independent India, years later, whenever Nanaji stayed with my family in New Delhi, I invariably spent quality time with him, often at night on our rear verandah gazing at the stars on a cloudless night whereupon he’d clue me into the various star clusters and the myriad ones in the Milky Way. I was also captivated by his tales of derring-do in foreign lands, be it in South Africa, Madagascar or – across the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean – the Caribbean isles. His philological and working knowledge of Indian and European languages was wide-ranging and held him in good stead in tricky situations. His favorite foreign countries, apart from England, were Austria (when it was still part of the Austro-Hungarian empire) and Germany, and that inspired me to visit them often many years later.

Apropos of that, as a burgeoning classical pianist, I was fascinated by my road-travels through the capital and cultural cities of Germany and Austria: they breathed the music of many great composers that were literally at my fingertips – Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, and Schumann. Then, one of my European summers took me to Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and I got to understand that there were others in the pantheon of composers that demanded my attention as a performing musician. Grieg, for one, comes to mind, and I still enjoy playing his piano pieces as well as his one and only piano concerto.

However, in Northern Europe, it was more the Scandinavian landscape that caught my imagination: I must assume, the likes of Sibelius must have been inspired by it, and his symphonies are some of my favorites other than all of those composed by Beethoven and Brahms. 

On one memorable month-long hike I was able to encompass a demanding route that took me through both urban and rural areas in Sweden and Norway as well as a less onerous one in Denmark, which is still my Nordic choice of a relaxing and welcoming environment – especially for a hitchhiker! I even ended up babysitting a young family’s first-born when they simply had to attend a special family event in a neighboring township and daren’t expose her to the elements. (I happened to have befriended his future wife, Lisa, when she was still a student in London, and she insisted that if I ever visited her country I would pay her a visit.)

Sweden_NorwayThe standouts in my memory are Malmo, Orebro, Stockholm, and Uppsala in Sweden; Trondheim and Oslo in Norway; and Aalborg and Copenhagen in Denmark. An image of an old map I acquired on my exhaustive – and exhausting! – journey is seen alongside to illustrate the enormity of my aspirations that dwindled in real time and space to the actual landmarks that I was able to savor: fortunately for me, it was during the highly unusual ‘Indian Summer’ of the year that I undertook the trek, and it helped immeasurably to assuage the rigors of my self-appointed task.

I was also a Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev fan from a young age, and toward the end of my European education I was able to make it to Soviet Russia. Most of my fortnight there was spent in Leningrad, the attraction for me being the Hermitage Museum, where I spent virtually most of my vacation days viewing its artistic treasures – my favorites being the French Impressionists, many examples of which were on display. I did, however, find time to go to the Kirov Theater for two nights of inspiring and impeccable ballet. In Moscow itself, I attended several major concerts to savor my favorite Russian symphonic and orchestral music performed by the country’s top orchestras and instrumental soloists.

I never did get to the Slavic countries as a teenager: they were in thrall to the Red hegemonic power at the time, but I made up for it years later by traveling to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Rumania. As a result, I was able to revel firsthand in the music of Chopin, Dvorak, Bartok and Enesco at my leisure and with a greater understanding of the very essence of their creative output.

In the case of Chopin, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey to his birthplace, Zelazova Wola, a fairly short distance from Warsaw, where I was participating in a music festival devoted to the composer. Not much later, I traveled to Prague, where I spent a fair amount of time soaking in the music of Dvorak. A year later (1956) I was a competitor in Budapest for the first Franz Liszt International Music Festival, at which time I had the opportunity of visiting places and venues connected with Bartok and his music escorted by no less than the remarkable Zoltan Kodaly. And two years later, I was tantalized by time spent in Bucharest and its environs right up to the Carpathians, where I was mesmerized by the beauty of various places closely associated with Enesco and his band of brothers – some of whom I had never heard of before, but whose music has since inspired my own forays into folk tunes and compositions.

Note: Due to an unfortunate serious illness in the family, I was unable to complete this blog earlier to kick off the New Year. Please, therefore, treat this is as Part One of a two-part series to be continued shortly – stay tuned!

Copyright © 2016 Azim Lewis Mayadas
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Shortest Day of the Year

In keeping with being in the midst of the shortest day of the year – here December 21, across “The Pond” December 22 – let’s celebrate it with my shortest blog of 2015. Here goes ——-

The Winter Solstice across the Pond
December 22, 2015

winter solstice 2015A

SALISBURY, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 22
Stonehenge on December 22, 2015 in Wiltshire, England

Hundreds of people gathered
at the famous historic stone circle
to celebrate the sunrise
closest  to the Winter Solstice,
the shortest day of the year.

Dear Readers,
You number over 19,000 since January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.  
It would mean a lot to me if you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Copyright © 2015 Azim Lewis Mayadas
_______________________________________________________

 

Pesky Sesqui Minutiae

072ses·qui·cen·ten·ni·al – That Latin-based word fortunately has the same number of syllables (6) as the English One-hun-dred-and-fif-ty. But that doesn’t make it any easier to remember, let alone pronounce, especially for those poor mortals, who never had Latin drummed into them by shillelagh-wielding Irish Christian brothers when their cowering snotty-nosed kids were students in the 4th, 5th or 6th form of a New Delhi-based Catholic-run school back in India.

So here am I, many, many years later in Englewood, New Jersey, near the year-end of the sesquicentennial – there’s that polysyllabic word again! – of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and trying to figure out the best way of bringing home to my readers the great import of this auspicious date and time in its history. Not much point, to my mind, in reciting well-known historical facts that have been adequately covered in many local library publications – good and mediocre – since 1865.

St. Paul's PlaqueBut, if I’m able to provide a personal – and perhaps parochial – perspective, without going into ‘pesky sesqui’ minutiae, yet throwing some light on hitherto little-known facts, I would have accomplished my self-appointed task.

The Chapel (nee Parish Hall)
My favorite by far in St. Paul’s building complex is the Chapel, which was erected in 1899 as a parish hall. It is where I got my middle daughter (a tenured professor in Harvard) married instead of in her closer neighborhood Cambridge church. Later, one of her daughters was baptized at the Chapel. I also took great pride in arranging for a maze to be constructed outside the Chapel entrance.
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140

 

150th Annual Meeting
I was to be sure disappointed, as others were, that the meeting held on the morning of December the 13th in the Parish Hall was sparsely attended in sharp contrast to the handsome and colorfully populated 31-page 2015 Annual Report. Nonetheless, there was enough of a quorum to permit the business side of the proceedings to go forward without a hitch. One prominent member there did point out to those present that he was amazed “how much gets done at the parish with so few volunteers.” His hope, as a newly appointed Vestrymember, was to “help the Rector evangelize the congregation” and make a renewed and concerted effort to get others involved in the life and ministries of the parish.

Volunteers
Speaking of volunteers, I’d like to devote some time here to those whom I largely depended on during the privileged five and a half years I spent as the Parish Administrator (2009-14) and without whom my task would have been immeasurably more burdensome. In no particular order, there was Ruth Herrick, who despite her 99 years – which great age she attained on October 25 this year – was there in person at The 150th.

Until mid-2014, Mrs. Herrick regularly attended my monthly meeting toward the end of each month in the Vestry Room along with another volunteer, Merle Fenderson, to put together artfully and accurately The Messenger for mailing to our 150 parishioner households that were not online, so that the newsletters arrived at the recipients’ addresses at the beginning of each month without fail.

Ruth and Merle

Ruth and Merle

[October 25, 2010 was a special day for Ruth, who celebrated her 95th birthday , yet a day later, she was busy in the Vestry Room doing – what else? – folding, labeling and stamping over 150 pieces of the November publication with Merle at her side.
Cakes for Ruth
Merle, who is a professional baker of irresistible delicacies, was
moved to create a colorful plateful of cakes for the occasion
as the image alongside displays in greater detail – yummy!]

Another of my constant and consistent volunteers was the inimitable long-serving Treasurer of the Vestry/Choir member and professional editor William “Bill” Payne: he along with authoress Margaret “Peg” Slaven, had eagle eyes trained on all the ins and outs of the ‘literary ‘ aspects of the monthly newsletters and official reports submitted via me and others for the Vestry and beyond.

001

Make no mistake, Bill and Peg taught me the ins and outs of avoiding misplaced colons, semicolons, commas, apostrophes, brackets and suchlike in a sentence before publication in print or online. I’m grateful to them, as I find their collective grammatical wisdom helping me even now as I turn in my eighties to blogging on the Internet on a regular basis about this and that on a myriad of topics and subjects.

Bill Payne
Then, there were those who were active in the kitchen and the Parish Hall on Sundays – including special days. The popularity of the repasts laid out after Sunday service is a testament to the excellence of the army of volunteers.

Jeff Johnson and Kai Alston
Jeff Johnson and Kai Alston

Among them, who – I ask – cannot name a particular mother-and-daughter team that jumps out over the years in sheer dedication and devotion to the cause? Coralius (“Corless”) Noble and her daughter Kaileen (“Kai”) Alston! Kai is seen alongside viewing parishioner Jeff Johnson preparing a BBQ on one Sunday just outside the Parish Hall for a hungry crowd.

Other active souls for many years have been entrepreneur Ina Martinez (former Junior Warden) who helped The Messenger to flourish early on in the 1990’s, and Janice Walker, who has regularly spearheaded St. Paul’s contingent for the Annual Crop Walk held in May: croplogoit’s well-known logo can be seen in and around town to help increase citizen’s involvement each year here in Englewood.

Helpers in the Administrative Office were legion, and while it is difficult to single out one of them, it would be safe for me to say that I appreciated the ready assistance I received from Hugh Hall as locum tenens on many occasions .

I could go on and on, but before I head to the non-volunteer section of this article, I would be remiss in not mentioning Pat O’Neil, now Senior Warden, who for years was always available when I needed a sympathetic ear in the office or away from work. On a lighter note, I know that, because of his Irish background, Pat appreciated my tales of yore pertaining to my grade school experiences with a martinet of a schoolmaster from Ireland.

Clergy
Among the clergy I worked with as a committee member and then Vestrymember, the Rector Fr. Jack McKelvey was a class act and did the parish proud before being whisked away to Newark by the Diocese as the Suffragan Bishop. Later Jack was installed, as Bishop,  in my old stomping ground of Rochester, NY.

112Not far behind in my appreciation was the next Rector, Fr. Kenneth Near, whose musical ear allowed me to share with him some common – and oftentimes droll! – experiences on and off the stage.

I had already put in my papers to the interim Priest-in-Charge Fr. Robert “Bob” Shearer end-2013 for retiring from St. Paul’s in the New Year, when the Search Committee under the dynamic leadership of Michele Simon was able to hire William ‘Bill’ Allport as the permanent Rector.

Staff – Grounds
011
And then, there’s the durable Bob Burr, who at one time was synonymous with St. Paul’s building itself. He lived on the premises for years and virtually ‘ran’ the edifice!

His successor as sexton, the Dominican-born Daniel Elivo, is a born salsa dancer. I got to know him and his foibles well while he was still with St. Paul’s, and he was a willing worker whenever or wherever a helping hand was needed on and off the premises.

Staff – Music
Historically speaking, music has been the life-blood of St. Paul’s, and during my 35 years in Englewood I have known three excellent Directors of Music starting with John Bullough, then Paris Simms and latterly, Mark Trautman.

IMG_0425

Mark has been good at getting a music school for kids within the Church’s portals off the ground and introducing regular concerts in a Music@St. Paul’s series on Sundays at 5 p.m. that has attracted new audiences. At one of them, I appreciated that he was able to arrange for a well-known local chamber ensemble to perform my quintet, Adagietto for Strings, 2014 (mp3 version below) in the sanctuary at one of the Sunday events last year.

Be it noted – hint, hint! – that there are other “sesqui” celebrants around the country and they have taken full advantage of the Internet to get their voices heard. I was particularly taken with Cornell University’s that has made a lot of its lovely environment in both still pictures and video. It shouldn’t be difficult for the Church to do likewise soon, if it were to draw on its own talent, such as photographer Gary Mason, to fashion the content of, say, a colorful webpage devoted to the Sesquicentennial.

Building and Grounds Miscellany
My particular slant today is drawn from those amateur photos that I myself have collected over the years. So here goes, with St. Paul’s and its building and favored grounds  at different times of the year:

549 015
320          St. Paul's

 

 

 

 

 


360

151

Stained Window 3

 

Dear Readers,
You number over 18,000 since January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.  
It would mean a lot to me if you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Copyright © 2015 Azim Lewis Mayadas
_______________________________________________________

Elegy

Edna MillayDown, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind:
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave,
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
from “Dirge without Music” – Edna St. Vincent Millay

The last verse of Millay’s Dirge came unbidden to my mind after the San Bernardino carnage, and as it is indeed without music, I felt emboldened to provide it: after all, that massacre in California was not a singular evil event, but one of a series of senseless maiming and killing of innocent people. I was forced to ask myself, When will it end? Will it ever end?

Edna St. Vincent Millay

The endless anodynes voiced on the airwaves, on TV and radio, after each numbing, mindless attack on our frail humanity only sickened me. Of a sudden, I decided to offer a small solace to the victims and their families by way of encapsulating that endless dirge within the confines of a simple elegiac composition – paying heed to the heartbroken to the best of my musical ability. Here it is in an MP3 format, which while the least true in its digital sound will still give you, I think, the essence of its elegiac message.

Elegy written in the wake of recent shooting tragedies

Dear Readers,
You number over 18,000 since January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.  
It would mean a lot to me if you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Copyright © 2015 Azim Lewis Mayadas
_______________________________________________________

Not Part of the Rat Pack, but…

SinatraI never had the opportunity of meeting Frank Sinatra, variously referred to as Chairman of the Board or Ol’ Blue Eyes. Nor was I ever part of his Rat Pack – after all I was born 18 years after he was and in another part of the world. But, even if his music didn’t get to our household after the lapse of many moons, the films he acted in did. So I knew about those young blue eyes long before I really appreciated his once-in-a-lifetime voice.

It was when I settled with my family in America that I came into contact with those singers, who were at one time or another a part of a duo performing and recording with him. Indeed, I actively sought them out as soloists in their own rights to participate in the pop concerts I ran as an orchestra manager in Rochester, NY, and Miami, FL starting 40 years ago (1975-81.)

I now have the excuse, in celebrating Sinatra’s birth centenary on December the 12th, to recall some of those who partnered with him to leave to posterity some memorable songs of the 20th century. But before I cut to the chase, here are some facts that I need to lay out:

First, The Voice –  Sinatra’s first album for Capitol, Songs for Young Lovers, was released on January 4, 1954, and included (my favorite) “A Foggy Day”, followed by “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “My Funny Valentine”, “Violets for Your Furs” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”: all those songs became staples of his later concerts.

In 1975, Sinatra performed in concerts in New York with Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald, and at the London Palladium with Basie and Sarah Vaughan, giving 140 performances in 105 days.
sarah
Ella and Sarah (“The Divine One” pictured alongside whom Ella called the world’s “greatest singing talent”) are the two I was able to sign up for the following two summer pops concert series at beautiful Canandaigua in upstate New York: Here’s the inimitable Sarah singing Misty.
After rehearsals in Rochester I was thrilled to drive each of them in my gleaming Buick sedan (nicknamed Black Beauty) to her appointed outdoor site with the weather on each occasion cooperating for a fine voice on the line in front of large numbers of out-of-towners out for a rollicking good time.
Ella
 Each diva was happy to share with me her separate experience with Sinatra in New York and London respectively. [This was not unlike my separate hosting of the world-famous operatic soprano Jessye Norman on the local WXXI in Rochester and on her concert tour of Northern New York cities, but that is another story I’ll be relating in a blog in early 2016.] Even by hindsight I am in no position to prefer Ella over Sarah: Ella (pictured alongside) and Sinatra were superb, feeding off each other in such hits as “The Lady is a Tramp.”
Each star was scintillating  in her professional performance with my stripped-down, 55-member pop-orchestra – which did ’em proud! I wish Sinatra had been there to enjoy the show – as a bystander, not part of a duo!!
Now, The Actor –  My young Delhi cohorts and I saw Here to Eternity in 1954 some months after its release worldwide in August 1953. It marked the beginning of a remarkable career revival for Sinatra.  He began to bury himself in his work, with an “unparalleled frenetic schedule of recordings, movies and concerts”, in what authors Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan describe as “a new and brilliant phase”.  Some of my friends saw it a second time, they found it so rivetingly romantic.
Classical Streak:
Sinatra was an aficionado of classical music, and would often request classical strains in his music, inspired by composers and Puccini and other Impressionist masters. His personal favorite was Ralph Vaughan Williams. Little known was the fact that he began singing professionally as a teenager, but he learned music by ear and never learned to read music.
References: Wikipedia, My Diary

Dear Readers,
You number over 18,000 since January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.  
It would mean a lot to me if you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Copyright © 2015 Azim Lewis Mayadas

 

Dave – and All That (Cool) Jazz

Dave BrubeckDavid WarrenDaveBrubeck (December 6, 1920 – December 5, 2012) was an American jazz pianist and composer, considered to be one of the foremost exponents of cool jazz.  [That’s a style of modern jazz music that arose following the Second World War. It is characterized by its relaxed tempos and lighter tone, in contrast to the bebop style. Cool jazz often employs formal arrangements and incorporates elements of classical music.]

Dave, pictured alongside in a 1954 photo, wrote a number of jazz standards, including “In Your Own Sweet Way” and “The Duke”. Brubeck’s style ranged from refined to bombastic, reflecting his mother’s attempts at classical training and his improvisational skills. His music is known for employing unusual time signatures, and superimposing contrasting rhythms, meters, and tonalities.

In 1958 African-American bassist Eugene Wright joined for the group’s U.S. Department of State tour of Europe and Asia. Wright became a permanent member in 1959, making the “classic” Quartet’s personnel complete.

His long-time musical partner, alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, wrote the saxophone melody for the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s best remembered piece, “Take Five”, which is in 5/4 time and has endured as a jazz classic on one of the top-selling jazz albums, Time Out. Brubeck experimented with time signatures throughout his career, recording “Pick Up Sticks” in 6/4, “Unsquare Dance” in 7/4, “World’s Fair” in 13/4, and “Blue Rondo à la Turk” in 9/8. He was also a respected composer of orchestral and sacred music, and wrote soundtracks for television such as Mr. Broadway and the animated miniseries This Is America, Charlie Brown.

Brubeck was nearly expelled when one of his professors discovered that he could not read music. Several of his professors came forward, arguing that his ability with counterpoint and harmony more than compensated. The college was still afraid that it would cause a scandal, and agreed to let Brubeck graduate only after he had promised never to teach piano.

After serving nearly four years in the army, he attended Mills College in Oakland. He studied under Darius Milhaud, who encouraged him to study fugue and orchestration, but not classical piano.

BrubeckQuartetBrubeck organized the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951, with Paul Desmond on alto saxophone. They took up a long residency at San Francisco’s Black Hawk nightclub and gained great popularity touring college campuses, recording a series of albums.

Brubeck died of heart failure on December 5, 2012, in Norwalk, Connecticut, one day before his 92nd birthday. He was on his way to a cardiology appointment, accompanied by his son Darius. A birthday party concert had been planned for him with family and famous guests. It was recast as a memorial tribute.

In his indelible memory, I offer the 1967 YouTube version of his In Your Own Sweet Way. There’s no denying the fact that it’s a masterwork of its genre – it its own sweet way!

Afterword
As a member of the American Symphony Orchestra League and in my capacity as the General Manager of the Florida Philharmonic, Miami, I regularly attended ASOL’s annual conferences. One of them, held in New York City, was notable as the chief guest was Dave Brubeck, who was there with his quartet and regaled the orchestra musicians with an outstanding performance of his cool jazz, which literally brought the house down. At the reception that followed, I spoke with Dave and mentioned that we’d met earlier in Calcutta many moons ago when he was touring with his quartet as part of the U.S. State Department’s Cultural initiative. With remarkable acuity, he recalled his group’s Indian tour in 1958, and more particularly the much heralded performance at the Great Eastern Hotel. He hadn’t realized that among the younger Bengali generation, there were many who ‘grooved’ his quartet’s form of cool jazz with glimmers of classical music every now and then.

Great-eastern-hotel

As a side-note,  the Hotel, during its heyday (shown alongside in 1865) was known variously as the “Jewel of the East” and the “Savoy of the East”.  And, it did not hide the fact that it had housed many famous personalities including  Elizabeth II, Mark Twain, and – another famous American – Dave Brubeck!

Thirty years later—in 1988, as the Cold War was waning—the Quartet performed in Moscow at the reciprocal state dinner hosted by President Ronald Reagan for General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev during their fourth summit meeting. The sequence of events leading up to this occasion, including the Quartet’s long-anticipated tour of the Soviet Union during the previous year, reveals Brubeck to have been not only a talented musician but a canny entrepreneur as well.

Jazz as Democracy
By all accounts, Brubeck’s tours in the 1950s and 1980s were among the most successful of their kind. Brubeck, however, attributed their efficacy primarily to the power of an influential idea that came into its own toward the beginning of the Cold War—namely, jazz as democracy!

References: Wikipedia, The Journal of Musicology, My Diary

Dear Readers,
You number over 18,000 since January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.  
It would mean a lot to me if you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Copyright © 2015 Azim Lewis Mayadas

__________________________________________________________________