Churchill Music

Promoting musical excellence in Somerset since 2007

Music for Lockdown 14

Jazz drummer and band leader, Art Blakey said, You can’t separate modern jazz from rock or from rhythm and blues – you can’t separate it, because that’s where it all started, and that’s where it all came from – that’s where I learned to keep rhythm – in church.”

This Saturday, we should have been hosting our annual jazz concert in our garden here in Churchill.  Spirits cannot be dampened by either the gloopy news, the much needed rain or our current lock-down situation which seems to be easing a little.   

Research for this week’s email has exposed some pretty incredible and fascinating ways in which jazz has crept into our all of our lives.  Who would have thought that jazz would appear in a 1920’s opera by Ravel? 

You cannot fail to get on top of those early chores with this crazy clip of Firehouse Five +2 – a Dixieland Jazz group.  Popular in the 1950s, Firehouse 5 + 2 was a bunch of artists, writers, and technicians who worked together for Walt Disney by day, turning out those wonderful animation films of the Golden Age and on weekends, playing their raucous style of New Orleans jazz, all dressed up in red shirts, white braces, and genuine leather fire hats!   The “Firehouse” motif came from a 1916 American La France fire engine that leader, Ward Kimball restored for the local ‘Horseless Carriage Club’, and the “Plus Two” was from the fact the band had seven people. It all started when this group of jazz lovers spent their lunch hours listening to records of such jazz legends as King Oliver, Baby Dodds, Jelly Roll Morton, and Louis Armstrong. They had played various musical instruments at school, so they decided to really get into the spirit of the music by playing along with the records. One day the record player broke down in the middle of “Royal Garden Blues.” Undaunted, they kept on playing and found to their amazement that they sounded pretty good!  The rest is history.  Disney supported them, but on one condition – they continued to work for him! 

Time for the coffee ‘concertissimo’ with Peter Hewitt.  This week I think that his stormy scherzo from Beethoven’s Sonata No. Op 27 would fit well! This was one of Peter’s first releases and well worth a click!  

No Jazz celebration would be complete without the ‘Great’ Louis Armstrong performing ‘La Vie En Rose’ BUT stop there! Before the Great Louis made such a hit in 1972, the lyrics for the song were of course written by Edith Piaf with music composed in 1945 by Louis Guglielmi  ‘Louiguy’ a Spanish born, French musician of Italian descent!  Interestingly, Piaf’s peers and song-writing team didn’t think the song would be successful, so Piaff put it aside, only to change her mind the following year when she performed it live in concert in Paris. It became a favourite with audiences and was the song that made Piaf rise to international fame.  The lyrics express the joy of finding true love and appealing to those who had survived the difficult period of World War II.  Perfect as we hope to emerge our own ‘C’ world war!  Here is Edith Piaff singing La Vie En Rose

The Legendary Jazz Guitarist, John Ethridge has performed for CM many times – with the incredible jazz violinist, Chris Garrik, or singer Vimala Rowe whose voice is just dreamy, and with his band, Sweet Chorus. His last visit included the legendary John Williams and Gary Ryan for that epic concert in 2018.  For those aspiring Jazz Guitarists, here is a John’s Jazz Guitar Masterclass.  John is one of the most relaxed and fabulous musicians that we have had to stay.  Who could dream that at 7am I could wander into our kitchen to find John casually playing his guitar!  I hope that it won’t be long before he can return.

Time for ‘What’s on’!  There is SO much available but from 5pm tomorrow evening until 5th July, Glyndebourne Opera are Live Streaming a fascinating double bill of Ravel operas described at two sparkling miniatures – a sexy Spanish fantasy, L’heure espagnole (Spanish time) and a musical fairytale with a deeper twist – L’enfant et les sortilèges (The child and the spells).  L’heure espagnole – a one act opera from 1911 based on Franc-Nohain’s 1904 spoof comedy isset in Spain in the 18th century.  It has been described as, “a heat-soaked farce – youthful, sexy, ebullient – in which a clockmaker’s unfaithful wife Concepción juggles lovers while her husband is preoccupied with clockwork mechanisms”.  She attempts to hide them and of course they get stuck in, her husband’s clocks.  “Ravel evokes a Spanish flavour through his use of native dance forms including the jota, the habañera and the malagueña”.   It is “full of charming music”.  
L’enfant et les sortilèges was written quite a bit later.In the early 1920’s Ravel met the French author, Sidonie-Gabrielle Collette – known simply as ‘Collette’ who, like Ravel had had a strong emotional attachment to her mother – both mothers had recently died.  They found that they also had much in common in the way Collette wrote and Ravel composed – a style that perfectly fitted each other’s talents.  Particularly fitting for this week, is that L’enfant et les sortilèges has a distinct jazz element which was completely novel particularly for an opera written in the 1920s.  “You hear the diversity of the music – every scene, every character has a different sort of music.  It involves tea cups and saucers – cheese graters etc too!  The opera is about growing into adolescence. It divides into two parts with a magic garden in the middle.  The first part sees a young boy rebelling violently against his mother [plus ça change!].  In the second part the child realises that he has done a lot of damage to all the creatures, is sorry and seeks reparation.”  Hey Ho, “The boy deviates from his path of destruction because he meets the princess!  At the end, the whole opera resolves in a reconciliation that can speak to every one of us”.

We have featured the London Mozart Players a lot in these emails.  They have been truly innovative in bringing to us all an extra dimension to music-making whilst in the Lockdown.   They are the first orchestra to perform live, celebrating the re-opening of the Westgate Shopping centre whilst socially distancing and wearing masks.  Perhaps this is how we shall need to experience live music in the future?   They perform Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Skalka and Stahl’s jazzy ‘Dobra Dobra’, Elgar’s Chanson de Matin and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.   Perfect to accompany that relaxing sundowner.

The LMP daily releases have come to an end now with a most magical virtual performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s symphonic fairy tale for children, Peter and the Wolf  as you have never seen it before. Narrated by Alexander Armstrong, it is innovative and the greatest fun.  I have absolutely no doubt that the whole family are guaranteed to enjoy it.  If you feel you could nominate the LMP for a Royal Philharmonic Society award for Inspiration, this orchestra definitely deserve it.  They simply have not stopped during the whole of the lockdown period.  

AND FINALLY, Wimbledon should be starting this week.  Needless to say, CM has the answer – Cello tennispolka by the Wiener Cello Ensemble 5+1 – treat yourself to just 3 minus of genius!
Keep safe, healthy and happy,Hasta la vista,