October 7, 2013 |
'It's so good listening to old records," Allen Toussaint sings on his new album. And it's so good to hear old masters Toussaint and Ry Cooder in such fine form on their new records. Their live sets are among a spate of our favorite new roots-related releases. Songbook ( Rounder **** ) captures just Touissant and his piano at New York's Joe's Pub in 2009. The 75-year-old giant of New Orleans music is known more as a composer and arranger than as a performer, but like the great soul songwriter Dan Penn, he's as good an interpreter of his own material as anyone.
July 9, 2013 |
LILLIAN M. Lewandowski did her part for the war effort during World War II. She made Raisinets for the troops. That's not as far-fetched as it might sound. Lillian had to forgo a full scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania because her work for the Blumenthal Brothers Chocolate Co. was deemed essential to the war effort. Lillian Lewandowski, who after the war worked as a secretary for lawyers, then the U.S. Customs Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency, and used her musical talents to teach piano and organ and peform at area churches, died June 22. She was 88. She lived in Bensalem but had lived for many years in Frankford.
July 3, 2013 |
WALTHAM, Mass. - The famed piano maker Steinway is hoping that the sale of the company to private equity firm Kohlberg & Co. will strike the right chord. Steinway Musical Instruments Inc., which has been in business for 160 years, said Monday that it has agreed to be bought by Kohlberg for about $438 million. Steinway pianos have been a status symbol and a must-have luxury in concert halls for more than a century, but the storied company suffered during the recession. While it has recovered, its shares have not returned to their peak, reached just six months before the recession began.
May 10, 2013 |
MYRTLE SIMS PERRY always put on her finest outfit for church, complete with the big hats that she made herself, her nails impeccably sculpted. "As a young child she was always told by her mother to give God her best and that's why she loved to dress in her finest," her family said. "She was the diva of the church," said her daughter, Cheryl Curry. Myrtle was not only a fashionable dresser at her church, the United House of Prayer for All People, in South Philadelphia, she played the piano for three choirs at services, directed one of them, the Echoes of McCollough, created bulletins, handled correspondence and was chairwoman of the church's Women's Day. Myrtle Perry, who took on multiple jobs to support her family over the years, died May 2 of complications from surgery.
April 16, 2013 |
Often lost amid all the exactitude issuing from conservatories today is the reason we make music in the first place. It's not about being able to play all the notes or play them in tune. Interpretation has to mean something if it is to be worth the trouble, especially since the trouble is considerable. How fortunate, then, must be the students of Miriam Fried, the violin pedagogue who teaches at the New England Conservatory. On Sunday night, for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, she came to the Perelman Theater with one of her progeny - in fact, her prime progeny, pianist Jonathan Biss, who happens to be her son. Whatever their offstage dynamics may be, in terms of musical substance it was a performance of equals - if very different ones.
April 12, 2013 |
IF YOU COULD make it at Spider Kelly's, you had already made it in the Philly jazz scene. After all, John Coltrane played there, as well as organist Jimmy Smith and numerous other local luminaries at a time ('50s and '60s) when Philadelphia was the place to be for the best in jazz. It was a tough crowd. A piano player kept a bottle of wine and a pistol under his piano. The denizens expected only the best in their kind of music, and they got it. The likes of Louis Jordan and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, playing at the nearby Earle Theatre, came by to scoop up talent for their bands.
April 11, 2013 |
Beirut-born Michael Penniman - Mika to you - might not seem the dream of teen lasses and sorority girls. He's high-pitched, slight-of-build, and makes exuberant music that's an au courant, hit-making encapsulation of all things Glam Rock and fussily British (Sparks, Elton). Yet, there he was - all snug-fitting tux and tight curls - thrilling an all-ages crowd of gals and the boys who love them during a sold-out show at Union Transfer Monday in what was billed as an "intimate evening with . . . " What that meant was that his usually crowded stage and busy arrangements were stripped down to just Mika trilling theatrically and hammering piano, with instrumentalist/vocalists along for the bumpy ride.
March 12, 2013 |
Jane Peebles Whitten, 83, an educator, musician, and philanthropist who taught at West Chester University, died of complications of a stroke Wednesday, March 6, at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. She was married for 55 years to Benjamin Whitten, a pianist and teacher who died in 2010. Mrs. Whitten was a gourmet cook long before cable television featured celebrity chefs, and she would constantly try new recipes from Craig Claiborne and Julia Child, her family said. "She could make music in the kitchen like few people I have known," said Peter Orth, who studied piano with the Whittens before going to the Juilliard School and on to a career as a pianist.
December 24, 2012 |
There's so much lavish, lovely Christmas adornment at the Voorhees home of Tina and Rocco Fiorentino that it's difficult to take it all in. And no wonder: In every room of this contemporary house with a rich, deep color palette, Santa is there, grinning from walls or tabletops, resting on shelves. No two representations of the jolly old guy are alike. "I guess I have a thing about Santa Clauses," Tina Fiorentino admits with a sheepish smile. "I've definitely lost count. " This is a place where Christmas is epic, elegant, and homey - a place thoroughly enjoyed by the guests who cascade through it during holiday season.
December 20, 2012 |
Like a promising matryoshka doll, Jeremy Denk's Tuesday night recital at the Kimmel Center kept revealing itself. The program's halves seemed split into the cerebral, Bach's Goldberg Variations , and the deeply personal, Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze . Each of these pieces released a series of smaller ones (18 movements in the Schumann, 32 in the Bach) from which sprang smaller and even more complex characterizations. This was a makeup recital; the pianist's October appearance for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society was washed out by Sandy, its program of Brahms and Liszt now lost.