Saturday, January 8, 2011

One of My Favorite Recordings of 2010

Social Realism



can be awfully sad. 

Consider all the depictions

of a

"sick child"

that we have seen over the years. 

And now in the theaters

we can watch 

Nicole Kidman 

in Rabbit Hole


"focuses on a grieving couple
eight months after their young son was killed by a car
while chasing his dog into the street."


Lars von Trier's



a DVD I could not finish,

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe,

also attempt to

deal with their

young son's death.

How sad that

we are focused on this

terrible subject.

That said,

tragedy can inspire great Art,

and that is the case with

 one of my favorite recent recordings. 

On October 7, 2007

Kenny Werner's 


was killed 

in a car accident. 

One of the ways Kenny tried to deal with this 

was by writing a poem

that then became

his brilliant

five-movement work

No Beginning No End.

"The score was radically revised in 2009 and included sections for brass, strings, and percussion. It was recorded by a 37-piece ensemble and his piano. Vocalist Judi Silvano and saxophonist Joe Lovano overdubbed their parts onto the finished work. The poem that serves the root of this piece is gorgeously delivered, one note per word by Silvano. That note becomes the root on whichthe ensemble plays Werner's composition, and for Lovano's and Werner's improvisations. Elements of classical music -- Western and Indian -- dialogue seamlessly with jazz and structured improvisation for nearly 50 minutes, creating a work of transcendent spiritual beauty. It ends not with a conclusion, but an introduction to something beyond the confines of the work itself. In addition to "No Beginning No End" (comprised of five separate titles), there are three other pieces written related to it: "Visitation: Waves of Unborn" is a wordless a cappella for a 36-member choir that deals harmonically with the idea of music not as a noun but as a presence created by the souls dwelling between death and rebirth in the bardo. "Cry Out" was written as a simple, direct, and deeply emotive piece for a string quartet. Less than seven minutes in length, it is nonetheless one of the most memorable works Werner has ever composed; its entwining lyric lines willhaunt the listener long after it ends. "Coda" closes the disc; a spacious yet flowing six-and-a-half improvisation for piano, marimba, vibraphone, and harp, based in the E Mixolydian scale. Taken as a whole, No Beginning No End is a work for which there is no comparison, and few referents. Born of grief, it reflects only beauty, poetic and profound; it is Werner's master work." 

This is thoughtful,



with great writing 

and ensemble playing.

Do not miss this.


  1. Unfortunately, angst does produced some marvelous art. I'm adding Werner's album to my list. Excellent post, David. Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. Good Day Tess,

    Thanks for dropping by. Do not miss this recording. It is wonderful. I know you'll like it.