Friday, June 26, 2009

Una sull'altra (1969)

Dig this clip from Lucio Fulvi's 1969 thriller.

Right, I know. Yes, that's foxy Marisa Mell pulling the change-r-oo in the ladies room. And, yes, that's Riz Ortolani providing a score that sounds like Zal Yanovsky jamming with Oliver Nelson's orchestra. But the real star of the clip is Eero Saarinen's TWA Flight Center at New York's JFK airport. There are a couple of great shots of terminal back when it was first a functioning building. Just beautiful.

I did have the opportunity to pass through the hollowed halls of this architectural masterpiece just once. It was 1998 and I was en route to Barcelona, Spain experiencing an unexpected lay-over in the terminal. It was remarkably well preserved and I, frankly, thought I was in a dream. When I think about the events of the past decade or so which really opened my eyes to great design, this was certainly one of the most important ones.

Of course the happy ending to this post is not only can you now fly out/in to Terminal 5 again thanks to JetBlue, but you can also get your shoes shined there by my favorite San Francisco-based shine company, A. Shine & Co. Book your flight now!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky (June 17th)

Photo by Arnold Newman, 1946

Or Игорь Фёдорович Стравинский if you are so inclined. Born June 17, 1882 in Oranienbaum (renamed Lomonosov in 1948), Russia. Died April 6, 1971 in New York, New York.

I must admit that I hadn't given much ear time to Stravinsky's music until a few years ago when (somewhat on a lark), the missus and I attended a performance of the SF Symphony conducted by MTT. The highlight of the program by far was an earlier 20th Century piece from Stravinsky. It at once sounded both completely foreign and familiar. Now after having listened to much more of his work, I am struck by how much of an influence on popular music he was. What I mean by that is how much he influenced music that many of us take for granted - film scores. To call his work "cinematic" is actually inappropriate as he was composing long before our contemporary notion of cinema. And yet, you can hear the Stravinsky-influence in so many film scores from the 1940s through today. Of course, this is not only notable contribution to culture - modern classical and jazz music both absorbed his influence greatly. The latter has grown into somewhat legendary status with no less than Charlie Parker famously name-checking the Russian-born composer often as one of his favorites. Bird reportedly also had the opportunity to play for the man himself in 1951.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dave Pell (2009)

Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Times, c.1957

Hot on the heels of Marc's excellent blog about the current state of "jazz journalism", has been 2 days worth of interviews (with more to come) with Dave Pell.  I have really been digging it.  Today's interview especially really puts some aspects of the West Coast thing into perspective.  Being a native Southern Californian, I love reading about the history of the area, particularly when music is involved.  There is just something about LA that gets in you and stays there. To paraphrase someone: if you don't understand, then you just don't know.

P.S. - Don't go lookin' for the Crescendo Club on Sunset...the building was razed a long time ago.  After a successful run as a Sunset Strip jazz club in the 1950s-1960s, it became The Trip in the mid-60s hosting the likes of the Byrds (who incidentally were one of my first introductions to jazz - more on that some other time).