Sunday, March 05, 2017

As with the big bands, now with rock and roll. It's time to become an opera buff.

Already we're into the month of March. Where are the damned rock albums, already?

The sobering truth of the matter is that times have changed, perhaps irrevocably, and in spite of my best efforts to find youthful musicians hard at work to renew the music that still speaks to me like no other, it's getting harder and harder to find them.

So it goes, and there is little choice apart from going along with it.

Is Rock Still Relevant In 2016?, by Carl Wilson (Billboard)

So much of the major music news of 2016 involved death: David Bowie, Prince, George Martin and Leonard Cohen were among the legends on this year’s grim roster. Is it time to add rock music itself?

With little new of interest to me in 2017 (at least yet; hope springs eternal), I've sought my refuge in classical and jazz.

Lately, it's been big bands from their heyday in the 1930s and 1940s, as accompanying my current reading: Mr. Trumpet: The Trials, Tribulations, and Triumph of Bunny Berigan, written by Michael P. Zirpolo.

That's Roland Bernard Berigan. Echo and the Bunnymen came much later.

The plan is to write a full-scale review of Zirpolo's book, which I should be concluding later today. In the interim, I'm as ever 56 going on 90 when it comes to big band music. I was raised on the big band sound. The founding generation of this genre's practitioners was gone by the 1980s, and long before the digital era, I watched as they passed from the scene, and knew the era was over.

Of course, the actual big band era (as opposed to my own) didn't survive VJ Day, but it always seemed that for so long as the giants were alive, the genre remained viable.

Bizarrely, I remember this New York Times article from August 7, 1988, which today seems like a bookend for the topic of rock as an irrelevant (dead?) genre in 2017. Someone must have clipped the article and given it to me, because I wasn't reading the NYT as much back then.

MUSIC: Heeere's the Band ... But How Much longer? by John McDonough (New York Times)

In a culture whose critical mass has nourished rock and roll for 30 years, the fall of the big bands toward extinction has been inevitable. The old swing-era infrastructure of bands, ballrooms, broadcasts and booking agencies is gone. Most of the legendary figures are dead. And now, Johnny Carson's contract will be up in September. If that last observation sounds like a nonsequitur, consider this: the Tonight Show Band with Doc Severinsen is the last, modern, full-time big band in America - and of course the last in American broadcasting. It has musical power and star power and stands today at the peak of its fame, yet its continued existence hangs by the thread of Mr. Carson's future.

Of course, Carson retired in 1992, and I made note of all this here at the blog back in 2013, so be aware: Not only is Doc Severinsen still standing at the venerable age of 89, but he'll be performing down the road in Evansville on April 4.

Doc Severinsen, left standing.

No comments: