It’s been 50 years since Hendrix’s ‘Electric Ladyland’ blew our minds


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The double album blurred the lines between musical genres and refused to let blackness be narrowcast.

For a kid born in 1960, I came to Jimi Hendrix’s music late. While I fondly recall lurking outside the door of my sister’s bedroom to sneak a listen of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and loving the iconic introductory guitar on the Temptations’ “My Girl” emanating from my brother’s room, I can’t claim that I stood in the hallway of my childhood home, in Chicago, playing air guitar to the power chords that introduced “Purple Haze.”

Then I went college. One night in 1979, probably in between Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and the Velvet Underground’s Loaded, a friend put on Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland and, like millions of other listeners, I was absolutely transfixed. At the time, I’d known Hendrix for remarkable three- and four-minute singles like “Manic Depression” and “Foxy Lady.” But hearing Electric Ladyland, whose 10th anniversary coincided with my freshman year, and whose 50th anniversary is upon us, was a game-changer.

On a personal level, it was an affirmation of sorts. As an African American with a diverse sonic appetite dating back to childhood, I’d been called an “Uncle Tom” by junior high classmates for liking Steely Dan more than B.T. Express, a taunt that left me with physical and emotional scars. Electric Ladyland confirmed that my interests were, and always had been, cool. Way cool. The album had a little bit of everything.

The jazz aficionado in me loved “Rainy Day, Dream Away,” while my inner blues lover dug Jimi’s take on Earl King’s “Come On (Let the Good Times Roll).” The rock head banger inside me loved “Crosstown Traffic.” By the time the recording ended, with a searing cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” and a fiery “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” I knew I’d found my church.

So had a lot of people, especially African American listeners and musicians. More than any recording up to that point, Electric Ladyland refused to allow blackness to be narrowcast, and presented a vision of a diverse, accomplished African American future. Which is why it’s as powerful in 2018 as it was half a century ago.

Electric Ladyland’s inside cover. (Reprise Records)

In1969, legendary rock critic Robert Christgau raved that “no previous rock album flowed like [Electric Ladyland], and while jazz albums often support as many contrasting sonic moods, Louis Armstrong himself didn’t match Hendrix’s appetite for sound effects and general silliness. His spaced-out spirituality is the fullest musicalization of ‘psychedelic’ ever accomplished.” In 2017, Pitchfork ranked the recording number 11 in its top 200 recordings of the sixties. In his assessment, Nate Patrin wrote, “Hendrix was a master of both the boundless potential and the immediate simplicity of rock.” Yet this praise only skims the surface.

Electric Ladyland was released in October of ’68, a little less than a year before Hendrix’s landmark appearance at Woodstock, where his solo guitar version of “The Star Spangled Banner” would solidify his place in the pantheon of American musicians. It’s fairly easy to draw a direct line from him to other great guitarists like Robin Trower, Joe Satriani, Ernie Isley, Prince, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, as well as shredders in different genres like Robert Randolph (gospel/Americana), Gary Clark (blues/rock) Eddie Hazel (funk), and Mary Halvorson (jazz), just to name a few. But Electric Ladyland’s impact goes deeper than just the work of a virtuoso guitar player.

“I think that the impact Hendrix’s work had on me was the sheer power of his visionary imagination,” Vernon Reid, a guitar wizard and leader of the group Living Colour, tells Timeline via email:

Hendrix painted murals of sound, a cosmology of artistic freedom. He didn’t seem to have any boundaries to his expression. Even as he was deeply connected to blues, he was not hemmed in by that traditional structure. He managed to find a way to be free within it. Jimi became a capital-O Obsession. The opener of Electric Ladyland, “And the Gods Made Love,” was hardcore psychedelia, total aural strangeness, a preamble to a dream question, “Have You Ever Been to Electric Ladyland?” The answer was decidedly NO, but I really, REALLY wanted to go.

Hendrix’s vision, his uncanny ability to be rooted in many genres yet see beyond aesthetic boundaries, is what makes Electric Ladyland an inspirational touchstone for so many artists. Reid notes that his group’s 1990 recording Time’s Up owes a significant debt to the Hendrix classic, adding that “a record like Prince’s 1999 or Sign ‘O’ the Times doesn’t happen without the existence of Electric Ladyland.” Neither, he says, does Lenny Kravitz’s Let Love Rule or Miles Davis’s Agharta or Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain or any seventies-era tunes by the Isley Brothers. And of course, he says, “the DNA of rock from Seattle is suffused with what Hendrix accomplished with Electric Ladyland, which makes all the more sense, given that Seattle was Hendrix’s hometown.

 

Electric Ladyland’s influence can be heard on recent recordings by Solange (left), Kamasi Washington (center), and Nicole Mitchell (right), despite the fact that none are rock albums. (Saint Records/Brainfeeder/FPE Records)

Evidently, Electric Ladyland’s DNA still runs strong in the current generation of musical artists. Or perhaps the confluence of Barack Obama’s presidency and the rise of Black Lives Matter have played a part in supporting a vision for a strong African American future. Either way, several recent, sprawling, epic recordings suggest a sonic itinerary that includes the multi-dimensional realm of Electric Ladyland.

A Seat at the Table, Solange Knowles’s 2016 exploration of contemporary black womanhood, draws on many styles, such as jazz, gospel, and hip-hop, and reimagines each to create a polyglot rhythm-and-blues sound that both is rooted in the past and reaches far into the future. Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, a 2015 meditation on African American masculinity, features a broad base of musical styles and goes so deep on the jazz tip that it provided the breakout moment for saxophonist Kamasi Washington, who then released his own appropriately titled recording, The Epic, which presents an Afro-futurist vision.

Flutist and composer Nicole Mitchell had her breakout in 2017 with Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds, which depicts a future world where technology and nature coexist peacefully. Mitchell, who was based in Chicago for more than 20 years, draws on blues, house music, and gospel, blending them seamlessly into an improvised context. None of these recordings are rock albums, so they haven’t been presented in the lineage of Electric Ladyland. But it isn’t hard to see their eclecticism and vision in a similar mold as Hendrix’s timeless double LP.

“Jimi Hendrix was lighting a pathway for, and setting a challenge to, subsequent generations of artists,” says Reid. “He showed me and many others what was possible to create and make happen. The greatest lesson of Electric Ladyland for me was finding myself.”

Back in college, while looking at the album’s liner notes (remember those?), I noticed that Hendrix was credited not just with producing the record but directing it, title that’s rarely used in recorded music. That’s because it isn’t simply a collection of songs; it’s one of the first concept recordings in popular music. What that concept is, of course, varies from ear to ear, listener to listener, artist to artist. “It wasn’t just slopped together,” Hendrix has said. “Every little thing you hear means something.”



Richard Demy and the Arabic Euphonium



My mother Grew up outside of Beirut, Lebanon, and I had listened to a lot of Arabic music growing up.  I started playing euphonium in school and loved it so much that I focused on that for a while.  I heard Ibrahim Maalouf on the radio and it resonated with me so much that I looked him up, and got in touch with his father on Facebook.

Nassim his father studied at the Paris Conservatory under Maurice Andre, and invented the Arabic trumpet.  after passing some recordings back and forth, he helped guide me how to play the style properly.

This fall I have presented a lecture on how to modify all low brass instruments to be able to play the quarter-tone system, lectured at conferences, and have given masterclasses all over the US on the subject.  I should have my first CD out this summer.

B i o g r a p h y

Dr. Richard Demy is an international award winning musician who has performed all over the world.  He graduated  from the University of North Texas with his DMA under Dr. Brian Bowman, including other notable teachers – Dr Joseph Skillen, Don Palmire, and others.

Richard won the 2012 Leonard Falcone Euphonium Artist Solo Competition.  He was a finalist in the National Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition and  the International Tuba Euphonium Conference Euphonium Artist Division.

He performed a solo recital at the Kennedy Center as well as with with wind bands across the United States and Europe.  He has performed with symphonies and given over 100 recitals and master classes in many states in the USA

“My passion is to teach masterclasses and workshops on brass.  I focus on practice habits, with an emphasis on teaching technical elements from a musical paradigm.   Send me an email to discuss how I can assist your program ” 

Richard has worked hard to expand performance opportunities on the euphonium by publishing articles promoting lesser known genres featuring the euphonium, presenting recitals on historical instruments, and performing modern compositions with audience biofeedback.

opficleide
Richard Demy performing on the Ophicleide

He currently performs with the Lone Star Wind Orchestra based in Dallas, Texas and released his first album in June 2016.  You can read more about upcoming performances at DemyMusic.com.  Richard plays exclusively on a WILLSON 2900TA Euphonium.

Richard Demy
Contact Richard at Demymusic.com by clicking here



Introducing from Italy – Caterina Serpilli – Classical Guitar




Caterina Serpilli is an Italian classical guitarist. She started to play guitar and accordion when she was 12. In 2000 she entered to the Conservatory “G.Rossini ” in Pesaro where she graduated in 2011. In 2010 she also took the degree in Economics at Politecnico delle Marche – “Giorgio Fuà” business college in Ancona.

Ms Serpilli attended as a full student masterclasses with Jason Vieaux, FabioZanon, Giulio Tampalini, Carlos Bonell, Michael Newman, Gaelle Solal MarcinDylla, Oscar Ghiglia and others. From 2011 to 2013 she studied at PreludioCentro Musicale (Bologna) with Walter Zanetti. Currently she is attending theannual masterclass with M° Arturo Tallini (Rome) and from 2012 she is
studying at Guitar Academy “Francisco Tarrega” in Pordenone with Adriano Del Sal.

Learn more about and contact Caterina Serpilli

Caterina Serpilli
Caterina Serpilli



Work of the week – Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Trumpet Concerto “Nobody knows de trouble I see”



On 20th March we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s birth. For this reason, many concerts featuring his compositions will be performed worldwide, including one of his most famous works, the Konzert “Nobody knows de trouble I see” für Trompete in C und Orchester. This week, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Fabien Gabel and with Håkan Hardenberger as soloist, will play it on 23 March, and on the following day it will be performed by Paul Hübner together with the WDR Sinfonieorchester, conducted by Brad Lubman in the Funkhaus in Cologne.

Originally, the NDR commissioned Zimmermann to compose a piano concerto. However, by referencing the existence of countless piano concertos, Zimmermann was able to convince the NDR to promote the trumpet, which was somewhat neglected as a solo instrument, thereby making repeat performances of the work more probable. He had already made drafts of a trumpet concerto years earlier and completed them after he was commissioned. It was premiered on 11 October 1955 in the Studio X in Hamburg with the Sinfonieorchester des Norddeutschen Rundfunks and the trumpeter Adolf Scherbaum under the direction of Ernest Bour. At the time of the world premiere, the work was titled “Darkey’s darkness”. After a few years, however, Zimmerman learned that the word “Darkey” was used to describe a person of color in a contemptuous way, so he changed the title of his work to “Nobody knows de trouble I see” in reference to the spiritual that is used in the composition as cantus firmus.

Bernd Alois Zimmermann – Trumpet concerto: Crossover to reconciliation

The spiritual is at the center of the concerto and its structure is similar to that of a chorale prelude. Apart from this modern kind of a cantus firmus, Zimmermann also uses jazz elements and a twelve-tone-row as the basis for the composition. This special row appears frequently in Zimmermann’s work: It is also used in his Concerto for oboe, his film music for “Methamorphose”, and in his ballet Alagoana. By fusing these three formal principles, Zimmermann hoped to demonstrate a kind of fraternal connection in the music in response to the political realities of his time. As a soldier in the NS-regime and during the composition of the piece, Zimmermann’s awareness of the struggle of people of color in the USA to achieve equality and overcome endemic racial discrimination was heightened. He honors this struggle in the spelling of the title: Instead of “the”, Zimmermann uses a spelling based on the sound of the word as it was passed on through oral tradition, “de”.

“By the way I have recently finished a trumpet concerto with the title “Darkey’s darkness”. The negro spiritual “Nobody knows de trouble I see” underlies the work and the musical characteristics of the spiritual inform and imbue the work with the struggles of the coloured people.” –Bernd Alois Zimmermann, 1954

After this week’s concerts, the concerto can even be heard again. On 6 April, it will be performed by the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester with Håkan Hardenberger as soloist under the conduction of John Storgårds. In addition, as part of a Zimmermann concert series, the SWR Sinfonieorchester conducted by Ingo Metzmacher will perform the trumpet concerto on 28 April with Håkan Hardenberger again as soloist.

The most recent edition of the Schott Journal is dedicated to Bernd Alois Zimmermann. Therein you can find all events about the anniversary and an insight into his most important works.

 



Classical Guitar Player and Composer – Laurent Meneret



Laurent meneret
Contact Laurent Meneret at Linkedin

Laurent Méneret, born in France, is a self-taught musician who began playing the guitar at the age of fifteen. Two years later he attended the École Nationale de Musique of La Rochelle where he received a gold medal .He finished his music studies with Michel Sadanowsky at the Université Musicale Internationale de Paris.

During his training he had the opportunity to work with famous guitarists such as Roberto Aussel, Arnaud Dumond, and Pierre Culaz for jazz music.

As a composer, he writes his own works through which he makes himself familiar with the music. Meanwhile he has created a remarkable repertoire of varied solo and ensemble pieces.
He has been a member of the SACEM.

Laurent Merenet
Listen to a sample of Suite Meridienne

 

In addition, he works as a teacher of classical guitar at music schools in the area of La Rochelle.

Laurent Meneret
See Laurent’s catalogue of compositions at Schott Music



 

Andrea Tofanelli Invites You To Italian Brass Week



The Italian Brass Week is an international festival born 19 years ago under the artistic direction of Luca Benucci, the first horn of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. During these years, the festival and the Association have dealt with the formation of thousands of young artists from all over the world, with the aim of consolidating a reality that too often goes unnoticed and give the opportunity to emerging musicians to participate at a primary visibility event for the world of brass and music.

The mission is the enhancement of great Italian and foreign talents, through promotion and cultural exchange. The festival gives the opportunity to young students, new professionals and professionals to take part in an event of international importance, to play and learn from the most important musicians in the world of brass, being part of the greatest orchestras, conservatories and universities.

The high level of training and the quality of the event were rewarded with the bronze medal of the President of the Republic and with many other awards, obtained for the importance of the event and for involving generations of young musicians, who were trained and they have become excellent interpreters.

The Italian Brass Week has moved to various locations in Tuscany, Santa Fiora, Vinci, to land last year in Florence, because Florence is an important reference for cultural growth. It is a city devoted to hospitality and already culturally renowned as a meeting point between present and past.

During these years the artistic quality of the festival has always been guaranteed by the presence of virtuosos and soloists from all over the world, Italian, European and international teachers, jazz bands and brass ensembles who participate, compare and play together in an important moment for the professional growth of all the young people taking part in the festival.

Italian Brass Week
Click to visit Italian Brass Week



Einstein’s violin could fetch $150K at auction




A violin owned by Albert Einstein will go under the hammer on Friday — and experts believe it could fetch up to $150,000.

“Made for the Worlds Greatest Scientist Professor,” reads the inside label.

The instrument, dubbed Lina, was constructed by Pennsylvania cabinet maker Oscar H. ­Stegerr in 1933, the year the German-born Einstein decided to remain in the United States after Hitler came to power. It is being sold by Bonhams Fine Art division in New York.

Einstein reportedly played the violin often and was known to crank out Mozart while working.

“Life without playing music is inconceivable for me,” he once said. “I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music . . . I get most joy in life out of music.”


The Phenomenal Alexander Hrustevich – A true virtuoso


Alexander Hrustevich – Accordion Virtuoso

…a virtuoso was, originally, a highly accomplished musician, but by the nineteenth century the term had become restricted to performers, both vocal and instrumental, whose technical accomplishments were so pronounced as to dazzle the public.

In recent years, the term virtuoso has been overused and downgraded to include any artist who has command over their instrument. The word ‘proficient’ should suffice when describing most accomplished performers however, once in a while, a musician will come along who goes way beyond just proficient. I am reminded of the likes of Paganini,  Pavarotti and Jacqueline du Pre when looking to fit this bill.

Alexander Hrustevich fits the description perfectly. There is nobody more proficient at playing the accordion than Alexander.

Ukrainian-born Alexander Hrustevich is one of the best bayanists in the world. Mr. Hrustevich is constantly invited to perform in many countries, including Poland, Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, Serbia, Brazil and many others. Just recently, he performed with legendary musician and composer, winner of several Grammy awards Bobby McFerrin in a sold out, three thousand audience arena in Kiev.

The very first notes will take your breath away… Alexader Hrustevich is able to play the most complicated transcriptions of violin, piano and orchestra pieces with the bayan; starting with Tchaikovsky’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra and finishing with a fragment from Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” Using his ten fingers at the same time, he is able to easily play both orchestra and violin parts. For these extraordinary abilities people and critics call Mr. Hrustevich – “the man orchestra“.

As prof. David Yearsley writes about Mr. Hrustevich’s recording, which he saw on Youtube: “The small stage on which Hrustevich demonstrates his art is festooned with yellow and orange balloons and fake flower garlands. The camera is hand-held, but despite all of this, you can feel how great are this virtuoso’s gifts.” The professor also compares his interpretations of Bach Passacaglia with a pianist: “Tricky passages that the pianist divided between the two hands, Hrustevich manages with one. He revels in the virtuosic spectacle of fingers flying and sliding and contorting over buttons and in the same time picking almost every note cleanly. It’s rather like playing the Bach Passacaglia on a travel typewriter, only harder.”(The Musical Patriot).

Born in 1983, Alexander Hrustevich started to play the bayan by the age of 6.  He graduated Ukraines National Academy of Music as a student of prof. Besfamilnov. Apart from his solo activity, he is also a member of the National Academy Orchestra.