January 31, 2018

20,000 Vinyl LPs 126: Philip Glass ~ Mishima


Today, January 31, is the birthday of composer, Philip Glass. I remember the first piece of music of his I heard, The Photographer, an opera based on the life and homicide trial of 19th-century English photographer Eadweard Muybridge. In the first place, the Muybridge work of photographing live figures, animals, etc. in motion had intrugued me for decades and I was amazed that he could be the subject of an opera. I had to buy the album and was totally blown away. I immediately realized the Glass music was a natural and beautiful outgrowth of the work done in the mid 60's by minimalist, Terry Riley.  

Since that time, there is not a single work by Glass I have not liked. In addition to operas, symphonic and small ensemble pieces, he has written scores for many films (link below); one of them, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, directed by , is in my opinion the greatest work he has done.  It won the "Best Artistic Contribution" Award at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival.    


Philip Glass ~ Mishima soundtrack
vinyl lp, front cover 
Artwork by Makoto Kumakura
photo of album cover by Styrous®


I had never heard of Yukio Mishima prior to the film; since then I have spent years researching his life. Released in 1985, Mishima was electifying for that time and on listening to it now, it still holds it's fascination after three decades. The multi-textured score for the film ranges from his trademark minimalist ensemble sound and cellular rhythms to an almost rock piece that features brilliant quitar work and a gorgeous violin floating over it all. Parts were performed by the Kronos quartet. It is available at the Nonesuch Store (link below).  

Sections from the soundtrack have been featured in other films and TV shows, including the piece, Mishima / Opening, which was used to score the end credits of Peter Weir's 1998 film The Truman Show in addition to an appearance on an episode of Mr. Robot. I used this theme for a fashion show I produced for Obiko in 1992 (link blow).          


Philip Glass ~ Mishima soundtrack
vinyl lp, back cover 
Artwork by Makoto Kumakura
photo of album back cover by Styrous®

Paralleling the three different visual styles of the film, Glass uses different ensembles: The black-and-white biographical flashbacks are accompanied by a string quartet, whereas the realistic footage from Mishima's last day is accompanied by a string orchestra and percussion, and the stylized scenes from his novels with a large symphonic orchestra.

It was produced by Kurt Munkacsi and distributed by WEA through the Elektra Records subsidiary label Nonesuch Records. The costumes were brilliantly designed by Eiko Ishioka.   


Philip Glass ~ Mishima soundtrack
vinyl lp, back cover detail
Artwork by Makoto Kumakura
detail photo of album back cover by Styrous®



Mishima / Opening

At less than three minutes, the opening for the film is a gem of suscinct and briliant melody! With bells, chimes and swerling strings that quickly range from quietly serene to incredibly dramatic and back again in that miniscule space of time, it is amazing and brilliant (link below).

The opening is quickly followed by a rapid, driving, aggressive sounding almost militaristic deluge of orchestral sound complete with tympani. From there it goes wild (YouTube links below).       
    

Philip Glass ~ Mishima soundtrack
vinyl lp, back cover detail
Artwork by Makoto Kumakura
detail photo of album back cover by Styrous®


Yukio Mishima (三島 由紀夫 Mishima Yukio) is the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka (平岡 公威 Hiraoka Kimitake). He was born on January 14, 1925.               

Japanese writer Yukio Mishima lived a complex and controversial life, nearly winning a Nobel Prize for his fiction but also being deeply committed to Japan’s pre-war philosophy and government–so much so that, after a failed attempt at a military coup, he committed ritual suicide on November 25, 1970. There is a vivid depiction of the ritual actually performed by Mishima in the 1966 film he directed, Yukoku 憂国 (Patriotism) (YouTube link below).             



Philip Glass ~ Mishima soundtrack
vinyl lp, back cover detail
Artwork by Makoto Kumakura
detail photo of album back cover by Styrous®



Mishima was a Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor, film director, founder of the right-wing militia, Tatenokai, and nationalist. He is considered one of the most important Japanese authors of the 20th century. He was considered for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1968 but the award went to his countryman Yasunari Kawabata. His works include the novels Confessions of a Mask and The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, and the autobiographical essay Sun and Steel. His avant-garde work displayed a blending of modern and traditional aesthetics that broke cultural boundaries, with a focus on sexuality, death, and political change.       

When he was in his thirties, in 1955, Mishima took up weight training and his workout regimen of three sessions per week was not disrupted for the final 15 years of his life. He was fascinated by physical beauty and rejected the aesthetics of intellectualism. He thought an ugly body was disgraceful, and seemed somewhat ashamed of the weak body of his youth. In his 1968 essay Sun and Steel, Mishima deplored the emphasis given by intellectuals to the mind over the body.There is an excellent review of the book on YouTube (link below).       


photo from Asahi Shimbun


In his own words:
"The muscles that I thus created were at one and the same time simple existence and works of art; they even, paradoxically, possessed a certain abstract nature. Their one fatal flaw was that they were too closely involved with the life process, which decreed that they should decline and perish with the decline of life itself.”     

On November 25, 1970, he and three other members of his militia staged an attempted coup d'état when they seized control of a Japanese military base and took the commander hostage, then tried and failed to inspire a coup to restore the Emperor's pre-war powers.     


Yukio Mishima - November 25, 1970 
attempted coup d'état
photographer unknown


Mishima then committed ritual suicide by seppuku. The coup attempt became known as the "Mishima Incident".       

 
 Samurai warrior about to perform seppuku
original work by Kunikazu Utagawa


Mishima was born in the Yotsuya district of Tokyo (now part of Shinjuku). His early childhood was dominated by the presence of his grandmother, Natsuko who was a direct descendant of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Natsuko was prone to violence and morbid outbursts, which are occasionally alluded to in Mishima's works. It is to Natsu that some biographers have traced Mishima's fascination with death. She did not allow Mishima to venture into the sunlight, to engage in any kind of sport or to play with other boys; he spent much of his time alone or with female cousins and their dolls.       


photographer unknown 


He returned to his immediate family when he was 12. His father, a man with a taste for military discipline, employed parenting tactics such as holding the young boy up to the side of a speeding train. He also raided Mishima's room for evidence of an "effeminate" interest in literature and often ripped apart the boy's manuscripts. Although his authoritarian father had forbidden him to write any further stories, Mishima continued to write every night in secret, supported and protected by his mother, who was always the first to read a new story. Mishima began to write his first stories when he was twelve.       
   

Philip Glass ~ Mishima soundtrack
vinyl lp, back cover detail
Artwork by Makoto Kumakura
detail photo of album back cover by Styrous®


Mishima wrote novels, popular serial novellas, short stories and literary essays, as well as highly acclaimed plays for the Kabuki theater and modern versions of traditional Noh drama.  

Mishima began his first novel, Tōzoku (盗賊, "Thieves"), a story about two young members of the aristocracy drawn towards suicide. It was published in 1948, placing Mishima in the ranks of the Second Generation of Postwar Writers. He followed with Confessions of a Mask, a semi-autobiographical account of a young homosexual who must hide behind a mask in order to fit into society. The novel was extremely successful and made Mishima a celebrity at the age of 24. His writing gained him international celebrity and a sizable following in Europe and the United States, as many of his most famous works were translated into English.    


Philip Glass ~ Mishima soundtrack
vinyl lp, back cover detail
Artwork by Makoto Kumakura
detail photo of album back cover by Styrous®


Mishima was an actor, and had a starring role in the 1960 Yasuzo Masumura film, Afraid to Die. He also had roles in films including Yukoku (directed by himself, 1966), Black Lizard (directed by Kinji Fukasaku, 1968) and Hitokiri (directed by Hideo Gosha, 1969). He also sang the theme song for Afraid to Die (lyrics by himself; music by Shichirō Fukazawa).

Mishima was featured as a photo model in Ba-ra-kei: Ordeal by Roses by Eikoh Hosoe, as well as in Young Samurai: Bodybuilders of Japan and Otoko: Photo Studies of the Young Japanese Male by Tamotsu Yatō. American author Donald Richie gave a short lively account of Mishima, dressed in a loincloth and armed with a sword, posing in the snow for a Tamotsu Yato photoshoot.


photo by Kishin Shinoyama


Mishima also became very skilled at kendo, a modern Japanese martial art, which descended from the  traditional Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu) and uses bamboo swords (shinai) and protective armour (bōgu).    




Mishima married Yoko Sugiyama on June 11, 1958. While working on Forbidden Colors, Mishima visited gay bars in Japan. Mishima's sexual orientation was an issue that bothered his widow, and she always denied his homosexuality after his death. In 1998, the writer Jiro Fukushima published an account of his relationship with Mishima in 1951, including fifteen letters between himself and the famed novelist. Mishima's children successfully sued Fukushima for violation of his privacy and copyright. 




Much speculation has surrounded Mishima's suicide. At the time of his death he had just completed the final book in his Sea of Fertility tetralogy. He was recognized as one of the most important post-war stylists of the Japanese language.      



 


The 1985 biographical film by Paul Schrader titled Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters depicts his life and work; however, it has never been given a theatrical presentation in Japan.    

The Mishima Prize was established in 1988 to honor his life and works. On July 3, 1999, "Mishima Yukio Bungaku-kan" (三島由紀夫文学館, "Mishima Yukio Literary Museum") was opened in Yamanakako.     
         

     
     
         
Tracklist:

Side 1:

A1 - Mishima / Opening - 2:46
A2 - November 25: Morning - 4:08
A3 - 1934: Grandmother & Kimitake - 3:37
A4 - Temple Of The Golden Pavilion ("Like Some Enormous Music") - 3:06
A5 - Osamu's Theme: Kyoko's House - 2:58
A6 - 1937: Saint Sebastian - 1:05
A7 - Kyoko's House ("Stage Blood Is Not Enough") - 5:00

Side 2:

B1 - November 25: Ichigaya - 2:11
B2 - 1957: Award Montage - 3:56
B3 - Runaway Horses ("Poetry Written With A Splash Of Blood") - 9:09
B4 - 1962: Body Building - 1:29
B5 - November 25: The Last Day - 1:30
B6 - F-104: Epilogue From Sun And Steel - 1:59
B7 - Mishima / Closing - 2:57

Companies, etc.

    Recorded At – Greene St. Recording
    Recorded At – The Living Room (2)
    Remixed At – The Living Room (2)
    Mastered At – Masterdisk
    Published By – Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc.
    Produced For – Euphorbia Productions Ltd.
    Phonographic Copyright (p) – Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch Records
    Copyright (c) – Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch Records
    Record Company – Warner Communications Inc.
    Pressed By – Specialty Records Corporation

Credits:

    Artwork By – Makoto Kumakura
    Composed By – Philip Glass
    Conductor – Michael Riesman
    Engineer [Recording] – Dan Dryden
    Mastered By – Bill Kipper
    Mixed By [Remixed] – Dan Dryden, Kurt Munkacsi, Michael Riesman
    Producer – Kurt Munkacsi
    Strings – The Kronos Quartet*

Notes:

Recorded at Greene St. Studios NY, NY and The Living Room, Inc. NY, NY.
Remixed at The Living Room, Inc. NY, NY.
Mastered by Masterdisk NY, NY.

Includes red insert with description by the film's director, Paul Schrader, which measures 6" x 6".
Barcode and Other Identifiers

    Matrix / Runout (Side A): (Scr) 79113·A·2 1-2·5M1-3 MASTERDISK·BK
    Matrix / Runout (Side B): (Scr) 79113·B·2 1-3 MASTERDISK·BK
    Barcode: 0 7599-79113-1
    Rights Society: ASCAP
         
Philip Glass ‎– Mishima
Label: Nonesuch ‎– 9 79113-1 F, Nonesuch ‎– 79113
Series: Nonesuch Digital –
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Country: US
Released: 1985
Genre: Electronic, Stage & Screen
Style: Soundtrack, Modern Classical
         
       
         
Viewfinder links:          
              
Philip Glass articles/mentions         
Obiko ~ Craft of the Costume art-to-wear fashion show       
Obiko articles          
Sandra Sakata         
          
Net links:          
              
Philip Glass ~ Compositions
                     ~ Music for film          
Best Original Scores ~ Mishima (Philip Glass)         
Mishima Plot        
Mishima Cast               
NY Times ~ The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima     
The Guardian ~ Dead writer's knife is in Japan's heart             
                       ~ The school of flesh: erotic portraits of Yukio Mishima 
Yukio Mishima ~ Major works            
Encyclopedia Britannica ~ Yukio Mishima      
History.com ~ Mishima commits ritual suicide         
letterboxd ~ Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters               
DVD Journal ~ Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters      
film.avclub.com ~ Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters         
The Culture Trip ~ The Turbulent Life Of A Conflicted Martyr      
Nonesuch Store ~ Mishima - Original Music Composed By Philip Glass
           
YouTube links:          
              
Mishima - A Life in Four Chapters. Philip Glass (Soundtrack) (46 min)
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985) Movie Trailer          
Yukio Mishima Speaking In English
The Strange Case of Yukio Mishima - 1985 BBC documentary (55 min) 
Yukio Mishima And Bodybuilding (10 min.)             
Mishima: his life and literature (三島 由紀夫 aka 平岡 公威 )   
Yukio Mishima - Sun and Steel book review         
Yukoku 憂国 (Patriotism) (ritual suicide by seppuku)       
         
        
        


“The past is reinvented and becomes the future. 
But the lineage is everything.”
                           ~ Philip Glass
        

         
        

January 30, 2018

Roy Eldridge ~ "Little Jazz" & tritones

~
David Roy Eldridge was born on this day, January 30, in 1911. Commonly known as Roy Eldridge, and nicknamed "Little Jazz", he was an American jazz trumpet player. His sophisticated use of harmony, including the use of tritone substitutions (link below), his virtuoso solos exhibited a departure from the smooth and lyrical style of earlier jazz trumpet innovator Louis Armstrong, and his strong impact on Dizzy Gillespie mark him as one of the most influential musicians of the swing era and a precursor of bebop.      

There is a video of a 1964 telecast of Eldridge performing with Ella Fitzgerald on YouTube (link below) in which he utilizes tritones & she sings the most amazing scat. What a fantastic paring! 



(From left) Thelonious Monk, Howard McGhee,  
New York, c. September 1947 
Photograph by William P. Gottlieb


Eldridge left home after being expelled (couldn't find out why) from high school in ninth grade at the age of sixteen. He found work leading a small band in the traveling "Rock Dinah" show where swing-era bandleader Count Basie saw him and Basie thought Eldridge "the greatest trumpet I'd ever heard in my life."       

At the age of 20, Eldridge led a band in Pittsburgh, billed as "Roy Elliott and his Palais Royal Orchestra", the agent intentionally changing Eldridge's name because "he thought it more classy."      

He moved to New York in November 1930, playing in various bands in the early 1930s, including a number of Harlem dance bands with Cecil Scott, Elmer Snowden, Charlie Johnson, and Teddy Hill. It was during this time that Eldridge received his nickname, 'Little Jazz', from Ellington saxophonist Otto Hardwick, who was amused by the incongruity between Eldridge's raucous playing and his short stature.       

Eldridge recorded a number of small group sides with singer Billie Holiday in July 1935, including What a Little Moonlight Can Do and Miss Brown to You, employing a Dixieland-influenced improvisation style.    

In the fall of 1936, Eldridge moved to Chicago to form an octet with older brother Joe Eldridge playing saxophone and arranging. The ensemble boasted nightly broadcasts and made recordings that featured his extended solos, including After You've Gone and Wabash Stomp." Fed up with the racism he had encountered in the music industry, he quit playing in 1938 to study radio engineering. He returned to playing in 1939, when he formed a ten-piece band that gained a residency at the Arcadia Ballroom in New York.   


 Roy Eldridge Orchestra - January  1, 1939 
photogrpaher unknown

          
When he wasn't onstage himself, one trumpeter remembered, Eldridge would search out young trumpeters in other clubs, then "take out his horn at the door....start on a high B-flat and just come walking in." ~ Jazz: A History of America's Music" by Geoffrey C Ward and Ken Burns.  

His rhythmic power to swing a band was a dynamic trademark of the jazz of the time. It has been said that "from the mid-Thirties onwards, he had superseded Louis Armstrong as the exemplar of modern 'hot' trumpet playing".                 

In April 1941, after receiving many offers from white swing bands, Eldridge joined the Gene Krupa Orchestra, and was successfully featured with rookie singer Anita O'Day. In accepting this position, Eldridge became one of the first black musicians to become a permanent member of a white big band. Eldridge was instrumental in changing the course of Krupa's big band from schmaltz to jazz. The group's cover of the Jimmy Dorsey song, Green Eyes, previously an entirely orchestral work, was transformed into jazz via Eldridge's playing; critic Dave Oliphant notes that Eldridge "lift[ed]" the tune "to a higher level of intensity." Eldridge and O'Day were featured in a number of recordings, including the novelty hit Let Me Off Uptown and Knock Me a Kiss.
        
One of Eldridge's best known recorded solos is on a rendition of the Hoagy Carmichael tune, Rockin' Chair, arranged by Benny Carter as something like a concerto for Eldridge. Jazz historian Gunther Schuller referred to Eldridge's solo on Rockin' Chair as "a strong and at times tremendously moving performance", although he disapproved of the "opening and closing cadenzas, the latter unforgivably aping the corniest of operatic cadenza traditions." Critic and author Dave Oliphant describes Eldridge's unique tone on Rockin' Chair as "a raspy, buzzy tone, which enormously heightens his playing's intensity, emotionally and dynamically" and writes that it "was also meant to hurt a little, to be disturbing, to express unfathomable stress."

After leaving Krupa's band, Eldridge freelanced in New York during 1943 before joining the Artie Shaw band in 1944. In the postwar years, he became part of the group which toured under the Jazz at the Philharmonic, a series of jazz concerts, tours and recordings produced by Norman Granz.    

Eldridge moved to Paris in 1950 while on tour with Benny Goodman, before returning to New York in 1951 to lead a band at the Birdland jazz club.     


 Chet Baker - 1960 
Birdland, New York
photo by William Claxton 


He additionally performed from 1952 until the early 1960s in small groups with Coleman Hawkins, Ella Fitzgerald and Earl Hines among others, and also began to record for Granz at this time. Eldridge also toured with Fitzgerald from late 1963 until March 1965 and with Count Basie from July until September 1966 before returning to freelance playing and touring at festivals.        
           
In 1960, Eldridge participated, alongside Abbey Lincoln, Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy, Kenny Dorham and others, in recordings by the Jazz Artist's Guild, a short-lived grouping formed by Mingus and Max Roach as a reaction to the perceived commercialism of the Newport Festival. These resulted in the Newport Jazz Rebels LP.
      
Eldridge became the leader of the house band at Jimmy Ryan's jazz club on West 54th Street in Manhattan for several years, beginning in 1969. Although Ryan's was primarily a Dixieland venue, Eldridge tried to combine the traditional Dixieland style with his own more brash and speedy playing.   
   
Eldridge was incapacitated by a stroke in 1970, but continued to lead the group at Ryan's soon after and performing occasionally as a singer, drummer and pianist. Writer Michael Zirpolo, seeing Eldridge at Ryan's in the late 1970s, noted, "I was amazed that he still could pop out those piercing high notes, but he did, with frequency....I worried about his health, because the veins at his temples would bulge alarmingly." In 1971, Eldridge was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame

After suffering a heart attack in 1980, Eldridge gave up playing. He died on February 26, 1989, at the Franklin General Hospital in Valley Stream, New York, three weeks after the death of his wife, Viola. He was 78 years old.     
       


Viewfinder links:        
        
Louis Armstrong  
Count Basie    
Eric Dolphy        
Kenny Dorham           
Jimmy Dorsey   
Ella Fitzgerald                 
Benny Goodman      
Norman Granz    Dizzy Gillespie  
William P. Gottlieb   
Coleman Hawkins        
Billie Holiday        
Charles Mingus       
Thelonious Monk     
Anita O'Day        
Max Roach         
         
Net links:        
        
Discography    
NPR ~ The 'Little Jazz' Centennial        Jazz-Music-History ~ jazz history's link        
The Telegraph ~ Roy Eldridge: passionate perfectionist     
All About Jazz ~ Little Jazz Giant        
NY Times obit      
Jerry Jazz Musician ~ A Roy Eldridge story        
            
YouTube links:   
         
TriTone Substitutions explained
Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Eldridge ~ Perdido        
Roy Eldridge & Mildred Bailey ~ I'm Nobody's Baby (1940)     
Roy Eldridge ~
           Hoppin' John (January 29, 1951)       
           They Raided The Joint (January 22, 1951)             
           Rockin' Chair        
     
     
    

"I resolved to play my trumpet like a sax." 
                       ~ Roy Eldridge 
     
          
       
       
Styrous® ~ Tuesday, January 30, 2018          











Gunther Schuller articles/mentions

~ 
Gunther Alexander Schuller (November 22, 1925 – June 21, 2015) was an American composer, conductor, horn player, author, historian and jazz musician.        
 
Viewfinder links:    

Gunther Schuller & Third Stream jazz     

 
   
photographer unknown
  
mentions:    

Béla Bartók Miles Davis
Eric Dolphy   
Roy Eldridge ~ "Little Jazz" & tritones  
George Gershwin    
Woody Herman       
Teo Macero        
Charles Mingus         
Maurice Ravel   
Camille Saint-Saëns
    


















Jimmy Dorsey articles/mentions

~ 
   
Roy Eldridge ~ "Little Jazz" & tritones  
Stan Getz ~ Another World        
    
             
     
     
       
       
     

Jimmy Dorsey - 1943             
photographer unknown                  












Gene Krupa articles/mentions

~   
  
  
Jon Lord - Gemini Suite       
Verve Records & Norman Granz 
     
     
       
       
         
     
     
             
       

   
Gene Krupa - 1941     
photo by Gjon-Mili                 
       

   
    










January 29, 2018

The Styrous Viewfinder ~ 400,000 Pageviews

       
      
          
          
My thanks again to my readers on this day the Viewfinder has reached 400,000 Pageviews.           


Viewfinder links:          
    

     
        
          
           
         
Styrous® ~ Monday, January 29, 2018    
      
       



























Simone Simon articles/mentions

~     

Magnificent                      
summer salon        
There Is a There There ~ ArtSlant profiles         
There Is a There There Is not There        
      
     
     
     
     
     
Simone Simon ~ March 15, 2013          
photo by Styrous®