After a few quiet Tiny Desk Concerts, it was fun to get something big and bouncy. I don’t know Blanchard, but I really enjoyed his band set up. Blanchard plays trumpet, and with the E-Collective, he’s got a guitarist, bassist, pianist and drummer.
In the first song “Soldiers”, I was sort of amused because when Charles Altura (a guitarist he met online) plays his 2 minute guitar solo, Blanchard isn’t doing anything. It was funny way to start the concert with the main guy doing nothing. But Altura has a great sound–jazzy and interesting with a flair not unlike Frank Zappa. It continues with a lengthy solo from Blanchard. I like the jagged edges of this song–the funky bass and the angular rhythms. It’s about 8 minutes long and it’s fun to watch Blanchard just digging the music when he’s not actually playing.
“Confident Selflessness” begins with a cool drum setup by Englishman Chris Bailey. Over the great beat, Donald Ramsey, (Blanchard’s high-school classmate) lays down a great funky bass line. And then it’s a wild solo from pianist Fabian Almazan. I love the way the song switches back to that angular/funky sound during the refrains. Blanchard seems to be playing the trumpet with some kind of effect on it during the first part–or he’s playing very quietly. But later, he gets a good solo in. Bailey also plays some wild drums fills while the rest of the band repeats the staccato motif. This song is also about 8 minutes long.
He introduces the final song, “Breathless” by saying that there is typically a spoken word section, but he’s not going to do that. The title references the police brutality and the dying words “I Can’t Breathe.” This song is much more mellow, with a lengthy piano solo. There’s a soaring, uplifting trumpet solo in the middle of the song (which is about 10 minutes long in total). It’s a really pretty song, although I do prefer the more lively bouncy tracks.
As I was saying after the last two, quieter Tiny Desks, it’s fun to hear the audience whoop it up so much. And Blanchard even plays a jokey riff at the end.
[READ: May 15, 2015] The Last Days of Stefan Zweig
This is one of those interesting books that I find at work whose pedigree takes some time to unravel. This is a graphic novel. It is based on the novel by Laurent Seksik called “Les Dernier Jours de Stefan Zweig” (2010) which was released in English as “The Last Days.” This graphic novel was illustrated by Guillaume Sorel and translated by Joel Anderson.
I didn’t know who Stefan Zweig was when I read this book (more shame on me, i suppose). Zweig was an Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer. According to Wikipedia, in the 1920s and 1930s he was one of the most popular writers in the world.
When Hitler came to power, Zweig left Austria for London (where he was considered an enemy because he was German). He was Jewish, although in an interview he said “My mother and father were Jewish only through accident of birth.” Yet he did not renounce his Jewish faith and wrote repeatedly on Jews and Jewish themes.
He traveled with his second wife Lotte to Petrópolis, a German-colonized mountain town 68 kilometers north of Rio de Janeiro known for historical reasons as Brazil’s Imperial city. And this is where the story actually begins.
Because he is well-known he is recognized on the ship to Brazil. Lotte is full of life and excitement (she is 20 years younger than he is and we learn that he divorced his first wife to be with her). She was also his transcriber–having typed all of his later books.
Lotte immediately falls in love with Rio–her asthma clears up, the skies are gorgeous and she is thrilled with everything. Stefan is, as he always has been, negative and dark. He fears the march of Hitler and believes that nothing can stop the dictator. Meanwhile, Lotte keeps talking about when they will return to Vienna to celebrate their freedom again.
Lotte was always insecure about Stefan’s first wife whom he felt was his muse. He has to wonder how she can be jealous of the woman he left for her.
I is dramatically pointed out hat Lotte never read his book Kleist (which appears to be an essay about him). Another character says that “you have a strange way of describing his death of recounting his suicide with his second wife…you even write that his death was a masterpiece…Kleist also left his first wife for a young woman who was sickly.”
I won’t spoil the end of the story although presumably its’ not uncommon knowledge (except to me). The title also give away some of the ending after all. It’s a pretty shocking story although the ending is handled quite sweetly. But still, jeez!
Why didn’t I know about Zweig? Well, again from Wikipedia:
He was extremely popular in the United States, South America and Europe, and remains so in continental Europe; however, he was largely ignored by the British public. His fame in America had diminished until the 1990s, when there began an effort on the part of several publishers… to get Zweig back into print in English. …Since that time there has been a marked resurgence and a number of Zweig’s books are back in print. Critical opinion of his oeuvre is strongly divided between those who despise his literary style as poor, lightweight and superficial, and those who praise his humanism, simplicity and effective style.