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Archive for the ‘Crossdressing’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BEDOUINE-Tiny Desk Concert #737 (April 30, 2018).

Bedouine has a lovely clear voice.  She’s a genuine folk throwback treasure, without being retro.  Her songs are remarkably simple and yet they are rich and almost enchanting.  There is something about the way she sings that makes you want to listen, to lean in and hear what she has to say.

Her guitar playing is also very pretty.  Again, a reasonably simple finger-picking style.  but it is simultaneously precise and warm.

I saw her live recently and she held an entire club rapt despite being an opening act for two much louder bands.  So who is Bedouine?

Azniv Korkejian is Bedouine, a singer and acoustic guitarist who echoes sounds from the 1960’s North American folk songwriters, but with vocal inflections that feel closer to Leonard Cohen than to Joni Mitchell or Joan Baez.  This is as spare as music can be – songs stripped to their essence and just gorgeous.

Azniv Korkejian was born in Aleppo Syria. Her parents were Armenian and she spent her childhood in Saudi Arabia. But a green card lottery win found her family moving to Boston and Houston. Eventually she made her way to Los Angeles with important time spent in Austin, Texas and Savannah, Ga. The name she chose, Bedouine, reflects the traveler, the wanderer in her.

She plays three songs, just her and her guitar.  The songs don’t diverge that much from each other.  She even jokes that the second song is a different song than the first one, she promises.

“One of These Days” is a pretty song that seems so optimistic because you can feel the smile in her voice as she sings.  But as with much of what she plays, there is a kind of melancholy to it.

“Solitary Daughter” opens with the same chord (and picking) but soon shifts textures. I love her delivery on this song in which she lets her voice drop a register and adds a kind of Laura Marling spoken word style to part of it.

The middle third is just stunning

I don’t need the walls
to bury my grave
I don’t need your company
to feel saved
I don’t need the sunlight
My curtains don’t draw
I don’t need objects
to keep or to pawn
I don’t want your pity
Concern or your scorn
I’m calm by my lonesome
I feel right at home
And when the wind blows
I get to dancing
My fun is the rhythm of air
When it’s prancing

“Nice and Quiet” is an intimate love song, but one tinged with sadness.  It has such a charming and sweet melody, which really sums up her music pretty well.

[READ: March 5, 2018] The Prince and the Dressmaker

Jen Wang is back with an outstanding book.  I absolutely love her drawing style.  The look of her dressmaker, Frances, is just adorable.  I love her clothes, I especially love her face, which is cartoony but not caricature-y.  The prince’s nose is huge but not overtly comical and adds a distinctive element to the story.

But what makes this book stand out even more than the art is the story.

The Prince is holding a ball.  When the scene pans back we see horse-drawn carriages.  In other words, the time is sort of nebulously olde.  The women are dressed fancy, with petticoats.  There is much stress around town because all the young women wish to go to the ball.

A woman storms into a couture shop with a mud-covered dress.  Her daughter decided to play in the dress and it is ruined.  Can then makes something for her in time?  Frances is available and the owner gives her the job. (more…)

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dressSOUNDTRACK: IMANI WINDS-Tiny Desk Concert #277 (May 29, 2013).

windsFor some reason this video and audio has been removed from the NPR site (no explanation is given).  But I found it elsewhere and was able to really enjoy it.

But they have left up the blurb:

When Igor Stravinsky began composing The Rite of Spring, his ballet for vast symphonic forces, he could hear the music in his head but couldn’t quite figure out how to write it down. It was just too complicated.

Today, 100 years after The Rite‘s premiere, the fearless musicians of Imani Winds make it all sound remarkably easy, given that they’ve condensed Stravinsky’s massive walls of sound down to just five instruments: bassoon, clarinet, flute (doubling on piccolo), oboe and French horn.

Make no mistake: Many of the jagged rhythms and crunching chords remain viscerally intact, albeit on a more intimate scale. As the group huddled behind Bob Boilen’s desk, bassoonist Monica Ellis noted the opposing ratios, saying, “It’s apropos in some strange way that we are playing one of the most massive pieces in some of the smallest instrumentation in one of the smallest settings that it could possibly be played in.”

The setting might be small, but in this clever arrangement by Jonathan Russell, we learn that a wind quintet, when called upon, can make a mighty and sonorous wail. Just listen to how the Imanis cap off “Dances of the Young Girls” with the entire quintet in full cry (at about 4:30 into the video). The bassoon repeats a fat bass line while the clarinet runs its snaky scales. The piccolo, in piercing chirps, serves as a foil to a frenzied oboe and snarling “whoops” from the French horn.

But not everything in The Rite is all pound and grind. Stravinsky’s transparent introduction, almost impressionistic, is a fluttering aviary of winds — even in the original — with individual colorings for each instrument. It’s all rendered beautifully here by Imani Winds, musicians brave enough to play David to Igor Stravinsky’s imposing Goliath.

This concert is fascinating to watch (and listen to) because even though this piece is familiar (to me) in theory, it’s apparent that I don’t really know it.  And I can see why this piece was so controversial when it came out–it is weird and chaotic and almost random at times.  I imagine that seeing it as a ballet might make it more cohesive, but it’s still pretty out there.

I love that the bassoon seems to be the primary instrument–one that doesn’t typically take center stage.

The group breaks up their selections into three primary chunks.

Selections from The Rite of Spring:

For “Introduction” the bassoon is the primary instrument playing the initial melody.  Then the clarinet and oboe give the whole thing an unsuaul sound–to say the least.  The French horn actually works as the the bass for this part.  It’s also neat watching the flautist switching between flute and piccolo.  I’m not sure when the second part “Augurs of Spring” begins, but I assume it’s when the bassoon repeats that initial melody and then the French horn plays a staccato bass note. The music sounds kind of threatening but whimsical at the same time.

Somewhere in here “Dances of the Young Girls”  begins.  I assume once the piccolo starts chirping and swooping.   And then the band grows very loud before abruptly stopping.

The second segment she describes as incredibly picturesque. “Ritual of Abduction” begins nosily with almost total chaos from all the instruments–the piccolo stands out as sharp and piercing.  As with the other segments, I’m not sure when “Spring Rounds” begins, but I have to wonder if this is when the music seems to go circular and then slow down. There are low notes from the French horn while someone is playing accent notes that sound, not off, but dissonant–providing stark contrast with the rest of the slow movement.  There are some blares of music from the French horn as well.

I’m guessing that “Dancing Out of the Earth”  begins with the fast bassoon melody: up down up down up down up down with trills and swirls from the flutes and clarinet.  It rises and rises very dramatically and then stops.

They tell us that it’s not possible to play the entire ballet so they have taken the “greatest hits” and for this show it’s the greatest hits of the greatest hits.  Consider it a deconstruction with five instruments. But it still evokes the spirit of this sacrificial dance.

She talks about how controversial this was in 1913, “when ballet was meant to be about… I was going to say flamingos…. fairies swans, the other water animals.”   This is the final moment the virgin who sacrifices herself dances herself to death.  And they are going to exemplify trombones and timpani and all that loud stuff (the French horn player laughs and says “Grr I am trombone”).

“Sacrificial Dance: The Chosen One” begins with a three note melody–again it is somewhat threatening.  There’s lots of little fast runs by the French horn with accents from everyone else.  It stops dramatically at one point and then resumes with so many different melodies.  And then comes the surprise ending with a rising flute line and then a low end from the horn.

Without taking away anything from Imani Winds, I ‘m sure this performance doesn’t do the whole thing any justice.  But it is amazing to imagine how much more there is to it.  And it is amazing that these five instruments can evoke so much.  It’s an uncomfortable and somewhat shocking first listen.  It’s amazing that is over 100 years old, although it sounds so contemporary.

I don’t know why it’s not on NPR any more. I found it on YouKu (whatever that is).  I have been able to watch it twice but on two other times I was unable to watch it.  So keep trying, it’s worth the effort.

[READ: May 5, 2016] The Boy in the Dress

David Walliams is best known (if he is known at all) as the tall one on the sitcom Little Britain.

I had no idea he wrote books (he has done over half a dozen children’s books), and I was happy to start with this, his first one.

This book is illustrated by Quentin Blake, who is best known (if he is known at all) as the illustrator for the Roald Dahl books.  So his simple, somewhat sloppy, style might look familiar.

The story is, as the title suggests, about a boy who wears a dress.  And the story is very funny–not because it makes fun of him for wearing a dress, oh no.  In fact, I love the story for going out of its way to show that it is normal that a boy might want to wear a dress. (more…)

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