Friday, October 24, 2014

Lush Life With A Sophisticated Lady

I just finished watching the PBS special featuring Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. As unlikely as the pair may strike you... Tony of my parents' generation, Lady Gaga of my children's (if I had any)... the result was splendid. The post subject names the two songs by great songwriters/bandleaders of Bennett's generation (Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington) who wrote the centerpiece solos by Gaga and Bennett respectively... which I have never heard performed with greater passion, craft and drama. This show is available on DVD; if you missed it on the air and you like 40s music, you might consider hearing it from the disc.


  1. Stefani Germanotta, before she was Lady Gaga, was a torchy piano jazz singer type. It doesn't surprise me that she can cover 1940's music just fine. I do find it rather sad that she has to put on stupid wigs and costumes and make videos where she's humping dolphins in order to sell albums in today's world though :(.

    1. 'Tux, I didn't know that. I knew her name is Stefani, and that her politics, particularly on women's issues, are similar to our own. The finest soprano I ever worked with performing baroque music, Patti Spain, was also superb at what she referred to as the "can belto" style, and occasionally did an evening in a local club, in addition to her François Couperin and J. S. Bach in a different venue. As to Lady Gaga's shift to a more lucrative idiom, I can hardly blame her; I tried for a couple years to earn a living performing and teaching the only music I was good at, and I damned nearly went broke trying, despite getting virtually all the major baroque gigs available in Houston and a few in Dallas. It's anything but a lush life...

    2. I can't blame her either. My blog features musicians who didn't "sell out" every day, few of whom are able to make a living from their music, and those who do probably would make more money working for minimum wage. The sad thing is the American music industry which rewards spectacle rather than talent, not the fact that she had to "sell out" to make a living doing what she loves to do.

    3. How true, BadTux, how true. The recording industry and the movie industry have wrought havoc on their respective art forms, to no one's benefit except the industries... certainly not the artists.

      I never got a chance to "sell out" ... so-called early music was a serious money-maker for perhaps a decade, but promptly merged back into generic classical music. I have American friends who moved to Europe and are making a decent living performing that literature, but they certainly couldn't do it here. I suppose the wingnuts are happy about that; it means the American government doesn't dump tons of money into early music performance like those of England, France, Germany, Italy etc. The irony is that it's not "cultcha"; it's just wonderful music to listen to... but most Americans consider it a point of principle not to support what they don't consume themselves.

    4. "England, France, Germany, Italy" ... and of course Netherlands. How could I forget to name them.



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