Sadly one of the world’s greatest musicians has died. Indian sitar maestro Ravi Shankar has passed away, aged 92. His recording career lasted from the 1940s to 2012, during which time he probably did more than anyone to popularize Indian music in the west. He introduced George Harrison of The Beatles to the sitar and famously appeared at the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971, as well the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
I was lucky enough enough to see Ravi Shankar in concert twice, most memorably at the Concert for Peace at the Royal Albert Hall, London in 1974.
R.I.P. the legendary jazz musician Dave Brubeck, who died today. He was best known for the 1959 album ‘Time Out’, the first jazz album to sell a million copies, and ‘Take Five’, the biggest-selling jazz single of all time.
After studying with French composer Darius Milhaud in the 1940s Brubeck formed a number of jazz groups before settling with a quartet in the 1950s which included alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, bassist Gene Wright and drummer Joe Morello. In 1958 they toured India and the Middle East as part of an American State Department ‘good will’ program during the cold war. It was on this tour that they came across music that used different time signatures to the standard 4/4 time. Music written as a result of the tour featured on the 1959 album ‘Time Out’, including ‘Take Five’ written by Paul Desmond in 5/4 time and ‘Blue Rondo a la Turk’ written by Brubeck in 9/8.
Dave Brubeck was named a Jazz Master by the American National Endowment for the Arts in 1999 and in 2009 he received a Kennedy Center Honor for his contribution to American culture.
The ‘Rest is Noise’ festival is an exciting and ambitious year-long exploration of twentieth century classical music. Taking its lead from the Alex Ross book of the same name, the festival will include over 100 events at London’s South Bank Centre, including concerts by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the London Sinfonietta. There will also be explorations of the history, politics, art and literature of the period.
Alex Ross’s book ‘The Rest is Noise’ is an incredibly informative and entertaining read and is highly recommended.