eric's elysian fieldsMUSIC

...the wickedness of otherworldly wonderment...


Of course, music always has to be around, and like with all cultural artificats I try to keep my palette as broad as possible --from Buffett to Rachmaninoff. Almost everything has its own peculiarly precious attributes. It's just a matter of peering deep enough to find them.

the current playlist

This eponymous disk by the Buena Vista Social Club has been out for almost three years, but people are still finding out about it. Ry Cooder went down to Cuba and helped bring together many musicians, most now octogenarians, who are masters of the son de Cuba. The German director Wem Wenders made a critically-acclaimed documentary on the musicians that was released this summer. The music is an all-acoustic gem full of nuances and texture from the loose-form boleros, danzons, tumbaos and American jazz-influenced songs. The music blends congas, maracas, piano and horns in songs romantic, simple, sentimental and endearing.

So we move from Caribbean-hued sounds to Eurotrash electronica. Kruder and Dorfmeister are two German DJs who in "The K&D Sessions" compile remixes they've done for other artists. This disk I bought on the dangerous criterion of its cover; I have a friend for whom this means of decision making always seems to work. Thankfully, I had the same luck. Slick beats, smooth keyboards and smart samples for songs ranging from hip hop to acid jazz. A choice selection.

This jazz album, "Come Shine," is the first major label release by French pianist Manuel Rocheman, who forms a trio with drummer Al Foster and bassist George Mraz. When last in Paris, I had the chance to see Rocheman at one of Paris' major jazz joints, Au Duc Lombards (small and smoky -- just as they should be). Rocheman knows when to switch from pure emotion to sweet virtuosity. Songs here include Rocheman's own zippy "Zig Zag," along with standards such as "My Funny Valentine" and "Come Rain or Come Shine."

Other preferred artists: some from Britain -- Radiohead, Morcheeba, Pulp. Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" has become an intractable part of my ready-reach collection, which includes all those CDs strewn around my stereo. Sting has always been reliably pleasant, and in fact just released a new disk titled "Brand New Day." I really like the French duo Air, who combine modern electronic touches with a '60s French-pop sound. In the classical range of things, I've been on a Gershwin kick for well over a year now. For some reason, I can't tire of "Rhapsody in Blue" and, somewhat tritely, "An American in Paris." I can't help it. "An American in Paris" really does capture the wonderment of an uniniated American being in that sweeping city, and the "tone poem" reminds me much of Mozart in its composition: so many little elements that make up the whole -- the sweeping strings, the roll of the bass drum, the long scream of the trumpet, the suddenly soft oboe -- and entirely triumphant in the end.


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