Cedille 061 (2001)
Dominique-René de Lerma:
The second week of Bill McGlaughlin's tribute to Black music was another odd juxtaposition. When I read the advance notice of this second of five-day events, I wondered how he would unite Adolphus Hailstork with Lightnin' Hopkins. The answer: He didn't. The theme of the show, apart from Hailstork and Howard, was the blues. For those unfamiliar with this genre, he outlined and exemplified it, calling on Son House, Slide Hampton, B.B. King to join others -- not eliminating W. C. Handy (on an aside, I wish the DJs would learn that W. C. did not write Claire de lune!). Included was an interview with Handy, whose daughter offered a rather refined performance of the ballad-plus-blues St. Louis blues, but also one by Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars that filled almost nine minutes with excitement from almost a century ago, providing justification for Satchmo's semi-deification.
With Hailstork's Epitaph for a man who dreamed, the contrast could not have been greater. Here is a memorial to Dr. King that is clearly within the masterwork range, whose orchestral sonorities could well be heard at least annually by any orchestra whose strings would hope to emulate the rich warmth of Paul Freeman's Chicago Sinfonietta. This and other works appear in Anthony McDonald's A catalog of music written in honor of Martin Luther King, published in 2011 by Scarecrow Press (ISBN-10:081088 1965).
Following was an absolutely beautiful performance of Deep river by the choristers of Howard University -- the setting and conducting lacked identification. Again, we are pressed to survey those recordings of our Black schools (although this is available on Smithsonian Folkways 4007208) which contain gems too hidden from the general music-loving public.
As before, I heard this broadcast on my computer from Chicago's WFMT at 7PM. It was a bit of a scare, because the signal had been lost earlier in the day, only to return just before Taj Mahal initiated the evening's high point. This is not really an NPR affiliate; It is a commercial station which, like those of NPR, has obligatory funding drives, but also airs commercials. If one can tolerate, ignore, or respond to the latter, it is possible to hear performances of the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago without getting dressed up and fighting traffic. (Is there a future for live music?) And of course, there is Exploring Music.
Dominique-René de Lerma