Masquerades

Venice carnival "Masked Man". Photo by Maddy SJ for Nomad 9 Design. Featured in https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com © 2015. Maddy SJ. All rights reserved. All images appearing in https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com web site are the exclusive property of Maddy SJ/The Gipsy Geek and are protected under the United States and International Copyright laws. The images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without the written permission of Maddy SJ. Use of any image as the basis for another photographic concept or illustration (digital, artist rendering or alike) is a violation of the United States and International Copyright laws. All images are copyrighted. Email gipsygeek@gmail.com

The Venice Carnival is currently on. A spectacular splash of color and splendor, costumes and masks, masquerade balls and parades and parties on the streets and waterways, inside grand villas and palaces – it is a custom dating from the 12th century. There are several different types of Venetian masks, each type with its own purpose and symbolism. A mask for every occasion, for every personality-type, giving concrete form and literal manifestations to the masks people wear in everyday life…….

Venice Carnival - Masked Man© 2015. Maddy SJ. All rights reserved. All images appearing in https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com web site are the exclusive property of Maddy SJ/The Gipsy Geek and are protected under the United States and International Copyright laws. The images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without the written permission of Maddy SJ. Use of any image as the basis for another photographic concept or illustration (digital, artist rendering or alike) is a violation of the United States and International Copyright laws. All images are copyrighted. Email gipsygeek@gmail.com

Venetian Masks © 2015. Maddy SJ. All rights reserved. All images appearing in https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com web site are the exclusive property of Maddy SJ/The Gipsy Geek and are protected under the United States and International Copyright laws.

Venice Carnival St Marco Square © 2015. Maddy SJ. All rights reserved. All images appearing on the website https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com are the exclusive property of Maddy SJ/The Gipsy Geek and are protected under the United States and International Copyright laws. The images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without the written permission of Maddy SJ. Use of any image as the basis for another photographic concept or illustration (digital, artist rendering or alike) is a violation of the United States and International Copyright laws. All images are copyrighted. Email gipsygeek@gmail.com

Venice Carnival St Marco Square © 2015. Maddy SJ. All rights reserved. All images appearing on the website https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com are the exclusive property of Maddy SJ/The Gipsy Geek and are protected under the United States and International Copyright laws. The images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without the written permission of Maddy SJ. Use of any image as the basis for another photographic concept or illustration (digital, artist rendering or alike) is a violation of the United States and International Copyright laws. All images are copyrighted. Email gipsygeek@gmail.com“The closing years of life are like a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

 

Note: © 2015. Maddy SJ. All rights reserved. All images appearing on the website https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com  are the exclusive property of Maddy SJ/The Gipsy Geek and are protected under the United States and International Copyright laws.
The images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without the written permission of Maddy SJ. Use of any image as the basis for another photographic concept or illustration (digital, artist rendering or alike) is a violation of the United States and International Copyright laws. All images are copyrighted. Email gipsygeek@gmail.com


 

 

 

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11/11 and 1 year

Exactly one year ago on 11/11 we released Planetary Coalition’s debut CD, and what an unexpected and exhilarating journey it has been! A huge thank-you to all who supported, encouraged and participated in this project and appreciated the music we offered and continue to do so.

We are honored and humbled by the reception we’ve received from the public, press and peers. Concerts at Union Square New York, at NAMM venues in California, invitations and sold-out lecture/presentations/audio-visual performances at the Liberty Science Center, NJ, at the ArtsVille series at the University of Dayton, OH, glowing reviews in many local, national and international publications, recognition by Guitar World magazine as one of the top 50 releases of 2014, Acoustic Nation’s pick as the top 10 acoustic guitar albums of 2014, and submitted by our ArtistShare/Bluenote record label in several categories for the upcoming 58th Grammy awards.

For more information on the project, vignettes, news and updates – go to the website http://planetarycoalition.com/

Since an invaluable amount of sweat, blood, creativity. effort and expenses went into this mammoth project, please support the work of independent artists and musicians and not online illegal uploads or ripped CDs.

For the holiday season, share our labor of love as the perfect gift.
Available on i-TUNES here: http://apple.co/1zB0qiN
On AMAZON here: http://amzn.to/1ASdNg4

If i-tunes and Amazon options do not cover your country, you can order directly from ArtistShare here: http://artistshare.com/v4/Projects/OfferDetails/325/439/2186/1/6

Make music, not war! Support the independent Arts!

Here’s a video of the complete album excerpts, compiled & edited by yours truly: 


Planetary Coalition – Album Excerpts 3

This is the last of the album excerpts’ series for Planetary Coalition – with glimpses of the last 5 songs on the album. On Novermber 25, 2014, our itunes sales commenced and within a day the album had already climbed to the top 20 world music albums at number 13. Please help support the project – the link to buy the album on Amazon is here: http://www.amazon.com/Planetary-Coalition-Alex-Skolnick/dp/B00OTVQ0L4 and on itunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/planetary-coalition/id934930381

This series of excerpts begins with a composition with Cuban influences – with the great Grammy award-winning Cuban percussionist Horacio “el Negro” Hernandez and his daughter Jennifer who co-wrote the piece with Skolnick. The photos of Cuba (except three) are ones I had taken during a 2006 trip to that country.

Following this, both countries of the Holy Land – Israel and Palestine are featured – with renowned Palestinian oud player Adnan Joubran of Le Trio Joubran co-composing a track with Skolnick (a piece with surprises in its full version where the melody takes a rather unexpected turn) followed by a duet with famed Israeli percussionist Gadi Seri (a frequent accompanist in the group of Israeli singing sensation Noa) in a piece inspired by travelling through the Negev desert. Initially both Seri and Joubran were to feature on the same track but, due to different rhythm styles, decided to have two separate pieces.

The fourth excerpt is the first guitar-pipa duet ever performed of a popular Chinese melody – with Skolnick and pipa virtuoso Yihan Chen playing on a variation of Wang Huiran’s tune Dance of the Yi People as “Return of the Yi People” and the colorful landscapes featured in the video are indeed from the region of South China where the Yi people reside. There is a previous post in this blog on the pipa – an ancient Chinese instrument more than 2000 years old.

And finally, an excerpt of the popular signature tune of the project – the first track which Skolnick had composed in 2012 when he conceived of the Planetary Coalition series: Sleeping Gypsy, which I feel both happy and shy to mention was composed for your nomadic neighborhood artist and blogger – the Gypsy Geek :)

Here goes:

On Saturday November 29, 2014, about seven of the twenty seven musicians of Planetary Coalition will play at the Liberty Science Center coinciding with an event on the history and development of the acoustic and electric guitar. We also have a Planetary Coalition website where more details are available on the project.

I’ve said it here before, and I’ll say it again once more: Support independent authentic musicians, artists and Art! Make Music, Not War! :)


Planetary Coalition – Album Excerpts I

First of a short series of audio-visual album previews and track excerpts, including scenes from the recording studio, compiled by yours truly.

These excerpts include famed guitar duo Ridrigo y Gabriela – who, among many sold-out concerts and tours – have played for President Obama himself and are two-time guests on the David Letterman Show. In fact this recording with Skolnick was made a day before their Letterman appearance. As teenagers, they were inspired by Skolnick’s playing before becoming professional musicians themselves.

The video also includes glimpses of other great world musicians like Argentine bass player Pablo Aslan and pianist Dario Boente, African kora player and singer Yacouba Sissoko (who has played with Paul Simon, Harry Belafonte et al among others), members of the New York Gypsy All Stars (Vasko Dukovski, Panagiotis Andreou, Engin Kaan Gunaydin), accordian maestro Raif Hyseni, Max ZT who learned his craft from pre-eminent Indian santoor maestro Shiv Kumar Sharma; and violinist Rachel Golub who is also the world record holder in open cold water swimming and has performed with artists ranging from Sting, Elton John and Lady Gaga to Jay-Z, Andrea Bocelli et al and in shows like Saturday Night Live among others; also New York based versatile Japanese bassist Moto Fukushima (a summa cum laude graduate alumni of the prestigious Berklee College of Music) and drummer-percussionist Luke Notary who has previously worked with Cirque du Soleil.

All compositions and arrangement by Alex Skolnick, except Alla La K’e – which is a take on a traditional Malinese song – and this is the first time it has been performed as a guitar-kora duet.

I have been deeply involved artistically with this project since 2012, as artist, consultant and documentarain, and the previous post carries my album artwork.

The CD can be ordered here:

Through ArtistShare: http://artistshare.com/v4/Projects/Experience/325/439/1/Alex-Skolnick-Planetary-Coalition?v=2 (Also includes ways to support the project or get a signed copy of the CD)

Through Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Planetary-Coalition-Alex-Skolnick/dp/B00OTVQ0L4/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1415952919&sr=1-1&keywords=planetary+coalition

Through i-tunes pre-order: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/planetary-coalition/id934930381

Support independent authentic Art! Make Music, Not War! :)


Make Music, Not War – II

New York, August 5, 2014. In my previous blog post (here) I explained the premise behind melding my work life, creative endeavors and blog life all together due to a shortage of time. Last week’s blog featured a video with Mali’s world-renowned Kora player Yacouba Sissoko.

Today’s blog post features a rehearsal for the project “Planetary Coalition” with eminent Chinese Pipa player Yihan Chen. See for yourself!

This was during the very first meeting between guitarist Alex Skolnick and Ms. Chen. The music had a feeling of water, just as the African one from last week had a more earthy vibe. The final track with Yihan has already been recorded in the studio. Did you know that the Chinese Pipa is an instrument more than 2000 years old? For fact geeks like me, here’s a history of the Pipa: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipa

As mentioned earlier, these videos are very exclusive and have not been released yet to a larger audience as we are waiting to do so after the release of the CD. But since I made them, I am showcasing it in a very limited platform through this blog, as a glimpse of what is taking shape.

And more importantly, it is about documenting the dynamic and dialogue between the artists during the process of melody-creation or “feeling out” the music, of creating “conversations” between the instruments and exploring possibilities.  

There is still time to support the project through our ArtistShare website http://www.artistshare.com/v4/projects/experience/325/439/1/6 or directly contact Alex (http://alexskolnick.com/) or me (gipsygeek at gmail dot com) if you’d like to help us out. Or at most, even get the word around.

As another prosaic and tumultuously violent week in world events passed us by, once again – how much better the world would have been or would be if we created art, found common ground and made music instead of war.

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Make Music, Not War – I

New York, July 27, 2014. Luckily, like most of us – I never had to experience any war zone or heinous crime directly – but the last two weeks probably there were some of the most depressing and horrific events featured in the news one after another, with no end in sight….and all of those caused by the barbarism, territoriality and deliberate cruelty of humans. Large number of pedophiles working in children’s amusement parks, the never-ending Middle East conflict, more murder/kidnappings in Mexico, child rape in India, the new horrors in Ukraine – and then as the finale – the horrendous Malaysian airline shooting due to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. 

If some universal force or system of justice existed (and it does not – no matter how much some self-soothe through the placebo effect of a non-existent entity) then instead of peaceful citizens, innocent children on the beach, the AIDS researchers on the plane, and the countless individual and collective innocent victims who died of murder, war, missiles and rapes, it’s the murderers, kidnappers, pedophiles. fanatics, violence-provoking fundamentalists and cold blooded killers who should have died instead.

No man/woman is perfect (and even our so-called “great leaders” or “saints” have had appalling personal failures and hypocrisies especially when it came to their sex-life hypocrisies or messiah-complex ruthless narcissism) but in the last few days that saying by Mohandas Gandhi (who alas, also had some lapses in his public preaching vs. his private weaknesses) keeps running in my head: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

And then that inner Seinfeld/Monty Python part of me thinks – well, logically if that quote’s taken literally- if it’s “an” eye, that will just leave tons of one-eyed people – with eye patches, and they won’t quite look or feel like Sir Stuffington (see link here)…….. and then I find myself looking at the faces of puppies, kittens, baby animals and baby humans, and flowers – to remember there is still such innocence and beauty in the world……..which, for petty reasons, the miserable destroyers of peace and life wish to take away…

A gentle little bunny reaches out on my lap at an animal farm in Wisconsin.

A gentle little bunny reaches out on my lap at an animal farm in Wisconsin.

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Make music, not war.

And so, it is with a heartening sense of relief that I find myself (since the summer of 2012) being heavily involved in a wonderful world music project started by jazz/metal/world/any-style guitarist Alex Skolnick.

What had begun as an idealistic, optimistic and genuinely concerned project about environmental and social issues and bridging the gap between different countries, cultures and topographies through music – and which was first showcased in Union Square in NYC on June 21,2012, in the annual Make Music festival on summer solstice day – has now grown into an exciting saga, with nearly 30 diverse musicians from all over the world joining in and contributing to musical tracks with traditional instruments and rhythms which Alex has incorporated in his compositions.

I have been both elated and exhausted documenting the project, discussing musical ideas and line-ups, designing the upcoming album cover, sitting in the recording sessions and editing process and very excited at how this project has grown into something truly global in line with its initial goal.

This summer in Union Square, as there was another performance with a limited set of musicians, the crowds went wild and there was joyous dancing to the melodies. We now have stellar and multi-award winning musicians (including a legendary drummer from Cuba, a renowned Palestinian oud player, an eminent Israeli percussionist, a Grammy winner who played along side Yo Yo Ma and a two-time Indo-Canadian Juno award winner who is renowned for her vocal chops, as well as a dynamic guitar duo who have played for President Obama himself) among the many musical artists ranging from countries such as Argentina, India, Turkey, China, Mexico, Mali, Israel, Palestine, Cuba and the Balkan region who will feature in the project.

Good music is truly healing and brings unity in diversity like no other tool. Why can’t we all make music, not war? Why can’t we celebrate our musical diversities and soak in its beauty and creativity instead of the digging deeper of discord and disparities which lead to so much violence and destruction?

In the coming weeks and months a lot of my focus will be on this project, besides the time and energy that goes in my day job as an architectural/interior/landscape planner and designer.  So I will have to meld my projects into this blog and will feature some of the videos from the project Planetary Coalition. There is still time to support the project through our ArtistShare website http://www.artistshare.com/v4/projects/experience/325/439/1/6 or directly contact Alex or me if you’d like to help us out. Or at most, even get the word around.

The following video features a rehearsal with renowned Kora player Yacouba Sissoko of Mali who has played with stalwarts like Paul Simon, and Harry Belafonte among others. The final recording (not featured here, where he also sings) is one of my favorite tracks from our upcoming CD.

These videos are very exclusive and have not been released yet to a larger audience as we are waiting to do so after the release of the CD. But since I made them, I am showcasing it in a very limited platform through this blog, as a glimpse of what is taking shape.

More importantly – these are about documenting how musical melodies take place, the dynamic between the artists and the process that goes into the making of a finished product, from rehearsals to recordings. It’s more the behind-the-scenes look at the process of music-making rather than the smooth, CGI-effect “final product” of a music video. And there will be others featured in the coming weeks with other artists. Spread the word about the project and the upcoming CD, and as mentioned above with the link – there is still time to support the arts!

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Once again, make music, not war.

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Spring in The City

 

New York , April 2014. Some photos taken by a very talented friend of mine – an architect-turned-software-engineer who lives and works in New York. Start the slideshow by clicking on any picture. (All images are under copyright. Please do not copy, reuse, print or save.) 

 

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“So I went to New York City to be born again. It was and remains easy for most Americans to go somewhere else and start anew. I wasn’t like my parents. I didn’t have any supposedly sacred piece of land or shoals of friends to leave behind. Nowhere has the number zero been of more philosophical value than in the United States…. and when the [train] plunged into a tunnel under New York City, with its lining of pipes and wires, I was out of the womb and into the birth canal.” – Kurt Vonnegut in Bluebeard

Train in Tunnel - New York City