Year-end-year-ahead Conundrum

Gotham City Conundrum by the Gipsy GeekDecember 31, 2018. New York, New York. So here’s something to end the year with…and ring in the New Year. (I’ll spare explanations of why I’ve been tardy in posting regularly in this space….but in a nutshell – Life and Procrastination. And travel. Lots of it…..to Zurich, Bombay, Baroda, London, Edinburgh, Barcelona, Toulouse, Bordeaux in that order just in the past three months alone. And earlier in the year, time spent in New York, short stints near Chicago and briefly Montreal and Toronto.)

In early fall, before the mid-term elections, I was proud to give a speech for women’s rights and a call to political unity among liberals at Union Square, NYC, as the gathered throngs chanted in unison against the political and environmental degradation in this country, as we marched from Union Square to Times Square; And earlier in spring I joined many, many of my fellow women architects (including many older women architects I’ve long admired as inspiring icons) at the annual AIA meeting in New York to make the voices of women architects heard and to demand equity, visibility and due credit for our work in our very sexist profession. If anything at all, it is always cathartic to speak up…to speak up FACTS, that is.

Many of my stronger opinions and political views were shared with friends on my personal Facebook page (which is why, perhaps, I am guilty of not posting here), even as I continue to maintain another page on this link (this one is public and not related to my personal FB page) –  https://www.facebook.com/DonaldTrumpShutUp/  – can you believe it will be 9 years since I started it?!! It was the first of its kind on social media, before pages like that sprung up aplenty in 2017.  However, I can say with certainty that early-a**hole-personality-detection runs in my DNA. My maternal forefather – a leader in European politics – had written a book, a scathing critique against fascism –  years before the Holocaust foretelling that Hitler was a grave danger – at the time when people thought he was good for the economy.

End rant.

On to reflection.

As every year ends, as we grow another year older, and often another year sadder or wiser, or for some – especially for those whose neurotransmitters+receptors (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins) are working in a balanced and healthy way – another year happier – we get into that time when we reflect on what we’ve gained and what we’ve lost, the past that cannot be changed and the future that is yet to unfold, the conundrum of the choices we’ve made or are to make, unsure at times if they are the right ones……..even as we try to keep Hope and Optimism alive as we always do when we step into something new – like a new year; in this case, the last of the teens of this century, before the start of a new decade (2020).

So to end this year, and ring it in with some New York jazz from New York – the city where I live and which is closest to my heart – here’re two videos that I edited for a very dear person and his jazz trio. If you like their music, give their official facebook page a “like” to keep up with their upcoming concert dates – https://www.facebook.com/alexskolnick/

The name of the album is Conundrum. Regarding its name and content, says Skolnick:

“It represents the sense of confusion many of us are feeling in the midst of the strangest sociopolitical upheavals of our lifetimes….This album captures many styles in an effort to channel that angst into art and inspire others to do likewise.”

The album, released in September went on to No.2 on i-tunes jazz charts on the very week of its release, preceded by Miles Davis (Kind of Blue) at no. 1 and followed by John Coltrane (the Best of Coltrane) at no. 3.  Not bad company! ;-) Of course,  the greats who always are at the top 10 soon took over their original positions but the exhilaration to see its rise upon its release was nice. If you want to support independent artists, please buy their albums – don’t stream on youtube, unless it’s a promo video – such as these ones :-) (Links to purchase are found underneath the videos on youtube and on the fb page, but as a repeat here they are as shortlinks: https://amzn.to/2Qjk1Qz  and https://apple.co/2Napfw7 )

Enjoy, expand to full screen and turn the volume up! The first is of the complete album excerpts; the second of possibly the liveliest tune of the album. (Videos edited, along with additional videography, photography, album design etc. by yours truly – Maddy, the Gipsy Geek.)

Here’s saying goodbye to 2018….and reflecting on the conundrum in the year that was and the year(s) to come…..and, in the process, using music as therapy.

The 2nd video is the full performance of a lively song “Culture Shock” which has received thousands of views and is one of the album’s favorites…the music combines eastern (you can hear the Oriental and Middle-eastern melody) and western (jazz and Americana) styles, along with a dash of southern bluegrass and blends them into a harmonious whole. The title of the track also loosely references Herbie Hancock’s “Future Shock.” The guitars used are a semi-hollowbody-acoustic & a vintage telecaster.

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Celebrating a 3 year anniversary of a Musical Movement

“Planetary Coalition.” In our current times, we need this even more. 

So happy to be a part of this massive project since its inception & create its album artwork and much more. With nearly 30 musicians from 5 continents. 

11/11 marks another anniversary of the release which Guitar World listed as one of the top 10 albums of 2014 & Bluenote/Artistshare selected it for the Grammys. Where USA, Canada, Argentina, Turkey, Greece, India, China, Japan, Israel, Palestine, Mexico, Cuba, Mali & other parts of Africa, France, Spain, Albania, Macedonia, Poland…the Balkans & the Baltic…& many other countries came together in the spirit of jazz/gypsy/klezmer/ragas/sufi/flamenco & so many other styles. And the Liberty Science Center & some universities arranged live lecture/performances.

The Facebook page for the project is at http://bit.ly/2zvqoM9

Also, it’s not everyday that a musical piece (“Sleeping Gypsy,” the project’s signature tune which got Union Square dancing) has been written/composed for yours truly. 

#MakeMusicNotWar #SupporttheindependentArts

Here’s an updated video of the complete album. Obviously, it has far fewer views than on its FB fan page.

For the album artwork, go to: http://bit.ly/2i9Ghha


 

Tambourine Time

I’ve decided to repost this in light of Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman) being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature today.  While in terms of pure “literature” there are many deserving writers and authors, one has to admit that this man sure is a modern day bard, and his lyrical songs are sheer poetry. Here’s why.

The Gipsy Geek

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July 2, 2011. Here I go a-wandering somewhere in Montreal or Quebec City or Toronto and the roads and towns in between southern Ontario’s wine country. Through streets and crowds, familiar smells, ancient whispers, new sounds, the beats of the Jazz Festival in Montreal, the cheers on Canada Day in Toronto, and a song that for some reason always stirs that old wanderlust inside my gipsy heart. And reignites that vagabond whimsy buried inside: subdued through months of practiced stoicism and yet, stirring once in a while amidst summer heat and long amaranthine warm night skies, forgotten lyrics and the sheer abandon of tumbling, intoxicating melodies. 

And here I go a-wandering though poignant Paris, the labyrinthine streets of Venice, the merchants’ markets in exotic, overwhelming India and through the dazzling colors of Burano, the snow-capped mountains of Salzburg, the inexhaustible energy of New York City and pensive train rides along the ocean of the…

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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 2

A short video with glimpses of the first four tracks of the album, including two time Juno-award winning North Indian ghazal/folk style as well as classically trained Indo-Canadian singer Kiran Ahluwalia; also Turkish kanun player Tamer Pinarbasi along with other members of New York Gypsy All Stars; members of the group Raza Truncka from the small agricultural community of Salto playing Argentine indigenous drums; and members of the Brooklyn-based world music group House of Waters. Stay tuned till the end of the video. Artwork and editing by moi  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87ncMQRiX44

The first track is of course for Planet Earth and includes a small homage to Carl Sagan, whose wisdom, philosophy and Science communication skills have been one of the greatest influences in my life since childhood.

Last night was the album release party in New York City at The Meridian 23 with performances by nearly a dozen of the 27 musicians of the project. We are so grateful to all who attended despite the chilly temperatures in the city. The project was also featured in an article in yesterday’s Village Voice newspaper.

For more excerpts of the musical tracks check out my previous post: https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/planetary-coalition-album-excerpts-1/


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! :)