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Great Performances - Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

Maestro and I enjoyed watching "Tony Bennett: Duets II" on KSPS the other day. Well, he watched, I worked and listened. I've always enjoyed Tony Bennett's music and have been meaning to buy "Duets" and "Duets II".
There were so many great performances but this one stood out: Tony Bennett's duet with Lady Gaga. They sang the Rodgers-Hart classic "The Lady is a Tramp". Tony was in fine form (as expected). However, it was Lady Gaga who took me by surprise.I think this was a case where Malcolm Gladwell's Blink logic  came to play. I look at Lady Gaga and expect a certain sound, based on what she's wearing. I was expecting a strong pop performance, coupled with an outrageous outfit.
In this case, my eyes were staring at my computer monitor. When I heard Lady Gaga's opening notes, I was floored. I didn't expect her to scat and groove with Tony like she's been singing like that. Her tone, her style, her ease and sense of fun in this number completely took me by surprise.


I got to appreciate her performance for what it was: fresh, fun and polished. Then I looked up and saw the turquoise hair and that elegant dress, which matched the heart of this song to a tee.
Good. Had I looked at her first and then heard her, I would have the image of her wearing that raw meat outfit stuck in my brain. My stomach would have roiled and I would not have enjoyed her performance quite so much.

(c) 2012 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Great Performances - Barenboim, Yo-Yo Ma and Perlman

This is a new weekly blog series I cooked up while having lunch. Each week, I will highlight a great performance that I have stumbled upon online. This is a performance of Ludwig van Beethoven's Triple Concerto in C Majorop. 56 for violin, piano and cello. It's a beautiful collaborative work that showcases Beethoven's ability to balance several weaving passages. This clip features three giants of the concert world: Daniel Barenboim (piano/conductor), Itzhak Perlman on violin and Yo-Yo Ma on cello. Watch how Barenboim cues in the orchestra with his body language. Also, look at how confident and comfortable the trio is with each other. They don't need to look at each other much. They cue each other in very subtly. [January 29, 2013 note: Looks like the videos were removed from Youtube.]

You can check out the CD here:


(c) 2011 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Tico Tico

This week, my students are checking out two versions of Tico-Tico no Fubá. This piece is an example of a Brazilian choro, or lament and was composed by Zequinha de Abreu in  1917.
The first time I heard this piece was at a friend and colleague's birthday party. She delivered a piano recital to guests.
This version of Tico Tico is by Brazilian pianist Vinheteiro:

Some of my students think this four-person, two-guitar version is "cool" while others think it's "creepy":

Want to learn Tico Tico? Check out these versions:
Best Latin Songs Ever look inside Best Latin Songs Ever By Various. For Piano/Vocal/Guitar. Piano/Vocal/Guitar Songbook. Latin. Difficulty: medium. Songbook. Vocal melody, piano accompaniment, lyrics, chord names and guitar chord diagrams. 248 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.310355)Smp_stars50 (2) ...more info

Tico Tico (Tico Tico No Fuba)

Tico Tico (Tico Tico No Fuba) By Zequinha Abreu and Carmen Miranda. For piano. Latin; Spanish; Standards. 5 pages. Published by Hal Leonard - Digital Sheet Music (HX.8903)...more info
Best Latin Songs look inside Best Latin Songs By Various. For Guitar. Finger Style Guitar. Latin. Difficulty: medium. Guitar tablature songbook. Guitar tablature, standard notation, vocal melody, lyrics, chord names and guitar chord diagrams. 64 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.699132)Smp_stars40 (4) ...more info
(c) 2011 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Arca & Arca Perform Pia no Jac

My students, my brother's students, our family, friends and I are exhausted from a weekend full of recitals. My studio recital took place on Saturday, while my brother's was yesterday. The kids did fairly well and there were many pleased parents and grandparents.
One thing we like to do is to perform at our studio recitals. The purpose is two-fold: to keep our own skills up and secondly, to show our students and their families that yes, we really can play.
This year, we have been exploring the music of Pia no Jac, a Japanese piano/cajon duo. The technical challenges are quite different from what we've encountered when we were taking lessons. 
Here's footage of our latest performance. First off is Crossbeats, which features Jay on piano and myself on the cajon:

The second is Habanera based on Bizet's Carmen. This time, I'm on the piano and Jay's playing the cajon:

I wonder how many of my students looked up "Pia no Jac" after the recital.
Want to explore Pia no Jac? Click on the CD below and off you go:


(c) 2011 by Musespeak(tm) and To the Wind(tm), Calgary, Alberta, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Jane Zhang

We wrap up our exploration of Chinese music with pop artist Jane Zhang. In 2005, this Chinese pop superstar auditioned for the talent show Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Super Girl (also referred to as Super Voice Girl). 
Although she didn't win the competition, Zhang was considered the "breakout star". She has 15 number one hit singles and was named China's Best Female Artist three years running.
She made her debut performance in North America on the Oprah Show.
Here is Jane Zhang performing one of her hits from 2010, Can't Do It (Ban Bu Dao):

Want to hear more Jane Zhang? Click on the CD icon below and happy exploring!

(c) 2011 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Grand Master Masese

This week, we're checking out an instrument that is unlike anything we have in North America, the obukano. It hails from the Gusii village. Playing the obukano and singing is Grand Master Masese. He plays the obokano and nyatiti (lyre). He is also a comedian, poet, dancer and writer. He introduces the song extremely well in this video:

Here is one of his CD's available in North America:

(c) 2011 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration 2010/11 Week 3 - Visions of a Nomad

This week, my piano students and I are listening to Visions of a Nomad, an Australian jazz fusion/groove pop band that is accompanied by the didgeridoo, an Australian indigenous instrument. Band members include: Michael Cuming (didgeridoo, keys, percussion, classical harp, clarinet, guitar, vocals), Silvana van Dijk (drum kit, small percussion, congas, vocals), Tim Berry (trumpet, flugelhorn,trombone) and Adama Storey (double bass/electric bass).

Australian music

This group has received rave reviews on its international tours, from theatres to concert halls and from festivals to the club scene.

Career highlights include: Tour of United States in 2005, Diversions Festival Ireland, Holland Theatre concert tour, Cultural Olympiad Greece, Ireland Theatre tour, Japan concert tour, Powerhouse Theatre Brisbane Australia and Conservatorium Theatre Australia. Michael Cuming and Silvana van Dijk were asked by the Olympic committee to produce and aboriginal show to be performed on the ruins of the Acropolis and Olympia.

Here's a clip of Australia White Birds:

We are also exploring The Edge this week. (c) 2010 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.