Iain Cameron's Diary
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2004-06-06 - 9:47 a.m.
Message from the Dream House:Pandit Pran Nath Memorial Tributes
Concert of Pre-recorded Tapes of Evening Ragas
Sunday, June 13, 8 pm
MELA Foundation /Dream House/ *275 Church Street, 3^rd Floor, New York, NY 10013**Between Franklin & White Streets in Tribeca*Admission $16. MELA Members, Seniors, Student ID, $14. Limited seating. Reservations recommended.
Telecast from the MELA Archives - Pandit Pran Nath/ Ragas Pat Dipak & Raga Darbari / “91 X 18 PM NYC”
On Mantra TV Saturday, June 12, 2004, 10:30 pm Time Warner Cable Channel 56 RCN Cable Channel 108
*In celebration of Pandit Pran Nath’s extraordinary life and work, MELA Foundation presents two memorial tributes. A concert of the Master’s pre-recorded tapes of Evening Ragas will be presented on Sunday, June 13, 2004 at 8:00 pm in the MELA /Dream House, /275 Church Street, 3^rd floor, New York. The concert is curated by La Monte Young and Marian
Zazeela, who will present commentary on the music during the event. *Admission $16; $14 MELA members; seniors; students with ID. Limited seating. Reservations recommended: 212-925-8270.
*MELA is also presenting a **telecast of Pandit Pran Nath’s 1991 performances of */Ragas Pat Dipak /*and*/ //Darbari/* on public access cable television. The program will air on the Mantra TV program on Time Warner Cable Channel 56 (RCN Cable Channel 108) on Saturday night, **June 12**, at 10:30 PM **.*
Pandit Pran Nath, who passed away on June 13, 1996, virtually introduced the vocal tradition of North Indian classical music to the West in 1970. His 1971 morning performance at Town Hall, New York City, was the first concert of morning ragas to be presented in the U.S. Subsequently, he introduced and elaborated to Western audiences the concept of performing ragas at the proper time of day by scheduling entire series of concerts at special hours. Many students and professional musicians came to him in America to learn about the vast system of raga and to improve their musicianship. He performed frequently in New York City and in 1972, established his own school under the direction of his disciples La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, the Kirana Center for Indian Classical Music, now a project of MELA Foundation. In Fall 1993, Pran Nath inaugurated the MELA Foundation /Dream House/ with three /Raga Cycle/ concerts and continued to perform here annually during his lifetime.
Pran Nath's majestic expositions of the slow /alap/ sections of /ragas/ combined with his emphasis on perfect intonation and the clear evocation of mood had a profound impact on Western contemporary composers and performers. In addition to Young and Zazeela, minimalist music composer Terry Riley became one of his first American disciples. Fourth-world trumpeter Jon Hassell, jazz all stars Don Cherry and Lee Konitz, composers Jon Gibson, Yoshimasa Wada, Rhys Chatham, Michael Harrison and Allaudin Mathieu, Sufi Pir Shabda Kahn, mathematician and composer Christer Hennix, concept artist and violinist Henry Flynt, dancer Simone Forti, and many others took the opportunity to study with the master.
*The performances of */Ragas Pat Dipak /*and*/ Darbari/* to be aired on Mantra TV were part of A Concert of Evening Ragas presented by MELA Foundation at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine on October 18, 1991. Pandit Pran Nath was accompanied by La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and Terry Riley, voices and tamburas, Michael Harrison, tambura, and Krishna Bhatt, tabla. The MELA Archive video of this rare gathering of the master Indian vocalist with some of his closest disciples gives us another glimpse into his last years performing in one of New York's most majestic spaces.** *
For further information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Another tape event.
KMB Jordan’s tape of the BBC4 John Martyn programme is marvellous . By chance, first up is the last section of a programme about Jeff Buckley – the Beale St part of the story which goes out with Everyone Here Wants You and a goodbye from Ms P Smith. Then we are off a 60 minute trip round other trials and tribulations of the creative life.
There is a defining contrast between the subject now in Ireland with his long suffering girl friend and his medical problems and the faun-like teenager who arrived at Les Cousins. They have got hold of a few wonderful bits of footage of the club. JM says – rightly – that it only took a few bars of Davy Graham to persuade him that that was the goal. (I would say the same bout John Renbourn.) Others might make the same point with EC.
Danny Thompson is brilliant – discussing the way that they never discussed the gig in the pub beforehand – they just set up and dived in. DT comes from the first wave of explorers – like Davy Graham – who brought together RnB and modern jazz – and who were modelling themselves on Charles Mingus’ approach. Mingus actually visited at the end of the 50s and hung out with Alexis Korner – who recorded with DG. The programme makes clear that John took that spirit and approach and carried it all the way through.
Ralph McTell also has a lot to say – apparently his brother managed JM for a while and indeed it was the brother who first coined the phrase “grace and danger”. There’s also a few clips of Paul Wheeler talking about the early days. Plus a lot of Chris Blackwell – who really gets to the point on After Hours – an unsurpassed peak of composition in the JM career.
I have got hold of a 1963 recording of Soft Machine – drums, cello, cornet and sax. Its in that same jazz-blues-avant pool and is pretty similar eg to what John Tchicai was doing with his quartet at the same time. Then Daevid Allen joins and it pushes further into the avant segment.
We watched the Turn of the Screw and then an extraordinary programme about Britten’s emotional attachment to youth. David Hemmings had sung in the original production of the opera when he was only 10 and he talked very openly about the experience – also an amazing German man – now in his 90s – who Britten has been intensely friendly with when he was in his teens.
The boy that DH played in the opera is a kind of channel between the ghostly world and the world of the governess who is the centre of “normal” values. The male ghost was sung by Peter Pears in the original production and the musical coding positions this character not wholly in the “other” world. It is astonishing that Britten was able to get away with such a “modern” and ambiguous work in the 1950s – I suppose it must have been the age of innocence. Similarly in our age of corruption, no composer would now dare to go there. So the work comes from an anomalous age of liberal enlightenment between then and now when people were open to the ambiguity and nothing like as censorious as the current tabloid culture was around.
In Peter Grimes which veers towards similar territory – especially in the “hero” figure – who murders his apprentice – the gap between the culture of the town and the isolation of Grimes is much sharper. It’s the genius of the Turn of the Screw – which I think is about five years later – to have found a vehicle which allowed Britten to develop his vision while still offering audiences some way into a very unusual territory.
There was also an extract from the magnificent Abraham and Isaac Canticle which dates from the same time. For my money that s up there with After Hours.
Yesterday I became aware of Diane de Prima – a poet born in 1934 – who was active in NYC in the 50s and 60s. I suppose you could see her as the predecessor of Patti Smith or maybe even Laura Nyro. She is in an Everyman collection of Beat Poets which is a useful book to carry around. My eye was caught by the opening line of one of her poems in the collection:
I have realised that the stakes are myself
I have no other
Ransom money, nothing to break or barter but my life
My spirit, measured out in bits
DdP is still alive and seems to be regarded as the grande dame of her cultural trajectory. Towards the end of the sixties she moved to the West Coast.
My interest is part of a concern to place Miss Plath in the stream which is hard because she is so popular – and so no one can follow her directly.
DdP is slightly younger and follows a path which moves gradually above ground. I read a critical comment yesterday that SP made most of the toys that female poets these days find in their toybox – I wonder if that’s true? That female poets in the US are still in her shadow.
Does DdP represent another marker? The two later trajectories on my mind are Patti Smith and Laura Nyro – one into the new feminist cosmology along with Rachel Rosenthal, the other still holding the candle for the avant garde.
Of course the objective has been to locate ND against SP as I hinted a few days back. One can place ND against Miss Smith via the enthusiasm of Tom Verlaine . There has to be a comparison in terms of the jazz orchestration between the complete ND oeuvre and everything up to Smile – or maybe even the Luna Rose .
I have been listening for a week or so – following Laurence’s suggestion – to Rolling Thunder Review – which to my ears has some towering poetry on it – which is 100% US. ND obviously takes the license which Dylan granted to use imagery and language ambitiously in song – and indeed there is a similar licence in SP – to get on a metaphor and take it to the limit and then jump off it and get on another one. And you might say that the US sweep is in a song like Three Hours – a cross country search, the metaphor of the road etc – or in ND’s sweep across time and genre – from the blues to baroque song to MacLaughlin 5 note chords.
I also bought some John Berryman – an antecedent of SP – a pioneering self destructive confessional poet who worked in strict formal structures. Here’s Berryman’s resignation:
Age, and the deaths, and the ghosts,
Her having gone away
In spirit from me. Hosts
Of regrets come & find me empty.
I don’t feel this will change
I don’t want any thing
Or person, familiar or strange.
I don’t think I will sing
Any more just now:
Ever. I must start
To sit with a blind brow
Above an empty fate.
All romantics meet the same fate? By Beale St?
John Martyn has the sweeping ambition and scale of BD but he pulls the words closer to the music relying at least as much on sound as sense. On After Hours the singing starts almost at the end. He has ended up a Celt after pretending to be a cockney – his life now is very rooted in the soft and protective attitudes that Cathloic Ireland sustains around wild creativity in its semi-terminal phase.
It seems that the Irish poet of our generation is Paul Muldoon – could ND be situated between Berryman and Muldoon? And is this much of a place to be or does he tower above the poets like his sister?