The Errant Aesthete on Karen von Blixen

Karen von Blixen (aka authoress Isak Dinesen) is one of those women whom one loves from afar. Afar both in distance and in time. What a woman! I love this artful post. It is as elegantly done as subject’s life.

The Errant Æsthete

I had
a farm
in Africa,
at the foot
of the
Ngong Hills.

 

Today is the birthday of the incomparable Isak Dinesen. Wife of the boorish and syphilitic Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke and lover of the mercurial adventurer and big game hunter, Denys Finch Hatton; Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke (April 17, 1885 – September 7, 1962), née Dinesen, was a Danish author also known by her pen name Isak Dinesen. Blixen wrote works both in Danish and in English; but is best known for Out of Africa, her account of living in Kenya, [TEA NOTE: a book as magical and luminous as the African moon over her farm] and for her story,Babette’s Feast, both of which were adapted into highly acclaimed motion pictures. Dinesen’s short story writing was influenced by the stories of the Arabian nights, Aesop’s Fables, the works of Homer, and the fairy…

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David Foster, Andrea Bocelli & Katharine McPhee Live!

Music, well-played and well-sung, is always better in live performance. But, when you can’t be there for the live gig, a great recording of a live performance can be a real treat. And when you are lucky enough to collect some of the primal forces of good music, you are in for something memorable.

On May 23, 2008, the protean music man David Foster created a once-in-a-lifetime concert that showcased many of his hits and a few of the stars whose careers Foster launched. The finale was one of those peak moments, the kind I like to re-visit over-and-over.

The song, The Prayer, was composed and written by David Foster and the beautiful, and oh so talented, Carol Bayer Sager. Foster was at the piano, and in command of a magnificent orchestra.

Carol Bayer Sager

Award-winning songwriter Carol Bayer Sager

Collaborating in a perfect duet were Andrea Bocelli and a young Katharine McPhee. Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard some of the sniffing and griping from a few fat old operatic tenors about Bocelli being more of a popular music singer than a classical singer. Have another cannoli, guys, and let Andrea have room to do his thing. I like it! I love his passion, his joy and his voice.

The pairing with McPhee was wonderful. She is young and beautiful and has terrific set of pipes. She didn’t let herself be intimidated by Bocelli’s reputation, or his voice. She was no trembling rookie on this night. She let it loose and was right there with him, every step of the way, in English and Italian. Well, she was with him until the last 10 seconds on the final note but, c’mon. It is just delightful!

Also, it never hurts to have long-legged, long-haired beauty in the number. You’ll see what I mean.

And you can purchase a CD/DVD combination package of this remarkable concert from the good folks at PBS. Go right here:

Hitman: David Foster & Friends

Jazz Around the World

Recently, we have been curious about the readership, especially since thejazzmonger blog went through a protracted period of idleness last year. So, I checked into our usage statistics a little bit. We found some surprises… some very pleasant surprises. First, we have been averaging around 65 hits per day, recently, with the high being 82 hits and the low being 50. So the traffic has been pretty steady. That’s good, I think.

Kudos are due to the great folks at WordPress for providing a terrific vehicle to let one speak to the whole wide world. If you have ever given any thought to expressing yourself in blog form, I encourage you to check out the great package of services and assistance  provided there.

But, what really surprised us was where the visitors are logging in from. Naturally, most connections originate in the United States, with the United Kingdom and India (both predominantly English-speaking countries and very heavily wired-in) coming in second and third. It was the overall distribution that was a revelation. Over the last seven days, we have logged visitors from thirty-eight (38) different countries.  And I am quite stoked about that.

Any disappointments? Yes, a couple. We would really love to be picked up more in Japan. The Japanese are well-recognized as sincere fans and aficionados of good Jazz. One fine exampleof this is the excellent site Jazz in Japan, edited by Michael Pronko.  Not only does he thoroughly cover the Jazz scene in Japan, but he writes with passion and talent on some surprisingly (for me) provocative subjects, such as Jazz and ZenThis guy has stretched my horizons considerably. Maybe our problem, here, is that thejazzmonger just doesn’t measure up to this kind of material. Michael gives us something to shoot at.

And the Japanese are not just fans. Many important contributors to the genre are from Japan. A case in point is one of my favorires, Gota Yashiki, about whom thejazzmonger wrote lovingly some time ago (Cf: http://wp.me/ppvVJ-al).  thejazzmonger needs to put in some serious thought on how we might appeal to this sophisticated audience, in the future.

Another disappointment is the low showing from Switzerland. I have some family, and a couple of good friends in Switzerland. We bagged one hit for the week. C’mon family!

We draw some encouragement, though, from what we think are pretty good numbers in some other places. Fifty-three hits from India and Pakistan, combined. Twenty from Greece! The Greeks have plenty going on, right now, so we are gratified that a few of them had time to drop by. One hit from the Russian Federation, probably Vladimir Putin, unwinding from another election rout.

WE invite any, and all, visitors to come back often, comment as you see fit and, please, drop us a note via the “Contact Us” link, introduce yourself and let us know where you sign in from.

Here is the chart

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