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

WAR on PBS

Cover of "All Day Music"
Cover of All Day Music

No, this is not announcing another documentary about World War II or Vietnam. This is in reference to the musical group WAR, and one of my local PBS stations ran a one-and-a-half hour concert last. They will be repeating it tomorrow (Thursday, June 4). They are in fund-raising mode and are using several music concerts during evening broadcast hours throughout the week to draw their  target donors. Monday night they ran the most excellent David Foster: The Hitman concert. Catch that one , if you get a chance.

The group that performed was fronted by one of the founding members of WAR, keyboardist Lonnie Jordan. Several other members of the original group perform under the name The Low Rider Band. WAR is most often identified as a rock band or, more specifically, a purveyor of 70’s Funk. Those familiar with some of their major hits like The Cisco Kid, Low Rider, The World Is a Ghetto and Why Can’t We Be Friends? would probably see the validity in that.

The stations in your area might not be running these programs this week, but keep your eye out for their pledge drive week. It has to be coming up soon. Hopefully, you have not already missed the Spring/Summer drive. Another program my local stations have run is Chris Botti: Live at the Boston Pops. It is a great show with terrific guest stars including Sting, Katharine McPhee. The Chris Botti show also introduced me to a new talent, Sy Smith.

Doesn't she look like she can really sing?

Doesn't she look like she can really sing?

So, why am I, the jazzmonger, plugging a concert by these guys? Listen to them do All Day Music and Slippin’ Into Darkness and tell me that’s not jazz. And this question of “What can we talk about in reference to jazz?” puts in mind of an interesting discussion I have been participating in over on Kevin Kniestedt‘s “Groove Notes” blog, which you can find at:  jazz24.wordpress.com.

Kevin is a gentleman and a scholar, and the dj hosting The Grooveyard on station KPLU. He also hosts an online jazz streamcast. Kevin knows his stuff. He recently posted about being “taken to task” by a listener of his radio show. The sin was having played the title track from Steely Dan‘s Aja album. Here is how Kevin stated the problem:

It was this most recent complaint that came across as far more angry than your average letter. In fact, the note made it quite clear that after hearing a particular song, the individual was “through” listening to my program.

The song in question was the title track to the Steely Dan album Aja. The complaint, in short, was that Steely Dan didn’t play jazz, and that Aja wasn’t jazz and didn’t sound like jazz, even if Steely Dan was a jazz band by nature.

And he concludes with this

So did I lose this one? Did I cross the line with Aja? Should I have just responded with “Jazz is free, it has no boundaries”? Should I have said “I’m the DJ, I’ll play what I want”?

Maybe I did the best thing I could do, and just not write back.

I responded, as did several others, that Jazz by its very nature is free-form and should be inclusive. plus, I added, why do we have to wall ourselves off from all other good pieces of music in order to be a jazz fan? Seems nuts to me. Go here:

http://jazz24.wordpress.com/2009/05/23/where-is-the-fine-line-in-jazz/

to check out the whole discussion, AND put your two cents in.

cc -Some rights

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