October 22, 2014

John Rutter on his secret 'composing cottage'

Classic FM:

Each morning at 10 o’clock, John Rutter sets off to a secluded cottage some miles away from his home where he tries to spend the entire day writing music. No one has his telephone number there, and there's no road, so it’s unlikely that anyone will be passing by to disturb him.

"I think we all have to be fairly disciplined," Rutter told Classic FM’s Charlotte Green, ahead of the release next month of his new double album, The John Rutter Songbook.

And despite his strict regime and the lack of distractions at his composing cottage, there’s no guarantee that inspiration will come.

“What you’re doing is trying to reach for a tap and it’s always slightly out of reach and you don't know why,” the composer said.

“The water will flow some days, and other days you only get a miserable little drip, and other days you get absolutely nothing.”

“And of course the worst day of all is when you write lots of stuff down and think ‘Oh I've got that.’ You look at it the next day and think, ‘Oh no. That's not good enough.’ You have to go back over what you've done.

Rutter’s advice for budding young composers is “just keep trying”.

Read more.

Posted by John at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2014

New York Times obit for Tim Hauser

New York Times:

Tim Hauser, a singer and showman who founded the Manhattan Transfer, a Grammy-winning vocal group that brought four-part harmonies to several decades’ worth of American popular songs, died on Thursday in Sayre, Pa. He was 72.

The cause was cardiac arrest, said his sister, Fayette. She said he had been taken to a hospital in Elmira, N.Y., with pneumonia shortly after arriving in nearby Corning for a scheduled performance and was later moved to a hospital in Sayre, where he died.

Begun in 1972 when Mr. Hauser was making ends meet as a New York City cabdriver, the Manhattan Transfer became known for its jazzy treatment of a wide spectrum of musical styles, from gospel and swing to doo-wop, pop and rhythm and blues; for stylish and sophisticated arrangements; and for a razzle-dazzle stage presence featuring slick costuming and arch choreography.

The group’s wide repertoire embraced different eras. It included Louis Armstrong numbers from the first half of the 20th century; “Tuxedo Junction,” which had been a hit for Glenn Miller in 1940; “Route 66,” Bobby Troup’s 1946 paean to the great American highway, which had been covered by Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry and others; the gospel tune “Operator,” recorded by the Friendly Brothers in 1959; the Rascals’ 1967 pop hit “Groovin’ ”; and soul songs like “The Boy From New York City,” a remake of a 1965 hit by the Ad Libs that was the group’s only Top 10 single.

Before Mr. Hauser’s death, the Manhattan Transfer had the same four members — the others were Janis Siegel, Alan Paul and Cheryl Bentyne — since the late ’70s, when Ms. Bentyne replaced Laurel Massé, who had been Mr. Hauser’s first recruit for his new vocal group but who had been injured in a car accident. By then the Manhattan Transfer had earned a substantial following, touring extensively, recording for Atlantic Records and headlining a summer variety series on CBS in 1975.

Still, the years between 1979 and the early 1990s were the group’s heyday. During that time they recorded their best-known albums — among them “Extensions,” which included a vocal version of the Weather Report song “Birdland,” which became one of their signatures; “Vocalese,” a collection of songs with lyrics (written by Jon Hendricks of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross) set to previously recorded jazz instrumentals; and the samba-tinged “Brasil” — and won multiple Grammys in both jazz and pop categories.

In addition to providing a midrange voice and crisp diction to the group’s renditions, Mr. Hauser was in charge of its public image, of which he was very conscious. Always flashily dressed onstage — sometimes with casual extravagance, now and then in formal wear — the Manhattan Transfer employed showbizzy dance steps in live performances, a Hollywood or even Las Vegas touch that appealed to many fans but that critics sometimes found irritating.

“On the one hand,” the New York Times critic Robert Palmer wrote in 1980, the four vocalists “are genuine aficionados of pop music’s many vocal-group idioms.” But, he added, “they’ve built their following with the help of a liberal amount of flash and often their jive talk, costume changes and showy stagings have tended to overwhelm the more musicianly qualities in their work.”

Timothy DuPron Hauser was born in Troy, N.Y., on Dec. 12, 1941, and grew up mostly on the Jersey Shore, in Ocean Township and Asbury Park. His father, F. Jackson Hauser, was an insurance adjuster; his mother, the former Theresa Butters, was a school secretary who later opened her own travel agency. She died earlier this year.

Mr. Hauser went to high school in Belmar, N.J., and studied economics at Villanova University. He was interested in vocal pop music from an early age and sang in his high school glee club.

In 1956, he met the members of the doo-wop group Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers.

“I heard them warm up a cappella in the dressing room before a concert, and that did it for me,” Mr. Hauser recalled in a 2012 interview for the Archive of Music Preservation. “I would say karmically, that was God hitting me with that lightning bolt, going, ‘Here it is, kid; if you miss it, it ain’t my fault.’ ”

When he was still in his teens, Mr. Hauser and a friend started a singing group called the Criterions, recording several songs and appearing on the same bill with groups including Dion and the Belmonts. He later sang in a folk trio, the Troubadours Three.

After graduating from Villanova in 1963 and serving in the Air National Guard, he worked for a time in advertising and in the marketing department of Nabisco. In 1969 he started a singing group, a quintet with a country and rhythm-and-blues bent that he called the Manhattan Transfer. (The name comes from the title of a 1925 novel by John Dos Passos.)

They recorded one album, “Jukin’,” for Capitol Records before disbanding. In 1972, Mr. Hauser was driving a cab to pay the bills when he picked up Ms. Massé, then a waitress and aspiring singer, as a fare, and the second iteration of the Manhattan Transfer began to gestate. Several weeks later, another fare brought him to a party, where he met Ms. Siegel. Mr. Paul, who was performing in the original Broadway production of “Grease,” was a friend of Ms. Massé’s boyfriend.

Mr. Hauser, who lived in the Los Angeles area, recorded a solo album, “Love Stories,” that was released in 2007.

He also appeared as an actor in the 1991 film “The Marrying Man,” whose soundtrack he helped produce.

His first two marriages ended in divorce. In addition to his sister, he is survived by his wife, Barb Sennet Hauser; a son, Basie; and a daughter, Lily.

Posted by John at 7:55 PM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2014

Tim Hauser dies

It comes as a huge shock to learn that Tim Hauser of the vocal jazz pioneers the Manhattan Transfer passed away this morning. We have no further details at this point but will post more information as it becomes available. He was 72 years of age.

Posted by John at 2:01 PM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2014

Bath buskers fight back

Seems like the brouhaha over the buskers and Bath Abbey choir is heating up. In this article in the Guardian (with video clips) the buskers give their position with street musician Jack Morgan saying “I think the rector has a personal issue with buskers. I think he feels that the only music in the square should be the fine choir of the abbey. I think he would like us to go away. I don’t think it’s a volume issue, I think it’s a more political issue. I think we’re seen as a rabble but we have a right to free expression and free speech and that’s what we’ll fight for. We’re part of a liberal British musical culture.”

In his office the rector Rev Prebendary Edward Mason admitted he was passionate about the issue. He had been reading an Old Testament passage about leadership when he felt he had to show just that quality and say the service had to stop.

Mason said: “I’ve been working with the street musicians for a long time but I’m really anxious about this city. I feel like weeping for it really.

“We’re surrounded by noise quite a lot of the time. I feel like weeping for those who try to sort out issues in the city and how we live together. I weep for a beautiful place that is subject to this noise. I weep that we human beings just cannot resolve conflict.”

Mason said the local authority, Bath and North East Somerset council, had little power to solve the problem – but he thought the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, which comes into force next month, might help.

Meanwhile Jack Morgan rejigged his normal set. “I’m going to be playing some protest songs,” he told the crowd milling around in front of Bath Abbey – and launched into a (suitably quiet) version of The Sound of Silence. Read lots more.

Posted by John at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2014

Choir drowned out by buskers

Daily Express (UK):

The Evensong at Bath Abbey was stopped halfway through yesterday after singers in the square outside drowned out the choir's songs, causing the congregation to stop their service and head off home.

There has been a religious establishment on the site since 675 AD, and the current building dates from 1500.

Musical director Peter King said rogue buskers were a common problem in the area and blamed the council for a lack of action.

Writing on Twitter, he said: "Choral Evensong abandoned today because of noise from buskers. Local council continues to do nothing about this nuisance. "Local office staff work with ear plugs and can't open windows in heatwave because of buskers.

"Two boys had learnt solos and taken them home to practise and were singing them beautifully; all wasted."

Kingston Parade, the square outside the abbey is a popular spot for buskers who sing and play amplified instruments. Buskers in the city are supposed to undergo an audition to check they are good enough, and meet at 10am every day to arrange pitches and a running order.

Bath Abbey's congregation are in good company when it comes to being distracted by buskers. In May last year, drummers outside the Gielgud Theatre in London were so loud that actress Dame Helen Mirren, who was in costume as The Queen, left the theatre during the interval of The Audience to remonstrate with them.

Posted by John at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2014

Inside Pentatonix, 'Pitch Perfect' and the Pop Culture Phenomenon of A Cappella Music

Hollywood Reporter:

Alongside needle-moving, genre-defying priority releases on the RCA Records slate — Sia's 1000 Forms of Fear and "Weird Al" Yankovic's Mandatory Fun among them — is the new album by Pentatonix, highlighting one of the oldest musical forms: a cappella vocals.

But before you cry "Gregorian chant," don't call it a fad: Pentatonix — an electro-infused five-piece that formed for NBC's The Sing-Off in 2011 (and won) and cut its teeth on cover songs before graduating to instrument-less videos of Lorde and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis hits, original songs and brand alignments with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Oreo — has collected more than 520 million cumulative YouTube views and boasts more subscribers than Avicii and Beyonce. So for the group's major-label debut, PTX Vol. 3, on Sept. 23, "we expect it to be a pull, not a push," says RCA president/COO Tom Corson. Industry sources predict an opening week of 50,000-plus units (the act has sold 475,000 albums and 1.5 million downloads to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan), which should be good for a top 10 debut on the Billboard 200.

Read more.

Posted by John at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2014

The Sing-Off is back! Auditions announced

Great news! The Sing-Off is back for season 5 and auditions are upcoming in the following cities. No further info as yet regarding returning judges etc. but we will post news here as it becomes available.

Los Angeles, CA - September 30, 2014
3407 Winona Ave
Burbank, CA 91504

Nashville, TN - October 2, 2014
1101 Cherry Ave.
Nashville, TN 37203

New York, NY - October 4, 2014
520 W 25th St. (b/n 10th & 11th Ave)
New York, NY 10001

Posted by John at 2:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2014

An interview with Bob Gaudio

It made for a nice drive home today with an interesting interview on the radio with Bob Gaudio of the original Four Seasons by Fresh Air's Terry Gross. In addition to singing, Gaudio wrote or co-wrote most of The Four Seasons' hits, including "Sherry," "Walk Like a Man," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Bye Bye Baby" and "Rag Doll." He also wrote the Frankie Valli solo hit "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You."

He talks a lot about harmony and their contemporaries such as The Hi-Lo's and Four Freshmen. Gaudio is very entertaining and tells some interesting stories such as their dealings with the mob. Read more.

Posted by John at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon

At the big hoopla Apple media event today Tim Cook introduced an ad for the new iPhone 6 featuring Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon singing a cappella. Apple makes great products, not so sure about their ads..

Posted by John at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)