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Stephen Sondheim RIP

89 posts in this topic

21 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Variety shows offered an outlet, and after they died...i don't know, talk shows?

The scholck musicals still wer big, though, crap like "Annie"...TOMORROW.

Yuck.

Agreed.

Do people still watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade?  That used to provide an annual slice of Broadway to people who lived in Dubuque.

Now, all of these huge shows go on the road.

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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7 minutes ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Do people still watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade?  That used to provide an annual slice of Broadway to people who lived in Dubuque.

I was literally about to literally mention literally the same thing, literally.

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2 minutes ago, JSngry said:

I was literally about to literally mention literally the same thing, literally.

As soon as you said Annie, I could almost taste the pumpkin pie.

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Live on your NBC affiliate tomorrow night. With Harry Connick Jr as Daddy Warbucks. Set your VCRs.

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And then there were shows like Sophisticated Ladies, and Ain't Misbehavin', where hit songs were the basis of the shows. Jersey boys, all that stuff like that.

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Just now, JSngry said:

And then there were shows like Sophisticated Ladies, and Ain't Misbehavin', where hit songs were the basis of the shows. Jersey boys, all that stuff like that.

Yes, the first two were mentioned in that NY Times article that I posted, the one that lots of our members dismissed without picking up on the interesting cultural dynamics at play at the time.

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Other than "Ease On Down", what song has stuck from The Wiz? Or from Dreamgirls?

Just now, Teasing the Korean said:

Yes, the first two were mentioned in that NY Times article that I posted, the one that lots of our members dismissed without picking up on the interesting cultural dynamics at play at the time.

It's not necessarily that Broadway abandoned "pop culture" as much as it is that Broadway started engaging pop culture in a different way - the show itself took focus.

There have always been road companies, but they used to kind of be back-end affairs, for people who were celebrity game show panelists or something like that. Now, jeez, you got road companies galore, some with pretty "big" names, and every major-ish metropolitan has a "Summer Musical Series" (that's what it's called here). No longer "the song is the thing" now it's "the show is the thing", which simply means aim lower than Sondheim would (or could) do.

Also impacted - working musicians. More and more road companies rely less and less of pit orchestras and more and more on tracks.

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20 minutes ago, JSngry said:

It's not necessarily that Broadway abandoned "pop culture" as much as it is that Broadway started engaging pop culture in a different way - the show itself took focus.

Agreed.  And this brings us back to Sondheim and Hart.  Sondheim was assessing Hart's abilities based on Sondheim's contemporaneous standards of what a successful Broadway show was supposed to accomplish, and not on Hart's reality.

If you could bring back Hart today and tell him that the most celebrated Broadway composer hadn't had a hit song in nearly 50 years, I'm sure Hart would be criticizing Sondheim.

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4 hours ago, JSngry said:

I was literally about to literally mention literally the same thing, literally.

Figuratively speaking, of course...

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18 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Agreed.

Do people still watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade?  That used to provide an annual slice of Broadway to people who lived in Dubuque.

Now, all of these huge shows go on the road.

At my house we watch the Thanksgiving parade every year, sometimes twice.

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4 hours ago, danasgoodstuff said:

At my house we watch the Thanksgiving parade every year, sometimes twice.

Thanks. 

 My next question is, do people still eat liverwurst?  Not for Thanksgiving, but just in general.

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4 hours ago, danasgoodstuff said:

At my house we watch the Thanksgiving parade every year, sometimes twice.

Once upon a time, it was on two networks at the same time, NBC & CBS.

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On 12/2/2021 at 7:52 AM, Teasing the Korean said:

do people still eat liverwurst?

Of course

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6 hours ago, Dub Modal said:

Of course

Thanks.  I had no idea.  I've been veg since the mid-1980s, but even back then, liverwurst seemed like a relic from another era.

Now, do you happen to know if people still have potato and onion bins in their kitchens?  

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2 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Thanks.  I had no idea.  I've been veg since the mid-1980s, but even back then, liverwurst seemed like a relic from another era.

Now, do you happen to know if people still have potato and onion bins in their kitchens?  

Of course!

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8 minutes ago, Dub Modal said:

Of course!

OK, final question:  Do you still put fat in glass jars and keep it in the fridge?

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57 minutes ago, Dub Modal said:

Of course!

Please stop being his straight man, it's prolonging the routine!

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39 minutes ago, felser said:

Please stop being his straight man, it's prolonging the routine!

These are honest questions!

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11 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

OK, final question:  Do you still put fat in glass jars and keep it in the fridge?

Did this last week at wifey’s request, only no fridge. She got tired of me using her nice rammicans for it. 
 

10 hours ago, felser said:

Please stop being his straight man, it's prolonging the routine!

:lol: Sorry, honest answers lol. Only I don’t have a potato box. Just one for onions 

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So, I'm confused, are we to conclude that Sondheim is an onions and potatoes kind of guy or not?

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Terry Gross played three interviews she did with Sondheim on Fresh Air this week The first one was a general interview about his entire career, done in 2010.

Gross asked him how jazz influenced his music. Sondheim's reply was that he never listened to jazz; as a kid or even now. Gross was astounded, and asked him why.

Sondheim said he only listened to music from movies and musicals, and the only jazz he would hear would be if it was part of a show or movie. He then said that he didn't like improvisation. he said he was trained by Milton Babbitt to work things out very precisely, and that was the opposite of improvisation. He was surprised that Babbitt liked jazz, because it was the opposite of how MB worked.

To his credit, SS said that he thought Raksin's theme to The Bad and the Beautiful was the greatest movie theme ever written.

The second interview Gross played was one that focused only on lyric writing. That's where he reamed even his teacher Hammerstein. His main complaint was that lyrics should advance the plot, and too many lyricists just played word games. Then he played recordings of examples of how he did this in his shows, and most of the recordings were done by mediocre singers who were better actors than they were singers. Surprisingly, he said Ethel Merman was a better singer(!) than she was an actor, so he tried to have her mostly sing in "Gypsy" rather than act.

I found myself nauseated by most of the music from his shows, and yet "Cleo Sings Sondheim" is one of my favorite vocal albums. The reason for this is that all SS cared about were his shows. The fact that Jonathan Tunick wrote exquisite arrangements of SS' songs, and CL sand the schlitz out of them. I wonder what SS thought of that album. I wonder if he even listened to it...

As far as using SS tunes as vehicles for jazz improvisation, they tried that on the album Color and Light: Jazz Sketches of SS, a collection of various artists' jazz interpretations of SS' tunes.

I've done some of his tunes as jazz vehicles, and they work, if you choose the right songs.

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Jazz, Sondheim, why do either need the other, they shouldn't, they don't, what is this narrative that insists otherwise?

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3 hours ago, JSngry said:

Jazz, Sondheim, why do either need the other, they shouldn't, they don't, what is this narrative that insists otherwise?

It doesn't matter at all to me, but if Sondheim's songs don't work well as jazz vehicles that may say something about SS's songs. My sense is that they don't work well as jazz vehicles because his songs tend to lack memorable melodic meaning, that they're basically just words strung over chord changes.

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Well, ok. But why should whether or not Sondheim's songs are suitable jazz vehicles even be a matter of consideration in the first place?

There's only one world, but the only way to enjoy it is to let one worlds be many worlds. One world is not one same world.

I still say - songs? Still? Really?

and right now, I'm answering, yes, but not real-ly. Not like that. Because it's not like that any more.

 

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It probably shouldn't be a matter of consideration (as in a plus or a minus), but, as I said above, it may reveal something about the nature of SS's songs.

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