By Bradley Bambarger <2016>

David Bowie was on a roll — again. The rock icon had begun his 21st century with two energized studio albums and one of his most acclaimed world tours, before that momentum hit the brick wall of his heart attack in 2004. But after nearly a decade of recuperating and lying low — mostly just enjoying an art-loving life in New York City with his family — Bowie released the dream-like ballad “Where Are We Now?” as a single on his 66th birthday, the song sounding like a man looking at a movie of his memories…

The thrilling pianist made his name with John Coltrane in the Sixties — but kept exploring into the 21st century

By Bradley Bambarger<2020>

Few things are more important to a musician, especially in jazz, than developing an individual sound on his or her instrument, that quality of being recognizable to a listener in just a few notes. Pianist McCoy Tyner, who made his name in the iconic John Coltrane Quartet of 1962–65 and then pursued an ambitious solo career into the 21st century, created a sonic personality as identifiable as a fingerprint, one marked by both extraordinary physical command and…

Pat Metheny, as composer, rehearsing with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet.

By Bradley Bambarger <2017>

The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet had just premiered the biggest work of its career, the nearly half-hour Road to the Sun, composed for the group by jazz guitar icon Pat Metheny. Most witnessing the LAGQ’s autumn performance at the University of Denver, with the attendant exhilaration and applause, probably considered it business as usual. After all, the LAGQ had helped make its name in the mid-Eighties with an arrangement of Manuel de Falla’s 1915 ballet El Amor Brujo, a sizable work that revealed the young group’s ambitions in pioneering a modern guitar quartet; moreover, the LAGQ…

America has never produced a more broadly popular classical instrumentalist than Van Cliburn. Not told as often as it once was, the pianist’s story is both heroic and cautionary.

By Bradley Bambarger <2017>

America has never produced a more broadly popular classical instrumentalist than Van Cliburn. The pianist wasn’t just an exceptionally communicative, beloved performing artist; he became a kind of folk hero edging into Texas-sized myth, a goodwill ambassador for the USA, a symbol of freedom, generosity and vast talent that reflected the country’s best image — in its own eyes and those of others around the world. In…

Book Review: MOZART AND HIS OPERAS by DAVID CAIRNS (University of California Press)

By Bradley Bambarger <2006>

For all the virtues of Handel, Wagner, Verdi and Britten, the operas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart have a mix of sensual appeal and emotional subtlety that is, for those lucky to know them, unparalleled.

“Mozart is like Shakespeare,” writes David Cairns. “The better we know his music — the more we explore its heights and depths — the more marvelous it becomes.”

With Mozart and His Operas — likely to be the most elegant, erudite book published to mark this year’s 250th anniversary…

“Mozart at the Pianoforte,” an unfinished portrait from 1789, by Joseph Lange.

By Bradley Bambarger <2006>

One of Mozart’s pupils, Johann Hummel (who became a noted pianist and composer), described his teacher being of “small build, his face pale; his physiognomy contained much that was pleasant and friendly, with a touch of melancholy seriousness; his large blue eyes gleamed brightly.”

This gives us a mental image of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as do his letters — which reveal a full-dimensional human being, equal parts artistic pride, moral decency, wacky humor and generous affection. Yet this isn’t enough, of course, as a single picture is worth many words.

Beyond portraits of Mozart the childhood…

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Warren Ellis has earned renown over the past decade or so as Nick Cave’s closest musical partner. The two native Australians have created a series of notable film scores together (including the sublime music for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford); moreover, Ellis — who first joined Cave’s band, the Bad Seeds, in the mid-1990s — has gradually become the indispensable co-writer/co-producer for the singer’s lauded latter-day albums. But Ellis initially made his name as a fiery violinist fronting Aussie instrumental trio The Dirty Three, making a series of potent indie albums with…

This interview, for the pioneering classical startup Andante (where I was executive editor and creative director for a few years), was done in 2002 to mark 10 years of Esa-Pekka Salonen being music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. At that time, the Finn was anticipating the inauguration of a new hall for the orchestra — the now beloved Walt Disney Concert Hall — and he was on a roll as a recording artist, both as a composer and conductor. There has been a world of upset in the classical music world since then, though Salonen’s career evolution has been…

By Bradley Bambarger <2004>

Luciano Pavarotti is many things, as Herbert Breslin, the singer’s former manager, conveys in his new book, The King and I. Among them, he writes, Pavarotti has not only been “the greatest tenor in the world” but also “a real pain in the ass.”

As for the latter, it can be confirmed that Pavarotti is a mischievous, even slippery, character. Call the tenor’s home in Modena, Italy, to pin him down for a long past-due interview — an appointment to preview his upcoming solo tour of the U.S. …

Book Review: HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles by GEOFF EMERICK with Howard Massey (Gotham Books)

By Bradley Bambarger <2007>

Seemingly anyone who had anything to do with The Beatles has written a book about the experience. Geoff Emerick, as the recording engineer for the band’s greatest albums, is one of the few with first-hand insights about the way the foursome’s revolutionary sounds were put to tape.

But there is more to Emerick’s gracefully written book — penned with Howard Massey — than tales of studio alchemy. Here, There and Everywhere is at its…

bradley bambarger

Longtime music journalist, from Billboard to Gramophone to DownBeat to, etc. Founder/curator of the Sound It Out jazz concert series in New York City.

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