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Meet the Staff

Meet C. Michael Bailey

By Published: March 29, 2013
What are you listening to right now? Mannheimer Schule I am currently listening to the Mannheim Kurpfalz Chamber Orchestra, Jiri Malat, Conductor Mannheimer Schule, Volumes 1-5 (Arte Nova Classics, 1998). This collection samples the work of composers from the so-called "Mannheim School" that existed in Mannheim Germany during the late 18th- and early 19th-Centuries (Did you ever wonder where holiday-synth band Mannheim Steamroller got its name?). Members of the School included: Johann Stamitz, Franz Xaver Richter, Carl Stamitz, Franz Ignaz Beck, Ignaz Fränzl and Christian Cannabich. The set focuses on the clarinet music of the School, all of the composers represented being peers of Mozart and Beethoven. The compositions by these lesser composers illustrate the wealth of classical clarinet music. This collection will appeal to anyone who admires Mozart's sublime clarinet music: Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622 (1791) and the Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K. 581 (1789).

Which five recent releases would you recommend to readers who share your musical taste? I get to cheat here, because I will slip re-issues beneath the burning limbo pole of "recent releases." As I know no shame I will also combine series into a single designation.

Miles Davis Live in EuropeMiles Davis— Live In Europe, 1967: The Bootleg Series, Volume 1 (Sony Legacy, 2011) and Live In Europe, 1969: The Bootleg Series, Volume 2 (Sony Legacy, 2013). These are important releases revealing trail- blazing Davis on the hinges of change in jazz that he almost single-handedly catalyzed. Like The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965 (Columbia Legacy, 1995), these recordings find Davis moving from his '50s-era book of standards to his late '60s and beyond original material.

Europe '72The Grateful Dead—Europe '72: The Complete Recordings (Grateful Dead, 2011). Yes, the whole damn thing, all 70+ CDs! Because of a sprawling and ill-behaved discography, the Grateful Dead proves a daunting band to approach. When asked by the GD novice where they should start, I always direct them to the original Europe '72 (Warner Brothers, 1972). It does not boast the best from a terminal Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, but he does hang in there while the rest of the band burns with an intensity not seen since.

Enter the album name hereDuane Allman—Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective (Rounder Records, 2013). Another embarrassment of riches. Skydog eclipses Duane Allman: An Anthology (Mercury, 1972) and Duane Allman: An Anthology, Volume II (Mercury, 1975) with almost twice the music previously assembled. This retrospective serves to remind us both of the talent Allman possessed as well as the talent he recorded with. This collection is a survey of Southern rhythm and blues and soul in the '60s and '70s.

The Laura Nyro ProjectMark Winkler— The Laura Nyro Project (Cafe Pacific Records, 2013). Vocalist/Lyricist Mark Winkler has been approaching this project for twenty years. Singer/songwriter Laura Nyro broke molds and stretched boundaries with her own brand of Brill-Building brilliance that produced "Stone Cold Picnic" and "And When I Die." Winkler takes Nyro's art one step further, honoring her properly while putting a serious jazz spin on the festivities.

Gardiner Beethoven 5&7Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique, John Eliot Gardiner—Live at Carnegie Hall—Beethoven Symphonies 7 & 5 (Soli Deo Gloria, 2013). For the longest time, the finest recorded performance of Beethoven's Fifth and Seventh Symphonies has been Carlos Kleiber's 1974 Deutsche Grammophon account with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. To be sure, this is a fine recording, though near 40-years old. John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique take Kleiber on with a live recording no less. This Beethoven breathes deep.

What inspired you to write about jazz? Necessity. I originally wanted to write about popular music, specifically that of the 1960s and '70s, but Robert Christgau, Paul Nelson, Nick Touches, Ben Fong- Torres and Dave Marsh beat me to the punch and I felt I had little to add (I have since reconsidered). I had begun studying jazz and classical musics in the early 1980s after growing bored with popular music and by 1997, I was ready to write about the genres. Jazz is very close to my beloved blues and other primary American musics, the improvisatory zeal of its interpreters being contagious in both the visceral and intellectual senses.

What do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies? When not listening to and writing about music and not plying my day job trade as a clinical data analyst, I read everything in sight. Reading is a fading art drowning in a sea of Ritalin failure promoted by our post-modern media, including the Internet. Reading requires time and attention, both increasingly under attack today.


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