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September 15th - Q The Music: Farewell Tour

I've previously mentioned "Q The Music Show" in this Blog. They are a very accomplished James Bond tribute Band who have entertained people for many years. Sadly on this occasion I report that the Band have announced their farewell tour, with their final concerts scheduled for 2022. I attended their first West End Concert at the Adelphi Theatre in London, and it looks as though the Theatre will again host the Band for their final concert in 2022. Other concert dates and locations for 2021 and 2022 are listed on the Band's website. This is your last chance to hear them live! In the meantime here is their rendition of "Nobody Does It Better":

August 11th - Craig Armstrong and Calum Martin: The Edge of the Sea

Craig Armstrong and Calum Martin: The Edge of the Sea - album cover "The Edge of the Sea" album consists of two works, both collaborations by Craig Armstrong and Calum Martin based around the tradition of Gaelic psalm singing in the Western Isles of Scotland. Gaelic psalm singing is normally performed acapella, but in these works the composers have added supporting instrumental accompaniment and some entirely instrumental movements from a small string ensemble. The first work on the album is called "Ballantyne", and was commissioned by An Lanntair, the Arts Centre in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. The album's second work "Martyrdom" was composed first for an initial performance at Edinburgh Castle, and it uses a traditional hymn tune of the same name. The whole album is beautiful and deeply moving and can be found at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

June 29th - Nainita Desai: The Reason I Jump

Nainita Desai: The Reason I Jump - Film Score Album "The Reason I Jump" is a documentary film (based on a book by Naoki Higashida) which aims to give an insight into the world as experienced by non-verbal autistic young people. Although context is provided through the relatives of those on the autistic spectrum, the film aims to convey their own inner experiences through thought-provoking imagery. The music score by Nainita Desai adds an important dimension to that imagery to bring these unusual and sometimes overwhelming experiences to life. The score is an impressionistic mix of traditional instruments (particularly strings) with found sounds and a range of auditory effects. For example some tracks splice brief segments of speech in a way that might suggest a confusion of thought or a struggle to communicate, though sometimes these seemingly random snippets will coalesce briefly into a section of lucid song. The film has won awards on the festival circuit and is now on release in many countries. The OST album is equally powerful and available on vinyl plus to stream/download on the usual platforms, including Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

June 2nd - Christophe Beck: WandaVision

Christophe Beck: WandaVision - Episode 1 album cover Christophe Beck is probably best-known for the "Frozen" movies, where he provided the film scores to go along with the songs written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Among his other wide-ranging film score credits he has the two Ant-Man movies for Marvel. He recently brought those experiences together for the Marvel television series "WandVision" for which the Lopez song-writing duo also wrote various songs. The production references lots of TV series from various decades with a lot of early focus on shows like Bewitched, The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Initially it seems like Wanda and Vision are stuck in some kind of period TV sitcom, but then strange things start to happen. Christopher Beck captures this mystery expertly in the show's end credits, and in many ways this is the stand-out piece of music from the show. You can sample and download the track from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

May 16th - Marco Werba: Giallo - Promo Release

Marco Werba: Giallo - promo 2021 album cover Many thanks to Marco Werba. I'm very pleased to have contributed the liner notes for the composer's limited edition promotional CD release of his score to "Giallo". Giallo was premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2009 and released later that year. The film was directed by Dario Argento (best known for his horror movies) and starred Adrian Brody, Emmanuelle Seigner and Elsa Pataky. The original CD (released by Kronos Records) had 28 score tracks and 2 bonus tracks which were remixes of the Giallo theme - this was reviewed here on mfiles. The new release builds on this with a further 2 bonus tracks. One is a piano version played by Claire Delerue, the daughter of the composer Georges Delerue, and the other is a concert suite of music from the film.

May 6th - Nomadland soundtrack and Ludovico Einaudi

Ludovico Einaudi and other artists: Nomadland Soundtrack - album coverLudovico Einaudi and other artists: Nomadland Soundtrack - album back cover If you've not yet come across the movie "Nomadland", it is the multiple Oscar-winning film based on the book by Jessica Bruder, adapted for the screen and directed by Chloé Zhao. It features another mesmerising performance by Frances McDormand, and the soundtrack puts together music from multiple sources. Several tracks are by Italian composer/pianist Ludovico Einaudi and he has the credit "Featuring the Music of Ludovico Einaudi" rather than "Composer" presumably because the music wasn't written to screen but taken from existing albums. You've almost certainly heard his music on movies, TV, adverts and trailers as it has frequently been used during the past decade or two. The soundtrack album has 4 of the composer's tracks and can be found at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

April 14th - World's First Soundtrack Album NFT

Giovanni Rotondo: Orphans and Kingdoms - NFT limited edition album cover Giovanni Rotondo: Orphans and Kingdoms - NFT 'Thief' Unique edition album cover Giovanni Rotondo You might or might not have heard of NFTs (or "non-fungible tokens"). They are digital assets which have certifiable ownership using blockchain technology. A number of visual artists have released works using the technology, and musicians are also now exploring the possibilities. Aphex Twin, Deadmau5, Kings of Leon and the rapper Lil Pump are all said to be releasing albums in this way. It is a way of creating a limited edition of a digital item which cannot be forged. Now the first film score has been released as an NFT. A couple of years ago we published a review of a film score album called Orphans & Kingdoms by the composer Giovanni Rotondo. The composer has now released this album in two forms, a limited edition of 100 with high quality music from the movie (including a 20-minute previously unreleased track), and multiple HD graphic and video files of the custom made artwork! There is also a unique version (limited edition of 1) which includes the same materials but also a "signed confession of theft". If this intrigues you, view and bid for these items (a world exclusive) at the links provided! See the composer's own blog post for more information about the technology and how he came to be the first soundtrack composer to use it.

March 26th - BAFTA Game (Music) Awards

BAFTA have now announced the final Game awards, with the Game Music Award going to John Paesano, Scott Hanau and Alex Hackford for Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales. But before the announcement a Zoom call of the nominees was conducted with Louise Bain interviewing Joe Thwaites, Ilan Eshkeri, Gustavo Santaolalla, Gareth Coker, Darren Korb & Joe Paesano as sole or lead composers for their respective nominated Game scores. That Zoom session is available on youtube, and it is interesting to see some common threads across these very unique games, with some noteable differences in the music approach. (Best viewed full screen!)

March 16th - Film Music Awards 2021

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste: Soul - album cover The Film industry (like many others) has been severely impacted by the pandemic during 2020 and into 2021, affecting many aspects of film production and theatrical releases. Most of the key Film Awards have also been affected, with delays in the selection process and online or restricted presentation ceremonies. Nevertheless the Golden Globes have been and gone, and the BAFTA and Oscar nominations have now been announced. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross beat themselves to win the Golden Globe for Best Score for "Soul" (with their score for "Mank" also nominated) alongside Jon Batiste who arranged and recorded the Jazz sessions for "Soul". Those same two films are also in the running in the Original Score category for both BAFTA and Oscar, so Reznor and Ross are well-placed for multiple awards this year. Winning the Golden Globe in the Original Song category is "Io sì (Seen)" sung by Laura Pausini on the soundtrack for "The Life Ahead", an Italian produced film released on Netflix and starring Sophia Loren. Here is the song's official music video. Check out Film Music Awards 2021 for the nominations so far, and this page will be updated as winners are announced.

March 10th - Patrick Doyle: All is True

Patrick Doyle: All is True - album cover Kenneth Branagh and regular collaborator composer Patrick Doyle are no strangers to the world of Shakespeare, having created many adaptations of his plays. But "All is True" is different, being a fictional tale (written by Ben Elton) about the playwright his family. The film stars Branagh as the playwright, Judi Dench as his wife, and Ian McKellen. The story is set towards the end of the bard's life, and deals with family relationships and the earlier death of his son. Given this strained domestic setting it is not surprising that some of the music is sombre in tone. However much of it is lyrical and pleasing in a folksy way. The focus seems to be on piano and strings with added Virginal to give a little period flavour. Doyle is good at capturing simplicity, and there is a recurring elegiac melody which later becomes the music for Shakespeare's "Fear No More" as sung by Doyle's daughter Abigail. This is followed by another beautiful melody for "I Know a Bank", with the lingering impression that this is about peace and reconciliation for a previously dysfunctional family. The album for "All is True" is available at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

February 3rd - Nigel Hess: The Way of Light

Nigel Hess: The Way of Light - album cover "The Way of Light" is a new album by composer Nigel Hess. Though Hess is best known as a composer for film and television, this album brings together a range of stand-alone music albeit with some connections to the big screen. The album kicks off with "A Celebration Overture" very much akin to John Williams' non-film 'event music' such as for various Olympic Games. Hess's "Kyrie" is a marked contrast for a capella voices based on his theme for the movie "Ladies in Lavender" with a glorious part for Soprano. "March Barnes Wallis" is a fine military march commemmorating the inventor of the bouncing bomb, and the music has 'flying' written all over it. The "Jesu Joy variations" is the work made famous by Nigel's great-aunt the celebrated pianist Dame Myra Hess. Bach's original music is frequently unrecognisable under romantic pianistic flourishes and touches of jazz. "The Old Man of Lochnagar Suite" comes from Hess' music for a ballet based on the book by Prince Charles and first performed by the National Youth Ballet of Great Britain. The three movements kick off with some spirited dance music very much a cousin of Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring". This is performed with a large theatre orchestra led by woodwinds and augmented by Scottish instruments in the form of bagpipes and fiddle. These initial tracks are just a sample of the album's contents and the album continues to surprise, move and entertain the listener until it closes with the title track "The Way of Light" which is like the grand finale of a lavish musical theatre production. The album is released on Friday 5th February at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

January 12th - Alastair Penman: Do You Hear Me?

Alastair Penman: Do You Hear Me? - album cover It seems difficult to influence big issues like climate change, but we can all make a difference. A Swedish schoolgirl is an exceptional example but with "Do You Hear Me?" saxophonist Alastair Penman is aiming to do his bit as an influencer, and 50% of the proceeds will be donated to Environmental charities. The EP consists of 4 tracks, most with something of a jazzy vibe thanks to the composer's saxophones: "Do you hear me?" is a funky experimental affair with shades of the Radiophonic Workshop. "Our house is on Fire" quotes Greta Thunberg and has something of an fun upbeat, pop rock feel. The video for "Ignorant Complicity" has some uncomfortable video images from today's meat producers, while its music feels close to some of the more amelodic score sections from Bernstein's West Side Story. The final track "Change is Coming" starts with a morse-code introduction which morphs into an ambient background like Philip Glass in pointillist mode with Penman's sax riffs over the top. The music has some important messages but can equally be enjoyed for its own sake. You can preview the videos on the composer's youtube playlist or you can make a small difference purchasing the CD or download versions at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

More Music News from Jim's Blog posts

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For older posts, the archive pages are Jim's Blog 2020, Jim's Blog 2019, Jim's Blog 2018, Jim's Blog 2017, Jim's Blog 2016, Jim's Blog 2015, Jim's Blog 2014, Jim's Blog 2013, Jim's Blog 2012, Jim's Blog 2011, Jim's Blog 2010, and Jim's Blog 2009.