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March 4, 2008:

THE HEPCAT

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, it is Tuesday. I ask you, where else on all the Internet can you find such information? Nowhere, that’s where. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, it is Tuesday, and whilst I type these here notes cool jazz is playing in the background and I feel as if I’m a hepcat, baby, sitting in a smoky reefer-filled room, in a black beret and a goatee. I feel like reading from Howl. The cool jazz is courtesy a new CD collection of early David Amram, the man who would go on to compose scores for The Manchurian Candidate, Splendor In The Grass, and other fine works of cinema. In nine of the tracks, he plays French horn, and in all the others piano – it’s a terrific early compilation and it’s cool, man, cool, and I feel like getting up and doing some bop, man, maybe bop till I drop or, at the very least, stop. We now return you from the smoky, reefer-filled room to these here notes. Speaking of these here notes, yesterday was one of those days – you know the kind – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Most of it, I must say, was good or has the potential to be good. There really was only one sucky thing that happened and I shall have to deal with that today. I had a nice night’s sleep, got up, made some telephonic calls, did some work on the computer, packaged up a couple of items and got them shipped, did some errands, then worked on that difficult lyric redo, which I finally finished. Well, Word just froze for no reason whatsoever, but I only lost one sentence – I really hate when that happens and frankly it happens too much, about four times in the last two months. In any case, the lyric came out well and now does what it’s supposed to do, and now I can move on to the last two lyrics that I have to futz with. After that, I did some more errands and picked up two count them two packages. I then got some potentially excellent news for which we’ll need your absolute most excellent vibes and xylophones, for should this news come to fruition a lot of people will be very happy, me included. But then, I got some really sucky news that totally deflated me and made me antsy and for the really sucky news we’ll need your absolute most excellent vibes and xylophones in dealing with it. But, we’re hoping the potential good news will bitch-slap the sucky news from here to eternity and hell and back. After that, I had something to eat, and then I finally sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched a motion picture on DVD that I watch at least twice a year – I was just in the mood and once again I loved it as much as always. The film is High Noon, starring Mr. Gary Cooper, Miss Grace Kelly and a whole slew of great character actors, all directed by Mr. Fred Zinneman. I never tire of this film – of course, it’s brief running time and perfect pacing help things. The film runs a crisp eighty-one minutes, and basically plays in real time. Everything about the film works, and I’ve written about it all before – I especially love the score by Dimitri Tiomkin, with its great main titles song, maybe the most iconic song ever written for the main titles of a film. This DVD from France sports an incredible transfer, 100% better than its US counterpart in every way possible. In fact, it’s the best this film has ever looked on video, an exemplary transfer with perfect contrast, sharp as a tack, and excellent mono sound.

After that, I listened to a seventy-five minute CD featuring the score to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo by Bernard Herrmann, conducted by James Conlon. I’d heard about this recording for a few years, but never had it – in fact, the only way it was available was in a book entitled Feature Film by Douglas Gordon, an oversized paperback which features about fifty pages of out of focus photographs of Mr. Conlon’s hands conducting. Mr. Gordon made some sort of film of Mr. Conlon conducting this score whilst the film of Vertigo runs (in other words, conducting to picture) and this book is a souvenir of that art film. The book is now out of print, but I found a copy and finally heard the CD. And it’s great – the best-sounding, best-conducted performance of the Vertigo score, hands down. The sound is exemplary, crisp and clear, and the performance is superb. The tempos, of course, are all correct, since he’s conducting the score to the film. You realize just how important the tempos are when you listen to the other rerecording of the score on Varese Sarabande – those tempos are much slower and have none of the clarity and excitement of the Conlon version. It’s a major find and if you can seek it out and find it, I recommend it highly. And as if that weren’t enough, the CD is a good ten minutes longer than the Varese, so it’s also the most complete Vertigo available.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because I’m a hepcat, man, and that’s what hepcats do, man.

Today will be a busy little day followed by a busy little evening. I have a breakfast meeting at Du-Par’s, after which I have a lot of work to do, plus deal with the sucky stuff from yesterday. Oy and vey, say I. I must also get my book to the proper proofers for proofing. I have to work on lyrics and music, make a bunch of telephonic calls, hope for further good news on the potential good news front, and then I shall toddle off to another evening of call backs, and I’m praying we can finish casting the show so that I can rest my mind on that score.

The rest of the week is filled with work, meetings, meals, and being a hepcat, man. But I think my evenings are all free, and I think the weekend is also free, pretty much. And then we begin rehearsals.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, have a breakfast meeting, deal with yucky things, hope for good news, do work at the piano, and then attend callbacks for The Brain From Planet X. Today’s topic of discussion: We’ve done it before, but some topics are fun to revisit – what was the very first cast album you remember going out and purchasing? And why did you purchase it? Had you seen the show? Heard about it? And what was the first movie soundtrack you went out and purchased and why? What was the first female vocalist whose 45 or album you bought, and what was the first male vocalist whose 45 or album you bought? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, and please send this hepcat all your excellent vibes and xylophones for the potential good news and to deal with the yucky sucky news from yesterday.

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