The Terra Verde Corner

Terra Verde Jukebox

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Arrogancia (Glenn Jenks, 2002). Seq. by Oleg Mezjuev.
Glenn Jenks has recently completed a suite of compositions in Terra Verde style entitled Cinco Danziones. The pieces are Amiga Mia, Arrogancia, Paloma Blanca, Promesas Rotas, and No, Todavia No. Arrogancia is dedicated to America's current president, George W. Bush. There is a political message embedded in this work's title.

At Midnight (Hal Isbitz, 1991). Handplayed by Frank French.
In Frank French's own words, the work of Hal Isbitz "is among the most underappreciated music written today". That it is gaining an audience outside California is owing primarily to Frank's devotion, though the composer himself has recently helped the cause by attending the annual Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, Missouri. It is difficult to avoid extremes when discussing Isbitz's work because it is so impassioned, so engaging and so musical. The craftmanship, ambition and romantic sensibility of Isbitz are hallmarks of the finest New Ragtime. His significance would be readily apparent in At Midnight, which like Margarita, Morelia, The Flirt, and Blue Gardenia represents the tango-habaņera-rag hybrid that affords Isbitz his most haunting utterance. Whereas there are numerous New Ragtime composers producing work I believe will be heard many years from now, Hal Isbitz is one of the very few whose music I know will be valued as long as it and the culture from which it issues can survive. [Notes by David Thomas Roberts]

This MIDI sequence of At Midnight (also called A Medianoche) was recorded at Jere Debacker's in Denver, Colorado by Frank French in March, 2004.

Big Man, The (Tom McDermott, 1990). Seq. by Oleg Mezjuev.
Dedicated to David Thomas Roberts, The Big Man (1990) comes from the mind of Tom McDermott, and upon hearing the first few bars it becomes evident that the work could not have originated in any other musical imagination. McDermott's impressive body of composition covers more textural territory than most writers traverse in a lifetime, yet his unmistakable voice seems to steer through this eclectic sea in exciting and unexpected ways. For example, The Big Man employs an eerie melodic line which twists, turns and creeps in and out of the shadows created by the underlying harmonies and the understated habanera bass line. Significantly, although the habanera serves as the ostinato throughout, there is nothing Latin-American about the melody, harmony or the general mood (as opposed to some examples of Terra Verde utilizing similar rhythmic foundations.) The Big Man, therefore, in achieving an identity which (though it may draw from) is separate from ragtime and various Latin-American styles, offers a clue to understanding what lies at the center of this genre, at the heart of Terra Verde. [Notes by Scott Kirby]

Bolero (Frank French, 1996). Handplayed by Frank French.
Bolero, from the suite Toca con Clave, appears in the folio Buon Ritmo Sempre Marcato in sheet music form and also on the CD with the same title. This piece was composed after my first visit to Cuba in 1996. [Notes by Frank French]

Campo Criollo (Frank French, 1996). Handplayed by Frank French.
Campo Criollo is part of the suite Toca con Clave composed by Frank French in 1996. This MIDI file is a recording of a live performance played by the composer at Rudi Salci's in San Jose, California in June 1998. The sheet music for this piece appears in the folio Buon Ritmo Sempre Marcato, with CD of the same name.

Candela (Frank French, 1996). Handplayed by Frank French.
In 1996 Frank French visited Cuba and was strongly affected by its music. In 1997 he published a series of syncopated works (all composed in 1996), which he called Toca con Clave - Creole Suite for Piano. Candela is one of five pieces in that suite, along with Cocinero, Bolero, Campo Criollo and Jasmine. The rhythmic basis for much of the Cuban, and particularly the Afro-Cuban music is the clave, a five pulse figure which affects accentuation in the various types of music for listening, dancing and religious ceremonies. Toca con Clave means 'Play with Clave', and it is the use of the two-bar figure that is the rhythmic basis for these compositions. They must be considered as derivative of Cuban music and connected with various forms of Creole music of Latin America and of the Louisiana territory of the United States. Influences other than the clave also come into play. These compositions are in some instances reminiscent of the music of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Ernesto Nazareth, Ernesto Lecuona and Ferd Jelly Roll Morton.

Carnavalesca (Frank French, 2001). Seq. by Frank French.
Carnavalesca was composed in 2001 after I visited a carnaval street parade down Mission Street in San Francisco's Latin American quarter. Each year during the Memorial Day weekend at the end of May there is an all-day-into-the-evening procession of Samba, Merengue, Mariachi, and other bands and dancers on floats down the very long street which was part of the old El Camino Real, the original route of the Spanish colonists into San Francisco from the date of the founding of Mission Dolores in 1776. [Notes by Frank French]

Chandelier Rag (Hal Isbitz, 1985). Seq. by Oleg Mezjuev.
Chandelier Rag opens the door on this musical odyssey in an appropriately anticipatory and contemplative manner, a work by one of the most significant composers of New Ragtime and related forms, Hal Isbitz. This piece, which dates from 1985, began as a sort of revisitation or inspired reworking of an earlier composition. As the opening phrases arrived in the author's consciousness, they were found to be altered from the original in such a way as to seem haunted, in effect, transformed by some mysterious residue left from the passage of time. Isbitz has been influenced by a variety of musical worlds, including nineteenth century Romanticism, Broadway show tunes, Classic Ragtime and Brazilian Tango. In addition, his classical training and extensive study of composition endow his pieces with rich counterpoint, clarity of melodic movement and a harmonic sense like no other. Chandelier Rag stands as a testament to the adaptability and expressive potential of the ragtime form. [Notes by Scott Kirby]

Columbine (Scott Kirby, 1994). Partial MIDI file, handplayed by Scott Kirby.
Columbine was written in July, 1994, growing from the influence of Hal Isbitz, to whom it is dedicated. This work is more "ragtime" than many of my others, resulting from my preoccupation, at the time, with the Isbitz masterpiece Chandelier Rag. [Notes by Scott Kirby]

La Cumbia (Frank French, 1992). Partial MIDI file, handplayed by Frank French.
Although some music scholars point to Panama as the source of this dance, it is most often associated with Mexican music in the ears of today's listeners. It was partly the sensation of the polka which invaded North and South America from Europe in the 1840's that spurred many of the subsequent dances in the New World including tango, merengue, rumba, and samba. This cumbia is constructed as a large-scale concert piece using the popular language of Mexican music. [Notes by Frank French]

Lone Jack to Knob Noster (Jack Rummel, 1993). Seq. by John E. Roache.
This piece is one of today's most outstanding examples of New Ragtime by composer Jack Rummel, of Niwot, Colorado. An organizer of the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival, Rummel is also active in the contemporary ragtime scene as a respected writer and reviewer for several publications. The success of Lone Jack to Knob Noster rests on its driving rhythm and use of familiar material from blues and gospel music. The unusual choice of tonalities for the first two strains, F major and D flat major (seldom found in traditional ragtime), work to enhance the blues feel of these two sections. Chords with flatted sevenths, altered thirds, and other jazzy harmonizations explore new possibilities, while the unmistakable rhythm connects the music with the ragtime tradition. The title refers to a stretch of US highway 50 in western Missouri which links the towns of Lone Jack and Knob Noster. [Notes by Frank French]

Maria Antonieta Pons (David Thomas Roberts, 1986/87) Seq. by Oleg Mezjuev
It was late summer, 1985 when I set eyes upon the image of Cuban dancer Maria Antonieta Pons. I was in LA visiting visual artist William Bailey (also known as William Azteca), who is a fan of the "Galavision" TV network. The 1950s Mexican film "Flor de Canela", starring Maria Antonieta Pons, was aired on the afternoon of my arrival. Her effect upon me remains inspiration, trasporting me to the center of my love of this life. [Notes by David Thomas Roberts]

North Star (Brian Keenan, 1994/95). Seq. by Oleg Mezjuev.
My awareness of the tango and habanera rhythms as a means of expression was enforced by being exposed to so much masterpieces as Scott Kirby's Ravenna and Butch Thompson's A Solas. These rhythms subsequently played a major role in my Piano Concertino (1992-93). North Star, then, is my first fully Latin-American solo effort, with slight touches of the chromaticism that creeps up in much of today's compositional practices. [Notes by Brian Keenan]

Romanza Dramatica (Brian Keenan, 1997). Seq. by Oleg Mezjuev.
Like Crosby Farm, this composition draws inspiration from South American masters like Nazareth and Lecuona; it is not an evocation of a particular scenic landscape like so many of Brian Keenan's pieces are. This wonderful piano piece is considered by the composer to be one of his best compositions.

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