29 August 2011

Shipshape 1

Now I report an indulgent time: cruising the Inside Passage to Alaska. I’d been on a ship before, but Megan hadn’t and wanted the experience. So be it.

I was interested in the musicians and the aurorae if less the ice. It was too cloudy for aurorae but I ended up stunned by the glaciers and we heard some very decent musicians on our Sapphire Princess.

La Boheme was a lovely string quartet from the Ukraine. This was chamber music, some Mozart and Boccherini, Vivaldi and Handel and Hadyn, Elgar and Puccini - very civilised but also gently pleasant music with classical integrity. The musicians played with a real ease of melody and accompaniment, no hesitation, strong dynamics and a feel for the charts. I enjoyed listening to the parts as they merged and contrasted, and the pizzicato playing as it moved between instruments. Very beautiful and very dignified. I was amused when one player said to me that “jazz is life”. So is this, in spades, even if it speaks with the language of another era. La Boheme comprised Adrian Biodnar (violin 1), Olesya Masnyk (violin 2), Dmytro Nosal (viola) and Julia Griaznova (cello).

Steve Savage was a singer/pianist out of New Jersey playing piano bar sets with a nice New Orleans blues vibe. Here was music of the modern era: syncopations and an earthy roughness. All the favourite singer/songwriters: Carole King, James Taylor, JJ Cale, Harry Chapin, Billy Joel, Elton John, Elvis Costello and the like, and Dr John with some sleazy down-south marching grooves. On the first night, I particularly noticed that his voice suited Let it be. I love the Beatles, but he’d already won me over by then. Steve was trained at Berklee where he was in the Motown band. He’s well travelled – he’s booked soon for a month in a club in Amsterdam.

Tatiana Karmatskaya also performed a piano solo sets, but this was instrumental and classically influenced and performed with fine music technique. There were instrumental versions of a range of musical and pop tunes of the mid-20th Century but Tatiana is classically trained and played a lovely Bach prelude (C major) on request. It remains stunning to me to hear such music at close hand, picking up on the altered notes, the F#s and Bbs and Abs: chromaticism, modes, extensions, intervals – all there and recognisable to the jazz player. Tatiana was from the Ukraine, and interestingly had played in an orchestra with the cellist from La Boheme quartet.

1 comment:

Removalists Melbourne said...

I love to ride a cruise ship for my vacations.