Greg Henry Waters Newsletter January 2007
The topic is The Spitzer Inauguration January 1, 2007!
New York State has a new governor with a new vision of democracy and I call it the big noise. For just after he took his oath of office the canons went off and we heard a big noise. His vision is one of fairness and not special interest. After listening to his speech I could only think of all the corruption and back biting that went on from the Vietnam era. Yes, we were going to Canada and marching in the streets against our government. Now, we are not marching or going to war; only a volunteer army is going to war. The American people are tired of fighting the government for their rights. Now they just sit back and watch the circus.
Eliot Spitzer is not sitting back and watching; he is fighting the special interest and putting them in their place and exposing their corruption. This is really different because everything in public life is a cover up from my experiences. But we have a volatile country and so many wrongs have gone on since the civil war and before the civil war. It is a wonder that we still have a country.
But Eliot's Inauguration 2007 speech was a big noise against all the status quo people in this country. It was really something, plus all the music, dance and theater shows. I wish him all the luck in leading our nation and state in a new arena and vision. I supported him and worked on his campaign so I am very happy that he won this election for he certainly is supportive of music and art. He had school performers, professional performers, and cultural groups that make up our great nation and state. I would like to speak about some of them now.
Representing jazz was Nancy Kelly a great jazz singer and musician. Usually singers are not musicians, but Nancy is! She really enjoys the jazz and the improvisation in her music and She lets the musicians solo which is really rare for a singer. Usually they all just want to take the spot light and keep the attention on themselves. Not Nancy, She is a real artist and musician. We have so few. Even Ella did not have this talent or vision. It is awful that there are so many artists in our country who do not have the exposer for one reason or the other. Nancy was supported by a great group of instrumental musicians and jazz musicians. The Rick Holland's Little Big Band and they read all the notes and phrases like it should be.
They were the only really performing group that had the balance, solos, arrangements and professionals in the pop jazz area of the inauguration festival. Well, I heard two Latin bands one in the arena and one in the concourse, one was a college group, their ensemble playing was very good but had no soloist, which to have a great jazz band it needs the soloist; this is what makes a jazz band a jazz band. However the ensemble playing was really good. So, this is to demonstrate that the jazz soloist is on another level of performance than the ensemble performer.
I want to say something about the Empire State Youth Orchestra Conducted by Helen H Cha-Pyo!
For me their ensemble playing was really professional. Miss Cha-Pro really had control of this group and her work was really exceptional from what I heard. I thought Judy Collins song was great; I thought She out classed James Taylor. Also, one could hear the harmony in the choir groups. I thought the choirs were very good too.
I really hope Eliot can change the status quo in the music field and jazz area too. To allow professional
talented musicians who have art's organization be supported. The Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation only support large and big art organizations never small organizations. Juilliard is trying to take control of the NYC educational system. What a joke this is. They are so enthralled with their own importance they will never get down to the grass roots level.
Also the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs do not support grass roots organization or very few; they have to give money to the big institutions in New York. It has been the same in the Bronx for 25 years. Eliot said in his speech about nothing happening for 10 years. I say in cultural activities in the Bronx it has been more than 25 years. Just like a jazz solo is on another level than the group musician so is grass roots work, and having another study of what is wrong with the public school music system for me is just another waste of time. You can read about it in the Juilliard Journal December 2006/2007 edition. The French Pianist who took his piano and threw it in a lake to protest against the music establishment and their false culture. He was tired of playing Mozart all the time. Where is living art?
I did not go in the Capitol building so I missed the Brass quintet and string quartet. I am sure they were very good from the Albany Symphony.
I did make it to The Egg, the Concourse and Convention Center. Since, I lived in China I saw some of the big dance shows and I tell you it is something. The New York Chinese Cultural Center Performance was very good, but you should see the big shows they put on in China. The next groups in the Egg Theater were all dance groups and musical comedy groups. There were some 9 dance groups and only one jazz band. Well, so much to say about jazz. There was one college band with no real soloist, but the ensemble playing was very good. The Latin Band at the Convention center was Ok but again no real soloist. I think the college bands should hire a professional soloist when they perform to put their ensemble on a higher level. I did not hear the Alex Torres group.
The evening concert in the Arena was OK and they had a lot of variety. What stood out for me was Ben Vereen opened up the show and was with a great pianist. They were the most musical and had the depth of real artists. The Latin Band was kind of loud and noisy (Willie Colon) but the rhythm section was really cooking. Where I was sitting I could not heard the soloist. I was way up on top of the arena. Having performed with Tito I guess I have a different standard. Willie's band was much better than the last time I heard it.
Too much folk music for my taste, but with James Taylor as the lead act I guess this was the focus of the evening. The Irish folk group with 9 musicians was very good and performed very well.
Finally James Taylor came on, and at this point I was kind of tired from an entire afternoon and evening of music. So we listened to two numbers and headed for the bus. I must say, listening to Nancy Kelly and Ben Vereen was the high light of my day for music, because they had real harmony in their music, and since I have a degree in music theory and a degree in music composition it is really hard for me to listen to music and not think of what kind of harmony the musical groups are playing. Ben's pianist really had great ability and is a rare pianist from what I heard. I did not have a program so I cannot speak about names.
Iliot Spitzer's Inauguration 2007 was really wonderful because one could see all the wonderful buildings and performing groups. It started off with canon fire and ended with many many musical groups, dance groups and theater groups. Truly a joyful noise.
More Pictures of Day One for Our New Governor!
Thank You Eliot for a wonderful day!
Greg Henry Waters
Artist of Music and Yoga