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Archive for the ‘Music: The Power to Enchant’ Category

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger on Martin Luther King’s birthday—-Re-posted 2022.    It was first presented on Blogfinger in July, 2014.

It was Saturday night, July 18, 1925, at 8:15 p.m., when vocalist Paul Robeson and his accompanist Lawrence Brown strode onto the stage of the Great Auditorium to present a concert of “Soul Stirring Negro Spirituals” (1)  to an integrated audience of three thousand people. Mr. Robeson, an imposing black man, was twenty seven years old. He was already famous as a screen and stage actor as well as a singer.  He was a true Renaissance man who would become one of the most popular performing artists of the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Robeson, who was born (1898) and raised in New Jersey, was an All-American football player and Phi Beta Kappa at Rutgers University and an honors graduate of the Columbia University Law School. As a college student, Robeson was friends with the Day family who owned Day’s Ice Cream “Gardens” in Asbury Park and Ocean Grove. He had a summer job as a singing waiter at Day’s. (3)  When he came to Ocean Grove for his 1925 concert, he had just completed a triumphant run at The Provincetown Theater in New York, where he performed the lead role in Eugene O’Neill’s “All God’s Children Got Wings.”

He had friends at the Algonquin Round Table in New York City, and it was there, with the encouragement of his colleagues, that he decided to do a concert tour with an entire program of “Negro” spirituals and secular songs also known as “slave or plantation music.”

This would be the first time that this music would be performed in concert, and he would appear with his close friend Lawrence Brown, also an African-American, who was a gifted composer, pianist and singer. The two would work together for thirty years. The first stop on the tour was The Greenwich Village Theater in New York City, and then, three months later, he appeared in Ocean Grove.

The concert was reviewed by the Asbury Park Press, which said, “Robeson showed an intelligent appreciation of his task and a splendid voice.” They called him “a talented son of this state” and they described “great applause” in the Auditorium. Among the songs which he and Lawrence Brown sang were “Go Down Moses,” “Weepin’ Mary” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.”

The following month he performed his concert in Spring Lake. They would tour for five years, all over the world, with this program. Later, Robeson would become the third most popular radio artist in the USA in the 20’s and 30’s. In the 1940’s he was the highest paid concert performer in the country and he was also successful as a recording artist. He would sing in the first production of “Showboat” and he would play Othello on Broadway and in England. He would star in eleven movies.

But his visit to OG that night was not only about music; it was also about recognition of African-American culture and the elevation of that folk music to high art. In addition, Robeson always was about hope for African-Americans, and performing that music was his way to offer pride and encouragement to his people. In 2004, when Barack Obama gave his “Audacity of Hope” speech at the Democratic convention, the first example he cited was, “…the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs.”

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Robeson would accomplish much in his life, but his greatest contribution would be his tireless and life-long advocacy for civil rights. In 1925, Martin Luther King wasn’t born yet, and the “civil rights movement” would not begin until the 1950’s. Imagine how much courage was required for a black man to step forward publicly on behalf of racial justice at a time when lynchings were still occurring in this country. In 1921 a race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma resulted in the deaths of 20 whites and 60 blacks. In 1922, an anti-lynching bill was defeated by filibuster in the US Senate. In 1925, the year of the concert, there were 17 reported lynchings in the US. Jim Crow laws could be found in many states, but Paul Robeson pressed for racial justice wherever he went and for his entire life.

Robeson had been “eagerly” (1) looking forward to his concert in The Great Auditorium. It is likely that he was aware that many “extraordinary African Americans” (2) had appeared there in the past, including the famous Marian Anderson (1921),  Booker T Washington (1908), the singing evangelist Amanda Berry Smith (late 1800’s) and many renowned black  preachers. The Ocean Grove Historical Society has documented the African-American History Trail in our town. (2)

In 1998, the Ocean Grove Historical Society celebrated the 100th anniversary of Robeson’s birth by a day-long commemoration featuring lectures, dance, a book signing and an exhibition. The centerpiece of the program was a re-creation of the 1925 concert in the Auditorium. They brought the noted African-American bass Kevin Maynor, who used the original program and reproduced the concert from 73 years earlier. This remarkable event was made possible by a committee of Ocean Grovers led by Rhoda Newman (chairman), Kevin Chambers, Phillip May, Jr., and others.

Paul Robeson’s contributions have been recognized many times in the form of tributes at Carnegie Hall and NJPAC, plus many articles, books, exhibits and documentaries. He is a part of Ocean Grove’s musical heritage which includes Enrico Caruso, Duke Ellington, John Phillip Sousa, and Pearl Bailey (2). Paul Robeson died in 1976 at age 77. Five thousand people attended the funeral in Harlem.

Paul Robeson sings “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” from The Complete EMI Sessions 1928-1939, remastered 2008.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

1. Asbury Park Press Archives (Asbury Park Library)

2. Ocean Grove Historical Society Archives (Ms. Rhoda Newman)

3. Mr. Kevin Chambers, Ocean Grove Historian

4. Ocean Grove Times Archives (Neptune Township Library: Mrs. Marian R.Bauman, Director)

 

 

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Paris. By Paul Goldfinger © By Paul Goldfinger, MD  ©  Silver gelatin darkroom print. Blogfinger.net.

 

 

MENDELSSOHN.  Psalm 42, op. 42.  Performed by the St. Thomas Choir, Leipzig.

 

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger    (Reposted  from original article 2013.)

Ocean Grove is known for its music programs. We have live music on the beach, in the parks, in the Auditorium, and on Main Avenue, but here’s something you may not know about.

The Emburys are a group of shore guys who love to get together on a street corner or in an echo chamber like the Casino and bring back that authentic acapella doo-wop sound. This is how that early form of rock and roll developed, especially in the inner cities of New York and Philly. Boogie is the guy who sings bass and is one Grover whom many of us know. The bass always stands out in these groups.*

We found them on a Sunday afternoon performing an old tune by “Shep and the Limelites” in front of the Pathway Market at the corner of Mt. Hermon Way and Pilgrim Pathway in the shadows of the Great Auditorium where, just the night before, the Beach Boys were doing the surfing thing.

But today, it was doo wops, and the guys hit the harmonies and the high/low notes with no backup instruments. This music is not easy to do. A small crowd had gathered to give them some deserved applause.

*Boogie,” Robert Napolitano, passed on April 27, 2017.

 

 

KENNY VANCE AND THE PLANOTONES: “Looking for an Echo”

 

And this is the full monty version by SHEP AND THE LIMELITES of “Daddy’s Home” (“ratta-tat”)

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Auditorium Square. Ocean Grove, New Jersey. by Paul Goldfinger. Copyright. Left click to make it bigger.

Photograph: Silver gelatin print. Paul Goldfinger photo. Click left to enlarge. Copyright 2005

 

SOUNDTRACK:  “The Christmas Waltz.”  Sir George Shearing (1919-2011) and his quintet in three-quarter time :

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Today is Veterans Day, so some of you might like to know about an exhibit called War/Photography at the Brooklyn Museum.  Here is a link:    Brooklyn Museum link

 

Helmand Province, Afghanistan. By Louie Palu. ©

From the exhibit:  Helmand Province, Afghanistan. By Louie Palu. ©

 

US AIR FORCE ACADEMY CADET CHORALE   “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”

 

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Beachfront. Ocean Grove, New Jersey. 2010 By Paul Goldfinger.Copyright. Click left for full view.

Beachfront sunrise. 7:53 a.m. 2002. Ocean Grove, New Jersey. By Paul Goldfinger. ©  Click image for full view. Reposted from December 17, 2012.  Blogger Susan Heney reminded me of this post.

 

As a photographer, I much prefer sunrises to sunsets. Maybe it’s because photographs of sunrises are rarer than sunsets. After all, most people are still awake when the sun sets, but hardly anyone is up and about when the sun reappears early in the morning. But also, in my opinion, sunrises are more beautiful than sunsets, and speaking philosophically, more uplifting because beginnings are happier than endings.

Yet people love to see images of sunsets. To be honest, I almost never photograph a sunset or accept one for publication on Blogfinger (with very rare exceptions). I think they are corny and boring. Some of you will probably sneer at my opinion and consider me to be an  effete snob. One of the definitions of effete is  “decadent.” I like that, although I have never actually tried it — except when I sneak over to Days for an illicit hot fudge sundae, once or twice each summer.

Of course, this image has some special meaning this year, since the portion of the pier that is seen here is no longer present due to hurricane Sandy. The picture reminds me of the song from Annie –“Tomorrow”  (“The sun will come out tomorrow; bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun…”).  But that’s not the song for this photograph. Instead, I’m in the mood for John Rutter’s music, and here is his “Blow, blow thou winter wind.”   — Paul Goldfinger

 

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Sunset Park, Asbury Park, New Jersey. 2013By Paul Goldfinger ©

Sunset Park, Asbury Park, New Jersey. 2013
By Paul Goldfinger ©   Click for full view.

 

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day.”

 

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—Paul Goldfinger, Editor, Blogfinger.net

Some songs really need to be performed with a vocalist because the lyrics are so beautiful.  And that is true for the jazz classic “All the Things You Are.”  It was written in 1939 for a show called “Very Warm for May.”

Jerome Kern wrote the music while Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the words. These two musical geniuses collaborated for many great songs.  Here are some of the lyrics from the verse, so you can see how remarkable the words are:

 

“You are the promised kiss of springtime
That makes the lonely winter seem long
You are the breathless hush of evening
That trembles on the brink of a lovely song
You are the angel glow that lights a star
The dearest things I know are what you are
Some day my happy arms will hold you
And some day I’ll know that moment divine
When all the things you are, are mine”

But the music is so gorgeous on its own, that in the hands of a great jazz musician you can get this—Dizzy Gillespie and his sextet, recorded in 1945.

Dizzy Gillespie. (1917-1993). One of the most innovative jazz musicians, especially in be-bop and Latin jazz.

 

 

BONUS TRACK:  This time with the words.  Carly Simon from her 22nd album “‘Moonlight Serenade.”  (2005)

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Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Directed by Sergio Leone.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger

This movie was made in 1984 by the great Italian director Sergio Leone.  It owes a lot to the 1972 film The Godfather, but it is wonderful in its own right.

The soundtrack is by Ennio Morricone whose association with Leone is well known.  (As in “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”)

The video below shows the wonder of movie-making as done by a master, even if viewed as still images.  The acting is great, especially with the stunning Elizabeth McGovern (the adult Deborah), DiNiro (Noodles)  and James Woods (Max.)

“Deborah’s Theme” is magical and plays in the background of this video and, during the movie, when the beautiful Deborah glides across the screen.

 

Jennifer Connelly as Deborah

Jennifer Connelly as Deborah

 

There is an early scene where the teen-aged Deborah (played by Jennifer Connelly) is practicing her ballet moves while wearing a tutu. Noodles (later played by Robert DiNiro) is watching her through a small portal in the wall.

The whole scene is done as if in slow motion, and the music playing then is the song “Amapola.”  The clarinet carries the solo while a violin plays the counter melody. A lone guitar provides the rhythm. The total effect is exquisitely beautiful.

 

This version of  “Amapola”  is done in a nearly identical  tempo and effect as in the movie, although this cut, by Stuart Matthewman, is from the soundtrack of another film called Twin Falls, Idaho.  

 

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Ocean Grove Christmas. By Paul Goldfinger ©

Ocean Grove Christmas. By Paul Goldfinger ©

NANCY LAMOTT

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