Azure Miles Records ~ the Music of Michael Robinson

Writings about Music by Michael Robinson

Source and Sorcerer

 

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Chuck Berry is beyond words and worlds! But I do intend to write about his music in detail for a subsequent essay, and will do so as soon as possible following this outburst of sheer enthusiasm for his monumental musical gift to the world.

 

Chuck Berry became a composer-performer of magnificent inventiveness, including a ubiquitous influence comparable to Charlie Parker and John Cage.

 

It occurs to me how the abstract and uncluttered nature of this writing relates to the music of Morton Feldman. Feldman is on my mind because most recently, in the process of rerecording and mastering the entire Azure Miles Records catalog of 111 albums, we focused on 9 extended compositions comprising 8 of these albums that were conceptually inspired by a continuum initiated by Feldman, leading to the Alap ("touch a color") opening form of Indian ragas. And, you might say (sure enough, after checking, they were born the same year!) that Chuck Berry and Morton Feldman were contemporaries who happened to be close to being exact opposites in some key musical regards. One important quality they did share was having an extreme confidence in their musical vision despite it being unorthodox, not to mention an obsession with perfecting their respective musical languages.

There was one memorable personal meeting with Feldman in New York City, preceded by an even more notable encounter with him in a small group setting at CalArts where he wasn't so aware of my presence. With Berry, I attempted to interview him by phone several months before he passed away last March, speaking with the assistant-caretaker he lived with, but Chuck himself did not come on the line, unfortunately. Of course, two of Chuck Berry's greatest songs, Promised Land and Memphis, Tennessee, have lyrics pertaining to phone calls, but that did not occur to me at the time. If it had, perhaps I would have been inspired to be more persuasive.

 

 

And yes, I am using this color font because it's the color of berries!

For Chuck Berry's immortal spirit, here is an opening excerpt from The Song of Wandering Aengus by William Butler Yeats.

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

- Michael Robinson, June 2017, Los Angeles

 

© 2017 Michael Robinson All rights reserved

 

Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).