Judee Sill the Flight of an Angel - Part One

Judee and I met when Lynn Blessing and I were sharing an old Victorian house in Hollywood.  The date would be 1971. It was up on Berendo St. right below Barnsdall Park. 

Lynn had his entire rare Metaphysical library in the house. As this place was to become the new “First Temple of Freedom,” we decided to do it up right for a house warming party.  I drove to Echo Park and bought a pound of grass for about $75.00.  Lynn and I decided to roll up around 100 joints and just leave them spread around the house for anyone who cared to enjoy them.  It’s incredible that with the noise and the smoke that we weren’t busted.  And of course, people just walking down the street saw the party and invited themselves in, they’d see the joints all over the place and start to stash some in their pockets.  Lynn and I would just hand them a fistful with a big smile! 

Judee came to our party late in the evening (she had been Lynn’s friend for a few years at the time).  I took out my classical guitar, (I had been studying furiously at the time with Phil Boroff) and played a Courante by J.S. Bach. Judee sat there as if she were in a trance.  When I finished she looked softly into my eyes and said with her great and sarcastic wit, 

‘You know too much for your own good!’  

I knew exactly what she meant. Later that night she crept into my room and slept with me, and I mean slept only!  We held each other and she said, “I love your Bach”.  I replied, “Your tunes remind me of him!”  Soon we were asleep. This began a friendship that lasted through smooth and rough terrain until she died.”

“We were this group of gypsies deeply bonded through shared experience.  We meant a lot to each other.  It was a period in time unlike any that has preceded it or come since.  We were all full of the spirit of the times but were deadly serious musicians trying to capture the joy and pain of our existence and never thought of tomorrow and its consequences.  Life was to be lived and music was its central theme:  jazz, classical, folk, rock, you name it, it all counted!”  

“Judee was one of the most unique individuals I ever had the privilege of knowing.  I remember the day she signed with Asylum records, she asked me to go with her to her meeting with David Geffen.  We ran into Joni Mitchell at the Sunset Blvd. office.  Watching the two of them in the same room was an experience.  Joni knew who Judi was.  Let’s just say their cautious conversation was memorable.”

I had a huge participation in Judee’s posthumously released CD recording “Dreams Come True” by Runt Records in 2005, which were done at Mike Nesmith’s, of Monkees fame, “Country Studio” in Van Nuys in 1974.  I helped Judee arrange the music and paid particular attention to my electric guitar parts and sound, so that my playing would often double the right hand of her piano licks and blend as well with her acoustic guitar work.  

It is very odd for me to have such a vague memory about such a “memorable” piece of Hollywood pop music history.  After all, it was her last efforts in the studio before her untimely passing.  For some reason all my memory has truly retained is the great dinner afterwards at her favorite Russian restaurant in Burbank, a “Sill” tradition.  I think she would be happy about this. 

Miles Davis improvises the soundtrack to Louis Malle’s ‘Elevator To The Gallows’

Ascenseur pour l’échafaud was the celebrated director Louis Malle’s feature film debut and starred Jeanne Moreau and Maurice Ronet as lovers planning a murder. The two day recording session was held at Le Poste Parisien Studio in Paris on December 4th and 5th, 1957 and featured French session musicians René Urtreger, Pierre Michelot and Barney Wilen along with American drummer Kenny Clarke. After getting some basic cues and the key from Davis, the soundtrack was totally improvised while the musicians watched the movie on a screen.  The soundtrack seems to be a well-kept secret in the Miles Davis discography which is odd considering that the modal experimentations laid down for Malle’s film clearly led to what came soon afterwards in a similar vein, Milestones and his all time classic Kind of Blue album.

It could be argued that Malle’s cinematic style and the unique pacing and character of this particular film—which Miles obviously had to conform to in order score it properly—had a noticeable influence on his music. Jazz critic Phil Johnson described the Ascenseur pour l’échafaud soundtrack as having “the loneliest trumpet sound you will ever hear.” 

Miles Davis and Jeanne Moreau, Paris, 1957

Miles Davis watches Louis Malle’s French film noir, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (“Elevator to the Gallows”) and improvises his moody soundtrack score.  

Reposted from Dangerous Minds 


Brothers Amati and Nicoló Amati

Though violin making reached its zenith in the hands of Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesù , the story of the violin begins much earlier in Cremona. Andrea Amati was a luthier, from Cremona, Italy.  It was in the workshop of Andrea Amati, Italy, in the middle of the 16th century that the form of the instruments of the violin family as we know them today first crystallized.

This violin, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, may have been part of a set made for the marriage of Philip II of Spain to Elisabeth of Valois in 1559, which would make it one of the earliest known violins in existence.

Lorenzo De Medici
The first violin was ordered by Lorenzo De Medici in 1555. His letter to Amati stated the instrument was to be made of the highest quality materials like that of a lute, but simple to play". The first violin was intended to be used by illiterate musicians, so the design was simple and it was easy to play.

Nicolo Amati

Several of his instruments survive to the present day, and some of them can still be played. Many of the surviving instruments were among a consignment of 38 instruments delivered to Charles IX of France in 1564.

His sons Antonio and Girolamo, commonly referred to as the Brothers Amati, took over the shop after his death. Nicoló Amati, the most famous member of the family, was born to Girolamo in 1596 and took over the family business after 1630. For centuries, musicians and connoisseurs have prized Nicoló Amati violins for their superb craftsmanship and wonderfully responsive tone. During the 17th century, the name Amati was virtually a synonym for a fine violin.

As important as Nicoló Amati was as a violin maker, he was perhaps even more significant to the ultimate success and perfection of the violin as a teacher and inspiration. As a result of his pupils and followers, nearly all violins made in the 17th century were based in some way on Amati models either from direct contact with the master or through imitation of his instruments.

Peter McGuire of the Minnesota Orchestra play the 'King Henry IV' Brothers Amati violin


Cello or Violoncello
The cello, originally called the violoncello, is about twice as large as the violin and has four strings tuned an octave lower than those of the viola. As the bass viola da bracchio it was originally tuned a tone lower than it now is, but the present tuning had become standard by 1700. Because of its size, it is played between the knees like members of the viol family. The bass viol was favored for solo playing in the 17th and early 18th cent., and the cello became an important solo instrument only after the disappearance of the viols and the subsequent refinement of cello technique by Jean Louis Duport (1749-1819). The cello was, from its beginning, an important member of the orchestra and is also indispensable in chamber music. It now has an extensive solo literature of its own.


"The King" Violoncello by Andrea Amati, Cremona,  after 1538 ca. 

   Violin by Nicolo Amati, Cremona, 1628

NMM 3356.  Violin by Nicolo Amati, Cremona, 1628.  Ex colls.:  C. J. Read, Salisbury, England; Rev. James Moore; W. H. Symes; R. E. Brandt; E. A. Willmott; Richard Bennett; George Kemp; William MacNeil Rodewald, Jr., Paris and Palm Beach, Florida.  Witten-Rawlins Collection, 1984.

This violin bears an authentic label from the shop of Antonio and Girolamo Amati, run at that time by Nicolo's father, Girolamo. Nicolo assisted his father in the shop and, from about 1615-1620 onwards, Nicolo's was the dominant hand in the instruments bearing the label of the Brothers Amati. This violin, made when Nicolo was about thirty-two years old, is a very well-preserved, grand pattern instrument of the long-cornered design, emulating the work of Nicolo's grandfather, Andrea Amati.

Just a few years after he completed the NMM's violin, Nicolo Amati (1596-1684) found himself in the position of being the pre-eminent violin maker in Italy. This was due not only to the fact that he was a highly talented luthier, but also by virtue of the fact that he miraculously survived the plague that decimated northern Italy in 1629-1630. Subsequent census records document the fact that Nicolo Amati regularly had several non-family members living in his home, including some presumably taken in as orphans of the plague. Others were apprentices in Nicolo's shop, young men representing what was to become the next generation of Cremonese luthiers, including such notables as Andrea Guarneri (ca. 1626-1698) and Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737). 



“Michel On Air”

Hey jazz fans!

I am discovering some incredible jazz artists along the Mediterranean of which this quartet of French and Italian players truly excels. "Michel in air" is now available on ITI records. More to come! 

“Michel On Air”
Alessandro Collina, Rodolfo Cervetto,
Marc Peillon, 

Fabrizio Bosso
ITI Records Catalog # 201407
July 29, 2014       

"By agreement with our European connection, “Pepita Musiques et Cultures", we are proud to present this tribute album to Michel Petrucciani. 
Alessandro Collina on piano, has performed as steady member of Paul Jeffrey’s Europe Tour group,  brothers Luis and Philippe Petrucciani long tours with several important italian Jazz Festivals. Ale Collina’s latest achievement is this collaboration with trumpeter Fabrizio Bosso. 

Rodolfo Cervetto on drums plays in festivals, clubs and theaters in Italy and abroad. Currently plays in the several  groups, including Alberti, Kandinsky project with Leveratto,  Zunino, Silvestri and Conversano. Symphony Orchestra of Savona, Red Holloway, Benny Golson, Gary Bartz, Paul Jeffrey, Lisa Pollard, Bruce Forman, Buster Williams.  

Marc Peillon the bassist is the French connection to the group.  He has performed and recorded with many of the French and Italian Jazz musicians throughout Europe. A mainstay with Ingrid James, Jilly Jackson, Ryoko Trio to name a few.

Fabrizio Bosso is an Italian post-bop jazz trumpet player.  Bosso's first album as a bandleader was under name Fabrizio Bosso Quintet for album "Fast Flight" (2000) on Red Records. His second outing as frontman was for the Blue Note label with "You've Changed" (2007). Since 2008, he has been working regularly with saxophonist Max Ionata, Casa Del Jazz All Stars, Fabrizio Bosso Quintet, Franco D'Andrea & Two Horns, High Five Quintet, The Italian Trumpet Summit, Lydian Sound Orchestra, Nicola Conte And His Group, Schema Sextet. “Some have called him the Wynton Marsalis of Italy”.

Tracks include:
1. Cantabile  5:37
2. Little Peace in C  3:18
3. Guadeloupe  5:20
4. Hidden Joy  4:43
5. Chloe meets Gershwin  5:09
6. Play Me  5:06
7. Thirteenth (13TH)  5:38 
8. Take the “A” Train  4:04*
9. It’s a Dance  3:57
10. Brazilian Like  5:52
11. In a Sentimental Mood  5:11* 
12. I Wrote You a Song  5:48 

ITI Records/Warrant Music


Two Gentlemen of Cremona

During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, two violinmakers from the same small town, indeed, the same block, were making the most sought-after violins ever created. Everyone has heard of Antonio Stradivari, but few know the name Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù. Through interviews with historians, experts, luthiers, and virtuosos, this documentary tells the story of these two masters of violinmaking and why today their stringed instruments are worth millions of dollars to musicians and collectors the world over.

Check out the Full Documentary of Violin Masters