Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Wonder That Is Daniel

Fans of Stargate SG-1 use the above phrase to describe Dr. Daniel Jackson. I think it's okay to co-opt it, just for this post, to describe Daniel Magazin, deranged ragtime piano player extraordinaire. :)

I'm back from Eugene, where the first round of sessions for Not Made of Stone went extremely well. Dan's piano part, which he contributed to the song "How Now Is Soon", really takes the tune to a new level, along with Violent Femmes-esque drumming provided by Jeff Davis and Jim Carr's bass line.

But back to Dan. We have known each other a long time. We were undergrads together at SF State, when I was a flute performance major and he was a composition, then a piano performance, major. We have a really similar sense of humor and an affinity for all that's twisted and goofy. We have compatible political leanings. We love good food and good coffee and great conversation and astrology. We both wish we could afford tickets to Le Grand Macabre.

I remember the first time I ever wrote a piece, which was back in 1989. I had never considered myself a composer. In the classical world, composers and performers are generally brought up separately and the two fields assumed to be mutually exclusive. (Nowadays, thank Goddess, that's not always the case.) The piece wasn't long. It only took about a minute and a half to play on the flute but I had written it. Given how I'd been trained up to that point, I hadn't thought it was possible, and I wondered why I wasn't struck by lightning on the spot.

So when I realized I'd come up with something original and written it down, and thereby become A Composer, I was kind of stunned and wigging out and I remember Dan was the first person I told, right there in the hallway in the music building. :) It was natural that I should tell him, because he actually was A Composer.

Nowadays Dan pays way too much for a studio apartment in the City, and we meet in the evening sometimes for coffee near Union Square, and he comes to my place to rehearse, and it's just been really cool to work with him. So all hail The Wonder That Is Daniel. :)

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Harry Denton's Starlight Room

My brother Will manages the above-referenced establishment so I wanted to go there for an evening out and have the Starlight Room experience. So I went last Friday night.

The Starlight Room is on the 21st floor of the St. Francis Drake Hotel and everyone who offered me an opinion said it is the best nightclub in the City. It's very swanky with chandeliers and low lighting and live music every night. The first thing you encounter as you get off the elevator is a tremendous bouquet of red roses with longer stems than you have ever seen. Will, when asked where Mr. Denton gets his roses, replied that 6 dozen of them arrive every week from Ecuador.

You will hear no free jazz or other contemporary compositions at this club. :) Tunes I can remember the singers and the Starlight Room Orchestra playing were "Deja Vu", "My Cherie Amour", "Just the Two of Us", and the like.

You do not wear jeans to the Starlight Room unless you want to look like a loser. I was forewarned and did not wear jeans. There is a hostess and four cocktail waitresses, all in floor-length black evening gowns. The managers all wear tuxedoes. The busboys wear black tie also, without jackets. Chemine, who waited on my table, explained that Mr. Denton had the floor-length black evening gowns designed for the waitresses. They are not low-cut, which saves them a lot of grief. The skirts are slit all the way up, but the slit has a zipper on it so it's adjustable. There is also a velcro pocket in the skirt for tips, which in the low lighting is invisible.

There are a few vegetarian things on the menu, and what I had was really good, but on a purely personal level I don't know if that makes up for the fact that they have foie gras on the menu as well. It's a personal issue I have. Dessert was really decadent. They've only got one dessert, called Harry's Indulgence, and it involves chocolate mousse, a layer of white mousse on top, a sprig of mint, and a cookie base and raspberry coulis.

So there you have it; I've been to the Starlight Room. It is kind of Dr. Zhivago-esque contrasted with the tsunami devastation. When I look back on 9/11, and the way the American public consciousness seemed to shift deeply in its aftermath, I wonder why something similar hasn't happened now, given the staggering loss of life and the unbelievable suffering that's to come. Mother Earth has just shown how unspeakably powerful she is and how completely we depend on her, but I'm not sure the status quo is going to be shifted by this revelation.

Yesterday pianist Dan Magazin was successfully translated as data. He's been emailed to Eugene for my recording sessions a week and a half from now.