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The unanswered question


Last Friday I got to do Gusto Live Chat. I got a lot of interesting questions, about music and about other things. And because I am just getting to know the system, it got to be a challenge keeping up with them. I kept thinking of the famous Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel go to work in the chocolate shop ...

... because that is how it felt with the questions, coming in faster than I could deal with them!

Don't get me wrong, I am so grateful to everyone who participated because imagine if no questions had come in. I would have been just sitting there! At the same time I regret that there were a few questions that got away from me.

One was from someone asking me what I was looking forward to in Curtain Up! I simply could not get to that one. Today I was thinking I could answer it here.

There is this play at the Paul Robeson Theatre, "Cool Blues." I like plays about music. I remember going to see "Taking Sides," the play at the Kavinoky Theatre about the controversial conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler, and "Master Class," about Maria Callas, also at the Kavinoky. And, of course, "Amadeus," which is a whole separate story.

Does anyone else remember "Two Pianos, Four Hands"? That was fun, about kids who take piano lessons and, as adults, try to keep up their chops. At the Ujima Theatre, I loved seeing August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson." August Wilson comes at music from an interesting angle, being African-American on one side and German-American on the other.

Back to "Cool Blues." It is about -- I love this -- a fictional jazz musician who is so famous that he goes simply by "B." And here is a great quote from the summary on the Theatre Alliance of Buffalo's Web site: "His manner and his mood shifts are as mercurial as his music." Ha, ha! Typical jazz musician!

The play takes place in 1955, a wonderful era in music. B spends a fateful weekend at the apartment of the dizzyingly wealthy Baroness Alexandra Isabella von Templeton. The name makes me wonder if this play might be a comedy. It sounds kind of ridiculous. I mean, the German "von" with the British "Templeton."

Well, comedy or not, it sounds as if it has potential. You have to figure that the Baroness is modeled after the real-life Baroness Pannonica ("Nica") von Konigswarter who was famously involved with Thelonious Monk (he wrote that beautiful song 'Pannonica' for her, and you can hear him talking about her, sweetly, in this clip) ...

... and was friends with Charlie Parker and a lot of other jazz greats. Looking at Wikipedia I see that not only did Charlie Parker die in her apartment, but I guess Monk passed away at her home too, in New Jersey. She is quite a footnote in music history!

And I am loving listening to that solo recording of "Pannonica." I love Monk's solo piano performances.

Anyway I would guess that "Cool Blues" focuses more on Charlie Parker ... the "B," now that I think about it, must stand for "Bird." It should be interesting. That is one Curtain Up! performance I am looking forward to.

See, ask a simple question, you get a long convoluted answer.

No wonder I could not answer this question on Live Chat!

-- Mary Kunz Goldman



Film | Music | Theater
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