Tuesday, February 27, 2007

La Monte Young: Where are the recordings?

I recently finished reading William Duckworth's "Talking Music," a collection of interviews with 17 American experimental composers such as John Cage, Lou Harrison, Philip Glass, Glenn Branca and so on.

For me, the heart of the book was a very long interview (the longest in the book) with La Monte Young (and his partner, Marian Zazeela). I admit I knew little about Young until I read the interview, but he's an amazing guy. He arguably invented minimalism with his "Trio for Strings" in 1958 (his friend Terry Riley has acknowledged Young's influence). He apparently presented the first series of loft concerts in Yoko Ono's New York loft in 1960. When he was quite young, he played jazz on the saxophone and had a jazz band in the 1950s that included prominent musicians such as drummer Billy Higgins. (He also defeated Eric Dolphy in a competition for a chair on the L.A. City College Dance Band.) His early group in New York City featured John Cale (from the Velvet Underground). He became very interested in Indian music years before George Harrison and the Beatles popularized Indian music in the western world.

So naturally, I wanted to hear this guy's music and started to look for it. Well, he's not available on iTunes or eMusic. Want to hear his recording "The Well Tuned Piano," apparently his signature work? $750 on Amazon. (Robert Gable at aworks searched for "five years" for a copy.) How about "Dorian Blues"? I think the "Just Stompin': Live at the Kitchen" album has it, but it's $52.

After so many years, this can't just be an oversight. There seems something old-fashioned about deliberately deciding that only rich people or people who live in a certain area will get to hear your music.


Gary said...

And i thought my music habit could be expensive...

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for LaMonte Young's trio for strings and am having the same problem a year after your post. I did find, a beautiful piece on iTunes by Young called "Sarabande" on an album of guitar and harp music called "Just West Coast."

liyhann - April 2008

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing.
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