Alex Ross

Accidentally or by design, modern jazz and rock combos took on the same basic template that baroque composers developed centuries earlier for chamber music: melody instrument, bass instrument, and something to fill in the middle, whether piano, harpsichord, or rhythm guitar. New Yorker music critic Alex Ross traces even deeper old/new resemblances in his essay “Chacona, Lamento, Walking Blues,” exploring how the descending bass line became an endlessly reusable and powerful musical trope from renaissance dances through Purcell, Tchaikovsky, flamenco, Ligeti, Ray Charles, and Led Zeppelin. It’s the subject of his talk tonight, and a centerpiece of his new collection Listen to This (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27), the follow-up to his splendid history The Rest Is Noise, which ranges from Verdi to Björk. No other music writer today can make such insightful leaps in the service of preaching compellingly to the classical unconverted. GAVIN BORCHERT

Tue., Oct. 12, 7:30 p.m., 2010

 
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