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Jim Besser

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Everything posted by Jim Besser

  1. With all gigs canceled for the indefinite future and the Morris dance season on hold, I've been playing around with a lot of new music by innovative European players, mostly in France, Belgium and the UK. But also Italy, like this experiment - Riccardo Tesi's 'La Marcia dei criceti.' On 30 button Jeffries Anglo. A far cry from my usual, but I'm enjoying it immensely. Also revisiting my Morris repertoire....I've been playing some of these tunes for so long, it's time to figure out some new ways to do them. And working on several jazz pieces with Randy Stein on English.
  2. If you know Dave Marcus in Atlanta, you should talk to him; he has one.
  3. Robin - nice playing, as always. Recently I found this version of Greensleeves on Andy Turner's blog - a quick and dirty recording on a Jeffries 30 button GD. Andy says the tune was found in the1798 manuscript of North Yorkshire miller Joshua Jackson. Isn't it interesting how many tunes share the name?
  4. Clearly, there are limitations on what an Anglo can do, primarily in terms of keys. But that doesn't mean you can't play all kinds of cool music on one. ALthough primarily a Morris, ceilidh and contra player, about 10 years ago I started playing some jazz and pop, mostly through my playing with English concertina master Randy Stein. "Blame it on the Bossa Nova" turns out to be a really fun concertina tune. Lately I've been exploring Basque tunes, and I've been intrigued by some of the interesting acoustic music coming out of France, Belgium and the Scandinavian countries, and just learned and posted a long Riccardo Tesi piece. So yeah, you can do a lot with an Anglo. Just not in every key.
  5. Something we - "2ManyButtons" - recorded a couple of years ago: Arthur, a beautiful mazurka by Eric Thézé. Jim Besser on Anglo concertina, Randy Stein on English concertina. https://soundcloud.com/concertinist/arthur-10-17-17
  6. When I'm looking for fun new tunes, one of the bands I often go back to is the English ceilidh band Stocai. For some reason I'd overlooked this pretty tune, but yesterday it caught my ear and I had to try it. The Tender Trap, by Bob Tracey, on their Champagne Brawl CD.
  7. Here's a jaunty little jig with a story. In about 2001, I was waiting for delivery of what is still my favorite concertina - a Lachenal with Dipper mechanicals, sold by Paul Groff - , and I was pretty excited. So my bandmate Julie Gorka wrote this tune: "Besser's New Concertina." I liked it a lot, but it soon got lost in the endless flood of new tunes. This week I was rearranging my music area and realized I had a framed copy of the notation on my wall, right in front of my nose - David Barnett notated it for me. So I re-learned it, and still like it alot.
  8. Den Grona Mossan, by the talented melodeonist Martin Coudroy. Me on Lachenal/Dipper Anglo, Randy Stein on Wheatstone English.
  9. Hi Robin - we're embarking on a major recording project, so stay tuned!
  10. One thing I would add to the discussion: the "opening up" process, at least in the US, is driven by politics, lobbying by business interests and concerns about the economy, not science. Also, I live close to Randy, and in our area we're seeing regular spikes in new cases. I will face the same dilemma next month, for a dance gig, and I already know my answer: no way.
  11. It's interesting how different sides approach things. In the past, our fore danced maybe only half the time, and the number 1 position was pretty much whoever wanted to call the figures. Our numbers are down now, so the fore is pretty much needed in every dance, but he can be anywhere in the set.
  12. Another amazing demonstration of the capabilities of the English concertina. Not that I'm jealous or anything.
  13. Yes - on corner movements, playing to the one the vast audience is watching - inevitably the most dramatic and athletic dancer. Grunts and gasps are my guys’ usual mode of communication. Watching number 1 doesn’t generally work for me, since it’s an ever-changing position, and often one of the venerable ancients will take that slot. Generally, our foreman is the best and most robust dancer, and he can be anywhere in the set. Rule # 1 : never piss off the foreman, who is always right, even when he’s wrong.
  14. My late bandmate and friend Michael Reid (an early c.net contributor) was an accomplished English player, but caught the ITM bug and switched to Anglo. It took a while, but after a while he became very proficient.
  15. I've done that, and it usually just pisses everybody off. Playing to the best dancer sometimes helps pull the rest of the side along. And I don't get many complaints when I do this. Years ago, I played for a side on which there were major disagreements about the proper speed. On one memorable occasion, we were in the middle of a dance we did all the time and - simultaneously -one dancer yelled "faster" and one yelled "slower." The perils of a morris musician!
  16. Great tunes, Robin. I seem to recall playing a rousing Constant Billy with you on the patio of a pub in London, Ont., years ago. I do miss getting to play tunes with you! Some Morris tunes that work great out of context: Orange in Bloom; Step Back; Old Molly Oxford. My English ceilidh band uses several Morris tunes for contras and ceilidhs, including Wm and Nancy, Valentine and the tune for the Upton Stick Dance - sped up and evened out. Funny story: at a contra, we ended a set with Valentine, and for fun, we ended the tune with slows. The dancers didn't get the joke, but the caller was a Morris dancer, and she totally cracked up.
  17. Yes, that's my thinking. It's interesting, playing for a Morris side with diverse ages and wide-ranging athleticism. I often find myself in a situation in which a robust, powerful young guy is across from a veteran who isn't nearly as spry. The young guy wants the music really slow, with more variation to account for his air time; the old guy (like my age) needs it a lot faster because he dances much closer to the ground. There are times in the dance when the music is right for one, which means it will be wrong for the other. Looking for some happy medium generally doesn't work. When I started playing for dancers a long time ago, one of the people who helped me along told me to play to the best dancer in the set, in the hope that he/she will pull others along. Not a perfect solution, but it seems mostly to work.
  18. Music sounds great to me . I love hearing great Morris tunes out of context. So many are really nice tunes, but you tend to lose the loveliness in the clatter of sticks and the weird pacing the dancing requires.
  19. All great. Dearest Dicky has always been one of my favorite Morris tunes - but sadly, none of the sides I've played for has danced it. Glorishers - That's at least the third totally different tune I've heard with that name in the Morris realm, and by far the most interesting. Thanks for it jb
  20. Wow. I play two different versions of Trunkles, for Bledington and Bampton - the modal version and the more common one - but never heard this one. Amazing playing - as usual, from Adrian. jb
  21. Yep. I've been nagging people about that for years. I remember playing with it with Bob in the NESI pickup band.
  22. I just saw this. Yes, the open band is open to all musicians, regardless of experience. The video you cite was special....we played Amelia the week Bob McQuillen died. Bob was one of the key figures in the revival of contra dancing in this country in the last half of the 20th Century - and he was a mainstay of the Northeast Squeeze In.
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