“I love to hear her speak, yet well I know / That music hath a far more pleasing sound”

J.B. & J.C.B.

J.B. & J.C.B.

And so a beloved teacher of mine adjusts her spectacles and reads:

«Le romantisme est l’art de présenter aux peuples les oeuvres littéraires qui, dans l’état actuel de leurs habitudes et de leurs croyances, sont susceptibles de leur donner le plus de plaisir possible.

Le classicisme, au contraire, leur présente la littérature qui donnait le plus grand plaisir possible à leurs arrière-grands-pères.»

-Stendhal, Racine et Shakespeare

Loose translation:

(The romantic spirit can be defined as being the art of presenting to the people works which, in the actual state of their habits and beliefs, will potentially bring them the utmost pleasure and enjoyment.

The classical spirit, on the other hand, presents them with the literature that brought this pleasure and enjoyment to their great-grand-fathers.)

Stendhal’s famous quote makes one ponder as to a mystical grey-zone between the two seemingly opposing notions: what would one call a great creation that would, at once, bring pleasure to generations past, while still striking the current as effervescent genius?

One word: Awesome.

(You may discard that last piece of ersatz discourse and enjoy the following awesomeness.)

The first track was brought to my attention by an old inamorata whose musical taste I find absolutely impeccable. With rich brass, this deliciously slowed jazz groove is an infectious number that might remind you of a funeral march in its dark timbre and marching rythm. The trumpeter Dave Douglas‘s free-flowing genius is ever present; you’ll feel it as he melts your face with his soloing.

This Love Affair – Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy

This second one is from a 2004 album spawned from the collaboration between virtuoso producer Madlib and emcee MF Doom called Madvillain. (Click on link to see Madlib lookin’ alot like le Roi Heenok.) For the latter, this album proved to be his first major breakthrough in the oxymoronic “mainstream of alternative hip-hop”. Notice the tasty organ intro; Madlib wittily runs it at a slighty faster tempo than the actual beat, creating a sort of “going into slow-motion” effect once the beat drops. Clever.

Figaro – Madvillain

Next up, is a song from Sting’s Nothing Like The Sun. Ever since I’ve had the LP, this is the one song that, for no obvious reason, has always been hauntingly stuck in my mind. The inspiration for the title of the album comes from Shakespeare’s Sonnet #130, which Sting used in the song “Sister Moon”. The back of the LP teaches us that the idea came from an encounter with a drunk on Highgate Hill who “demanded of [him] threateningly: ‘How beautiful is the moon?’” to which he responded by quoting the sonnet in question. In Sting’s words, this is a song “for all of those whose sanity is dependant on the phases of the moon“.

Sister Moon – Sting

Last, but certainly not least, a song by a gentleman whose expertise on American folk is jawdroppingly admirable. Composer Norman Kay said of him that” […] was the greatest put-on artist in the world. Here he was with the long hair and the cheap suit and the high voice, but when you spoke to him he talked like a college professor. He knew everything about the old songs.” Most people know Herbert B. Khaury by the moniker “Tiny Tim”. This song is dedicated to Jeesus and TouchMe. :)

Sunshine Cake – Tiny Tim