What We Are Reading Today: Weimar Germany

Updated 14 September 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Weimar Germany

  • Weitz reveals how Germans rose from the turbulence and defeat of World War I and revolution to forge democratic institutions and make Berlin a world capital of avant-garde art

BOOK AUTHOR: Eric D. Weitz

 

Thoroughly up-to-date, skillfully written, and strikingly illustrated, Weimar Germany brings to life an era of unmatched creativity in the 20th century — one whose influence and inspiration still resonate today.

Eric Weitz has written the authoritative history that this fascinating and complex period deserves, and he illuminates the uniquely progressive achievements and even greater promise of the Weimar Republic.

Weitz reveals how Germans rose from the turbulence and defeat of World War I and revolution to forge democratic institutions and make Berlin a world capital of avant-garde art. He presents richly detailed portraits of some of the Weimar’s greatest figures.

Weimar Germany also shows that beneath this glossy veneer lay political turmoil that ultimately led to the demise of the republic and the rise of the radical Right.

Yet for decades after, the Weimar period continued to powerfully influence contemporary art, urban design, and intellectual life — from Tokyo to Ankara, and Brasilia to New York. 

 

 


Miles Davis and all that jazz

Miles Davis teaches actress Jeanne Moreau to play the trumpet. (AFP)
Updated 19 September 2018
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Miles Davis and all that jazz

  • Thankfully, the tapes were rolling on Dec. 19, 1970 — just one more historic evening when Miles changed music forever, before tearing up the rulebook again in pursuit of that most quixotic muse

ROTTERDAM: Miles Davis once claimed to have “changed music five or six times,” and while a man known for neither understatement nor modesty, some argue that the jazz icon sold himself short — biographer John Szwed once traced at least nine musical subgenres either born or shaped by Davis’ innovations. 

The revolutionary shopping list includes inventing cool-jazz in the 1940s, spawning hard bop, modal jazz and third-stream in the 1950s, and pioneering post-bop in the 1960s. However, the stylistic sea change Davis devoted most blood, sweat and tape toward were the ‘70s adventures in fusion most often epitomized by “B*****s Brew”, the first of ten dense double-LPs (plus two singles) recorded in just five years — which over 44 sides of vinyl explored and/or anticipated jazz-rock, funk, ambient, minimalism, worldbeat, psychedelic, space-jazz and even techno.

Trippy stuff, for sure, but not always easily listenable. Not the case with the misleadingly titled “Live-Evil” (1971) — a part-studio, mostly live set which captures Davis’ increasingly oblique electric permutations at their most fun, and funky. The bulk of the 102-minute runtime documents a one-night encounter with guest guitarist John McLaughlin, whose furious fretwork conceals an unusually ragged looseness and bluesy simplicity.

Such a raw approach suits the thick, squelchy grooves conjured by electric bassist Michael Henderson — recently recruited from Aretha Franklin’s band — grounding the untethered attack of drummer Jack DeJohnette’s crazed rock rhythms.

Recorded at the height of his boxing obsession, there’s a controlled aggression to Davis’ playing — the hurried rhythms of jabs and parries, ducks and dives — his horn harshly amplified through a wah-wah guitar pedal in a wholehearted Hendrix homage.

What little harmony there is comes from Keith Jarrett, whose overdriven organ scurries lend a frazzled energy and cerebral counter-balance. Soon after Jarrett — now the most renowned solo pianist on the planet — would quit and disavow electronic instruments altogether.

Thankfully, the tapes were rolling on Dec. 19, 1970 — just one more historic evening when Miles changed music forever, before tearing up the rulebook again in pursuit of that most quixotic muse.