David Amram in the News

Articles from 2013
LITERARY MANHATTAN, April 14, 2013 Texas Public Radio, August 5, 2013 Blues.Gr Online, September 5, 2013

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From Blues.Gr OnlineTop
September 5, 2013
David Amram: The Renaissance Man of American Music
By Michael Limnios Blues Network
A Τribute to David Amram, one of the greatest composers, conductors and multi-instrumentalist of our time

David Amram is an American Original. He has composed more than 100 orchestral and chamber music works in addition to many memorable scores for film, theatre and opera, and has conducted symphony orchestras on every continent except Antarctica. David Amram Among his classic film scores are Splendor in the Grass and The Arrangement (both directed by Elia Kazan); and The Manchurian Candidate and The Young Savages (both directed by John Frankenheimer). And, the Library of Congress has given Landmark Film Status to the 1959 art film `Beat’ classic Pull My Daisy, co-starring Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg and David Amram, with a masterful music score by Amram. Its' title song has become a jazz classic and David’s signature song.

David is also recognized as a celebrated jazz, folk, Latin, Middle Eastern and Jewish, Indian and Pakistani, pan African, Celtic and Native American music artist for more than half a century; considered a musical progenitor of `world music’ (decades before the term existed); and has even recorded a country album with himself as singer, guitarist, composer and lyricist.

A pioneer player (along with Julius Watkins) of jazz French horn, he is also a virtuoso on piano, numerous flutes and whistles, percussion, and dozens of folkloric instruments from 25 countries, as well as being an inventive, funny improvisational lyricist and scat singer. He has collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy, Joseph Papp, Langston Hughes, Bob Dylan, Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan, Dizzy Gillespie, Dustin Hoffman, Willie Nelson, Eugene Ormandy, Budd Schulberg, Norman Corwin, Charles Mingus, Alan Ginsberg, Candido, Pete Seeger, Lionel Hampton, Hunter Thompson, Tito Puente, Odetta, Alan Ginsberg, E. G. Marshall, Steve Martin and Johnny Depp. In addition to being one of the founding members of 1950s Beat generation, Amram and author/poet Jack Kerouac pioneered the first public jazz/poetry readings ever presented in New York, soon followed by twelve years of musical collaboration (including the classic film “Pull My Daisy’). One of Amram's recent classical works "Giants of the Night," commissioned and premiered by Sir James Galway, is a flute concerto dedicated to the memory of three American artists whom Amram knew well and worked with: Charlie Parker, Jack Kerouac and Dizzy Gillespie.

Friends, poets, musicians, and collaborators of David Amram talk about their experiences, personality and his music. Interviews by Michael Limnios - Click to visit the original article at Blues.gr.

April 14, 2013
David Amram: The rhythm of the Beats plays on
By Staff
David Amram plays at the Poisson Rouge in New York, October 11, 2012.

For 82-year-old musician, composer, conductor and author, David Amram, music and literature are inseparable. As much as the author of On the Road Jack Kerouac credited jazz for inspiring the rhythm of his writing, Amram’s jazz, and other music seems to erupt from the words of his old friends, including Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso.

Still working 16 hour days, “burning all THREE ENDS of the candle!!,” Amram wrote earlier this week, he is currently composing two musical numbers deeply rooted in the rhythms of literature.

The first is called Three Songs from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, sung by classical baritone James Martin, is due to premier at the New York Festival of Song next Spring. In an email to Literary Manhattan Amram wrote that the songs “Are three excerpts from On the Road which Jack used to read when I accompanied him in 1957 at New York City’s first-ever public jazz poetry readings which we pioneered together.”

The second, commissioned by classical saxophonist Ken Radnofsky, is called Greenwich Village Portraits: A Sonata for alto saxophone and piano. Amram told us three movements of the sonata are dedicated to the memory of playwright Arthur Miller, blues singer, Odetta, and author, Frank McCourt, and will be premiered in Greenwich Village by Radfofsky and thirty other classical saxophonists around the world, on February 15 of next year.

Amram is also author of three books, Vibrations, an autobiography, Offbeat: Collaborating With Kerouac, a memoir, and Upbeat: Nine Lives of a Musical Cat, all published by Paradigm Publishers.

We asked the musician-author to tell us what the streets of New York meant to him as a writer. His response, dated April 14, 2013, will be included in Amram’s forthcoming new book Amram@90:Notes from a promising Young Composer , ]:

Street Thoughts

The streets of New York reflect the character and spirit of the city, and serve as a personal historian to anybody and everybody who has ever walked through them. No matter how lonely you might be, New York’s city streets always talk to you whether you are listening or not.

New York City’s streets tell you that if you are quiet and listen, you can absorb the unspoken history that is available if you really pay attention. These streets share all the memories of those ghosts of the past who return at night to visit. And when you walk down any of those streets today, old friends from the past, many of whom are no longer here, and the ghosts of people you wish you had known who walked those same streets all come back to greet you for a moment.

The sidewalks of every block have memories to share with you that are as strong and indestructible as the asphalt that is their foundation and those diamonds in the sidewalk still glisten every night and welcome you to new adventures.

On May 5 Amram will read from one of his favorite works on the rooftop of the Library Hotel for Literary Manhattan’s Spring Symposium, also featuring Beat Generation author and National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Joyce Johnson, Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop founder Julia Fierro, and Shane Romero, three-time National Slam Poetry Team member.

Now off to Karlesruhe Germanay and then Tulsa and Okemah Oklahoma for various concerts, seminars et al and then HOME to wallow in the obscurity I so richly deserve and hole up composing music, working on my fourth book, David Amram:The Next 80 Years and organizing all crazed upcoming events for the Fall and entire year of 2014.

i hope you are thriving and until our paths cross, stay strong and remain BEAT(ific!!)

Read the original article in LITTERARY MANHATTAN.

From Texas Public RadioTop
August 5, 2013
David Amram Remembers The San Remo Cafe Bar In Greenwich Village
By James Baker

I always look forward to emails arriving from my old friend, fellow horn player David Amram. I recently sent him a video interview I did with him a few years ago. That prompted his always gracious thank you and then this account of the San Remo Cafe and Bar in Greewich Village:

July 29, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation had an honoring ceremony celebrating the San Remo Cafe and Bar.

In the late 1940s and 50s, the San Remo was the premiere haunt for the literary and artistic set. Some of the regulars included Allen Ginsberg, Dylan Thomas, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Miles Davis, Frank O'Hara, Judith Malina, Jackson Pollock, James Baldwin, Charles Mingus, myself and Gore Vidal. Several of these artists first met here, and many immortalized the San Remo in their writings.

The old San Remo was a small family owned bistro where some of America's finest artists of all genres met, communed and were welcomed by all the other patrons.

There were no "A" tables, and ego-mania, narcissism and snobbery was neither encouraged nor tolerated. It was a classic neighborhood small place that was pure New York. It was a beloved port of call for many of us.

After I spoke, following the unveiling of the plaque honoring the site and the history of the old San Remo Cafe, I went to have a cup of green tea at the beautiful coffee house on the corner where the old dingy bar once stood, before it was torn down and replaced with the current more elegant interior.

As I drank my tea, surrounded by well dressed preppy types, all working away on their laptops, I had some great deja vu moments in this sparkling new incarnation, now a place with everyone sitting quietly cyberspacing away, or speaking in hushed tones, with almost no New York accents that I could hear...

I flashed back and remembered the raucous growls and shouts which were a symphony of the sounds of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island, all filling the night time bar room, blasting through the clouds of choking tobacco smoke, accompanied by the aroma of beer, whisky and perfume, all provided by the fabulous collection of assorted bar flies (including myself 58 years ago (!!!!) in 1955), when I first made NYC my home and went to the San Remo for a few glasses of wine with Charles Mingus, my band leader, after our gig at the old Cafe Bohemia on Barrow Street.

There were always loud arguments about the value of any and every athlete who had performed in NYC, how today's current crop were just a bunch of bums, endless monologues about failed relationships and dead end marriages, pleas and assorted rejections to the panhandlers and free loaders trying to get a free drink, cab drivers telling stories of their latest nightmare customers, off duty neighborhood waiters, waitresses and bartenders dispensing the latest gossip, poets, authors, painters , sculptors and NYU students discussing the good old days of the village (usually decades before they themselves were born) when Edna St Vincent Millay and Eugene O'Neil were hot young writers, and the golden days of the 19th Century when O. Henry, Edgar Allen Poe and Walt Whitman roamed these same streets.

And if you dr0pped by in the early afternoon, you could get a free crash course in Neapolitano and Siciliano dialects, the styles of Italian which were spoken by the neighborhood dwellers who came to greet one another before the evening crush. These old timers seemed to tolerate all the outsiders and assorted nut-cases that made the Village so unpredictable and so much fun. And these same old timers often would help out someone who looked insecure, lost or hungry, as long as some basic good manners were exhibited.

The San Remo, a quintessential funky neighbor bar and cafe, was one of the many refuges in the Asphalt Jungle of post World War ll New York. Like everyone else, artists felt at home there. Since almost everyone in the Village was an outsider, this became a common bond that made you eventually feel at home, and the strong Italian-American family feeling made everything seem to balance. That spirit is still here today, even with harder economic times, real estate booms, and outrageous rents.

So all who groan and moan and moan about the good old days can take heart. This event, created by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, reminds us all that no matter how hard times might be today, the fact that a great bunch of people banded together to honor what happened sixty years ago is a sign that the good old days are NOW!!!!

-David Amram

Read the original article in Texas Public Radio.

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