08-30: Velvet Underground : VU 1985 | Live at Max's Kansas City 1972 - Juan del Enzina ( Encina ) / Hespèrion XX Jordi Savall - Sinatra Sings Gershwin 1943-1952 Columbia

Would be chronological if Mortenson were just before Morrison. Tagged image here.

1529 – Juan del Enzina (Spanish composer, poet, playwright & priest)
1745 – Jean-Baptiste-Maurice Quinault (French actor, musician & composer)
1808 – Joseph Anton Bauer (German trumpeter & composer)
1826 – Theodor Zwettler (Austrian Benedictine prior & composer)
1883 – Angela Peralta (Mexican operatic soprano)
1904 – Kate Fanny Loder [Lady Thompson] (English composer, pianist & organist)
1940 – Fritz Feinhals (German operatic baritone)
1953 – Gaetano Merola (Italian-born American opera impresario & conductor)
1953 – Dimiter Nenov (Bulgarian pianist, composer, teacher & architect)
1956 – Padre José Antonio de Donostia (Benedictine priest, organist, composer & pianist)
1958 – Alexander Albrecht (Slovak-Hungarian composer & organist)
1963 – Axel Stordahl (American arranger, composer & conductor, Frank Sinatra)
1986 – Otto Mortensen (Danish pianist, composer, conductor & organist)
1995 – Sterling Morrison (American rock guitarist, The Velvet Underground)

He's usually called "Juan del Enzina" today, because that's what he called himself. But he's often instead called "Juan del Encina" since the tiny town in Salamanca he was probably from is now called Encina de San Silvestre (population 128... Saaaaa-lute!! Sorry... guess I still have Hee-Haw on the brain after Archie Campbell yesterday...):
Actually, his real name was Juan de Fermoselle, but nobody ever calls him that, for some reason. What they do also call him is "the founder of Spanish drama." And that is really saying something, because if you've ever met a Spanish person you know they can be a rather dramatic people. And to think, it all started with this guy! Oh... but I see here that he was also one of at least 7 known children. Maybe it's Señor y Señora Fermoselle who really deserve the credit. I mean, when your one family makes up half the town, some drama's bound to happen.

There is also some disagreement about exactly when it was that Juan del Enzina died. Some sources say it was sometime late in 1529 or early in 1530. Others state it was in 1533. The source I went with states unequivocally that it was on August 29, 1529, which of course isn't consistent with either of those other approximations. I'm guessing therefore that this date has about a 0.001% chance of being the correct one. But while the date may not be accurate, there's one thing it is that those others aren't: firm. We can't remember you on Yesterday in Dead Musicians (or as I should perhaps call it now "Three or Four Days Ago in Dead Musicians") if we don't know what day yesterday was. Better that we remember you on the wrong day than not at all. And remember Juan del Enzina we shall... (Read more below)

Juan del Enzina is considered the founder of Spanish drama, and Gaetano Merola is considered the founder of San Franciscan opera. That's because Gaetano Merola founded the San Francisco Opera. That was in 1923, and he served for the next 30 years as its general director and principal conductor, until... yup, you guessed it: poopage. Hey, you know what they call me? The founder of this here blog. And they're right. Thanks to all my floundering, this blog could foundering just about any day now...

ERRATUM/ADDENDUM: Case in point. I left out one of the great drummers in jazz history, Philly Joe Jones! One of the quintessential hard bop players. Member of Miles Davis's first great quintet (also known as just "The Quintet," as in "What? You mean there's some other quintet?"), along with Coltrane, Garland, and Chambers. Played with pretty much anybody who was anybody in jazz. Used the traditional grip. Miles said of him, "Philly Joe was the fire that was making a lot of things happen. See he knew everything I was going to do, everything I was going to play; he anticipated me, felt what I was thinking ... Philly Joe was the kind of drummer I knew my music had to have." In his autobiography, Miles says that later, when working with other drummers, he would ask them to do the "Philly Joe Lick," with mixed results.

Go here for the Philly Joe update.

Kate Fanny Loder was from a prominent family of musicians in Bath, but she definitely married up when she got hitched to surgeon and polymath Sir Henry Thompson, the 1st Baronet of Wimpole Street. I mean, anything that takes you from being a "Fanny Loder" to being a "Lady Thompson" has got to be a step up. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music, and in 1844 (still as Miss Loder) made her debut, playing Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto in G minor. As Lady Thompson, she went on to become the first woman to achieve a professorship of harmony at the Royal Academy.

It's Nelson Riddle whose instantly recognizeable arrangements we associate with the later part of Frank Sinatra's career - his years at Capitol, and later on his own Reprise Records. But for the first decade of his solo career, after he left Tommy Dorsey's band and signed with Columbia, Axel Stordahl was Frankie's man at the podium and on the staff paper. Actually, Stordahl had already been writing arrangements for Sinatra during the period 1940
42, when they were both Tommy Dorsey employees. After Sinatra left for Capitol, and Riddle, Stordahl still worked with Sinatra every so often on one-offs for Columbia (not sure how Frank was able to manage that contractually), but he also worked as an arranger for several other singers for the remainder of his career, including Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Eddie Fisher, Dinah Shore, and Dean Martin. But it's his work with Old Blues Eyes in the 40s he's remembered for most. During those years, Stordahl brought a level of sophistication to the pop-song arrangement it had never really achieved before. You couldn't really have a Nelson Riddle without an Axel Stordahl to come before... (Read more below)

Sterling Morrison, lead guitarist for the Velvet Underground, didn't like to talk about the Velvets much in his later days. By then he was an academe, teaching English at the University of Texas at Austin. There probably wasn't a semester that went by that he didn't get one or two or a whole pack of alterna-brats coming by his office hour to meet "that guy who used to play for the Velvets." I know, 'cause I was at UT in 1986, when some buds of mine were thinking about doing it. We'd also heard Mo Tucker worked at a 7-Eleven or some horseshit like that. Anyway, we never went through with it, harrassing poor old Morrrison. Tell you what, though... guy sure could play some hot leads... (Read more below)



  1. Great story about Sterl. I would sell my soul to see them at a Warhol party. I went to an Andy Warhol exhibit in Nashville. They had 4 original pressings of the Velvet Underground and Nico on display. All of them were in VG+ condition, which leads me to believe that there are no NM ones in existence.

  2. Were any of them the ones with the peelable banana?

  3. Yes. One was intact and one was halfway unpeeled.