James Taylor is back with an excellent CD of new original material, "Before This World," just released in June. This summer, I'm teaching several lecture/demonstration classes on JT past and present, including a five-class course at the University of Pittsburgh's Osher Center. While that course is limited to Osher students, anyone (this means you) can attend two other James Taylor presentations I'm teaching at local libraries.
Here are the details:Saturday, August 15, noon-2 p.m.
Oakmont Carnegie Library
700 Allegheny River Blvd.
Oakmont, PA 15139
Contact: Stephanie Zimble 412.828.9532 Friday, September 11, 7-9 p.m.
Shaler North Hills Library
1822 Mt. Royal Blvd.
Glenshaw, PA 15116
So what do these classes cover? Here's a brief description:Quiet Fire – The Music of James Taylor
Hear a few notes from his guitar, and you know it’s James Taylor. Now 67, the writer of “Fire and Rain,” “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” and “Carolina in My Mind” has influenced pop, folk and country music with his unique sense of jazz-tinged chords and syncopated rhythms. Taylor’s back with a brand-new CD, “Before This World.” As with his earlier work, the melodies and harmonies go down easy, but a closer listen reveals nuance, surprise and understated power – qualities that have endeared him not only to fans but to peers including Yo-Yo Ma, Pat Metheny and Mark Knopfler.
Taylor’s socially conscious, sometimes tormented soul has shown itself in songs about drug addiction (“A Junkie’s Lament”) the First Gulf War (“Slap Leather”) and Martin Luther King (“Shed a Little Light”). Other songs draw on his brother’s death (“Enough to Be on Your Way”), his difficult relationship with his father (“Walking Man”) and his family’s seafaring past (“The Frozen Man.”)
Performer, guitar teacher and music journalist Peter King will explore what makes Taylor’s music so original. Through guided listening to Taylor’s recordings as well as to songs played live by the instructor on his guitar, the class will gain a deeper appreciation of the art of Sweet Baby James.
I've given a number of these presentations, and the response has been gratifying. Students come away from the class knowing more about Taylor's life, but -- more important -- able to hear some of his classic material with newly calibrated ears.
Please join me for "Quiet Fire."