'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Frog, A Jaguar, A Concert and Rodrigo

Time to update you on some of Robin's activities over the past few weeks.
At the beginning of January he set off for Miami where he joined Crystal Serenity.
It was over a week before his first concert so there was plenty of time to adjust, and to enjoy the sunshine in Grand Cayman, before any serious practise started.
But daily practise is required whether it's a concert day or not.
As I've said before, Robin sometimes feels a little inhibited rehearsing in his room for fear of disturbing his neighbours with endless scales and arpeggios.
So if possible he finds a quiet place somewhere and takes himself off.

On one such occasion he was joined in the lift by an American couple.
As is often the case in lifts, either everyone stares straight ahead into a void of silence, or, someone starts a conversation.
The couple chose the later and asked Robin if there was a guitar in the case or was it a machine gun?
His reply, "It's a guitar but played like a machine gun, however today I'm just supplying elevator music."
He spends a lot of time with comedians...

I did receive some very enthusiastic emails from Cartagena, Colombia, as Robin had purchased a beautiful frog:

He was delighted with it and put his new friend on display in his room.
It was with some dismay that a few days later he found a small piece of wood on the floor.
Not a frogs leg but definitely its foot.
Luckily, as I have said before, no guitarist travels without superglue for those emergency nail repairs, so within minutes he had repaired the footless frog.
The next day a very sheepish and anxious housekeeper appeared uttering the words, "I'm very sorry Mr. Robin but I broke your frog."
Not a sentence he ever thought he would hear.
She was greatly relieved to see that no long lasting damage had been done.

After bird spotting through the Panama canal, and a day on the Pacific before arriving in Costa Rica, still no concert had been performed.
But, it was scheduled for that evening.
So there was only time for a quick trip into Caldera, in which Robin returned with a tray:

I must say that I was relieved that the concert had finally arrived.
The tension mounts gradually when away for so many days just waiting for concert day.
It went very well and the American couple discovered, that when required, Robin can in fact play the guitar like a machine gun....

After a couple of days at sea, a quick visit to Puerto Chiapas, Mexico, and some dolphin and sea turtle spotting off the coast of Acapulco, Serenity arrived in Cabo San Lucas.
Robin likes it there. You may remember this post involving an iguana and a sombrero.
This time there was no sign of the iguana but there was a rather splendid wooden jaguar head:

Or maybe you prefer this view:

Shopping aside there was work to be done.
After the success of the first concert Robin was asked to perform a second one.
As you know he is currently rehearsing Rodrigo's 'Concierto de Aranjuez' for a performance later this year.
He had also been spending time with Naki Ataman, a pianist Robin has met a number of times.
You can read about a previous meeting with Naki in this post, 'Dangerous Time in Los Angeles...'

A musical collaboration emerged when Robin asked Naki to join him onstage to perform an arrangement of Rodrigo's Adagio for piano and guitar.
The introduction:

"Normally I perform this piece with an orchestra but tonight I have replace them with the incredible Naki Ataman. Up until today we have only ever played tennis together."
It went beautifully and both audience and musicians were very pleased.

Eventually Serenity arrived in LA and Robin was required to dispose of some clothes in order to pack a jaguar head, frog, tray etc.
I am now left wondering where exactly we are going to put them....

Friday, January 23, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona - Woody Allen

The film, 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona', which was written and directed by Woody Allen, won a Golden Globe Award in 2008.
Now, Penelope Cruz has been nominated for an Oscar, as best supporting actress.

The film is about two young American women, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) who spend a summer in Spain, and meet the flamboyant artist, Juan Antonio, (Javier Bardem).
Penelope Cruz plays the beautiful, yet insane, ex-wife of Javier Bardem.

But the reason I am discussing 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' here, is the music.

The title song, 'Barcelona', which was written and recorded by 'Giulia y los Tellarini', (at the time a little known Spanish band), were shocked when approached by Woody Allen's team.
Rumour has it that the girlfriend of one of the band members sent a copy of their CD to Allen's hotel.
On hearing it, Allen realised it was just the sound he wanted, and attempted to make contact.
After initial attempts to reach the band though MySpace, (they thought it was a joke), eventually a deal was done.

But it is the soundtrack to the rest of the film which particularly interests me.
Paco de Lucia performs, 'Entre Dos Aguas', Juan Serrano plays, 'Gorrion' and 'Entre Olas'.
Those two performers alone are enough to make me want to see the film, but with interpretations of 'El Noi de la Mare' (Trad. Arr. Llobet), 'Granada' (Isaac Albeniz) and 'Asturias' (Isaac Albeniz) it seems hard to resist.

You can of course hear Robin's version of some of these tracks on 'Virtuoso'.

A film set in Spain should incorporate this fabulous music.
I know of at least one guitarist that will be watching simply to hear the guitar being played in a major film!

Friday, January 16, 2009

PRS Revisited

One of the great things about blogs is that interest in an old post can be rekindled at any time.
There may be an immediate response, and comments sent in relation to a particular item discussed, or this can occur days, weeks, months or even years later.

Back in June 2008 I wrote a post, in response to a newspaper article, called, 'Time to Pay - The PRS Licence.'

Initially, like all my posts, it had a steady stream of readers from around the world.
Then just before Christmas a flurry of comments flew back and forth between myself and an anonymous reader.

After a break for the Christmas period they have returned with more thoughts and ideas on the subject.

Many of my regular viewers will be unaware that this has been happening.
So, today I decided to redirect you all to the original post.

Before you do though, coincidentally, today I read another article which is not unrelated, 'Pirates win music download battle.'

Here's the post.
So have a look at the various articles and feel free to enter the debate!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Latest Batch of Unusual Google Searches

I have decided to share a few more unusual google searches with you today.
This time, for your added entertainment, I have also shown the page on which the unknown searcher landed.
For some there is an obvious connection, others are little more obscure, but that's the nature of Google!
The 'search', in bold, is exactly as I found it.

Here goes:

1) "What was with President Bush's eyebrows last night?"

Now, I don't know what President Bush had been doing with his eyebrows that prompted this search, but here is the page they read:
'Concert Comments and George Bush's Eyebrows'

2) "Possessed by a musician"

Are they possessed by a musician or do they want to be? Who knows.
'John Dowland and a Man Possessed'

3) "Boho Dance and Consumption"

This found a post from back in 2007 which mentions the fabulous Joni Mitchell:
'Robin Hill's 'Unofficial' Desert Island Discs'

4) "Bob Dylan's trousers"

I have no idea why someone was interested in Bob Dylan's trousers but this is the page they read:
'Bob Dylan, BBC Radio 2 and the 'Wrong Trousers'

5) "The Robin Hill flower of Congo"

As the name Robin Hill actually featured in the search it isn't that surprising the visitor arrived at this blog. But here's where they landed:
'From Romanian Gipsy Music to a Latin American Wedding'

6) "Brazilian rosewood fined jailed arrested"

Although guitars can be made from Brazilian rosewood I don't think that's what they were looking up, nor do I think they expected this:
'Concert, Corruption and Recording Company Chaos'

7) "Light on a Turkish Hill"

Strange but true!
'The Clairvoyant Rabbit and the Turkish Shoeshine Scandal'

8) "Felt poodle tea cosy"

I'm assuming somebody somewhere has the desire to purchase a tea cosy in the shape of a poodle...
'Cosi Fan Tutte'

and finally for today,

9) "How many hours from Alicante to Malta by aeroplane?"

Whilst not actually answering the question I hope this visitor enjoyed the story anyway!
'Coffee in Alicante'

One thing that has become apparent whilst preparing this post is the fact that I seem to have come up with some rather strange titles over the years. No wonder Google keep sending people our way.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Bang & Olufsen Part 2

Better late than never - here, finally, is the post I promised back in November, 'Bang & Olufsen Part 2'. You can read Part 1 here.

The idea was for the audience to enjoy some wonderful music whilst demonstrating some of Bang & Olufsen's equipment.

It was a most successful evening. The venue was full and the audience appreciative.

The evening didn't get off to a fantastic start, as Robin managed to fall over a wall outside, and arrived covered in mud. The staff were concerned and very helpful, but despite numerous attempts to remove layers of mud from his suit, he did have to perform minus his jacket.

Not that this mattered.
The set up used was Robin's own microphone, (Sennheiser 441) and amplifier, (AER Classic), played through the most incredible speakers you could imagine, the Beolab 9.
Not just in the quality of sound, which was very clear and highly refined, but also in their appearance.
They would not have appeared out of place in an episode of Dr.Who as they strongly resembled a pair of Daleks flanking Robin as he played, but the sound was incredible.

In fact here's a picture:

You can clearly see one of the speakers on the right.

During the interval the audience had the opportunity to admire the equipment and chat to the store staff, and later, to Robin.

The combination of high quality equipment and beautiful music made for a highly memorable evening.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Freddie Hubbard 1938-2008

We start the New Year with the sad loss of one of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time, Freddie Hubbard.
You can read a report here.
Born in Indianapolis in 1938 he first recorded with the Montgomery brothers before moving to New York and quickly establishing himself within the jazz scene.

By 1966 Hubbard worked mainly with his own quintets and quartets, although finding time to tour the US with Herbie Hancock's group V.S.O.P.

Hubbard recorded many albums and participated in experimental sessions such as with Ornette Coleman's, 'Free Jazz', and John Coltrane's, 'Ascension'.

The 'New Grove Dictionary of Jazz', describes him as, "foremost hard-bop trumpeter, his improvisations combining imaginative melody with a glossy tone, rapid and clean technique, a brilliant high register, a subtle vibrato," and employing "bluesy, squeezed half-valve notes."

It's good to know that audiences were able to enjoy his music live until very recently.
Only last year I had a 'phone call from Robin as he walked the streets of New York, to say he had seen a poster advertising a performance by Freddie Hubbard, later that day.
Unfortunately Robin couldn't attend as he was leaving at the time.

What more can you say?... except that the music of Freddie Hubbard will inspire and entertain for many years to come.