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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

BirdNote® All That Jazz

Air Date: Week of August 2, 2013

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Mallards Skating (Ā© Jennifer Tomaloff)

From penguins to ducks to larks, birds have served as an inspiration to many jazz composers, as Mary MaCann reports in today's BirdNote.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Edward Elgar had a habit of walking in the woods round his home in England's west midlands when he was composing. Famously he exclaimed: "The trees are singing my music!" And he wasn't the only composer to look to the natural world for help and ideas. Here's Mary McCann with our BirdNote®.

MCCANN: Birds are an inspiration for many musicians.

[MUSIC: THE PENGUIN]


Gentoo Penguins (© Sean Oneill)

Bandleader Raymond Scott probably saw these birds at the Central Park Zoo before writing his waddling 1937 hit “The Penguin.”

[GENTOO PENGUIN]

All penguins are clumsy on land but these Gentoos are superlative swimmers - the fastest of any diving bird - reaching 22 miles an hour, and diving to 600 feet.

[MALLARDS QUACKING]

Speaking of swimmers, Brazilian composer Joao Gilberto has swans, geese and ducks doing the samba in his song “O Pato,” or “The Duck,” sung here by Karrin Allysson.

[MUSIC: O PATO]

Jazz musicians improvise on a theme, and Dave Brubeck, who grew up in the West, undoubtedly heard the Western Meadlowlark

[WESTERN MEADOWLARK]


Western Meadowlark in full song. (© Tom Grey)

before writing “Strange Meadowlark.” The tune appeared on Brubeck’s legendary 1959 release “Time Out.”

[MUSIC: Dave Brubeck “Strange Meadow Lark” from Time Out (Columbia Records 1997 Reissue)]

I’m Mary McCann.

CURWOOD: To see some photos of penguins and meadowlarks and ducks, waddle on down to our website LOE.org.

[Jazz composers paint pictures in music of some favorite birds.]

 

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