Wednesday, July 16, 2008

(Safety Last + shorts show) x 2; AllDay recording

July 15 – yesterday I accompanied Safety Last (plus the Lloyd 1-reeler Luke's Shattered Sleep) and a shorts program at MoMA on piano. I'll repeat the shows tomorrow on theatre organ. Safety Last knocked the audience out, as usual, and I was pleased to see a number of kids and younger people in the audience. The Lonesome Luke short is yet another instance of Earl Mohan as a mild-mannered guy with horn-rimmed glasses. The shorts program went well; I introduced the show since the Langdon short is missing its beginning and part of its ending, and only has flash-titles in Czech. While I was at it I plugged the fact that MoMA's print of The Floorwalker, the other half of the bill, had a few minutes of footage you can't see anywhere else.

The Langdon short went over really well, in spite of its being first on the program and a little choppy. Considering it's Harry's 3rd starring short for Sennett there is a bit of room given to him to stand there and think things over. The Floorwalker played really well, and – especially with the extra footage that sets up Edna's and Lloyd Bacon's stories more fully – I was really impressed with the film. When Chaplin goes into his dance, twirling and flitting about when confronted by Eric Campbell in the 2nd half, I went into a tango without thinking and it really worked. I've found over the years that tangos work better than other more obvious choices in certain bits of Chaplin films. The whole routine with the old actor in The Pawnshop, for example works better when followed with a tango than with what you'd expect to use...melodramatic music that matches the old actor's storytelling. By 'works better' I mean that the sequence gets its laughs much better than it does with other musical choices. Go figure.

This afternoon and evening I spent a little time recording scores for a couple shorts for an upcoming AllDay Entertainment release (can't say what it is, but I hear it will be announced at Slapsticon later this week). I put the Miditzer together here and had some fun. I'm starting to really prefer the organ to piano accompaniment, the more practice I get and the more fluent I am with the orchestrating-on-the-fly aspects of organ improvisation. I'm much more able to hear a sound or sound combination and immediately find the stops on the touchscreen and make musical shifts so one hand is playing while the other taps a stop or two on or off. It's just nice to hold notes and not have to tap them over and over as you might with a piano.

Tomorrow I may do more recording if there's time. Mostly I need to pack and finish burning CD's to take to Slapsticon of my altscore.com scores. Also I may try to swing by the Donnell library where my pal/colleague Philip Carli is playing for a Talmadge picture at 2:30. [Philip is also playing at Slapsticon.] All this before my double-header at MoMA at 6pm & 8pm.

Ben

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