RIP. Ryuichi Sakamoto
A master has died. Ryuichi Sakamoto was an innovator, transcending styles and mediums.
He was so productive that the New York Times ran a lush and knowing obituary on Monday -- yet never mentioned my favorite work involving Sakamoto-san.
"Casa" did not make the cut, squeezed out by work for movies ("The Last Emperor" for Bertolucci), modern collaborations with David Bowie, a performance at the opening ceremony at the 1988 Summer Olympics.
He was transplanted into my brain, my heart, two decades ago when I was listening to John Schaefer, New York's jewel of a music teacher, with his familiar radio show, "New Sounds."
Late one evening, Schaeffer's new sound was a CD entitled "Casa" -- "Morelenbaum2 Sakamoto" -- a cellist with a beard (Jaques Morelenbaum), a beautiful singer (Paula Morelenbaum), and a pianist (Sakamoto) -- all three interpretating the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim.
La casa? The interpretetations evolved in the home of the late Tom Jobim, in Rio, and later recorded in studios in Rio. Rarely do you see creative genius intermingling, so respectfully. Jacques Morelenbaum suggests (in thick English) a dramatic piano chord to end one song, as Sakamoto nods his mane, Paula Morelenbaum reclines casually on a sofa, then out of nowhere she tries out a phrase in Portuguese or maybe English.
Over the years I realized that Sakamoto lived in Greenwich Village and later I read that he was fighting cancer. Then on Monday I read a lush and informed obituary by William Robin in The New York Times. Sakamoto was 71.
Favorite new fact? His influences ranged from Claude Debussy to John Cage (who has been one of my wife's favorites for many years.)
Maybe you can access the link to Sakamoto's obituary in Monday's NYT:
And maybe you will enjoy the interplay among these artists, courtesy of YouTube:
4/3/2023 06:52:16 pm
4/4/2023 08:21:28 am
Bruce, that's the thing - he was everywhere. I heard his Olympic composition in Barcelona in 1988 ...and had no idea who he was,
4/4/2023 09:07:27 am
4/3/2023 07:00:30 pm
4/3/2023 07:31:25 pm
4/4/2023 08:24:51 am
Bom dia, Altenir: You are certainly rooted in Ipanema and the Village-- the epochal baptism of Neo in the Village, the New Year's Eve of Neo at the Jobim statue in Ipanema. GV
4/3/2023 10:57:01 pm
4/4/2023 08:36:05 am
4/4/2023 11:57:07 am
Je regret! (Not Portuguese either,). I should have known better, que pasa? Lovely song, lovely singer, Brazilian feel to me. Enjoy.
4/3/2023 11:04:16 pm
Apology. I, or Apple, Anglicized Josafina’s name.
4/4/2023 12:10:03 am
Sometimes a film can affect you deeply for very personal reasons. So it was for me when I saw Merry Christmas, Mr.Lawrence, with David Bowie, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Tom Conti in 1983. Nakamoto's haunting soundtrack for the film chokes me up every time I hear it. I was never a POW, but I had several friends who were, and a few others who weren't so lucky. I still think of them often. Here is Sakamoto, playing the theme song solo on the piano in a studio... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9tECKZ60zk
4/4/2023 08:43:08 am
John, thanks, man. I will listen to Sakamoto.
4/4/2023 09:09:14 am
McCain was one of my heroes as well. He wasn't perfect, but he was a profoundly decent man. That he was never bitter says a lot. My deep disdain for Trump took a major escalation when he insulted McCain and called him a loser because he was shot down and taken prisoner. Trump never would have survived in the Navy. People usually saw right through the bullshit of guys like him and gave them a very wide berth. The idea that a rich kid whose daddy paid a doctor for a sick note to get him out of the draft ended up years later as Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces made me sick.
4/4/2023 09:46:44 am
4/4/2023 10:42:51 am
Nice reflection, George. He's on my list to dig into, I've been remiss so far.
4/4/2023 02:23:44 pm
Thanks so much for sharing.
4/5/2023 08:37:44 am
Terry, nice to hear from you. Best to all. G
4/5/2023 08:36:06 am
Josh, Marianne read his book, "Silence," years ago, and laughed on just about every page.
4/4/2023 02:56:56 pm
Thank you, George. I didn't know this video. I found his work for NOKIA to compose their ring tones. It's very interesting.
4/5/2023 08:40:39 am
Tra: Although Sakamoto lived in Greenwich Village for a long time, he has been a presence in Japan, demonstrating for ecology and peace. I think he certainly infused the songs on "Casa" with a spare eastern sense of pace. (at least to my ear)....best, GV
4/5/2023 06:42:40 am
On June 10, 2014 on this very blog you turned us all on to the beautiful "Casa". You told us it was the most played album on your iPod (remember them?) and that the first time you heard it you rushed out and bought the CD (remember them?) at Tower Records (remember them?).
4/5/2023 08:46:14 am
Roy, that makes me happy....I am sure I repeat my stories in person and on this little website,
4/5/2023 11:47:26 pm
Great! Thank you ALL very much. I now know something I'd've never known but for this site and exchange.
4/20/2023 09:43:39 am
Very lovely obituary. I shared it on my Facebook.
Comments are closed.
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.