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The concerto was inspired by his son, who’s now 3 years old. “It’s something I wanted to do for him. My whole approach to making music has really changed ever since he came around. It’s a different world, as a parent. And I decided to name it for him. He liked that idea. And my wife liked that idea,” Fleck says with a chuckle. Juno has his own little ukulele banjo and avidly listens to his proud papa’s old LPs. Fleck says, “He’s soaking it up. He listens to music with an incredible focus. He’ll come to our shows, never become a problem, just sit and watch and applaud and laugh. After the show, he’ll tell us what he thought about it. In school, he sings and everybody is surprised at how quick he picks up songs. He’s got a beautiful little voice. He’s definitely got musical DNA. It’s in there, when the time is right. We’re not going to push it on him. But I think he’s just naturally going to be a very musical kid.”.
The term “silent movie” is a bit of a misnomer, Sure, there isn’t a soundtrack with spoken dialogue, but sound is an essential part of the experience, And if you’re lucky, that sound was provided by Dennis James, a modern master of the Wurlitzer organ, “I find the organ music causes the silent films to come alive — as Aaron Copland put it so well, ‘Silent film music was the candle beneath that warmed the image,’ ” said James, 66, who has performed balera ballet shoes for silent film presentations around the country for five decades..
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“Simply put, that Wurlitzer is the finest such instrument in the world today — voiced to perfection, all of it operational and from my experience now for many years, always in complete tune and fully maintained with absolutely everything working at all times,” said James, who will be flying to San Jose from his home in Corning, N.Y, “The theater is also an ideal, historically accurate setting for the organ and the presentation of silent films.”, He isn’t kidding about the historical accuracy: “Flesh and the balera ballet shoes Devil” played at the California shortly after the theater first opened in 1927. The 1925 Wurlitzer console was installed to play the California’s 21-rank organ when the grand movie palace underwent a $75 million restoration in 2001-04, funded by the San Jose Redevelopment Agency and the Packard Humanities Institute..
But the experience of the audience in 2017 won’t be identical to that of their counterparts from 90 years ago. While every sound heard will be performed live by James, the score originally used for “Flesh and the Devil” doesn’t exist. When that is the case, the music James uses is often the product of months of painstaking research, composition and rehearsal. James searches for published “cue sheet” directions, researches what musical materials were in use at the time and occasionally inserts improvisation sections. And on rare occasions when the presenter doesn’t let him view a film in advance, he’s improvised an entire score with no rehearsal.
James’ history with the organ goes back to when he began taking lessons in suburban New Jersey at age 12, switching over from the accordion, When he hit high school, James discovered the Hammond B-3 electronic organ in the auditorium and soon became the school’s official organist, He played Beatles tunes during morning assemblies and first attempted to play his own music to accompany a silent comedy short by film pioneer Larry Semon during a school variety show in balera ballet shoes 1967, “That led me to explore what was then a completely bygone world of professional music-making together with silent films,” James said..
He studied scoring films and the stylistic nuances of many people who had been silent film music players in the 1920s during historical revival performances. They’re all gone now, but their legacy lives on through James, who aims to make his music as close to the original experience as possible. That’s not the case for everyone in his profession, though. Some people, James notes, use music written after the film was released, mismatch dance numbers (like playing a waltz when the people on screen are dancing a fox trot) or adapt contemporary musical genres to the scores.
“I guess variety balera ballet shoes makes the world go ’round, but I still prefer authenticity, historical re-creation and respect for the original filmmaker’s intents,” James said, Which isn’t to say he doesn’t stretch himself, While pipe organs were installed in silent movie houses, some films were accompanied by a full orchestra and James explores the capacity for the organ to give the impression of a full-piece symphony orchestra in some of his performances, I find I am always finding something new about these antique instruments every time I play,” James said..