Bill de Blasio and the Decline of New York city

https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2021/08/16/bill-de-blasio-and-the-decline-of-new-york-city/?fbclid=IwAR0ibEovBk72MdnUm8fZwgjyWTkPkEFmLKInapQ5WcysI6LMoZtZ3KolUrE#slide-1

I remember New York City in the late 50’s and early 60’s. I remember the decline in the 1970’s. This is perhaps the nadir though of course I know New York City could go the way of Ostia or Detroit.

PEERLESS EDUCATOR

Peerless Educator: The Life and Work of Isaac Leon Kandel with a Foreword by Diane Ravitch by J. Wesley Null

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


ALL HONOR AND KUDOS TO KANDEL, A SCHOLAR, A GENTLEMAN AND A GREAT AMERICAN
by Richard K. MUNRO, MA 2004 Renshaw Fellow,UVA

PEERLESS EDUCATOR, the life and works of educator and author, Isaac l. Kandel helps clarify the mystery of our often ineffective, biased and aimless Teacher’s Education programs in America. Kandel is certainly not a household word and his writings are not likely to be in any high school anthologies -but they are so magnificent they should be they are that good. Kandel was in his time an inspired classroom teacher but Null’s PEERLESS EDUCATOR makes clear that Kandel also was an original educational theorist of what Null calls the democratic traditionalist' school. Wesley Null is right when says only by studying authors like Kandel can we understand the need to provide an alternative to the dominance of liberal progressivism in our schools and teacher colleges. I find Kandel's argument convincing that we must have a common American culture (I call in an American Paideia) grounded in our English-speaking democratic heritage of limited government as well as our Judeo-Christian Greco-Roman ethical traditions. Null calls Kandel a "Democratic Traditionalist" because Kandel believed strongly in American ideals such as public schools for all, universal citizenship and equality before the law. America, Kandel recognized, was strong and a land of opportunity and freedom but it was not perfect and certainly was but not invulnerable. I think Kandel recognized America's tendencies towards anti-intellectualism, excess and crass materialism but he loved her all the same and recognized that America was basically a kind, tolerant and forgiving place capable of reform and improvement. He lived through the challenges of Nazism and Communism and he knew so we had to do everything possible to strengthen our free society, nurture it, to preserve it and to protect it. If we undermine the family and deny a quality education for all, Kandel believed, we undermine and weaken education. Therefore we must nurture, protect and preserve the most vital traditions of our civilization -what John F. Kennedy called "our ancient heritage"- through our schools, our houses of God, our families, our military, our jury boxes and all our multitudinous, autonomous private quasi-educational institutions as well as through the freedom of the individual citizen. Kandel understood, I think, like Acton, Kirk and Hayek, the link between our free institutions, our basic rights of life, liberty and property and education. Ultimately, the collapse of the private life, of the family and public schools could prefigure the collapse of our republic and free Constitution. Kandel was controversial in his time and often treated in a petty fashion by the Progressive elites of his time. Nonetheless, he clearly understood one of the great dangers of the modern age: the power of the Bold State (the Totalitarian State) to corrupt education and destroy freedom. This threat, this totalitarian temptation, of course, could come as easily from the Left as from the Right. It can come with crashing speed or gradually like a slow poison. As early as 1934 Kandel wrote the MAKING OF NAZIS, though it is sad to relate it made little impression at the time. But in writing such a book Kandel proved his brilliance and prescient wisdom. Kandel was also right on the mark when he clearly identified the danger of Dewey's educational philosophy which he characterized as a "direct attack on all past educational traditions" and their authentic standards. Isaac Kandel was, in his time ( fl. 1930-1960), a respected international educator and an author of numerous articles, book reviews and books on education, culture and political theory, not merely in English but also in French and Spanish. Kandel was also one of the founders of the field of comparative education. Yet today, almost mysteriously, his books have vanished from curricula and are not likely to be mentioned in current bibliographies. How did this happen? Basically, Kandel like many others (Gilbert Highet, for example) was "purged" after his retirement and replaced by PC progressives. In the 1960's and 1970's Americans were caught completely unaware of the radical changes in the liberal arts and teacher education programs. Classics like A CULTURAL HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION by R. Freeman Butts, LIBERAL EDUCATION by Mark Van Doren, PAIDEIA by Werner Jaeger, THE ART OF TEACHING and the CLASSICAL TRADITION by Gilbert Highet were, essentially discarded as "Western Civilization" and the "Great Books" were downgraded to occasional electives in an age dominated by deconstructivists, multiculturalists and Secular "Progressive" Liberal-Socialists who have a wild and credulous belief in behavioral psychology, Marxism, Radical Feminism and the Bold State and who have a la Dewey -who was a devoted Socialist- rejected traditional values, and traditional thought and wisdom as irrelevant even harmful and oppressive. I daresay most Americans and even most Teacher- Ed students have never heard of these master authors of the 20th century let alone read any of their books not to mention classics such as Cicero's ON MORAL DUTIES, Augustine's CONFESSIONS or Boethius' THE CONSOLATION OF PHILOSOPHY let alone Hayek's ROAD TO SERFDOM, Barzun's AMERICAN TEACHER or Russell Kirk's masterpiece THE ROOTS OF AMERICAN ORDER. Gradually, in the 70's and 80's Americans of the right and center grew to distrust and challenge the liberal intellectual establishment hence the success Bloom's CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND, the rapid expansion of home schooling, the establishment of competing alternative schools as well as works by E.D. Hirsch, Ravitch and now Wesley Null. Similarly they have never read Kandel's worthy antidote to Dewey THE CULT OF UNCERTAINTY nor his virtually lost gem "Address at St. Paul's Chapel, Columbia University" (1940). Only by recurring to fundamental principles, Kandel believed, could we hope to preserve our free society. Kandel wrote "The basic principles of democracy are rooted in the religious traditions of Jew and Christian alike." "Man ....cannot live on negation...he needs values that have stood the test of time." "Education, true education, should liberate it should cultivate the genuinely free man, the man of moral judgment, of intellectual integrity.....intolerance and hatred are the foundations of the new [totalitarian] ideologies...Love thy neighbor as thyself is the injunction of the Hebrew prophets and of the Golden Rule." Kandel was not a fundamentalist Christian, but in fact was an observant Jew, but he understood that the greatness of American society was based on its ethical and moral traditions which were based as much or more on the Bible than the Enlightenment. And, of course, it is a calumny, lie and a falsehood that persons of a sincere Christian faith cannot be democratic and moderate in their political views even though it is true they embrace moral absolutes and reject the moral confusion and nihilism of secular progressives. But embracing a moral absolute does not mean embracing intolerance and rejecting pluralism. Most Americans have, like Kandel, alive and let live attitude’ as far as people’s private lives and private beliefs. Kandel, obviously, was not an intolerant man of the “Far Right”; in fact , ironically, he saw the threat from the TRUE FAR RIGHT (the fascist/totalitarian right , the Nazis) as early as Churchill. How telling that many people of the Left (like Dewey) were completely blind to the crimes of Stalin and the growing menace of Hitler and Japanese Militarism.
Everyone who knows anything knows about Hitler, the Gestapo and the Luftwaffe but who knows about Ernst Krieck and his role in strengthening Nazism via the control of public education? I did not. I knew in general terms what totalitarian education is about and about the subversion of the legal system in Nazi Germany but I did not know the specifics of the Nazi educational program. So once again kudos to Kandel (and Null).
Kandel is right of course that education can become a murder machine “to mold the rising generation to this {Nazi} law and will.” Kandel is also right that the democracies must meet the challenge thrown out by the Revolutionary ideologies' which to Kandel was clearly Communism as well as Nazism (Fascism) . This is very applicable to the Islamo-fascist challenge of today. It is sad to realize that KANDEL's THE MAKING OF NAZIS was essentially ignored (selling only 300 copies!) although I think see the influence of Kandel's work on Disney's classic anti-Nazi cartoon EDUCATION FOR DEATH. But MAKING OF NAZIS was against the zeitgeist of the time. It took the catastrophe of the Nazi Blitzkrieg, its Air War over Britain, its U-Boat campaign AND Pearl Harbor to wake the American people up to the reality of the extreme danger. But things haven't changed in that regard. Most Americans have no real sense of the great danger we are in at present (2007)/ which threatens our freedom, our economy and our whole way of life.But we cannot be a Festung America either; Kandel knew America must operate and communicate in the World Court of Opinion. Kandel's work in the UN I think had great educational, political and moral value. Too many conservatives want to throw out the UN and dismiss EVERYTHING it has done. That is clearly, foolish and a mistake; the UN is flawed -and in my view should never be seen as a precursor to a "World Government" but it can be tool for peace and important forum for educational, diplomatic and medical exchanges. I am glad to relate that Kandel seemed genuinely a nice person and a devoted husband and father though in the home he might be considered very old-fashioned by today's equalitarian standards. There is no question he was a very talented and successful classroom teacher. I should have like to have taken "Historical and Comparative Foundations" with Kandel. Null shows some of the great questions -and still relevant questions- posed by Kandel! Kandel was absolutely right that one of the primaries aims of public education MUST BE TO TEACH STUDENTS HOW TO CONNECT AMERICAN EDUCATION (and the American experiment) to what I call our splendid ancient heritage’. All of the books mentioned in Kandel’s curriculum are indispensable for any broadly educated person. We may not be experts in Aquinas or Hegel BUT everyone should have read at least some of the Federalist Papers and Aristotle’s Ethics and writings of Plato (I would add Cicero as well). Education, Kandel taught, cannot be separated from culture or politics because the political life itself is a very important form of life-long community education. Kandel was a strong supporter as were his contemporaries, Mortimer Adler, Hutchins and Gilbert Highet of a broad but liberal education for all.


And I might add Kandel knew the obvious: teachers who are not broadly educated lose MORAL AUTHORITY not only to their students but to the educated public as well upon whom the fate of public education ultimately depends. Teachers gain respect and authority by demonstrating competence as well as caring.

If Teacher Ed becomes (and it seems to me it has become already) cut off from its cultural roots and spiritual roots it will just become a self-perpetuating pseudo-scientific cult, a Null writes, with “no purpose beyond itself”. So much of multiculturalism and postmodernism is hypocritical and false, especially when it is taught by persons who pretend to be “Native Americans” (but who are not) and who cannot speak let alone read one word of a foreign language. Many Ivory Tower intellectuals, particularly in the liberal arts are so insular and over-specialized that they are unreadable. Their concepts choke in obscure jargon which they themselves cannot make clear. The Satraps of Teacher-Ed may sneer, as they often do, at rural schoolmasters and the public and men like E.D. Hirsch (who like Hutchins, Highet and Bloom came from OUTSIDE the Teacher’s Ed World) but in large measure they are responsible for their own repudiation.


Kandel knew that it was vital that American teachers and American schools must not lose their faith in America’s deepest ideals' (Null's words) and their Great Aim. This Great Aim in my view is the American Experiment or the American Promise that is to say the preserving, protecting and defending our civilization and culture by providing educational opportunity to all young people and all citizens and potential citizens who are in turn committed to the survival and success of the commonwealth. Every student and citizen must be aware of how American society works economically, politically and socially this Kandel knew. I think too he would agree they must be taught to appreciate WITH UNDYING GRATITUDE the magnitude of the struggles and sacrifices to make our country secure, prosperous and free. That is the meaning of Yorktown, Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Guadalcanal, Belleau Wood, Omaha Beach and Bastogne. I think it worth noting that old Kandel -though he was beyond military age- tried to enlist to serve his adopted country and it is noted Kandel's son DID enlist and fulfill his civic duty honorably in a time of war and great national crisis. Kandel, I am sure was proud of him. But I have to ask just who was the peerless educator’ of Columbia University of the 1930’s 40’s and 50’s.? Wesley Null says it is Isaac Kandel; he will forgive me, I know, if I say it might have been in fact Kandel’s contemporary Gilbert Highet, a man whom I am sure Kandel read and respected (see for example […] ) This is like the old baseball argument of the 50’s who was greater Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle or Duke Snider? They were all magnificent all-around players but the answer in fact was none of the above! It had to be Babe Ruth -he was also a great pitcher- or Hank Aaron who came by his achievements honestly ! (it will never be that ersatz Frankenstein of our time Barry Bonds). That having been said, Kandel WAS one of the great educators of his time and certainly he was peerless and almost unique as far as Columbia’s Teacher’s College is concerned.

My one criticism of Null’s book is that he does not show the relationship of Kandel vis-à-vis other great educators of his time such as Hutchins, Mortimer Adler or Highet but that is perhaps the theme of another book. I should have liked to know more of what Kandel thought of them and THEIR defense of traditional liberal education and THEIR critiques of Progressive Education. Null does a good job, however, of outlining Kandel’s friendship with his mentor Paul Monroe and William Bagley two distinguished educators of their time who are still worthy of mention and study themselves. That having been said, there is no question that Null’s PEERLESS EDUCATOR is a valuable, useful and highly accessible introduction to the thought and life of a man too little known. PEERLESS EDUCATOR makes for an excellent companion book to Null and Ravitch’s FORGOTTEN HEROES OF AMERICAN EDUCATION (2006) and is an excellent introduction to the life and thought of I.L. Kandel. This book tells Kandel’s life story fairly and in an interesting manner as well as giving the background to his educational and political philosophies. For those who are interested in learning more Null provides a very complete bibliography of Kandel’s principal works.
Every American teacher, concerned citizen and educator should become acquainted with Kandel. Kandel clearly identified the danger of Dewey’s educational philosophy -which now dominates Teacher’s Colleges- as a “direct attack on all past educational traditions” and their authentic standards. Kandel was and is a `man for all seasons.” Diane Ravitch is right when she said whenever Dewey is read, Kandel should be read as well. Wesley Null is right the study of Kandel and other writers and educators who appeal to the traditional -yet clearly democratic- foundations of education is vital. They may provide a balance and an antidote to American teacher’s colleges which all too often are cut off from their historical and intellectual roots as well as alienated from the discipline which they were created to nourish. After reading Null’s PEERLESS EDUCATOR I must admit at times I was almost wistful so great was my desire to have experienced Kandel the man an immigrant who never forgot his heritage nor the past but who made good in America by dint of hard work despite, I think, much discouragement and opposition by (liberal-left) “Progressive” educators. Kandel’s story is not just the story of a erudite teacher but also a very American story of the immigrant (he was of English and Romanian-Jewish extraction) who made good after much travail.
PEERLESS EDUCATOR is a great introduction to a great man, a great American and a citizen of the world: Isaac L. Kandel.




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Giancarlo Erra’s Departure Tapes

That which passes, passes like clouds.

— aphorism/song title/album title, Robert Fripp

This is music from a broken heart.

Abruptly faced with his estranged father’s terminal illness, Nosound maestro Giancarlo Erra poured his reactions into brooding electronic improvisations, recorded (for the most part) in real time in the studio. The result is his second solo album, Departure Tapes. Shorn of the classical elements of 2019’s Ends, it’s both raw and eerily majestic — an extended sonic contemplation of mortal life’s limits and the human struggle to accept them.

The opening “Dawn Tape” lays out Erra’s improvisational process — not far removed from Robert Fripp’s Soundscapes or Floating Points’ recent Promises. A mournful lo-fi piano loop (complete with the noise of the recorder switching on) gently creaks into motion. As it repeats over the course of six minutes, Erra stirs in a static mid-range drone, a slow synth line and a recessed bass riff, randomly generated rhythmic chords and a yearning treble melody. The elements accumulate, grind against each other, gradually dissipate like clouds in a troubled sky, with the drone outlasting even the piano loop. But that’s just the architecture: what you hear is the beginning of a new day, its beauty evident yet obscured for Erra by Philip Larkin’s “unresting death, a whole day nearer now.”

Every track on Departure Tapes opens out from its simple beginnings to something rich and deep, no matter its actual length. The tender harp of the miniature “Previous Tape” provides a lush bed for its heartfelt, hornlike melody over an airy, insistent electronic groove. “169th Tape” is a portrait of collisions and avoidances, as orchestral clusters (treated with random, noisy decay) sweep across the soundfield, holding on against midrange chords and an irregular, descending bass line that threaten to overwhelm it. And “Unwound Tape” sounds like its title, a hypnotic, slow-motion crescendo that has the feel of something feared yet inescapable.

All this builds to the title track, sixteen minutes of heartfelt brilliance. Working off a long, wordless vocal loop, Erra explores his previous strategies, draping the haunting melody with chords and a bass line — then reboots for an extended, lyrical piano solo (featured at the start of the YouTube edit). Flowing from folk lyricism into free-form, dissonant splashes, Erra dances, halts, regains momentum to climb through thickening, pulsing string clouds. Which is when the vocal line returns, triumphantly soaring atop the static gloom. It’s a rhapsodic moment, evoking Mahler in its depiction of both the angst involved in confronting death and the catharsis of acceptance. Which beautifully sets up the closing “A Blues for My Father,” a yearning requiem of glacially shifting melodies and timbres, somber but nonetheless at peace.

It’s that sense of closure, of coming to terms with what awaits us all, that Erra powerfully, beautifully depicts with Departure Tapes. Working from his grief for his father, he’s given us a gift; whatever we believe awaits beyond this life, one day we will pass from this world, like the clouds he’s so vividly drawn on for these improvisational sketches. Coming to terms with that raw fact can enable us — as it would seem to have enabled Giancarlo Erra — to treasure what we have (as well as what we’ve had) all the more.

Departure Tapes is available on LP and CD/DVD from Burning Shed, or on digital download at Bandcamp. Give it a listen below:

— Rick Krueger

Motorcycling at 105° F and space race

Been almost a month since it rained, so Pacific Northwest is going through a serious drought! Quite sure the true blue natives are reminded of that horrific 2017 summer, when the region had to endure two whole months without rain. To make matters worse, last month we had a heat wave weekend. I know exactly where I was when Seattle broke temperature records – on a motorcycle, right outside the city, on the scorching I5 tarmac! Can confirm it takes at least two days to recover from moderate levels of dehydration.

Less rain also translates to more riding on the weekends. It’s sort of comforting to know we have that choice to work, make a living, and dedicate our spare time doing whatever we wish, even if it’s something absurd like motorcycling at 105° F. I can also confirm that this choice to work and earn a living, at the standards we see in the Western world is a luxury, and quite unprecedented in human history! Even now in most parts of the world, an individual does not have that choice. Right now material poverty is not the natural state; it’s just the consequence of not having that choice. Almost everywhere that individual is constrained by external factors related to social or government norms.

It’s also absolutely common for the collective to discourage an enterprising individual. Our tribal instinct simply seeks to ostracize non-conforming minds. We existed that way for centuries. Seems like the American experiment is about correcting that very instinct. It’s about protecting us from our own primitive ways. Through political mechanisms, it attempts to inhibit those collective forces. In that sense, it’s not surprising that couple of billionaires decided to launch themselves into space from the US soil.

As always, entrepreneurs in space has enraged the tribes, common push backs include – Why go to space when we don’t have universal healthcare, or we still have hunger, or when there isn’t world peace yet.  Quite sure the tribes must have wailed when Nikola Tesla invented AC, or when Benz invented automobiles, or when someone did something worthwhile. Please note, when an individual breaks new frontier, eventually the collective gets to follow. It might take some time, but it’s a constant recurring theme in entrepreneurship.

Jeff Bezos & Richard Branson Spaceflights Should Be Celebrated | National Review

A thirst for exploration has always been a crucial part of the American spirit, so it is fitting that both forays took off from the United States — Richard Branson’s from New Mexico, and Jeff Bezos’s from Texas. Americans should seek to build atop these admirable breakthroughs and to ensure that, 20, 30, 40 years hence, when the next vaultingly ambitious entrepreneurs try something astonishing of their own, they, too, find a safe and welcoming reception on American soil.
— Read on www.nationalreview.com/2021/07/to-boldly-go/

NMB: “Bird on a Wire” Video


NMB (Neal Morse Band)– release video for “Bird On A Wire” the second single from ‘Innocence & Danger’NMB are set to release their much-anticipated fourth studio album ‘Innocence & Danger’, on August 27th, 2021. Today, the band are pleased to share the video for “Bird On A Wire”, the second single taken from the upcoming album.
 
Watch the video for “Bird On A Wire,” created by Christian Rios, here
https://youtu.be/Bse9D2yhkwAMike Portnoy says this about the track, “This was the 2nd song we wrote for the new album’s sessions. The main riff & groove stemmed from an idea Randy George brought in and the chorus was something Bill had…and the intro and middle shred riffs were Eric’s…another truly collaborative effort!”
 
Watch the video for the album’s first single “Do It All Again” here:
https://youtu.be/PiNt_kQvoag
 
Watch a clip from “The Making of Innocence & Danger” here:
https://youtu.be/piRaLvCPbQI 
‘Innocence & Danger’, featuring artwork by Thomas Ewerhard (Transatlantic), will be available as:
• Limited 2CD+DVD Digipak (featuring a Making Of documentary)
• 3LP+2CD Boxset
• Standard 2CD Jewelcase
• Digital Album

Pre-order now here:
https://thenealmorseband.lnk.to/InnocenceAndDanger  Tour dates for NMB – ‘An Evening of Innocence & Danger’ are on sale now
across US and Europe here:
https://www.nealmorse.com/2021/06/18/nmbtourdates/
 USA 2021
 
Oct 8th & 9th – Cross Plains, TN – Morsefest 2021
Oct 12th – Seattle, WA – The Triple Door
Oct 14th – St Charles, IL – The Arcada
Oct 15th – Pontiac, MI – The Crofoot Ballroom
Oct 16th – Ft Wayne, IN – Pieres
Oct 17th – Cleveland, OH – The Beachland Ballroom
Oct 19th – Glenside, PA – The Keswick Theater
Oct 20th – Baltimore, MD – Soundstage
Oct 21st – Boston, MA – The Sinclair
Oct 22nd – New York City, NY – The Sony Theater
 
Europe 2022
 
May 28th – Madrid, Spain – Teatro Kapital
May 29th – Barcelona, Spain – Apolo
May 30th – Milan, Italy – Live Club
May 31st – Pratteln, Switzerland – Z7
June 2nd – Tilburg, Netherlands – 013
June 3rd – London, England – Shepherds Bush Empire
June 4th – Paris, France – Trianon
June 5th – Esch Sur Alzette, Luxembourg – Rockhal
June 7th – Cologne, Germany – Live Music Hall
June 9th – Brno, Czech Republic – Sono
June 10th – Krakow, Poland – Studio Club
June 11th – Warsaw, Poland – Progresja
June 13th – Hamburg, Germany – Markthalle
June 15th – Copenhagen, Denmark – Amager Bio
June 16th – Gothenburg, Sweden – Pustervik
June 17th – Oslo, Norway – Cosmopolite
June 18th – Stockholm, Sweden – Lilla Cirkus

***
With NMB’s previous two releases being concept albums, it’s perhaps remarkable that Innocence & Danger is a series of unrelated songs, but drummer Mike Portnoy says “After two sprawling back to back double concept albums in a row, it was refreshing to get back to writing a collection of unrelated individual songs in the vein of our first album.”
 
Indeed, making this album came easy to the band; while the initial inspiration came particularly from Bill Hubauer (keyboards) and Randy George (bass), the ideas flowed from everybody from there on, as George recalls: “I am excited about the level of collaboration that we achieved on this one. We even went in with a lot of ideas that weren’t necessarily developed, and I think in the end we have something that represents the best of everybody in the band.”
 
In fact – like its two acclaimed predecessors – Innocence & Danger is a double album by inspiration, rather than design, as Portnoy explains: “As much as we wanted to try and keep it to a single album after having just done two double albums, we wrote so much material that we found ourselves with our third double album in a row! That’s pretty prog!”
 
There is also plenty in Innocence & Danger to excite those prog fans who have a thirst for epics, as Neal Morse explains: “There’s one half hour epic and another that’s about 20 minutes long. I really didn’t realize that they were that long when we were recording them, which I guess is great because if a movie is really good, you don’t realize that it’s three hours long! But there are also some shorter songs: some have poppier elements, some are heavier and some have three part acoustic sections. I’m excited about all of it, really.”
 
NMB (Neal Morse Band) is
Neal Morse (vocals, keyboards and guitars)
Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals)
Randy George (bass)
Eric Gillette (guitars, vocals)
Bill Hubauer (keyboards, vocals)NMB ONLINE:www.facebook.com/The-Neal-Morse-Band
www.instagram.com/thenealmorsebandofficial
www.twitter.com/nealmorseband1

INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:www.insideoutmusic.com
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Robby Steinhardt (1953-2021), R.I.P.

Steinhardt singing on “Can I Tell You” from “Live from Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” in 1975.

This is sad news (via Rolling Stone):

“Robby Steinhardt, violinist and co-lead vocalist of the rock outfit Kansas, died Saturday, July 17th. He was 71.

“Steinhardt’s wife, Cindy Steinhardt, confirmed his death on Facebook. Cindy said Steinhardt was admitted to the hospital with acute pancreatitis in May. Not long after, he went into acute septic shock and was placed on life support, and although the outlook was ‘very grave’ at the time, he managed to recover. However, several months later, just as he was about to be released from medical care and moved to a rehab center, Steinhardt suffered another sepsis.”

Steinhart had suffered a massive and near fatal heart attack back in 2013 (which he discussed here, in a video well worth viewing), but eventually recovered. He was apparently finishing up recording on a new album at the time of his death.

I rarely agree with Rolling Stone magazine on anything (politically or musically), but this is absolutely on the mark: “Steinhardt shared vocal duties with Walsh, with the pair switching between backup and lead; but it was Steinhardt’s violin that helped distinguish Kansas’ sound from other bands.”

Of course, great bands, such as Kansas, are really bands; they are great because they are a marriage of many impressive talents. Phil Ehart is one of the most underrated drummers in rock history; Dave Hope was also underappreciated for his stellar bass play; Kerry Livgren is a musical genius; Steve Walsh, in his prime, was a searing vocalist. But Kansas would not have been Kansas without Steinhardt’s precise, emotive, classically-trained, American-drenched, haunting violin. It is what caught my ear when I first heard Kansas as a young teen. It was never a gimmick or an “add-on”; it was central to the band’s sound, as you can easily hear in all of the albums from the 1970s.

Of those albums, my favorite (as hard as it is to choose) is 1975’s Song For America, which is a stunning brew of rooted rock, prog grandeur, spiritual restlessness (“Incomudro-Hymn to the Atman”!), and existential longing. Steinhardt’s playing is essential to the entire mix.

To be honest, I probably never appreciated Steinhardt enough as a vocalist as I should. His lead vocals, on songs such as “Lighting’s Hand” (on 1977’s classic Point of Know Return), are fantastic, with a rocking edge that contrasts with his pure (although often driving) violin-playing. His harmonies were also exceptional; he and Morse (the two band members not from Topeka, interestingly enough) melded together effortlessly, with perfect pitch, their tones and phrasing were key to that immediately recognizable Kansas sound.

I do hope we will eventually be able to hear the album that Steinhardt was working on at the end. Outside of true-blue fans, he will likely never get his proper due. Kerry Livgren, in a 1992 interview, summed it up very well: “Robby had a totally unique function as a violinist, second vocalist, and MC in a live situation. Robby was the link between the band on the stage and the audience.”

Rest in peace, Robby.

Robby Steinhardt: RIP (Official Announcement)

The Steinhardt Family announces the passing of legendary musician Robby Steinhardt.

Robert Eugene Steinhardt, was well recognized as a founding member and original violinist and vocalist for the rock band Kansas.

His violin and vocals on, “Dust in The Wind”, “Point Of No Return” and “Carry On My Wayward Son”, have etched Robby a solid place in rock history.

Robby had been recording his new album with producer Michael Franklin, who put together an all-star cast of famous musicians in support of Robby’s comeback.

Steinhardt was very proud of this project, slated for release in late 2021. He had begun rehearsals for a national tour when he became ill.

Robby is survived by his wife Cindy, and daughter Becky. Steinhardt was 71 years old.

He will be deeply missed by all he knew and his music will last forever. A memorial will be announced in the future.

–via Glass Onion and Michael Franklin

Big Big Train – Common Ground (Album Review) – The Prog Report

Big Big Train matters. Common Ground matters.

A new release from Big Big Train is never just another release in the world of prog. Since 2009’s The Underfall Yard, the band has been one of the leading bands of third-wave prog, the signal marker and bellwether. Indeed, every release from Big Big Train for the past decade has manifested itself as a fundamental shift—a very rethinking of who and what we are as a community—of the genre itself. While there are innumerable great prog acts out there, none quite match Big Big Train when it comes to innovation, to creativity, and to cohesion. Is there any band with such a fanatic and determined fan base? If so, I’m not familiar with them. Big Big Train is as much a movement as it is a band.
— Read on progreport.com/big-big-train-common-ground-album-review/

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