Thursday, September 13, 2012

Yanni: An Overview

Last night I channel surfed past a PBS station in time to catch Yanni playing with a sixty eight piece symphony orchestra in  the Pass of Thermopylae.  Holy Shit!  THE Pass Of Thermopylae.

Yanni was standing between phalanxes of keyboards, four on his right, four on his left, and as the orchestra pumped out vigorous empty musical calories, he stretched his arms straight out to either side and played the keyboards.  He threw his hair back, arched his body in a spasm of ersatz passion. 

He was wearing all white. He was crucifying himself gallantly and nobly, ascending in resurrected bliss on a cascade of idiot dramatic crap New Age muzak fit only for hair salons and supermarkets.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not jealous of this man’s success.  Well...yes I am, godammit.  He undoubtedly works very hard.  But the insult of indulging in such silly and obvious showmanship only diminishes his besotted audience.  Showmanship is a wonderful thing.  Especially when it is connected to genuine talent, or profound ideas.  I saw a film of the Count Basie Band and watched drummer Sonny Payne twirl and juggle his sticks while executing a wildly complex drum solo. Sonny made the sticks pass under his legs and around his back, threw them into the air so they landed on the snare drum in perfect time, while holding and stomping on the beat, with the band bellowing. THAT is showmanship.  In Hell, Yanni will be a toothless bald man gesticulating wildly in front of a three piece band of Borscht Belt hacks who can barely wheeze in tune, let alone play music.  He will repeat the same phrase over and over again, “Aren’t I wonderful?” and a thin, bored applause will leak up from a cigarette strewn linoleum dance floor that stretches to infinity.

Sonny Payne with Count Basie


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