Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?)

Ambrose Bierce is one of my favorite writers. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” totally freaked me when I was a sophomore in high school when we read it in class. And I have been a fan ever since.

The title of his biography is “Alone in Bad Company” which is a title I covet and can absolutely relate to and wish I could use.

For me, Edgar Allan Poe, Washington Irving, S.J. Perelman, Robert Benchley, James Thurber, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ambrose Bierce “hang the moon” in my estimation of American writers historically.

Why Mr. Bierce’s death date is left with a question mark is because he simply disappeared into Mexico around 1914. Which is another thing I greatly admire about Ambrose Bierce.

Recent listening (Prokofiev, Martino, XTC and Ravel)

I listen to music every day quite intently. On my iPod during my one hour daily jog and on CD in my car. My recent favorites come from very different sources and styles.

1) “Prokofiev Piano Concertos One, Two and Three.”All great and full of invention. My favorite recording of these Concertos is the one by pianist Michael Beroff and the Gewandhaus Orchestre Leipzig under Kurt Mazur.

2) Pat Martino-“We’ll Be Together Again”-Pat’s 1976 duet album with keyboardist Gil Goldstein is Pat at his best. The 15 minute opening composition is Pat Martino at his best as an improvising musician and composer. Gil Goldstein is a great as well.

3) “Skylarking” by XTC. I am listening to the new edition of this 1986 recording by my all time favorite Pop group (aside from The Beatles). The sound has been much enhanced by the remaster. Aside from Andy Partridge’s great tunes the album was produced by the great Todd Rundgren.

4) “Ravel:Complete Music for Solo Piano by Abbey Simon.” This box set on Vox has been around for a long time. Abbey Simon is still performing at the age of 94. This set was recorded at least 20 years ago and I keep coming back to it.

Ravel is maybe my favorite composer and though I admire other pianists interpretations of Ravel like those of Samson Francois and Pascal Roge it is always Abbey Simon who I return to.