Glenn Boornazian dropped by Tuesday night for a bite. Glenn and I were born on the exact same day and grew up together in the same neighborhood in New York City in the 1960s. Talk about an old friend.
At any rate, Glenn is now head of Integrated Conservation Resources, a company that's the principal conservator for the restoration of New York's Guggenheim Museum. He was quoted in an article on the building's restoration in The New York Times on Monday, and we were celebrating.
Glenn's specialty is removing coatings from historic buildings and monuments, scientifically evaluating the condition of the materials underneath, and using techniques to restore the structure to its original state without harming the stonework.
In jazz terms, he's like the guy who remasters and improves the fidelity of recordings without distorting the sound.
The Guggenheim Museum is one of my favorite New York buildings, probably because it looks so hip and was completed in one of my favorite years for jazz recordings—1959. It's like a giant Miles solo. I also hear Bill Evans whenever I see it—usually Peri's Scope. In fact, a couple of years ago I loaded my iPod with Bill and Miles and sat across the street listening and looking. On Green Dolphin Street from Columbia's '58 Miles was perfect, too.
Simple yet radical—the Guggenheim is pure circular joy. I feel terrific whenever I see it coming down 5th Ave. on a bus or walking up from the Metropolitan Museum, experiencing a kid's tingly excitement, which is sort of what Frank Lloyd Wright had hoped for, I suppose.
I also love the museum because it looks like a giant stack of records waiting to drop down a phonograph spindle. Coincidentally, October 21st—the day the museum first opened in 1959—is Dizzy Gillespie's birthday, and you can see his sky-pointing horn in that structure, too.
In addition to knowing a ton about rock (stonework, that is), Glenn is developing an appreciation for jazz. He mentioned earlier in the week that it would be fun to hear a selection of jazz recordings from October 1959—the month and year Frank Lloyd Wright's structure finally opened to the general public.
Finding a good October 1959 mix was a challenge, given the narrow window. But I pulled together a bunch of albums, and we listened to tracks over dinner. Below are the first five—in order—but each album is so good we just mixed them all up and they sounded terrific (many are available at iTunes; all at Amazon):
It's a Blue World (October 2, 1959)
Red Garland, Live at the Prelude (Prestige)
Jingles (October 6, 1959)
Wes Montgomery, The Wes Montgomery Trio (OJC)
116th and Lenox (October 20, 1959)
Jackie McLean: Swing, Swang, Swingin' (Blue Note)
There's Danger in Your Eyes, Cherie (October 20, 1959)
Thelonious Monk: Alone in San Francisco (JVC Victor)
I Didn't Know About You (October 29, 1959)
Lee Konitz, You and Lee (Verve)
A fitting tribute to Wright's Guggenheim Museum—a windowless, sprayed-contrete masterpiece that went up in the glass age but used gravity and circuity as interactive forces to lure us inside. Here's to the artist's message—be it jazz musician, architect, painter, photographer or sculptor!