Le Ballon Rouge by The Musical Millennial, for Your Listening Pleasure

Song Cover for Le Ballon Rouge by Thomas Wenglinski

The Musical Millennial has written, recorded and released a new single, a tune that was inspired by the 1956 film, Le Ballon Rouge, or The Red Balloon. The film was written, directed and produced by French cinematographer Albert Lamorisse.

It All Started in About 2002, Thanks to Aunt Julie

While the Musical Millennial is now a junior in college studying jazz composition at The University of Texas, we watched the film together when he was a small child, and he was transfixed. Which means, of course, we watched it many times. (If you’ve ever had a small child, you understand.) Luckily, this 35-minute film is worth watching multiple times, so I renew my thanks to his Aunt Julie for sending it as a Christmas gift.

Song Cover for Le Ballon Rouge by Thomas Wenglinski
Song cover art for Le Ballon Rouge

Le Ballon Rouge has the Approval of Mom the Critic – I Love It

I really love this tune! Big surprise, I know: he’s my kid, of course I do. I like everything he does (mostly; I was actually too honest when he was tiny and “wrote” tunes by assembling pre-recorded tracks from Garage Band that I didn’t care for…there may have been tears). Le Ballon Rouge is avant-garde and thoughtful, and it may be the first song he’s ever created with lyrics. It’s definitely the first time I’ve heard him sing since choir in 4th grade. (I couldn’t really hear him then, actually. He was ‘in the chorus’. You know what that means.)

Announcing Le Ballon Rouge

Here’s what the Musical Millennial said on Instragram to announce the release of Le Ballon Rouge:

happy new year everybody!! we made it to 2019!!
my new single “le ballon rouge” is now available everywhere online!!
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this single was inspired by 1) the need to get over a ripping stress headache i was battling at the time the original groove/theme came into my head and 2) my recent rediscovery of albert lamorisse’s 1956 film of the same name. i’m honored to share it with you, and i hope you enjoy it as much as i enjoyed recording it!!
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(again, special thanks to @_justinebel for the seriously killing cover art!!)
#newmusic2019 #pickupjazz

From the Musical Millennial’s Instagram (thomascwenglinski

The Lyrics

Aunt Julie, the giver of Le Ballon Rouge, is the poet Julie Wenglinski; it is so fitting that her gift inspired the Musical Millennial to write a song with lyrics 15+ years later. I think it reads like a poem, and you can hear the childhood memories combined with the contemporaneous experience (the headache) he described in Instagram in the lyrics (below).

I’ve got my own 
One red balloon
Thanks Lamorisse
You gave me peace
I was so lost
Broken and crossed (but now)
I’ve got my own
One red balloon

I’ve got my own
One red balloon
Far in the past 
Memories amassed
It’s mine to stay
If just today
I’ve got my own
One red balloon

Listen to Le Ballon Rouge Now

How can you hear it Le Ballon Rouge? (You want to, I know you do.)

Stream on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0xapOUO2B2nfhkDxAptXlY?nd=1
Buy on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/le-ballon-rouge-single/1448048942
Stream on Amazon Music:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MKSCSST
Stream on Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/le-ballon-rouge-single/1448048942?uo=4&app=apple+music
Buy/Stream on Google Play:https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Thomas_Wenglinski_Le_Ballon_Rouge?id=B3bqifemo4wyf3xnmzul5nk2uiy

The Movie that Inspired It

And what about the film? Like my son, the New York Times still loves this children’s film that won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay; check out this review from YouTube. Warning: it will make you want to watch! Amazon has it here.


© 2019 Glover Gardens

Coming Along, Another New Jazz Composition for Your Saturday Listening Pleasure

Another new jazz composition from the Musical Millennial! It’s a hopeful, lilting, happy tune that still has depth and complexity. I love how the thin, reedy sound of the melodica is balanced by the warmth of the guitars. Or maybe I should just say, I love it!, and stop posing as a music critic.

I also love the specificity of the credits (shown below, or you can see them if you click all the way through using this link):

  • Released July 25, 2018
  • Composed by Thomas Wenglinski 
  • Joel White: Acoustic/Electric Guitar, Bass, Handclaps
  •  Thomas Wenglinski: Melodica, Keyboards/Synthesizers, Percussion, Handclaps, Whistling

Good to know who’s doing the handclaps! 🙂

What’s the full story? Well, you’ve heard all about our Musical Millennial if you’re a Glover Gardens blog follower. And his very talented friends who are also jazz studies / jazz composition / jazz performance majors in college. And the music they produce so prolifically.

But if you haven’t, you might check out this recent post, The Jazzy Sounds of Summer at Glover Gardens to find some enlightenment, or just scroll through the musical content in the blog using the Music tab in the menu bar above or this link.

Thomas Wenglinski and Joel White
Thomas Wenglinski, AKA the Musical Millennial, on the left, with his frequent collaboration partner Joel White; photo creds to Mallory Frenza

Whether you stream for free to listen, or buy to download and keep (he’d prefer the latter!), I hope Coming Along enhances an already-lovely Saturday for you.

As it has for me. Saturday is Coming Along nicely.

© 2018, Glover Gardens

 

The Jazzy Sounds of Summer at Glover Gardens

The summer months bring a welcome flurry of sound to Glover Gardens. Our Musical Millennial is home from the University of Texas where he’s studying Jazz Composition, and is busy writing, playing, recording and mixing new tunes. Other young musicians who are home for the summer drop in late at night and carry their instruments upstairs to the cluttered lair where the keyboards, amps and computers wait to come alive.

I love it.

Music, laughter and earnest debate about how to ramp up and tweak their collaborative creations drift downstairs to the Grill-Meister and me, and I know that all is right with the world.

Here’s the newest offering, Familiar Territory.  It was written by another musical millennial, one of my son’s frequent recording and playing partners. It’s posted in my son’s Bandcamp site where you can download it for just $1 or stream it for free. (I have a bet with him about how many purchases this post might stimulate from loyal Glover Gardens followers, but hey, no pressure!)

It’s a fun tune to listen to, and was obviously fun to record.

Thomas Wenglinski and Joel White 2
Thomas Wenglinski and Joel White

Watch this space! These two are planning to write and record enough new material for an album before heading back to their respective colleges. And there’s an upcoming gig at Cezanne in Houston on July 14, for any of you locals that want to hear them live.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

(cover photo © Mallory Frenza)

A Brand-New Jazz Composition for Your Sunday Listening Pleasure

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My son performing a solo on the melodica (in the blue suit)

I’ve posted several jazz originals from our Musical Millennial (my son, a college sophomore majoring in Jazz Composition). Tonight, I am thrilled to share his latest (and my favorite), a 12-minute suite with multiple movements that (in my humble opinion) is heartbreakingly beautiful. It was performed by the University of Texas at Austin’s Jazz Orchestra at their winter concert a couple of weeks ago and I was blessed to be in the audience.

Live Recording of “Repurification (Laura, Ryan, and the Thunderstorm)”

The piece is titled “Repurification (Laura, Ryan, and the Thunderstorm)”, and was written for a special performance at the opening of an art exhibit at the Blanton Museum Museum of Art in Austin. The video is below; if you play it, I encourage you to listen to the whole thing – it is like several different but complementary tunes, or perhaps several stops along a journey. My son is on piano and melodica, and every one of the musicians brings their A-game in this performance, directed by Professor Jeffrey Helmer.

In the Composer’s Words

If you’ve gotten this far, you might be interested in the program notes.  These are my son’s words about his composition.

From the time I started composing, I have always attempted to channel at least a portion of the music I grew up with – Pat Metheny, Weather Report, Stevie Wonder, Jobim/Regina, etc. However, in more recent days, I’ve been reevaluating just why it is that I’m consistently called back to the earliest memorable parts of my life for artistic inspiration, and I’ve reached a conclusion: we view the world differently as children. Some adults describe this phenomenon in a glass-half-empty way, saying, “A child’s world is so much smaller,” but I tend to see the exact opposite.  We experience small, routine things (such as the raw atmosphere of our front yard on a cold cloudy night or a bike ride through the neighborhood on a sunny Saturday morning in June) through a magnified lens when we’re young, innocent, and unencumbered by any kind o cynicism brought about by the burdens of adulthood.

It was this part of my thought process that was completely electrified this past fall, when the Blanton Museum of Art’s photography exhibit The Open Road brought with it a selection of works by Ryan McGinley, almost all of which exclusively aim to capture millennials throwing their troubles away out in the open country, particularly one entitled Laura (Thunderstorm). McGinley’s ability to capture this same youthful, pure human warmth in sometimes cold, bleak environments not only intrigues me to this day – it inspired, and almost demanded, that I take aim at the same goal musically, culminating tonight in this piece, entitled Repurification (Laura, Ryan, and the Thunderstorm). — Thomas Wenglinski

At a Loss for Words / My Heart Grew Too Big for My Body

Well.

I’m not often at a loss for words, Dear Readers, but is hard to explain how I felt, reading those notes before the concert, and then hearing my son’s composition played so beautifully.

My heart grew too big for my body.

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The kid and me at the piano

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, I had just posted in the blog about how my own world changed when I became a parent all those years ago, because it gave me another lens to look through: his. (See Haiku: Little Ones).

 

Hmmm. Perhaps all parents of musicians and artists feel this way when they experience their child’s art; it is both surprising and not, like getting a long-awaited response to a question that you already knew the answer to. As in, “Wow, I can’t believe he created something so beautiful / Gee, I always knew he would create beautiful things.”

References:

For Your Friday Night Listening Pleasure

Butler School of MusicTonight at 7:30 p.m. CST the University of Texas Jazz Orchestra will be live-streaming from the Bates Recital Hall in Austin, Texas.

The music will mostly be original compositions written by the students, including a piece by our own Musical Millennial, who is a sophomore majoring in Jazz Composition at UT. That’s him below at the piano, enjoying a laugh with the guitarist.

We’ll be there in person, and you can join us from anywhere in the world via the live stream. Click here and then follow the link, if you’re interested. The performances should be excellent, and you can’t beat the price (free). 😍

Enjoying a Jokefullsizeoutput_1866

Prof Hellmer Introduces
Professor Hellmer (at the microphone) is the best.

I’ll post the recording later when it is available. If you listen to the stream tonight, let us know!

© 2018, Glover Gardens

New Jazz Composition: “New Flame” (Awesome!)

Our musical millennial is at it again. Click below for his latest composition, New Flame, recorded at the November 17 performance of the University of Texas at Austin Jazz Orchestra, under the director of Department Head and Professor Jeffrey Hellmer.

Enjoy. (I think it is awesome.)

Composition copyright Thomas Wenglinski, 2017

 

Sunday Jazz Mass with Diane Schuur – Today in Austin

jazz-at-stjames-logo-1Glover Gardens readers and friends have heard about our musician in college studying jazz composition. More than once.  He’s a sophomore at the University of Texas in Austin’s Butler School of Music and is having a wonderful experience in a town that’s well-known for its vibrant music scene.  This weekend, he’s in one of the groups playing at the 23rd annual Jazz at St. James festival; the headliner is Diane Schuur. He’s a “side man” (on piano) in the John Mills Quintet (see Meet the Artists). This morning at 11:00, there’s a free Jazz Mass:

The Jazz Mass is a divine celebration of music and the spirit. Two-time Grammy award winner Diane Schuur will be singing and playing piano, joined by the St. James’ Episcopal Church Choir, John Mills, Joe Morales and others. It’s a church service with soul. Don’t miss it!”

Doesn’t that sound GREAT!? I wish I could be there. This is an amazing experience for my son, who will play again this morning at the mass. He was surprised to see his biography in the program when he arrived for the Friday night set.

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If you’re in Austin today, this might be a great way to start your Sunday.

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Poster and cover art from Jazz at St. James

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Jazz at St. James is sponsored by the Austin Jazz Society.  This sounds like a group I should join, post-haste!

 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

New Jazz Composition, “A Modern Requiem” – a Tribute to a Wonderful Grandfather

Followers of this blog will have read about our last millennial in college, the young musician majoring in Jazz Composition at the University of Texas. I’d like to call Thomas the Glover Gardens resident composer, except that he won’t be in residence much longer because he heads to Austin for his sophomore year in just a couple of days. A prolific composer, Thomas has just completed another original and posted the recording on the streaming service Bandcamp.

This one is really lovely – evocative, thoughtful, pensive – and extra-special to me because he dedicated it to his late grandfather (my Dad). They were close, and my Dad was so very proud of my son’s musical talent.

I hope you’ll click and give it a listen.

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Thomas Frank Harvell and Thomas Wenglinski at Glover Gardens in the summer of 2016

There will be a lot more original jazz to come, and the posts below provide some of his previous compositions, if you just can’t wait.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

cover photo credit to Mallory Frenza

Jazz and Conversation for Your Listening Pleasure

Glover Gardens followers have by now realized that we have a millennial studying jazz composition in college.  Here’s another one of his originals, AustiNite, performed by the University of Texas at Austin’s extremely talented Spring 2017 Jazz Orchestra. It’s preceded by a cool interview about the tune and the creation process, all of which was used as part of a jazz appreciation course this semester.

Other Music from Our Prolific Millennial

Below is his newest digital album, And Then I Have Thoughts.

 

There’s more jazz and conversation in the posts below.  Stick around, there will be a lot more coming over the next few years.

The Thankful Foreigner: An Award-Winning Essay from a Millennial

And now, as I keep a vigilant eye over the discrimination in my society, I wonder: When will the other people, blinded by prejudice, have the eye-opening experience I had that day?

This little story from a few years ago is incredibly relevant today.

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Let the adventure begin!

In 2011, an incredibly cheap last-minute Houston-to-London roundtrip airfare offer coincided with my son’s 14th birthday and a lazy Thanksgiving week in which we had nothing planned.

So we cooked up a weeklong Mom & Kid trip to give the young ‘un (our last milennial) an opportunity to experience his first international travel:  three nights in Paris, followed by three nights in London.  We left Houston right after school on a Friday afternoon, tickets in hand for our first adventure, scaling the Eiffel Tower less than 24 hours later.  I knew it was going to be a worthwhile trip when, dazed and tired from the overnight flight to London and a couple of hours of fitful sleep on the high-speed EuroStar (Chunnel) train on the way to Paris, he leaned over to me – before our adventures even began – touched me on the arm and said:

Mom, thank you for showing me the world!

We alighted in Paris, stumbled to our hotel, took a few minutes for a power nap, and set out to ascend the Eiffel Tower.  But I digress; that’s a story for another time. Today’s focus is on my son’s memory, captured in his award-winning essay, which he shared post-competition on Facebook, as follows (in his words).

From February, 2012:  The following essay is what I wrote at the Klein Academic Competition that won first place for 8th Grade Ready Writing. The story is non-fiction; these events did actually happen.


The Thankful Foreigner

The sounds of honking European cars, people of all kinds conversing in French, and muffled, slimly audible brakes from subway trains all formed a soundtrack to the beginning of my day.

Trying to force my eyes open, I sat up, told my mom good morning, and, after slowly rising to my feet, walked over to the window of our hotel room. Pushing the red curtain away, I looked down upon the busy Parisian street, where people were walking in and out of shops and cafes, waiting to cross the intersection, and riding on motorcycles or in cars.

Now I knew it was true. The previous day had involved exhausted scrambling through airports and train stations, causing more of a feeling of trauma than that of a vacation. But now I was sure; I was really in Paris.

Within about a half hour, both my mom and I were dressed, clean, and ready to hit the street. Our first stop, as we had already discussed, was going to be a nearby cafe. We needed breakfast.

It called out to us the second we stepped out the door; across the street, a nice neon-red sign reading “La Porte de Montmartre” flashed out at my eyes. Immediately, I asked, or, I should say, STATED: “We should go there.”

So we took a risk; we waited for a pause in traffic, then dashed across the street.

It looked even better from up close. All the tables occupied by regular French citizens who all looked like some character in a classic movie…we had to get coffee here.

So my mom and I walked straight through the cafe to the bar, where we instantly mounted ourselves upon two vacant stools, and at the bartender’s acknowledgement, ordered two cups of coffee.

I noticed soon enough that this man was very young and handsome, yet obviously exhausted. He also, however, seemed like the kind of Frenchman that one of my less considerate classmates would sneak snide comments about back home. I knew about the unfounded views other countries have of the French, but…I knew that not ALL the French people were pompous and arrogant.

As he came back from the kitchen with our two cups of coffee, my ever-so-inquisitive mom asked what I’d been wondering: “Where are you from?”

The second she asked that, his face brightened up. “You tell me first,” he said through his grin, his French accent indeed present.

“We are from Texas, in the USA,” I said. “And you, sir?”

He stood up straight and said, rather proudly,

Normandy Beach. The ruins of the D-Day attack. All of the American liberators are buried there…Many of my people are not as grateful to the Americans as they should be. I mean, thanks to your country, we are all still French. So, personally, I thank you and all your people.”

Within two seconds of his ceasing to speak, I knew that any anti-French sympathies I could’ve had prior to this day would be gone.

It was obvious that this man was at least 30 years too young to have experienced the historic World War II battle that had brought recognition to his hometown. Yet he had the heart to honor and respect a foreign country and its military for the well-being of his own.
Since then, the “French” slur and stereotype has been something I make a goal to avoid. I now see the prejudice and ignorance behind many comments that, before that sunny Parisian morning, I might not have seen.

And now, as I keep a vigilant eye over the discrimination in my society, I wonder:  When will the other people, blinded by prejudice, have the eye-opening experience I had that day?


 

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The Thankful Foreigner, himself

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The wise 14 year old, our last millennial 

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We’ll go back to La Porte Montmartre when next we are in Paris

Back to the Present

Back to the present, back to my voice…Wow.  I’ve experienced this story in a myriad of ways:

  • When it originally happened; I realized that the young French man would be someone we remembered forever.  “Because of you, we are all still French!” is how I remember him proclaiming his appreciation for the American and Allied liberation of France.
  • When my son’s name was called at the UIL district competition award ceremony as the first place winner…I I lost my self-control, rose from my seat in the uncomfortable gym bleachers and screeched “Woooooo!” before sitting back down, red-faced and yet unabashedly proud.  Then, a few minutes later as I almost strangled him with hugs, he told me the topic of his essay, and we reminisced about that morning, that young man, that authentic gratitude.
  • When I actually read the essay after he got it back a few weeks later and understood what the magical moments with the young man in the coffee bar had meant to my son, and wondered at how he translated the ridiculousness of petty prejudices into this insight:  “I now see the prejudice and ignorance behind many comments that, before that sunny Parisian morning, I might not have seen.”
  • And now, more than 5 years later, as our country struggles with immigration, our place in the world and how we interface with those who are “foreign”.  Perhaps I’m biased – well, heck, of course I’m biased – but I find my son’s final statement in that little essay truly profound:

And now, as I keep a vigilant eye over the discrimination in my society, I wonder: When will the other people, blinded by prejudice, have the eye-opening experience I had that day?

What’s that old saying…”out of the mouths of babes”?  How about:  “out of the mouths of millennials”?

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook; The Thankful Foreigner printed with permission of the author, Thomas Wenglinski