Alex Ross, music critic of the New Yorker for the past 14 years, is easily one of the most engaging, informative, thought-provoking writers in the business. The only thing I hate about him is that I don't feel like ever writing about music again after I read his work.
In a field crawling with condescension, Ross never writes down to anybody. And, while some critics seem to have never truly, deeply loved music, he never disguises his intense love for it.
His bestseller from 2007, "The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century," was an instant classic, an analysis filled with sparks of info and insight. During his book tour promoting that work, Ross stopped by An die Musk in a presentation of the Evolution Contemporary Music Series.
On Tuesday, he returns to the same venue under the same auspices to discuss and sign copies of his latest book, "Listen to This," an arresting collection of pieces from the New Yorker (some of them revised) and some freshly written material.
You can open to any page of his book and
become instantly absorbed, whether Ross is dissecting a historically reverberant bass line or the reasons for Marian Anderson's lasting fame, delving into Bjork or Kurt Cobain, peering into the soul of Schubert or explaining the force of Verdi (and cogently pointing out how some deconstructionist stage directors have muted, rather than recharged, that force).
Complete with recommended recordings, "Listen to This" reconfirms just how valuable Alex Ross is to the musical discourse of our times. His previous appearance on the Evolution Contemporary Music Series at An die Musik Tuesday night was a standing-room-only affair; I imagine this one will be, too.
PHOTO FROM THERESTISNOISE.COM