This is sad news: Keith Emerson, keyboardist extraordinaire, has died at the age of 71.
EMERSON, LAKE, & PALMER's work was uneven: like many other experimental musicians. At their worst they slipped over into the self-indulgent. But at their best they were unmatched: no one's ever done this kind of music better.
Especially Emerson, who explored the range of what you cd do with a Moog synthesizer (the answer is: quite a lot, creating all kinds of interesting musical soundscapes).
TARKUS, their second record, remains my favorite album.* Bar none. I have no idea how many thousands of times I've listened to it, and I still love it. I still have the somewhat-worse-for-wear record I bought from my cousin Sam decades ago, though these days I listen to it on cd or via iTune; just a few days ago I pulled the cd out to listen to it yet again.
Emerson was also responsible for my second-favorite piece from the group: Emerson's Piano Concerto #1, which remains my favorite piece of modern classical music (that is, new music written in the classical orchestral idiom).
It was a long time ago, and his triumphs were in the past, but I remain grateful and am sorry to see him go.
*side A that is, the twenty-plus minute 'Tarkus' itself, as opposed to the grab-bag of unrelated bits that make up side B.
concert review: San Francisco Symphony
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