Craig Hodgetts credits the “unencumbered and exceedingly emotional” style of Miles Davis for shaping the direction of his architectural work. He also names the sounds of Vangelis and Terry Riley as inspirations in a guest DJ set that is a tribute to all kinds of creative work. Hodgetts and his partner Ming Fung designed LACMA’s exhibit on California design from1930 to 1965 that was launched as part of the Pacific Standard Time initiative.
For More: http://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/californiadesign
1. Trumpet Concerto in E-Flat Major
2. Nature Boy - Miles Davis
3. A Hard Day's Night - The Beatles
4. In C - Terry Riley
5. Main Titles (from Blade Runner) - Vangelis
JS: This is Jeremy Sole and I’m here with architect Craig Hodgetts, one half of the firm Hodgetts and Fung, who have designed many Los Angeles landmarks, including the remodel of the Hollywood Bowl. Today, we are here to talk about music as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. If it’s all right with you, let’s dive in. What’s going to be your first pick for this?
CH: Well the first one is Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto. This is there because I was an asthmatic kid. And I had a lot of problems, particularly because my parents were Christian Scientists. And so they were casting around for protocol that would address my asthma, but would not involve any sort of medication. So they hit upon the trumpet.
They took me to a fantastic man, Henry Wohlgemuth, who was the first chair trumpeter at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. So Henry Volgamuth became my kind of surrogate parent, very inspiring. And I really took to it. I loved it. I absolutely loved the discipline, I loved the exercises. I kind of mastered the instrument and I mastered the Haydn Trumpet Concerto, with all its sort of marshall kind of beat and its very classical rhythms and got to perform it with the symphony orchestra. That was my identity, full stop. And this was probably the apogee of that particular experience.
JS: So that leads me to the question, did this help with your asthma?
CH: Oh, absolutely, it did.
Song: Haydn Trumpet Concerto – “Song #1”
JS: So once again the piece was the Haydn Trumpet Concerto, Song #1. And so if you don’t mind Craig, I want to just jump into song number two. Let me know why you picked this one.
CH: This was an actual assault on my confidence, on my sense of myself, which had been largely nurtured by this very disciplined trumpet player.
I wound up at Oberlin College, which has a great music school, but what was going on there was all the incipient avant garde music and jazz. Just across the river from Cincinnati was a very naughty part of town - Covington, KY - which was busted by Robert Kennedy when he came in because it was all Mafia and a very bawdy part of town. And it had a lot of black night clubs. Well Rusty and I, another trumpet player, would frequent those clubs. Ornette Coleman would play there, Miles Davis would play there, all these people would play there. And I heard a style of music which was free, unencumbered and exceedingly emotional. I mean emotional to the point it would kind of tear your heart out.
The one you’re going to hear is just the most startling representation of a collaboration between Charlie Mingus and Miles Davis that you can possibly imagine. It’s an amazing piece of music.
Song: Miles Davis – “Nature Boy”
CH: It’s one of those cases where white man can’t jump, I guess. Because the discipline that I associated with every time I picked up my horn was far too powerful for me to let go of. And it was very clear -- my heart, my soul, everything, wanted to be like Miles Davis. I mean totally, I was there. I wanted to dress sharp, I wanted to be cool. And I wanted more than anything to find a way to be emotional and to communicate emotions. Which of course Miles…he made the trumpet sound like a fado singer, he made the trumpet sound like all emotion. And I’m still inspired by that and I still try to push my architectural work in that direction, because I think it’s very meaningful.
JS: So once again, this is the Guest DJ Project. We are in session today with Craig Hodgetts. Jeremy Sole with you, at the head of this ship. We are just in the process of getting our minds blown by a song called Nature Boy, from Miles Davis with Charlie Parker. So let’s just jump into song three. Why did you pick this tune?
CH: I had finally wound up at the Berkeley School of Architecture. And Berkeley at that time, we’re talking 1963-64, was an ecstatic place of people full of creativity, full of revolutionary ideas.
Simultaneously with that, and so interestingly, the Beatles “Hard Days Night” was touring. And when the film was finished, everyone spilled out into the night air, you know Berkeley, it’s very pleasant, etc. etc., there was a hub-bub on the sidewalk outside. People didn’t seem to want to leave. They stood around, talked to strangers. They were so animated by the sheer rambunctiousness of that movie. And so, Hard Days Night, with its voicings and its spirit just blew a hole in the status quo. It literally did. And in many ways, I think it lit the fire that resulted in the Free Speech Movement. And I don’t think that’s much of an overstatement.
Song: The Beatles – “Hard Days Night”
JS: So once again, that was “Hard Days Night” from the Beatles. And next up is the song “In C”, from Terry Riley. Now Craig, tell us a little about this one.
CH: It’s not a melodic structure at all. It’s like a chanting, overlapping series of cadences, which different musicians are free to play at their own will. And it also of course aligned with a lot of architectural principles, in the sense that its framework was open in allowing for all kinds of potential. So, I think it became a kind of cornerstone of architectural theory and thought and kind of merged with a lot of the other things that were current at that point.
Song: Terry Riley – “In C’
JS: So, once again that was a song called “In C” from Terry Riley. Craig, if you don’t mind, tell me about the last tune that you picked and why.
CH: I went to the opening night of a film called “Blade Runner”. The reason why I went was because one of my college buddies from Berkeley was one of the set designers on it. He had shown me the images they were doing, the drawings for the vehicles, Syd Mead’s drawings and things like that, which were incredibly inspiring. So that film was very meaningful to me.
But aside from that, the soundtrack from “Blade Runner” became something that we played constantly in the office. It was like the best background music for working on, at that time, with a drafting pen -- which you don’t do any more, and I don’t have any ear buds. But the soundtrack is full of urban and electronic sounds overlayed by Vangelis over a very, very broad palette of synthesizer sounds and other things. It’s an amazing, amazing piece of music because it’s as dense in its imagery as the visual imagery of the film and you can immerse yourself in it.
Song: Vangelis - Main Titles (from Blade Runner)
JS: So once again, thank you so much for joining us on KCRW’s Guest DJ project.
CH: Well this has been just a lot of fun. Really great. Thank you so much.
JS: For a complete track listing and to find these songs on line, go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.