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Random Notes

By Gil Kaufman

The mysterious allure of German playwright/composer Kurt Weill continues to work its magic on rockers fascinated with his classic early-20th-century work. The latest tribute to the Threepenny Opera author is an Aug. 19 Sony Classics album entitled September Songs: The Music of Kurt Weill.

The set, based on a 1996 PBS special of the same name, features artists such as Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, David Johansen, classic songstress Teresa Stratas, Elvis Costello, jazz giant Charlie Haden, the Persuasions, Betty Carter, Mary Margaret O'Hara, and Lou Reed.

Also included are vintage recordings of Weill's frequent collaborator, Bertolt Brecht, performing an original version of one of Weill's signature songs, "Mack the Knife," and a recording of his wife, Lotte Lenya, performing "Pirate Jenn." The set ends with a dramatic reading of "What Keeps Mankind Alive" by Beat legend, author, poet, and sometimes actor William S. Burroughs.

The collection comes more than 10 years after a similar tribute called Lost in the Stars and was produced by the same man who brought that collection to fruition, avant-garde producer Hal Willner. The new album is the soundtrack to a 1996 PBS series created by Larry Weinstein called September Songs that--like his 1996 film 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould--is a series of vignettes.

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From the June 12-18, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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