There are two people whom I wish to commemorate here. One of them I know personally, the other I admire greatly. Well, that's not strictly true, of course -- I rather admire both of them, but for different reasons.
The first one is a very dear friend I met at the Renaissance Faire while it was still a good Renaissance Faire, but to further clarify that would be a digression of major proportions. He's a very bright young fellow whom I have known since he was 9 and was just starting to learn how to play the guitar. This year he celebrates his 22nd birthday, and as far as I know he is still going, albeit the last year has moved him farther out of the area.
He has had the knack to eke a recognisable tune out of just about any instrument he would touch (though, truth be told, I don't think I've seen him pick up a wind instrument), ranging from the piano, to the mandolin, to the bodhran (the Irish drum), to the violin, and he has even put together some very interesting mixes on a computer; his styles cover everything from the Beatles, to Bowie, to Led Zeppelin, to Yes and beyond, as well as Irish music. He's in touch with the past, the musical roots, but has the youthful courage to find the good parts of the music of today.
He's one of very few musicians with whom I have worked who has had the uncanny ability to divine when to stop the tune, which tune the leader is going to play next and which harmony to sing -- truly a delightful musician, and a wonderful friend (even if he is out of touch for long periods at a time).
Happy Birthday, Noah!!
The other fellow is someone I have long admired for his adventurous approach to music. While his own compositions strike me as ponderous -- very thoughtful -- in nature, his contributions to the compositions of his other musical compatriates lend themselves well to those compositions. He's a top-notch arranger with a voice capable of covering three and a half octaves (counting his head voice which, thankfully, he's not afraid of using!).
He's been the keeper of the flame for The Best progressive rock group on the planet, none other than Yes, for the last 34 years(!), and he's an excellent composer and performer in his own right.
Happy Birthday to Chris Squire!
Thank you for 34 years of absolutely wonderful music, and may your later years treat you well!
[If you've never listened to Yes, I recommend Close to the Edge (1972), Going for the One (1977), 90125 (1983), Union (1991), Keys to Ascension(the studio tracks) (1995) and The Ladder (1999). If you have listened to them, I recommend that you check out Chris' solo works (which, regrettably, I can count on both thumbs, but they're both up!), Fish Out Of Water (1975) and Conspiracy (2000), the latter of which, strictly speaking, isn't a solo album (he co-conspired with Billy Sherwood, also an excellent musician, but I digress again), but it's non-Yes, and it's extremely well- done.]