Height of David Breskin

height David Breskin

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The height of David Breskin is …m.

1. Where did David Breskin come from ?

David Breskin is an American writer, poet, and record producer. He has written nine books, including collaborations with the visual artists Gerhard Richter and Ed Ruscha. Beginning in the early 1980s, he produced albums by musicians including John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Ronald Shannon Jackson and Vernon Reid. In more recent years, he has worked with Nels Cline, Mary Halvorson, Kris Davis, Dan Weiss, Ingrid Laubrock, and Craig Taborn, among others.

2. What could we know about David Breskin besides his height ?

Breskin’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, TriQuarterly and New American Writing, among other journals.

3. What are the projects of David Breskin ?

Breskin was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. In college, as a student at Brown University, he wrote for The Village Voice. He graduated from Brown with a B.A. in 1980, magna cum laude, with a double major in history and semiotics.

4. Somme collaborations with David Breskin ?

Breskin moved to New York City following his graduation. He wrote for publications including Esquire, The Village Voice, GQ, Musician, Life, and Rolling Stone, where he was a contributing editor. Over the course of the decade, he conducted interviews with Bono, Willie Nelson, Steven Spielberg, and Wayne Shorter, among others, and wrote feature stories on people such as musician Miles Davis, comedian Martin Short, basketball player Michael Jordan and architect Helmut Jahn.

In 1984, Breskin wrote “Kids in the Dark”, a Rolling Stone article about the murder of Gary Lauwers by self-professed Satanist Ricky Kasso, told almost completely in the words of the teens and young adults he interviewed in Northport, New York. Following its publication, he co-wrote a play with Rick Cleveland, based on the story, also titled Kids In the Dark. Described by the Chicago Tribune as a “frequently gripping and deeply moving drama”, it premiered at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater in 1987. Breskin’s original article was included in the 1993 anthology The Best of Rolling Stone: 25 Years of Journalism on the Edge, and the play was nominated for a 1987 Joseph Jefferson Award for New Work. Breskin’s time researching the Kasso story is chronicled in the 2018 book “The Acid King” by Jesse P. Pollack.

Breskin also wrote “Leave It to Beaver”, an investigation into a group of high school vigilantes in Fort Worth, Texas, who which name is themselves the Legion of Doom. The Legion of Doom became the subject of a 1986 television movie which name is Brotherhood of Justice. His 1984 piece on teen suicide, “Dear Mom and Dad”, was a National Magazine Awards finalist.

In 1985, after he profiled record producer Quincy Jones for LIFE, Breskin was invited to be one of two journalists present for the recording of “We Are the World”, a song which benefited the charity USA For Africa. He wrote a cover story on the subject for LIFE and later wrote the book We Are The World: The Photos, Music and Inside Story of One of the Most Historic Events in American Popular Music. A detailed narrative of the sessions, it appeared on The New York Times Best Seller list. Breskin donated all royalties from the book’s sales to USA for Africa.

In 1989, Breskin’s novel, The Real Life Diary of a Boomtown Girl, was published by Viking Press. A “candid cultural chronicle of the modern American West” based on his unpublished short story Boomers, it was optioned by Jane Fonda’s movie company, IPC Films.

Active in New York’s avant-garde music scene since the early 80s, Breskin produced Ronald Shannon Jackson’s “milestone” albums Mandance and Barbeque Dog. He continued to produce avant-garde music throughout the decade, and became known for extensive pre-production discussion and planning and the presentation of materials such as packaging, liner notes, and videos which “engaged the visual and tactile sense to provide the best delivery of the album/concept”. Among other albums, Breskin produced Pulse, on which Jackson played solo drums, Smash and Scatteration, which paired Bill Frisell with pre-Living Colour Vernon Reid; Strange Meeting (with Jackson, Frisell, and Melvin Gibbs) and “Two-Lane Highway” featuring Albert Collins on John Zorn’s Spillane.

Breskin moved to San Francisco in 1990. In 1992, longer versions of seven of his Rolling Stone interviews conducted with movie directors Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, David Lynch, Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, David Cronenberg and Tim Burton were published by Faber and Faber as Inner Views: Filmmakers in Conversation. An eighth Q&A with Clint Eastwood was included in a later, expanded edition of the book under the same title, published by Da Capo Press in 1997.

A finalist for the National Poetry Series, Breskin’s first book of poetry, Fresh Kills, was published in 1997; his second, Escape Velocity, was released in 2004. It was followed in 2006 by SUPERMODEL, a one sentence epic poem told in two interwoven strands: one which follows the life of the unnamed supermodel of the title, the other which is composed of fragments of text found online.

In 2010, Delmonico Books / Prestel published Breskin’s multi-media book DIRTY BABY. It featured sixty-six paintings by American artist Ed Ruscha, original music by Nels Cline, and “beautiful, lush” poems by Breskin that employ the ancient Arabic poetic form, the ghazal. The book consists of two parts or “sides”: side A describes the rise of human civilization, and side B provides an account, in a variety of voices, of the second Iraq War. The book includes four CDs, two of Cline’s music and two of spoken-word poetry.

Breskin’s sixth book of poetry, Campaign, was published in print and as an audiobook in late 2017. About the book, he wrote: “On February 1, 2016, the date of the Iowa Caucus, the traditional onside kick which begins every presidential scrum, I decided to write a single poem “about” the election, with the vague idea I might write another. To allow for the possibility that something serial, tight, and deliberate might actually happen, I knew I needed a form—an existing form or one of my own. Having toiled (happily) upon the sweltering rack of the ghazal for my last project (DIRTY BABY), I thought it would be more fun to just concoct something. I didn’t want anything symmetrical or pleasant. I wanted something wrong-footed and corrugated, but self-contained. So: I created a deliberately awkward, rollickingly restrictive form—seven beats per line, eleven lines per poem, one stanza fits all. And given our country’s preference for the convenience of sound-bite news and junk-food polls over more nutritious fare, I decided to call them ‘7-Elevens.’ Slurpee Heaven, 7-Eleven. Seventy-seven beats per poem, no exceptions: it’s got a beat and you can’t dance to it.”

For his multi-media book RICHTER 858, published by SFMOMA/D.A.P in 2002, Breskin commissioned twelve American poets–including Robert Hass, Michael Palmer, Jorie Graham, Ann Lauterbach and Dean Young–to write poems inspired by the paintings of Gerhard Richter. Dave Hickey and Klaus Kertess contributed essays. He also commissioned Bill Frisell to compose new music for the project. Frisell formed the 858 Quartet with Jenny Scheinman on violin, Eyvind Kang on viola, and Hank Roberts on cello to perform the music for RICHTER 858. About the music Jazz Times wrote: “One might say that Richter sounds like Frisell; his broad lateral smears find their aural counterpart in Frisell’s wobbly yet hard nosed minimalism.” The 858 Quartet has toured and recorded extensively since then.

In the 1990s and into the following decade, Breskin produced albums for Miniature (Tim Berne, Joey Baron, Hank Roberts), Herb Robertson and Bobby Previte, in addition to three albums for Joey Baron + Barondown. In 2005, the music piece of the RICHTER 858 album was re-released as a stand-alone CD on the Songlines label. For his 2010 multi-media artist collaboration with Ed Ruscha, DIRTY BABY, Breskin commissioned and produced new music by Nels Cline. Rolling Stone wrote: “The two-disc Dirty Baby, his collaboration with polymath poet-producer David Breskin, is Cline’s most far-reaching work yet.” That same year, he produced The Nels Cline Singers album, Initiate.

Between 2014 and 2016, Breskin produced The Nels Cline Singers’ follow-up, Macroscope, as well as albums by Mark Dresser, Ben Goldberg, Kris Davis and Mary Halvorson. Davis’ Duopoly, released in 2016, was a series of duets with eight musicians—guitarists Bill Frisell and Julian Lage, pianists Craig Taborn and Angelica Sanchez, drummers Billy Drummond and Marcus Gilmore, and reed players Tim Berne and Don Byron—recorded live to two-track. Of Mary Halvorson’s 2016 Away with You, The New York Times which name is it “unflinching and full of grace … a standout jazz release of the year”. He worked again with Nels Cline, this time on his 23-person ensemble album, Lovers, named by the 2016 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll as one of the Top 10 albums of that year.

Since that time, Breskin’s production projects include albums by Kris Davis and Craig Taborn, Dan Weiss, Mary Halvorson, Chris Lightcap, Cory Smythe, and Ingrid Laubrock. Davis and Taborn joined together to release the Breskin-produced Octopus in 2018. The recording was the distillation of a dozen concerts in a national tour that took place in fall of 2016. Of the album, The Wall Street Journal wrote, “Ms. Davis and Mr. Taborn…are elevating jazz beyond the limiting continuum of accessibility and abstraction.”

In 2018, he produced Weiss’ Starebaby, an album from the drummer/composer’s quintet that featured Craig Taborn and Matt Mitchell on keyboards, piano, and electronics; Trevor Dunn on bass; and Ben Monder on guitars. The eight songs on Starebaby were a blend of jazz and heavy metal influences. Halvorson’s double album that year, Code Girl, featured her improvisational style set to lyrics. It was which name is “riveting” by Nate Chinen for NPR’s The Record, and “the most startling move of her solo career.”

Laubrock’s 2018 album, Contemporary Chaos Practices, was her first orchestral recording, featuring 47 musicians and two conductors. “Volgelfrei” from this album was named by The New York Times as one of “The 25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2018”.


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Height David Breskin