July 9 is John Tesh’s 60th birthday, and I’m just now realizing that I know very little about the man, and think even less of him. All I really know is that for years he was the host of Entertainment Tonight, and at some point he became a new age keyboardist similar to Yanni.
Actually, I don’t know what his music sounds like. I’ve never actually heard it (or Yanni’s for that matter). I’m pretty sure he has an audience, but I assume his music is terrible. I think a lot of us assume that without having heard it. Maybe it’s because he was a host of a frivolous TV show, and he undertook a career as a serious instrumental musician. Imagine if Ben Mulroney became a new age harpist; you wouldn’t have to hear the music to dismiss it.
The only song of Tesh’s I’ve heard is the old NBA on NBC theme song, and it’s actually kind of a perfect TV jingle. Maybe I’ve been too hard on Tesh. For his birthday, I will honestly listen and evaluate some of his music.
1. "Road Made for Animals"
Well, I assumed Tesh’s music was largely mellow, and that the NBA theme was a high-energy anomaly. I was wrong. This song must be a spiritual cousin to the basketball theme, or perhaps they’re part of a musical trilogy or something.
Another assumption I made was that Tesh would be the star of his own music. In this case, he’s really an accompanist for a couple of hot shots: a Joe Satriani-style guitarist and a violinist with a Miami Vice beard and a bizarre double-breasted mustard military coat. I guess my question is, who are these guys? They seem pretty happy to be involved.
2. "Joyful Overture"
The first thing I notice is that this one has a bunch of dancers in it. Maybe that’s the thing. Maybe Tesh is always accompanying some other type of entertainment because he doesn’t think people will be sufficiently entertained by an eight-foot grinning lummox standing behind a scaffold of synthesizers. In this case, it’s a hip-hop dance crew and a ballet ensemble – the simple and the sophisticated. How very Save the Last Dance.
The next thing I notice: is this Christian music? Oh, it absolutely is. It’s “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.” Is all of Tesh’s music Christian? It’s hard to tell with the instrumental songs. Can you bounce from Christian music to secular music? In any case, that explains the huge audience. One thing Christians can do is congregate.
This is from Tesh’s Greatest Hits concert, performed on Catalina Island off the coast of California. That’s exactly where you imagine this music would be performed. Once again, Admiral Violin is back. They’re all smiles and vests onstage, but I bet Tesh is a real taskmaster behind the scenes.
The music is lively and forgettable. It’s not really new age or adult contemporary. It’s the kind of thing you would hear in the background on that one high definition TV channel that only shows still pictures and has programs with names like Watery Vistas and Castles of Europe. It’s the kind of music they play at stereo stores when they want to emphasize how crisp the speakers sound. Also, check out Tesh’s goatee.
4 ."Garden City"
This one seems to be more of a symphonic piece with different dynamics performed by various sections of the orchestra. It almost sounds like it could be the music used in the opening of a movie. I hear it and see visuals of an idyllic small town right before some gruesome murders are committed. Also, I wonder what those Juilliard-trained string players think about playing music written by the host of Entertainment Tonight.
5. "April Song"
This is the kind of music you might play during a romantic dinner, not to set a mood, but as a test. If your date says, “What is this, John Tesh? I love him,” then just leave. Even if it’s your own house. Also, during this song they actually bring out a balance beam and Olympic gymnastics champion Nadia Comaneci performs a routine. Tesh’s live performances all seem to have some kind of visual distraction. What are you supposed to do if you just buy the CD? Light off firecrackers in your house? A choreographed fountain display in your bathtub?
Well, what have we learned? Is Tesh’s music what we thought it would be? In the end, it raises as many questions as it answers. If I had to characterize it, I’d say it sounds like a cross between Yanni, Andre Rieu, Kenny G, Mannheim Steamroller, Vanessa-Mae and other artists I’ve never actually heard.
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on Jul 09, 2012