On Ruth!

Just what is sprezzatura?

An interesting definition came across on the C-18L list, contrasting the term with chutzpah.

From Herman Asarnow:

One definition of sprezzatura I always liked was told me by Gunnar Boklund, John Webster scholar: “greatness with ease.”

the 1974 versionPrince Hal, in King Henry IV, Part I-sprezzatura


Sir Philip Sidney-sprezzatura

Ben Jonson-chutzpah



I was watching the Dub Room Special, a Frank Zappa video that features some great footage of the 1974 band, and the 1982 band. I think the same comparison could be made there. 1974 band- sprezzatura. 1982 band- chutzpah.

Chester Thompson, sax, flute, vocals, telephone, and amazing dancing.

For the non FZ scholars out there, the 1974 band featured George Duke, Chester Thompson, and Ruth Underwood, and more people that I can’t remember off the top of my head. The albums associated with this line-up are Apostrophe and Overnight Sensation, though there is substantial overlap in a lot of the personel over the years. Songs like “Stink foot,” “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow,” and “Dynamo Hum” might mean more to some. I’ve never seen these people in action before, the first time I saw him was in 1981.

Wow. That’s about all I can say.

Okay, I lied.

Ruth Underwood is one of the most amazing percussionists I’ve ever seen. And I have seen a lot. I discovered that she even has a stalker/ fan site— On Ruth!.

sprezzatura in action

I was thinking that this classification scheme could be a useful thing. For example, Tom Waits- sprezzatura. Bob Dylan- chutzpah. Hendrix- sprezzatura. Led Zepplin- chutzpah. I could go on and on, but I won’t.