Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sound familiar?

Yes, and equally absurd: "June 30, 2009--Now that the president and the Democrats in Congress have set a fall deadline for legislative action on universal police protection for all Americans, battle lines are being drawn on Capitol Hill. On the right are conservative defenders of America's system of for-profit, private mercenaries. The Democrats are divided among progressives who favor universal, publicly funded police who would protect all citizens against crime, and moderate and conservative Democrats who argue that any citizen security reform should leave America's existing system of soldiers for hire in place.

"Do we want long wait times when we call for the police, like people in countries with socialized police forces?" Sen. Russell Flack, R-Ga., asked during a floor debate yesterday. "Under our system, we can choose our own police officers, as long as we pay for protection out of our own pockets. Do we want some government bureaucrat choosing the police for us?"

The whole piece is here.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

15 songs at random from my iTunes library...

...at the Facebook behest of my friend Virginia Black.

I should do this more often.

1) Barrett's Privateers, 3 Pints Gone (maybe the best band name ever, great song, too); 2) Nutty, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane (At Carnegie Hall no less, how could you lose?); 3) Might As Well Be Spring, Sonny Stitt (how he could play the saxophone with such lyrical grace); 4) Round Midnight (and a delicious version of what is probably my favorite song, I might add), Kronos Quartet; 5) Song Of The Pharoah Kings, Return to Forever (a logical extension of Miles electric)

6) Trodin' Jah Road, Morgan Heritage (reggae didn't begin and end with Bob Marley); 7) I'll Say She Does, Six Brown Brothers (proto-jazz by a proto-World Saxophone Quartet, only a sextet); 8) Confirmation, The Modern Jazz Quartet (an elegant, naturally, reading of a Bird classic); 9) Jesus Christ, Woodie Guthrie (get over it, you conservative pigs, Jesus was, in fact, a laborer and a democratic socialist); 10) Martha Argerich and the Berlin Philharmonic, Prokofiev Piano Concerto #3 (she is one wicked piano-playing chick)

11) Crepuscule, Django Reinhardt (no one, and I mean no one, played the guitar like him before or since); 12) Work In Progress, Stephen Scott (elements of Monk and Herbie Nichols, he's one jazz pianist on the scene today who should be more appreciated, I dug him when he played with Sonny Rollins); 13) You Torture My Soul, John Lee Hooker (him and his guitar at Sugar Hill, all by their lonesome, you don't need no more); 14) Fables Of Fabus, Iswhat?! (a thoroughly worthy hip hop-inflected homage to Mingus, who I think would have appreciated it); 15) The Lamp Is Low, Booker Ervin (fitting that one of Mingus' favorite saxophonists follows)

Friday, June 26, 2009

What, Michael Jackson change?

Sad, sad, sad.

And speaking of the Allison family...

This is Luther Allison's Little Red Rooster. There are many other Little Red Roosters (kind of) like it, but this one is Luther Allison's. It is nass-tee. Followed by Evil is Going On. I need to drink whiskey and smoke cigarettes now.

Thoughts on Bad News is Coming, Motown Universal.

Pretty nasty Dust My Broom, too.

Bernard Allison, Keepin' the Blues Alive, Cannonball Records

He's an argument for the blues being genetic, because he sure musta got a bunch of Luther's genes. Rockin' Chicago-electric blues, although he'd go over big at the W.C. Handy Blues Festival in Henderson, Ky., or the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Young Boy's Blues is a corker and Walkin' would take me a long way, strollin' or drivin'. You Gave Me the Blues is a soul-inflected blues ballad with some great guitar licks, like those aren't crawling all over this. Delicious cover of Ike Turner's Rocket 88 and boffo B-3 backing from Ron Levy.

The only thing I wonder is why there is a BB rolling around in the chamber on the left side of the CD jewel case.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ana Vinagre, Paixoes, Figueira Productions

With her husband Jose singing on some tracks, too. She's another American fadista, more experienced than Nathalie Pires but rawer, which I intend as a compliment, although I really enjoy Nathalie Pires.

Vinagre's voice is powerful and expressive. She gets right down to the emotional core at the center of fado songs. But I detect very little in the way of post-processing or effects on this CD. I have to think that if I walked into a hole-in-the-wall club in Portugal to hear "real" fado, this is pretty much what I'd get, from the opener Paixoes Diagonais on. Barco Negro slips in some sea sounds. They're endearing rather than jarring, however. The guitar playing is excellent, and unflitered, as well. I believe I'll buy her other disc.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Heat is on

Froze my butt bathing in a river in Alaska in July once. Would have
taken it today. One warm paddle up, in a head wind to boot. The breeze
was nice coming down though.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mariza on Letterman

Note the silence of the audience. No one, it seems, dares utter a peep because this woman obviously means serious business.

For all the wonder of her voice, I think her stage presence is just as stunning. Even Dave seems to have been impressed. OK, I'm madly in love and I admit it.

Steve Reid, Nova, Universal Sound (Import)

First thought, hey Miles' On the Corner, maybe with some of the rougher edges sanded off by Weather Report. But that doesn't quite get it after a traveling through a few times. Steve Reid drummed behind a lot of people and I hear a lot of people in this.

Martha and the Vandellas as a high schooler and there is a funky Motown hum underneath, with Ornette (jammed when the two worked at Macey's), Fela Kuti, '70s and '80s Freddie Hubbard, Jacke McLean, Sam Rivers, Archie Shepp and even Horace Silver wrapped around it. These are just impressions. The band does a great job of incorporatng it all into set pieces that range from Afro-beat (Lions of Juda) to free jazz in a Coltrane's Ascension or Pharoah Sanders' Karma mode (Sixth House). I like Les Walker on electric piano and organ, Joe Rigby on saxes and the two bass array (acoustic and electric, note how the former bowed colors Free Spirits-Unknown). Ahmed Abdullah on trumpet doesn't so much stand out as round out the sound but does a fine job of it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Folk Songs, Bill Frisell, Nonesuch

Initially, I was thinking I would start this post commenting that Folk Songs sure wasn't the Bill Frisell of, say, Unspeakable. But in relistening to the latter, as well as Nashville, I am struck by Elvis Costello's excellent liner notes, which come down to a comment Monk supposedly once made to a young Bob Dylan, who approached Monk one night between Monk's sets and told the pianist he was Bob Dylan and played folk music in The Village. Monk looked up from his piano and said: "We all play folk music."

Profound when you consider the roots of jazz and applicable to Frisell because in reality Folk Songs, Nashville, Unspeakable or The Intercontinentals for that matter are all folk music of a stripe. More avant-garde, or more like Monk's jazz, in the case of Unspeakable to be sure, country music-oriented in Nashville, tilted toward traditional European folk music in the Intercontinentals and a compilation of Frisell performances of American folk music, loosely stated, in Folk Songs, kind of a Frisell folk "best of." That covers a boffo rendition of I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, and cool versions of Shenandoah and Sittin' On Top of the World, among other things. Fine Frisell.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nathalie Pires, Corre-me o fado nas veias

Nathalie Pires, whose CD I bought directly from her Web site, has a voice that could make her a queen among pop divas, or a vaunted country or jazz singer for that matter, but she sings fado, despite being a 23-year-old American college student, and the world is a better place for it. (She's the daughter of Portuguese immigrants, fluent at speaking and singing Portuguese and her father composed for, played and sang in Portuguse bands in the U.S., so it comes naturally.)

Her first CD is a nice mix of lively, ironic, kind of que sera, sera, this is what is fado (fado does, after all, mean fate) like E Ou Nao E; Italianesque operatic theatrical singing-style fado like Ai Mouraria; and very traditional, painfully sad fado like Com Que Voz and Estranha Forma de Vida. There is outstanding guitar playing as well, including a wonderous solo run on Variacoes em Re, which proceeds as if there were no singer on the track. But wait for the payoff. Fado, and a young fadista, of the first order.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On H2O...

...and sent from that water, floating back toward the U.S. 52 bridge after paddling up past it.

Felt comfortable enough with the boat tonight to do an upstream ferry across the river even beating a quarter wind on the bow.

Saw a group of hawks riding that wind, a mother duck and her babies resting on a log, which probably would have interested the hawks, and a muskrat or beaver swimming along with a nice branch full of green leaf sprouts, probably dinner.

Me, I had Jimmy John's after.

Ecology 101

Whenever someone tells me drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or logging or mining some other piece of what few pristine places we have left, can't possibly hurt, I think of all the stories like this one about the demise (and recovery, thankfully) of an English butterfly I've read over the years.

The crux:

"It turns out that, like many butterflies, the large blue tricks local ants into rearing its young caterpillars. But unlike other species, the large blue relies upon a specific red ant, Myrmica sabuletiI, for its nanny services. Because of that unique relationship, the butterfly's population started to crash when that ant species declined.

"The ants ran into trouble when farmers stopped grazing their livestock as they had for generations and a virus ravaged the population of wild rabbits. Grasses grew too long, causing soil temperatures to drop by a few degrees. That was just cold enough to make the area inhospitable to the ants, and that hurt the butterflies."

And industrial-scale operations won't have a negative impact on an ecosystem as tenuous and delicate as the tundra? If you buy that, Bush, Cheney, Sarah and the rest of their totally irresponsible, corporate-backed ilk have one they'd like to tell you--again--about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the need to go to war there.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jazz in the house...

The White House, that is. Yet another reason I dig the Pres (and not just Lester Young) and the First Lady.

I vote yeah...

Mixing jazz and beer is most definitely something I am in favor of, especially tasty jazz and beer, which all these choices appear to be.

A short-term goal in my life is now to listen to Sun Ra's Lanquidity (a Herman Blount classic) while drinking La Sancerroise au Gruyt.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pat Metheny, One Quite Night, Nonesuch

I think Pat was screwing with us on the title because the baritone guitar he plays in a solo session is definitely not quiet. I had to turn my stereo down for fear of upsetting the neighbors. (Warm today, had the windows open.)

Maybe he means quiet as opposed to "loud" like the cream, red and yellow checked sports coat I had back in the '70s. The CD is quiet as in elegant and timeless. A nice version of Don't Know Why, an engaging take on Ferry Cross the Mersey (avant-garde jazz version) and a whole bunch of Metheny, ranging from Over on 4th Street, which practically rocks, to the intricate and melancholy I Will Find a Way. Good guitar.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Why the heck not?

So you are walking along a road and you come across Dick Cheney lying in a ditch. Maybe he had another heart attack, we can only hope, or something.

You see him and you kick him, right? I mean, it's not like you're going out of your way or anything. I'm thinking a nice boot to the head, or the nuts, assuming he has any.

Nevoa, Fado Distraido, Phantom

A pretty jazzy fado session where she even works alone with a bass at times and, when the guitars kick in, they remind me of Django Reinhardt's Selmer more than the Portuguese version.

Kind of like if Madeleine Peyroux made a fado CD. Nice though.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Marcus Strickland, Open Reel Deck, Strick Muzik

Definitely not a ballads CD. Thoroughly 2000s jazz with a hip-hop, kind of, element, via spoken word artist Malachi, but wrapped around a lot of just stellar saxophone playing. Try Subway Suite 2nd Movement on for size with Jon Cowherd's piano a bonus and Mike Moreno standing out on guitar, too.

On Prospectus, I'm thinking, Who's in there, Sonny, Trane, Wayne Shorter, Branford Marsalis? And then I think, He doesn't sound like anybody, just himself, and damn good at it, too. That he did this live is even more amazing. Look, Marcus Strickland is just an incredible sax dude. Scintillating.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Marcus Strickland, Of Song, Criss Cross

Marcus Strickland's ballad CD is good music for a Friday morning when a little peaceful ambiance is welcome. What he and pianist David Bryant do with Bob Marley's Is This Love? is worth the price of admission alone. They turn it inside out, but in eminently logical ways, never in a jarring fashion.

Strickland's saxes are great, as is to be expected. Bryant is a major part of what makes this session memorable, however. Interesting versions as well of What's New, The Party's Over and the James Brown-associated It's a Man's World, with a nice bass solo from Ben Williams. The Other Strickland brother, E.J., is perfectly complimentary on drums. Really nice stuff that reminds me of Coltrane's Ballads or Branford Marsalis' Eternal.

For the flip side, see Open Reel Deck.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Sonny Rollins, Reel Life, Concord/OJC

One of the few Sonny sessions I didn't own, it may not even have been on CD until this reissue. Call it Sonny and guitars, three of them, including a young Bobby Broom, back with him in the '00s. Reel Time is from 1982, however, and all the guitar players, plus Jack DeJohnette on drums and percussion, make it one of Mr. Rollins' early '80s things where he dips a toe in Weather Report-style fusion without diving in all the way.

I like them. I treasure his sound the last decade or so, but I enjoy it in this period as well, when he had a little bit of an Eddie Harris kind of airiness going. The tunes are generally upbeat and rockish or calypso leaning with but one ballady trad number, Billy Strayhorn's My Little Brown Book, and an interesting update of Howard McGhee's McGhee, which certainly doesn't make one think "bebop." I could see myself driving all day listening to the title track. The final cut, Solo Reprise, indicates that Sonny can say more in 2:11 than most saxophonists do in three or four times that.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Meat Loaf, Bat out of Hell Live, Sanctuary

I think living a worthy life comes down to, in some measure, having a sense of humor and not taking yourself too seriously. Which is one reason I have this affinity for Australia, an entire country, nay, continent that seems to have a sense of humor and seems not to take itself too seriously.

This must be true of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, which backs Meat on a complete rendition of his classic, albeit not classical, CD. They do Paradise by the Dashboard Light and all, performed live in 2004. They even work in a boys choir. Meat's voice isn't what it used to be, or isn't live what it is dressed up in a studio, but the symphony makes up for that and, interestingly, never sounds out of place. (It veritably soars on For Crying Out Loud.) Just plain fun and some pretty good music in the bargain. The audience must have thought so as well. It sings along in places. Bet the Melbourne Symphony doesn't get that on Beethoven's Fifth.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The height of, like, melancholy

Mariza and a bowed double bass on Duas Lagrimas De Orvalho, Transparente, that's it.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Sea song

Despite my general reservations about over-orchestrating fado, I have to say the more complex instrumentation and instrumental effects behind Dulce Pontes on Lagrimas mostly work.

Struck me during a third listen this morning, on Canção do Mar (Song of the Sea) in particular, where the musical background gave me a mental impression of Pontes on a shore singing with the waves and wind accompanying her. I don't think she really needs this stuff. She has a voice quite capable of being interesting on its own. But the accouterments on the CD tend to have a charm as well. Laurindinha and As Setes Mulheres do Minho remind me of something like Paul Simon's Graceland.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Amália Rodrigues, Raizes, Blue Moon

In many respects, the perfect fado CD. That it is Amália suggests it, of course, and then there's the traditional, spare accompaniment of just a Portuguese and two standard guitars, which compliment, but never clash with, her voice.

More than that, I enjoy the mix of tempos in the 18 songs, plenty of sad and soulful slow numbers interspersed with zippy tunes like Grao De Arroz and Lerele that I would characterize as more ironic than happy. Made me think of the first time I listened to Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Dulce Pontes, Lagrimas, Movieplay

Heavily orchestrated fado with a lot going on around her, including some '90s electronic effects, and, I have to say, it's sometimes a little distracting and subsumes her voice in a few places, which is annoying because she has a marvelous voice.

Then again, it is impressive to hear her rise above the excess in the background on tunes such as Zanguei-Me Com O Meu Amor and Os Indios Da Meia Praia and there are interludes of stripped, down more traditional fado, gripping ones at that. Estranha Forma Da Vida, for one.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Time Out (50th Anniversary Edition), Dave Brubeck, Columbia

The classic session and a bonus DVD with a mini documentary about it. The real attraction is a second CD with live Newport appearances by the Time Out quartet (including a performance of Take Five, of course) that very nearly puts Dave Brubeck in a new light for me.

Not surprised to hear a ration of Tatum, Waller and even Monk in his playing but he's, dare I say it, as gut-bucket bluesy as Champion Jack Dupree in places, like St. Louis Blues. The integration of Someone to Watch Over Me into Blue Rondo à La Turk is priceless.

Jim Hall & Bill Frisell, Hemispheres, ArtistShare

Sympathetic is the word that kept coming to mind as I listened to the two CDs in this set repeatedly. The first disk is duets with Hall and Frisell, the former of whom usually, but not always, holds the center while the latter dances around and outside it.

I really like the second disk, which is the two guitars in a quartet with Scott Colley and Joey Baron fitting in like it was meant to be on bass and drums. Includes wonderful versions of My Funny Valentine and In a Sentimental Mood and a breezy romp through Sonny Rollins' Sonnymoon for Two.