Afro-Classic Laws

I picked up Hubert Laws’  Afro-Classic (1970) at a used record store back in the day. I was attracted by the cover art – the cheetah (I think), then by the selection (Bach/Mozart) & finally by the producer: Don Sebesky. A few years later I added lp of Rite of Spring (1971) another all classical jazz. When I upgraded to mp3 I added Studio Trieste (1982) w Chet Baker (includes Swan Lake), & Land Of Passion (1979) easy listening a step above Kenny G.

Don Sebesky devoted himself primarily to arranging and conducting mashed up jazz/classical work for a cadre of prime jazz musicians such as Hubert Laws, Gabor Szabo, Wes Montgomery. His ‘Big Box’ contains the superb mash of Birds of Fire with Firebird. His work is tasteful & easy – nothing aggressive or even transgressive. His work on the Hubert Laws lps is sweet, Laws is an excellent musician in his own right & the two of them go together well. If you are unfamiliar try Rite of Spring.

Walt Dickerson: Impressions of Lawrence of Arabia  (1963) Jarre’s music by vibraphonist Dickerson was an lp I picked up 2nd hand & enjoyed. I knew the film music but had didn’t know Dickerson at all. An engaging & interesting exploration of the music I’ve always enjoyed. Nothing aggressive but more than mere instrumental background music.

Also on this cd are some more challenging works by John Abercrombie Quartet (1980) on the ECM label. This a simmering shimmering set with amazing guitar work by Abercrombie. Inventive without becoming overly aggressive. If you want to step up the challenging there is Jan Garbarek’s Esoteric Circle (1969) Norwegian tenor sax Gararek is joined by the amazing Terje Rypdal on guitar. Gararek work here is more jazzy than soaring – his sound is distinctive & I’d recommend anything by him. Rypdal is amazing too & even creates his own guitars. Sonic tapestries that are slightly discomforting in a good way.

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Yusef Lateef plus

Lee Konitz (1927 – 2020) Brazilian Rhapsody (1995) focuses primarily on Brazilian standards. Konitz is a solid, lyrical sax player – inventive without being jarring. Here he does sweet work with some of my favourite Latino standards: Manha De Carnaval, A Felicidad – romantic without being cloying.

Yusef Lateef (1920 – 2013) Over a 2cd mp3 collection I have Lateef’s complete recordings from 1957-1963 – as well as Towards The Unknown with Adam Rudolph. Plus, in another collection, his later Eastern Sounds, Blue Yusef, Lateef’s Sound, In A Temple Garden & stand-alones Psychicemotus, Golden Flute. Also, in the mp3 collection, just for fun, is Logan’s Run (soundtrack) by Jerry Goldsmith.

I think In A Temple Garden was my introduction to Lateef – an impressionist mediation with temple bells that invokes quiet afternoons in another world – verging on new age but with real jazz underpinnings.  I picked it up as an lp & returned to it frequently. I picked up  Psychicemotus, Golden Flute two of his mid 60’s verve recordings as cd reissues with great liner notes. These are excellent with touches of world music & even a take on Gymnopedie #1.

The recordings from 1957-1963 are a more recent additions. I bought them from iTunes for under $10.00 – many of jazz recordings from the 50’s, 60’s are now public domain & you can find massive reissue collections like this to download cheaply. This one was sorted nicely into the individual releases with covers. Some are dumped with to regard to original lp order.

From 2010 is Towards The Unknown with Adam Rudolph. A fascinating collaboration that includes songs, orchestra & jazz combo – smart compelling modern music. He is a sensitive musician – sax, flute even keyboards – who explores with a lyrical sensibility that is always inviting & rarely dissonant.  If you are unfamiliar I would recommend starting with those Verve reissues.

Jerry Goldsmith’s Logan’s Run is a total delight. I watched the film, again, a few year ago & the synthesizer work is outstanding & totally captures the the early 70’s sound as well as the sense Hollywood had of what the future would be. Both are worth seeing/hearing.  

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Moe & Krzysztof

By Canadian flautist Moe Koffman I have as stand-alones: Plays Bach, The Four Seasons & Best Of. Best known for ‘Swinging Shepard Blues’ he has had an extensive career of jazz classical exploration. If you listen much to CBC radio his Bach pieces show up frequently as theme or ‘pause’ music. There is a jazz trend to interpret classical music, much like prog rock (i.e. ELP’s Pictures at an Exhibition). Koffman does this with more of a pop than jazz approach. Great music. Sadly, as far as I can tell, his Four Seasons is out-of-print & not available in any form. Some of the cuts are included in the Best of cd.

Next K is am MP3 cd compilation of creepy soundtracks & more classical adaptations. By Krzysztof Komeda: Rosemary’s Baby; Jack the Ripper; by Paul Glass: Bunny Lake Is Missing; Essential Hitchcock: st music from Lifeboat, Spellbound, Psycho & others; Mondo Cane Soundtrack. And explorations of Satie by Joe Santos & by The Camarata Contemporary Chamber Orchestra. Velvet Gentleman.

My partner had the lp of Rosemary’s Baby soundtrack, which I enjoyed. I eventually I replaced it with a clearer sound & its was paired with another of his soundtracks. Komeda, a Polish jazz musician, did soundtrack for other Polanski films. The music is  suspenseful & moody. Komeda died at 36, so is mostly forgotten. 

The Mondo soundtrack covers various styles & moods & got an 1963 Oscar nom for the song More. Paul Glass’s Bunny Lake Is Missing is another moody work. I had the lp which I bought solely for the tracks by the Zombies – this was time when British films makers had to include a scene with a live rock band. I was & still am a Zombies fan.

The Essential Hitchcock: st music from Lifeboat, Spellbound, Psycho & others. Moody, impressionistic stuff with the Psycho music being classic stuff. Those shower strings pulsate with terror. Elsewhere in my collection I have the complete Psycho soundtrack – well worth searching out.

Finally more classical – this time of explorations of Satie by Joe Santos & by The Camarata Contemporary Chamber Orchestra’s The Velvet Gentleman & The Electronic Spirit of Satie. Santos is  in the Tomita electronica realm but not as lush. Camarata is stunning. These were two must have lps at one time. Real musicians & moog combined to perfection. The lps cover more than the Gymnopedies. I love the spoken introductions on Electronic Spirit. Well worth tracking down for your collection.

scrap of a story from late 90’s found in an old notebook

The New House

The back fence was about twenty yards from the kitchen window. Kit could barely see the rag he had nailed to the post. It was one of the few intact fence posts. A few pickets angles away from it.

In front was a sturdy post for the mailbox. He’d painted it earlier in the week. His first claim to possession – the stamp of ownership. A new mailbox was all he could afford at short notice.

The sky blue of the box stood out against the green of the cedar hedge. When he found the time he’d add his name to the box. Moe too his efforts so far had been in the garden.

Untended for many years he had his work cut out for him. The ramshackle garden was the deciding factor in the decision to buy this house.

The red clay soil was a challenge he felt up to. He knew a year of two of mulch would bring rewards. A game of seeds was next to see what would suit in the mean time.

He’d seen  several shows on TV about how some plants helped the acid balance of the soil.

“What’s up?” Jim, his boyfriend, stepped on the veranda with him.

“Jim! I didn’t expect you up this early in the day.”

“I expect danger pay for barring those early birds.” He did a little dance like bird pecking around Kit’s head. “Actually I’m up because Carol called.”

“Carol?” Kit knew that could only mean one thin. “Time for Bix’s seasonal check up? Seems he just had one.”

“About this time last spring.”

“Well, we don’t want the stress we get when we skip them.”

“Right and we’ll get to see if the change in climate has been as good for him as it has been for our relationship.”

….

That’s it 🙂 I have a scattering of such fragments were I’m experimenting with just making people talk.  No outline or idea of where etchings are going, or who is going be there as the words bring them into the story. 

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Bright Moments

Rahsaan Roland Kirk can thank Jethro Tull for introducing him to me. I have in my collection: I Talk With The Spirits (1965) which includes “Serenade to a Cuckoo”; Blacknuss (1971); Prepare Thyself to Deal with a Miracle (1973); Bright Moments (1973). Each has a different jazz sensibility but all star Kirk’s amazing sax, flute & percussion. By amazing I mean he often played two reed instruments at the same time. That’s a lot of breath control & tongue work.

I had the double lp Bright Moments on vinyl, did an lp to cd transfer & finally a mp3 download. This is an excellent live lp that brilliantly captures a moment in jazz time. Kirk’s poetry, chat, rap are engaging & his urge for us to enjoy our bright moments is still relevant. Bursting with positive energy, great playing, amazing sidemen & vibrant songs this is a classic recording. You want jazz? This is a great starter or addition to a collection.

The other Kirk lps are bit more meditative as he explores African rhythms, current jazz standards & spiritual yearning. His sax work is restless at time, dissonant but never as challenging (to me) as Coltrane. There is some free jazz improvisation in sections. ‘Spirits’ is a good starter of his sweet studio work.

I made a copy of Muhal Richard Abrams: The Hearinga Suite (1989) when I borrowed the cd from the library. I loved his Big Band sound that combined African rhythms with nicely constrained free jazz. This is timeless jazz with a complex big band that explores while remaining accessible. Mama & Daddy (1980), The Hearinga Suite (1989). Try either of them if you want big band beyond Ellington.

Rounding out this mp3 collection are some works by Yusef Lateef – The Sounds of Yusef 1957, Eastern Sounds 1961, The Blue Yusef 1968. Primarily a sax player he is known for having been an innovator in the blending of jazz with “Eastern” music. All are excellent. More about Yusef when I get to ‘L.’

dipping into the archives for a story that goes back to 1970. Yes I am aware that the point-of-view shifts in a rather schizophrenic way. I had to resisted making it consistent – the italics appear in the original as well. 

Chopin

1

I think, David is safe, turn up the stereo to let music thicken & wrap me with its deeper protection. I am David. David is safe. What more can I be. I think of safeness frequently. Turn the phrase I am David. David is safe over & over with my mind’s tongue, look at them as if they were a Calder mobile, a möbius strop. David is as safe as rocks. Large, immobile, secure rocks. The music swell around me like sea around those rocks. David often finds his ‘I’ becomes an observer, becomes ‘I’ that am not always aware of & one which David never resists. 

David walks down the street, looks eagerly for my reflection in store-windows There I am. Safe as always. David watches people around him, watches their reflections beside him. Then I glance carefully at them to see how close their reflections are like them. Sometimes my eyes linger too long on the real, on the flesh, on the motion of muscle beneath cloth. A boy, about nineteen, returns David’s unseeing gaze with a deeper, threatening gaze of his own greeds.

I go into a store. My favorite record store. David looks at the other customers with smugness. He is safer than them. Here I know what I want. I go straight for it. There it is.

A girl watches me. I feel her eyes on David’s quickly moving hands. I glanced at her. Jean. She is a past lover of mine. One I haven’t seen for sometime. I haven’t quite given up my need for her.

“David? How are you?” She asks, moves closer, eyes brighten, hand reaches to touch David’s.

“Good. And you Jean?”

“Can’t complain. Still listening to the same?” Her voice eager, her perfume brings back morning memories.

“Nope,” I hold out the record. “I’m trying for a little more romance.”

“A little more! Out of Debussy & into Chopin. That’s quite a jump.” She smiles, takes the lp & turns it over, as if the cover, the change in direction, would betray something new to her, about this man. “I prefer his waltzes. These scherzos are little too … too …”

“Melodramatic?” I take the record from her. “Would you like to go for a coffee or maybe a drink? I’ve been wondering how you were.”

A pause. “Sure. I haven’t much to do till I go to work.”

David pays for the lp. Something new to look forward to when I get home. Out of the corner of my eye I see the same boy. Yes, nineteen, the firm age. The boy wears overalls with no shirt. The side-buttons are undone. Flesh shows. The boy is so well tanned a sharp break of white glares from the unbuttoned side. The overalls are tight around his thighs & calves. The hair on his chest thickly swirled.

Clumsily I put my change away David feels a strange urgency. A need to follow & question the boy, a need to look at something else. I turn abruptly to Jean. “Well, where would you like to go?”

“Any place quiet & cool.”

“I think there’s a lounge just across the street. A cold drink seems in order.”

“Oh, lovely.” She take his arm easily & guides him “I was hoping you would suggest something like that.”

“We still have the old ESP?” I laugh, cross the street, we must make a fine couple. Then see our reflection coming at us from the lounge window A fine couple indeed. How did we ever fall out of love?

Jean goes to the furniture store window next to the lounge. “Oh, Look!” She points past their refection at a living-room set. “Isn’t that pine fantastic.”

“Swedish-mod ripoff.” David dismisses while sees us married in the living-room, me lounging carelessly on the severe couch while she … Funny I see her there but not doing anything outside of completing the picture.

We moved on to the lounge. The Black Hat.

“I’ve never been in here,” I tell her, to avoid being blamed the place isn’t perfect. New places aren’t safe.

“I’ve been here a few times,” she reassures, knowing his dislike of new places. “It’s really very nice, quiet, especially this time of day.”

part 2 next week

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The Kenton Experience

There is a genre of classical music in which pop music is turned into ‘serious’ music. There are lps of the Beatles done as Bach. The Vitamin Quartet has made a career of interpreting the likes of Coldplay, Lady Gaga, even Led Zeppelin as string quartets. All of which I have tucked away in my collection. Of these cross-covers one of my favourites is The Kennedy Experience. 

Led by violin virtuoso Nigel Kennedy this Experience tackles – you guessed it – The Jimi Hendrix Experience. But instead of turning Hendrix into classical music it stretches into an exploration of wider musical horizons. Some meditative, Third Stone From The Sun; some rock out, Fire. All are fantastic & resonant. Music to treasure.

Near by on the shelf is Stan Kenton: 100+ Classic Greats: includes West Side Story. This high quality easy listening jazz. Instrumental music falls into so many categories – some of Kenton’s work falls under exotica, some nightclub, some late night cafe stuff, all good stuff though. This is a jumbled assemblage of a dozen or so lps dumped into a collection. I’ve arranged some of the tracks back into their original release lps, some I left randomized. The Latin tracks were easy to sort, a set of blues, one of show tunes, one of jazz standards.

Kenton is not a challenging band leader but is never boring either. You want challenging try Coltrane 🙂 You want boring try Kenny G. My partner had Kenton’s West Side Story as lp & I enjoyed it enough to replace it with mp3 version & when I checked it out on iTunes up popped this massive collection of 100+ Kenton, for under $10.00. So I bought it. Well worth it.

Another similar massive collection was ‘Songs You Know & Love.’ Songs I knew from movies, some my parents favourites & some from the radio. Performed mostly by original artists. Things like McGuire Sisters: Cuddle Up A Little Closer; Dean Martin: When Your Smiling; Eddie Cantor: Ma, She’s Making Eyes at Me. Another great public-domain jumble from iTunes for under $10.00. 

As I listen to these I wonder how long it’ll be before there are similar mp3 jumbles of today’s stars?

Anticipation 3

Another day Martin would never forget was the day he finally believed the prophecy. As a child he didn’t question the truth of what his parents had told him. At about fourteen he began to doubt, within himself, this weird reality that his parents had forced on him.

The doubt crystallized during a school seminar on ‘The Future.’ Because it had been set out for him ‘to heal the world’ he had never given his future much thought. He had no concept of what he wanted to be when he grew up. The Book made no career references, no hints as to whether he should become a doctor or a garbage man. What profession would suit the healer of the world the most?

His listened to other kids talk about how they had discussed their futures with their parents. Futures that included colleges, marriages; futures that had real plans. All he discussed with his folks was how was school today. He realized how abnormal his parents were. Maybe even a little crazy. The Book, The healing of the world! What a crock! They didn’t even go to church.

He carried those doubts for the next few years. Those years of believing his parents were insane were the worst. He spent days plotting to have them legally committed. He never spoke to his parents about his fears of their sanity. After all, there was food on the table. Rarely any shouting or fighting. A very normal family in all ways but this one little wrinkle – The Book. He pulled away from them & their crazy notions.

His best days were those on which he forgot the prophecy. Sometimes he even had weeks of that blissful forgetting, in which he was just a man plodding through his life as best as anyone else.

The worse days were the ones when he felt painfully trapped by a fate he couldn’t alter. A fate he didn’t particularly care for & which he had tried to escape any way he could.

“What if I die in an accident?” He once asked his mother. “Then what happens to the world? Huh?”

“You won’t Martin. You won’t die.” She admonished him gently.

So he became a daredevil. Drinking hard, playing even harder, fast cars, high mountains. Seeking to escape but always being faced with what couldn’t be changed.

Though his twenties he couldn’t make decisions. He turned his will & his life over to any escape he could find. Alcohol, heroin, women, men. It didn’t matter. His life was charmed & cursed both at the same time.

One fateful night he had a car accident. A little stoned he hit an icy patch, swerved into another car, & rolled his own. He lived. He needed steel pins to put his leg together. Three people died in the other car. He was unconscious for two days.

His mother was there beside his bed. The Book on her lap. As he opened his eyes, she read, with a calm flatness, “Even as a vegetable Martin will fulfill the prophecy. The decision is his.”

“Hell. Hell. Hell.” he muttered painfully. “Why doesn’t it tell me more. I want to know what to do till then.”

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Village Stripper

Instrumental music runs from smooth jazz, to movie background, elevator music, exotica lounge jazz & music for shopping. The key to it is that it is unobtrusive. At once time it would surface on the hit parade: i.e. Stranger on the Shore by Aker Bilk or Percy Faith’s Theme from A Summer Place. Think Lawrence Welk smooth, James Last banal, Kenny G inoffensive. 

I came a cross a boxed 3 lp set of Bert Kaempfert – Strangers in the Night. He is neither the best or the worst of this genre. His orchestrions are safe, at times there are various ‘shadings’ with wordless chorus or hammond organ for variety. Originals & covers of popular songs. Good in small doses 🙂 But small doses aren’t for me as I also have an mp3 of 100+ Classic Greats. (clearly public domain)

The lp to cd transfers also include David Rose: The Stripper – known for TV show themes & as orchestra leader on the Red Skeleton Show, he was at one time married to Martha Raye, later to Judy Garland. The Stripper is that classic sleazy sax shimmy & the rest of the lp keeps that brassy mood. Sort of Dixieland with a dash of banjo are The Village Men – I reclaimed this lp on one of my visits to the east coast. It had been a Xmas present from my folks. An odd mix of styles with things like ‘007 Stomp.’ The cover found on line brings back memories. The lp is available via amazon.uk but I don’t think I really need clean copies – the sound of the needle on vinyl is integral to this music now.

Bill Butler at the Pump Room (https://archive.macleans.ca/article/1962/10/20/chronicle-about-a-revue-maigret-burnford-reed-and-a-possible-liberace) – classic cocktail lounge recorded live in a now defunct Toronto club. I picked it up at the long-departed used record/books store that was walking distance from my house. The Kaempfert mp3 includes Songs You Know & Love; plus a bit of Stan Kenton. 

In fact next to this cd is an mp3 collection of Stan Kenton’s 100+ Original Recordings! This is solid, easy jazz. A step above Kaempfert & moving in the Ellington direction. These 100+ collections are randomized song dumps of lps. Which in Kenton’s case meant that themed lps have been broken up. ‘Themed’ is a popular structure – an lp of show tunes, of bossa nova, etc. 

I did reassemble some of Kenton’s as I did have his West Side Story lp at one time. Also I reassembled his lp of songs from Hair. Both are sublime. There are some collected around latino, film music, even TV themes. If you want easy jazz, that is real jazz, Stan Kenton is a great musician to start with.

Finally to round out & break up the mood I added Songs You Know & Love – more public domain original recording of classic instrumentals & songs by the likes of Judy Garland, Eddie Cantor, The McGuire Sisters, The Mills Brothers. Songs that my mother loved & that I recalled from movies, radio shows. I guess this is now deep nostalgia because today golden oldies means songs by Depeche Mode or Ultravox 🙂

This story goes back, way, way back, to when I was living in Cape Breton. I have done minimal editing for things like spelling, punctuation & name consistency. As you may gather I was not out at the time but clearly wrestling with the process. 

No Fanfare

1

The piano was in tune. I was amused. It had been such a long time since I sat down to play that hearing such perfect F# was almost shocking. I’d expected the upright to sound like the room; cluttered, yet nearly ordered, a confusion of opposites. 

In one corner, between the window & the stereo, was an untidy pile of books, all of which dealt with Surrealist painters; armchairs from at least four different decades of Eaton’s, each upholstered in a different floral print but all the prints were in warm blues & orange. All nearly in tune, a minor chord connecting them, a subtle Debussy harmony.

“First time, eh, David?”

I stopped exploring the piano to listen to his question intermingle with the fading F, underscored by the sound of Scotch being poured over ice at a small bar in other corner of the room. 

The question caught me unprepared, not sure whether to answer with bravado or innocence. I played a few random chords, deciding on innocence because I had accepted this invitation to find some way of progressing beyond bravado.

“Yes.” I admitted. “Does it show?” I laughed to cover my nervousness. Carefully closing the piano I turned on the bench to survey the calculated unbalance of the room once more.

In the brief silence between drinks-mixed & drinks-brought I felt a terrifying, dizzying, self-pity, thinking that I must be pretty screwed up to actually let myself go this far. Lonely wasn’t an easy word for me to use about myself, it smacked of self-pity, rather than the self-realization one expected an admission of loneliness to bring. My need to get behind that admission to its cause brought me here to actualize, or at least confront the cause.

“You play well.”

“Not really, but, thanks.” I mumbled taking my drink & sipping it. “I may fumble with some taste, but play? I’ve never had the discipline or the inclination. Like I said before I am a compulsive listener, a professional admirer.”

“Not too stiff?’

“My fingers?”

“No, the Scotch. I’m not good at judging. I pour some add ice then pour a dash more.”

“This is fine.” I sipped again. The drink didn’t blur my vision or attack my liver. I swivelled on the bench & flipped the piano open. “This amazes me.” I played the F# again, blindly running through a Rachmaninoff prelude. 

“Your piano is so in tune.” I explained, apologetically dropping my hands to my knees.

“Don’t be so nervous.” He sat beside me, briefly putting his hand on my leg. “First times don’t have to be worst times.”

“Sorry, Steve.” I looked him in the eyes, greener than I’d expected in the bright light over the upright, then looked away. “Am I making an ass of myself?”

I was playing lame-duck, not sure of what else to do. Physical, sexual contact with another man had been on my mind for some time, elaborate fantasies of the perfect motions & emotions but those fantasies didn’t prepare or equip me for taking this opportunity. All the clever openings seemed trite. I couldn’t treat this as blithely as I’d just treated Rachmaninoff.

“Not at all. But you are right about one thing.” He reached up & flicked off the piano lamp.

“Which is?”

“You do fumble tastefully.” He laughed putting his arm round me.

“You’re being kind.” I got up & walked over to the window. The touch of his arm was unsettling. I knew touching was inevitable but I wasn’t prepared for it.

“I’ve seen you in the park before.” Steve said. “What ever became of the little red-head?”

“Jean?” I knew the name wouldn’t mean anything to him but it felt good to say it to someone. “We drifted apart. She felt something missing from our life together, something I couldn’t seem to understand.” Something I did understand but never accepted it as being enough to keep us apart but at the same time a something I was afraid would tear us even more than it had, if I’d been able to … Hell, blame falls where it wants, it can’t be altered.

“So when she left, you started having doubts about your manliness?” There was a slight mocking tone to his voice that I liked, one that I used sometimes myself & that familiarity made me more trusting. Maybe I was just anxious to trust, because I never fully trusted Jean. How could I trust her when I couldn’t be honest with myself.

“Partially. I noticed you in the park. Sometimes alone, often with other men.” 

When he approached me I knew the life he led. Not that he swished, wore makeup or the like, but he didn’t hide. 

“Though doubts is a bit too negative. Puzzled would be more like it. Puzzled my manliness.” I used the same mocking tone for manliness as he had.

part 2 next week

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Keith Jarrett

By Keith Jarrett I have box sets:  The Impulse years: 73-74: 5 cds, 75-76: 4 cds.  On 4 mp3 cds: Facing You, In The Light, Luminessence (Jan Garbarek), Arbour Zena, Ruta & Daitya (Jackie deJohnette), Bremen, Lausanna, Eyes Of The Heart, the Koln Concert, Staircase Hourglass Sundial Sand, My Song, Standards NY Sessions; as stand-alone: Yesterdays.

So I am a bit of a fan. I can’t recall which of his was the first recording I had it was either the solo studio work Facing You or the Live Bremen concert. Both excellent places to start if you are unfamiliar with Jarrett. This is jazz that moves into modern classical with such ease you can’t tell you’ve made the move. I had some of the Impulse years as lps & picked up the two box sets 2nd hand to replace them. They are all group work with bonus cuts added to reach release, Fine modern jazz that rarely crosses into aggressive disharmony. Not easy listening though.

The bulk of these are ECM with various sidemen. All are pretty much amazing as he explores orchestral work, various instruments: he plays, besides piano, organ, flute, sax. One of my favourites is ‘Ruta & Daitya’ with the great Jackie deJohnette. It is perhaps the most playful of all this work – fun & lighthearted. ‘Arbour Zena’ is meditative & soaring. There are no disappoint or bad Keith Jarrett recordings.

His later work are explorations of jazz standards & are great listening but lack, to me, the freshness of his earlier work. He’s also recorded classical word by the likes of Bach, Soshakovich which I have heard but not added to my collection. 

Rounding out some of mp3 cds is work by: Jan Garbarek: Dis, Jan Garbarek/Egberto Gismonti: Sol Do Melo Dio: Garbarek is another ECM star with his ethereal sax. Dis is his work with a word harp. John Scofield: Hand Jive;: Scofield is a jazz guitarist & this set is kind of funky. Really funky is Special EFX: Party; A Jazziz sampler cd from Nov 1994

Another fine pianist is Andrew Hill: Hommage. Master jazz piano McCoy Tyner with bassist Stanley Clarke is excellent. Stanley Clarke”s Journey To Love is prime late 80’s jazz that I love – buy it. Another amazing bass palyer Christian McBride: Finger Painting. Roy Haynes with Booker Ervin: Cracklin’ – fine set of almost tradition jazz that swings. Finally Groove Collective: We The People, It’s All In Your Mind, People People Music Music – funky soulful less pop that Booker T not as jazzy as The Jazz Messengers – the sort of jazz that shows up for chase scenes in movies but better 🙂

Don’t Quote Me

Jen looked a the people hovering around the scene. She wanted to call it a crime scene but that wasn’t clear. Manonotti could have had a heart attack. Whatever the cause these are the people who would have been called to the location. Police, medics, TTC security. All making the morning transit even slower. Worst of all, no washroom. They had even taped off the women’s room. 

She supposed that was some sort of precautionary effort. It was hard enough for the transit system to maintain some sort of positive public image as it was. 

Jen knew the All News would want the story but she had to know what the story was. First she had to confirm who it was that was found. Her sister had been wrong before.

She approached one of the less busy, female officials. She had found women were often more cooperative with women. She quickly glanced at the officers name tag.

“Officer Fenton, I’m Jen Oliver with the All News News.” She showed her press card.

“Can’t tell you much.” 

‘Maybe you can confirm what I already know?”

“Maybe.” She laughed.

“A body was found?”

‘“Oh yeah, that’s for sure.”

‘It was councillor Peter Manonotti?”

‘That hasn’t been officially confirmed.”

“But that’s what you’ve heard.”

“Yes. But don’t quote me on that.”

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McRae Baker Faithful

I love creating mp3 cds of mixed styles, generations & voices. On this one there is Carmen McRea, Anita Baker & Marianne Faithful. Can you imagine them doing an album together? Neither can I. I picked up a couple of 2nd Carmen’s lps decades ago & enjoyed them enough to transfer them to cd, then to mp3. I like her take on Alfie. The songs are jazz/pop standards & her style bridges jazz & pop nicely without becoming lounge. Not a mellow voice but pleasant enough. She’s in the Lena Horne, Nancy Wilson mold. Here I have: Sings The Great American Songwriters, Alfie, Portrait of Carmen.

 

I enjoy Anita Baker. She has a warm, sensual voice than could wring emotion out the phonebook (do they still publish phonebooks?). A female Barry White. She sings about love, unrequited, betrayed, lost, fulfilled & unexpected. The songs tend to merge into one another though – unless one is a real fan it is hard to tell them apart or even to tell which lp any one song is from. Comfortable, non-demanding easy-listening adult music. Psalms to codependency. Here I have Compositions, Rhythm of Love, My Everything. Copied from a friend’s collection.

Finally, as a real contrast to the other two, is Marianne Faithful’s Strange Weather. This is a stunning lp filled with songs like Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Her voice is astounding, her world-weary lived-in interpretation of these songs is dour but not defeated. I love this lp & the emotional depth & history she brings without making the work maudlin or depressing. As she sings ‘As Tears Go By’ you sense that she doesn’t regret crying but that she’s not crying anymore. She’s a survivor. A must have.  

Micturition

Jim had to piss. Badly. He cursed the extra large coffee in his hand. If he didn’t have this so called important meeting at work, he would have stuck to the usual medium but felt he needed that extra zip of caffeine to get through it. Now here he was in transit and needing to take a pee so bad he was tempted to find a corner on the subway car to do it. He’d had to take this leak for the last two stops. He had another dozen or so to go and knew he couldn’t hold it. 

So against his better instinct he stepped off at the Bloor/Yonge station. He knew there were public washrooms there. The thought of going in there filled him with dread. Thousands of men a day went into this bathroom and the place had to be a cess pool of filth, stink & germs. 

The washroom was tidier than he expect though, but busy. Men of various heights at all the urinals. It looked like the last toilet stall was unoccupied. Even if all the urinals had been free he would have headed for a stall. Privacy was the key in public places.

He could smell shit. The smell got stronger as he neared the stall. Just what he needed. Some people couldn’t flush. Was that why this one was unoccupied. He nudged it open with his elbow. His hands touched nothing. His foot slid a bit on the damp floor and he nudged the door with more force that he intended. Something stopped it from inside.

“Sorry.”

There was someone in there. The door bumped whomever it was on the head. The whomever slumped forward off the toilet pushing the door shut again. One arm slid into the next booth. The head protruded from under the door. It lay at a weird angle to the rest of the body.

Jim dropped his coffee and stepped back.

“There’s a body there.” He said to the man he bumped into.

The next stall emptied. Jim stepped in over the arm. Body or not he had to take a piss. Damned if he was going to wet his pants and then have to talk to the police.

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H I Jazz

 

I picked up jazz pianist Andrew Hill’s One For One decades ago at Cheapies. It’s a compilation double album of previously unissued studio tracks recorded in 1965, 1969 and 1970. Adventurous post-bop jazz in various group settings & all excellent. It’s my own lp to cd transfer. In an mp3 collection I have his Hommage (1975) solo piano works that is good solid jazz. This is not supper club music 🙂

Next is a stand alone cd of Dave Holland Big Band: What Goes Around. I love ‘modern’ big band. This propulsive, meditative, inventive & highly enjoyable. Holland is a double-bass players & appears in dozens of ensembles on ECM. A great started for anyone testing the jazz waters.

impulsive! is a 2cd stand-alone set of remixes of impulse original recordings by the likes of Mingus & Pharoah Sanders. Remixes were a thing for a time. Classical music given drum & bass, or breakbeat in the mix. Impulse, a major jazz label, let remixers into their back catalogue with good results. Though adding a hip-hop track to update a piece isn’t always the way to go. Some turn out great such as the re-working of Sanders: Astral Travelling. CD1 are the remixes, CD2 are the unadulterated originals. Good stuff.

Jazziz was a monthly magazine that included a sampler CD. It was difficult to subscribe to though – I had to pay a month at a time, in advance & sometimes the issue didn’t arrive 😦 Under J is the January 1995 sampler – that did lead to me purchasing cds by Jai Uttal & Bobby Previte. It was too frustrating getting issues so I gave up. It is still publishing on line.

The Viewing

Later that afternoon after taking too many pictures of the decayed bandstand in the park I figured it was time to head home. Once again the dilemma was which streets paved with banal memories did I want to take.

One end of the park tapered off into the downtown area, where I’d already been and another corner faced a row of the larger, wealthier homes of the town. Most of which were now lawyers and accountants offices. 

One of them was still a funeral home. The one my mother had mentioned this morning where there was to be a viewing for Mr Razov. I decided to go in. This would be something that held no memory. I’d never been in this place till now. A new experience in the old home town.

The front foyer was dark in brushed browns and gold. a young lady stepped from a corner.

“Welcome to Cherished Funeral Home. Who are you looking for?” She asked in a concerned, hushed voice.

“Mr. Razov.”

“Ah, yes. This way. He’s resting in the small chapel at the back. follow me. There hasn’t been many in but that’s often the case. Here we are.”

The coffin was at the far side of the room a spray of flowers at either end of it. It was opened but I wasn’t prepared to look at him.

On a shelf along the wall where photos of Mr. Razor. Several of him, labelled as being in Novonikolayevsk. One with his family – a wife with two small children. A newspaper clipping of him in the Toronto airport where he defected. A couple with the chess club – him standing over two pairs of us we studied the pieces on the chess boards in front of us. Even without seeing his face I recognized Howard Delaney from the back of his head. How long had it been since I seen Howard. 

“Good afternoon.” A deep voice from behind me asked. “You knew my father?”


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Joe Henderson

At one time Eve Arden was playing the gal pal in every other movie, then Joe Pesci was doing the same sort of pal thing for another generation. Sidekicks who were more than mere foils for the lead but brought an energy than enhanced even the palest material. There was time when it seemed Mary Clayton was singing backup on every pop recording out of Britain. 

Jazz also has famous side men & one of them is tenor sax player Joe Henderson, who over decades, starting in the 50’s, recorded with nearly everyone, including Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock & Miles Davis – to name a few. His style went from hard bop to jazz-funk fusion to not quite mellow explorations of music by Jobim, Gershwin. He was always tasteful, edgy when needed & inventive without calling attention to himself. 

As a group leader I have his early Mode for Joe tucked in a Jimmy Smith mp3 collection. As stand-alones I have Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn; So Near, So Far: Musings for Miles; Double Rainbow: Music of Jobim; Big Band; Porgy & Bess. Any of these is not only a good introduction to Henderson but also to the musicians he is exploring.

A word or two about Billy Strayhorn. He was writer, pianist, arranger for Duke Ellington for many years. He was totally out as a gay man from the get-go & survived behind the scenes on his talent. He never became a ‘headliner’ thanks to being out. Read ‘Lush Life’ the David Hajdu biography of Strayhorn for a look at an amazing life.

If you want to start a jazz exploration any Joe Henderson is a perfect place to start.

The Red Menace

“In light of recent events Mr. Razov will not be returning to the chess club this year.” Mr. Bannister 

shrugged.

There was a mutter of dismay.

“I know he has been a great teacher for you.”

“We wouldn’t have won the inter-provincials without him.” Harold slumped in his chair.

“I know we’ll miss him, but you won’t forget the strategies he showed you.”

There was only seven of us in the Davisville High-School Chess Club but we had done better than any of the sports teams in the school. But of course the sports teams got the most notice. Our first place trophies didn’t even end-up on display with their third place runner-up plaques.

“Let’s draw to see who’ll play who today.” Mr. Bannister forced a smile. 

The recent events where Mr. Razov being hospitalized. He’d been found badly beaten on the steps of his little house. No one knew why. The police had issued a ‘no information at this time’ statement to the paper a week ago with no follow up.

We suspected it had something to do with his being from the Russia. Some speculated that the Soviet Secret Police had come to make sure he didn’t spill state secrets or something like that. Maybe wanted to stop him from teaching us chess. He had been a Grand Master before he escaped to Canada.

“I know you are worried about Mr. Razov but you have to be able to focus on anything to be a champion. After all he won his world title while planning to escape, knowing full well they had his family back there.”