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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Jethro Tull


I am amused by the press Lizzo gets for bringing the flute into pop music when decades ago Jethro Tull brought flute into pop in a bigger way. Sure Moody Blues used it occasionally but never the same driving way Ian Anderson did. I played those early lps constantly. I loved the scraggy hippy look the band embraced which was a strong contrast to the complex blues baroque jazz pop music they  produced.

I have stand alone’s This Was, Stand Up, Aqualung, Thick As A Brick. In mp3 collections Benefit, A Passion Play, War Child – plus another version of Aqualung that has been remastered etc. All with various bonus tracks & interviews. I had all as lp at one time & gradually replaced them with either cd or mp3 versions.

Tull was the epitome of progrock without delving too much is not the classical end of things, sure there is enough of that but they weren’t flaunting it, the way ELP did. Lyrically the songs were about love, the system, war. Two lps Thick as a Brick (inspiration for Another Brick In The Wall?) & A Passion Play – are two long suites – with mp3 one gets to hear these without having to turn over the lp :-). Brick is commentary on British class & schools, Passion is a fun mess & includes a rather twee fairy tale in the middle of it. Both lapse into British music hall at times.

Later lps – War Child, Songs from the Wood are good with real social commentary & the band is drifting into Celtic folk territory more & more. If you are unfamiliar with Tull start with This was or Stand Up.


On the mp3 collection I’ve added Noel Harrison: Collage – sweet nostalgia for me. Maggie Bell: Queen of the Night, Suicide Sal – bluesy work by a British Maria Muldaur – adult pop. I rounded out this mp3 collection with the classic Steely Dan: Countdown to Ecstasy.

Set A Spell

‘It’s dry.’ his chair creaked as he leaned back against the sun-stripped paint in the shady part of the porch.

‘Been that way for a while now.’ The other rubbed his eyebrows.

‘Yep.’ The third rubbed his nose.

‘Looking to stay that way for awhile longer, if you ask me.’

‘Yep.’

‘Don’t need no one to tell us what’s as plain as the nose on your face.’

‘Yep. That’s right hard to miss.’ He rubbed his nose again with a small grin.

‘Not much we can do about this dry, is there?’

‘Time for …’

Silence.

The three men turned to look at the fourth. He leaned back against the porch rail and spit into the dust.

‘What! What!’ He dabbed at his mouth with the tattered almost-white hanky from his back pocket. ‘You all been thinking the same thing. I know. I can tell when that thought is in the air.’

‘Least you got enough wet in ya ta spit. Some of us aren’t so lucky.’

‘Takes more than luck.’ the first leaned out of the shade. ‘You got something up at that place of yours we don’t know about?’

‘Me? Yeah. Come on up and I’ll show you the hidden river that runs through Dust Canyon. It comes up right under my bedroom. Keeps the missus happy to be so damp all night.’

‘Good thing. Nice missus you got there.’

‘Yep. Some would envy a gal like that.’

‘Sure is dry though. Can’t remember seeing it this dry before.’

‘Years back it was bad. Real bad. That was the last time we …’ he pulled back into the shadow, took off his straw hat to fan his face.

‘You remember that?’

‘Sure enough. I was just a boy, mind you. Just old enough not to worry about being asked to participate.’

‘That was the Gimbly kid wasn’t it.’

‘Not going to say one way or the other. Can’t. Not proper to talk about that sort of stuff. Not here or now. Too much talk takes the power away from it. You understand?’

‘Yep.’ 

The heat couldn’t be avoided. The sun blistered down on the four of them. Each edged more into the scant shade the porch afforded. Time to make plans and in the heat thinking became harder, slower.

‘Can’t take much of this. It’s hot enough to set things afire.’

‘Almost. We don’t need to worry about that. Nothing left to burn. Is there?’

The four of them laughed.

A black-haired girl, about five, came out of the house with a bucket of water.

‘Ma says you might want a splash of this.’

They looked at the water. The first tickled it with his finger tips and splayed the others with it.

‘See. Told you this was the right house to come to. If anything’s gonna done. This is where we’ll find it.’

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every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Isis Of March

Next on the shelf is an mp3 collection of Isis. I’ve blogged about Isis before so check that out. I recently watched Some Like It Hot, which includes an all-female swing band. No matter how musically inventive or competent such bands were they were always considered novelty acts not serious swing bands. Such was the case of Isis. The market wasn’t open to an all-female version of Chicago. Women in rock were usually limited to vocals,  not playing instruments, other than piano or acoustic guitar, themselves:-)

Also in this compilation are two releases by Lowell Fulsom: Drifting Blues, In A Heavy Bag. This is solid r&b. There were a couple of tracks by him on the Rojak Story compilation. I liked his old school soul sound & his voice, so downloads a couple of his solo releases. His cover of ‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road’ takes a road the Beatles would never have taken 🙂

Here as well is Otis Blackwell’s These Are My Songs. Never heard of him? You’ve probably heard some of his songs though, which include Great Balls of Fire, Don’t Be Cruel, All Shook Up & more. His take on his songs is refreshing. I always love to hear songwriters doing their work. I also never knew that these big hits where the work of the same writer.

For some reason I added Jethro Tull’s A Passion Play: The Château d’Hérouville Sessions to this mp3 collection – a classic lp I wanted to replace with better quality sound. The original lp was two sides with no track breaks. Here it has seamless track breaks & no need to turn it over half way through. The Château d’Hérouville Sessions includes other takes of some of Passion Play songs plus earlier versions of songs such as Skating Away. The sound quality is excellent even if A Passion Play is a bit overwrought 🙂

To round out this cd I added: Arthur Brown & Vincent Crane: Faster Than The Speed of Light. Crazy World world is the best known work by these two – Crane was keyboards on that lp. Neither followed it with another big hit but they reunited in 1980 for this release. Fun & surprisingly prog-rock with an Emerson, Lake & Palmer vibe without being as self-serious. Brown’s vocals are playful & the production values & engineering is excellent. Too bad it vanished almost as soon as it was released. Worth seeking out.

Snake Skine

“Priestess and the Snake Skine” by Davina K’ltra – set in the rich fertile islands of the Caribbean the third novel of Davina K’ltra continues her fascination with things dark and lurking. 

One almost expects characters from the previous books to walk in the door at each turn of the plot. It is almost as if she had merely changed the names with the help of word search, the plots are so similar and yet one keeps reading with pleasure.

As in her previous two novels – “Snake Skine Sisters” and “Sinner in Snake Skine “- an innocent person, often of indeterminate gender, finds themselves drawn to the world and power of a vodou like cult.

In each the innocent victim is unaware till the final moment that there is no turning back now that the door has been opened. There is no one to turn to when the very people thought to be protectors turn out to be Sirens, lures. There is no safety anywhere.

Even, as in this novel, when the innocent makes an escape off the island and back to the shores of the good old USA there is no real escape. Everyone, it seems, is connected with this nefarious cult.

The major departure in “Priestess and the Snake Skine” is the gender of the innocent. In the previous two novels it has probably been female. This time it seems to be male. A young Police Academy graduate celebrates his graduation with a two week jaunt in the Caribbean Islands before he is to take up his post in Detroit. Kaleb Jones comes from a middle class black family and has proven himself to be an open minded young man. Boxing champion for his class and built to be a prime example of the best America has to offer.

We meet his family first and enjoy the last weeks of his police training. A deceptive start for K’ltra, who seems to be trying to expand the horizons of her novels by opening them to new locations. Too bad the action once it does get started is so cookie cutter.

Perhaps though it is the predictability of this fatal action that allows the reader comfort to follow it. The ritual scenes are fevered and fast, the blood flows and even when it becomes human we are ready, almost wanting to participate ourselves so we can slip into our own dangerous skine.

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every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet