Modern Jazz Crusaders

Moving along the ‘j’ shelf of my jazz collection we come to the Jazz Crusaders. I have as stand alones: at the Light House, Chile Con Soul, Old Socks New Shoes. On a nearly 7 hours  Mp3 collection: Les McCann & the Jazz Crusaders: Jazz Waltz, & Way Back Home 4 cd set. plus; The Modern Jazz Quartet: Plastic Dreams, Bluesology, In Memoriam 1974. These groups represent opposite ends of the jazz spectrum.

One of my co-workers when I lived in Sydney was a major jazz fan. He loaned me many amazing lps by musicians, such a Hampton Hawes, whom I still love today. One lp was Tough Talk by the Jazz Crusaders. At the time I didn’t realize it was a best of compilation. I was taken by the use of harpsichord almost as a percussion instrument. I heard it often in pop by groups like the Left Banke, Procol Harum. 

At that time I made an lp to cassette copy of many of the lps I borrowed from him & eventually replaced them with cds, then mp3. I never did find Tough Talk 😦 But did come across a 4 cd collection of the Crusaders & then some stand alones of stuff not in the collection. The group’s sound was rooted in hard bop, but with a slant towards R&B and soul music; a jazzier version of Booker T & the MG’s. The sort of music that shows up in movie scenes set in hipster night clubs.

The Modern Jazz Quartet as their name indicates a ‘serious’ quartet playing more traditional jazz – not quite chamber music but very controlled & harmonious – not freeform experimental like say, Coltrane. Piano, vibes, upright bass, quiet drums. No jazz-rock-fusion here. 

I bought Plastic Dreams because of the amazing cover art. I had never heard of them before so wasn’t prepared for what I did hear.  Jazzed up Christmas carols, jazzed up classical music & originals. Not as bouncy as Brubeck but similar. Tasteful, controlled like a dry martini – whereas The Crusaders are funky, nearly juke-joint sloppy like a Singapore Sling. I enjoy them both. 

On The Exams

She was the first person I had met who had suffered the loss of an elbow. I had so many questions I wanted to ask but knew here in class wouldn’t be the right time or place. I had to know how did it happen. The nub was so smooth. Almost as if there had never been anything beyond it. Did she feel anything when it happened. Did she wake up in this morning and her elbow was gone.

A couple of the students had gone to the office to get the vice-principal. It felt like we were telling on her but something had to be done and we students didn’t know what to do.

Mr Jackson took her by the shoulders and gently lead her out of the room. “You boys behave. Someone will be with you directly.”

We did behave. We sat still, silent looking at the scattered smudge she had put on the blackboard. A few of us tried to copy it as exactly as we could. One never knew what was going to be on the exams

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Amen King Baby

Next in the ‘m’ section is Mighty Baby: The Action, Mighty Baby, Jug Of Love, Tasting The Life Live 1971; Amen Corner (Scream and Scream Again);  King Crimson: In The Court of the Crimson King (Bonus tracks). Beautiful People: If 60’s were 90’s: bonus Remixes.

Mighty Baby started out as The Action. I’d never heard of them until a track came up in my Tumblr feed a few years ago. There is an endless number of this good British bands that never made it to the North American market. Good wasn’t enough 🙂 The Lps are enjoyable if unexceptional. Solid pub pop that reflects prevailing trends with a touch of prog, some strong Traffic influences, psychedelic & music hall. Sound quality is good. 

Amen Corner is similar though more ‘arty.’ They reminded me of groups like Savoy Brown, Procol Harum. I knew their name but had never heard them until they showed up in the horror movie  ‘Scream and Scream Again.’ There was movie trend to include scenes with actual current pop groups. So Amen shows up in a disco scene singing the title song & looking like a dandified version of the Zombies. It’s clear that the dancers aren’t facing to the song the band is supposedly playing. They don’t have any scenes with the film’s star Vincent Price. Another fine British group that never crossed the ocean This is a sort of ‘best of’ collection. btw Amen Corner is out of Cardiff – Welsh pop 🙂

King Crimson is a British group that did make in big in America. I love In The Court of the Crimson King & added this re-mastered released that has live bonus tracks. This is the epitome of prog rock, psychedelic flower-power pop. It lives up to its reputation.  

Lastly a reissue of Beautiful People’s If 60’s were 90’s with bonus remixes. As this is sampled & remixes of Jimi Hendrix to begin with it now has remixes of some of those remixes. I love this lp – I had it for a time as a stand-alone then opted for this remastered reissue. Hendrix purists dislike this but it is fun, funky, inventive and the remixed remixes are great. 

In The Class Room

“Could you pass me that book’?” Mrs. McLean gestured with the stump of her left arm.

“This one?” I picked up the English text that had fallen off her desk.

She had two arms yesterday. In her sleeveless flowered yellow dress the stump was odd. A left arm that ended just before the elbow and nothing on the other side. As if it was a trick of the light; that my eyes were almost seeing what was once there. 

I didn’t want to stare too obviously. It wasn’t red or raw, the end was smooth, healed. It seemed impossible to me that less that twenty-four hours ago she had a flesh and blood arm there & now it was gone. I wanted ask her what happened. Then I hoped maybe she’d tell us what it had happened.

She went to the board and started to write with an apparatus two of the students helped strap to her left arm. Her writing was jagged, child-like & it got worse as she went along. At one point she rubbed some of it off with her right shoulder. She stopped abruptly with her back to us, her head pressed to the blackboard, sobbing.

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Midnight Movies Madness

This mp3 compilation is devoted to soundtracks & music related to soundtracks. On it are Midnight Cowboy – John Barry: Nilsson, Elephant’s Memory; Zabriskie Point (Expanded) Pink Floyd, Jerry Garcia; Zachariah – James Gang, New York Rock’n’Roll Ensemble; Batman & Robin: Sun Ra; New York Rock’n’Roll Ensemble: Reflections, Manos Hatzidakis; Billy Ocean: Love Zone: When The Going Gets Tough; Ghostbusters.

The last time I tired to watch Midnight Cowboy I couldn’t sit through it. Hoffman’s twitchy performance irritated me, but the music is great. The bulk of it, by soundtrack specialist John Barry, is fine. But Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talking To Me out-shines all of it & the harmonica reprise emotionally appealing. Elephant’s Memory’s songs are proto-psychedelic fun. Yes, they later backed up John & Yoko. 

I will never forget seeing the slow-motion house debris floating to Pink Floyd’s music in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point. The bizarre desert love scene to Jerry Garcia’s music is memorable too. Here I have the expanded version of the soundtrack that has more of the Garcia, Floyd & unused music commissioned for the soundtrack. A strange, counterculture film with an amazing soundtrack. I do have the dvd of the film.

Another counterculture film is Zachariah (written by The Firesign Theatre.) An anachronistic, hippy,  western parody that opens with the James Gang playing on the horizon; New York Rock Ensemble appear playing a number in the bordello scene. The plot is secondary to the gonzo film making. Great music, a fun soundtrack that also includes dialogue from the film – which I haven’t seen since it was released, not even on TCM. 

Speaking of the New York Rock Ensemble I have their Reflections with music by Manos Hatzidakis. The movie connection is Manos Hatzidakis who got an Oscar nomination for ‘Never On A Sunday.’ The Ensemble are a Juilliard trained string quartet who become a rock band combining both (before ELO did similar). Reflections is a sweet collection of songs more chamber rock than anything else. Well worth your searching out.

I downloaded this Batman and Robin music because it was performed by the great Sun Ra. Solid jazz work & fun.  Billy Ocean’s Love Zone, features When the Going Gets Tough – a song from ‘The Jewel Of The Nile.’ Ghostbusters was a huge seller thanks to Ray Parker Jr.’s iconic title song refrain ‘I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghost.’

Creak 

“They found another elbow in the park.”

My mother was doing something to eggs on the stove. The scrape of the spatula dull on the frying pan as if she wasn’t fully paying attention to anything. 

“I said they found …”

“Human remains. I heard you dear. I’m afraid they have to be scrambled.”

I hated scrambled eggs. I would cook my own breakfast but even when I started she would hover then take over as if she was doing me a favour, saying something like “Boys shouldn’t cook.”

“Left or right?” She asked.

“Huh?”

“The elbow, was it left or right.”

“I didn’t hear.” The eggs were a yellow clump with browned edges. “That makes the the forth or fifth this month.”

“Soon they’ll hav enough for a whole body.” My mother sort of half laughed. “How are the eggs.”

“Yummy.”

“Can that tell much anyway?” She sat, stirred her coffee. “After all it’s just an elbow joint isn’t it.”

“Yep.” The eggs were fine. “Severed clean. I think there’s enough for them to tell it’s an elbow from the the way the joint moves.”

“Ooo.” My mother shuddered. “Gives me the creeps to think of an elbow like that, of some csi guy manipulating with their hands.”

She manipulated an invisible elbow in the air over her coffee cup. 

“Would it squeak like a rusty door, I wonder?” She made a weird squeak with her voice. 

“Creeeeeaquee.”

We both laughed. I finished my eggs.

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Satie-Saens

The title is a little joke on putting these two French composers together. They probably knew each other at the time but were probably rivals. Both were impressionists – Saint-Saens was a more ‘serious’ composer. Both created work that has lasted. 

By Camille Saint-Saens (1835 – 1921) I have Best of 2 cds that includes Carnival of The Animals, Dance Macabre; Cello Music/Sibelius: Violin C; 2cd set of the Piano Concertos; an lp to cd transfer of various Violin music; Symphony with organ/Poulenc: Concerto for Organ. The various concertos are more romantic than impressionist.  

I knew some of his music before I knew who he was. Some pieces have/ are used for ballet, film & TV soundtracks, so you may already know them. I remember being stunned by The Aquarium in the film Days of Heaven. It a too short lush piece of a floating dream. The Swan is a ballet standard. Both are from Carnival of The Animals. If you are unfamiliar Carnival is a good place to start.

By Erik Satie (1866 – 1925): I have a cd of Piano Works; lp to cd transfers of various piano; lp to cd transfer Velvet Gentleman: an amazing electronic interpretation of this work from 1970 by The Camarata Contemporary Chamber Group. All  include the Gymnopedies. Velvet has the names of the pieces spoken before they get played & it is a delight. It is also one of the best electronic recordings every made.

Satie wasn’t taken that serious though thanks to titles like Mona Lisa’s Moustache. If he had used titles like Etude in C# he probably would have been more respected 🙂 He had a real sense humour but I’ve been told his piano music is as challenging as anything by Chopin.

I have many versions of The Gymnopedies. Orchestral, classical guitar, flute, harp even wordless soprano. It has also become a jazz standard & even shows up in rock. The pieces have a drifting, spiral quality that is very meditative, & depending on who is playing becomes quite spiritual. It certainly set the stage for every piece of new age music you’ve ever heard.

Feelings

The feel was upon him – he never knew when to expect it – it wasn’t regular like day becoming night to return to day – there was no time of day or night – it was always there – it could happen at any time – taking a shower – reading the paper – walking down the street – sound asleep – it was never sudden though – it would be a gradual awareness that yes he was feeling that way again – it wasn’t like walking into a wall or waking up to a room on fire – too subtle for that – some days he would realize he’d been lost in the feeling for hours days – not that it was unpleasant but it was something he wanted to control – to limit – to at least be aware of sooner when it was happening so he would – what – he wasn’t sure what he would do – couldn’t avoid it – couldn’t make it last longer or happen at will – it would just be there and he’d wonder when did this start or is it just the last one still happening – still on the go and he’d just forgotten he was feeling it and went on to feeling other things other ways – it somehow didn’t seem fair that he could be so powerless over his own self – it was as if he wasn’t himself – that it was his body but that he wasn’t at home in it without that sense of ah yes I can sit down when I want to – I feel how I want to when I want to –

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George Michael Way

Along with George Michael’s Faith & Older on this mp3 collection is : Hutch (Leslie Hutchinson): The Ultimate Collection – Grenada-born singer and musician was one of the biggest cabaret stars in the world during the 1920s and 1930 – a friend and lover of Cole Porter; Love Is A Drag: For Adult Listeners (Lover Man);  Elton John: Blue Moves (Sorry Seems); Flash & The Pan: (Walking In The Rain); Rexy Spice; Arsenal. A cd that spans  generations, styles, continents & levels of queerness. 

I was not a Wham! fan. They are a great pop group but too pop for me. Michael’s life, to me, is more compelling than his music not that his music is of no interest. His lyrics took one a more ‘spiritual’ turn as his career progressed. It was cool to have this out gay equivalent to Justin Timberlake, though Michael was more creative in the long run. I enjoy these albums & I am sad that fame killed him.

I heard about Hutch (Leslie Hutchinson) from a BBC series about British Black History. The host visited spots, neighbourhoods were noted but forgotten black people had lived or performed. I was intrigued by Hutch’s sexual reputation which, as the time, only enhanced his reputation. The Ultimate is a fun, sound quality  is decent, his voice pleasant & the songs are the best of the period by the likes of Cole Porter (with whom Hutch had an affair). Good music by someone seemly forgotten about in gay/bi history.

‘Love Is A Drag’ is a fun, fine 60’s collection of nightclub/show tune torch/love songs about men sung by a man. I came across an article about this lp being reissued & downloaded it from iTunes. The songs are given ‘ordinary’ direct performances – no mocking or sexualizing – at the time this was sold in the backs of magazines & was considered very out there. Another fine piece of queer history.

Elton John’s navigation of being out has been a benchmark, role model for decades now. Blue Moves a great double that I enjoy & it’s hard not to listen to his pre-out catalogue for signs – but he was merely the singer not the lyricist. An example of the universality of human emotions – love is love regardless of gender or sexuality. 

Flash & The Pan’s Walking In The Rain with the lyric ‘Feeling like a woman/looking like a man’ highlights a great power pop album of songs. Grace Jones does a good take on this song but I prefer this original. Rounding out this trip though queer music history is the contemporary Rexy Spice – a Toronto folk/punk/protest rocker. His ‘Arsenal’ is a great look at what non-mainstream (i.e. Adam Lambert) queer music can be – funny, energetic & thoughtful. A modern day Cole Porter worth hearing. Highly recommended.

Balcony

There was this noise on the balcony. A heavy shifting of weight, like a body falling, dropping, as if someone falling had reached out and caught the edge of the balcony and stopped their fall & heaved themselves over the rail and into the folded lawn chairs I had no where else to keep in the winter. I wanted them near at hand in case I ever had company. Wishful thinking, I know, but it says to be prepared for the best.

I turned down the TV. I could heard the wind. A rustling of something, not leaves too late in the year for them. Tentatively I went to the window and looked. Half expecting it to be one of those fright movie moments when a distorted face would be peering back at me of some sort of alien entity that tumbled from a UFO to my balcony. 

I saw nothing. As my eyes became accustomed to the dark I could make out a clump of something green plastic. Was that fucking a garbage bag? Had someone tossed their trash over their balcony & the wind blown it onto mine.

The living room light didn’t illuminate the corner it was in. I got my flashlight and went out for a closer look. The wind was as cold as a January wind would be. I should have put on my gloves. It wasn’t a bag but a bundle-like a sheaf of papers or old towels. The wind making it move like it was alive. Like something alive was wrapped in it. 

I reached down to it. I heard a small moan. Pulled my hand back.

What the fuck!

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Funky Disco Soul

This ‘M’ is a all about old school sweet soul music & disco with a dash of funk. This mp3 collection starts with MFSB: Love is the Message, Summertime, The Gamble-Huff  Orchestra; (Soul Train) The Whispers: And The Beat Goes On; The Temptations: Masterpiece; The SOS Band: On The Rise (Just Be Good To Me); Mtume: Juicy Fruit (expanded); Oliver Cheatham: Get Down Saturday Night; McFadden & Whitehead: self-titled Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.

Many of these have songs I remember from the dance floor but were groups I was not familiar with. Some where introduced to me on Tumblr. MFSB is 70’s while the rest are 80’s. The songs are in some ways interchangeable with lyrics about universal love, dancing & the power of having a good time. Ain’t No Stopping Us now has become a ‘no more shit’ anthem you can dance to.

MFSB: mother father sister brother- is a group of studio musicians plus The Three Degrees. This known as the Sound of Philadelphia – strings, funky bass lines & romantic. The Soul Train Theme is theirs – show that I don’t think I’ve ever seen, mind you, but the Philly sound is/was everywhere at one time. Some of the albums are concept lps – the soul equivalent of The Moody Blues. Masterpiece by The Temptations flirts with the Philly sound but sticks to its Motown roots. Political & spiritual Masterpiece lives up to its name.

The Cheatham was used in the movie “Ex Machina” – the video was of a cute guy (Oscar Isaac) dancing with a female – one of them is an android. It made me want the song & an android Oscar Isaac 🙂 Many of these songs are used to establish time era in films, or on TV. The sound – strings, singers, electronic keyboards are enough to do the trick as opposed to the fame of the song itself. Apparently many have been become sample mainstays for hip-hop. 

If you want a real boost of old-school good-times any & all of these are worth adding to your collection.

Bête Noire

Jen sat at her desk and reviewed the facts. Body found. Peter Manonotti. Noted, mouthy, city councillor who had hopes of even bigger political opportunities. He was making a name for himself in transportation. Insisting on accountability. Found dead in a public washroom of his bête noire – the TTC. Officials state it was heart attack but no one knows how he got there. Not seen on security camera – though the image was so grainy who knows. Lots of men seen coming and out. Someone lucky police officer was now watching it in slow mo to count heads as they go in and out. There was nothing distinctive about what Manonotti was wearing making it harder to find out when he was there. 

He left his office at 4 p.m. the day before. They did have a shot of him going through the turnstile at King station at 4:15. So they knew that time. If it was just a heart attack why where they so intent on tracking his movements.

So far no one was talking or saying anything more than it was a medical situation not a crime. How long had he been in that booth. The dates and times made it appear at least 24 hours. Didn’t anyone clean those stalls overnight? Could some one actually be in one of them for thirty-six some hours and not have been noticed. Yes, there was more to this than the public was being told.

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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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M-Miscellaneous

Les Mersey’s is a PQ pop group who thrived thanks to CanCon regulations about both the amount of radio airtime that had to be devoted to Canadian music & in Quebec how much of the time had to be in French. I have several stand-alone cds of the amazing series ‘Les Groupes des Années 60.’ The 25 Chansons include originals, a few sung in English but mostly French versions of English hits such as their take on The Rolling Stones – Stupid Girl, Fille Stupide. These are a delight.

I started to collect these when I visited Montreal in the mid-90’s. It was a vain attempt to improve my French but, well, that didn’t happen – c’est la vie. But it did help open my eyes to the insidious influence of US pop music & the sometimes hilarious ways it was adapted by other cultures. If you like this wonky cultural appropriation search out Cambodian pop for the 60s. 

Next M is Metro Station best known for their insanely addictive summer hit Shake It. Catchy & fun the album is solid, though nothing quite has the zip of Shake It. All the tracks would make nice movie/TV moments though. The band disappeared after this hit, as far as I know, though Wiki tells me they are still active. The subway in Montreal is known as Le Metro so there is a connection with Les Mercy’s.

The last of this M miscellany is MGMT. I have stand-alones of Oracular Spectacular & Congratulations. I picked up them first as at the result of reading about it in Entertainment Weekly. I may have also seen the video for Electric Feel – which is a great slinky summer hit. The lps are described as psychedelic rock – but, well, they aren’t Umma Gumma trippy. Enjoyable as they are, two cds were enough for my collection.

Maybe He Was Dead

So far there were no TV crews hovering around what was going on. Jan stayed within listening distance but tried not to seem too nosey. A few people were taking pictures with cell phones but they were being warned off by the police. TTC was always sensitive about what went on. She had to figure how to confirm what her sister had told her.

Manonotti was one of the more outspoken voices on city council when it came to almost anything, he never dodged the limelight. His latest mission had been to side with the cyclist union for more dedicated bike lanes. He felt that giving more money to public transit didn’t have to mean just the subway and that if there were more attention payed to alternate forms of transport the city would be better off.

As a result he was frequently at logger-heads with both the TTC and merchants. Merchants who felt more bike lanes meant less parking for paying customers who now had no where to park their cars. Manonotti was outspoken and blunt. Now, maybe, he was dead.

Jan had met him a few times. Interviewed him once when he his crusade was to halt the health spas that were popping up along the Danforth in long empty store fronts. The spas were covers for rub and tug operations where the massage was sexual and not medicinal. 

But when he saw that transportation was getting more press hw switched his focus to what would get him the greatest face time. He had hopes of parleying all this into a run for the mayor. He felt it was time the city had someone born and bred in Toronto at the helm and not some corporate clone.

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Meat Loaf Transcendent

Here’s another cd mp3 compilation that covers genres, eras, & even countries. Epic rock, funk, disco, retro & meditation – who could ask for more?  Khrishna Das has been described as “the chant master of American yoga.” One doesn’t have to know yoga to enjoy this meditative music. I have Breath of the Heart & One Track Heart. New Age world music of the top order. Evocative & emotionally resonant. Good for writing to as well.

The rest of this compilation is not as transcendent but is definitely emotionally resonant starting with the classic: Meat Loaf: Bat Out Of Hell. Epic, operatic rock that still tops the oldies charts. I remember the seismic shock when this was first released & everyone was listening to it. I still love it. Sadly there was no really successful follow up – operatic quickly became bombastic tripe. If you are one of the few people on earth who has never heard Bat, do so asap 🙂

Speaking of earth here too is Rare Earth: In Concert. Solid rock/funk. More about them when I get to ‘r’ on the shelf. But we won’t wait for ‘r’ for Revolver Reloaded. This is a set of cover versions of the Beatles’ Revolver. This remake of a vintage lp is a popular nostalgia genre now. Good fun by British bands I’ve never heard of & some nice re-imaginings others too reverent.

For some more earthbound balance is Ray Charles: The Very Best Of – classic rock before classic rock was invented. I have vague recollections of some of these songs on the radio & was happy to add it here. Finally some classic disco with Jackie Moore: I’m On My Way. I have clear memories of sweating to this on the dance floor & never wanting the song to end. A great voice, great production & like many disco albums only the singles pop.

Murder on the TTC

Jan was walking up the stairs when her cell began to ring. There were too many people around her for easy access to it. At the top she stepped aside.

“Hello.”

“Jan thought you’d want to know. They found a body at the Bloor station!”

It was her sister Karen. 

“Yeah I saw the police when we passed through there.”

“It was Peter Manonotti.”

“What!” she automatically started back down the stairs. Manonotti was one of the most vocal city council members when it came to matters transit.

“I gotta go. Can’t be caught tipping you off.”

“Thanks, sis.” Karen was a subway driver. “Don’t want you to get fired on my account.”

“Fired! Ha. I have a union. Takes more than this to get rid of a tough dyke like me.”

Jan got on the next train back. Manonotti dead. Murder on the TTC. She could see the headlines now. She stepped off again at Bloor and made her way down the stairs and up to the other side. Maybe this would be the scoop she needed.

A yellow tape marked a corner from the top of the stairs to the gateway. Patrons were being moved along directed by police and transit security. Both washrooms were now out of bounds.

She pulled her press card out of her purse ready to show it to the officer in charge of moving people along.

“Can you tell me what happened Office Lee.” She glanced at his badge.

“Nothing to tell.”

“I hear there’s been a body found?”

“Some guy had a heart attack taking a crap.”

“Oh.”

“Out of the way people so the medics can get though.”

He pushed her aside into the crowd that had formed.  

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Rossini Sarasate

Gioachino Rossini’s (1792 – 1868) William Tell Overture has been seared into my memory thanks to the Lone Ranger & Bugs Bunny. Of course little of music in that overture actually appears in the opera. Imagine some soprano galloping to the galloping bit 🙂 I have that tucked away somewhere. 

On an mp3 collection I have his String Sonatas, various Overtures, Piano Music, Barber of Seville Highlights, La Boutique Fantastique, Matinees & Soirees Musical & the Stabat Mater. At one time I wanted to hear behind the big hit so I added these to broaden my knowledge base. This is all pleasant orchestral, the paint music is romantic, I love the Stabat Mater. But the string sonatas are my particular favourite.

The version here is my lp to mp3 transfer from an MHS edition which I really loved loved loved. This is sweet, playful, happy music. Music I loved so much that I have two other versions of it as stand-alone double cds. All three are different but the same, different tempos, sound quality but great. I’d say by whom but that doesn’t matter. These sonatas would be fine by any string quartet. Get them.

Near Rossini on the shelf is Spain’s Pablo de Sarasate (1844 – 1908). I have two stand-alones of his Spanish Dances on violin one & the other on piano. The dances are fiery, romantic & energizing. Some of them are immediately recognizable even if you don’t know who the composer is. I have various versions of some of them on classical guitar, by string quartets, orchestras, harp, mariachi bands, worked into progrock noodling, jazz guitar, flute, sax. Music for the ages.

Daily Delay

“The delay at the Bloor-Yonge station is static stacic static.”

Jan pulled her ear buds out to hear the announcement. Another delay! Oh, well, there never was a good time for the daily delay. Just what she needed. Keeping the subway running, people happy and people safe were a constant battle. Keeping them safe sometimes meant they would be unhappy. Delays made them very unhappy. 

She wondered what was it this time. Hopefully not another jumper. No, the delay wasn’t long enough for that. She listened closely to the dispatch numbers. They weren’t calling for the track clean up crew. 

The train started up. As it passed through bloor she saw police gathered around the men’s room door. Not worth getting off for. Crime on the subway wasn’t her beat. It wasn’t anybody’s beat. 

There was this code of silence around so much public petty crime. If they reported it all, the paper would be twice a large and there weren’t enough advertisers to pay for the rainforest it would take to keep up on all the pick-pockets, purse snatching that went on.

They saved that valuable resource for real crime. Murder or assault. Stealing candy bars from the Gateway wasn’t real enough, anymore. Plus the more of that petty stuff that made the press the less people felt safe. Everyone wants to feel safe in a city this size. Especially when they were crammed together on public transit. 

Though she never understood how some people found these things were so startling. It wasn’t as if assault was just invented. That this was the first time someone had been robbed.

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