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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Distant Music Coda

It has been fascinating to go back into my past by reading & writing about this chapbook. Memories of writing the pieces have been fragmentary, to say the least. Motivation, inspiration & locations are more nostalgic than revealing. 

Many old the first drafts were written by hand run little note books, many on my clunky typewriter in my basement room in the family home – that room is still there though I think it’s had new floor & walls since I left. The walls were covered with my paintings, shelves of books, lps, my stereo system & my little desk.

Some in my first apartment in Sydney. I shared a workroom with my roommate. He made pottery & I made poetry. I remember renting an electric typewriter to do the final drafts of Distant Music. That  second-story apartment had a huge front balcony where I would sit & write in notebooks & drink. This was the first time I had a room for sleeping & one for writing.

Some of the poems are solid, some reflect the pop music of the time, the striving to be deep, poetic rather than … I’m not sure what ‘than’ … I wanted to impress as much as I wanted to express something about myself. I was in the process of coming out, letting go of the pretence that I was bi so the sexuality that appears in the work is very suppressed.

The sequence of the pieces was mine & the flow, in general is pretty good. Today I would probably have not started with the Dance but with something less abstract such as Woodsman – which would invite readers to search for the chainsaw wielder. 

a piece that didn’t make it into the chapbook

Having Lost

having lost that moment

when we stood side by side

I wander down some well-worn path

looking neither way

without stumbling over unseen stones

I wonder of it’s possible that

I might have been wrong

if I should have given in this time

& said what you wanted to hear

I wonder off it’s possible that

I might have been wrong

having lost that moment

I wonder if I was wrong

<>

having lost that letter

she sent me the next day

I wonder where she is

perhaps I’ll see her tomorrow

perhaps she’s hiding in yesterday

maybe she too thinks she was wrong

maybe she’ll soon come along 

then again yesterday 

may hold her too well

I could never her again

not know where to look

having lost the letter

she sent the next day

<>

old men wearing

white hats pass me by 

nodding & asking why

I sit so young 

yet am so alone

<>

having lost all sense of time 

I find that question still unanswered

was I wrong? was i right?

either way i lost that fight

now I stand & watch her pass by

a memory of my yesterday

me a memory of her yesterday

our lives going on, apart

complete but not the same

having lost that moment

I wonder who was wrong

August 69

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

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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Distant Music

Distant Music

<>

1

<>

hush … can you hear the cat music

playing on flaying pigeon wings?

it brings out the hidden claws

of the once delicate lap warmer

now leaping wildly off the thinnest edge

to the beat of singing sounds

stirring safely behind glass

<>

2

<>

wittingly filling the room

with clicky busy city sounds

a thousand tiny tappers

rapping rhythms into the air

faster faster faster still

yet never flying to pieces

as I feel like doing

while lazily scrawling

symmetrical patterns

from my random pressures

wondering if the jazz flow

sounds as smooth to others

as it does to me

<>

3

<>

sometime I cannot make the energy

to go back over the old wrinkles

to make them smooth & clean

for the defining eyes of pryers;

I end up in some big armed chair

where I sit & stare so long

that I become a pile of creaking bones

yellowing skin & longing songs

<>

beside me now are empty chairs,

in front, beyond naked window.

crawls the night city sparkling

like a cluster of earth-bound stars

the wind whistles in dance

up & down the barren streets;

someone must be out there

to turn off & on all the stars;

but I cannot move

beyond these empty chairs

<>

while the dark & sullen moon

turns the stars aside to guide me

into letting the oars slip from my craft

so I can drift at last into my lover

<>

4

<>

changed are the ways of this Welsh lad

the days of longing are upon him now

with the first hint of cornfed comfort

making the long-by-gones seem so fine

here in the middle of my toss-up time

<>

I keep getting the feeling one gets

on dark, rain-spun, cloud-thick days

while looking out great bay windows

knees resting on velvet window seat

watching the mist nest in the elms

dawdling lazy-grey over the endless fields

of early morning English country side;

we discuss cricket or the government –

“frightfully so …

“rather, shall we say, common …

hey! hey!

stop the wheels before we go out of control

I’ve never been this close to that home

till now, & I hope, maybe, somehow

the clouds will have lifted by the time

I step, spanking-new, over-night, into there

<>

5

<>

hush … can you feel the man sounds

sailing on wailing baby cries 

it tries out the reveal cause

of the never ready bed charmer

now pacing softly the thickest floors

to the hum of distant music

floating unsure from Welsh hill

<>

Oct73

1 – I was visiting a friend in Halifax when I wrote this first section. I went there to see him & also to buy music that didn’t exist in the Sydney record store. One of the albums was of electronic/experimental music by the likes of Pauline Oliveros – yes even then I was pretentious enough to like the real thing 🙂 The music pulsed like wings flapping. My friend’s cat jumped up to the window ledge to confront the pigeons in the balcony but there were none there.

‘the thinnest edge’ is how one can leap to the wrong conclusion & get caught trying to figure out how to get back to solid ground. I’ve always had a ‘fear’ of balconies.

2 – I always write to music. These were the days of manual typewriters, when working on a manuscript could be retyping a whole page to correct a single typo. I was an okay typist & loved the sound in my workroom of the click of keys, the tempo of the pounding. Then I could never type fast enough to capture what I was thinking. 

I think the music I was more fascinated by was Santana’s Abraxas – chasing a thousand tiny percussionists with my keyboard. I was also digging Weather Report, Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew. Writing as fast I could before I flew to pieces.

3 – The old wrinkles are typos, edits, rewriting, re-sequencing the verses in a poem. I was also writing a novel at the time so energy was flowing in several directions. ‘creaking bones’ echoes ‘skin & bones’ from an earlier poem. The final verse is a direct reference to Dylan Thomas’s “In my Craft or Sullen Art.” Though at this time I had no lover to drift into.

4 – The Welsh connection continues in this section. This sense of of my heritage doesn’t appear in the chapbook until now. There is a feeling of the east coast, of Cape Breton, that is present in some of the pieces but here I am relishing, or it is wallowing, in my own roots.

After traversing Egypt, Japan, Africa & am brought back to my ‘toss-up time’ & my own origins. The workshops at UNB were acknowledgements of me as a writer – the ‘toss-up’ was the decision of what to do with my expectations of being taken seriously. Was it to dream of this romantic ‘velvet window seat’ success or something more realistic?

5 – a reprise, with variations, of the first part of this poem. ‘cat music’ becomes ‘ man sounds.’ ‘bed charmer’ echoes ‘bed-ridden’ from The Last Waltz  to give the whole book as sense of completion. The first piece in the collection invites you to ‘set sail on my body’ – this last verse asks you to ‘hear the man sounds/ sailing off wailing baby cries.’ The book progresses from that boy to this man. I hope you enjoyed the journey.

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

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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Distant Valentine

A Valentine

forced to love, 

now that’s a tear-jerker,

having heard no man

is self-contained & complete

I am forced to love

made to search 

through warm & folding bodies

for isolated responses

for unsure coincidences of desire

sparked by demand

structured into relationships

for the perpetuation of the structure

desperation in every meeting

(will this be the one?)

the eternal lunging crush

prisoners of seduction

fixed positions

bayonets of loving thoughts

tender traps

looked for only the fall into

forced to love

to rationalize tenderness

politicized into affections

scandalized by survival

it’s all one to one

paired by demand

one alone becomes distrusted

forced to love

forced to love

Feb14/76

Of the pieces in the chapbook this is one of the ‘newest’ & reflects a definite stage in my growth philosophically & emotionally. I’m actually directly questioning cultural norms around romance, sexuality & indirectly probing the nature of gender. Clearly I am ‘questioning’ not yet coming out but opening that door 🙂

‘Paired by demand’ hasn’t changed all that much though. We live in a culture where being ‘single’ is seen as an an unhappy choice, a sign of emotional immaturity. Being trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship is for some reason healthier than being single. Getting out of one is merely making one ready for the right relationship to come along. If you wonder how we are ‘structured’ think of how impossible it is to afford to live alone. Most restaurants are at least two seats per table. Bars stools are about the only single seating offered. Drinking alone, yea.

At the time I wrote this I wasn’t as articulate about this squeeze of the cultural imperative to mate bond. Being queer & somewhat closeted at the time I was conflicted by trying to fit the heterocentric romance module I was presented with. The sacredness of fidelity, the sinful cost of pleasure. Folding bodies like folding chairs that only the right person could unfold. You’re nobody until somebody unfolds you.

Looking back I see how the exploration of the cultural mating imperative has become one of my running themes. Like masculinity, it is something that goes unquestioned. Marriage for love & not politic – i.e. merge alliances between nations, merging financial concerns – is a somewhat recent development – maybe 150 years old. The nature of ‘forced’ is one of convenience & control that is accepted & goes unrecognized. The deepest loves of my life have never been forced.

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

Found Art Toronto

I always take photos of painting, frames, photographs, that have been cast aside or left in unexpected public places. I have been using them as Picture Perfect graphics as well.

lost in the move
trampled
cherry tree on Craven Road fence
close up of the cherry tree
Pomeranian under a tree on Chatham Avenue
close up of Pomeranian
trashed on Moberly Avenue
Ex trashed on Moberly Avenue

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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.  

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees. Thanks paypal.me/TOpoet