Uploaded on 14 Jul 2009
HAPPY BASTILLE DAY, July 14.
July 14, 2016
July 7, 2016
The problem [the decline in popular demand for Jazz music] goes back to the early 40s, when a revolution took place in jazz. At a Harlem club named Minton’s, while the swing era was still in full bloom, a group of musicians began experimenting with a new approach to the music. Bandleader Teddy Hill formed a house band with drummer Kenny Clarke, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, and pianist Thelonious Monk. During nightly jam sessions others would join them, most notably sax great Charlie Parker, who had gotten his start in the swing bands of Kansas City. Vats of ink have been spilled deciphering the meaning of bebop. If jazz writers are to be believed, it defies easy categorization and requires sets and subsets to understand, but a succinct four-part summary was offered by Neil Tesser in The Playboy Guide to Jazz a couple years ago. First, the beboppers used small, quick combos — most often of trumpet and sax backed by piano, bass, and drums — instead of orchestras. Second, they used more complex chords, exploring “lively, colorful combinations of notes that previous listeners considered too dissonant for jazz.” Third, they often abandoned the melody of a song in order to improvise, relying more heavily on the song’s harmony.
Fourth, beboppers had attitude: “Instead of smooth and hummable melodies designed for dancing, the beboppers created angular tunes with unexpected accents and irregular phrases — and they expected people to listen, rather than jitterbug, to these songs and the solos that followed. The boppers emerged as jazz’s first ‘angry young men.’ They saw themselves as artists first and entertainers second, and they demanded that others respect them and their music accordingly.”
Some of the new jazz was undeniably brilliant, and many of the bebop and hard bop recordings that have been remastered and reissued only seem to acquire more appeal with age. Albums like Parker’s Now’s the Time, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Dexter Gordon’s Go, Sonny Rollins Vol. 2, and Coltrane’s Blue Train are timeless, bristling with energy, jaw-dropping improvisation, and deep spirituality. But when they cast their spell, they laid complete waste to the pop-jazz tradition. Bebop offered challenges musicians thought they could never get from traditional swing bands, as well as an improvisational ethic that provided an escape from the tough work of writing strong melodies. Some of the players saw this: In 1949 drummer Buddy Rich fired his band because his players “just want to play bop and nothing else. In fact,” Rich added, “I doubt they can play anything else.” Louis Armstrong, whose centennial is being celebrated this year, once referred to bebop as “crazy, mixed-up chords that don’t mean nothing at all.” Before long swing had become a joke. Producer Quincy Jones recalls in the documentary Listen Up that as a young musician he once hid backstage from bebop trumpeter Miles Davis so Miles wouldn’t know he was in the swinging band that had just left the stage.
Suddenly, jazz was Art. Gone were the days when 5,000 people would fill the Savoy Ballroom to lindy hop to the sunny sounds of Ella Fitzgerald or Count Basie. Bebop was impossible to dance to, which was fine with the alienated musicians in Eisenhower’s America. (You can bet this era will be well represented by beatnik Burns [in his then-forthcoming multi-part documentary on Jazz].) Even bebop’s own founders weren’t safe from the ideological putsch: when Bird himself made an album of pop standards with a band backed up by a string section, he was labeled a sellout. Then Elvis, to simplify matters greatly, reinvented swing for a new generation, and the Beatles arrived with sacks of great new melodies, and jazz was over as a popular music. Remarkably, beboppers and their fans still blame the drop-off on American racism. Miles once called pop music “white music,” and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in a documentary about the Blue Note label, offers that “whites couldn’t appreciate anything that came from black culture.” Yet whites were as responsible as blacks for making stars of Ella, Basie, and other black swing artists. Only two kinds of music were allowed on the radio following the news of FDR’s death: classical and Duke Ellington.
Mark Gauvreau Judge, “Out of Tunes”, Chicago Reader, 2000-08-31.
July 3, 2016
There is a moment at the end of Art of the Trio 4, a live album released last year by 28-year-old pianist Brad Mehldau, when the problem with contemporary jazz is crystallized. After a seemingly endless set displaying his pyrotechnic virtuosity, Mehldau slides into Radiohead’s “Exit Music (For a Film).” He plays the song straight, his suddenly spartan piano style capturing the rich, chilling vocal melody. There’s no endless jamming, no fearful retreat into what has become the classicism of legends like Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie — just a simple embrace of a brilliant pop song, like Sinatra doing Mercer or Ella singing Ellington.
It was a rare moment of clarity in jazz, and as such revealed a certain hollowness to the rest of the album. Jazz has become sadly irrelevant. A recent issue of Down Beat reported that jazz sales last year accounted for only 1.9 percent of record purchases, down from even a few years ago. That’s a striking figure, and points to a sad conclusion: the music, once the source of some of the most unassailable popular songs ever waxed, has become an esoteric specialty, like speaking Latin. Next year Ken Burns will unleash his ten-part magnum opus on jazz, which makes sense. Who better to eulogize something deader than the Confederacy?
But then I suppose I’m not fit to judge. I came to jazz only about five years ago, just before the erstwhile swing boom. I liked some of the new swing music, which makes me a pariah in the eyes of “real” jazz fans, many of whom hated it the way punks hate the Backstreet Boys. Legendary pianist Oscar Peterson told Down Beat that he was “quite fed up with guys putting on porkpie hats, tilting their saxes like Lester [Young, the great Kansas City player], and calling it swing even though they still sounded like rock groups. Obviously, they haven’t done their homework and wouldn’t know Lester’s sound if it rolled over them in a steam roller.” Well, sure, most of the stuff was crap — most of anything is crap — but a few genuinely great songs were recorded: “Love” by the Camaros, “Pink Elephant” by the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, and just about everything on All Aboard! and Red Light! by San Francisco’s Indigo Swing. If nothing else, these served as a reminder that jazz was once the catchiest music in America. In listening to the massive Duke Ellington box set The Centennial Edition, I am struck by not only the instrumental virtuosity of Duke’s bands but also the sheer stickiness of the songs: “Sophisticated Lady,” “Day Dream,” “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good),” “Perdido,” “In a Sentimental Mood,” “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” “Cotton Tail” — the list could go on for pages. Before jazz became fat with government grants and cozy in its mutual admiration society with academic audiences, it required hits to survive, and hits require great hooks. Unless jazz musicians learn how to write tunes again, it’s doubtful that in another hundred years we’ll be celebrating anything except the bicentennial of Ellington’s birth.
Mark Gauvreau Judge, “Out of Tunes”, Chicago Reader, 2000-08-31.
June 30, 2016
The Last Day of June 1934
The morning is humming, it’s a quarter past nine
I should be working down in the vines
Yeah, but I’m lying here with a good friend of mine
Watching the sun in her hair
I pick the grapes from the hills to the sea
The fields of France are a home to me
Ah, but today lying here is such a good place to be
I can’t go anywhere
And as we slip in and out of embrace
Like some old and familiar place
Reflecting all of my dreams in her face like before
On the last day of June 1934
Just out of Cambridge in a narrow country lane
A bottle-green Bentley in the driving rain
Slips and skids round a corner, then pulls straight again
Heads up the drive to the door
The lights of the party shine over the fields
Where lovers and dancers watch catherine wheels
And argue realities digging their heels
In a world that’s finished with war
And a lost wind of summer blows into the streets
Past the tramps in the alleyways, the rich in silk sheets
Europe lies sleeping,
you feel her heartbeats through the floor
On the last day of June 19…
On the night that Ernst Roehm died voices rang out
In the rolling Bavarian hills
And swept through the cities and danced in the gutters
Grown strong like the joining of wills
Oh echoed away like a roar in the distance
In moonlight carved out of steel
Singing “All the lonely, so long and so long
You don’t know me how long, how I long
You can’t hold me, I’m strong now I’m strong
Stronger than your law”
I sit here now by the banks of the Rhine
Dipping my feet in the cold stream of time
And I know I’m a dreamer, I know I’m out of line
With the people I see everywhere
The couples pass by me, they’re looking so good
Their arms round each other, they head for the woods
They don’t care who Ernst Roehm was, no reason they should
Just a shadow that hangs in the air
But I thought I saw him cross over the hill
With a whole ghostly army of men at his heel
And struck in the moment it seemed to be real like before
On the last day of June 1934
While I’m eagerly awaiting the delivery of my copy of Garnet’s book, here is a report from the Local Xpress on Garnet’s upcoming appearance at the Canso Stan Rogers Folk Festival this Canada Day weekend:
The length of the journey to Canso, home of the Stan Rogers Folk Festival, is no deterrent to the hardy hundreds who’ve packed the event every July long weekend for the past two decades.
But that winding Guysborough road is just a fraction of the journey that the festival’s namesake made with his brother and bandmate Garnet Rogers prior to Stan’s death in 1983. Many of those miles are chronicled in Garnet’s new book Night Drive: Travels With My Brother, which he’s launched in time for Stanfest’s 20th anniversary. The book stretches from their parents’ roots in Canso and Pictou County to the brothers’ final conversation at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas. In between lies a rough and tumble tale of a furtive search for folk music glory, where it took more than talent to get ahead, and dreams seemed to get dashed on a daily basis.
“Somebody made the comment that parents should buy the book and give it to any of their kids who decide they want to become a musician or a folksinger […] It really is kind of a cautionary tale.”
Decades later, much of it has been romanticized, and writing Night Drive was an opportunity for Garnet to strip away the rose-coloured glasses, and also tell his side of the story.
“I got invited to this thing recently where the City of Hamilton is honouring Stan with a lifetime achievement award, making him a citizen of the city or something like that, sponsored by the Hamilton Spectator […] On the face of it, God bless them, but I felt like a bystander. There was no mention of the fact that I was there, or as far as Stan was concerned, 50 per cent of the equation.
“Stan handed over 49 per cent of his publishing to me, half ownership of the songs, that should mean something in terms of how he at least perceived my contribution, but the average person doesn’t know any of that. So part of writing this was simply to say I was there. I don’t want someone coming up to me and giving me some blather about how seeing Stan changed their life and they’ll never forget that concert, but they don’t remember that I was there, because I bloody was.
“So a lot of it was setting the record straight, but more importantly I wanted it to be funny.”
And much of the book is laugh-out-loud hilarious, as Rogers describes how he and his brother were performing the musical equivalent of “scrawling your name on a cave wall” while playing for distracted pit miners at a disco in Labrador City. Or in a pressure cooker of a bar in Jasper, Alta., where the audience was split down the middle between railway and oil rig workers who hated each other, which eventually erupted in a melee that nearly saw Stan charged with assault with a deadly weapon, in this case a mike stand.
“There was something in that ‘three young guys in a van together’ thing […] Whether the gig was good, bad or indifferent, you could always find something to laugh about. Like the opening chapter about the non-existent gig in Baltimore and that young woman sitting on the couch with no underwear, every damn detail of that story is absolutely true, not even remotely exaggerated.
“It was just as squalid as it sounds, and you come out of something like that, the worst disaster ever, but you’re laughing and laughing, and a few hours later you realize you’re miles from home and completely broke. But in the meantime you’ve got three young guys who are just dying with laughter because of the insanity of the situation.”
June 25, 2016
What I do know is that over the years immediately following Stan’s death, there arose a cottage industry surrounding his music, and a closely managed version of what was supposed to have been his life. It turns out it is easier to market a carefully crafted and maintained legend than a real person.
It was frustrating to watch from the sidelines.
As time went by, the brother I had grown up with, and the complex and kind and frustrating man I knew and loved, and with whom I worked for nearly 10 years had been made into another person entirely, a caricature, and a man I never knew. And all trace of the part I had played in the music, and the part our parents had played in supporting and financing the whole operation had been erased.
So, I did begin to write the stories down, starting one night in Grande Prairie, Alberta, sitting backstage waiting for the sound crew to return from dinner.
Being in a band is a bit like running away to join a low rent circus, or a badly organized pirate ship.
The band develops its own language and rules and strictly controlled and ritualized behaviour.
Any outsider is viewed with suspicion and hostility if they attempt to breach the inner wall.
Within the band, loyalties shift and morph, and hostility develops. Even something as simple as the way another chews his food is an excuse for a fight and a death grudge that can last for years, and a different person at any given time becomes the butt of all the jokes that day or week.
As a result, even a few months on the road will turn the closest and most well intentioned of friends into a small band of ragged savages, and the jokes are no longer funny. And your glasses are permanently broken, and you’ve lost control of the conch shell. And your former friends are now advancing towards you with sharpened sticks.
As a result some of the behaviour in this story will be inexplicable by any decent person’s standards.
All I can say is we got away with it mostly, because the first rule was to always have the other guy’s back when outsiders were present, even if you had plans to kill him later.
This is a really long book. I was horrified to see just how big it was the first time John printed it out, and I did my best to edit it down. I removed most of the “F” words. That lost 50 or so pages. I then took out all the sex scenes, which took care of a paragraph. (We were after all, a folk band.)
June 23, 2016
Uploaded on 18 Jan 2010
Song: Theme from Silk Road
Live in Tokyo Orchard Hall
September 26th 2009.
Love and Peace Planet Music Tour 2009 in Tokyo
June 20, 2016
Published on 18 Jun 2016
Hey! I’m with Folk Singer/Songwriter AL STEWART in NYC at THE CITY WINERY! We talk greatest hits like the iconic YEAR OF THE CAT song, JOHN LENNON, todays world and happenings, his singing style, working with ALAN PARSONS, and MORE! Check out Al’s site for latest info and albums:) The Pavlina Show airs on radio stations across the nation:)
May 23, 2016
Some actual opera stars admit that their very first exposure to opera music was through Elmer Fudd’s pursuit of Bugs Bunny in “What’s Opera, Doc?”:
Like many other singers and crew staging the 17-hour, four-opera Wagner extravaganza at the Kennedy Center, Ms. Bishop got her first taste of opera from a cartoon rabbit and his speech-impaired nemesis.
“I could sing you the entire cartoon before I knew what opera really was,” says Ms. Bishop, who performs the part of Fricka, wife of Wotan, king of the gods.
The rabbit in question is Bugs Bunny, who, in the 1957 Warner Bros. cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?” finds himself hunted by Elmer Fudd, in the part of the hero, Siegfried.
“Kiww the wabbit! Kiww the wabbit!” Elmer, in an ill-fitting magic helmet, sings to the urgent strains of Ride of the Valkyries as he jabs his spear into a rabbit hole.
Bugs flees, dons a breast plate and blond braids, climbs atop an obese white horse, and for two minutes and a ballet interlude, fools the smitten Elmer into thinking he is Brünnhilde.
“Oh, Bwünnhilde, you’re so wovewy,” Elmer croons.
“Yes, I know it,” Bugs answers coquettishly. “I can’t help it.”
“Those of us who didn’t freak at the sight of a rabbit in a winged helmet sliding off of the back of a fat horse — we went into opera,” says Ms. Bishop, 49, who grew up in Greenville, S.C.
It’s just one of those cases of art imitating art imitating art. Generations of people in the opera world grew up spending Saturday mornings eating breakfast cereal and watching Bugs Bunny on TV sets tuned with rabbit ears. For many, “What’s Opera, Doc?” was their first glimpse of opera and Wagner. Even if it didn’t exactly inspire their careers, it planted an ear worm that made the music recognizable once they heard the real thing.
May 9, 2016
James Pinkstone talks about the time he discovered that Apple Music had helpfully deleted over 100 Gb of his music files on his local hard drive:
What Amber explained was exactly what I’d feared: through the Apple Music subscription, which I had, Apple now deletes files from its users’ computers. When I signed up for Apple Music, iTunes evaluated my massive collection of Mp3s and WAV files, scanned Apple’s database for what it considered matches, then removed the original files from my internal hard drive. REMOVED them. Deleted. If Apple Music saw a file it didn’t recognize — which came up often, since I’m a freelance composer and have many music files that I created myself — it would then download it to Apple’s database, delete it from my hard drive, and serve it back to me when I wanted to listen, just like it would with my other music files it had deleted.
This led to four immediate problems:
1. If Apple serves me my music, that means that when I don’t have wifi access, I can’t listen to it. When I say “my music,” I don’t just mean the music that, over twenty years (since before iTunes existed), I painstakingly imported from thousands of CDs and saved to my computer’s internal hard drive. I also mean original music that I recorded and saved to my computer. Apple and wifi access now decide if I can hear it, and where, and when.
2. What Apple considers a “match” often isn’t. That rare, early version of Fountains of Wayne’s “I’ll Do The Driving,” labeled as such? Still had its same label, but was instead replaced by the later-released, more widely available version of the song. The piano demo of “Sister Jack” that I downloaded directly from Spoon’s website ten years ago? Replaced with the alternate, more common demo version of the song. What this means, then, is that Apple is engineering a future in which rare, or varying, mixes and versions of songs won’t exist unless Apple decides they do. Said alternate versions will be replaced by the most mainstream version, despite their original, at-one-time correct, titles, labels, and file contents.
3. Although I could click the little cloud icon next to each song title and “get it back” from Apple, their servers aren’t fast enough to make it an easy task. It would take around thirty hours to get my music back. And even then…
4. Should I choose to reclaim my songs via download, the files I would get back would not necessarily be the same as my original files. As a freelance composer, I save WAV files of my own compositions rather than Mp3s. WAV files have about ten times the number of samples, so they just sound better. Since Apple Music does not support WAV files, as they stole my compositions and stored them in their servers, they also converted them to Mp3s or AACs. So not only do I need to keep paying Apple Music just to access my own files, but I have to hear an inferior version of each recording instead of the one I created.
I didn’t sign up for the free Apple Music trial when it was introduced because I have a data cap on my internet connection: just a few hours of listening to my own music might well make a big dent in my internet usage for the month. That would be ridiculously wasteful. Even so, every now and again, iTunes cheerfully lets me know that this or that song from my collection can no longer be played (and has deleted it) with no chance to fix it on my part. When it’s a song I recorded from the original CD (and I still have the CD), it’s merely an inconvenience. When it’s a song I paid Apple to download, it’s much more than that. It implies that everything I’ve downloaded from Apple is actually just a rental with an indeterminate-length rental period.
It is, however, a sign of the future:
For about ten years, I’ve been warning people, “hang onto your media. One day, you won’t buy a movie. You’ll buy the right to watch a movie, and that movie will be served to you. If the companies serving the movie don’t want you to see it, or they want to change something, they will have the power to do so. They can alter history, and they can make you keep paying for things that you formerly could have bought. Information will be a utility rather than a possession. Even information that you yourself have created will require unending, recurring payments just to access.”
When giving the above warning, however, even in my most Orwellian paranoia I never could have dreamed that the content holders, like Apple, would also reach into your computer and take away what you already owned. If Taxi Driver is on Netflix, Netflix doesn’t come to your house and steal your Taxi Driver DVD. But that’s where we’re headed. When it comes to music, Apple is already there.
April 16, 2016
H/T to American Digest for the link.
March 22, 2016
I was on the road in Texas last week, addressing Linux user groups in Dallas and Austin. I always enjoy visiting Texas. It’s a big, wide-open place full of generous people who cultivate a proper appreciation of some of my favorite things in life — firearms, blues guitar, and pepper sauces.
And, of course, one of the biggest things Texas has going for it is barbecue. And not the pallid imitation served up by us pasty-faced Yankees here where I live (near Philadelphia, PA) but the real thing. Barbecue, dammit. Red meat with enough fat on it to panic a health-foodist right out of his pantywaist, slow-cooked in a marinade sweeter than a mother’s kiss and eaten with sauces hot enough to peel paint. Garnish with a few extra jalapenos and coleslaw and wash it down with cheap soda, lemonade, or beer. Food of the gods.
I swear your testosterone level goes up just smelling this stuff. After a few mouthfuls of Rudy’s carnivoral bliss you’ll be hankerin’ to cultivate a drawl, wear a Stetson and drive a pickup truck with a gun rack. (I draw the line at country music, though. A man’s got to have some standards.)
Eric S. Raymond, “The Non-Portability of Barbecue”, Armed and Dangerous, 2002-07-18.
March 14, 2016
Published on 5 Oct 2015
Stary Olsa performing “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd for Belarusian TV-show “Legends. Live” on ONT channel.
Produced by Mediacube Production. (Minsk, Belarus)
If you’ve liked this or the earlier covers, you might like to know that Stary Olsa has a Kickstarter campaign to fund their next album called “Old Time Rock n Roll”, which will include this song and at least the following:
- “One,” by Metallica
- “Another Brick in the Wall” part II, by Pink Floyd
- “Californication,” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
- “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da” and “A Hard Day’s Night,” by the Beatles
- “Child in Time” by Deep Purple
- “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
March 12, 2016
I was saddened to hear that Keith Emerson died yesterday:
Keith Emerson, one of the founding members of progressive rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer, has died.
The keyboardist died at the age of 71 at his home in California on Thursday night, the band confirmed.
Bandmate Carl Palmer said he is “deeply saddened” and paid tribute to his “brother-in-music”.
“Keith was a gentle soul whose love for music and passion for his performance as a keyboard player will remain unmatched for many years to come,” he said in a statement online.
“He was a pioneer and an innovator whose musical genius touched all of us in the worlds of rock, classical and jazz. “I will always remember his warm smile, good sense of humor, compelling showmanship, and dedication to his musical craft.
February 17, 2016
Uploaded on 2 Oct 2009
Music video by “Weird” Al Yankovic performing Amish Paradise. YouTube view counts pre-VEVO: 14,859 (C) 1999 Volcano Entertainment lll, LLC