Monday, December 31, 2007
Did anyone feel like punching something after reading the last Countdown special?
No? Just me?
I mean, I love the concept of a gender-reversed world. I picked up the Countdown Presents: Search for Ray Palmer: Superwoman/Batwoman special overjoyed at the thought of Earth-11. It’s just such a wonderful tool when analyzing gender in stories, to run through a familiar story with a woman instead of a man and consider how and why things could be different. Would they think differently about their actions? Each other? Why? And how does the reader react differently?
Granted, there was an option to screw up, but I figured we were beyond writing alternate universe female characters as less capable than their male counterparts. I wasn’t worried when I read it.
I was partially right. We are beyond writing alternate universe female characters as less capable than their male counterparts. All of the female characters were very well done. The dialogue and the way the story was set up suggested that the gender stereotypes were still the same, and that the people meant to be heroes just happened to more often be female than male this time around (probably due in no small part to the most inspiring hero on that planet being the Last Daughter of Krypton as opposed to the standard Last Son). I’d love to see a Kylie Rayner story (or find out what’s going on with Jordan’s counterpart) or a few World’s Finest adventures with Superwoman and Batwoman. The art was lovely, the designs were feminized but not sexualized (I especially liked the effect with the Flash’s long hair). The characterization in general was that the characters were themselves as men or as women.
There was one exception.
One big hairy exception.
Read the rest of Lisa Fortuner's proof that feminists don't hate men, then go buy the book and decide for yourself if Wonderman is an accurate representation of a gender-reversed Wonder Woman.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
After including a reference to Neil and to the Dream King (the main character in The Sandman series) in the lyrics of Tear in Your Hand, Tori had a friend deliver a tape of the song to Neil at the San Diego comic convention. Neil, who receives many tapes from fans which he says usually "magically become blank tapes" remembers, "I listened to the first three or four tracks, and I was in love. It wasn't Little Earthquakes, it was sort of half Little Earthquakes and half what wound up being B-sides--things like 'Flying Dutchman' and 'Take to the Sky' and 'Sweet Dreams' and 'Upside Down.' but it was very obvious that musically I was a fan by the time I'd finished listening to the first few tracks. In fact it was ages before I spotted the 'me and Neil'll be hangin' out with the DREAM KING Neil says hi by the way'--that came much later." After listening to the tape, Neil, who lived in London, called Tori up, and the first of many wonderful conversations commenced. Tori now insists that the two knew each other in a past life. Neil states, "we were old friends immediately. Whether you want to view that as fact or metaphor, that is very much true."
Yes, she [inspires me]. There are times I've spent with Neil where you know, we're toodling around and things you think you say in confidence end up in a comic book, you know? And then of course there are things that she says that I start saying. There's a strange sort of stealing going on.
...And maybe a few about Neil's stories, too!
Friday, December 28, 2007
Runners and beerophiles unite!
Most runners I know love downing a nice cold beer (or two, or more), especially after a long hard run or race. Some runners, like my good friend Pat (a.k.a. "the white kenyan"), are so hardcore, they enjoy a good brewski during the race.
The Beer Mile is the extreme sport for those whole love "digestive athletics." According to the official website beermile.com FAQs, any mile that is run in combination with beer consumption can be considered a Beer Mile. However, thanks to the runners of Kingston, Ontario, a set of rules were defined and must be adhered to in order to have your Beer Mile time posted on beermile.com's official results page, which is organized not only by location, gender, and age, but by brand of beer.
In compliance with the "Kingston Rules," the format of the race is as follows: Start - beer/lap, beer/lap, beer/lap, beer/lap - finish. Restrictions require that the beer be an untampered, unopened 12 oz. can (or 1 pint in the UK) and must contain a minimum of 5% alcohol by volume. Each beer must be completely consumed before starting the next lap (and yes, the drinking time is part of your overall race time). In the (likely) event of regurgitation, the offending runner must complete one penalty lap immediately following their 4th lap, which is also included in the overall race time.
Currently the world record is held by Jim Finlayson of Victoria, British Columbia, at 5:09.
There are some variations to this extreme sport including the Soda/Pop Mile, the Chocolate Milk Mile, the Ben and Jerry's 4x4 (4 pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream per lap!), and the Vodka 2-Mile (8 shots, 8 quarters).
I'm not sure I could participate in any of the above because frankly, I hate vomiting. However, I think I may submit to the NYRR suggestion box a request for an Espresso Mile. I'd love to see my mile time for that race!
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 1, 2007
I assume we are all familiar with the St. John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church. This morning, as I sat down to (hopefully) finish this project that's got me dirtying up all my favorite coffee mugs, I was hit with this article on the first (online) page of the NYT. I only skimmed the article (hey, I've got music to write), but definitely took time to look at the slide show (hey, I've got ALL DAY to finish up!).
Hated the thought that anyone out there might miss this informative (I assume) blurb (or that I'd have to start writing so soon after waking), so I am sharing it here.
In the process of posting, I stumbled upon this revolting bit of news:
It's not at all surprising that McDonald's is considering entering the over caffeinnated over priced ridiculously trendy you-think-we're-high-end-and-sophisticated-but-really-we're-just-a-franchise-with-good-advertising coffee drink phenomenon (she says as she sips her excessively strong home brewed Starbucks "Christmas" blend). What's surprising is that it's taken so long for them to jump in.
At a time when Starbucks is hurting (supposedly, according to this article, that again, I only skimmed), will McDonald's step up to keep us satisfied? ... (sorry, just fell out of my chair laughing at the thought). Maybe not, according to this report. Apparently we snobby upper upper UPPER westsiders aren't the only ones who are appalled at the thought.
Decide for yourself.
Now really, I must get a get back to work- stop distracting me.
But first, I need another cup of coffee.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Provided I make the deadlines (it's looking iffy right now!), I should be back soon with pics from Philly and a few other super intellectual thoughts about, um... super intellectual things.
In the meantime, entertain yourselves here, here, here, here, and here.
As you were.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Joss Whedon finally returns to TV!!! Okay, I know I'm slow to report this, but I'm super excited! The news broke over two weeks ago that Joss Whedon has been given the go ahead by Fox to pen seven issues of a new series entitled "The Dollhouse."
The Hollywood Reporter reports:
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon is returning to television with Dollhouse," a new sci-fi project starring "Buffy" alumna Eliza Dushku that has received a seven-episode commitment from Fox.
"Dollhouse," from 20th Century Fox TV, is Whedon's first TV project since his 2002 Fox drama "Firefly."
The drama, whose license fee is said to be in the $1.5 million-$2 million-per-episode range, stars Dushku as Echo, a member of a group of men and women who are imprinted with different personalities for different assignments. In between tasks they are mind-wiped, living like children in Dollhouse, a futuristic dorm/lab. They have no memories of their previous lives, until Echo begins to try to find out who she was.
"Dollhouse" came out of a lunch between Whedon and Dushku in September, shortly after the actress had signed a development deal with 20th TV and Fox. Whedon was giving her advice about writers and types of shows that might be good for her but wasn't interested in venturing into TV himself because he was trying to get a couple of movie projects off the ground at the time.
Hopefully, negotiations with the WGA will be settled soon and this project will not be delayed. I don't think I could take another Joss disappointment.
I have to wonder, if I can convince Joss to have lunch withe me to discuss my career path, perhaps I can fulfill my favorite long run daydream of writing the scores to a Joss Whedon show?
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Why support this nepotism? Because this city makes it incredibly hard for good music to be supported, and her music deserves to be given a chance by those eagerly sought after fans who come to the gig purely out of musical curiosity, not because they want to sound cool recapping their weekend at the water cooler on Monday morning or harbor a sense of obligation (not that we musicians don't appreciate the support from our friends and family who are often the only patrons at our shows).
If you know anything about my music, expect to hear quite the opposite from Jessica. While I like to think it was the many hours I slaved with my alto over the Bb Blues Scale along with Jamey A. and the play-a-long crew back in high school that influenced Jessie's musicality, the real credit should be given to my mother. We grew up hearing her play the baddest folk guitar in church those catholic priests had ever heard! There's no doubt that hearing my mom play every Saturday night for the "folk" mass as well as around the house occasionally, though not nearly enough, both Jessie and I, as well as our two brothers, were given a deep sense of the functionality of music- I don't think any of us really minded going to church those Saturday nights. It was worth it to hear my mom play and her friend, Carol Hayes, who had the most beautiful voice I had ever heard, sing. While I chose the academic route, Jessica followed my mom's path, and learned to play by ear. Her music is a prime example of why knowing all the music theory in the world can not make up for having an incredible ear.
When you come on Thursday, expect to hear a slight departure from her loud, full band "alternative pop rock" sound. This set will feature Jess on acoustic guitar and Jonathon Roberts, of her band The Stairdivers, on Googie's beautiful white baby grand piano. Those familiar with her music can look forward to hearing her more popular tunes, "What were you expecting," and "Wool." I am looking forward to hearing her lesser known tunes, "Hey, It's Ok," and "Routine Continuing." Jessie is looking forward to the beautiful white baby grand.
Check out Jessica's website and myspace, and we'll see you on Thursday.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Selected as a semi-finalist, I was excited, anxious, focused, honored, happy. And the most nervous I had ever been in myCongratulations on making it to the semifinals, Nad! We are proud of you!
- Meeting the other competitors and finding them to be genuinely lovely people, as well as ridiculous talented
- Not having to talk about being a female musician – it is 2007 after all
- Playing with the rhythm section of Geoff Keezer, Reginald Veal and Carl Allen
- Realizing what I need to work on musically
- Staying in a fancy hotel and sleeping diagonally in a king size bed
- Sharing an elevator with Marilyn Manson
- Being inspired by the live performances of Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Joni Mitchell and Sting
- Hearing a myriad of trumpet players do what they do best
- Feeling a new personal confidence, as well as being a part of something bigger than what I had believed possible for myself
- Free wine and cheese at the after-party
- In and Out burgers
- Charlie’s hilarious dinner napkin origami
- Splurging at the hairdressers for the first time in eighteen months
- Meeting the James Bond stunt car driver on the plane back to JFK
- Realizing that maybe, just maybe, if I break my current average of three small group gigs in the last five years, I could be a much better musician than I am now
- Realizing for the umpteenth time how incredibly supportive and beautiful my friends and family are to me
- Having my legs shake uncontrollably with nerves whilst trying to play soft and low
- Not being able to drink coffee with an upset nervous stomach
- Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting for it to be over
- Getting a blister from my new shoes
- Realizing that I have to keep worrying about paying rent for the next year
- Realizing for the first time in seven years that I have no paid gigs in the book. Tabula Rasa.
“Hey! Nice tone!” -Roy Hargrove, walking down the hallway of the Roosevelt Hotel
“Are you the girl that played the flugelhorn? Gimme a hug!” -Clark Terry
“You play beautifully” -Thelonious Monk Jr
Monday, October 29, 2007
Fredericksburg is known to most for it's Civil War history. But come this May, it will be known as the home of the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon, sister race to the Marine Corps Marathon. I am super excited that Fredericksburg will now be on the running map!
Interested in running it? Registration opens on Nov. 1 and is expected to sell out quickly, so sign up quick! And let me know... maybe my parent's will put you up! ;)
Yeah, Fred-vegas (Kyle term), yeah!
Monday, October 22, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Sean P. Diddy Combs
I'm a broken man," Eric Alexander says as we meet at noon for a run around the reservoir in Central Park. Thanks to his 19-month-old son, Alexander has been up since 8 a.m.—which wouldn’t be a big deal, except that he went to bed at 3 a.m. after headlining at Smoke, a jazz club on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The June sun is high and bright, drawing sweat to his fair skin and providing a constant reminder of his less-than-ideal hydration of the recent past.
"I took it pretty easy last night," he says. "Think I had only four beers. It’s rare to get through three sets on less than four. Maybe it was five." Alexander still has to take part in a photo shoot and give a saxophone lesson before leading another three sets that evening at Smoke.
So why, despite his comfortable, conversational pace, are we passing each and every one of the hundreds of other runners circling the reservoir? It probably has something to do with the fact that the only race of Alexander’s life was a 2:58 marathon. continue reading
All he wanted to do was beat Oprah's 4:29:20 time at the 1994 Marine Corps Marathon. And in 2003, after only 8 weeks of training (!), P. Diddy ran the New York City Marathon in 4:14:54.
What made you run the marathon?
I went with my family to watch the runners go by at the edge of Central Park because we had a friend running. We went to cheer her on. And what I saw was so inspiring I turned to my wife and said "I'm going to do this next year." That was it. I saw these people going by who had done this incredible thing. Ordinary people like me. I thought "I could do this too."
Was it hard to train for?
That's a funny story. I applied on the New York Road Runner's website and I did not make the computer lottery. I was rejected. And I thought "oh well I'll try again next year." And at the very end of September I got an e-mail from the Road Runner's Club telling me they had such a precipitous drop off in the number of overseas applicants because of 9/11 that they were inviting me back in, so to speak. So I said great and I wrote back and I accepted. The only problem was that the New York Philharmonic, of which I am the principal cellist, was about to leave for a nearly month long tour of Asia. And at the end of September, I had what...about 5 weeks in which to train. So I did all my training on the road in places like Kuala Lumpur, Beijing and Manila. It was very unusual, to say the least. My training was pretty haphazard and not at all thorough. I already was maintaining a basic level of fitness, so I knew at least I could finish the race. It wasn't a big leap to try to get ready for the marathon. Although, this ext time I'll do it a little differently, I'll certainly start considerably farther in advance.
Was it hard to perform after the marathon?
Just the walking part. Fortunately, when I work, I sit down. But I remember taking a week off from running.
When the Philharmonic travels do you run in foreign cities?
Oh yes. All the time. Quite a few of us do. All the runners in the orchestra know each other and sometimes we arrange to go out in pairs or in groups. Or otherwise we'll see each other in the hotel gym on the treadmills. There are a couple of runners in the horn section and the other member of the orchestra that ran the same marathon is the assistant principal clarinet. Another runner is the second oboist.
Do you run before a performance?
It energizes me completely. I always feel better and more prepared mentally and physically after I've run. It doesn't tire me.
Do you run after a performance?
There's no reason not to, it's just that most performances take place at night. We're nocturnal creatures. But after a matinee for example there's no reason why I wouldn't want to go. I do have to say it's more likely it would happen the other way around because running energizes me but concerts deplete me. I find performing much more tiring.
Does being a musician help your running?
Not directly. But I think they both demand the same kind of discipline. The difference between a professional and an amateur in any field, certainly in music, is that the professional cannot depend on the inspiration of the moment to produce a high quality product. You just have to be able to do it even when you don't want to. If you're feeling lousy or if you just had a fight with someone, nobody cares, you just have to go out and do it. So, I try to apply that same type of discipline to my workouts. There are plenty of days where I just sit on the sofa with a magazine and veg out. But I try to maintain a commitment to fitness. It's like practicing everyday. There are lots of days when I don't feel like practicing either.
Have you ever run with a cello?
Strapped to my back? Only to catch a bus. I don't recommend that.
[incidentally, I have a friend who ran the Boston Marathon with a tuba on his back!]
Do you run to a beat?
Oh, definitely. I almost always have music going through my head. I bet a lot of people do. It's a very natural thing. Very often it's some piece that we happen to be performing that week.
If you know of any other musicians that have also completed a marathon, please let me know!
Monday, October 8, 2007
And by old, I mean not new. Meaning this past Thursday's Jazz Gallery hit was the third show of Darcy James Argue's Secret Society I've seen and I have yet to get bored. The gig proved to be a great to start to a very full weekend of show-going.
Darcy has the right idea by letting fans download his music for free. I did just that, this past spring with the intent of spying on the competition. My evil plan backfired as I was slowly converted to a hard core fan. I say slowly because it did take several listens for me to really get to know the beauty in his melodic lines, the intensity of his anti-swing drum stylings, and the intricacies of the linear writing which together, construct the labyrinth of sound which defines his music.
He calls this music "steampunk big band." But to me, there is too much depth in each tune to be called punk. This is proved by songs like Habeas Corpus, dedicated to Maher Arar, a Canadian wireless technology consultant who was the victim of racial profiling, and the more personal tunes, Chrysalis, and my personal favorite, Transit. You say "punk," I think of my 6th grade trumpet players (whom I love dearly!). Likewise, you say "big band," and I think of folks like my dad expecting to hear Glenn Miller with minimal soloing.
What I enjoy most about Secret Society shows, in addition to the writing, is the superb quality of the band. You'd expect 5 trumpets to be a bit much, but with players like Ingrid Jensen in the line up, the brass section as a whole knows when to be subtle and when not to be. The woodwinds are not to be outdone. Thank you Erica vonKleist for playing the flute in TUNE, and leading the section in blending those annoying doubles. With a strong rhythm section to root the band in place, and superb solos across the board, this band does not get old.
But don't take my word for it. Visit Darcy's blog for the full set list and band line up as well as free downloads (unless you feel so inclined to make a very much appreciated donation) and see for yourself.
And speaking of Darcy...
It was thanks to him that I got to partake in an afternoon of completely new (to me) music.
I know hardly a thing about the indie rock scene, but this past Saturday gave me the chance to hear for myself a fair share of non-mainstream music. This mini festival, held at Randall's Island and hosted by the Bowery Presents, was headlined by Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem. Also in attendance where the bands Wild Light, Les Savy Fav, and Blonde Redhead. For more educated reviews, go here, here, here, and here. Continue on for my own newbie impressions.
My favorite out of the five was Blonde Redhead. With a Portishead meets Bjork sentimentality, I found the melodies sensual and the grooves hypnotic. I really dug their use of electronic manipulators on their voices, in which the lead was shared between Kazu Makino and Amedeo F. Pace. Like the other bands, I had not heard of these guys before, but as it turns out, my sister shared the stage with them at the Black Cat back in her Estella's Muse days! Crazy, small, indie world...
Part of my enjoyment of Blonde Redhead could be that the band's stoic, more serious stage presence was a refreshing change from its prelude, Les Savy Fav. A kind of cracked out vaudeville, frontliner Tim Harrington did more entertaining than music making as he pushed his way through the sardine packed audience, stealing cake which he later threw back into the audience in between sessions of stripping and rubbing his naked belly. The musician side of me tried to listen to the rest of band, but the insecure, shy, high school freshman side overtook as I cringed in fear that Tim was gonna find me in the crowd and do something utterly embarrassing to me as he did to the guy a few people in front of me. Later, when I listened to the band's MySpace, I did not recognize those clips, which I actually liked, from what I heard on Saturday. I guess it all depends on what you personally want out of a show. Entertainment (read: awkward discomfort) or music.
If it is music you expect, the opening act Wild Light is after your vote. Or at least after some listeners. Their admission to being recent graduates of "new band 101" won me over as did their lighter, fresh tunes. Give them a few more years, and we'll probably be hearing them on Grey's Anatomy.
As the afternoon wore one, the sun set, offering no relief, sadly, to the heat, which only increased as the crowd grew denser and excitement for the headliners mounted.
LCD Soundsystem was the penultimate performance of the evening. Let me tell you, the audience LOVED these guys! And for good reason- their performance had such high energy that I myself could not help bouncing around to the highly percussive (and very loud) uber synthesized grooves. Immediately, I loved the contrast between the long, simple vocal lines against the crazed rhythms of the first tune. When their set ended, I felt sorry for the closing act, for I could not see how another band could possibly enthuse the crowd in such a musical frenzy as these guys did.
My worry was for naught; when Arcade Fire's set started with projected videos and sophisticated lighting illuminated the many musicians and instruments on stage, I began to understand the hype surrounding the band. It was definitely sensory overload as the band played their heartsout in what became a light show sing-a-long. I spent most of the set craning my neck to see exactly which of the instruments where playing, as I could not quite HEAR, despite the wall of sound blasting in my ears. Sadly, I never was really able to make out the bass sax (who also doubled on french horn!), trumpet, clarinet, or violins which undoubtedly created an interesting layer to the already dense organ, guitars, percussion and unison vocal choruses. I could, however, learn a lesson or two on how to write a simple, addictive melodic hook, such as the "we are the world" crowd uniter, Wake Up (could you imagine the members of congress standing on the steps of the Capitol building singing this anthem?!).
It was a long day of music, but an enjoyable one, and a nice break from the normal jazz-only live shows that I have been in attendance to as of late.
Speaking of jazz...
Thanks Nad, for lending me the following jazz CDs to spruce up my listening:
And now for something completely different...
My dad would be so proud of me, for this past Sunday, I went to church! Admittedly, I did not go on purpose.
When Sara invited me to hear her play in Ike Sturm's premiere of his Jazz Mass, I assumed it was a concert, held in a church as music often is, and I'd be listening to a recital of sacred jazz music in the form of a musical mass, something along the lines of Ellington's Sacred Concerts.
Imagine my surprise as I walked into Saint Peter's to face a congregation of jazzers and then some! Apparently, this Lutheran Church has quite the jazz initiative, and if anything was to bring me back to the fold, it could well be Ike's music.
The mass was set for 50 voices, 10 strings, and a sextet of voice, trumpet, saxophone, piano, guitar, bass, and drums. The premiere was part of a Jazz Festival Celebrating 42 years of Jazz Ministry and honoring none other than, Dr. Billy Taylor, who was present at the mass.I really enjoyed the six sections of the mass, which I am so used to hearing sung in Latin by a monotone Catholic priest, played instead with thick jazz harmonies and inspiring solos by Ingrid Jensen (for the second time this weekend) and saxophonist Laren Stillman. The congregation seemed to really enjoy the music, and perhaps a new audience will be introduced to the genre.
I admit to partial zoning out during the spoken parts of the mass and did not feel comfortable enough to recieve communion, but this spiritual celebration was a lovely close to a weekend of high energy, extreme music participation.
Friday, October 5, 2007
I realize I'm no Harold Crick, but when I come across guys like Matt Harding, I get a tightness in my chest on the verge of detonation that I recognize as a desperate, immediate desire to put my current life on an indefinite hold to crawl slowly in a winding, indirect path around this world.
To never experience the rest of the world is to me, a great tragedy that I am currently living. It astounds, and depresses me that there is an enormous planet full of varying vegetation, landscapes, people, languages, food, sounds, animals, music, clothing, rituals, lifestyles, that I have not been able to see, hear, touch, smell or taste.
What good are our senses if they are only exposed to the same experiences day after day? How can we expect to have true compassion for mankind if we've only ever had encounters with one culture? Do we truly understand what it means to care for our planet, if we've never seen vegetation outside of our own? How can I sit at this desk every morning, pretending to write music, expecting to contribute to a society I've never met?
This is not Matt's advocation. In regards to any message he might be stating through his happy feet he states: "Up to you. I'm just dancing."
Check him out, and see if you don't feel inspired to do the same:
For more on Matt's adventures, visit Where The Hell Is Matt?
Sunday, September 30, 2007
A division of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, the Monk Competition is one of the most highly recognized competitions in the jazz world, helping young artists gain notability. Major record labels attend the competition, and like American Idol (and this is the ONLY comparison) the 2nd and 3rd place winners often gain more fame than the top placer. It's an incredible honor to make it into the competition.
Each year, the competition focuses on a different instrument. To make it to the semi-finals, competitors have to be 30 years of age or younger, submit 5 different tunes meeting a variety of requirements, and have never recorded as a leader or co-leader on a major or independent label.
Nadje, in addition to being a good friend, is a fantastic trumpet and flugelhorn player whom I often utilize in my own compositions. She hails from Sydney and Melbourne, Australia and attended the Manhattan School of Music to earn her 3rd degree, a Masters in Jazz Performance in 2005. She currently plays around NYC, most notably with Sherrie Maricle & The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Kyle Saulnier's Awakening Orchestra, and the Justice League of Jazz (yes, I've settled on that name for my band, provided the folks at DC Comics don't mind...). Occasionally you can catch her with her own quartet, the NNQ.
As I was browsing the list of winners, dating back to the competition's inception in 1987, I noticed that no female instrumentalists have placed number one. In 2003, Karin Harris placed 4th for trombone, and in 1995 Shirley Bailey placed 3rd for guitar. But so far no number 1s.
On behalf of all female jazz instrumentalists, no pressure, Nad...
Monday, September 17, 2007
An interesting and educational listen, especially for you non-jazzers out there! But hurry, the downloads will only be active for another 6 days! Hopefully D:O will continue to post these compilations, as I do love a good mix tape!
Saturday, September 15, 2007
I was at Dizzy's with Sara checking out Sherrie Maricle & the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, part of the Diet Coke Women in Jazz Festival. We both have friends in the group and felt compelled to support our "sisters in jazz." And I have actually never heard the band before and was curious.
I was quite pleased with the set. The band swung hard and I enjoyed hearing Carmen Bradford sing her heart out. Janelle Reichman is a saxophonist you need to get to know. She was covering Anat Cohen's tenor chair and played her ass off on a Benny Goodman clarinet tune (wish I could remember the name). I also cheered loudly for Nadje Noordhuis's beautiful flugelhorn feature, Deborah Weisz's plunger enhanced trombone solo, Erica vonKleist's short but sassy alto solo, as well as Sharel Cassidy's alto feature.
I was very happy this band did not suck, as it seems to be one of the primary representations of female jazzers right now. But aside from genuinely enjoying the music, I was once again struck by the audience.
My first observation was that it seemed the band was more at ease than the audience. It was a full house, but a very polite house. The band started their first tune hooting and hollering for each other. The girls laughed, smiled, cheered during each other's solos. They behaved as you would expect any rowdy swinging big band to act.
The audience clapped and cheered at the expected moments, but that was it. Overall, they seemed a bit unsure. At one point Sherrie actually instructed the audience that it was okay to cheer whenever they heard something they liked. At another point, the man sitting next to me turned to me and said, "You sure are supportive." Why? Because I was cheering?
I don't think people know how to listen to jazz. And when I say people, I mean civilians. Non-jazzers. Non-musicians, really. I always wonder who the people are at these shows and why they are there. Are they mothers and fathers and friends of the musicians? Are they people that actually enjoy jazz and don't mind dropping $30 for the cover and another $10 for food/beverage? Or are they the dreaded self proclaimed "intellects" who still equate jazz with sophistication and are hoping to appear hip when at the water cooler Monday morning they relay their weekend hanging at Dizzy's?
Surely the men at the opposite end of the bar where the latter. They were the men that would not shut up. Really, how rude can you be?
I know this is not a new issue, the appreciation an audience gives jazz. I'm glad it's not just other jazz musicians in the audience. But I wish they would loosen up and try actually listening to what they are hearing. Not that I expect a "yeah, man" after every interesting statement a soloist makes. This was after all a big band and the audience most likely related to the overall sound of the band rather than the intricacies of the soloing.
But it did make me consider the different ways people listen and show appreciation for what they are hearing. I know I myself am not gonna be that listener that shouts out in the middle of solos when I hear something I like. But I am definitely a head-bobber. And a smiler. If there's a good groove my body is moving and if I like what I hear I am smiling like an idiot. Then there are people like my friend John, who sit there frozen and stone faced, but enjoying themselves nonetheless, usually ready with a complex analysis of the solo. There are also people like my other friend Doug, who back in college used to get so excited he would bust out into girlish giggles and hide his face in a pillow in attempts to contain his excitement over a Cannonball Adderley blues lick.
I believe music is a communication and that involves audience participation of a sort. Maybe Sherrie has the right idea in educating the audience in when to cheer. I know I spend a good part of every class I teach making my kids participate in "Active Listening" which includes appropriate concert behavior and a very basic analysis of what they hear. How else do we expect these audiences, specifically those new to the music, to know how to listen and that its okay, even better, to be an openly appreciative audience?
Monday, September 10, 2007
Actually, the trail is called the Giant Staircase, and for any hiker's out there, I highly recommend this nearby hike. Amanda and I met at the W. 178 bus depot, hopped a bus over the GW Bridge and up the into the Palisades, where we disembarked at the NJ/NY state line. The whole trip took maybe 4 hours, the hike was shady and challenging, offering beautiful views of the Hudson and a much needed break from the city.
Here are a view pics to tempt you...
Last Wednesday, I had a Rave Run.
I met with Kate, much later than intended, and we headed over the Reservoir. We were both a little nervous as we cut through Central Park to darkening skies. Scenes from Law and Order and CSI:NY of cops bent over dead girl number 1's body in the park flashed through my mind as did my mother's warnings to "not go out after dark in big, bad New York City." But then we crossed over the W 94 Reservoir Bridge, and all changed.
The reservoir's 1.6 mile loop, which is usually crowded with runners, walkers, and extremely annoying space taking tourists, was sparse with just enough runners to make us feel safe. By now it was flat out dark, but the run was amazing. Kate kicked my butt with a slightly faster than normal pace. Extremely peaceful, the loop was a nice juxtaposition to the streets that lay a half a mile to either the east or west.
Kate and I did the usual girl chat on the first lap, but fell silent on the second as we worked to keep our pace. This silence taunted me to return alone, knowing my introvert self would be in heaven in the darkness. But despite my Donna Troy alias, I think I'm not quite brave enough to venture back there alone. (Well... maybe if I entered from the East Side, but who wants to go there?!)
Sadly, I only had my 1.something mega pixel cell phone camera to capture my Rave Run, and I will not be mailing the print into Runner's World.
Instead, I share it here.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
It's official! I am now registered for the Philadelphia Marathon to be ran on November 18, 2007.
I'll only be there a few days, no long trip this time, but I would like to do 1 or 2 touristy (or non-touristy) things.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The Blood Moon showed it hunter face to parts of the world this past Tuesday. For those of us on the east coast, as well as Europe and Africa, we pretty much missed it. Those in Eastern Australia had the best view, as the eclipse occurred at 8 PM in clear skies.
Here are some amazing pictures of the moon from around the world, courtesy of new.com.au. For more info on this amazing phenomenon, go here or here.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Happy Birthday Mingus- Celebrating 85: Music of Love & Protest
Mingus Big Band & Mingus Orchestra with Gunther Schuller, Conductor
Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Damrosh Park Bandshell, 8 PM, Free
Mingus Big Band:
Saxes: Ronnie Cuber, Wayne Escoffrey, Abraham Burton, Vincent Herring, Jaleel Shaw
Trumpets: Ryan Kisor, Kenny Rampton, Lew Soloff
Trombones: Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Early McIntyre, Andy Hunter,*
Drums: Jonathon Blake
Bass: Boris Kozlov
Piano: George Colligan
*the name of the bass trombonist/tuba was left off the program and I regret I did not catch it during the acknowledgements
Alto Sax/Flute: Craig Handy
Tenor Sax: Wayne Escoffrey
Bass Clarinet: Douglas Yates
Bassoon: Michael Rabinowitz
French Horn: John Clarke
Trumpet: Kenny Rampton
Trombone: Ku-umba Frank Lacy
Guitar: Jack Wilkins
Bass: Boris Kozlov
Drums: Donald Edwards
Conductor: Gunther Schuller
Sunday night was a beautiful night for outdoor music. Cool and breezy, the sun set gracefully behind the concert shell, which Nadje pointed out, looked with it’s white arc as if it had been removed from the Sydney Opera House and sent north. Sue Mingus emceed the evening.
Contrary to the billing, the Mingus Orchestra played first. Most impressive was Gunther Schuller’s plaid jacket- cool in the 70s, still cool today. Actually, it was very exciting to watch him conduct. I am not too familiar with Mingus’s works for chamber orchestra, but after hearing the 5 or so tunes that they played, three from his acclaimed “Epitaph” (arrangments made of, course, by Schuller) I am most definitley going to check them out.
Highlight: Douglas Yates’s bad ass bass clarinet solo on Pithecanthropus Erectus.
After a short pause and set change, the big band came on. They picked up where the orchestra left off with more excerpts from “Epitaph” before kicking it up with my favorite of the evening, “Freedom.” Ku-umbra Frank Lacy outdid himself on the vocals and while up to this point the concert had been enjoyable, a new energy rippled through the audience during this tune. The set ended with the equally charged “Song with Orange.” Solos by Wayne Escoffrey, Jaleel Shaw and Vincent Herring made me happy.
Highlight: The grayhairs dancing in the audience to “Song with Orange.”
Dharmashakti in Heavan
Integral Yoga Institute, 6th Floor, 7 PM, $20
Deian McBryde (Dharmashakti)- voice
David Freeman- percussion
Nadje Noordhuis- trumpet
Christian Pincock- electronics & valve trombone
Ursel Schlicht- keyboard
Adam Simmons- tenor sax, flute, & shakuhachi
Attendance to this show began as simple friend support. Nadje was playing therefore I was attending. However it only took a few chants for me to be fully engaged in this very out, but very enjoyable evening.
Until last night, I was a Kirtan virgin. I didn’t know it, in fact I had never heard the term Kirtan. In fact, I thought I was attending passively a concert of free jazz, not participating in the chanting of Sanskrit. I must say, chanting was a hell of a lot more fun than listening to free jazz for what turned out to be almost 2 and a half hours!
The kirtan was held in a yoga studio in what is technically the West Village (W. 13 St) but may as well still be Chelsea. I arrived early and was herded to the rooftop garden to wait, which I found even more relaxing than the Nag Champa burning in the gift store. Like any good jazz show, this one started a good 20 minutes late. It took another 20 minutes after the first “om shanti” for me to finally be able to look at Nad without laughing.
Overall, I was very much enjoyed the evening of Sanskrit and jazz. Deian did a magnificent job weaving between audience participation with chants and instructional listening (watch the recorder as it is held in front of the person creating the idea for the group improvisation). There were enough solos to satiate my snobby jazzer taste and there was even a tune in which Adam conducted the entire room in a group improvisation (this was quite interesting!). I thought the horn arrangements were great and won’t lie and say I didn’t feel a sense of connection and energy as the entire room engaged in singing (myself included). If nothing else- it was great ear training (when there is a drone going, it’s a constant game of what interval is this?).
One slight inconsistency blocked some of my happy-peace-energy. Deian welcomed the audience with smiles and patience as we responded on the wrong beats and wrong pitches to his undoubtedly deliberately thought out arrangements. But he did not treat the band with the same warmth. You could sense a perfectionist need for control as he communicated sans smiles with the band members. This definitely did not jive with the love yourself and the world vibe he so successfully created with the music.
Note to self: Stage presence is of equal importance, if not more important than the music. Alternatively, love your band members and don’t be afraid to let the music escape your grasp and develop into its own, uncontrolled entity.
Highlight: When Deian asked who in the audience passionately loved free jazz and a few people actually raised their hands!!
Two consecutive nights of completely different music; this is why I love NY.
Friday, August 24, 2007
My friends make fun of me.
I LOVE mix tapes, or as it is these days, mix CDs.
Yes, I am one of those people that feels a well crafted mix tape makes the perfect gift! From the early days of “Lawnmower Tapes I-IV” (made for the 2 years back in the Hubert, NC days when it was my chore to cut the grass of our 3 acre rental farmhouse with the very cool riding lawnmower), to the annual Christmas compilations (this year will make the 7th), to my favorite driving mixes, currently up to “Driving VII: To the MHR,” I love my mixes, especially the driving mixes. There is something magical to about creating the perfectly transitioning flow of music to match the mood of the intended drive.
I could easily go off on a tangent about the correct way to make a mix tape/CD, but everyone’s seen High Fidelity by now and should already know that the first 3 songs are like the thesis statement, allowing the listener to have a basic idea of what’s to come, you should never have the same artist twice in a row unless you are trying to prove a point of some sort, or it is part of a format to be followed for the entire mix, mixing genres is risky but can be extremely rewarding, and the transition from one song to the next is of utmost importance, otherwise you may as well be listening to the radio!
Sorry, tangent unsuccessfully avoided.
Driving mixes are my favorites because I love the escape a road trip offers, especially when accompanied by the perfect music. As road trips are seldom random, they almost always have instigation. Therein lies the beauty of the mix tape/CD (Okay lets be honest; no one makes mix tapes anymore. While having 2 sides can provide a poignant tool for the compiling, it’s just plain impractical to spend so much time recording in real time, or even slightly sped up dubbing. In fact, I really shouldn’t even be making mix CDs. If I were truly up with technology, I would be making Driving Playlists for my iPod and iPod car adapter. Nonetheless, I have no iPod so back to the dated CDs). The mix CD offers the accompaniment for the purpose of the drive.
Let’s take, for instance, the aforementioned “Driving VII: To the MHR.”
This mix was created for my short drive from Fayetteville, NC to Wilmington, NC, driven just a few weeks ago. I was leaving the marching band camp where it was my job to run saxophone sectionals for the annoying can’t get out of your head “West Side Story,” to attend the Manor House Reunion. The MHR is an annual meeting of spiritually connected sisters, no-pants parties, and otherwise general debauchery. I would go into further detail, but want to keep this at least PG in the case of possible younger readers. The gist is that every year Heidi, Amy, Redding, and I, former college roommates occupying the cutest little house on Manor Dr., meet yearly to emote, drink, and overall, be completely and utterly comfortable (a luxury not always available in this judgmental society of ours).
Giddy with anticipation for our trad margarita first night, I compiled a mix of laid back Motown, Pop, and Funk tunes, skillfully (I may add) weaving between artists of yesteryear and today, all designed to get me in the MHR mind frame. The first three songs are as followed:
“Put Your Records On” by Corrine Bailey Rae
“Lovely Day” by Billy Withers
“Tell Me What We’re Gonna Do Now” by Joss Stone
My drive from Fayetteville to Wilmington that Friday, watching the sun set, windows open through the country on route 87 (no interstates for me if I can help it!), iced coffee in hand, tunes blaring uninterrupted due to lack of cell signal (I meant it when I said country) gave me the first (in a really long time) real hour and half of deep, unrelenting, intense, desperately needed, peace. Or did I mean happiness? They were one and the same to me that evening.
That, to me, is the magic of road trips and driving mixes.
Of course there is the very significant added bonus of listening to the mix again. In fact, we girls listened to “Driving VII: To the MHR” a couple times over the course of our reunion as we traveled to the beach, celebrated Redding’s belated 30th, and primped ourselves for our annual night(s) out. And now, as I listen to it while typing, a bit of the country breeze and paling sky lightens within my soul.
There is magic in road trips.
My August road trip was not glamorous and only counted 2 new driving mixes, 2 states, and 4 towns (I also visited Jeanne and her backyard fawn down in J-ville) -pretty much only covered the I-95 corridor of NC and VA (with the slight spin off to the coast). But it certainly repaired my soul. (That and the week following in Fred-Vegas, mooching lovingly off my parents.) I aspire to an Elizabethtown worthy road trip one day, but this little bi-state trip satiated my need so that I was even able to Amtrak it back to NY happily.
My friend Heather knew of my trip and offered an excerpt to accompany the contemplative thought processes that are an inevitable side effect of long hours alone in a car. It’s from a book called “Through Painted Deserts” by Donald Miller, which now resides on my bookshelf, bumped up to next in line, after finishing Kerouac’s classic “On The Road” which I finally started after a brief digression to “The Nanny Diaries” (sometimes I just really love chick-lit).
I’ll conclude this epic ode to the mix tape (CD) and its integral coupling with the every so often desperately needed time honored traditional road trip with Heather’s very thoughtful and perfectly appropriate excerpt:
It's a living book, this life; it folds out in a million settings, cast with a billion beautiful characters, and it is almost over for you. It doesn't matter how old you are; it is coming to a close quickly, and soon the credits will roll and all your friends will fold out of your funeral and drive back to their homes in cold and still and silence. And they will make a fire and pour some wine and think about how you once were...and feel a kind of sickness at the idea that you never again will be.
So soon you will be in that part of the book where you are holding the bulk of the pages in your left hand, and only a thin wisp of the story in your right. You will know by the page count, not by the narrative, that the Author is wrapping things up. You begin to mourn its ending, and want to pace yourself toward its closure, knowing the last lines will speak of something beautiful, of the end of something long and earned, and you hope the thing closes out like last breaths, like whispers about how much and who the characters have come to love, and how authentic the sentiments feel when they have earned a hundred pages of qualification.
And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn't it?
It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.
I want to repeat one word for you: Leave.
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn't it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Apparantley, Alexandria, VA, is the host of this year's 60th Annual Coupe Mondiale, the "world cup of accordian competitions for younger players:"
Imagine a universe exactly like ours in every way but for a lone
exception: There is only one type of music. Accordion music.
This week, such parallel universes have collided.
"The soundtrack of life is full of accordions," says Faithe
Deffner, the U.S. delegate to, and vice president of, the Confederation of International Accordionists, which stages the Coupe Mondiale every year. "People don't see accordions very much, but they're always in commercials, television, movies."
More than 1,000 accordionists have descended upon Alexandria to join with their musical kin at the week-long festival. There's an international competition in which 70 musicians under age
32 compete in six categories (winners will perform at 6 tonight at the Kennedy Center) and a domestic competition of 300 players.
In popular culture, the accordion is often maligned. Frank
Busso, 64, of New York, has played the instrument since age 7. He earned a master's degree in business but found playing and teaching the accordion lucrative enough that he never used the degree.
"The good appearances of the accordion are in the background," Busso laments. Nobody notices the accordion player in "Scent of a Woman" as Al Pacino, intoxicated by Gabrielle Anwar's perfume, sweeps her off her feet to tango. Nobody notices when the super-spies of "True Lies," Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, are dancing to accordion music. They do remember Urkel.
"Steve Urkel," Busso says with a groan. "He didn't do much
for the accordion." Busso's referring to the uber-nerd from the '90s TV show "Family Matters," with his oversize glasses, suspenders hiking his pants well over his bellybutton, and his incompetent accordion playing. Sadly, the accordion got lumped in with the rest of it.
And so it is at the Coupe Mondiale. The accordion as uniter of
families, as breadwinner, as instrument of seduction, as the varsity letter's superior.
Read the full article here.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
This 37-year-old British lawyer and swimmer hoped the success of his swim would prove a point to politicians around the world about the effects of global warming.
"A triumph that I could swim in such ferocious conditions but a tragedy that it's possible to swim in the North Pole."