lundi, octobre 29, 2007

Major thanks first to Big Sexy and second to Dilla for fomenting my current minor obsession with Jeffrey Osssssborne who will be headlining the Apollo in a few weeks. I was up at the Harlem School of the Arts last Tuesday for the always informative Loren Schoenberg-led Jazz for Curious Listeners class and on my way out I spotted a flyer for Osborne and Regina Belle at the Apollo and I knew I had to find a way to get there. The Apollo is just an awesome venue with great sound, sight lines and historical significance and would provide a wonderful opportunity to finally hear Osborne and his opener Regina Belle live. I had long been familiar with Osborne's "The Woo Woo Song" and "On The Wings Of Love" but oblivious to his seventies output with L.T.D. until Ceddy Ced's Original Kings of Comedy namecheck and Jay Dee's "Love Ballad" flip (for De La's "Much More") drove me to dig deeper into his catalog. "Holding On" was my favorite walking song (I'm hoping to qualify for the 2016 games in the 20K racewalk. What up Hal!) up until I lost my iPod last week (I think I accidentally dropped it in the recycling but it wasn't really working no ways. More upset about losing my hot pink leather Coach iPod case). Anyway, I give you "Holding On":

jeudi, octobre 25, 2007

Bey View

Andy Bey at the Jazz Bakery, Los Angeles (03.03.07)
Photo Credit: J-Notes

So I came across Bey the same way I came across Bartz, accidentally. I was making a Mother's Day or (maybe it was a birthday) mix CD for my mom this past May and was running low on selections so I surfed eMusic looking for something Ms. Juliesque. I'm not sure how I landed on Gary Bartz Ntu Troop's I've Known Rivers & Other Bodies (1973), but the title track fit the bill. My foreign born mom, weaned on American soul exports, has long been enamored of African American arts and letters and for the past few years has scripted our church's African American history program having taken over that duty from my Auntie Lue. I knew the Langston Hughes adaptation would go over well and could already imagine it softly spilling from the Volvo V70's speakers as she negotiated I-5 traffic from our Lake Forest Park house to our church on Seattle's First Hill. Bartz sang on "I've Known Rivers," a live recording from the 1973 Montreux Jazz Festival, but reeled me in further or rather farther back into his seventies catalog when a singer named Andy Bey had handled vocals and keys. The father and son team at Breath of Life learned me to Bey a few months later courtesy of this post on the Bartz-Bey cover of the Syreeta-Stevie classic since sampled by Kanye for Common, "Black Maybe" and this post on Bey's masterful 1996 interpretation of the Duke's "In A Sentimental Mood." A passive obsession commenced. I'm presently incapable of specifying what makes Bey work so well but he does and he's got the resume to prove it. A child prodigy who later performed in trio with his sisters Salome and Geraldine, Bey, a pianist, vocalist and composer also collaborated with Horace Silver (whom I also adore), the Thad Jones and Mel Lewis Orchestra (who sourced the Jill Scott "Brotha" sample) and the aforementioned Gary Bartz (who, Hercules!, I got to see live at the Blue Note a few weeks ago). I'm particularly fond of how he improvised with Bartz at the end of "People Dance," which the good people at Breath of Life also featured this summer. I'm crossing my fingers that Bartz and Bey will partner up for some live performances of Ntu Troop classics in the near future.
So with that said, "People Dance" (1970) [MP3] There really ought to be more dancing.
A few years ago, the Gay and HIV+ 67 year old who turns 68 on the 28th spoke with the International Herald Tribune and touched on the longstanding challenges to his recording career. Around that time NPR's Tony Cox interviewed Bey as well for Tavis Smiley's defunct program. Both are worth checking out especially to hear Bey's thoughts on the dearth of male jazz vocalists.

Andy Bey plays Joe's Pub tonight at 9:30 PM and J&R Tuesday at 12:30 PM in support of the release of his live album, Ain't Necessarily So.

mercredi, octobre 24, 2007


I posted the second half of the Christian Scott interview over at VIBE this afternoon after which I read Ben Ratliff's chilly review of Scott's Monday night stop at the Blue Note for the NYT. I knew the paper was going to review it as I was a two seats away from the Times photog but I was surprised at Ratliff's take. Scott and crew put on a vital performance that colored his record's compositions all the more vibrant. It was rockish, backbeat heavy and fun, so much so that my friend turned to me at set's midpoint excited to hear jazz that employed our generation's vocabulary. Here's an excerpt from Ratliff's piece:
Suddenly there are a lot of jazz-rock bands around, and Mr. Scott’s might be the Coldplay of them: A comfortable romance comes along with the echo, volume and drama. With this sound, during a very dry time in the jazz record business, Mr. Scott was signed to Concord Records, which has just released his second album, “Anthem.” His first one, “Rewind That,” was nominated for a Grammy Award last year.

But even in a jazz club, with Marcus Gilmore whacking his two snare drums at full strength, the music felt thin. In his solos Mr. Scott has a great, youthful flow, something that’s always prized in jazz. But in a music of fewer chord changes and higher volume, his nuances can get lost; the logic of his playing, and the entwined sound of his lines with the band’s saxophonist, Louis Fouché, seemed secondary to the main point of the project, which was how contemporary it all sounded.

Now, I could benefit from hearing Scott live a few more times and would have stayed for the second set if my friend wasn't tired and ready to go. And I will admit that Scott's personality and stage presence go a long way in charming a crowd especially for someone like me who values the entirety of performance (I want to be entertained.) Still, I don't think Scott's band was entirely incoherent nor did I find the music tame. With regards to Louis Fouché, he's not Scott's main saxophonist, that role is usually filled by Walter Smith III who Scott told me was missing on account of the birth of his first child so the lines concern could be valid. Honestly, I didn't play much attention to Fouché. The rhythmn section was where it was really at and Scott with his round sound darted over and about. He was certainly generous, ceding plenty of time to his cohorts. I might have liked to hear a bit more of him but "Coldplay!?" Wow. There's not really any sharp edges to Ratliff's review but it still cuts, which makes it all the more brutal. Anyway, be sure to check part 2 of my interview with Scott, he speaks to activism, acting, Katrina and a bunch else.

mardi, octobre 23, 2007

Great Scott

Christian Scott
Trumpeter Christian Scott performing last night at the Blue Note in NYC

Yesterday, I put up the first part of an interview I conducted with Christian Scott last week at VIBE. I'll post the second installment later today or early tomorrow. Last night, I caught his early set at the Blue Note with my friend who is a classmate of his twin brother at NYU film school. It was an incredible performance to a packed house. He's synthesized his varied influences in his writing and playing, which he speaks to in the interview over at VIBE, in lieu of aping aging jazz masters (although he has taken some cues from Miles.) His band mates, ranging in age from 20 to 27, play and dress the part, which in a silent way sort of explodes expectations of what a jazz player is supposed to be. The popular styles of dress (sleek and suited down) reflected in early and mid century America and by extension the era's jazz musicians are so replicated as to seem requisite. But Scott's 6-man band cut different figures (skull caps, dunks, GStars, etc...) that run counter to what so many people expect of jazz. But what's most impressive (and to many, unexpected) is his contemporary sound, which immediately resonates, especially to the sensibilities of the younger listener.

For more pics from last night, check the complete set of pics I took on Flickr.

Edit-Here is the set list: Anthem, Rewind That, MIA (a new song written a few days earlier for his girlfriend), The 9, Katrina's Eyes, Litany Against Fear

Scott's put out two good albums, Rewind That (2006) and Anthem (2007).

mercredi, octobre 17, 2007


Here is a little something from the UK's Daily Telegraph to brighten your day:
Thorntons man quits over chocolate 'squishing'

By Tom Chivers
Last Updated: 2:43am BST 16/10/2007

The man described as the "Willy Wonka" of Britain's chocolatiers has resigned after engaging in an "act of truffle-squishing" in a rival store.

Barry Colenso, the master chocolatier at Thorntons, was watched by baffled staff as he roamed the Hotel Chocolat store in Nottingham, handling various truffles.

When they inspected his handiwork after he left, it was discovered that he had mutilated £63.50's worth of chocolates.

CCTV images later confirmed that the perpetrator was Mr Colenso.

A statement from Hotel Chocolat said: "This was an extraordinary act of truffle-squishing. We can only guess at what provoked it.

“The staff observed Mr Colenso handling a number of truffles in a way that made them suspicious. When we checked the truffles, they had been squashed and damaged."

According to the statement, Mr Colenso has agreed to leave Thorntons after admitting to "inappropriate handling" of Hotel Chocolat's products.

A Thornton's spokesman said: "Mr Barry Colenso has resigned. We will not be commenting any further on this matter."

Hotel Chocolat said it would not be taking further action regarding the incident.

Mr Colenso has made headlines before, having designed a 390kg (860lb) chocolate billboard that was erected in London’s Covent Garden in Easter of this year. Passers-by ate the sign in three hours.

Thorntons has been Britain's premier specialist chocolatier since its founding in 1911, despite the rapid growth of rivals Hotel Chocolat, who have opened 23 stores since their move from catalogue-only service to the high street in 2004.

This is the funniest news I have read in some time.

Spotted at Boing Boing

lundi, octobre 08, 2007

I missed Elegguá's performance at Symphony Space the Friday-before-last due to being triple booked and not really feeling like trekking uptown but now that I'm listening to their interview and performance on Soundcheck, I'm kicking myself for not canceling my other plans and going to see them. I can't seem to find a web site for them as I would like to keep abreast of future performances. Anyway, if anyone knows of a web resource on Elegguá, please advise in the comments. And for further reading, here is a Slate article on race and the Venezuelan electorate from just about a year ago.

What it feels like for a girl...

“The sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world,” said John Holmes, the United Nations under secretary general for humanitarian affairs. The sheer numbers, the wholesale brutality, the culture of impunity — it’s appalling.”

From, "Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War," NYT

samedi, octobre 06, 2007

Snifter Blues

Let this serve as my public renunciation of Jesus juice. Instead of laying out in Rockefeller Park this unseasonably warm and refreshingly breezy fall day, I was laid up on my couch drinking seltzer water and and plodding through a pile of netflix dvds. I watched Watermelon Man at KCH's recommendation and did not much like it save for the "why does daddy race buses" line. I also watched The Secret, which seemed very What The Bleep Do We Know, except egregious. I was simultaneously irked and inspired by Michael Beckwith's decision to tag himself a visionary. There was the kneejerk, "who does he think he is," then there was the aha, "we are what we think we are." And since we go where we say we go: I will return to De Gaulle, head to Gatwick, and stop back through LAX in the next 12 months. Visualize the jet set and put yourself in the picture.

mardi, octobre 02, 2007

About it...

Vivian Schuyler Key Crisis Cover 1929
I'm increasingly disinclined to talk about my ideas that have yet to translate into work product, online or out loud. I guess it comes from taking my ideas more seriously and the protectionism that comes from the threat of ganking. I've had a friend take an idea right out of my mouth and write with it, which irked me to no end but I never confronted said individual 'cause perceived* bark aside, in my personal relationships there ain't no bite, just occasional drunken aggrievement in confrontation's stead. I've had people pick my brain for their own gain, again and again and it's annoying. Anyway, a couple of ideas I've had can be distilled into a line from a poem by my imaginary mentor, the late great Gwendolyn Brooks (when flesh and blood mentors cannot be found, you can always get yourself a haint) whose germinal poem, "We Real Cool", I reworked for this blog's title some years ago. I haven't written or read much poetry in almost a year due to a horrid workshop experience and general anxiety but each banal day and busy night I process much of what I encounter through it: that of others I've committed to memory and the formless stuff I write on the back of receipts, tissues, Post-its® and journals bought for me by my dad or auntie. I won't identify the line in question but here's the poem.
Sadie and Maud

Maud went to college.
Sadie stayed home.
Sadie scraped life
With a fine toothed comb.

She didn't leave a tangle in
Her comb found every strand.
Sadie was one of the livingest chicks
In all the land.

Sadie bore two babies
Under her maiden name.
Maud and Ma and Papa
Nearly died of shame.

When Sadie said her last so-long
Her girls struck out from home.
(Sadie left as heritage
Her fine-toothed comb.)

Maud, who went to college,
Is a thin brown mouse.
She is living all alone
In this old house.

Gwendolyn Brooks
And for your listening pleasure: "All You'll Be" by Tiombe Lockhart and Leron Thomas

*Irrespective of my manner, to many, all I'll be is an angry Black woman.