today's ride 1.21.18/3.23.20 

today's ride  1.21.18/3.23.20 

tagot - groupe oyiwane/rough guide to the music of the sahara 

hymne a l'amour - william bolcom/marc-andre hamelin/12 new etudes 

sugar, sugar - sugar beats/skipped and deleted 

images serie 2 la lune....- debussy/thibaudet 

the fighting side of me - merle haggard/lonesome fugitive: merle haggard anthology (1963-1977)/skipped and deleted 

le jeune:  villageoise de gascogne - parthenia/les armours de mai 

l'enfance de ko-quo: ii. ne souffle pas dans tes oreilles - satie/thibaudet 

the duke - dave brubeck/greatest hits 

var 3 - bach/gould/goldberg variations '81 

oh why - freddie king/getting ready 

way early subtone - duke/anatomy of a murder 

funny (not much) - nat king cole/top pops 

this ride took place over two years ago. i don’t remember or have any notes about what kind of day it was. january – warm enough to ride the bike. i’ll ride with long underwear and gloves but if my face is going to get numb, i’m not riding. and it is almost always windy on the narrows where i ride – refreshing in the summer, bone-chilling in winter. this list is kind of long. maybe it was such a rare nice day in the middle of winter, i rode a little farther.  

this project stores well because all i have to do is listen again to the list and i am usually immediately reminded of my thoughts about the music at the time. the first cut takes me back to my epic african trip and all of its random memories. i remember i bought this sahara collection because i knew we were going to be driving through southern morroco and mauratania along the western edge of the sahara. southern morroco is even actually called, ‘western sahara.’ once we left the little town of laayoune, it was a 1000 miles of undeveloped coastline to the border of mauritania. yes, vivid memories flood my brain. i took 5 pages of notes every day. i should have brought them with me to my in-laws house in nassawadox we bugged out to when NYC locked down for the corona virus. maybe i will post what i have written so far – the backstory of how i met the fellows i went on the trip with, why the trip and the first leg where i fly over to casablanca and meet my friends in fez. 

groupe oyiwane are originally from niger. they formed in 1985 to play the music of the touareg, a nomadic berber tribe still inhabiting parts of northern mali, niger, algeria, all the way over to southern libya. still. they were the first tribe to fight off colonial imperialism in africa and they are still fighting. when i came back and learned volkswagon named an SUV after them, it made me sad. they could surely use that licensing money. i wonder if they even know. then they wouldn’t have to kidnap tourists off the highway i was travelling on through marauritania and blame it on al queda. one meets up with others going south to nouakchott to form little convoys that won’t get attacked. two weeks before i went, two SUV’s containing spanish aid workers were attacked and the people kidnapped and taken into the desert. we made it through without incident. well, there were many incidents, none of them life threatening.   

william bolcom’s twelve piano etudes won a pulitzer prize in 1988. i got turned on to them by my piano teacher, pat pace, at the time but it wasn’t until my pianist buddy, leonard thompson, gave me the music that i really started to dig in and appreciate them. they are almost all too hard to play for me but this one is actually one of the more playable ones (by me) with it’s right hand ostinato. i could write a whole jazz tune based off just one of these chords! he’s known as a polymath, ‘a person with wide-ranging kowledge.’ i thought that was being ‘post-modern.’ and that’s what i look for in contemporary concert music. i want it all in there – the tonal, the non-tonal – our musical palette has never been richer and wider. why specialize? except to attract agents and record labels and radio stations who don’t think outside of specific genre constrictions. frederic rzewski comes to mind as another contemporary composer who brings all of his experience to bear in his compositions. keith jarrett has been playing solo since disbanding his trio and i’ve heard all of his new york performances. it’s the same thing. i feel like i’m listening to the totality of keith’s experience coming out in the improvisations he plays. and it is thrilling to me. 

sugar, sugar. my daughter loves this song by the archies. she has her own record player and ipad now so i deleted this and never want to hear it again. 

the moon descends on the temple that was. beautiful. i have no other words.  

i go back and forth from fuck this cracker, merle haggard, to he was a working class hero. but this song, america, love it or leave it, sounds like ignorant hillbilly music. a song like this makes impressionable people do stupid shit – like get all gung-ho to fight wars rich people won’t send their own kids to fight. couldn’t make it through the second verse before i had to skip it and delete it. never want to hear this song again. my friend, bruce barthol, wrote a tremendous parody of this song called, ‘fighting side of jesus.’ it’s on his only recording, the decline and fall of everything. i produced it and probably played piano and some bass. bruce was the original bass player in country joe and the fish and played monterey pop. saw jimi light his guitar on fire.  

parthenia is an early music group that plays period instruments. my good pal, carol lipnik’s, brother plays viola da gamba in the band. the music is pale and haunting. it sounds fragile. when my daughter was a baby this was the soundtrack. she would listen to it over and over again. they have a great yuletide album, too. 

more satie. blah, blah, blah. kidding. i love it. like i said, he shows up so much in this project because he has a zillion 1 minute pieces and i have a recording with all of them on it. 

dave brubeck was the first jazz music i heard. and played, actually. my teenage brother was playing brubeck on the piano. late-60’s. he taught me that ‘take five’ was in e-flat minor and that if you played all the black notes along with the notes ‘c’ and ‘f,’ you could play whatever you wanted and it sounded like paul desmond. i was 3 or 4. he taught me to clap my way through ‘unsquare dance,’ a tune in 7/4. he played ‘the duke’ all the time, too.  

the clarity and speed give the ’55 version of ‘var. 3’ a sort of pristine gloss. it’s nice. bracing. like a cold wind coming off the narrows. but this version from ’81 has a whole other attitude. melancholic. longing. amazing gould changes the entire character of the variation just by changing the tempo. well, not just. but the change in tempo brings out different dynamic possibilities for the voices. you hear things you didn’t hear before.  

the last three cuts – two kings and a duke. the shuffle algorithm is clever.