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today's ride 1.12.18  



















batik - batik/ralph towner 

trellis - batik/ralph towner 

debbie downer - courtney barnett/sometimes i sit and think and sometimes i just sit 

etherraggae - third plane/combination music/unreleased 

sideshow - blue magic/soulful spell 

pentsatonic - brian allen/hernan hecht/vitamina hueipi 


i don't like to turn on the music till i am on the promenade away from cars. as i walk the bike across the bridge over the highway, i can see the top quarter of the big bridge. it's always there. never moves. even when you can't see it. it's a warm winter day and the air is warmer than the water so an advection fog has covered the narrows and the battery, almost reaching the city. i learned about fog in my bay area days. there are a few types of fog but the one that rolls under the golden gate and stretches all the way across the bay covering berkeley is the same kind as this. and it was a very common occurrence out there. it happens here in the narrows but not that often. 

i carry the bike down the steps to the promenade, hit 'shuffle', get on the bike and start pedaling. i hear a ride cymbal playing some fast swing and immediately recognize it to be jack dejohnette. a twelve-string plays chords with harmonics. ralph towner. batik. it goes perfectly with my view. i can see about ten feet out into the glassy water. no wake. there are some ducks and buffleheads floating to nowhere; the buffleheads kind of in formation, the ducks kind of in pairs. i look back and can't see the bridge at all but i can see the anchor on the brooklyn side clearly. typically, you'd hear some ship horns but maybe nobody's moving around out there because i don't hear any. one long blast every two minutes means a ship is 'making way under power'. that's good - sort of an fyi. if you ever hear one, two or three short blasts, that means a ship is going to maneuver. one would mean altering course to starboard, for example. i've never heard that. that would probably mean evasive maneuvers. not good. 

the algorithm could know it was foggy, right? it's a 'smart' phone. there is a weather app on my phone. it could just know, couldn't it? how else could you explain not one but two songs from the ralph towner recording? music that goes perfectly with fog; ambient and mysterious. i love this record. i'm finding i say that a lot during this project. but i really do love this one. it's so easy to listen to, yet it is also full of complexity. ralph towner is one of my favorite musicians, too - equally great on both piano and guitar. and i especially like the sound of the 12-string when he plays it - a sound i would typically associate with out of tune folk music. those things are a pain in the ass to keep in tune. 

and jack...i may have close to every recording jack dejohnette has played on. i know i have every one under his name. he is far and away my favorite musician and as usual, he plays great on batik. he gives so much to the music - his creativity, his authority, his virtuosity, his humility. there's really noone else i can think of that is like him or has recorded that much consistently great music. find me a recording jack is on that is only just 'good.' forget about bad. there ain't none. and we're talking about 100's of recordings. 

eddie gomez. his incredible virtuosity kind of distracts me from the big picture on some recordings. in others, it is just what is needed. three quartets comes to mind as an example of his greatness. batik is another. there is a lot of room in this record for bass to stand out but it kind of doesn't. eddie contributes to the ambient or airy quality of the music with lots of long tones to go along with his incredible solos - a couple of which are with the bow and not so notey. they're almost not even solos. other places, he's the anchor around which the guitar and drums can float and interact. and his tone is so pure it really blends in with the sonic landscape, at the same time reaching your ear clearly. it's all kinds of bass playing. it makes the group a real trio - like a triangle. dude is a master bassist. 


the algorithm must have a sense of humor because after 25 minutes of vibing out to the reverb-heavy beauty and subtlety of batik, it hit me with this courtney barnett track and i nearly fell off my bike. loud, angry, funny and sarcastic, courtney barnett gives me hope for the future. she is a young, aussie rocker and this is only her first record. and it rocks. it fucking rocks. the whole record. 


in college, i was in a band called, third plane. it started in a bar called bauhaus on main st. in akron, ohio's empty downtown of empty storefronts surrounded by empty factories. this was the first song we ever learned. it is from the john abercrombie album, night - one of my favorite all-time albums. 
i am playing keyboards. wilbur krebs, guitar. joe brigandi, drums. 
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sideshow...the arranging, the orchestration, the vocal harmonies, the chord changes. this is the philly soul sound. they don't make 'em like this anymore. 


a few years back i got an email from a guy i didn't know, also on my label, ropeadope. he lived in mexico city and played guitar and had a band called, a love electric. and would i like to join them for a two-week tour-half in cali and half in mexico. i don't think i checked the band out before i responded, i would love to. 

turns out, the band is incredible. this was 5 or 6 years ago i did this and they are still going strong. todd clouser is the guitar player and now singer. aaron cruz plays bass. and hernan hecht, the drums. so that's how i met hernan. he is vegetarian, has a home studio he built and loves his dog. he is from argentina and is very imposing looking. but he is not imposing at all. he is super nice and cool. he just LOOKS mean. he gave me this recording, vitamia hueipi. it's him and trombonist, brian allen and a some electronics. again, not the kind of music you would think aaron would make looking at him. i feel i became close friends with todd, hernan and aaron in the short time we were together. music can do that. this music is nothing like, a love electric, a kind of energy-jazz-rock. ambient/avant garde would describe it better.
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today's ride 1.11.18  

lonesome cowboy bill - the velvet underground/peel slowly and see 

the church where i belong - marty sammon/sammon/holland 190 proof blues 

the cuckoo, too - taj mahal/nat'l blues 

i can't quit you baby - little milton/the chess box 

cygnus x-1 book II: hemispheres - rush/hemispheres 
  I. prelude 
  II. apollo (bringer of wisdom) 
  III. dionysus (bringer of love) 
  IV. armegeddon (the battle of heart and mind) 
  V. cygnus 
  VI. the sphere 

ray's idea - phineas newborne, jr/harlem blues 


i was playing at the old nublu on avenue c and east 5th street with my funk band i called, groovula, like dracula. we were in the second half of our set and in walked lou reed. nublu was very dark but he had his lou reed outfit on and was unmistakable. he wasn't wearing the lou reed shades - it was dark - but it was him - black everythng - hair, t-shirt, jeans, jacket and boots. yep. lou reed. 

it wasn't unusual to see lou reed. he got around. at the time of this sighting i hadn't been in nyc that long and i'd already run into lou reed twice, each time in an elevator. i said nothing and of course, neither did he. one knows not to talk to lou reed. years later when i got the job at del posto he would come in from time to time. i always played, 'it's a perfect day', when he did, because i thought that is just a ridiculous song, the way he sings it like andy williams or some other crooner. and the scmaltzy string arrangements. it's just awful. 

or is it? it has taken me a long time to dig the velvet underground and lou reed - the out of tune guitars, the bad singing, the simple, often corny songs. the only thing that seemed to make them 'cool' is they all wore black and they hung out with warhol. shooting dope is supposed to make you 'cool' but it doesn't. so that didn't impress me either. i just didn't get it. but once i started to look at it as art and not music, i started to appreciate it. if they were kidding or being sarcastic or it was some kind of performance art, i get it. if they were serious, i don't. it's just crappy. 

i was watching lou reed watch me. we were pretty damn funky but dude didn't move a muscle - not even a toe tap. he had positioned himself at the corner of the bar on a stool not 10 feet away from me. i had sunglasses with me so i put them on so i could watch him. like i said, he was a fucking statue. it was kind of fucking me up, like, should i play a deconstructionist solo that's sparse and quirky or should i just do my thing - get in the pocket and play lines. i decided i didn't want to sound shitty on purpose the way he does so i just did my thing, checking out lou reed to see if he was reacting to anything i played. dude was a sphynx. 

we finished the set and i quickly packed up. there was another band on after us. i put my gear in a corner and went over to the bar to get a beer. there was a spot next to lou reed so i sat down. he was alone. i thought i might ask him if i could buy him a drink but he'd been there for half-an-hour and there was no drink in front of him. right. his liver was probably shot. what else could i say? i was going to say something this time. i had a reason. he'd been sitting there watching me for 30 minutes. i didn't need an introduction. since he didn't seem to be there to hear us, i figured he knew the next band. i leaned over and said, 

' here to see the next band?' 
he looked over at me, his black eyes drilling a hole in my forehead, 'yeah.' 
'are they any good?'  
we'll see.' 

o--kay. i went back to my beer. he got up and went around me, taking a stool two stools away that had just vacated at the end of the bar. there he could have his back to the wall and people could only approach him from the front. but they didn't. he was lou reed. 


marty sammon has played in buddy guy's band for years. we met through coco taylor's drummer, rick king, a guy who says goodbye on the phone by shouting, 'ok! stay up!' sometimes i call rick just to hear him say that at the end of our conversation. it makes me feel good and lifts my spirits. marty and i became friends and everytime marty comes to town with buddy - they are all from chicago - we go out, usually in search of a good steak. marty is an incredible piano player and singer and i admire what he does greatly. and he's hilarious. man, we have had some laughs. this track is a song of his and he sings and plays on it, of course. it's not hard to see why we are such good friends. 

you ought to check 
the church where i belong 
where the pastor is a pothead 
and he never talks to long. the alter boys are drinking and the choir's on cocaine 
the entire congregation 
ain't feeling any pain 
and you never sing no sad, mournful song 
in the church where i belong 


high priests in the temple of syrinx, the oaks and maples disagree while dionysius and the gods battle over the fate of man. i don't care one way or the other about the lyrics when it comes to rush. like zep, the lyrics are not why i am listening. battles for evermore in the darkest depths of mordor with the cold winds of thor blowing didn't put me off zep. so that wasn't a problem for me with rush. i liked the riffs, the drums and the guitar solos. i have ALL the zep on vinyl but i only like 3 rush records - this one, permanent waves and moving pictures. the rest of their stuff i'm not so into. when i was learning to play the bass as a teenager, geddy lee's unusual rickenbacker sound and great playing reminded my of chris squire - the bass very audible and punchy, not just holding down the roots of the chords but also standing alone as a part. i played along to those three rush records, all the zep, fragile and close to the edge. i wouldn't say i'm a huge prog rock devotee but you had to be able to play to hang. so my musical journey would naturally go through some of those bands. elp was my first concert at 13 but i couldn't play any of their music till years later. brain salad surgery pretty much blew my little teenage mind. 


just what i love about this project - after the rushhere comes some phineas newborne. what a contrast. i've tried to dig him because he had such technique on display. he is regarded as one of the better players of the piano in jazz and i know him for playing lines with both hands two octaves apart. he's not the only one to have done it - that was an identifying feature of oscar peterson - but he did it a lot. i bought this recording knowing nothing about it. i just wanted to check out some phineas. and ray brown and elvin seemed like an unusual combination. the session sounds unrehearsed. elvin plays through the first solo break on this track. phineas has such strong technique he just powers through. same with ray. elvin plays all over his solo but you can still focus on ray. i liked listening to it. the cats weren't always perfect but that wasn't the standard then. as anthony braxton said to me on my very first recording date when i wanted to do another take of a duet we had just played, 'mr. scott. so there was a little mistake. we are not robots.'   


  1. the church where i belong

today's ride 11.9.18 

it's a long way to the top - ac/dc/high voltage 

old devil moon - the pacific jazz quartet featuring sasha dobson/unreleased 

hook - pj harvey/rid of me 

i didn't know what time it was - sonny clark/sonny's crib 

semi suite - tom waits/the heart of saturday nite 

the phone call - the pretenders/demo 

epri 6 - dred/ideas in motion 

wave - jobim/wave 

all the young dudes - mott the hoople/all the young dudes 

moon face, starry eyes - teddy wilson/origin unknown 

i may be wrong - gerry mulligan quartet/gerry mulligan quartet 

there is still quite a bit of snow on the ground, especially where it was piled from plowing or shoveling. the tiny tires of my folding bike can't go through any snow at all. the wheel just turns and the bike jack-knifes. i couldn't get to the promenade from shore rd without carrying the bike over the unshoveled path so i took shore rd to the pier, hoping the promenade itself had been shoveled. it wasn't but i could see a lot of concrete and the sun was out and it was warm for january. i portaged over some impassable snow a couple times but was able to ride all the way back to the bridge without wiping out. 


high voltage is one of those records along with dirty deeds that i have digital and vinyl copies of, i like them so much. ac/dc is not really ac/dc to me without bon scott. yes, they bounced back from his death with back in black and that is a great record. but the sound of bon's voice - the character, the mischievousness - brian johnson just didn't have that, though he surely sang his heart out. 


the track with sasha was done live in my basement on 17th st. - neal miner, bass. rob sudduth, tenor sax. yours truly, drums. the band is connected on this take. it's the kind of take you want in the studio - loose but tight, creative, everyone feeling free to get inside the music. this is one of the best drum solos i've ever played that got recorded. this is how i would want to play all the time - listening and reacting and adding to the picture but still percolating and feeling good.
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i love sonny's slick arrangement here. this is jazz in the classic sense - right down the middle, swinging and singing. philly joe and pc. i think spike wilner turned me on to sonny. he is not as well-known as some of the pianists from the 50's, a decade crowded with great jazz musicians that made a lot of records but he is one of the cats, for sure. he has a way of playing that is not aggressive or flashy that i like. he is understated. 


totally didn't know or remember this waits track. it's remarkable because he uses his real voice - not the gravely, drunken, hobo-warming-himself-next-to-an-oil-drum-fire-in-the-train-yard voice. and it's a beautiful voice. i know he was influenced by the crooners he heard growing up - perry como, dino, andy williams, jack jones, johnny mathis, bing, frank. i can hear it. my mom loved all those guys and we had all their records, too. 


interesting to hear this pretenders demo. i've heard this song a hundred times and never could catch the mission: impossible lyrics. they are much clearer in this demo version that came as a bonus track. martin chambers doesn't quite get the instrumental bits that are way tighter on the album version. pretenders I and pretenders II are another two records i have digital and vinyl copies of. i'm reading her autobiography right now.  Embed for the phone call (demo)


this is another 30 second cue for the electric power research institute.  Embed for epri 6


wave...what a cool album cover. you just know the music is going to be cool.


did not know this kurt weill tune. mike, the maitre d' at sofia's was/is a huge teddy wilson fan. sofia's is gone. mike is not. 


i may be wrong but 'i may be wrong' sounds a little like 'taking a chance on love'. this band....i have all their records on vinyl. in fact, i collect pacific jazz records and have maybe 50 of them. i love the imprint - a piece of art takes up the whole cover and the band name and title are at the top. chet, gerry, shelly manne, joe pass, art pepper, bud shank, gil evans, clare fischer, paul desmond, lee konitz, russ freeman, chico hamilton, annie ross. the label had a sound that was focused and recognizable. it was west coast. it was cool.

lidia's minestrone 1.6.18 

come back to sorrento - carmen mcrae/out of this world 

horse tears - goldfrapp/felt mountain 

heaven - stones/tattoo you 

bendy - dred scott/prepared piano 

theme from the munsters - jack marshall/tv theme songs 

sci fi - frank locrasto/locrasto

r.j. - miles/e.s.p. 

vangelis - memories of green/blade runner soundtrack 

big butter and egg man - louis armstrong/the 25 greatest hot 5's and hot 7's 


i can see by my last entry i haven't been on the bike in 3 weeks. i can also see when i look at the floor that i have gained 5 pounds over the holidays. i have not been able to get back on the bike because of the cold - i draw the line at 30 degrees - and then it snowed. i thought i might make some of lidia's minestrone and that takes 30-45 minutes. then i thought that's about the same time as a bike ride so what if i put the iphone on shuffle and make the soup? 

lidia was walking by the piano awhile back right after i had made it the first time so i told her as much. she stopped to ask how it turned out. i said it was delicious and that i didn't know that step about toasting the tomato paste. she said, 
'THAT is where you get the flavor!' 

i wanted to include a link to recipe but the one that comes up doesn't have that step. i distinctly remember: 

for several minutes each.... 

olive oil with the garlic and pancetta 

add the onions 

make a hole in the center of the pot and plop down the tomato paste and toast 

add the potatoes and stir 

THEN you start adding liquid, beans, veggies, etc. 

i couldn't find that exact recipe again. weird. 


is the smart phone really that smart? 'come back to sorrento'? first song? granted, it's a jazzy version in english but how did it know? weird. 


this goldfrapp album is easily one of my favorite albums in the new millenium. i don't hear much in the pop world i like in the 21st century and it makes me feel old and irrelevant but this record is great. i forget who turned me on to them. i guess you would call it 'down tempo' in the modern sense. but it isn't sparse like portishead. it's at times downright cinematic. it's nice to be able to call music from this genre, 'beautiful'. i never tire of hearing it. i've listened to this record a lot. 


ok. this stones track sucks. i never want to hear it again. i went on my computer and deleted it so it will never come up again. i knew that was going to happen eventually with the stones. it's not even funny. if it was funny how bad it is, i could keep it. not funny - horribly, awfully bad. 


john cage wrote a famous collection of pieces for prepared piano called, 'sonatas and interludes'. he 'prepared' or altered the sound of the notes by placing screws, plastic pieces, nuts, bolts and rubber stoppers in between the strings of 45 of the notes. i thought it might be cool to do that to the whole piano - all 88 keys - and to really spend some time with each note, seeing if i could make each note a small universe of sound. i left the piano that way for two months, recording improvisations right after i did the modifications and then recording another set of improvisations after the piano had been that way for two months. interestingly, i wound up using about an equal number of takes from each set. in this track, in addition to the stationary preparations, i used a tuning hammer and pressed down on the string itself, sliding it up and down, creating the illusion i am bending the note. 


again with the locrasto. i know. i love this record. but in this little project, i've heard it 3 or 4 times. there are thousands of songs in my cloud. wtf? 


love the soundtrack to blade runner. chariots of fire, not so much. some eno had been coming up in this project. i think i mentioned how ambient music doesn't bore me anymore. 


my favorite louis armstrong is the hot 5's and 7's. i'm certainly no louis expert but he seems to be playing his horn better and more creatively in this period - especially when you consider the time. i guess i'm like that with chet, too - i'd rather hear him play than sing. although, louis sings on this track. like chet, they began to insist he sing and i cared for them less. louis was the king, though, no doubt. i can't believe i've lived in nyc for almost 20 years and i've never been to his house in queens. shameful. i can say in my defense, though, i have only BEEN to queens 5 times if you don't count the many us opens and laguardia. and i work at the frank sinatra high school for the performing arts a few times a year. other than niece lived in astoria for a little while. i visited her. but queens....wait, jfk's in queens. been there lots. ok. i'm going to go. you can go to queens college nearby his house and check out an enormous archive of him talking shit with his buddies in his study - hours and hours of tapes. got to do it. i'm going to....


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today's ride 12.19.17 


you be my baby - ray charles/what'd i say 
dance all day - bari koral family rock band/rock and roll garden 
french suite #4 in e-flat - bach/gould 
sem contencao - bebel gilberto/tanto tempo 
to bring you my love - pj harvey/to bring you my love 
goldberg var 19 - bach/gould '55 
song for sharon - joni mitchell/hejira 
this ain't no russian novel, baby - the dred scott trio/live at the rockwood music hall 
any major dude will tell you - steely dan/pretzel logic 
allegro (1884) - satie/thibaudet 
get it right the first time - billy joel/the stranger 
if you could see me now - chet baker/chet 


i've had a long association with saxophonist, jay collins. i played in his band for some years and before that he used to sub in alphabet soup. we have had a lot of laughs together. he turned me on to a lot of music i was not aware of, or was aware of but hadn't really checked out. of course, i had heard ray charles but jay really turned me on to him and many other 'blues' singers i had not heard - percy mayfield, jimmy mccracklin, lee dorsey and king curtis. 


i played bass, piano and organ on this bari koral track. it's from her 1st album. i think i have a co-producer credit on this album. eric halvorson on drums since the beginning. 


a lot of gould playing bach has come up and i never comment about it. what is there to say, really? i have all of his bach recordings and i have not heard better interpretations - including the re-recorded goldberg's. it's like every version is the one. frank sinatra comes to mind. he just owned the songs he sang making it very difficult for other singers to sing more definitive versions. who could do a better version of 'my way'. well, sid vicious' version is epic - but also epically different. 

speaking of goldberg's...up came #19 of the '55 interpretations of the goldberg variations. people have asked me if i prefer this recording or the version he did in '81, the year before his death the month after his 50th birthday. i can say there are individual variations that i like better. i like the '81 version of this one, for example. it's way slower and kind of haunting as opposed to the sort of stately treatment it gets here. but there are others from '51 i like better - the aria, itself, for example. and the ripping version of the first variation i like better than the '81. and so on. 

dan tepfer recently came up with an interesting project - follow each of bach variations with one your own. pretty balsy. but when you consider that in the improvisation you are not constrained by form or the chordal movement of the originals - it is the 21st century, after all - it's not so scary. personally, i'd be more worried about fucking up the originals. first things'd better play the bach variations themselves flawlessly and dan does. he made a recording of it. it's pretty cool. if you can go hear him do it....even better. 


'song for sharon' is one of those joni songs i never paid much attention to. but the shuffle knows no favorites and that's the point. i listened to this joni song like i had never heard it - this song about love and marriage and the two different paths old friends have taken. it's beautiful poetry. i went here and read it as a poem after listening to it and it really blew my mind how good it is. 


one day my ex and i were having an argument. she wanted to know WHY i did that thing that i did and didn't believe me when i told her i didn't know. i just did it. it was a mistake and i'm sorry. i'll try not to do it again. i wasn't thinking. and that's the point....i wasn't thinking. it was a dumb mistake and i should've known better. that's WHY there is no why. she couldn't accept that. i was surely up to something. i had been reading some russian lit at the time and was always annoyed when i had to flip to the front of the book where the list of characters is printed to see who this or that minor character was. if it's so complex i can't keep track of who's who, it's too complex for me. so i said to her, 
'look. this ain't no russian novel, baby. it's real simple.' 
she said, 'that's a good song title.' 

i tried to make the song sound simple by using a lot of triads. 


one thing about the steely dan track. i love the way fagan plays the electric piano part - so subtle, yet so full of information. and so funky. 


yes, the billy joel. i never liked his fake tough guy thing but dude is a songwriting hit-maker who sang his ass off. it's a little cabaret for me but i thought the stranger might be a good album to try at del posto since he sells out like 25 nights in a row at madison square garden whenever he plays there...still. so i'm checking it out again. the songs are really great pop songs. i like listening to them. the 'la-la-la' shit in this one annoys me a little, though. 


the chet is so beautiful it almost takes my breath away. this is a really great album. his first after leaving pacific jazz and going over to riverside, i believe. there aren't many records of chet just playing.


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