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Basil Frankweiler and History Smashers 

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler     E.L. Konigsberg   (1967) 

Plagues and Pandemics - History Smashers      Kate Messner  (2021) 

If I'm going to make my goal of 100, I'll have to include kids books and books I might have already read. And lest you think I have no chance - this makes only 3 and January is nearly over - I have 5 that I'm close to finishing, child of the remote control. 

When I was 10 or so, I read this book about two kids who run away from their oppressive suburban lives to NYC to live in the Met, I was all about it. I lived in a suburban outpost of St. Louis full of sweat and grass clippings. I had never even been to a museum. I was captivated by the idea these kids ran away and lived in a museum. Lucy, on the other hand, has been to the Met lots of times. And she is also a New Yorker. She enjoyed the book once she realized it was written in 1967. No way those kids ride the train by themselves from Greenwich. Somebody would say something. And aren't there motion sensors all over the Met they turn on at night? There are at least cameras they monitor from a control center. Still a great book I enjoyed reading again, too. I hardly remember the details. It was made into a couple of not so good movies, one with Ingrid Bergman and the other with Lauren Bacall. I know, wow. Still not good. 

Germs and bacteria, plagues and pandemics, fevers and pustules, rats and fleas. We kept Lucy out of school her first week back after Christmas to see how the school was going to fare. We've read the Titanic one from this series and liked it so we tried this one thinking it would be an appropriate science lesson for the week. This book covers pretty much all of them -  black death, yellow fever, cholera, TB, polio, both pandemics, Ebola, AIDS and smallpox. I didn't know that the smallpox vaccine came from cowpox. Predictably, there were people who didn't trust it at the time despite its obvious effectiveness. There is a cartoon from a contemporary newspaper depicting women running off with bulls because they got the vax. And not off to Pamploma. Microchip anyone? There are other books in the series, one about the Mayflower that's sure to have some information and perspective counter to the narrative we get in school. 

History Smashers. The white-washing, anti-CRT crowd probably would burn these books. Get them while they last.


I'm back.... 

What's it been? Two years? How was your pandemic? We survived well enough. Better than too many. I finished my book, 50,000 Bonghits, so I did something productive during my down time. At the beginning of this year I was actually disgusted by how little I read during the plague. So I tried to make a committment to get going. I also decided to make little book reports about the books I was reading - maybe to inspire my daughter by my actions. It might also be noted that as a result of my decision to publish my book with proper capitalization, that is how I will write going forward. I might even go back and change the other blog posts. Still trying to figure out if I want to refine and publish the bike riding project. Just pulled my bike out of storage after popping a disc at C7 and being out of comish for awhile so maybe do some more of that project. Writing helps me stay in a creative mode. I hope you enjoy reading it. 


The Jungle    Upton Sinclair/Kristina Gehrmann   (1906/2019)

One of my resolutions this year is to read more. Can I read 100 books in a year? Didn't W do that while he was President? Clinton read like 300 one year, didn't he? My friend, bassist, Matt Pavolka, read like 800 books during the pandemic. Well, here's number 1 - one of my 11-year-old daughter's Xmas presents. 

Lucy has always identified as a vegetarian. She just does not want to eat animals. I was a veg in my 20's in Cali and so was the wife back in the day, but we are so not now. This is all her own thing. And I am very proud of her. 

Most of the books she reads, I also read, just to make sure she is not skimming and retaining what she reads. It gives us something to talk about, too, like a book club. I came across this graphic novel version of this book I read long ago that influenced me greatly and thought, considering Lu's veginess and her love of comix in general, it would be good for her to read. Her eyes were like saucers most of the time and she read it in a day. I had to field a couple of tough questions - What's a brothel? And why? Why was hard to explain. She was appropriately repulsed by it all. And the rest of the content she understood. 

It's beautifully drawn and well, the story is timeless and powerful. And was so influential, it led to federal food safety laws. It's also a great introduction into the world of worker party politics for your budding socialist. Highly recommend this version for kids 10 and up - depending on the kid, of course. The stockyards are bloody but it's drawn in black and white, so not so gory. But definitely explicit descriptions of animal slaughter. The sexual exploitation is implied but crucial to the story. 

Power to the people.

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.

memory lane  

memory lane - 2.10.19 

it is now february, 2019. my last dispatch was a year ago. it doesn't seem like that long ago because there have been distractions from my bike riding listening project - some of them health related, some of them professional and there's the small but growing matter of my 7-yr-old, the most fantastic distraction i've ever had. i can enthusiastically and guiltlessly procrastinate on anything if my daughter is the reason.  

i've been on 5 rides since then. just 5. or rather, just 5 that i did the project - put my itunes library on shuffle, document the playlist and write about it. it's not that i haven't been riding the bike. i have. it's that i joined the itunes streaming service for $10/month. this service is death to me, the musician, but as a lover of music, it's been incredible. almost any album i can think of is on there. and most of the new music i want to hear from friends and colleagues. i keep a list in my phone - by far my favorite and most useful iphone feature - of all the records i used to own or that i was close to that i have forgotten or haven't heard in a long time. when i lived in san francisco, there was a vibrant world music scene that i was very much into. a lot of the music on my list is from these very formative years.

african music i had only heard through george collinet's radio show, afro pop, was being performed all over town. cuban music was also new to me at the time and i suddenly found myself playing with the great josh jones. i was never into rap and suddenly found myself co-founding one of the first bands to integrate live music with rappers, alphabet soup. this was a major growth period for me that i never really looked back on. i just kept going. but once the enormous hall of music on itunes was at my disposal, i started going through my list and checking out as many of these old influences as i could find. the list was pretty long as i would add an album when something reminded of it or it just randomly popped into my consciousness. over the last year, i've become reacquainted with some great albums on my bike rides: 

    i started to get into the band, oregon, when i got to san fran and eventually wound up becoming friends with their reed player, paul mcandless. that led me to their percussionist, colin wolcott, who died before i had the chance to meet him. i got to know bay area prodigy and now legend, peter apflebaum, around the same time and he turned me on to don cherry, who till then i had only thought of as the guy from ornette. and then there's nana vasconcelos. i can't remember who first alerted me to the existence of the great, egberto gismonti, but i am grateful. i became obsessed with him and all of his albums and his music has remained close to me. i think his favorite of mine is duos voces, a breathtakingly beautiful duo recording with nana. nana, don cherry and colin walcott had a band called codona that made three records that i listened to a lot at one time. colin walcott also made a very beautiful duo record with guitarist steve eliovson called dawn dance that i am enjoying again.  

my life in the bush of ghosts
    i wasn't a huge fan of the talking heads. i liked some of their songs and i really liked the idea of david byrne as i was starting to become interested in the intersection of music with art school practitioners. i discovered laurie anderson around the same time. eno was too ethereal for me at the time. i thought his ambient music was jive but i was aware that he produced my two favorite heads albums, remain in light and fear of music. when someone turned me on to my life..., i loved it. it inspired the band i was in an the time, third plane, to make the song, 'another jazz casualty,' which features televangelist, ernest angsley, in a way that is similar to the eno/byrne record. 

    to me, josh jones is the bay area personified. he is at half chinese but speaks spanish, is a master congalero, plays all the percussion parts on the drumset and with his hair slicked back and his pencil-thin moustache, looks hispanic. what an education he gave me. i knew next to nothing and he would just show me. play it like this. he was very generous because cats can be very testy if you play the wrong shit in that genre. one time this cuban guy, butch, threatened to kill me if i deviated from the montuno again, the repeated piano part in salsa music that is the role of the piano player when not soloing. we worked it out. josh would give me a conga during the rhumbas that went on after the gigs till dawn. i could get a good sound but didn't know what to play. josh would show me and i would just put my head down and repeat that rhythm with the best sound i could get out of the drum. it gets complicated when they start singing - a natural wonder in itself that they can do that while playing. but i just kept playing the rhythm josh gave me, never faltering. i earned butch's respect eventually.  

during this time i listened to a lot of cuban and salsa music. two of my favorite albums i still have on vinyl and listen to often - mongo santamaria's, up from the roots and yambu. but there are many more that have been lost in the shuffle of transiency. i got to see pancho sanchez several times while living in the bay area. i had papa gato and sonando back in the day. i've been relistening to papa gato on the itunes and realizing i know every note i heard it so many times. sonando has turned out to be something of a rarity - it's not on the streaming services. lp's are hard to even find and cd's of this recording can be $100. i found a 'very used' cd copy on amazon for $20. looking fwd to that arriving. other albums i can recall and have been catching up with: 

new york now! - daniel ponce 
    this one starts with an insane rhumba very much like the ones josh used to lead at the up and down club. this is an all-percussion record except for one track that has some soprano sax on it.  

tambo- tito puente  
    i don't remember this record but it's on my list. maybe when i hear it, i will remember it. it's not on the streaming services so i bought an (i'm hoping) good vinyl copy for $25 because the cover is so cool. what IS on itunes is a collection of tito 78's from 1949-1955 i never heard and can't stop listening to.  

when i showed up in san francisco in 1989, there was african music everywhere. it seemed like everyone was in an african band. at least most of the horn players i knew were. i had good friends in the band kotoja that played around town all the time. i had african hats. we had percussion jams all the time and would go to the public ones in parks around berkeley. i never was in an african band as much as i loved the music. the keyboard parts were too repetitive and i was trying to do my own thing. but i was sure influenced by it all. i have 3 lp's that are special to me i listen to all the time:
introducing hedzoleh soundz - hugh masekela 
bobby - king sunny ade 
casamance au clair de lune - toure kunde 







i have over a dozen cassettes i made of the afro pop show that i go back to. and i have some unique cassettes of gaspar lawal, adesanya and foday musa sosa that i could not hear in any other format. and i have this live bootleg cassette of the national dance company of senegal performing in philly. a girl i dated briefly was one of the director's wives. for real. i guess he had so many wives it was cool if she dated me. but a lot of the african music i was into has been forgotten or lost to me from those days. again, through the years i've been keeping a list. and through the itunes, i have found a few old friends recently: 

jungle rhythms and chants - subri moulin and his equatorial rhythm group     
    this brings back memories. must've listened to this record a zillion times. i love that it's just percussion and singing. african rhumba. 

soul makossa - manu dibango   
    the list had the manu dibango recording, electric africa, on it. when i checked the itunes i discovered i hated this recording now. it's later in his career and the drums are electronic and sound shitty. why did i used to like this? but there were a bunch of his other albums and i saw soul makossa and remembered that one. and it's great! mj or q ripped off the title track on that hit, 'do you wanna be starting something?' they settled out of court.  

drums of passion - olatunji
    this is the one that started the african music fixation for me. it's a famous recording from 1959 and it's so cool that anyone can listen to it anytime they want. i wish i had access to music like this when i was a kid. it was a struggle to hear music like this - a trip to the library to hear field recordings, a radio show, or the occasional exotic lp find. i hope my daughter takes full advantage of the chance to learn about whatever she wants because it was never been this easy to get access to knowledge and beauty.



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 no one 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 street 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. 
Embed for etherraggae

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 a 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 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 this track a bit better.
Embed for pensatonic

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, 

'so...you 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. here are the lyrics to the first verse. 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.'   


today's ride 1.19.18 

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 road 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 the 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 bike riding 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 that....my 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 almost 15 years ago.


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 first...you'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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today's post 12.5.17 

when i got to the pier today, this was on the ground....


epri 3A/9.4.05 - dred/ideas in motion 
autumn leaves 2 - pacific jazz quartet featuring sasha dobson/unreleased 
lazy lover - brazilian girls/don't stop 
palms - frank locrasto/night people 
tillie 3 - dred/the satie project/unreleased 
have a cigar - pink floyd/wish you were here 
eronel - monk/criss-cross 
crossing - oregon/crossing 
lola - the kinks/best of 
the phone call - pretenders/pretenders 
time for the hard stuff - dred scott trio/live at the rockwood music hall 


'epri' refers to the client - the electric power research institute. this was a slightly different version of a cue i did that you can hear in one of the other dispatches. 


sasha dobson is one of my oldest and dearest friends. 'friends' doesn't really describe our relationship. 'family' would be a better word. when my daughter was born, she held one of my wife's legs, i held the other. i'm good friends with her older brother, smith, who lives in san fran and plays everything. and her mom who is a great singer. in 2001, her father, bay area piano legend, smith sr., died very tragically in a car accident coming home from a gig. he was just 54, one year older than me. it's heart-wrenching to remember him. what a family. they all have/had an incredible natural gift of musicality and artistic sensitivity. even sasha's grandmother sings great. i've known sasha since she was just 17. she moved to nyc a couple of years after i met her - i think i met her through smith but i can't remember. she was a kid. fast forward 10 or so years and i find my way to nyc and we became reconnected. by then she was singing like a seasoned pro. over the years we became closer personally and played a ton of gigs together. she is one of the few jazz singers that almost prefers to sing without chordal accompaniment. i know it's partially because of the hole her dad left in her life - no more chords. but it is also because she sings so freely that chords can get in her way. when there are no chords, the ear of the listener leans forward, giving sash all the attention and you can really her the beauty and artistry of her singing. she first heard me playing drums in one of smith jr's bands that he played vibes in. so she has often called me to play drums on gigs. that lead to this specific project that never made an album - the pacific jazz quartet. a lot of the pacific jazz label albums had no chords - the mulligan/baker quartet, for example - so that's where the band name came from. our other old friend from the bay area, rob sudduth, had moved to nyc. and we were all great friends with life long new yorker and incredible bass player, neal miner, so we started this project. this track was recorded live in my basement. 


lazy lover, cassanova 

you roll over 

when i want more 


it bears mentioning again the i love this frank locrasto record. the story i wrote for the liner notes is on here somewhere. 




i came across this book of satie's containing 20 short pieces for piano in a bookstore sometime ago. he called it, 'sports et divertissments'. it was written in 1914. on one page is a short piano piece written in satie's hand with comments of his written under the music. the one he called 'la chasse' - hunting, for example, has the text written throughout the music:


'do you hear the rabbit singing? what a voice! the nightingale is in its burrow. the owl is nursing its children. the young wild boar is going to get married. as for me, i am knocking down nuts with rifle shots.' 

on the facing page is a full-page, color illustration by charles martin. my copy is cheaper and black and white. it's a great concept - especially now. the bottom has fallen out of the music industry. noone wants to pay for music anymore. as a musician/composer whatever, i have given a lot of thought to how to monetize my art. one day i thought, what's one of the things you never get rid of when you move - your art books. you sure get rid of your cd's. you just put them in your computer or a hard drive or they go into the cloud. your art books you will always want to look at. the work will mean different things to you throughout your life. so. i thought i'd try and make a couple of these satie-style books because i am friends with so many artists now in my early old age. there will be one focusing on one artist, one focusing on a different artist, a kids one with illustrations done by kids with piano music being playable by kids and so on. the first one i'm almost through with focuses on animal artist, tillamook cheddar - tillie. she has recently passed and this is to be her first posthumous collaboration. i've chosen the plates with the help of her assistant, bowman hastie, and i've composed a dozen piano pieces so far. this is one of them. 


i love oregon. i became aware of them when i moved to california. they have made maybe 30 albums but this one is the last one with all the original members. percussionist colin walcot died in car accident in east germany while they were on tour just after recording this one - hence the title, crossing. he was only 39. 

it's jazz, for sure - mostly improvised but it is a different kind of jazz. i wouldn't know what to call it. some people might refer to it as 'new age' but that has a shallow connotation to me, although there are definitely great musicians in that genre. it is not typically heavily improvised like jazz, like oregon. i'm inclined to think oregon invented some kind of genre that i can't really name - new age jazz? it really makes you think how confining labels are to the idea of music - something that can be observed from so many personal references that to label it hampers the experience.

i got to play and hang some with paul mccandless in my california years and he is not only one of the nicest guys i've ever met, he is also one of the most skilled and sensitive players i've ever heard or played with. the sound he gets out of his oboe or soprano sax is so pure and beautiful and his technique is flawless. just great. paul and i had some good times at smiley's in bolinas, where he lives. 


i saw the kinks in the 80's in the music hall in the cleveland public auditorium. i was not a big fan. i liked some of their songs but they were never a big influence. my friend wendy, however, was a rabid fan - all kinks, all the time. she kept trying to get me deeper into them and i was like, meh. then she took me to hear them. ray davies is one of the best performers i have ever seen. he was so generous. in a huge theater full of people, he made you think he was singing just to you. when they came out for a couple of encores, i was on my feet cheering, i was so happy to see him - like an old friend. when the encores were over, i was genuinely sad that i wasn't going to get to keep hanging out with him. i saw him 20 years later doing a solo show in nyc at the edison theater. of course, wendy had driven from cleveland to see him with me. same thing. just so generous is the only way i can think to describe him as a performer. 


the last track i call a 'drinking song'. the melody has some difficult intervallic jumps and the chords are tricky to improvise over. if you've had too much to drink, you will fuck it up. the trio played at the rockwood music hall every tuesday nite at midnite from 2005-2011 and ken rockwood had the idea to make a live record - the first one made at the rockwood music hall.


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