Sunday, July 31, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

Here's this week's list of hot tunes in a cool car on some very hot days:
  • MONDAY: Roger Rosenberg, "Baritonality." 2009 debut recording from the Bob Mintzer Big Band's regular bari player.

  • TUESDAY: Quebec Antique, "The Abbey Tapes." Great spring break discovery by Austin-based electro-acoustic duo (half of which is Michael Blake, the guy who did the controversial "What Pi Sounds Like" video, profiled here).

  • WEDNESDAY: Godley & Creme, "Ismism" (aka "Snack Attack"). '82 release from the avant-garde half of 10cc has held up quite well over the ensuing decades.

  • THURSDAY: Brad Mehldau, "Largo." Pianist teams with producer Jon Brion to create orchestral textures and a touch of electronica to his usual fare.

  • FRIDAY: Alastair Ottesen, "You Can No Longer Blame It on the Machines." The former lead tenor player of the UNT Two O'Clock Lab Band moved to Brooklyn and steered his talents toward exquisite, enjoyable pop music.

  • SATURDAY: Jamiroquai, "Dynamite." I'm slowly but surely catching up on the back-catalogue of one of my favorite groups from a decade ago.

  • SUNDAY: Ozma, "Strange Traffic." Latest release from clever French collective who could be described as the "Kneebody of France" on this recording.
There may be a few reruns next week, as my eMusic credits are about to run out, but I can promise at least a few new things in there as well. Come back every Sunday for this feature, and check in on other days as well to see what I might be talking about.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'm Not Exactly "Jazzed" by This Decision

I read a fairly disappointing announcement in the paper today: The longtime Ft. Worth festival that was until now known as Jazz by the Boulevard" is changing its name and its scope beginning this year. In other words, no "jazz" in the title, and less jazz on the menu:
The title Jazz by the Boulevard is no more. Instead, the annual multi-genre music and art festival at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, in the Cultural District, is now the Fort Worth Music Festival. [...] Taking place Fri-Sat, Sept 30-Oct 1, the erstwhile Jazz by the Boulevard features headliners Kirk Whalum, Kermit Ruffins (the self-proclaimed New Orleans Ambassador of Good Times), Dawes, and Meat Puppets and North Texas artists Telegraph Canyon, Seryn, Calhoun, The Orbans, Whiskey Folk Ramblers, Quaker City Night Hawks, Josh Weathers, Oil Boom, Tatiana Mayfield, Luke Wade & No Civilians, Derek Larson & The Leavers, and more. The festival will be rounded out by booths of visual art for sale, a record/CD store, live interviews with some of the performers, the Culinary Tent, offering cooking lessons, and food from several popular trucks, including Big Dawgs in Cowtown, Salsa Limon, and Yum-Yum Food Truck.
In recent years, this festival brought us performances by the likes of Joshua Redman and Branford Marsalis, and it never seemed to have a shortage of attendees. Needless to say, I'm disappointed that something dedicated strictly to jazz is no longer so; I assume the side stages (which featured local acts and college jazz bands) will be likewise "diversified."

Thank goodness San Antonio's Jazz'SAlive Festival is still going strong this year...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Music Is the Universal Language...

...but it still has many dialects. Check out this amazing recording of a Pakistani orchestra performing Paul Desmond's classic "Take Five" a few months ago:

I love how there are quotes from Desmond's original solo in the string parts, as well as a tabla solo at the point in the song where Joe Morello's drum solo was in the original.

Watch, listen and enjoy! I'll try to post more things from these guys as they are released.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

Being the week of jazz camp, a few new releases by my colleagues were added into the mix this week, along with the usual collection of new stuff and summer reruns:
  • MONDAY: Edward Petersen and The Test, "The Mission." Camp week begins with a new CD from New Orleans-based tenorman who's also my longtime camp colleague.

  • TUESDAY: Chucho Valdés, "Chucho's Steps." Recent release from Cuban piano master, aka "the only star in Irakere who didn't defect."

  • WEDNESDAY: David Binney, "The Luxury of Guessing." 1995 release from acclaimed NYC-based altoist/composer.

  • THURSDAY: Ben Allison, "Think Free." Tuneful 2009 release from prolific bassist/composer.

  • FRIDAY: The debut album from James Farm. It was just played in here a few weeks ago, but well worth the repeat.

  • SATURDAY: Stockton Helbing, "Battlestations & Escape Plans." Brand-new CD of originals from amazing drummer who's also one of my camp colleagues.

  • SUNDAY: Radiohead, "The King of Limbs." Latest release from band known for its influence on younger jazz musicians.
And now that camp is over, and out-of-town travels are done for a while, we should be back to a more "normal" week next week--but still some great music with only a few reruns!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Playing Last Week in the Kevmobile (and Other Conveyances)

This was an unusual week, since it included a plane trip, so the music came in fits and spurts.
  • MONDAY: Stéphane Huchard, "Bouchabouches." French drummer/composer leads his band through tunes inspired by tunnels. (Does this mean you could truly call it an "underground" album?)

  • TUESDAY: The Postal Service, "Give Up." The acclaimed and thus far one-off release from electronic-driven pop duo.

  • WEDNESDAY: Paquito D'Rivera, "A Taste of Paquito." Choice cuts from the amazing altoist's tenure with Columbia Records.

  • THURSDAY: Food, "Molecular Gastronomy." 2007 release from Norwegian/British duo of Iain Bellamy (saxophones) and Thomas Stronen (percussion, electronics).

  • FRIDAY (on the plane): The Flashbulb, "Love As A Dark Hallway" and Curtis Macdonald, Community Immunity."

  • SATURDAY: Nothing. I only rode in a car a couple of times, and the driver had the radio on NPR.

  • SUNDAY (on the plane): Boards of Canada, "The Campfire Headphase" and Dog Soup, "Fragments"; (in the Kevmobile): Pat Metheny Group, "We Live Here."
And in other Kevmobile news, she hit 70,000 miles on the way back from the airport today. Still purrs like a kitten, she does.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pop Goes the Bleat?

I don't talk much about pop culture, either here or in real life. But I'll make an exception for those who are very good at their craft, and this sounds like a great combination: Dr. Helen interviews James Lileks.

I've linked to Lileks many times over the years, and his blog, The Bleat is my first read of the day. I've also enjoyed his books over the years. I haven't had time to listen to all of this yet, but if it's anything like the videos he's done on his site and for his day-employer, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, I'm sure it'll be a good listen.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Some Members of Congress Are Finally Seeing the Light

Those in government who think they know what's good for everyone else have gotten away with a lot of silly things in recent years, and one of the silliest has been the effort to ban the manufacture of incandescent light bulbs, especially when a safe and cost-effective alternative has yet to be manufactured.

Leave it to a Texan, Joe Barton, to try to steer the nation onto a more sensible path. As Pajamas Media's Peter Roff reports in a column today,
On Wednesday, Texas Republican Joe Barton introduced legislation in the House to repeal the ban.

Barton’s bill, the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, protects America’s access to the light bulbs of their choice rather than forcing them to purchase CFLs and LEDs by engineering distortions in the marketplace.

“Light bulb efficiency standards,” Barton’s office said, “could carry negative unintended consequences. For example, some mandates could only be met with bulbs that contain dangerous mercury. Rather than having the government limit light bulb options or appear to favor one type of bulb over others, the market should allow consumers to decide on the cost, type, and efficiency of the lighting that works best for them.”

There is considerable sentiment in support of Barton’s view, which is shared by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan and most if not all of the House Republican leadership.

Simply put, the mandate won’t work — and may create more problems and be more costly than leaving things well enough alone.
And here's the money quote, from former Federal Trade Commission head Orson Swindle:
The creativity of the private sector has brought us a long way from the days of darkness, kerosene lanterns and candles. Thank you, Thomas Edison. Now the government, despite failure after failure over the decades of government efforts to run the economy, decides to mandate to all consumers that the remarkable incandescent light bulb is no longer to be used. The “government light bulb,” like the government energy programs (anti-petroleum) and the government healthcare system, will be far more costly. In addition, reports are still coming in on the rather dangerous fire hazard qualities of the government bulb. Obviously, those responsible for this new government initiative are not the brightest bulbs in the box.
It seems like a lot of government actions come from these dim bulbs, doesn't it? And there's little doubt that those behind the bulb initiative acted before they did a lot of their homework, didn't they?

I have CFL's in my house, and it appears that my reading light has gotten worse over the past few years (it's not the fault of my aging eyes--I swear!). They don't provide heat like incandescents (for those who live in colder climes than here or want to run a cheap popcorn popper or Easy-Bake Oven). They're more expensive than incandescents, and you have to jump through all kinds of hoops to dispose of one, especially if it breaks. And while I tried these things in an effort to be "green," I would, if given the choice, go back to incandescents in a heartbeat. I'm happy to see that Rep. Barton and others would like to give me that choice back.

(And if there's anyone reading this who actually likes CFL's better I'd love to hear from you in the comments.)

UPDATE: And the bill fails in the House. It's time to find out who voted against this and send 'em packing in the next election. Ridiculous...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

Here we go with the weekly roundup of (mostly new) music:
  • MONDAY: Joshua Redman, "Freedom in the Groove." Seeing as how Monday was the Fourth of July, I pretty much had to play something with "freedom" in the title.

  • TUESDAY: Steve Coleman & Five Elements, "Rhythm People." Great set of funky, exploratory tunes from veteran altoist.

  • WEDNESDAY: Tomasz Stanko Quartet, "Suspended Night." Fine '04 release from revered Polish trumpeter and his young rhythm section (who have recorded by themselves, first as the Simple Acoustic Trio and now as the Marcin Wasilewski Trio).

  • THURSDAY: Reed's Bass Drum, "Which is Which." First full-length CD from trio of, well, reed (bari), bass and drums.

  • FRIDAY/SATURDAY: Jamiroquai, "Rock Dust Light Star." 2010 album from funky UK group shows a bit of rock edge on the first few tracks before returning to the group's classic sound. (Is this the first group played in the Kevmobile for a while that a lot of you have heard of?)

  • SUNDAY: Snarky Puppy, "Bring Us the Bright." Next-to-most recent effort by the Pups, and their first use of a string section.
Next week includes a plane trip, so there may well be a couple of "playing today in the plane" entries.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

A Beautiful Night for a Game

Tonight, I took me (and a friend) out to the Ballpark for the first time this season:

It was a beautiful night, and the temperature wasn't even all that hot, in the grand scheme of things. Not only that, but what looked to be a rough night for the Rangers ended up with Josh Hamilton hitting a walk-off homer to end the game--the first time he's done that, according to the video board. (And after the week he's had, he could use a little good news; it would be nice to think that he hit that homer for Shannon Stone.)

I can't wait till my next trip out there!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things in Foreign Languages

Sorry for the overwhelming number of these things this week, but I teach a lot of kids, and they've been on a roll lately. Yesterday, I was introducing the concept of a duet to an incoming sixth-grader...

ME: Do you know what a duet is?
KID: Nope.
ME: OK...have you heard the term "dual?"
KID: (shakes head)
ME: Hmm. Do you know what the word deux means?
KID: Nein.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About TV

This one is actually from last week, but I forgot about it until the kid reminded me last night: I was teaching the kid intervals, with song examples for each one. For the major sixth, my example is the first two notes of the famous "NBC" three-note jingle.

ME (after playing the three notes): You've heard that on TV, right?
KID: Yeah! That's...Fox.
ME: (laughs)
KID: No, wait, I meant NBC.
ME: That would be funny if Fox tried it. (sings) F-O-X!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Geography and Food

Today, one actually confessed to liking Brussels sprouts, which spawned the following exchange:

ME: Me too. And guess what--they're from the same country where the saxophone was invented! Do you know where Brussels is?
KID: Italy?
ME: Nope, starts with the same letter as Brussels.
KID: Oh...Belgium.
ME: Right, and the guy who invented the saxophone is from there.
KID: So he invented Brussels sprouts, too?

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Fourth!

As always, enjoy the fireworks, especially if burn bans have canceled them in your area. (I"m glad that's not the case here, though it's certainly been very dry recently.)

I usually offer a few random thoughts on this holiday; some of them may be reruns, but I think they've held up pretty well since a year ago:
  • On this day, I'm decked out in one of those Old Navy flag T-shirts, as I have been every year on this day since 1999, when I celebrated in Switzerland atop Rochers-de-Naye, the tallest mountain in the Montreux area. (I still get a kick out of thinking about all the schoolkids back in '99 who, when they found out I was spending my first Fourth out of the country that summer, asked me if "they have the Fourth of July in Switzerland." Their calendars, I'm happy to report, don't exactly skip from 3 to 5 or anything...)

  • While it might seem appropriate to have the Fourth fall on a Monday (like pretty much every other holiday), the day when local cities decide to do their fireworks displays still varies wildly from place to place. Many places (including Rowlett just down the street from me, as well as Addison's well-known "Kaboom Town") were last night, while a lot of other places, including Richardson and Plano, are waiting until tonight. Just wait till next year, when, thanks to a leap year, the Fourth will be on a Wednesday. Five-day weekend, anyone?

  • I usually post links to some inspiring essays on this day. This year, I've found some reflections on liberty by Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, a fine essay by blogger "Teresa in Ft. Worth" (including embedded videos of many of our great patriotic songs), and another great piece of writing by the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby on the philosophies behind the Declaration of Independence.

  • Two years ago, I noted that there are a lot of people out there today who love their country but are extremely frustrated with their government. As we celebrate 234 years as a nation, we must never forget the principles of freedom and limited government on which this nation was founded. There are plenty of people in power at the moment who would prefer to use that power to their own ends, rather than what is best for the nation as a whole, and it is up to us as citizens to speak out against such things and show the most grievous offenders the door via the ballot box at the next available occasion.
Despite her faults, America is still the greatest nation the world has ever known. May you celebrate this day in whatever way you see fit.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

A little bit less driving this week meant that I only have six albums to present instead of seven, but present them I shall:
  • MONDAY: Jacob Karlzon 3, "The Big Picture." Newest trio effort from Swedish pianist shows a strong e.s.t. influence. (His quintet effort from a few years ago made an appearance in the Kevmobile last week.)

  • TUESDAY: Mik Keusen's Blau, "Nelu." Swiss composer/keyboardist plays minimalist-tinged jazz with woodwinds, percussion, and a female vocalist who also serves as the group's bassist. (This is the group profiled in Tuesday's post.)

  • WEDNESDAY: Pat Metheny & Anna Maria Jopek, "Upojenie." Guitarist teams with Polish singer on a gorgeous set of tunes, including new versions of several Metheny originals with lyrics added.

  • THURSDAY/FRIDAY: Dave Douglas & Keystone, "Spark of Being: Expand." Douglas' recent movie soundtrack themes (to a silent Frankenstein flick) are recast in combo form. (When this went up on Twitter, Dave retweeted it to his followers!)

  • SATURDAY: The eponymous CD by Tigershrimp--Fried Dähn's trio of electric cello, electric bass and "electric mouth" (a.k.a. beatboxing). It's a very cool sound, but sadly out of print at this point.

  • SUNDAY: Benoit Delbecq Unit, "Phonetics." French pianist leads quintet (featuring Mark Turner) in varied originals.
As always, I encourage you to check out these groups on YouTube, iTunes, etc. And if you can't wait till Sunday to hear what's in the Kevmobile each week, feel free to follow me on Twitter.