Thursday, March 31, 2011

It Seems Like This Should Be Obvious, But... would appear that not everyone gets it.

There was an interesting quote in yesterday's paper from an official at a local school district (no reason to name names) that announced personnel cuts: "'We didn't understand the state position that you can do cuts outside of the classroom,' said [John Doe], the associate superintendent for business services." Hmm--perhaps the district could start by eliminating positions like "associate superintendent for business services."

And if you've read this blog for any length of time, you probably know my opinion regarding an important change that should be made to those administrators who remain.

I hope this doesn't sound too much like a "never let a good crisis go to waste" sort of thing, but the budget cuts that are coming to public education would seem like a good reason to make some fundamental changes to the system, and spending the majority of dollars in the classroom would make a lot of sense. (Your mileage may vary, but comment below if you disagree, and please tell me why.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Playing Last Week in the Kevmoible

I didn't have time to do this post on the usual Sunday, because yesterday was taken up with a bunch of really good activities. But here's the weekly rundown of car-tunes for you:
  • MONDAY: Gino Vannelli, "Nightwalker." Soulful singer's effort w/ jazz fusion studio cats holds us well after 30 yrs.

  • TUESDAY: David Sanchez, "Street Scenes." My favorite CD from Puerto Rican tenorist w/ guest spots from Kenny Garrett.

  • WEDNESDAY: Chick Corea, "Three Quartets." The classic session with Brecker, Gomez and Gadd.

  • THURSDAY: YT little d, "Dancer." Talented cast of current or recent UNT students led by bassist Yuka Tadano.

  • FRIDAY: Bobby Watson and Horizon, "The Inventor." One of the great Blue Note CDs from the patron saint of Combo PM.

  • SATURDAY: Kneebody, "You Can Have Your Moment." Latest release from the innovative quintet.

  • SUNDAY: Nils Petter Molvaer, "np3." Another fine release from the Nordic techno trumpet titan.
Next week should be much more relaxing than this one, so the weekly recap should once again be on time. As always, thanks for your patience.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

This Weekend's Forecast: Wayne, Wayne and More Wayne

It's been great to have Wayne Bergeron as our special guest at the college this weekend. He played two amazing performances with our groups on Friday night and last night and gave a very informative clinic yesterday afternoon. A little later today, I get to experience him in the studio, as he's going to be a guest on some tunes on the CD project that I'm involved in this year.

And of course, we all got to get our picture taken with him:

What an amazing weekend! And the next portion of it is just hours away...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another Guitarist Who's Got It Down Pat

The jazz world is blessed with two Pats--both guitarists--whose last names sound somewhat alike. Once again today, in the absence of blog time, here's a great song to listen to from Pat Martino. (The uploader disabled embedding, but click the link; it's worth your time.)

This was one of the first things I learned to play on tenor when I bought one almost eleven years ago. The tenor on this one, and the original recording, is the amazing Eric Alexander.

I have two days of jazz festival coming up at the college, and a recording session the day after that. I'll have reports from all of them when everything is done.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Since I Don't Have Time to Do a Real Post Today...

...I'll share a song instead:

It's "Crossed Wires" by Mike Mainieri, the vibraphonist and longtime leader of various editions of the group Steps Ahead. This one comes from a 1981 album, Wanderlust, which was released before Steps Ahead had a domestic recording in the U.S. (though they'd already enjoyed tremendous popularity in Japan). Most of the Michael Brecker edition of Steps Ahead (Peter Erskine, Warren Bernhardt) is on board, even though it's not an official Steps album, and Marcus Miller plays bass. I'm happy that it was re-released on CD a while back.

As for this song--yes, it reminds one a bit of "Birdland" for a moment, but it's a cool tune in its own right. The pictures on this video are cool as well, though it's NSFW from about :29 to :43 (it was evidently done by someone from Italy, where a naked lady is considered more artistic than naughty, at least as I understand it).


Monday, March 21, 2011

Minimalism Meets Maria? I Love That Idea For Reasons Too Numinous to Mention

While catching up on Twitter this afternoon, I happened to read a tweet from Darcy James Argue, the "steampunk big band" composer who has been discussed in these pages before (and whom I had to miss a few weeks ago when he led the One O'Clock through a program of his music in Denton). He mentioned that he was going to see a show by a group called Numinous, and for whatever reason, my curiosity was piqued.

So I visited the Numinous blog, which led to the group's website, where I learned that Numinous is the project of a composer named Joseph C. Phillips, Jr., and he has a fascinating story: Started out as a school band director in the suburbs of Seattle; came to composition late; saw a Maria Schneider clinic at Washington State and was summarily blown away; went to NYC and spent six years in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. And what he's come up with is music that skirts the jazz/classical border, heavily influenced by Schneider as well as minimalists like Steve Reich and John Adams, but with a sound all its own that has to be heard to be described. Here's a small sample of one of his newest works:

(And for something a bit more on the jazz side, watch this.)

I'm always on the lookout for new sounds, so I'm really glad that DJA tweeted about this today (and I look forward to my eMusic credits refreshing next week so that I can snag a copy of this latest work, Vipassana; check out more here or here, or at the iTunes Store, which has the lengthiest samples).

I love discovering new music! What else will cross my path this week?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

This week brought a wealth of new music (and there'll be even more once I bring in a "wealth of new money"; fiscal discipline kept me from buying all the new things I wanted). Here's the latest:
  • MONDAY: Kurt Rosenwinkel, Heartcore. Guitarist's '03 effort is often called his "electronica album." Also features the great Mark Turner, a frequent collaborator, on tenor sax.

  • TUESDAY: Quebec Antique, The Abbey Tapes. British/Canadian duo mixes electronica with organic sounds a la The Postal Service. (The Canadian half is Michael Blake, whose controversial song made of Pi is the subject of Monday's post.)

  • WEDNESDAY: Haftor Medbøe Group, "A Box of Monkeys." Scottish guitarist mixes jazz with pop/club styles on a 5-song EP. His truly international band features a frontline of trombone/tenor; vocalist Anneke Kampman joins for two tunes, and effects are added by a programmer who goes by the handle "Babyshaker."

  • THURSDAY: The self-titled debut EP from Recess, a Brooklyn hip-hop, melodic pop group featuring a horn section of UNT expats, trumpeter Jay Jennings and my fraternity brother Sylvester "Sly" Onyejiaka. The EP can be downloaded for free here.

  • FRIDAY: Gorillaz, Plastic Beach. Undoubtedly the best band ever assembled that's made up of animated characters. This album is all over the map, style-wise, and includes guest appearances from Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, Bobby Womack and half of the Clash.

  • SATURDAY: Jonathan Kreisberg, Unearth. The guitarist's first quintet album after years of trio-ing (that was also the title of one of the trio albums!), and his first one of all original compositions. Saxman Will Vinson wasn't on board yet, but Scott Wendholt provides excellent stuff on trumpet. (BTW, while Googling info for this album, I discovered that Jonathan and I share a birthday!)

  • SUNDAY: Big Audio Dynamite II, "The Globe." I dug this out after hearing Mick Jones' guest stint with Gorillaz; still holds up pretty well despite being nearly 20 years old. (And I discovered while getting this entry together that the band has reunited and will perform in the U.K. starting next month!)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Our Weekly Supply of Catch-Up*

One would think that, with so many hours of time off during Spring Break, that I would be able to finish my blog posts in a timely fashion. But this week, one would be wrong. Still, I've caught up on a lot of other stuff this week, so hopefully that bodes well for blogging in the weeks ahead. Anyway, here are the unfinished posts from earlier this week that have now been completed:Tomorrow will once again feature the new stuff I've been listening to in the Kevmobile this week. (I'm going to start the shell of that post now, so that it's not late as well.)

* I don't know if I've ever mentioned this here before, but as a kid, I really did see a store brand of catsup/ketchup that was spelled "CATCHUP"--weird...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Another Simple Solution for Education

With budget crunches happening seemingly everywhere at the federal, state and local level, education has been in the news a lot lately. I've posted my own suggestions of how to deal with these budget crises, especially as they relate to education, but one more thing occurred to me today, and it's something that I'm not sure has ever been posted here before.

The prompt came from a post at the Althouse blog, which has received even more attention than usual the past month or so, thanks to Althouse and husband Meade's coverage of the people protesting Wisconsin's union-weakening legislation in their town of Madison. The paragraphs that caught my attention were these two, from commenter JorgXMcKie:
While there are many very good students in the College of Ed, on average they are in the bottom 1/3 of ACT scores, but the overall college GPA is probably the highest in the University. So, probably they're not the sharpest knives in the drawer, but they do have really high self-esteem.

Most of them don't really learn a subject, they learn how to 'educate'. They learn how to make the all-important lesson plans. They learn that no one outside the Education Establishment knows anything about education. They learn that they deserve to be highly compensated whether or not their students learn anything.
And this was my response:
I have long believed that nobody should be allowed to major in education, which should instead be a minor, studied in combination with a major in one's chosen teaching area. It doesn't matter how much somebody knows of teaching techniques and the miscellaneous psychobabble taught in ed-school if he or she isn't a master of the subject being taught.

As a (non-unionized) teacher, I've always believed that the best among us combine the skills of a master with the heart of a servant. Union membership, with its me-first attitude, tends to deemphasize the former and make the latter nearly impossible.
The comment thread is still going as we speak, and nobody's said anything to directly contradict me. But feel free to start your own thread here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Erin Go Blog

Happy St. Patrick's Day to my Irish friends (and that casts a pretty wide net right now; as I told someone on Facebook, I think that most of us of Irish ancestry are more than willing to give pretty much anyone a free one-day membership pass into our club today).

Some things remain unchanged from last year at this time:
Not only am i wearing green, but the green in question is a T-shirt that came from Ireland itself, when Mom and Dad went there a few years ago (Mom and Dad went to Ireland, and all I got was a pretty cool T-shirt...and some Guinness, though I would have enjoyed the factory tour they took even more). My T-shirt says Sláinte!, which is an old Irish toast roughly meaning "good health." As I noted a few years ago, it was a popular slogan for the Bennigan's restaurant chain, which lost its good health a few years ago.
But other than the wearin' o' the green, along with a certain odd-colored beverage in my near future, this has been a pretty relaxing day thus far. As I've noted in the past, ever since St. Patrick's Day became part of Spring Break, we've lost a lot of the amusement that goes along with seeing kids either try to pinch each other at school or seeing how little green one can wear to be immune from same. (My all-time favorite was the kid who pinned a leaf to his shirt.)

May the luck o' the Irish be with ye today!

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I wonder how many of the people that say they're Irish today will say they're Mexican on May 5th."--my fraternity brother Sam R., on Facebook. (Hey, I assume they hand out day passes just like we do...)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

There Oughta Be a Law...

OK, so I'd probably be the first person to tell you that we have too many laws already, and I'm completely in favor of having some sort of "sunset provision" where old laws come up for review every ten years or so, in order to see if they're still needed. And most of the time, I'd like to see less government interference in business, unless said business is acting badly.

And in this case, I think that a business is acting badly. Even worse, I can't even identify the business in question.

It goes like this: For some reason, I still have a land-line phone, though I question why I do this on a regular basis. ("In case of emergency" is the only reason I can conjure up, but I can probably do other things for the same peace of mind that don't cost $33 a month.) I never actually answer this phone, but it's hooked up to an answering machine (no sense in paying the phone company for voicemail when I have a perfectly functional, if ancient, device on hand), and most of the time, people just hang up on it, which is fine. I get the occasional long-winded messages from political candidates when election time comes around, but otherwise, if anything is even on the tape, it's a dial tone (remember those?) from the caller having hung up concurrently with the beep of the machine.

But lately, there's been a disturbing trend: Companies who not only use a recorded message--which is annoying enough in the first place--but start the message right when the machine picks up. That means that anything the robo-caller "says" during the time it takes for my greeting message to play (and my greeting is looooong, basically advising everyone to send me email instead) is clipped off, so what I hear after the beep is the second half of the message, if even that much.

Again, this is annoying, especially when the caller ends up requesting a person who has never been at this number (of which, I should point out, I have been the sole holder, seeing as how my area code was created during the time it was assigned to me). Sometimes they sound like they might even be collection agencies, but there's no way in the world I'm going to call them back without knowing if the call was even intended for me in the first place.

So here's where it gets really bad--the thing that has sparked my possible call to action: Lately, I've gotten some calls where the recorded voice has obviously "spoken" the name of a person during the time when my greeting is still playing, so I miss that portion of the message on my recording. But the part I do hear goes something like this: "If you are not the person we have named, you have five seconds to hang up. By continuing on the line, you acknowledge that you are the person in question."

The problem here is pretty obvious, I would think: During such a call (at which point I'm not even home, mind you), my answering machine is not smart enough to recognize the name of the person and hang up if it's not me. So in effect, my machine is committing me to something that is likely not true, without my being able to do something about it!

So this is one of those rare times where I'll actually say, "There oughta be a law." At the very least, I would like to see such robo-calls outlawed, because an answering machine is being asked to do something which it has neither the capability nor the authority to do. (And I'd really like to see robo-calls themselves outlawed, but I'm certain that Big Telemarketing has its hands in the pockets of enough members of Congress that such a thing could happen anytime soon.)

Have you had any experiences like this from a robo-call? And do you agree that this behavior needs to be outlawed? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yes, You Can Copyright a Melody--But Suppose It's Also a Number?

Since yesterday was Pi Day, I was hoping to post something whimsical about that subject, and, true to form, some of my Facebook friends came through with a clever video they'd found on YouTube. It's a guy who took the first 31 digits of pi, assigned them the corresponding scale degrees in music, then turned that into a melody. He started out in eighth notes, then added other instruments at both slower and faster rhythmic subdivisions, which resulted in a really catchy tune. I linked to it on Facebook as well, as did several other friends. It even made its way onto TIME Magazine's website.

But when I sat down to blog about it this afternoon, I was quite dismayed to discover that the video had been taken down from YouTube "due to a copyright claim by Lars Erickson." Huh? Who is Lars, and why does he object to a melody made from pi?

Some quick research showed that Erickson is a composer who wrote a symphony based on pi back in 1992, and it just happened that he started with an eighth-note motif as well. But beyond that...the two pieces couldn't be more different, and in my opinion, the piece that got taken down, by a Canadian musician named Michael John Blake, was far more clever and interesting than the symphony. (I'm almost hesitant to give Ericksson any links, but you can follow a lot of the discussion and listen to part of the symphony here.

But this brings up a larger question: Can someone really copyright a melody if it comes from a fairly obvious source such as the world's most famous multi-digit number? And what about twelve-tone compositions? I'm sure more than one composer used the same tone row; if YouTube had existed in Schoenberg's day, would he have been demanding that other composers' videos be taken down if they used "his" row?

And while Erickson is certainly within his rights to copyright his entire work, it seems a little arrogant to attempt to include the concept of making a melody out of pi in the copyright. As YouTube commenter "marklandson" said,
It is clearly the role of copyright to protect creativity. Copyright does not protect anything that is obvious or discoverable through ordinary knowledge. In the case of “your” melody based on pi, the assignment of the digits of pi to the various notes of the scale is based on an ordinary and obvious system that literally countless other musicians have done over the years. You were certainly not the first to do it with the number pi. I myself did it before 1992.
Beyond the opening motif, the two works couldn't be more different. So was Erickson's blocking of Blake's video a jerky thing to do? (I didn't witness this myself, but evidently, the only bad move Blake is purported to have made was deleting comments to his video that referenced Erickson's work, though others have said the only comments Blake deleted were those that were rude or vulgar.)

Thankfully, the recording of the song that Blake placed at the iTunes store was still up as of tonight, so I snagged a copy, and it's a fun addition to my library. Meanwhile, I have no interest in Erickson's work (which, as I said, I consider far less interesting than Blake's in the first place), and I wonder how many potential fans he's lost today by being such a bad sport about all of this.

Meanwhile, there was one silver lining to all this: On the page with the since-removed video, Blake had links to his other projects, including a wonderful duo called Quebec Antique, featuring Blake and Andy Dollerson (the Canadian and the Brit met in Austin, by the way). Their music can be sampled at their Facebook page; evidently, it's reminiscent of a band called The Postal Service, which I'll also have to check out. I've already picked up this CD from eMusic, and it'll be the next thing I listen to in the Kevmobile.

UPDATE: Blake has a new video up where he explains his take on the situation and announces that he's filed a counter-claim. We'll keep following this story here as well.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Blogging With a Side of Catch-Up

Now that I'm on spring break, I can finally catch up on the past week's posts:Blogging should be less sporadic with a little bit more time on my hands this week, so please return often.

Enjoy some Pi with your coffee: Happy Pi Day (3.14, of course). Tomorrow's post will discuss a clever music video that was gone almost as quickly as it went up, why it got taken down, and the ethics of same.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

As always, I bring you the list of stuff that was playing in my car this week, with special emphasis on new arrivals:
  • MONDAY: Kenny Werner, Lawn Chair Society. The pianist covers a variety of moods and textures with an all-star band of Chris Potter, Dave Douglas, Scott Colley and Brian Blade.

  • TUESDAY: Jack DeJohnette, Parallel Realities. The drummer (who also plays synth bass on this effort) may be billed as the leader, but I like to see it as a totally equal partnership between him and the other two luminaries, Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny.

  • WEDNESDAY: Christian McBride & Inside Straight, Kind of Brown. The bassist extraordinaire leads his newest group through a spirited program of originals.

  • THURSDAY: Joshua Redman, Elastic. Still one of my two all-time favorite Redman albums (along with Mood Swing), the tenorist tears it up as he explores new territory with Sam Yahel (organ, keys) and Brian Blade (drums).

  • FRIDAY/SATURDAY: Chris Potter 10, Song for Anyone. In sort of a scaled-down version of Brecker's Quindectet, Potter explores new colors with string trio, woodwind trio and rhythm section, with compositions quite different from his jazz-rock group Underground (who released an album of their own on the same day as this one).

  • SUNDAY: Earl Harvin/Dave Palmer, Strange Happy. My two college classmates, joined by my former prof (Fred Hamilton), were better known as the Earl Harvin Trio (occasionally expanded to a quartet on this disc by another college classmate of mine, Chris McGuire, on tenor/bass clarinet). Here, they deliver a tasty set of acoustic originals, their last such outing before going in a more experimental direction when pianist Palmer switched primarily to Rhodes. Their once-a-year gigs in Dallas in the mid-Oughts were must-see events.
There are still more new things that I got from eMusic in the past week that haven't made the car rotation yet, so I'm sure they'll show up in next week's report. (The daily updates go out on Facebook and Twitter as well.)

One More Run to the Border(s)

I've been aware for several weeks now that Borders Books and Music is downsizing, and that one of the casualties of this effort will be the huge store in Dallas at Preston and Royal. Seeing as how this is pretty close to my church, it used to be a regular stop on Sunday afternoons, especially because of its ginormous music department. Many an hour was spent at its listening stations, checking out the latest jazz offerings (and interesting-looking things in other genres as well).

So I stopped in again this morning for the first time in several years, in search of a possible bargain. And the first thing that struck me (besides how few other customers were in the store) was how small the music department had gotten; a good two-thirds of the area had been replaced with bookshelves. (And this was not simply a downsizing brought on by the store-closing sale, either; the bookshelves in question had permanent signage above them which indicated that the displays have been there for a while.) As for the bargains themselves? If there were some there, it was hardly worth the time to look, as any sense of order had long ago been abandoned, and it's not like they'd have employees going around reshelving everything at this point.

I've posted in the past* about the apparent downfall of the whole "bookstore as music store" idea, and it's only gotten worse since then. (Scroll down to the bottom section of the linked post, "A heads-up to the brick-and-mortars," to read my earlier thoughts on this subject.) Still, it was a good run while it lasted, and the timing was perfect; the departure of big chain music stores like Blockbuster Music, Tower Records and Virgin Megastore left a void that Barnes & Noble and Borders filled for a while, but the writing was on the wall the past several years when the bookstores shrunk their music departments down to bare bones.

Still, it was a Catch-22 of sorts for them; no doubt, it's expensive to keep physical CDs in stock at a store, but if they're not there (or if they cost considerably more than the same stores sell them for on their websites), people won't buy them, and they may not come in at all. For me, a trip to the local Barnes & Noble was a weekly ritual until they downsized their music department (replacing a lot of the music shelves with audiobooks, which don't seem to sell at all); it also means less business from me in their cafe, and I haven't even renewed my membership the past couple of years.

The recorded music business itself is also changing, with a lot of distribution taking place in the form of digital downloads. (And a lot of the music I've bought recently is of the indie variety that might never show up inside a Barnes & Noble or Borders in the first place.) Still, it would be nice to have a place that combined music purchasing with the social aspect of a bookstore; the Hear Music burning-bar concept trotted out by Starbucks a few years ago never really, took off, but I wonder if a bookstore that offered some sort of downloading machine into which customers could plug their iPods would be successful.

Still, on this day, I remember the years of the bookstore-as-CD-store, and they were good. It still surprises me that the Preston/Royal Borders is closing (it's the same location where former President Bush drew an overflow crowd to his book-signing just a few months ago), but the new Barnes & Noble that's catty-corner across the street evidently took a lot of its business away. I'm also glad that Borders isn't completely going away, and that the one in Watters Creek is among those being spared.

Do you have a favorite memory of buying music at a bookstore, or of the Preston/Royal Borders in general? Feel free to share in the comments.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Ranger Quckly Rides Into the Sunset

I couldn't believe what I was hearing on the radio as I was in the process of waking up yesterday morning: Chuck Greenberg was resigning as CEO of the Rangers? Surely that was crazy talk that could only be attributed to my early-morning grogginess. After all, he just got here! Surely he's not leaving already?

But as the day went on, it was obvious that the news was true: Greenberg is out--selling his stake in the team and everything--and Nolan Ryan will add "CEO" to his title of team president.

I was among many who hailed Greenberg as a hero when his ownership team--with his and Ryan's names listed most prominently--beat out Mark Cuban and Jim Crane to buy the team out of bankruptcy in August. I knew that there were other "money men" behind the scenes, but they seemed willing to let Greenberg and Ryan be the public faces of the ownership group, and Greenberg really connected with the fans since the group took over.

But obviously, there were some not-so-joyous times in Mudville. What really happened? We may never know for sure, but this is obviously part of it:
In a Rangers news release, Greenberg, who was managing general partner and CEO, said he, Ryan and co-chairmen of the board Ray Davis and Bob Simpson have "somewhat different styles" and he said he was disappointed that they "did not work through our differences."

Sources said Greenberg's departure was the result of a variety of factors that built up during the offseason.

One included Greenberg's selling a suite at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington that general manager Jon Daniels used for meetings and to entertain family members and various opposing front-office people. Ryan and Daniels didn't want the suite sold.

Greenberg also got more involved in the Michael Young trade talks than the baseball operations staff wanted, sources confirmed.
The Average Joe Fan on the Street (like yours truly) never had any idea that any of this was going on, so the whole thing comes as a shock. The big money guys (whose names are Ray Davis and Bob Simpson, and they'd just as soon shrink back to anonymity once this issue has subsided) are saying that nothing will change, and one can only hope that a year full of drama (Team in bankruptcy? Manager admits to doing cocaine? Iconic infielder demands a trade?) can finally come to a close with this announcement.

So long, Chuck. And thanks for doing what you did to bring the deal to fruition last year; I think it certainly was for the best that your group won, even if it's not your group anymore. The fans really appreciate it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring Has Sprung...

...and break has broken, and it couldn't have come at a better time. After a nice visit with my parents the past few days, it's time to settle down for some serious relaxation. (I'll get stuff done over the break, of course, but I won't keep getting behind-er with any extra things piled on top of what I already had to do.)

And I start out this break with a call for advice: Anyone ever dealt with a strained/sprained toe before? It's the second toe on my right foot--not the same limb that was so messed up a few years ago, but it's making me gimpy all the same. There's no displacement or discoloration, so I'm not imagining anything is fractured. I experienced a little foot pain for a few hours a few weeks ago when I played a gig in my dress shoes without putting the cushion-y insoles in them, and since then, there's been some occasional soreness at the end of the day, but it's just been in the past day or so that things have gotten pretty painful.

Anyway, I've been experimenting with buddy splinting, and I'll try ice. I won't have to walk as much with the week off from teaching, so that should help. Anything else I'm forgetting? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Tournament Final Was Mean to the Green

I thought for sure that my alma mater, Morth Texas, would be making a return to the NCAA tournament this year. They had a pretty good regular season, and they had dominated so far in the Sun Belt Tournament. Plus, when I turned on the radio after rehearsal tonight, they had a seemingly safe lead with just over a minute to go.

And what a difference that minute made. After a couple of key turnovers by the Mean Green, Arkansas-Little Rock needed a near-miracle to even tie the game and send it into overtime. But UALR senior Solomon Bozeman hit a 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left to put the Trojans ahead by one, and UNT's inbound pass was stolen by another Trojans player to seal the 64-63 win that kept the Green out of the Big Dance. (And while the Trojans will head there instead, for the first time since 1990, they may well have to do a play-in game with their 19-16 record; UNT, by contrast, ended the season at 22-11.)

Still, it was a great year for Coach Johnny Jones and his senior-laden team. I don't expect a huge drop-off for next year, though, as UNT has become known during the Jones era as a good place to play, so I'm sure that some of the better players in the state will still flock to Denton.

The next major UNT sporting event will be the first game in the new football stadium in September. I can't wait!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

The iPod went into hibernation again from Monday afternoon until part of Tuesday, so I rocked the classics on CD until it woke up again.
  • MONDAY: The end of the Happy Apple CD from the previous day (see last week's post) until the iPod went to sleep.

  • TUESDAY: Böhm-Halle-Sell, "Try to org." Innovative German/Norwegian trio of piano, trumpet and laptop (with two of the three guys named Rainer) combines tuneful melodies with a generous helping of electronic skronkiness. I need to check out their DVD, which seems (from the trailer featured on their MySpace) to be a bit more straight-ahead.

  • WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY: Kurt Rosenwinkel & OJM, "Our Secret World." The guitarist's first CD of originals with a big band, Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos out of Portugal, whose members did the impressive arrangements. (Yes, I liked this one so much that I played it twice, which is why it took up two day's slots.)

  • FRIDAY: Kneebody, "Low Electrical Worker." I can't get enough of this group; in this case, their second release disproves the idea of the dreaded sophomore slump with great, genre-busting writing and playing throghout.

  • SATURDAY: DjM Trio, "The Intrigue." Chicago-based band describes its interesting style as "an amalgam of Jungle/Dub/Afro-Beat/Jazz." (To my ears, the band is less successful when the guitarist picks up a tenor sax, but I'm also really picky about saxophone tones, so that could be just me.)

  • SUNDAY: Jonathan Kreisberg, "Shadowless." Newest effort from the guitarist who's commanding a lot of my attention lately. His band from "The South of Everywhere" (featured in yesterday's posted video) remains mostly intact from that CD, save for the replacement of pianist Gary Versace with my old college classmate Henry Hey.
As always, I'm looking forward to another great week of music and driving.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

This Band Is Rocking My World

And no, they're not a rock band; I like a good one of those every now and then, but there's so much jazz to absorb right now. Enjoy an innovative tune from a cutting-edge guitarist and his band who deserve a lot more recognition:

I first heard about Jonathan Kreisberg from some of the students at UNT, and I'm happy that several of his recordings are on eMusic, which allowed me to acquire the CD from which this tune is the title track. The band is killin', and they make great use of unusual textures and odd meters. Some people call Kreisberg the "next Metheny in waiting," and I think the title is fitting.

One of the members of the nighttime combo at school is working on adapting this tune for our group, and I'm happy to be a co-conspirator in this venture. I hope we can do it justice.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Happy Anniversary to My Alma Mater

Today, I give three cheers to Stratford High School in Houston--home of many memories and a lot of growth on my part. If this seems like an unusual date for a school to open, well, it was: As the story goes, the building wasn't done at the beginning of the year, and the Stratford populace was stuck in portable buildings on the campus of its rival, Westchester High, for most of the year. But on March 4th, they marched forth into their new building, and the school put itself on the map with a state football championship less than five years later. (The Stratford-Westchester connection would continue to spawn interesting tales for years: In the mid-'80s, during a spate of school consolidation, Westchester would close, and the majority of its students would end up going to Stratford, and in the 2004-2005 school year, Stratford students found themselves back on the Westchester campus--since reopened as a magnet school--while major structural defects to the building, discovered during routine asbestos removal, were repaired.

A march that I composed in high school (which was performed again a few years ago at one of the high schools where I now teach) is named "Spartania," in honor of Stratford's mascot, the Spartans. Happy anniversary, Stratford; long may your banner wave.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Playing a Loooooong Game of Catch-Up

OK, it's been a crazy few weeks--preparing for a weekend with both a recording session and a gig with a guest artist, then getting students ready for a rescheduled Solo & Ensemble this past weekend. Blogging already took a hit once I joined Facebook, and the fact that the above events pretty much ate the two or three free hours that I usually have at home means that I'm all kinds of behind. So I'll be posting things from the past few weeks over the course of this week, and I'll alert everyone as things go up.

Thanks as always for your patience. I'm committed to keeping this going, but sometimes the days just need to have a few more hours in them.

UPDATE: And the catching up has begun. Check out some pictures from the unusual venue where I played a gig over the weekend, along with two weeks' worth of "Playing This Week in the Kevmobile" posts.