It seems hard to believe, sometimes, that anyone escapes childhood with a shred of sanity.
I still remember, for instance, my mother dragging me to this movie. I was eight years old. Popcorn in hand, the lights dimming, I sat there in the gathering darkness, waiting. And waiting. Until, suddenly, I was transported to a cinematic Ft. Lauderdale, where, for the next 90 minutes, on sandy beaches under sunny skies, my playmates included Paula Prentiss and George Hamilton and Frank Gorshin and (who could ever forget) Connie Francis.
Where The Boys Are (1960)
This guy—one of my all-time musical heroes (someone I’ve been listening to for over 30 years)—makes you move. He makes you feel. He makes you think. What more could you ask for?
Henry Threadgill, alto saxophone
With His Very Very Circus, live, New York, 1995
With his Society Situation Dance Band (featuring Craig Harris, trombone), live, Germany (Hamburg), 1988
Like a lot of live performances (especially ones where the musicians haven’t had many chances to play together [as no doubt was the case here]), this gets better as it goes along. At first, things are a bit tentative and raggedy. Then, at around 1:50, trombonist Craig Harris starts to find his way. By around 2:15, the horns and strings begin to sound more cohesive. By around 3:30, the drummers, having gotten more comfortable with the tempo and structure, start to push the groove harder. At around 8:00, with everything going full steam, Threadgill, feeling Harris feeling it, suddenly breaks things down, leaving just the ’bone and the electric guitar. And with that, the performance jumps out of its skin.
With Judith Sanchez Ruiz (dancer), live, New York, 2008
Music should go right through you, leave some of itself inside you, and take some of you with it when it leaves.—Henry Threadgill
Let’s head back to Kingston for more ska.
The Maytals (before becoming “Toots & . . .”), “Treat Me Bad,” “She Will Never Let You Down,” live, Jamaica (Kingston [Sombrero Club]), 1962
No matter what musical language he’s speaking, you’d swear it was his first.
Marc Ribot, guitar
With Los Cubanos Postizos, “Aurora en Pekin,” live, France, 2002
With Ceramic Dog, “Caravan,” live, Berlin, 2008
Solo, “Bouncing Around” (Django Reinhardt, c. 1937), live, New York, 2009
Sax player in a ska band—easiest job in music?
The Blues Busters, “I Don’t Know,” live, Jamaica (Kingston [Sombrero Club]), 1962
Who else sounds like Kate & Anna McGarrigle?
Who else makes such wonderfully eccentric career moves—like, for instance, putting out an album all in French?
Who else has not one but two children following in their musical footsteps (Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright)?
Kate McGarrigle (February 6, 1946-January 18, 2010)
Kate & Anna McGarrigle
“Ce Matin,” live, Chicago, 2004
“Talk To Me of Mendocino,” live, Saratoga Springs, New York, 1990
With Family & Friends (including Rufus and Martha Wainwright), live, Mariposa Folk Festival, Toronto, 1989
“Complainte Pour Ste. Catherine,” live, 1981
“Proserpina,” live, London, 12/9/09 (Kate’s last concert)
Watching late night TV, you drift in and out of sleep.
In the morning, you recall a commercial you saw—or dreamed.
And you say to yourself, “Buddhist Country Classics?”
Jimmie Dale Gilmore (with Bill Frisell, guitar; Jerry Douglas, Dobro; Viktor Krauss, bass), “Just a Wave, Not the Water,” live (TV broadcast), 1997