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Month: November, 2011

Wednesday, 11/30/11

lunch yesterday

Could Van Morrison ever have imagined, in 1969, while recording Moondance, that “Into the Mystic” would serve, in 2011, as aural accompaniment for Wendy’s Natural-Cut Fries with Sea Salt?

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lagniappe

reading table

John Berryman, “Dream Song 14,” Ireland (Dublin), 1967

Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no

Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as achilles,

who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.

More? Here. And here. And here.

Tuesday, 11/29/11

old stuff

Best two minutes of the whole day?

Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra (with Jimmy Crawford, drums)
“White Heat,” 1939

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lagniappe

musical thoughts

It’s difficult to name one favorite drummer, because . . . I’ve got a lot of favorites. But Jimmy Crawford—they called him “Craw”—with the Jimmie Lunceford band? He was a motherfucker.

Paul MotianYouTube

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reading table

How should I not be glad to contemplate
The clouds clearing beyond the dormer window
And a high tide reflected on the ceiling?
There will be dying, there will be dying,
But there is no need to go into that.
The lines flow from the hand unbidden
And the hidden source is the watchful heart.
The sun rises in spite of everything
And the far cities are beautiful and bright.
I lie here in a riot of sunlight
Watching the day break and the clouds flying.
Everything is going to be all right.

—Derek Mahon, “Everything Is Going to Be All Right”

Monday, 11/28/11

Has Monday ever sounded better?

Snooks Eaglin (with George Porter, Jr., bass; Kenneth Blevins, drums)
Live, New York (Lone Star Roadhouse), early ’90s

“I Just Cried Oh”

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“Baby Please”

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“Lipstick Traces”

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“You Don’t Have To Go”

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“Young Girl”

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“Red Beans” (with Jon Cleary, piano)

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Great guitar players don’t play notes—they play sounds.

Sunday, 11/27/11

Al Green, “None But the Righteous,” live, Tokyo, 1987

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I’ve got that Holy Ghost religion . . .

—Al Green

More? Here. And here. And here. And here.

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lagniappe

reading table

How much more sharply suffering probes the psyche than does psychology!

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When we see ourselves on the brink of the precipice and it seems that God has abandoned us, we no longer hesitate to ask him for a miracle.

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The kind of plagiarism which it is most difficult for any human individual to avoid (and even for whole nations, who persist in reproducing their faults and aggravate them in so doing) is self-plagiarism.

—Marcel Proust, The Fugitive (In Search of Lost Time,
v. 6; trans. Peter Collier)

Saturday, 11/26/11

Some musicians come straight at you—others sideways.

Andrew Hill (1931-2007), live, 2004, New York

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lagniappe

reading table

The pebble
is a perfect creature

equal to itself
mindful of its limits

filled exactly
with a pebbly meaning

with a scent that does not remind one of anything
does not frighten anything away does not arouse desire

its ardour and coldness
are just and full of dignity

I feel a heavy remorse
when I hold it in my hand
and its noble body
is permeated by false warmth

—Pebbles cannot be tamed
to the end they will look at us
with a calm and very clear eye

—Zbigniew Herbert, “Pebble” (trans. Czeslaw Milosz & Peter Dale Scott)

Friday, 11/25/11

Can’t go another day without this guy?

Me, either.

Jackie Wilson, “Baby Workout,” TV broadcast (Shindig), 1965

More? Here. And here. And here. And here.

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lagniappe

reading table

morning after morning—
what day is it now
cuckoo?

—Kobayashi Issa, 1810 (trans. David G. Lanoue)

Thursday, 11/24/11

Sometimes less is more; other times more is.

Anton Bruckner (1824-1896), Symphony No. 8
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Bernard Haitink, cond.), live, Amsterdam

IA

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IB

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IIA

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IIB

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IIIA

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IIIB (misnumbered at YouTube; nothing’s missing)

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IIIC

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IVA

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IVB

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IVC (again, misnumbered at YouTube; nothing’s missing)

Wednesday, 11/23/11

 passings

Is any drummer more lyrical?

Paul Motian, drummer, composer, collaborator, bandleader
March 25, 1931-November 22, 2011

Paul Motian Trio (PM, drums; Joe Lovano, saxophone; Bill Frisell, guitar), “It Should’ve Happened a Long Time Ago” (P. Motian), live, New York (Village Vanguard), 2005

More? Here.

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lagniappe

Stephen Paul Motian (he pronounced his surname, which was Armenian, like the word “motion”) was born in Philadelphia on March 25, 1931, and reared in Providence, R.I. In 1950 he entered the Navy. After briefly attending its music school in Washington, he sailed around the Mediterranean until 1953, when he was stationed in Brooklyn. He was discharged a year later.

He met Evans in 1955, and by the end of the decade he was working in a trio with him and the bassist Scott LaFaro. That group, in which the bass and drums interacted with the piano as equals, continues to serve as an important source of modern piano-trio jazz.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s Mr. Motian played with many other bandleaders, including Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, Mose Allison, Tony Scott, Stan Getz, Johnny Griffin and, for a week, [Thelonious] Monk. After leaving his partnership with Evans, he worked steadily with the pianist Paul Bley, whom he often credited with opening him up to greater possibilities.

“All of a sudden there was no restrictions, not even any form,” he told the writer and drummer Chuck Braman in 1996. “It was completely free, almost chaotic.”

In an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Bley recalled: “We shared the same philosophy, musically. He knew that what he was doing in the past was not his answer. What he lived for was growth and change.”

Then, and even more with Mr. Jarrett’s quartet in the 1970s, Mr. Motian moved away from swing-based rhythm; he improvised freely, or played off melodic form. Eager to grow beyond percussion, he studied and composed on a piano he had bought from Mr. Jarrett, and in 1973 he made a record of his own compositions for ECM, “Conception Vessel,” with Mr. Jarrett and others. One of the last records he made with Mr. Jarrett’s quartet, “Byablue” (1977), consisted mostly of Motian originals.

But the old sense of swing never left, and it later became abundantly clear again, whether he was playing an original sketch built on uneven phrasing with gaps of silence or a root text of jazz like “Body and Soul.” Sometimes he would strip a beat to absolute basics, the sound of brushes on a dark-toned ride cymbal and the abrupt thump of his low-tuned kick drum. Generally, a listener could locate the form, even when Mr. Motian didn’t state it explicitly.

“With Paul, there was always that ground rhythm, that ancient jazz beat lurking in the background,” said the pianist Ethan Iverson, one of the younger bandleaders who played with and learned from him toward the end.

Mr. Motian’s final week at the Vanguard was with Mr. Osby and Mr. Kikuchi, in September. “He was an economist: every note and phrase and utterance counted,” Mr. Osby said on Tuesday. “There was nothing disposable.”

—Ben Ratliff, New York Times11/22/11

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radio

Where will my ears be today?

WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University): they’re celebrating his life and music all day, playing his stuff—and nothing but—until midnight.

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reading table

One in my hand

One in the air

And one in you.

—Bill Knott, “The Juggler to His Audience”

Tuesday, 11/22/11

Frederic Chopin, Mazurka in C Major, Op. 24, No. 2
Martha Argerich, live, Sweden (Stockholm), 2009

More? Here. And here. And here. And here.

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lagniappe

musical thoughts

When I don’t play Chopin for a while, I don’t feel like
a pianist.

—Martha Argerich

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reading table

Look how
we “attempted to express ourselves.”

Every one of these words is wrong.

It wasn’t us.
Or we made no real attempt.
Or there is no discernible difference
between self and expression.

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The outer world means
State Farm Donuts Tae Kwando?

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Today could be described as a retired man humming
tunelessly to himself.

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Any statement I issue
if particular enough

will prove
I was here

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It’s as if
the real
thing—
your own
absence—
can never be
uncovered.

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These temporary credits
will no longer be reflected
in your next billing period.

—Rae Armantrout, Versed (2009), misc. fragments

Monday, 11/21/11

You can’t write a song like this, you can’t play it like this, unless your ears are open to all kinds of music.

Allen Toussaint, “Southern Nights,” live

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lagniappe

reading table

If they find a copy of Richard Yates’s Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, they buy it. It is as if they’ve found a baby on the front step. They peek inside, examine the dog-earing, the marginal scribbles. Or perhaps it’s a clean copy, which carries its own kind of sadness. In either case, they embrace it, though they already have multiple copies. Those are irrelevant to the one they would be abandoning if they left the book behind. This is a hostess gift you can give any fiction writer, guaranteed to delight her even though she already has it. Regifting becomes an act of spreading civilization.

—Ann Beattie, Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a Life (2011), “7 Truths About Writers” (#2)

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