music clip of the day


Month: February, 2012

Monday, 2/20/12

My political platform?

Dancing in the White House every day.

Savion Glover and his NYOTs (Not Your Ordinary Tappers: Omar Edwards, Abron Glover, Jason Samuels, Ayodele Casel), White House, 1998



musical thoughts

[D]ance first and think afterwards . . . . It’s the natural order.

—Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (1953, 1955 [English language premiere])

(Quote originally posted 1/1/11.)

Sunday, 2/19/12

the first voice Whitney heard

Emily “Cissy” Houston (born Emily Drinkard), singer, 1933-

The Drinkard Singers (Cissy Houston, lead vocals), “Lift Him Up,” live (TV broadcast), c. early 1960s



Live (TV broadcast), 1970

“Be My Baby” (P. Spector, J. Barry & E. Greenwich)


“I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” (B. Bacharach & H. David)


listening room: (some of) what’s playing

• Ambrose Akinmusire, When the Heart Emerges Glistening (Blue Note)

• Johann Sebastian Bach, Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, Pierre Fournier, cello (Archiv Production)

• Johann Sebastian Bach, Well-Tempered Clavier, Glenn Gould, piano (Sony)

• Johann Sebastian Bach, Partitas Nos. 3, 4, 6, Jeremy Denk, piano (Azica)

• Ludwig van Beethoven, Piano Sonatas Nos. 14 (“Moonlight”), 8 (“Pathetique”), 23 (“Appassionata”), Rudolf Serkin, piano (CBS)

• Alfred Cortot, The Master Pianist (EMI)

• Claude Debussy, Pour Le Piano, Etudes Books 1 & 2, Gordon Fergus-Thompson, piano (Musical Heritage Society)

• The Dirtbombs, Ultraglide In Black (In the Red Records)

• Morton Feldman, For Bunita Marcus, John Tilbury, piano (London Hall)

• Morton Feldman, Piano and String Quartet, Aki Takahashi (piano), Kronos Quartet (Nonesuch)

• Mary Halvorson Quintet, Saturn Sings (Firehouse)

• Slim Harpo, The Best of Slim Harpo (Hip-O)

• Paul Hindemith, Benjamin Britten, Krzysztof Penderecki; Kim Kashkashian (viola), Stuttgarter Kammerorchester (Dennis Russell Davies, cond.), Lachrymae (ECM)

• Steve Lehman Octet, Travail, Transformation, and Flow (Pi Recordings)

• Jimmie Lunceford, The Complete Jimmie Lunceford Decca Sessions (Mosaic)

• Guilliaume de Michaut, Motets, The Hilliard Ensemble (ECM)

• Paul Motian Trio (with Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell), Sound of Love (Winter & Winter)

• Mudd Up!, WFMU-FM (DJ/Rupture, “new bass and beats”)

• Pee Wee Russell, Swingin’ with Pee Wee (Prestige)

• Pharoah Sanders, Karma (GRP)

• Pharoah Sanders, Live (Evidence)

• Giacinto Scelsi, Natura Renovatur (ECM)

• Arnold Schoenberg, Piano Works, Peter Serkin, piano (Arcana)

• Sinner’s Crossroads, WFMU-FM (Kevin Nutt, gospel)

• Craig Taborn, Avenging Angel (ECM)

• Toru Takemitsu, Peter Serkin Plays the Music of Toru Takemitsu, Peter Serkin, piano (RCA/BMG)

• Anton Webern, Complete Music for String Quartet, Quartetto Italiano (Philips)

• Anton Webern, Works for String Quartet, Emerson Quartet (Deutsche Grammaphon)

• Wild Flag, Wild Flag (Merge)

Saturday, 2/18/12




No matter—he played it all.

Jodie Christian, February 2, 1932-February 13, 2012, Chicago-based pianist; cofounder, AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians)

With Eddie Harris, tenor saxophone (Melvin Jackson, bass; Billy Hart drums), “Listen Here” (with a nod at the end to “Freedom Jazz Dance”), live, Montreux, 6/20/1969


With Roscoe Mitchell, soprano saxophone (Malachi Favors, bass, et al.), live, Chicago, 1984



reading table

A dead beetle lies on the path through the field.
Three pairs of legs folded neatly on its belly.
Instead of death’s confusion, tidiness and order.
The horror of this sight is moderate,
its scope is strictly local, from the wheat grass to the mint.
The grief is quarantined.
The sky is blue.

To preserve our peace of mind, animals die
more shallowly: they aren’t deceased, they’re dead.
They leave behind, we’d like to think, less feeling and less world,
departing, we suppose, from a stage less tragic.
Their meek souls never haunt us in the dark,
they know their place,
they show respect.

And so the dead beetle on the path
lies unmourned and shining in the sun.
One glance at it will do for meditation—
clearly nothing much has happened to it.
Important matters are reserved for us,
for our life and our death, a death
that always claims the right of way.

—Wislawa Szymborska, “Seen From Above,” (translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh)

Friday, 2/17/12

Blues is a big tent. Over here is Slim Harpo (“I’m A King Bee,” 2:18-). And over there are the Stooges (“I Wanna Be Your Dog,” 4:48-).

Alejandro Escovedo, live, Austin (Continental Club), 11/29/11
With guests Marc Ribot & David Hidalgo (guitars)

More Alejandro Escovedo? Here. And here.

Marc Ribot? Here. And here. And here. And here. And here.

David Hidalgo? Here.

Thursday, 2/16/12

Some music creates a space so mysterious—so different from what you ordinarily inhabit—that the moment it ends you feel bereft.

Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996), Rain Tree, Line C3, New York, 2011

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Wednesday, 2/15/12

the ecstatic impulse

Pharoah Sanders, tenor saxophonist, composer, bandleader, 1940-

“You’ve Got To Have Freedom” (P. Sanders)

Take 1: Live (with William Henderson, piano; James Leary, bass; Kharon Harrison, drums), Los Angeles, 2011


Take 2: Live (with John Hicks, piano; Walter Booker, bass; Idris Muhammad, drums), Los Angeles, 1981 (Live [Evidence])

More? Here.

Jazz, R&B, gospel—listening to him you’re reminded, again, that they all come from the same place.

Tuesday, 2/14/12

two takes

“La-La (Means I Love You)” (T. Bell & W. Hart)

Bill Frisell (guitar) with Tony Scherr (bass) & Kenny Wollesen (drums)
Live, Rochester (NY), 2007


The Delfonics, 1968

(First clip originally posted 5/28/10.)



reading table

And this disease which was Swann’s love had so proliferated, was so closely entangled with all his habits, with all his actions, with his thoughts, his health, his sleep, his life, even with what he wanted after his death, it was now so much a part of him, that it could not have been torn from him without destroying him almost entirely: as they say in surgery, his love was no longer operable.

—Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way (translated from French by Lydia Davis)

Monday, 2/13/12

There are all kinds of love songs.

Sonny Boy Williamson II (AKA Aleck [or Alex] “Rice” Miller), “Your Funeral and My Trial,” live, Europe, 1960s

More? Here.



reading table

Moonlight in the kitchen is a sign of God.

—Anne Carson, “God’s Work” (excerpt)

Sunday, 2/12/12


Whitney Houston, singer, August 9, 1963-February 11, 2012

What takes your breath away isn’t the way she pulls out all the stops—lots of singers do that. It’s how she pulls back (2:00-2:35, 3:00-3:20, etc.).

“A Quiet Place,” TV show (with mother Cissy Houston looking on), 1980s


As a girl she sang at her family’s church.

New Hope Baptist Church, Newark, New Jersey, 1970s

(First clip originally posted 7/25/10, second 1/18/12.)

Saturday, 2/11/12

two takes

“I’m Your Puppet” (D. Penn & S. Oldham)

James & Bobby Purify, TV show, 1966


Dan Penn (guitar, vocals) & Spooner Oldham (keyboards), TV show, 1999


This is one of the sadder, and stranger, love songs I know. “I’ll do funny things if you want me to”: someone who’ll “do funny things” on command but isn’t, as far as we can tell, otherwise funny is someone who’s desperate to please. And that, to me, is what this song’s about more than anything else—desperation. This is a guy who’ll “do anything.” He’s “hanging on a string.”

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