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Tag: Marcel Proust

Sunday, July 14th

This guy played with everyone from The Mighty Clouds of Joy to Al Green to The Canton Spirituals to The Roots to (as we heard Friday) D’Angelo.

Chalmers “Spanky” Alford (1955-2008), guitar, “The Lord’s Prayer”

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reading table

We are never all of a piece . . .

—Marcel Proust (1871-1922), Sodom and Gomorrah (translated from French by John Sturrock)

Wednesday, February 6th

alone

Hamid Drake, drums, Paris, 2010


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reading table

Last night I completed a long, meandering journey I began several years ago, finishing the last of the seven volumes of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. If you’ve ever thought about making this trip yourself, I have just one word of advice: go. The minutes, and hours, I’ve spent in Proust’s company—often just a few pages at a time—are among the most rewarding, and pleasurable, I’ve had.

*****

One, two, three. Time, time!

—William Shakespeare, Cymbeline (II, 2, 51)

Sunday, February 3rd

old stuff

Rev. F. W. McGee (with Arizona Dranes, piano and vocals, and congregation), “Fifty Miles of Elbow Room,” 1930


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reading table

He was little more than a ruin, but a superb one, or perhaps not even a ruin so much as that most romantic of beautiful objects, a rock in a storm. Lashed on all sides by the waves of suffering, of anger at suffering, and of the rising tide of death, by which he was surrounded, his face, crumbling like a block of stone, still kept the style, the hauteur I had always admired; it was worn away like one of those beautiful but half-obliterated classical heads with which we are still always glad to ornament a study. Only it seemed to belong to a period more ancient than before, not only because of the way in which its once more lustrous material had become rough and broken, but because an expression of subtlety and playfulness had been succeeded by an involuntary, an unconscious expression, constructed out of illness, the struggle against death, mere resistance and the difficulty of living. The arteries, all their suppleness gone, had given his once beaming face a sculptural rigidity. And although the Duc had no inkling of this, his neck, his cheeks, his forehead all displayed indications that the human being within, as if obliged to cling tenaciously to each minute, seemed to be buffeted by a tragic gale, while the white strands of his thinner but still magnificent hair lashed with their spume the flooded promontory of his face. And I realized that, like the strange, unique glints which only the approach of an all-engulfing storm gives to rocks normally a different colour, the leaden grey of the stiff, worn cheeks, the almost white, foam flecked grey of the swelling locks, the weak light still emanating from the scarcely seeing eyes, were not unreal colours, far from it, all too real, but uncanny, and borrowed from the palette and the lighting, inimitable in its terrifying and prophetic shades of darkness, of old age, and of the proximity of death.

—Marcel Proust, Finding Time Again (translated from French by Ian Patterson)

*****

What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.

—Kobayashi Issa (translated from Japanese by Robert Hass)

Wednesday, January 30th

Old?

New?

Both?

Neither?

Bobby Bradford (cornet), Glenn Ferris (trombone), Mark Dresser (bass), “Purge” (G. Ferris), Los Angeles, 2009


A mathematician could, I’m sure, estimate how many different instrumental combinations you could expect to hear in your lifetime. What that number would be I have no idea. What I do know is that this particular combination—cornet, trombone, bass—is one that, in over fifty years of listening, I’ve never heard before.

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radio

Today the folks at WKCR-FM (Columbia University) are remembering trumpeter Roy Eldridge, who was born on this date in 1911 and lived until 1987, in the best possible way—they’re playing his music all day.

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reading table

[W]hen, in a simple case, one sees the barrister step forward, raise a robed arm and begin declaiming in an ominous voice, nobody dares look at their neighbors. Because to begin with one thinks it is grotesque, but then it seems it might be wonderful, and one waits to make up one’s mind.

—Marcel Proust, Finding Time Again (translated from French by Ian Patterson)

Friday, 1/18/13

three takes

“Driving Wheel,” AKA “Driving Wheel Blues” (R. Sykes)

Buddy Guy & Junior Wells (BG, guitar; JW, harmonica and vocals; Jimmy Johnson, guitar; Dave Myers, bass; Odie Payne, drums), live, Portugal (Algarve Jazz Festival), 1978

*****

Junior Parker, 1961

*****

Roosevelt Sykes, 1936

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reading table

[I]t is out of adolescents who last a sufficient number of years that life makes old men.

—Marcel Proust, Finding Time Again (translated from French by Ian Patterson)

Sunday, 9/9/12

Rarely has dying sounded so joyous.

Glen David Andrews, “I’ll Fly Away”
Live, New Orleans (Zion Hill Baptist Church), 2008

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reading table

[P]eople exist for us only in the idea that we have of them.

—Marcel Proust, The Fugitive (translated from French by Peter Collier)

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Each year on this auspicious day, alone and foreign
here in a foreign place, my thoughts of you sharpen;

far away, I can almost see you reaching the summit,
dogwood berries woven into sashes, short one person.

—Wang Wei (701-61), “9/9, Thinking of My Brothers East of the Mountains” (trans. from Chinese by David Hinton)

Tuesday, 6/19/12

Turn it off: cellphone, email, Twitter—the whole modern rot.

Let this, and nothing else, surround you.

Frederic Chopin, Nocturne in D-flat major, Op. 27, No. 2
Martha Argerich (piano), live, Germany (Saarbrücken), 1972

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musical thoughts

In the right hands there are no notes—only mysteries.

*****

reading table

Then I considered the spiritual bread that a newspaper constitutes, still warm and moist as it emerges from the press and the morning mist in which it has been delivered at crack of dawn to the housemaids who take it to their masters with a bowl of milk, this miraculous loaf, multiplied ten-thousandfold and yet unique, which stays unchanged for everyone while proliferating across every threshold.

—Marcel Proust, The Fugitive (translated from French by Peter Collier)

Saturday, 6/16/12

two takes

Santigold, “Disparate Youth”

Recording & video, 2012

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Live (studio performance), BBC, 2012

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reading table

After a certain age our memories are so interwoven with each other that the object of our thoughts or the book which we are reading has practically no importance. We have left traces of ourselves everywhere, everything is fertile, everything is dangerous, and we can make discoveries every bit as precious in an advertisement for soap as Pascal’s Pensées.

—Marcel Proust, The Fugitive (translated from French by Peter Collier)

Sunday, 4/29/12

Let’s go to church.

“Until I Die,” Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C., 2001

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reading table

On the Death of Friends in Childhood

We shall not ever meet them bearded in heaven,
Nor sunning themselves among the bald of hell;
If anywhere, in the deserted schoolyard at twilight,
Forming a ring, perhaps, or joining hands
In games whose very names we have forgotten.
Come, memory, let us seek them there in the shadows.

—Donald Justice (Collected Poems, 2004)

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“[We find] it impossible, when we have to analyze death, to imagine it in terms other than those of life.”

—Marcel Proust, The Fugitive (translated from French by Peter Collier)

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listening room: (some of) what’s playing

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

Wild Flag (Merge Records)

• That’s What They Want: The Best of Jerry McCain (Excello)

The Best of Slim Harpo (Hip-O)

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

• Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, I Only Have Eyes For You (ECM)

• Anthony Braxton, 9 Compositions (Iridium)

• Chicago Tentet, American Landscapes 1 & 2 (Okka)

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

• Joe McPhee, Nation Time (Unheard Music Series)

• Weasel Walter, Mary Halvorson, Peter Evans, Electric Fruit (Thirsty Ear)

• J. Berg’s Royal Rarities Vols. 2-3; A Cappella Archives, Vol. 3; Gospel Goldies, Vol. 2 (Rare Gospel)

• The Fisk Jubilee Quartet, There Breathes A Hope (Archeophone)

This May Be My Last Time Singing: Raw African-American Gospel On 45 RPM 1957-1982 (Tompkins Square)

• Bach, Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, Pierre Fournier, (Archiv Production/DG)

• Mozart, Piano Sonatas Nos. 16 and 17, Peter Serkin, piano (Pro Arte)

• Arnold Schoenberg, Das Klavierwerk, Peter Serkin, piano (Arcana)

The Art of Joseph Szigeti (Biddulph Recordings)

• Anton Webern, Five Movements For String Quartet, Op. 5; Six Bagatelles For String Quartet, Op. 9; String Quartet, Op. 28; Quartetto Italiano (Philips)

• Anton Webern, Complete Works for String Quartet and String Trio, Artis Quartet Wien (Nimbus)

Music of Stefan Wolpe, Vol. 6, David Holzman, piano (Bridge)

• WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University)

Bird Flight (Phil Schaap, jazz [Charlie Parker])
Traditions in Swing (Phil Schaap, jazz)
Eastern Standard Time (Carter Van Pelt, Jamaican music)
Rag Aur Taal (various, Indian)

• WFMU-FM

Mudd Up! (DJ/Rupture“new bass and beats”)
Sinner’s Crossroads 
(Kevin Nutt, gospel)
Cherry Blossom Clinic (Terre T, rock, etc.)
Fool’s Paradise (Rex; “Vintage rockabilly, R & B, blues, vocal groups, garage, instrumentals, hillbilly, soul and surf”)

• WHPK-FM (broadcasting from University of Chicago)

The Blues Excursion (Arkansas Red)

*****

radio

Happy Birthday, Duke!

All Ellington, all day: WKCR-FM.

Sunday, 4/8/12

Aretha testifies

Aretha Franklin, “Surely God Is Able,” live, Detroit, 1990

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

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random thoughts: Marcel Proust (or is it Samuel Beckett?) on Opening Day

You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.

Actually, it’s Joe DiMaggio. But for Joltin’ Joe, like Marvelous Marcel and Slammin’ Sammy, life consists largely of “look[ing] forward” to things, “wonderful” things—things that seldom, if ever, actually “happen.” Just ask the Cubs: going into the eighth inning of Thursday’s opener, they were winning 1-0; they lost 2-1.

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