I’m in New Orleans for a few days. Exciting, as I’ve never been here before, but it has been on my list of cities to visit for a long time…
I thought I’d share with you the above photo of an important (to me) artifact that I visited in the old US Mint building, which has a number of exhibits. This is the cornet that, as a boy, Louis Armstrong leaned to play trumpet on!
In Rotterdam a couple of weekends ago, the North Sea Jazz Festival took place. It was an excellent event. Well, I think it was, based on my Saturday trip there with some friends – I assume that the other two days were at least as good. We were there from the start at about 4:00pm until about 11:30pm, when we went back (via trains, with an adventure story for another day) to Amsterdam. Seven and a half hours is a good amount of time for some excellent music to be heard and seen…
Turns out that there was great news for me right from the get go on this event. One of my favourite saxophonists from the younger generation playing out there these days, Joshua Redman, was the artist in residence for the event this year, and he did two concerts that day, in different configurations. (I say younger… I’ve been following his work for 20 years, since I first arrived in the USA all the way back (Princeton), shortly after his second album appeared. He was one of the hot new musicians on the scene at the time… But that was 20 years ago, so I suppose it’s time to use a different term…?)
I’ve seen him play a number of times over the years, on both coasts, in tiny clubs and in larger concert halls, and he’s always been great. This time he was probably the best I’ve ever seen him, and that’s saying something, since he’s usual so very good, along with the musicians he has in his bands. This time he’s part of a newer band called “James […] Click to continue reading this post →
So out of the blue the other day, I got an email with this photograph in it, and an explanation for its appearance. It seems that some old friends from my school days (who I’ve not heard from in a long, long time) were discussing it on Facebook, and one of the people reading the comments who lives near my mum in Preston, the town where I went to school, realized that I was one of the people in the picture…!! Since I am not on Facebook* (despite some misleading pages that sometimes send people astray – sigh) (**Update 27th Dec. 2014 – actually, now I’m back on FB as of 10th November 2014.) he contacted me the old fashioned way via finding my email address on my website. Nice and quaint, the way I like it.
This film is simply delightful, although in the context of the article I read about it* in (in the May 14th 2012 New Yorker, “Here’s Looking at You” by Nick Paumgarten – about domestic use of unmanned drones and all that is in store of us there), also a Click to continue reading this post →
This is a snap of a sketch I started while sitting in the Village Vanguard (New York) the other night while listening to the Mark Turner (ts) quartet play. On trumpet was Avishai Cohen, who was really excellent. This quick sketch, very incomplete, was assembled from several glimpses of him when he’d return to this pose, or more or less… Anyway, it was a fun exercise (I’d started another larger sketch of the whole band, but decided it went off balance after a while and so did not complete it). […] Click to continue reading this post →
Hurrah for excellent late(r) night live Jazz in LA! I’d been needing some live Jazz, so this came along at just the right time. My dear friend Patrice Quinn was singing at The World Stage in Leimert Park last night, with Jacques Lesure on guitar and Don Littleton on percussion. I went with a friend to see the second set, starting at 10:00pm. She was wonderful! I’d previously only heard Patrice sing privately (a mutual dear […] Click to continue reading this post →
Here’s a montage (by Alex Lozupone) of some of the clashes between some of the Occupy Wall Street participants and the police. It is food for thought, for sure. It is set to an evocative song (“Love, That’s America”) by Melvin Van Peebles from long ago that really catches the mood**.
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Mozart and Mahler. An interesting combination, for sure. In any case, it made for a lovely evening on Friday night, with Jeffrey Kahane directing from the piano on Mozart’s 25th piano concerto, and then conducting (after the interval) the slightly enlarged orchestra in a performance of Mahler’s 4th Symphony. The latter was a surprise to me in that I enjoyed parts of it a lot. I’d forgotten it, not having heard it in a long time, and in fact I must say I usually don’t go out of my way to listen to performances of Mahler’s symphonic works… so either I’m getting old and more forgiving, or this one has fewer of those elements I usually am not overly fond of from the composer. Hmmm….
Anyway, there it is. A good evening. One other excellent aspect is that Kahane is a fan of big dramatic gestures, and so this means great shapes of his body and clothing as he stands on the podium. He had a jacket with stiff shoulders, and pants […] Click to continue reading this post →
Sunday afternoon. I was doing a bit of work down at the music tent (the Aspen Music Festival is on), sitting outside on the grass like so many other people do on the Festival Sundays.
At some point I became distracted from my scribblings in my notebook when I realized that suddenly I had all these people around me sitting helpfully rather still (relatively speaking) as they listened to the music. (Prokofiev’s delightful 5th Symphony was on at the time.) Perfect quick-sketch subjects! And as it is a target-rich environment, you can pretend to be looking at someone else which drawing someone, so as to not make them suspicious… (I’m not interested in spoiling people’s enjoyment of the concert, after all…)
I only noticed this late in the day, but had to point it out! There’s a Les Paul tribute on the google home page today. If you go there, you’ll find that there’s a set of playable guitar strings there… You can strum them, pick them, etc., and even hit the record button below it all to record your experiments. Then it gives you your own URL with your result! […] Click to continue reading this post →
Yes, I went with some friends to see His Purpleness last night, at the Forum. Remarkably fun show, with tons of great music. He played and played and played, including some long James Brown style jams where he channeled much of the master’s moves and stylings, and – yes! – brought on Maceo Parker as a guest for a lot of the evening’s proceedings. (Who is Maceo Parker, you ask?! The familiar also saxophone soloist on a lot of the famous James Brown hits…) He did so many of his songs, including some of the great hits known to all, and some of the songs that he’s written that have been made famous by others, such as “Nothing Compares 2 U”**.
…And he kept coming back for more… leaving the stage entirely, with people setting off to leave, and then returning for another long jam. He did this three times into the […] Click to continue reading this post →
Before getting up in the wee hours to prepare to jump onto a plane on Friday morning, I was out seeing some live music at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood. I find that I need to go and get some of that from time to time, and the Hotel Cafe is a favourite of mine for that…
I had my notebook and a nice vantage point for grabbing a quick sketch or two of people at the piano. It was a nice challenge to do a couple of fast sketches – in almost darkness – to see if my hand and eyes were still “in”.
Seeing black lead characters in the new #BlackPantherMovie who are accomplished scientists could help inspire future generations to follow in their footsteps. Listen as prof. Clifford Johnson (@asymptotia) of @USC_Physics & @USC students weigh in | @theblackpanther @Marvel