Early Jazz Weekend - Playlist - Saturday

Song, Artist, Album

Stablemates, Jeff Antoniuk and the Jazz Update, Here Today
Series of One, Dominique Eade & Jed Wilson, Open
'Round Midnight, Charles Tolliver Big Band, With Love
Manoir Des Mes Reves, Django Reinhardt, The Best of. . . (Blue Note)
Corcovado, Sarah Vaughan, The Antonio Carlos Jobim Songbook
Night and Day, Stephane Grappelli, Live at the Blue Note
Django's Tiger, Django Reinhardt, The Best of. . . (Blue Note)
How Insensitive, Wes Montgomery, The Antonio Carlos Jobim Songbook
Air Mail Special, Jay Hoggard, Swing 'Em Gates
I'm Tore Down, Freddie King, The Very Best of. . . (Collectibles)
Woke Up This Morning, Big Time Sarah & The BTS Express, Blues in the Year One-D-One
Red House, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss the Sky
It's The Truth, Oscar Jordan, Mr. Bad Luck
Catfish Blues, Robert Petway, Martin Scorsese Presents. . .
Five Long Years, Carey & Lurie Bell, Second Nature
Gonna Ball Tonight, Mighty Lester, We Are Mighty Lester
Gristle, Carol Fran & Clarence Hollimon, Soul Sensation
Farther Up The Road, Bobby Blue Bland, Greatest Hits V1 - The Duke Recordings
Henry's Shuffle, Canned Heat, The Very Best of. . . (Capitol)
Stand Alone, Kelly Richey Band, Speechless
A Little Meat on the Side, Katie Webster, No Foolin!
Where Is She?, The Beat Daddys, Five Moons


This Week. . .

The blog here has been rolling along nicely -- I try to post reviews or commentary or playlists there at least five times a week. Be sure to check for fresh content or set up your feed. There's a link for Feedburner here.

This week's feature (Friday at 7:06 pm on 88.9 FM or
www.seriousjazz.org) is a rebroadcast of "Recovery from Oil Addiction - The 12-Step Program." Some of you might have read this commentary already, but that last time it was broadcast, we had a lot of response. In light of the State of the Union address this week, we're going to run it again. Fresh PN next week!

On Saturday's Early Jazz Weekend (6 to 9 am) we'll be starting off with the Big Six Blues, followed by a little love to this week's birthday boys Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grapelli, and Antonio Carlos Jobim. At 8:00, Ed Blanco will join me for the latest installment of Straight, No Chaser. We'll be listening to new jazz from around the country and around the world.

On Sunday, EJW will have the usual blues set (but in a more mellow mode), followed by tunes from Gary Burton, Jimmy Forrest, Bob Mintzer, and Bob Moses. This should be an eclectic show, and we'll finish up the last half hour with some funk.

Next week, I'll be appearing on Flak Radio (
http://www.flakmag.com/podcast/radio.html) to talk about the Superbowl's coming to South Florida. Flak Radio is a regular podcast you can get from iTunes. I have no idea what I'm going to say -- it should be fun to have the guys at Flak tear me apart!


Mark H


Understanding Jazz: Ways To Listen

Broadcast November 2005

Although relatively young as national cultural institutions are concerned, Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, under the direction of Wynton Marsalis, has become the major force in the promotion of and education about the art of jazz. Whether it’s the Center’s the weekly radio program, or its PBS specials, or the regular recordings by its groups, or the innovative compositions it underwrites, or the many concerts and events it hosts up there in its home at Columbus Circle in Manhattan, JALC commands a vast array of cultural and financial resources for a non-profit arts organization.

It is not surprising, then, that the Center has produced a new book about the music, entitled Understanding Jazz: Ways To Listen, is a fine introduction for non-musicians as to how to understand some of what jazz musicians are doing in the midst of a live performance. Beginning with the sometimes paradoxical relationship of the individual soloist to the group – which Piazza explains as the relationship between foreground and background – the reader is taken through the basics, so to speak, of how to listen. Piazza clearly explains, for the lay listener, how the blues and other song forms are structured, as well as how musicians improvise in relationship to those forms and tell a story.

Piazza is most effective in his discussion of rhythm, of time, and of that elusive element known as swing:

“Picture the arc of a common playground swing,” he writes. “Once you get into a regular rhythm on the swing, the amount of time it takes to get from one end of the arc and then back will be the same each time. But your actual speed as you traverse the arc is not constant; in fact, there is a curve of acceleration and deceleration – a speeding-up on the downward motion and a slowing on the upward part.... In a jazz performance,” Piazza continues, "while every bar of music should take the same amount of ‘clock time’ – fill the same period – within those bars and groups of bars there is a constant sense of respiration, of infinitesimal accelerations and decelerations in the actual playing, even though the background pulse, the tempo, remains constant. A large part of the music’s meaning comes from playing with time, this sense of being able to operate flexibly, accurately, and freely within the implied lockstep of chronology—an affirmation, in fact, of the living body against the dead abstraction of time.”

This is all interesting and useful explanation, made all the more interesting and useful because the musical explanations in the book refer often to a companion CD that features seven distinctive jazz tracks. Artists on the CD include King Oliver, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Lester Young, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, and Stan Getz – among others. As the discussions in each chapter develop, Piazza very easily slips in specific musical references to Rollins’s “Mack the Knife” or Davis’s “Footprints” to help you hear what he’s writing about. Understanding Jazz is a book you read with the CD player remote never far from your hand. The book would be even better to read with the tracks burned onto a portable MP3 player.

At the end of each chapter on each particular music topic, Piazza also includes a rather haphazard discography, a feature which novices might find useful but will likely distract and annoy more expert listeners. These sections can hardly be called discographies at all -- they're really just rambling lists of stuff to listen to.

Still, all in all, Understanding Jazz is an excellent way for the beginning fan of jazz to make significant steps forward in learning how to listen more carefully to this often complex music and with a more intelligent ear.


Recovery from Oil Addiction - The 12-Step Program

Adapted from a broadcast from June 2006

Around the country this summer, everyone had pretty much gotten used to playing about three dollars a gallon for gasoline. When or if the price would up or down, nobody could say, apparently. But while the price of gas was high, it wasn't high enough to get people to seriously change their habits of energy consumption. We are still in denial about the problems of the coming energy crises.

And so we look for leadership and vision to help us out of our overindulgences. President Bush, of course, who admits, in a previous life, to indulging in the unhealthy consumption of liquid refreshment, called it like he saw it in his 2006 State of the Union address:

“Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology.”

Hmm: The best way to break addiction is through technology. It seems to me that, when the president uses the addiction metaphor, he’s actually steering the argument away from technology. People, like the president – credit to him – who decide to quit drinking often do so without any outside help, professional counseling, or support group meetings. That’s 70 percent of those who quit. No technology involved. So the problem of addiction is as much a psychological, or emotional, or spiritual problem as a material one.

Following the President’s cue, but forgetting his idea of technology, let’s borrow from the literature of addiction to craft a national policy of recovery – recovery from our oil addiction. This recovery program involves, as you might have guessed, 12 steps:

1. We, the people of the United States of America, admitted we were powerless over cheap and plentiful fossil fuels - that our lives had become unsustainable. Price spikes after hurricanes, wars in the Middle East, traffic, pollution, rolling brownouts -- need I say more?

2. Came to believe that an energy policy greater than ourselves could restore us to balance. Bigger than our individual wants, bigger than our consumer society, bigger than our might making it right, we need an approach to energy that shows humility and concern for other nations.

3. Made a decision to turn our future and our economy over to the care of the Earth as science understands things like global warming, population growth, and planetary resources. So let’s get the politics out of science and admit that global warming is happening, and other things that 95 percent of real scientists agree upon.

4. Made a searching and fearless economic and ethical inventory of our energy use. Which means: Do you really need that Hummer for the weekend? Is “one person, one car” a viable transportation model for everybody?

5. Admitted to the Earth, to ourselves, and to every human being on the planet the exact nature of our wrongs. Time to fess up, America. Twenty percent of the resources consumed, five percent of the population. I think that qualifies as gluttony, right?

6. Were entirely ready to elect a government and change our habits to remove these defects of character. This is the tricky part – finding the right person or group of people who can tell the truth in the right way, an offer a vision of a solution that everyone can get behind.

7. Humbly asked each other for the patience to remove our shortcomings. It will take most Americans a long time to get used to riding on buses and trains with each other.

8. Made a list of all the people, nations, and systems on the planet we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Where to begin?

9. Made direct amends to such people and places wherever possible, except when to do so would cause more damage. So, Iraq – sorry about that whole invasion thing. We’re just going to get out of here and turn things over to the UN.

10. Continued to take an energy inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. Hey, maybe ethanol wasn’t such a good idea. Nuclear energy, other the other hand, isn’t quite as bad an idea as we thought.

11. Sought though scientific inquiry and social reform to improve our relationship with the planet and with each other, looking for accurate knowledge of how things really work and how we might sustain a balanced relationship with the planet and with each other. Which is to say – let’s not allow this to happen again.

12. Having had an economic and social awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other oil-addicted nations and to practice these principles in all our affairs. China, you’re next.

So I offer this program as a means to get us closer to the root of the problem: that we as a nation are a bunch of lousy oil addicts and we’ll do almost anything to get another week, another month, another year of those sweet sweet cheap fossil fuels. Burn baby burn.

If you ask me, it’s time for an intervention.

Postscript – 1/23/2007

As to President Bush’s 2007 State of the Union goal of having Americans reduce their gasoline use by increasing their consumption of ethanol by billions of barrels per year – well, that seems beside the point. Overall, shouldn’t we be reducing our consumption, not shifting it to another fuel? Is the nation really capable of "capping" its overall fuel usage as it shifts to an alternative fuel?

We can look at the history of other sectors of the economy for example of this supply substitution. I just finished reading Greg Critser’s
Fatland: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World. He makes the argument that, faced with rising food prices in the 1970s, the Department of Agriculture – of which the Food and Drug Administration is a part – paved the way for “cheaper” substitutions such as this ethanol-for-gasoline switch. Corn syrup took the place of cane sugar. Corn starch took the place of wheat flour. Fatty palm oil took the place of cooking oils far lower in saturated fats. Who knows what the conversion to an “ethanol economy” will create? And, more importantly, will everything eventually be made of corn?

Here’s one thing for sure: The
price of tortillas in Mexico is on the rise, and it appears that our own developing energy needs are part of the problem.


The Future of Music

Broadcast 1/19/2007

Listen to this piece at 88.9 FM Serious Jazz Radio Rewind -- scroll down when you get there, please. Available up to one week after broadcast.

When you buy a compact disc from your favorite music performer, chances are that performer earns a royalty of about eight percent. If the artist wrote some of the music or had a producer credit, then the cut might be a somewhat larger. But, generally speaking, if you spend $12.50 for a CD, the artist makes a buck. The other $11.50 cents go to retailers, wholesalers, distributors, marketers, manufacturers, manager, and recording industry middlemen. If you’re in the recording business – that is, the right place somewhere in the middle – without playing or singing a note, you stand to make an awful lot of money. But the full feeding trough is going to be emptier in the years to come.

We are moving, after all, into the digital age – in text, in audio, and in video. In the age of digital content, some providers will adapt, and some will wither away and die. The recent string of lawsuits and increasingly extreme tactics from the Recording Industry Association of America are sure signs of an industry that refuses to change in the face of current trends of how people prefer to find and listen to music. Some business models just don’t work any more. Everybody remember Tower Records?

Maybe you listen to music like I do. I have a portable MP3 player and I legally download music, but mostly I have a real-world CD collection several hundred strong that sits on several shelves in the living room. If you’re old fashioned, by degrees, you might just have the CDs, or some combination of CDs, cassettes, and records. We won’t, however, dwell on the 8-track cartridges. But although I am new member of the old school – or maybe an old member of the new school – I am a music listener of the past.

All these things and more were made much more clear to me after reading The Future of Music by Dave Kusek and Gerd Leonhard, published in 2005. Actually, I listened to this book after downloading it to my iPod.

The future of music lies in the hands of its future listeners. When I talk to people under the age of 18 – from all kinds of backgrounds -- about how they listen to music, many things are clear. First of all, the laws go out the window. As far as digital music is concerned, it’s finders keepers. And it’s not like, in many areas, the laws make that much sense or are even fair.

As to the listeners of the future, they believe they are asked to pay too much for music. Even at 10 dollars for a CD, or a dollar for a song, the prices are too high -- especially if most of the money doesn’t go to the artist.

They do not have a problem with downloading music for free over file sharing networks.

They do not make an issue with ripping music from friends’ CDs, with burning disks for friends. Sharing and trading music is just what you do.

They rarely own more than a dozen CDs. Pretty much everything is stored on a computer or portable player.

More importantly, they listen to far more and a far more diverse range of music than I did at their age. They have collections of between 1000 and 3000 songs – and they are always looking for new and unusual music. The homogeneous mix on commercial terrestrial radio and even satellite radio doesn’t interest them.

As far as I can see, this musical curiosity is where public radio and podcasting can play a role – in guiding and informing their developing taste far from the influence of commerce or profit. In the end, it’s always just about the music.

The future of music lies in listeners and artists connecting with each other, with as little interference as possible. Musicians upload, listeners download. The technology and the law will work themselves out sooner or later.

I need only point to the legendary tenor Sonny Rollins and his latest release, Sonny, Please. In the material world, it goes on sale January 23, but it’s been officially downloadable from sonnyrollins.com since November 21 of last year. I downloaded the whole album – plus a bonus track – for $10 on September 1.

I have the tracks on my laptop, on my iPod, and burned onto a disc I listen to in the car. And while it’s been great to know that I had the music before almost anybody else, it’s even better to know that my man Sonny got most of my money.


Playlist - Early Jazz Weekend - Sunday

Song, Artist, Album

Tell It Like It Is, Charles Earland, I Ain't Jivin' I'm Jammin'
Brother with the Mint Green Vine, Cyrus Chestnut, Soul Food
Whap!, Jack McDuff, The Honeydripper
Opus Funk, Sweets Edison & Lockjaw Davis, Simply Sweets
Blues in Bebop, Kenny Dorham, Kenny Dorham: Blues in Bebop
The Jitney Man, Billie Eckstine and His Orchestra, Kenny Dorham: Blues in Bebop
Bremond's Blues, Cedar Walton, The Promise Land
The Vision, Cedar Walton, Latin Tinge
Cedar Walton, One Flight Down, One Flight Down
Jitterbug Waltz, Greg Osby, The Invisible Hand
Mr. JJ, Jeff ''Tain'' Watts, Bar Talk
The Impaler, Jeff ''Tain'' Watts, Megawatts
Like This, Roy Haynes & Fountain of Youth Band, Whereas
Sweet George Brown, The Columbus Jazz Orchestra, The Colors of Jazz
Bolero at the Savoy, Anita O'Day with Gene Krupa, Let Me Off Uptown!
Boogie Blues, Anita O'Day with Gene Krupa, Let Me Off Uptown!
Until I Met You, Count Basie & Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie & Sarah Vaughan
Like A Son, The Jimmy Heath Band, Turn Up the Heath
Just Won't Burn, Susan Tedeschi, Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues
Boom Boom, John Lee Hooker, Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues
It's My Own Tears, Coco Montoya, Dirty Deal
What's It Gonna Take, Charlie Wood, Lucky
Crawlin' Kingsnake, Buddy Guy, Can't Quit the Blues
Priviledged Life, Eddie Turner, Pride
You're Going to Need Somebody On Yr Bond, Eric Bibb, Spirit and the Blues
River of Jordan, Creighton Lindsay, Round by Round
False Friend Blues, Ruth Brown, R + B = Ruth Brown
A Fool Never Learns, Johnny Jones, Blues is in the House
Memphis, Lonnie Mack, Memphis Wham!
I'm Looking for a Miracle, Phantom Blues,
IndieFeed Blues download