Early Jazz Weekend - Playlist - Saturday

Song, Artist, Album
Iko Iko, Donald Harrison, Heroes
Switchback, Scott Burns, Passages
Mambo Influenciado, John Hicks, Sweet Love of Mine
Peaceful Flame, Don Aliquo, Jazz Folk
Caravan, Oscar Peterson with Dizzy Gillespie, Perfect Peterson
Rain Check, Billy Strayhorn, Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life
Naima, McBride/Jackson/Cobb/Walton, New York Time
Anthropology, Ari Hoenig, Inversations
Rejoicing, Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts, The Scenic Route
Just A Riff, Randy Weston (with Ahmed Abdul-Malik), Jazz A La Bohemia
Rhythm-a-Ning, Thelonius Monk (with Ahmed Abdul-Malik), Thelonius in Action
Star Eyes, Cannonball Adderly, The Quintet Plus
Bass Blues, John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio, Traneing In
Valse Hot, Sonny Rollins, Plus Four
Sweet Pea, Miles Davis, Miles Smiles
Blues by Five, Miles Davis, Cookin' with the Miles Davis Quintet
All Blues, Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
The Things That I Used To Do, Guitar Slim, Martin Scorsese Presents. . .
How Do You Sleep at Night?, Coco Montoya, Dirty Deal
Ain't Nobody's Business, Part 1, Jimmy Witherspoon, Martin Scorsese Presents. . .
Gone Too Long, Charlie Musselwhite, Delta Hardware
Roll 'Em Pete, Joe Turner & Pete Johnson, Martin Scorsese Presents. . .
Too Many Drivers, Big Pete Pearson, I'm Here, Baby


The Anti-Finger

Broadcast 2/2/2007

Perhaps you will remember last year when Miami was named the rudest city in which to drive. Yes, Miami drivers speed, cut each other off, fail to signal, run red lights and roll through stop signs. Having done these things, drivers are prone to make the usual rude gestures. The most common gesture made while driving, of course, can be described simply: a single finger – the third finger, digitus tertius -- extended into the air, defiant and hostile. This is sometimes called “the bird,” “flipping the bird,” or “flipping someone off.”

President Bush is known for having popularized the term “one-fingered victory salute” in a now infamous video of him that began appearing on the Internet in 2004. In Canada, this gesture is known as the “Trudeau salute,” after the former Prime Minister was known to wield it occasionally in his public life – including before the Canadian House of Commons. The list of famous fingers flippers is long: Nelson Rockerfeller, Eminem, Keanu Reeves in a couple of movies, Johnny Cash, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Michael Vick, and even the Miami Dolphin’s own Larry Csonka.

Now, I’m not a bad driver. By that, I mean I can handle a car and I usually follow the rules of the road. I don’t often talk on my phone while driving, I signal when turning, obey signs and lights – all that stuff. I do know for some of you out there, driving is a competitive sport like ice hockey or jiu-jitsu or cockfighting – but I just feel safer in the car if I’m taking it easy. Even so, sometimes another driver will be in my blind spot, or I might be in an unfamiliar part of town – and OOP, there it is. I have drawn the Wrath of the Finger.

So, here’s the problem. I made a mistake; the other driver is upset because of something I did on the road. If some sort of close encounter were to happen on the sidewalk or in a store, most people would apologize and smile and get on with their business. But when cars are involved, territorial instincts are activated, and any further wrong move on my part can trigger road rage. Thing is, I want to be able to apologize. Having been given the finger – that rudest of gestures – I need a countervailing gesture. I need The Anti-Finger.

Sadly, there is no Anti-Finger I can think of that really works. The thumbs-up, the friendly wave, the shrug and sheepish grin, the peace “V,” blowing kisses – those are too likely to be seen as sarcasm. More elaborate combinations – some illustrative sign language of the road – take too long to perform and, more dangerously, involve removing both hands from the wheel. Smacking your own forehead or shooting yourself with a finger gun could be taken as a threat. How can you say: “I’m a loser!” from behind the wheel? I look pretty dumb with my finger and my thumb in the shape of an L on my forehead.

I think the best Anti-Finger is simply to point at yourself and nod: “You’re right, my bad.” A one-handed gesture, the index finger delineates the source of the problem. Better yet, don’t use the index finger at all. Take that digitus tertius, and carefully, carefully extend it and point the finger of blame at yourself. “Yep, that was me, and I am sorry. Allow me to help you out: I give myself the bird.”


This Week

As you can see below, I've posted a few (not necessarily golden) nuggets – including the usual Groundhog Day piece. Remember: Baby needs a new pair of shoes: You know what to do!

On Friday, I'll be dropping in on Jim Norton and Taylor Carik, the hosts of
Flak Radio, to discuss the imminent event of Superbowl XLI in South Florida. Streaming audio or download of the podcast is available at http://www.flakmag.com/podcast/radio.html. To tell you the ingenious technical rigging Jim and I had to do to pull this off -- well, you'd simply never believe it. You'll just have to listen. Add Flak Radio to your RSS feed or iTunes download and you'll never be lonely again.

Passing Notes this Friday evening at 7:06 pm on 88.9 FM Serious Jazz (www.seriousjazz.org) is a look at the significance and use of the middle finger (AKA "The Bird"), as well as an honest attempt to find a countervailing gesture – The Anti-Finger, so to speak. For Gregg: AKA "The Sign of the Bird" a la Miami Lucha.

Early Jazz Weekend from 6 to 9 am will roll out with the customary Big Six Blues set, as well as a tribute to bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik and a healthy (or perhaps unhealthy) dose of fusion.

EJW means blues, funk, and a final hour of birthday boys Roy Eldridge, Stan Getz, and Sonny Stitt. Playlists for both music shows will be posted on the blog, as usual.

My Superbowl Pick – no great risks taken here: Colts by seven.




Groundhog Day

Broadcast in previous years on the very day in question.

February 2 is known in the United States as Groundhog Day. According to tradition, in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the groundhog – a midsized burrowing rodent named Phil – comes out of his burrow, looks around, and if he happens to see his shadow, it means there will be six more weeks of winter. He doesn’t see a shadow, it means an early spring. If you’d like to learn more about Groundhog Day and the official festival in Punxsutawney, you can check out the website www.groundhog.org.

The joke, of course, as far as meteorological prognostication is concerned, is that--shadow or not, in wintry parts of the world-- there are likely to be six more weeks of cold weather no matter what Phil the Groundhog sees. Six weeks from February 2 takes you to mid-March, about the time the first day of spring arrives anyway.

I grew up in the Northeast, and as a little kid I put great faith in Punxsutawney Phil – I didn’t get the joke. It doesn’t matter if spring is early or not – it’s still going to be absurdly cold; we might as well have a big party and laugh in winter’s face. Now I think it the holiday is just a bunch of Yankees finding a way to have their own ironic, one-day, understated version of Mardi Gras.

The absurdist joke of Groundhog Day was not lost on a guy named Danny Rubin, who wrote a screenplay, a script that, in 1993, was made into a movie directed by Harold Ramis and starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. You likely know the plot: A cynical weatherman is forced to live exact the same day of his life, February 2 in Punxsutawney, over and over again. He’s the only one aware of what’s going on, and although he can change his actions day-to-day, everything and everyone else is exactly the same. Each morning, February the Second unfolds just as it did before.

Bill Murray’s character, stuck in this time loop for decades, maybe centuries – we don’t really know how long – works through his arrogance, his insensitivity, his appetites, his hopelessness, and eventually figures out that the key to his happiness is simply accepting what he’s been given. Having done that, Murray’s character is able to transform himself from being a jerk to a genuinely good person. Bill Murray is likely the only actor with the ability to pull off the strange combination of detachment, sarcasm, and vulnerability needed for the movie to work. Groundhog Day has always seemed to me to be one of the overlooked great films of the 1990s, and is a very rare creature indeed – an existential comedy with a theological heart.

After all, despite our worries and hopes about the future and our guilt and pride in the past, all we really have is the present moment. This is the day that we are given – and for me, even though there are some variations in my routines, most of the time most things manage to stay the same. Really, I’m the one who makes the biggest difference in what sort of day I have – for better and for worse. I think that’s true for most people. And, day upon day, week upon week, month upon month, that’s how you build a life. You get to spring whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not. The joke is on you, every day – so you might as well lighten up and enjoy the moment. Right now. We have a long way to go.


Why Kenny G Sucks

I recently came across this piece on why Kenny G stinks -- comments apparently from Pat Metheny. I have always felt that the G-Man was an absolute hack, but I had never read Metheny's remarks until today. I post the link so that others may see the light as I have had it revealed to me.

NOTE from September 2010
With Passing Notes up and running full time this past summer, I've been surprised to see that the most visited post in four years of on-and-off work has been this one, "Why Kenny G Sucks."  And the new blogging statistics that are available shows how most people come to this page by running the search string "kenny + g + sucks."  Clearly, we've hit upon something here.  I have, however, changed some of my thinking about popular music lately -- I'm trying to be less of a snob about matters.  If you'd care to know where I was coming from at the time, you might check out this podcast from a while ago, which was my attempt to address the tension between commercialism and authenticity in music.

PN Feedburner | PN iTunes | PN Twitter | PN Facebook | PN Video

When in Rome

Adapted from a broadcast of February 2006

Sometime real soon, so I hear, the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears will be playing each other in the big game in South Florida – One Game, One Dream – the Superbowl. The question on everyone’s mind: Will Chicago’s number one defense be able to restrain Peyton Manning’s Colts and – restrain the Colts -- and the Colts. . .


You know, I have no idea what I’m talking about. I don’t really follow professional football, and I know nothing about college football whatsoever.

What I really want to talk about is this continued obsession that the NFL has with using Roman numerals to indicate the sequence of Superbowls. The argument could made that Roman numerals lend an air of class and dignity to numbered things, like ships (The Queen Elizabeth II), or movies (The Godfather II) or offspring (Thurston Howell III). And if any spectacle badly needed an air of class and dignity, the Superbowl is it. But no mere antique numbering system can cover the smell of money that oozes from every nook and cranny of the Big Game.

What is now known as Superbowl 1 – or I – was played on January 15 of 1967. I’m not much for football, but I do have an obsession with baseball history, and, of course, when you’re talking years in baseball championships, you always refer to the year of the World Series – for instance, the 2004 champion Boston Red Sox. Most sports follow this convention, but not the NFL. There’s something arcane and esoteric about the NFL championship dating with its Roman numerals – who but the biggest football geek can remember the difference between Superbowl XIV and Superbowl XVI? Anyone?

It says a great deal about the hype and hyperbole in the NFL that it persists with this confusing system. It’s sort of like this insular culture with its own special calendar. For most of us using the mainstream Gregorian calendar, of course, it’s 2007 – and soon, I’ll start writing that on my checks. But, by contrast, according to the Jewish calendar, it’s 5759. For Muslims, it’s 1427. For the Chinese, it’s 4704. I mean, I might be off by a year on those other calendars, but it's close enough when you're working with these kinds of numbers. It's all very subjective.

If you’re a SuperFan of the National Football League, I suppose it’s Year 40, A.L. – after Lombardi, that is. And, according to the Lombardian calendar, the new year is celebrated on Superbowl Sunday – which of course moves from year to year according to the whims of the league, the television networks, and the shenanigans of the various metro areas around the nation in their attempts to draw the Big Game to their communities.

But to get back to the Roman numerals. Might I point out that there is no Roman empire any more? Yes, there are Romans, but they all speak Italian, not Latin, and they use good old 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 rather than I V X L C and M. I attribute the fall of the Roman empire not to barbarian hordes but because the Romans had no zero, and hence had a great deal of trouble with math. I imagine some Roman general struck trying to figure out how many horses and men he needed in battle and getting whacked on the head by a visigoth, who had no need for calculation at all but had a very large club. Replace the Romans with the NFL and the barbarians with NASCAR and you can see where I’m going with this. The Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600 – nope, NASCAR has no fear of zeroes whatsoever. The future belongs to the sport that knows how to do math.

Not that I’ll be watching automobile racing any time soon -- or any football aside from the NFL playoffs. Me, I’m fine with baseball. It was around long before both the NFL and NASCAR, and I have a feeling it’ll still be here when the X’s and O’s are all added up.


Straight, No Chaser - January 27 Picks

Straight, No Chaser - The New Music Hour
with Ed Blanco and Mark Hayes
every other Saturday from 8:00-9:00 am
on 88.9 FM in Miami
and www.seriousjazz.org

Song, Album, Artist

Marmelada,” The Bias Project, Rodrigo Ferrari-Nunes
The debut album of Brazilian-born bassist Rodrigo Ferrari-Nunes is dedicated to the music of Mingus, Coltrane, Parker, Evans, Hubbard and Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal. A burner of a CD with no samba here. (Ed's pick)

“Al Dar Gazelli,” Finn Peters, Su-Ling
Saxophonist and flutist Finn Peters brings a diverse mix of musicians and styles to this release. Steeped in both Brazilian sounds and DJ culture, Peters has appeared on scores of records for other musicians before releasing this, his second album. In 1999, Peters won London Young Jazz musician award, and his eclectic approach and experience comes through. (Mark's pick)

“Lisa,” Second Helping, Luther Hughes & the Cannonball-Coltrane Project
A scorcher of an album from West coast bassist Luther Hughes and his Cannonball-Coltrane Project which includes tenor man Glenn Cashman, Bruce Babad on the alto, pianist Ed Czach and Paul Kreibich on the drums, paying homage to the music of John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderly. (Ed's pick)

“Paths Unknown,” Vector Trio, Paths Unknown
Drums, trumpet, and fretless bass – along with electronic loops and a thoughtful, restrained use of digital effects – combine for uniquely spacey and funky sound that is full of surprises and fascinating textures and tones. An innovative group of experienced musicians who know what they're doing. (Mark's pick)

“Fools Rush In,” My Take, Chuck Bergeron
the latest release from Miami’s own bassist extraordinaire Chuck Bergeron featuring the great baritone vocals of Kevin Mahogany with pianist Phil Strange and New York sideman and member of the Maria Schnieder Big Band, saxophonist Charlie Pillow. (Ed's pick)

“The Fundamentals,” Theo Croker, The Fundamentals
While still in his early 20s, Croker has demonstrated his ability as a trumpeter, composer, and bandleader on this recording debut. Though he might still have some development to make as a player, all the elements of a fine musical intelligence are evident from the first note. (Mark's pick)

“Shangri-La.” Once In A Lifetime, The German HR Big Band
This release captures a lively recording session of the German hr Big Band featuring drummer Jeff Hamilton (Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra) and the Hammond B3 wizardry of Joey DeFrancesco who takes center stage on this disc. (Ed's pick)

“Hydroplaining,” Rodolfo Zuniga Quintet, Premonitions
Drummer and bandleader Zuniga has assembled a group of young players with a confident, distinctive sound. Based in Miami but quickly building a reputation in the US and in Central America, tenor, trombone, guitar and bass join the drummer in creating a blend of stylish, intelligent jazz. (Mark's pick)

Next show on February 10

Visit Ed Blanco's page on All About Jazz


Early Jazz Weekend - Playlist - Sunday

Song, Artist, Album

Offspring, John Scofield, Uberjam
Chubb Sub, Medeski Martin and Wood, Friday Afternoon in the Universe
Dusty McNugget, Brad Mehldau, Largo
Swiss Cheese D, Ben Allison & Medicine Wheel, Riding the Nuclear Tiger
Where's the Moment?, Action Figure Party, Action Figure Party
Big Eater, The Bad Plus, These Are the Vistas
Summer Pudding, Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet, Husky
Big'Uns Get the Ball Rolling, Stanton Moore, III
Temporary Enrollment, Rodolfo Zuniga Quintet, Premonitions
Annie Laurie, Jimmy Forrest with Shirley Scott, Heart of the Forrest
Bolo Blues, Jimmy Forrest, Out of the Forrest
Dance of the Octopus, Gary Burton, For Hamp, Red, Bags, and Cal
Portsmouth Figurations, Gary Burton Quartet, Duster
A Few Good Notes, Bob Mintzer Quartet, Quality Time
Runferyerlife, Bob Mintzer Big Band, Old School: New Lessons
Felonius Thunk, Bob Moses, Time Stood Still
Bright Size Life, Pat Metheny, Bright Size Life
He Said What?, Russell Malone, Live at the Jazz Standard, Volume 1
Blue in Green, Bill Evans, Portrait in Jazz
Blues for the Orient, Yusef Lateef, Eastern Sounds
Bessie's Blues, John Coltrane Quartet, Crescent
House Arrest Blues, Willie Pooch, Funk-n-Blues
Dying Crapshooter Blues, Blind Willie McTell, Original Blues Classics (Bluesville)
One Steady Roll, Bob Brozman, Blues Reflex
Fara, Ali Farka Toure, Savane
Mercy On My Soul, Earl Gaines, Don't Take My Kindness for a Weakness
Get It Right, Joe Louis Walker, Blues of the Month Club
The Torch of the Blues, Ronnie Baker Brooks, The Torch