Saturday, June 30, 2018

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary (2016)

Chasing Trane: If you have the opportunity, view this 2016 video documentary on John Coltrane, the jazz legend (I viewed it recently on Netflix); and then get your hands on some of his music. I have been posting some of what touches me the last week or so. Coltrane’s music gently yet persuasively moves the human, both heart and mind, in a positive direction. It has the power to heal, the power to uplift the broken and contrite heart, the sore and famished soul, and the power to bring about wholeness to those who are currently poor in spirit, which I believe is a larger number than those in power have awareness of, let alone openly acknowledge.
Courtesy: Youtube

Friday, June 29, 2018

Top Cat: All That Jazz (1961)

Top Cat: “All That Jazz” (Ep. 3; October 11,1961). The alley cats reside in a 1960s ghetto of limited opportunities, hemmed in by pool halls and bowling alleys and banged-up trash cans and broken white picket fences. And run-ins with the law. It’s a puuurfect portrayal of poor cats who want a piece of the action, even if the show’s creators never had this in mind. This might be an animated cartoon, and its characters act their comedic parts, but the unhappy reality it portrays is often no laughing matter, as growing inequalities normalize in America—and the war on the poor becomes normal, too. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Except it is worse today to be poor, since the differences are greater. If the people on the bottom look for a way out of their poverty, out of their circumstances, at times relying on ill-conceived or get-rich-quick schemes to get out of the “inner-city ghetto,” it all makes perfect sense. Such is the power of the American Dream. The urban landscape might change over the years, it might even be prettified and gentrified, but the heart of man remains the same.
Courtesy: Youtube

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Cat Concerto (1947)

The Cat Concerto (1947), a Tom and Jerry animated short (Episode 29; April 26, 1947), for many the best-known of this cartoon series showing the continuing conflict for domestic dominance between Tom (a house cat) and Jerry (a house mouse). Domestic bliss does not exist. Jerry is Tom’s nemesis, his antagonist, befitting the symbolic battle between a cat and a mouse, and yet the relationship between the two is symbiotic. The music is from Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C-sharp minor, S.244/2. The animation is by Kenneth Muse, Ed Barge and Irven Spence; the musical supervision by Scott Bradley; and the story and direction by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.
Courtesy: Youtube

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

My Balcony Garden: The End of June (2018)

Concrete Gardening

Green Growth: A month into my vegetable gardening initiative, here is the look of my sixth-floor balcony garden. There is real growth. Moreover, since my last posting (May 27th) on this subject, I have added two more plants—a yellow bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) and a spearmint (Mentha spicata)—to the modest urban garden: a total of four plants. Beginnings are often small, humble in origin. I plan to post again in two months, hopefully of plants showing the full fruits of their labour.
Photo Credit: ©2018. Perry J. Greenbaum

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Henri Matisse: Jazz (1947)

Jazz (1947): The Swimmer in the Tank (La Nageuse dans l’aquarium) by Henri Matisse. The colours are striking, matched only by the feeling of serenity it evokes. The book contains 20 colour prints—this is one of them—each about 16 x 20 inches (41 x 66 cm). It was first issued on September 30, 1947, by art publisher Tériade of France.  As one art site puts it: “Henri Matisse’s illustrated book Jazz (1947) is one of the most famous graphic works and arguably one of the best loved artworks of the 20th century. In Matisse’s first major ‘cut-out’ project, realism and abstraction are finally reconciled at the end of a life-long tension. With the cut-out technique, Matisse felt he had finally solved the problems of form and space, outline and colour. ‘It is not a beginning, it is an endpoint’, the artist stated.”
Courtesy: MOMA; NYC

Monday, June 25, 2018

George Benson: All That Jazz’s ‘On Broadway’ (1979)

On Broadway, sung here by George Benson for the 1979 American film, All That Jazz, based on the life of Bob Fosse [1927–1987], an American dancer, choreographer and screenwriter who is the director of this film. What is being viewed here is the film’s opening sequence, showing a multitude of dancers in rehearsal. The song was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, with suggested changes made by the famous songwriting duo of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. A number of artists and bands recorded this song in the 1960s, including The Cookies, The Crystals and The Drifters. Benson’s version is found on his 1978 album Weekend in L.A.
Courtesy: Youtube

Sunday, June 24, 2018

John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (1965)

“During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music. I feel this has been granted through His grace. ALL PRAISE TO GOD.”
John Coltrane, liner notes, A Love Supreme

John Coltrane [1926–1967]: A Love Supreme, released by Impulse! Records in January 1965.

The complete album was recorded in one session at Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, on December 9, 1964. The album is a suite of music that contains four parts: “Acknowledgement,” “Resolution,” “Pursuance,” and “Psalm.” The music is unashamedly devotional, with deep religious and spiritual roots, an aching search and a resolute and gracious acknowledgement of a Supreme Being and His Love.

Not your typical jazz album, no doubt, chiefly because the music is about personal transcendence, an honest declaration of spiritual awakening and of love, of reaching up, reaching out, letting go. It is about the integration of mind and heart, an integration that many of us seek. “Seek and you shall find.” The music touches our innermost being, our soul, bringing us to a place that finds Grace.

Less than three years later, Coltrane was no longer with us in a physical way, having been taken from this earthly scene when he was only 40. Nevertheless, he left us the legacy of his music and his spiritual inspiration, which lives on, as does the words to his declarative poem found [here]. It begins: I will do all I can to be worthy of Thee O Lord./ It all has to do with it./Thank you God. /Peace.

The Quartet
John Coltrane: bandleader, tenor & soprano saxophone
McCoy Tyner: piano
Jimmy Garrison: double bass
Elvin Jones: drums, timpani & gong

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Stan Getz Quartet & Chet Baker in Stockhom (1983)

Stan Getz Quartet & Chet Baker play cool jazz at the Södra Teatern (Southern Theatre) in Stockholm, Sweden, on February 18, 1983. The oldest theatre in Stockhom, it dates to the mid-1850s. For the set list, go [here].

The Quartet consists of Stan Getz (tenor saxophone) Jim McNeely (piano), George Mraz (double bass) and Victor Lewis (drums); and then there is Chet Baker, self-destructive but brilliant in his understanding and self-awareness. Technique is less important than artistry; robots can master technique.

The music is timeless, floating above all the despair, pain and sadness that has joined together with the hope, inspiration and happiness in an admixture of light and darkness. Such adumbrates our great societal unrest, our unease with the status quo and our real feelings of impending doom.

Such has become the narrative of modern life, all of it man-made, a messy construction of humanity’s best and worst inclinations, abilities and traits. Awareness is only the beginning in this journey. The door is open for a spiritual awakening, a personal transcendence, an acknowledgement of a Supreme Love.

Friday, June 22, 2018

John Coltrane: Alabama (1963)

John Coltrane, with McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison, performing “Alabama,” on Jazz Casual (National Educational Television; December 7, 1963). The track is found on the 1964 album, Live at Birdland.

This is a response in music to the four girls killed (murdered) at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, on Sunday, September 15, 1963. The four girls are Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Cynthia Wesley (age 14), Carole Robertson (age 14) and Carol Denise McNair (age 11); 14 others are injured, including Sarah Collins, the 12-year-old sister of Addie Mae Collins, who loses an eye in the bomb blast. 

A few days later, on September 18, 1963, Martin Luther, Jr. delivers an eulogy, a response in words to acts of hate and injustice. Words that rise to the occasion. Words that desire to console and give courage to the hearts of all men and women, regardless of the color of their skin. Such words, which likely inspire Coltrane’s soulful music above, are also well worth listening to today. One should never tire of correcting injustice, of working for justice, of turning evil into good.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Eulogy for the Young Victims, September 18, 1963. Dr King begins as follows: “This afternoon we gather in the quiet of this sanctuary to pay our last tribute of respect to these beautiful children of God.”
Courtesy: Youtube

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um (1959)

Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um (1959), which was recorded at the Columbia 30th Street Studio, NYC, in May 1959 and released in September 1959. This building was originally a church and transformed into a recording studio in 1949. How apropos! On a similar track, the album’s funky cover art is by Sadamitsu “S. Neil” Fujita, in matching the progressive sound of this music

The Musical Artists
Charles Mingus: composer, double bass Shafi Hadi: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone Horace Parlan: piano Dannie Richmond: drums Brooker Ervin: tenor saxophone Jimmy Knepper: trombone
Willie Dennis: trombone The Tracks Better Git It In Your Soul 0:00 Goodbye Pork Pie Hat 7:18 Boogie Stop Shuffle 12:59 Self-Portrait In Three Colors 17:56 Open Letter To Duke 21:02 Bird Calls 26:50 Fables Of Faubus 33:04 Pussy Cat Dues 41:15 Jelly Roll 50:25

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

1959: The Year That Changed Jazz (2009)

1959: The Year That Changed Jazz, a BBC documentary directed by Paul Bernays, first broadcast in 2009. The British broadcaster writes about that year, 1959: “Four major jazz albums were made, each a high watermark for the artists and a powerful reflection of the times. Each opened up dramatic new possibilities for jazz which continue to be felt: Miles Davis, Kind of Blue; Dave Brubeck, Time Out; Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um; and Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come.” If art reflects the zeitgeist of a period in time, and music is its accessible language, then this musical documentary will help you understand such times as these, which led to the 1960s and the civil rights era with all of its attendant hopes, dreams, aspirations and opportunities for a better life for all of America’s residents. Such changes were not quietly planned in a dark corner of an oak-paneled private club, but were brought about in the light of day, in the light of justice, in the light of undeniable truth through street protests, through the courts and through the legislatures. Such is the way it is; change never comes easy. It takes a multitude of men and women of conscience acting on their conscience.
Courtesy: Youtube

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Everybody Wants to Be a Cat: The Aristocats (1970)

“Everybody Wants to Be a Cat” in a wonderful musical scene from the 1970 Disney animated film, The Aristocats, based on a story by Tom McGowan and Tom Rowe. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, this song was written and composed by Floyd Huddleston and Al Rinker. The story, set in Paris in 1910, is an old story about money, greed and inheritance and, of course, there is the music and the artistic beauty of 2D animation, which likely appeals to the same type of persons who enjoy vinyl LPs, 35mm film cameras and genuine wood floors (not plastic laminates, if you please) along with Moleskin notebooks, mechanical pencils, and fountain pens. Hep Cats. Cool Cats. Aristo Cats. House Cats. As for the song’s title, is it not true? Everybody wants to be a cat/Because a cat’s the only cat who knows where it’s at/Tell me, everybody’s pickin’ up on that feline beat/'Cause everything else is obsolete.
Courtesy: Youtube

Monday, June 18, 2018

Miles Davis Quintet: Teatro dell’Arte in Milan (1964)

 with Cool Jazz

Miles Davis Quintet at the Teatro dell’Arte in Milan, Italy on Sunday October 11, 1964, playing some cool jazz, the kind that you can and desire to listen to on a hot rainy day with your favorite cold drink nearby (Mine happens to be sparkling mineral water). The quality of the sound might not be to everyone’s liking, but this is from 50+ years ago; no doubt, it is hard to please everyone, and there is such a thing as musical taste and personal preference. As for me, with a cool drink in my hand, I am going to sit back and listen to some jazz history.
Courtesy: Youtube

The Quintet
Trumpet: Miles Davis
Saxophone: Wayne Shorter Piano: Herbie Hancock Bass: Ron Carter Drums: Tony Williams

The Playlist
Autumn Leaves 0:43 My Funny Valentine 14:34 All Blues 26:22 All of You 40:03 Joshua 50:41

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Visiting Edwards Gardens (2018)

Urban Garden

We visited Edwards Gardens a couple of weeks ago. Year after year, it looks the same, but this is a good consistency, a welcome one, a consistency of natural beauty which I can appreciate. Some of the many photos I have taken are below:

All Photos: ©2018. Perry J. Greenbaum

Saturday, June 16, 2018

John Coltrane, Stan Getz and Oscar Peterson: Hackensack (1960)

Hackensack, played by the Miles Davis Quintet in Düsseldorf, West Germany, on March 28, 1960.
Courtesy: Youtube

This was a night that Miles Davis himself decided to take a break. The music was originally written by Thelonious Monk and first recorded by the Thelonious Monk Quintet (May 11, 1954), which itself was an adaptation of a song, “Rifftide,” first recorded by the Coleman Hawkins Orchestra (Los Angeles; February 23, 1945). Hackensack is a tribute song to Rudy Van Gelder, whose recording studio was located in this New Jersey city of 43,000, situated 19 km (12 miles) northwest of Midtown Manhattan.

The Miles Davis Quintet:
Tenor Saxophone: John Coltrane;
Tenor Saxophone: Stan Getz;
Piano: Oscar Peterson;
Bass: Paul Chambers; and
Drums: Jimmy Cobb

Friday, June 15, 2018

Oscar Peterson: Hymn To Freedom (1964)

Hymn To Freedom performed by the Oscar Peterson Trio at the Holbaek Jazz Club in Holbaek, Denmark, on May 2, 1964.

Oscar Peterson composed the music in 1962; it is the last track on the 1963 album, Night Train. The song, based on the Negro Spirituals he heard in the Baptist Church while growing up in Montreal’s Little Burgandy neighbourhood, is as beautifully arranged and played as it is timeless and true. Freedom begins in the mind and in the heart and works its way outward in human action. Freedom is an expression of human dignity. Freedom, while always important, takes on more significance when it is denied.

The Trio
Oscar Peterson on Piano Ray Brown on Bass Ed Thigpen on Drums

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ken Burns: Jazz (2001)

Music in America

“Put it this way: Jazz is a good barometer of freedom… In its beginnings, the United States of America spawned certain ideals of freedom and independence through which, eventually, jazz was evolved, and the music is so free that many people say it is the only unhampered, unhindered expression of complete freedom yet produced in this country.”
Duke Ellington [1899–1974]

Jazz, a documentary mini-series (10 parts, each two hours long), directed by Ken Burns and narrated by Keith David, was first broadcast on PBS-TV in 2001 (January 8 to January 31, 2001). This is a clip from Part 1. The series chronicles the history of Jazz in the United States, beginning in 1917. While Jazz might have had outside influences, it is considered quintessential American music, since the social and economic conditions that shaped the lives of its major artists gave rise to the music known as American Jazz. At its core is freedom to be. Of the many prejudices that society holds and normalizes, prejudice against the poor is universal, a stigma of disapproval, a condemnation of “human failure,” which in the end becomes a condemnation of the person. Period. Being Poor  (“Born Poor, Staying Poor”) has long been viewed in America (and also, but to a somewhat lesser extent, in Canada) as a Moral Failing. So in comes Jazz, the soothing balm for the common people, for the individuals ignored, set aside, shut out and shut in. Jazz is not elitist, even though it has become so in some circles, which, quite tellingly, is the direct opposite of Jazz’s early and humble beginnings—its roots, so to speak. No doubt, such is something worth remembering.
Courtesy: Youtube