“Softly as in a Morning Sunrise” is one of my most recent favorite Jazz standards. Here I have taken pieces from five separate versions and put them together. This is a nice way to see how different musicians approach and interpret the piece differently. Each version coincides with the photo from the album from which the version comes, as listed here:
I have taken the metro to work everyday this week which is not always a pretty site (but that’s for another post). One thing that gets me through the one hour ride (with three changes) is listening to music on my iPod Shuffle (courtesy of FON). This morning I was listening to one of the four versions of “India” from John Coltrane’sThe Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings. What an amazing work of intensity, not only from the three other members of Coltrane’s Quartet (McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones), but also from Eric Dolphy. Coltrane on soprano sax and Dolphy on bass clarinet both really push the limits. It takes a while to start appreciating music this intense, but once you do, there really is no going back.
Both Coltrane and Dolphy died way before their time, Coltrane of cancer and Dolphy of a diabetic coma. I know that the video isn’t too exciting, but I wanted to share this music. Most of the images are of Coltrane and Dolphy, but there are also some of Tyner, Garrison and Jones.
If you speak and or read French, here is a really interesting new blog, GREGaM – Groupe de recherche et d’études sur le genre au Maroc. I don’t read or speak French, so you’re just going to have to trust me. One of its creators is a friend of mine. Well, actually I don’t know her that well, but she a friend’s girlfriend and is a very smart and fascinating academic. Check it out!
Last night I finished In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul, the 2001 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. I had previously read A House for Mr. Biswas and A Bend in the River. In a Free State is really three novellas dealing with individuals who have all left their homelands in search of some form of freedom (all for various different reasons) and have eventually found themselves even further lost than before. Continue reading →
In Paris on Sunday, I was having a late lunch in a restaurant and was reminded of something I had noticed in Ibiza on my way to Formentera last year, life is better when you speak fewer languages:
At the port, I also learned another interesting piece of information about myself: I am perfectly happy to only speak English and Spanish. What I love is the sound of language. It is great to be able to listen to language and not understand the words. That way you can project any meaning onto the words that you choose or simply enjoy the words as if they were the sounds coming from musical instruments. What is worst of all is when you actually understand what is being said and are forced to follow someone else’s conversation. You learn that people have the most irrelevant, mundane, and even offensively simple-minded verbal exchanges. It is analogous to having someone fart on the elevator. They are sharing their innermost bodily stink with you, the doors are shut, and there is no where to go for fresh air. So, I sat and listened, mainly to Mallorquín being spoken, and loved every minute of it.
And when the person sitting next to you is from your own country and you overhear his conversation, especially when he is saying repeated, “I’m going to be totally honest with you,” you really want to puke! We often think of “prejudice” as a negative thing, but it is also an important defense mechanism that allows us to make split second decisions about how to react to certain stimuli. In other words, “prejudice” (and I am not talking about “racial prejudice” but the ability to make pre-determinations) keeps us from dealing with such incredible merde. Continue reading →
Sorry for going back to my poor quality, low-artisian videos, but sometimes I just can’t resist. Here is “Isn’t It a Lovely Day” by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald (which I have referenced before) to the view of Pont Neuf in Paris, first as the day is only gray and then as it turns to rain. Having known it was going to rain, I was all prepared for the view and for the song.
This afternoon I set out for Barajas Airport in Madrid at 5:00pm for a 6:40pm flight to Paris. As always, I got into a very nice conversation with the taxi driver. Of course, the tax driver missed the Terminal 4 exit because we were chatting, and we got lost trying to weave our way back to right terminal. Luckily, I still made it to my gate on time.
After last Sunday night’s Barcelona to Madrid fiasco, where my flight landed in Madrid at 2:15am instead of 9:30pm due to an electrical storm, I spent all week checking Paris’ weather to make sure I didn’t have to repeat the same ordeal. Unfortunately, the forecasts all predicted storms for Friday night. And guess what? Continue reading →
Shifting gears away from polemics and back to the more boring subject of Jazz, here is a video of Chet Baker singing one of my favorite Jazz standards, “Time After Time“, not to be confused with another one of my favorite songs, “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper. As a matter of fact, I have an unpublished (of course) short story of the same name that references both songs of the same name.