Friday, August 30, 2013

If it’s Good – It’s Always Good!

I was thinking about how much nothing is played on radio. Mr. Fix-it is upstairs painting our bedroom and Kris adjusted radio to country for him and the house is sweltering in cowboy whines and cringe worthy lyrics.

We have all worked on projects we believe deserved more than a passing hearing that come with exceptional performances. But like so much in life – fair is elusive and reserved for those who can afford paying for it.

I was reading a post about Linda Ronstadt earlier and the fact she’s battling Parkinson and barely staying afloat. The royalty checks for singers who never wrote their own hits are a far cry from the preserved income of composers and writers.

My road conversations with Martha Reeves constantly returned to the ten number one hits and the $250 pay day. She didn’t write either. Martha is in fine health and can tour – sign autographs, photos whatever and fill her purse with decent returns.

Those far from the bump and grind shows that now masquerade as rock and pop have a difficult time battling for attention or point of entry.

I must admit – living on the fringe of the music business has its advantages. Humility is not something you come by late in life – it’s an overcoat you wear every day and all winter.

We have been thrown unmercifully into the unknown and left with a host of new tools - I for one embrace.

There are projects I’ve produced that stick to the ribs and cause me considerable angst. One such – Kinga - It’s Magic.

You’re in the studio and the atmosphere is just right – the player’s top notch and the artist – super. The tracks come out far better than anticipated. You finish, master and drop in mail and nothing.

You play for friends and they respond as friends then project evaporates into the distant realms.

So, I thought deeply about this and my pal Kinga – who I thought was as good as anything coming along the jazz highway and decided to take another route and post on YouTube. Bingo – Kinga has found an audience and those tracks that sat cramped on a CD have life for the first time - which brings me to this observation. The biggies may have had their moment in the sun but as time passes we all play on the same ground. Music is made these days to be disposable and refilled the next day. If the music is good on the downbeat it will always be good and someone will eventually discover.

Congrats Kinga… the fun is in the doing!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

We Own A Blender!

There are things you buy in a lifetime that serve purpose or disappear from sight. There are a few that observe you in plain view you rarely see – thus me and the discovery of our gorgeous Braun blender.

I can’t say how many years the Braun has hibernated in the corner of the kitchen counter without recognition from me until two days ago.

 My early twenties I became a blender addict. There wasn’t a thing I wouldn’t stuff down it’s throat then marvel at the churn and grind and final soup.

I was way ahead of the smoothie curve. If it was fruit, I filled the jar - churn and consume. I then moved on to vegetables. I stopped after a while when I couldn’t get the reds stand out over the greens - and that taste. The fridge was packed with my concoctions.

The best was the papaya vomit. I had a few other health freak pals who would  sample whatever was in our fridge. Living on organic Gothic Avenue, brown rice saluting wheat fields was on our community flag. So, a few potential victims would drop in here and there and I’d pull something exotic from fridge and we’d bust open.

I had a few pals who looked curiously at the papaya lava and asked to try. Honestly, I couldn’t lift my snozz above; it was totally repugnant. It was also unanimous – necks would spin, that gagging serenades and then the up chuck. For me – just another moment of BK comedy.

Come along son Jesse.

Kris and I wanted our baby eat the best - most healthy food possible – thus home doctor blended action. I made up these health stews with all good earth products. The carrots, peas, corn, … all melted down to gravy for the bottle.

Jesse downed the orange and strawberry stuff but had no means of defending against the carrots and squash smoothies.

A few weeks go by and Kris says; “Doesn’t Jesse look a bit orange.” I take a closer look and realize it’s not Man Tan. So we run him to the family doctor who then tells us Jesse has had a dozen or so to many carrots and may one day morph into a stalking vegetable. We stopped.

From my early days in Hollywood – the blender and smoothy were my tool and fuel to play seven days a week basketball and piano.

During my latter years it was raw fruits until the past year when Starbucks moved into the neighborhood. Now, it’s hot chocolate and muffin. So wrong!

Three days back I had an epiphany – bring back the smoothy. I ask Kris whatever happened to our old blender – the one that sounded like a John Deere tractor. She tells me that one died back in the early nineties and there’s a nice one on the kitchen counter. I have such a man’s keen eye – that means I only see what I  choose to see and if not identified – I’m totally blind. There before resides a gorgeous five speed Braun that’s been eluding me the past six years. I stood and quizzed the me- WTF?- where have you been old friend.

I can’t express my excitement. Off to Fiesta Farms and back with strawberries, oranges, yogurt, bananas, peaches, blueberries and into blender bowl. Churn, churn, churn, churn. Pop the lid, down the hatch and welcome back the seventies. Dammit, it still tastes the same; all slimy and loaded with fruit gravel. Hmmmm .. what about an onion, garlic, red pepper and pumpkin chaser or maybe a Cronut burger/ fried Mars bar smoothie.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Oh Canada, thou are not Syria.

The rain washed away the dry and parched bestowing this morning freshness not witnessed in many areas of the world. Opposite side of the planet, war ravaged Syria is saturated in fractured rubble, toxic dust - the scent of death and the pristine morning and calm we share is only a distant dream.

We get the glorious privilege of waking from sleep to walk into the kitchen, plug in the tea kettle, let the dogs out and collect the morning paper absent an artillery shell or savage attack.

I look at that region of the world wound so tight in grievances and religion and hatred and wonder how they ever came about. How did great societies emerge from such dissonance?

There was a time people viewed Canada as remote and flyover – not anymore!

We have serious economic and equality issues but none that can’t be solved through dialogue, cooperation and fairness – things for us that are not impossible tasks.

No so far side of the world.

This final week of August leading to Labor Day is most likely the most laid back of the year. Most everyone turns invisible except for us Facebook squawkers. There’s a quiet about life – even traffic pretends to be subdued. The week ahead is idyllic for cottage living and just doing nothing.

The hard rains of June and July irrigated backyard gardens and everyone is delighting in the size and weight of their organic conceptions. The markets are colored ripe from end to end.

Today, I will once again tour the streets on my bike – look at the rows of houses, front yards covered in green, hear the summer’s end laughter of children who have not yet concerned themselves about returning to school and smile a smile of true individual freedom.

I will also mourn those places in the world where even a word spoken out of place can lead to sudden death and know we have chosen wisely. The months and years to come thousands and thousands will follow in our footsteps.

Oh Canada!

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Disconnect Between Hollywood and Music..

I get the Bob Lefsetz letter and read it like most industry folks and enjoy the whining and pining and the serious advice concerning really making it in music; mostly in Bob’s world.

Last night’s VMA awards pretty much summed up what’s to be achieved in the cartoon setting now referred to as the height of music accomplishment in Hollywood.

Gone are the Phil Spectors, Brian Wilsons, the Byrds .. enter the dancing zoo clowns.

The Miley Cyrus performance with bears and WTF was more evidence the best place to be is a far distance and just enjoy music for what it truly is – a communal conversation. Why would anyone subject themselves to such humiliating
stage play?

Rhianna, Selena Gomez, Nikki Minaj – hilarious! The guys – not funny enough.

Honestly, two minutes of scratchy blues man Robert Johnson smokes these musically illiterate shams.

The say all politics is local – same goes for music.

The three ring circus comes to town a few times a year – you drop a few coins – watch the dancing bare all – laugh, get dazzled by the glitter and strobes and back to the flat screen.

All other days it’s home grown. The bands you know, the players you trust. No big shine or ass in face just folks doing what they’ve been doing since instruments were shaped – playing and picking, talking music. The fun stuff!

Cyrus act has nothing to do with child fantasy vs. adulthood. Young Elvis was marketed by a shrewd manipulator but he had big talent and staying power. Cyrus is just trying to get seen and compete with others in the same messy territory. She will die a quick populous death like Millie Vanilli. Nothing radical about what she did - it's been around decades as they remind us in dancehalls of Jamaica. It's just that Cyrus has no rhythm or charm or skill to pull it off. If she did - she wouldn't be the big laugh today.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Let Them Smoke Pot..

It’s pretty obvious Trudeau is mining for young votes an untapped source and getting ahead of a mouthy cohort who had just publicly mentioned weed being slung around over dinner.

It truly is about time we legalize and savor the profits from the forbidden plant. Sucking families dry through gambling to me seems downright evil yet governments rely heavily on the faith of the weak and underpaid to fill the coffers.

People smoke everywhere – who hasn’t. Hardly a day passes when I don’t recognize the sweet pungent smell of herb – it’s in and around. In fact, I see more people smoking freely on main streets.

I miss lighting up in cinemas. Oh, the follies of youth!

We went to see a ‘Reefer Madness’ midnight showing in the early seventies and the whole room was passing joints - talk about side splitting laughter.

Still the best was the afternoon premier of Woody Allen’s ‘Sleeper’ at the demolished Uptown Cinema.

My buddy Kenny and I rolled a couple, centered ourselves and lit up having no idea what the film was about other than we laughed our asses off watching, “Take the Money and Run.”

There were possibly ten people in the room counting ushers. The next hour plus all you heard was two howling crazies rolling in the aisles.  Of course the weed was mixed with tobacco to camouflage. I don’t think it worked that well – we were warned a couple times.

Politicians are such slime ball wanks. They’ve mostly been to college and survived in frat houses where beer and pot are nutrient staples. They didn’t just causally smoke they death bonged. None of that pass the thin joint and share with friends – but that coma thing for which I’ve never understood. I’ve never been in that state of mind and avoided as much as entering a frat house. I preferred a pack of Twinkies and an empty couch.

Alcohol is much more potent and lethal. The numbers don’t lie. There are too many deaths to count from highway accidents and inebriated murderous spouses to lose this argument. Then there’s just the plain mean drunks.

I’ve never met an angry pot smoker unless they mixed the two.

Pills kill and ruin lives. We live in a medicine cabinet drug culture. I truly hate that shit. I avoid taking pain killers. It’s where the head goes. I live for a clear cold glass of spring water and brain in the same mint condition.

Millions have done time in jail; billions wasted trying to keep them there – lives and reputations destroyed over nothing. Legalize drugs, diminish the profits to be made and encourage counselling and treatment. The dollars to be made with pot could pave the way to a more economic sound future. Let people barter with each other and make a few extra dollars which will surface in our economy. The only reason we haven’t moved that direction is big corporate interests must be served first – and that’s figuring out a way of screwing the average Joe out of making a few dollars that would never flow from a government ordained source.

It’s always about who owns the oil, the resources now water – where the game is played.

Could come a time when all pot is birthed from Monsanto seeds thus the evil ways of seductive Mary Jane will all be forgiven.

Scratch my back – light my fire!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Why Can't Singers Remember Lyrics?

I was just looking at photographer Richard Conde’s photo of Natalie Cole at Newport 2013 and saw big lettering dripping from the music stand and thought about the number of times I’m on the bandstand and the singer has big scripted lyrics; bold-typed book - wide open.

When I photographed Tony Bennett a few years back at Montreal Jazz the stage was like an airport runway – nothing – empty – band set way back. Tony strolls end to end eyes glistening in the bright lights singing to perfection. Wow!
I know Barbara Streisand hid from stage 27 years fearing word block until giant teleprompters solved anxiety.

I get it – I can’t remember lyrics then again I’ve never considered myself a singer just a guy howling at the moon.

Phil Collins used to paper the stage end to end – Cher had teleprompters sporting lyrics large enough that could be witnessed from space.
Molly Johnson never goes without the “book of faith and moral support” - neither do most of the current crop of jazz singers I know.

For me the hands down best was Sophie Berkal-Sarbit. Sophie never forgot a word a song or ever in need of propping up. I’d say how about this song we did three years ago and she’d look back in deadpan expression “OK.”
I’m thinking OK what – you’re going to pause and search iPhone? No – just start playing.

I’d sit and think, Bill boy you can’t even remember a repeat line from a common blues and this young starlet stores volumes in her head.

I truly think memorizing lyrics is about clearing the head and concentrating. As I said, I find this to much for me – yet it’s never a stress issue. Some people have big memory and can look at a full page and retain. I look at a page and I see the binder clamps.

Lately, I’ve gotten really pissed at myself for relying on music and just listen and play along, over and over and find I retain so much easier.
Another practice is reading the lyrics by themselves and really getting a true understanding of what’s being expressed. Next, go slowly with words and notes to hear the match-up.
When I was fifteen I memorized Beethoven’s Sonata in Bb major – some twenty-eight pages – Clair De Lune and a Bach chorale for recital at the Louisville Academy of Music. I had six months preparation. I must say I’ve never been more terrified. About three pages into sonata all I could think about was screwing up. It never happened - my hands got angry with this brain and kept signaling – shut the fuck up.
From a photographer’s viewfinder music stands obscure singers and is so unprofessional. You don’t look like a singer – more like someone uncomfortable delivering a speech.
I have small lyric books programmed in order for performance. I rarely sing these days especially with profound talent like Gavin Hope, Stacey Kay and Selena Evangeline in the neighborhood, so those crutch tools are gathering basement lint.
Highly paid pop artists have giant word screens and voice tracks. You can’t compete with that. It’s all about the visuals.
Really bad bands can memorize and hop around like wounded turkeys and give a passable performance. Really super ones can sit with pages of notes and sing their bottoms off and leave the audience in a state of indifference. I wonder how much this affects the over-all quality and audience interest. Does that note book and music stand say to these folks you aren’t serious?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Darn that Dream..

Do you ever get the feeling you were birthed in a dream? You were created in someone’s imagination then popped in a server’s belly.

The action in dreams is much like watching summer movie fare – the absurd, the impossible – the unpredictable.

My favourite is one that lasted most of a night a few years back.

I floated around the ocean’s seaways on a carpet  fingers dangling a few inches below waterline. I wasn’t fearful just amused. The water was warm – the sky perfect. Nothing happened - other than an easy cruise; then I woke up.

These are the kinds of dreams you want to revisit and add a few scenes but never get the opportunity.

The other night I’m back on ocean this time dogging a rhino tusk. Why it was spear fishing in big water is beyond me.

Last night I’m in some upscale restaurant undergoing a downward transformation waiting to be served. As I bide time I notice the building aging and turning uninhabitable. Then two young boys out of a Dickens novel arrive to show me an exit route which leads between two worlds – one; the decaying building the other a fence covered in chicken wire. We begin climbing and escape – then I wake up.

When you are very young you fly above trees. Loved those nights – the only time I had a good look at the neighborhood and activity above treeline. Of course there was the gremlin living in the closet that looked right out of a Jules Verne novel.

Octopus are scary bedroom creatures. They slink around just after you doze off and eat all the toys and food crumbs.

My epic encounter reaches back forty years. I find myself on the plains in Australia and this giant object is running towards me. The closer it gets I can make out the figure of a rabbit. This is one big sucker – my size. It stops a few inches in front of me and stares back with runny eyes. We both inspect and ponder .. and try to make sense of each other. This goes on for hours. Sir rabbit says nothing only reflects my image back it me - it then turns and limps away. I had gone a long time absent dreaming and Mr. Rabbit brought the cure.

I have no idea what dreams mean other than possibly after our time on earth we return to dream state. We dream we were here once, had families, argued, loved, worked, traveled and exhausted ourselves and when the eternal dream returns we’ll rest, imagine and start again.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Am Not a Zoomer!

Every time I see a photo of someone considered a card carrying member of this new sect of aging limpoids, I cringe as if aching bodies are being stuffed and polished with unspecified Mosanto preservatives.

Who has teeth at sixty-five that look like those of baby otters?

Zoomers smile as if pain and dry skin are comforting. They ride bicycles through countryside waving at sunflowers and beavers – all with a big crisp grin and mother-nature handshake.

Let’s get the facts straight. If you are past sixty – you are zooming nowhere. You rarely bend down to pick up anything. Instead you ask the youngest person in the room pick up. If that doesn't work – you ignore.

You sleep a dozen positions at night. You rustle about just as back ache or unwanted numbness takes up residency then shift about for relief. You move like the real Jagger just after B12 shot wears off.

These magazine Zoomers take multiple vitamins with soil - only the finest from virgin forests where sweet nocturnal creatures stuff capsules.

You will likely pass a hundred and thirty because Zoomers repel death. If you are authentic zooming you are traveling in a smile bubble protected by  big pharmaceuticals. 

You are thin, finely crafted for your age, energetic, have tickets to every film festival showing, opera, fundraiser for typhus, Glee rehearsals, cross country treks, and AGO opening.You drive something that gets ninety-eight miles to a gallon, listen incessantly to Paul Anka hoping for a spiritual message and  you rarely doze without a sleep aide.

Other Zoomers worship you and look on with envy. They see your glow, the new expensive kayak on the front lawn and witness that get up and get going in you that never ceases until last rites.

Let’s face the facts – corporations are chasing us as fast as we can run. Nobody gets away. A rare few oldies have big money - good portion are sect members - Zoomers.

Boomers are diseased. Too many flirted with excess or worked jobs cooking with Agent Orange.

So if you want to hold on to your rebellious teens or contemptuous twenties then – buy some pot from street vendors and freak their asses out! Get back to your roots; brownies, baggies and quarter ounces. Is it still $40?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Kenny Robinson Made Me Write this..

It’s 1969, and I’m convalescing from an appendix operation in Thornhill, Ontario. Some good folks take Kris and I in through the Anti- Draft resisters organization. Nice suburban progressives. Kris cleaned house and I lay up in bed trying to ignore the freshly minted wound.

After three weeks word came they wanted us out. I had a feeling big house man suspected... me of lifting the red felts from the upright piano to fancy dress my scar. So it was decided I’d hit up the Musicians Association for help.

I didn’t know this was a private club – I’m only a few weeks this side the border and missed on the fond history.

Anyway, I think I’m in L.A. or Vegas where they had a quality gig floor. Good opportunities emerged. No such thing here.

I meet Trevor and girl bass player. Trevor was from Jamaica – girl bass player – Planet Admiration.

Trevor has a gig Рsomewhere near Trois-Rivi̬res, QC. It was $120 for the week. Two weeks on tap!

Suddenly, the brain is wheeling and dealing and looking ahead - imagining paying in advance for a new home room and food – keeping my baby in the finer things of early immigrant life. Possibly..

We rehearse – Trevor drums – girl wonder bass – I still have no idea why she held a bass other than it felt like a wood purse.

This was a very sweet nice couple. Trevor knew all those old Jamaica classics and a few O.C. Smith for croon power.

The trip was a harrowing experience. It snowed the entire way. I was in massive discomfort but willing to suffer the week for my baby.

We arrive and find the club to be a hunters/log man jamboree. A ki yi yippie villa. Bring on the hooch!

We set up and check in rooms.

I bust open my door and before me - a spring coil cot, painting of a sparrow or two dangling from a hunter’s hand and window facing the river. This was a place where wolves sang sweet melodies to sunrise and scared the shit out of newcomers by staring up at their windows.

We hit stage with a vengeance. Busting a groove only a sophomoric polka band could compete.

The patrons looked on like they were watching Satan’s new Vegas act.
Not a word until we hear, “ Green Green Grass of Home.”

We hit like pros. Next.. “Johnny Cash!”
We played “Green, Green Grass of Home,” again.
“Hey, we already heard that – play that “Green Apple!“ song.
I’m thinking – maybe a set of all things green.
They hated us.
Break time – to the piss can!

I’m standing there having a relief and this guy tells me to get out – he has some business.

I leave and “Bang” – a gun goes off. He shoots the fucking urinal.
“That’s what you get for fucking with Bobby Snoggs.”

Gun man comes over looking for my sympathetic ear. “That bastard threw me out last night – says I had to much to drink. I’ll decide that.”
About then five guys in red wool come over and tell him to leave me alone and down a tub of beer.

We make it through night – I call Kris and weep. Wolves ate, howled and cavorted then choired.

Morning comes - time to meet the boss who had been away.
“Hey bossman, I’m Bill “
“Get your things and get the fuck out of here.”
“What’s that black guy doing holed up with that white woman in my room.”

I’m thinking from the looks of the women night before – a fine babe in this hole was one with a known record for mass killings – marrying material. Silent sexy!

“Get your friends and get out of my sight now.”
“But sir, there is the issue of pay. You see we are all card carrying union members and the law says we get two weeks pay.”

This is when he snorted a large blood bugger – one that popped loose dangled for a moment then hand checked.

“Get the fuck out of here now.”

Trevor and girl bass, trembled. I’m still back at army post Ft.Campbell, KY and a week’s worth of ‘nam training.

“Sir, we ain’t leaving here without being paid.”
Man, did I put the fear in him.
“O.K. – here’s a twenty for you, and a twenty for them! “
“Whoa, it’s two musician’s sir – they should be paid accordingly.”
“You telling me she can actually play that bass? From what I hear she’s just a snack for the black.”
“Get the hell out of here now … I don’t want to see you, talk to you or know you.”
Trevor intercedes. “Leave it – let’s go.”

I remind him I have the union standing a province of way – and they are mean pricks who know how to inflict pain on their members.

We did as Trevor suggested and drove all the way back with forty dollars which covered some gas and faced ten hours or so of a blinding avalanche chasing behind.

Was that the worse gig of my life?
Hell, I don’t know ..

Musicians without Thugs!

To be honest – I don’t know any and have spent my entire life sidestepping unlike Mayor R. Bruce Ford who grew up dining near a den of thugs.

Brother Wayne and I ran the morning and afternoon gauntlet through the back alleys of Jeffersonville, Indiana dodging potential beatings to school and back. The 50’s ducktails were out in force much less complicated than the drug monkeys of present day urban wasteland.

You’d be hard pressed to find a clarinet player embraced by meat men and their roving bands of whip ass.

Fortunately, last day of high school ended forced confinement with thuggish boys.
I truly wouldn’t be comfortable in that setting these days.

I remember being in Montreal a few years back at a Roots concert and there were two dudes near front stage muscling into my photo space. Normally, I would just hold ground and ignore but there was a vibe about them that said they owned all the real estate within scanning and walking distance.
I studied and watched their body language and kept a fair distance and so did most in the building. It was if all hell could break loose near front stage or on the way out. Thug radar!

After reading the Toronto Star’s crack reporter Rosie Dimano’s rant about the Fords this morning I wondered why grown privileged men would continue to shelter themselves with such language challenged short fuse hombres. Are they living a reality show - Thug Idol?
You can smell violence the moment it enters the room. It’s like someones wearing a strand of death garlic.

I sensed a few months ago coming back from the Toronto Zoo and busing through Scarborough when some young punks invaded the bus. Not a fun bunch – these were real deal damage lads.
There is an odor a musician can detect. We’ve played the mean clubs – hung with Hells Angels – had happy thug hugs from beer swilling losers. You don’t forget.

So, as I’m writing this I wonder why a sitting mayor of a major city keeps friends like this so close. It would truly creep me out and make my pack of fifty year old Rico reeds quiver. Oh clarinet, oh clarinet – thy weapon of choice..

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Why Is Jazz losing its appeal?

I’ve been reading plenty columns on the topic recently and the upside is negligible - this coming from a devout disciple and lover.

There have been many reasons and suggestions but I still believe the loss of so many marquee musicians who defined the music that also played with great style and who were easily identifiable is the major reason. Technology has played a part but if there were demand it would only enhance.

From this vantage I think the world has moved on. There is so much to like and escape to, being held hostage in a museum is not the place to be.
Great music is birthed on the streets not the classroom. The experience has to be raw and uncomplicated.

Players often wonder why those with less polish and ambition get over – well maybe there’s something beyond the ability to speed run through a bushel of scales and modes. Maybe it’s heart!
I can spin thirty seconds of folk singer Ralph Stanley weep his way through an Appalachian verse and feel more life than a hundred sax solos sprinting at a blinding speed.
I think the same goes for contemporary radio and the current pop coldness. It’s swallowed like chocolate mousse then quickly spoils in the stomach.

There was a time music made me cry. Rarely, do I get a buzz listening to the current crop of jazz musicians. There are plenty great players but a rare few who break skin and penetrate the soul.
I put on some gospel music the other day – big populated choir and the room lit up like the heavens had shined on me. The sensation overwhelmed. My whole body was embraced, coated and electrified by the experience. I closed my eyes and tears flowed. I raised my arms as emotion demanded. I could touch the unseen current as it circled my body.

I’ve done that so many times with Dinah Washington, Keith Jarrett, Aretha, Otis, and so many greats I thought the sensation was lost on me.

We've lost the privilege of  anticipating.

Read a review in Downbeat in 1958 about a young Bill Evans and it would take weeks to find the recording. The hours in between played with imagination. The day it arrived and satisfied the earth shook. Cannonball in New York .. heard through rumor then one day there it is screaming at me in a vinyl bin right next to Porter Wagner. Took the prize home and played until grooves left roasted oil on the turntable. Now we can sample within minutes and move on without feeling or  hearing something in it's entirety.

Until a new crop of players come along and can stick those big sounds and melodies deep in people’s hearts, jazz will be a genre sobered and confined by advanced math far from those who played from the bottom of their feet and out. You got to feel the love!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Junk and a Knife

I wrote that thinking - marquee – now playing; starring Sylvester Stallone and Jim Bowie the summer movie you’ve all been waiting for; squirrely sex, robust action, drama, fear and a blazing round of man fire. Now playing at Cinema X1000.

Men are crazy – I mean bat crazy!

Streetcar Sammy pulls his turnip into full view walks it around while holding a knife. I’m guessing in Sammy’s mind he’s pleasuring young women on hostage car. Now, how did Sammy get in this frame of mind? Who knows! Men have a thing for weirdness and marching their trouser turnip in public may be an expression of a most inner battle – the right to weirdly showcase ' junk' in public!

I’m thinking a night at the opera. “Tal, I want you to meet my wife Louise and what is that lovely fellers name you’re holding in your left hand.

Marvin! He goes wherever I go – I dressed him for the occasion.”

Up and down aisles men introduce wives and neighbors and acknowledge the turnip. “Sid, did you say that’s, “One-eye Fred?” Strange name, but I know an optometrist who sells monocles.

Here’s a thought – what if the turnip had teeth and a voice?
Men would have to wear a muzzle in their pants and ear plugs.

We all know the turnip came popping out a stomach much the same as that unforgettable scene in the original Alien looking as gangly and if allowed to fully grow would in all doubt be as frothy and unattractive.

 So what is it that gets men so hopped up they will parade up and down a streetcar or sex text such a lovely image of their – junk?


Booty! - the overwhelming long distance embarrassing track meet; the hunt for the elusive smiling booty. Men talk about it as if it is a creature that attaches itself to a body and dines exclusively on turnips.

I’m still perplexed by Anthony Weiner. I can understand the not so forgiving head birthed a top his shoulders and the daily chore of grooming to ripen fig. Not a pretty sight yet that head brained him power, a beautiful women, family, big name.

For Weiner, hidden below, head number two which I guess by now has moved upward; mesmerized his hands. The guy couldn’t remove. In fact, he texted pretty women for help and proceeded to strangle the meat puppet - often times five times a day – grunting and wheezing his way through torment and self- flagellation. Five times a day? Wow! That means at least ten hours of top soil pleasuring with a bit of time resuscitating his near dead snake.

I truly don’t know where the word junk comes from in association with the turnip other than one must have stumbled on  while some dude was cleaning a garage and was mistaken for trouser refuse.

Anyway, it’s Monday morning and I thought you earned a good laugh .. and it’s a holiday! Righteous!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

You Were So Nice Today!

I jumped on the bike at eleven this morning – the plan – test the new Panasonic GH3 for video and stills.

I thought; Kensington Market, City Hall and Dundas Square - anything beyond a bonus.
Kensington Market was humming at 11:15 – always rich with humanity and vitality. I set the tripod on a corner and just toyed with settings all the while aware there was much good life going on with folks in a genuine good mood.

Caribbean Carnival is always an exhausting triumph one built on enthusiasm and endurance. The market was well received with American and island tourist – at least the ones who climbed in bed at a reasonable hour.
Americans have a distinctive tone and look that shines confident this side of the border. Black Americans have a sense of popular culture fashion more akin to BET and Beyonce than island jump up yet most appealing.

After catching a few images it was off to city hall.
City Hall was in set-up mode for Irie Festival. A strange event to mount with forty six years of Caribana hovering over the shoulder and from the look and feel the festival should move to a more suitable time of year. Big events like Caribbean Carnival are proven affairs that bring multi-millions to the city and attract a cult following. There’s no  way you can piggy back on the God Father and Mother and not come out with a broken nose.

I’m lining tripod and camera facing bronze sculptures when a greying man about my age wearing protective head gear inquires if I’m professional or tourist.
I fill in a few blanks and continue on.

The gentleman parks his bike by my coveted stone table and takes up residency. I sit down and strike up conversation. I love chatter – to me it’s a like a great jazz solo absent chord changes and harmony.
For some reason the guy wanted to talk about socialism and art. This is when I listen.

I hear him out – Stalin and Castro. Small C capitalist Big S socialist. I hear him sermonize all the ills of the world ending with saying he’s a feminist. OK. You got me with that. Then he says “ I have a problem with women adorn in skimpy clothing and those who cover head to toe.” I don’t! Time to move on! Friendly, but more than I’m willing to debate or contemplate.
Next up. Two island women ask me when is the Jamaican flag to be raised and what time prayer service. I have no idea but entertain. Then they ask why I have a camera.

I tell them I’m just out rehearsing when one says,” I thought you’d know all this stuff being out here and all.” She asks me, ‘where do you think I’m from – I say Curacao – end of conversation. They move on and I laugh.
A moment later a man and son approach with big camera in hand and ask I take their picture with water pool and old city hall background. I do. He then says he’s from Vietnam and asks have I ever been. I tell him I had the opportunity during time of war and declined. I then proceed to set up his Canon 60D to make it near impossible to screw up a picture.

We cross paths again and I ask to photograph him and son for my own collection. We shake hands, then shake hands again – then shake hands again. He then asks for a card and invites me come to Saigon and stay with his family. I have a real sensitive place for Vietnamese and the horror of war and am always astounded they carry no grudges for all the cruelty that was inflicted on them. This is when I believe there is a God!
On to Dundas Square.

I really like the hang at Dundas Square. The water pipes and children playing is an attraction by itself but today it was some sort of goofy promo event where the big win most times was a five dollar gift certificate to Pizza Pizza. Talk about a scene killer!
Next up the Rex Hotel. I knew my pal Glen Anderson and Excelsior Jazz Band play 12-3PM trad jazz. This always comes with a built in audience. The Rex can be fun for video and camera. People just went about their lives oblivious to my invasion. I truly enjoy. For me it’s camera power. I’m a crazed freak always challenging the learning curve. Don’t keep me in the dark or I’ll show up with flood lights!

So, I guess what I’m getting at with this long winded essay – I love people and on a day such as this – perfection – people were downright hospitable and big fun!
Kris always says – you’re Italian grandmother inhabits you – and she’s right. Good living – is surprise conversation, the unexpected and the electricity of life. Get out – get talking – get with it, get funning!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Cooking with Ramsey!

I’ll be upfront – I love cooking shows - in many ways they trump music. Rock stars are now fossils more suited to cryogenics than television.

I see two pans and layer the bottoms with olive oil and off I go. I know absolutely zilch about the fine art of cooking.

A year ago I decided to tackle the kitchen. I bought a dozen Mason jars on Spadina and filled them with herbs and spices. The act was exhilarating as if owning spices would deliver a five star meal.
I envy grill masters - meat and fish look like a Rembrandts - even in the hands novices.

I bought a few tools in Chinatown and loaded the spoon drawer and “what the hell is this drawer” with cheaper finer tools of the trade.
I’m hooked on Master Chef – I know, I know, Gordon Ramsey is a stomach churning jerk – but a more enlightened one than Simon Cowell. At least he knows food. Cowell and music were more attuned to a toasted cheese sandwich packed with squealing pig.

I’d hide in a meat locker if someone ‘word whipped’ my stir fry with the same gusto as Ramsey slays talent.
My Kris is such a fine cook. She plays the stove like a silk piano. I usually cook while she’s surfing her iPad.

I love food – the more exotic and remarkable the weaker my resistance.
Every week Ted Woloshyn and I meet the chefs, the cooks, the restaurant owners and sample fine cuisine. I’ve never asked for a recipe. Why would I? These folks have been at it a lifetime - me – the life of a water sprite.

I marvel at the presentations and conversations. In this world of supreme artists those that succeed are the most passionate, detailed, and persistent. Cooks like musicians never stop exploring, experimenting and revising. I absolutely love being around talent at this level. Let me be perfectly frank.. these folks are serious. Get out of the kitchen if you’re not committed or prepared to spend sixteen hour days.
Over the past two and half years we’ve no doubt sampled two hundred plus restaurants and met that many chefs. You don’t get into the business unless you know your craft and are half-crazed and determine to get your flavors in the mouths of the public.

Watching Master Chef is a challenge. I have no idea what’s going on other than I want to be fourth in line to taste. If I were asked to make sushi I would simply suggest to one of the masters on the show try EDO – then hide in a fruit basket.
I have truly learned volumes about cooking hanging with Ted. I have no clue how to recreate but I do know the difference.

Don’t get Kris and I debating pizza in Toronto. We have been around and sampled the best and no matter what the experts say we adore Terroni and Mecurio. Pizza is a blazon emblem of pride in TO. You either got it or you don’t!
Back to tonight’s meal. I made a decent stir fry dish – we ate and I escaped with my limited pride in tact until Kris said – “anyone can make a stir fry – few screw it up.” Time for a Three Musketeers!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

To Love and Be Loved..

You see her or him and suddenly the whole of you convulses – weakens and responds as if medicated with a heavy dose of morphine. You can only hope the encroaching desire and numbness never dissipates and amplifies imagination.

To love at any age is the greatest gift accorded earthlings. To love young is perhaps the most powerful overwhelming sensation we’ll ever experience in a lifetime.
I was thinking about this while reading about the young man boarding a streetcar to meet his girlfriend who got caught up with the teenager killed in the streetcar massacre.

Thousands of times night after night young people make plans to be together to share a late night meal, drink, conversation – hang with friends or private moment. You could package everyone one of these encounters and light the earth ten times over.

We are wired to love. Those that are denied the riches retaliate.
Men will destroy the person they desire and love the most just to hold on to that sensation. They will throw futures away in order to cling to that first – second and third breathtaking encounter.

She sat across from me and I could only think of her – the smile, the words that seemed to flow easily, her skin, that aura that seemed to preserve her in such a way no implement of doom could every penetrate and steal away.
We’ve all for the most part been there and remain tethered to that moment.

We marry, have children, sit side by side and continue to embrace until the door slams shut.
I look across the table and I see eighteen – her sleek frame, golden skin, sun cooked hair and hear that voice that has changed little over the decades and I replay the moment in all its petrifying newness – the awkwardness  - the jolt that staggered my soul and rewired and keep on smiling!