Top 50 JAzz Blog

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Jazz Snacks


Jazz fanatics are particularly egregious eaters-too busy listening to pay much attention to food. I believe this array of sweet treats will satisfy even the most ludicrously undeveloped jazz palates.

Jack the Gummy Bear
Junior Cook Mints
Chick Webb-lets
Almond Joy Spring
Twix Beiderbecke
Pete Jolly Ranchers
Tootie Heath Bars
James Reese Europe Cups
Bit-O-Honey-In-The-Horn
Bentyne Chewing Gum
Charleston Chew Chasers
Baby Dodds Ruth
Wee Dots
Good and Plenty o' Nuthin'
Eddie Lock-Jaw Breakers
Milk Dud Bascombs
Jeepers Creepers Where'd You Get Those Peeps
Pez Prados

So, spin your wax of Bill Evans' Waltz for Little Debby and Stan Getz's Hershey Bar and wash it all down with a bottle of Chateau Neuf de Pops-bell shaped tones with a poetic nose and a hint of okra. Next day, don't forget your dose of Swiss Kriss.


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Covid-19 April Fool’s Prep Kit



Five Great Bagpipe Songs to Play On Your Balcony For Your Neighbors



Hand-knitted fingerless mittens



Zorro Protective Mask




Mao Tse Tung Substitute Toilet Paper (“Don’t squeeze the Chairman”)





Social Distancing Enforcement Device





TV Snacks for the Sports-Deprived



Covid-19 Testing Kit (unlimited supply)




And, an Exemption for Dr. Anthony Fauci:

No more surprises on April Fools Day.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Great Pre-1930 Jazz Tunes

I solicited the favorite pre-1930 songs of the Hot Jazz Records (1917-1931) Facebook group and this is what that knowledgeable group of folks came up with. It represents an enormous variety of music, ranging from "dance" to "blues" to "hot."

People will know some of the names in the list, but I'm sure many more individuals and bands will be unfamiliar. Do yourselves a favor and check out what these musicians have to offer. All of the songs on the list are available online. They are in no particular order.


1.     Oreste's Queensland Orchestra-When The Morning Glories Wake Up In The Morning
2.     Frenchie’s String Band-Red Hot Hottentot
3.     Fletcher Henderson-Whiteman Stomp
4.     Luis Russell: Jersey Lightning
5.     Duke Ellington: Jubilee Stomp (Victor)
6.     King Oliver: Canal St. Blues
7.     Louis Armstrong: Hotter Than That
8.     Irving Mills & His Modernists (w Jack Pettis) - At The Prom-
9.     Red Nichols: Feelin' No Pain (Brunswick)
10.  Nat Brusiloff and His Orchestra-Out of a Clear Blue Sky
11.  Powell's Jazz Monarchs -Chauffer's Shuffle
12.  Original Dixieland Jass Band: Margie
13.  New Orleans Rhythm Kings: Panama
14.  Jimmy Wade: Someday Sweetheart
15.  Red Allen: Swing Out
16.  Clarence Williams: Longshoreman's Blues
17.  Bix: In a Mist
18.  Frank Trumbauer: Ostrich Walk
19.  Walter Page: Squabblin'
20.  Cecil Scott: Springfield Stomp
21.  Joe Venuti/Eddie Lang: The Wild Dog
22.  Al Trent: The Nightmare
23.  Benny Moten: Goofy Dust (1924 Okeh)
24.  Jabbo Smith: Bandbox Stomp
25.  Charlie Johnson: Walk That Thing (take one or 2)
26.  Bessie Smith: Backwater Blues
27.  James P. Johnson: Snowy Morning Blues
28.  Fats: Ain't Misbehavin' (solo piano)
29.  Ted Lewis: Milenberg Joys
30.  Jelly Roll: Black Bottom Stomp 
31.  Jabbo Smith and his Rhythm Aces-Take Your Time
32.  Jack Purvis either Copy'n Louis or Mental Strain At Dawn
33.  Harlem River Quiver" Duke Ellington And His Orchestra
34.  The University Six -San
35.  Benny Goodman and his boys-Jungle Blues
36.  Miff Mole & His Little Molers-Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble
37.  Albert Wynn's Creole Jazz Band-Parkway Stomp
38. Fats Waller - Lookin' Good But Feelin' Bad
39.  Junie C. Cobb & his Grains Of Corn - Shake That Jelly Roll
40.  Fletcher Henderson - Pensacola
41.  Henry Red Allen - Singing Pretty Songs
42.  Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orch. - Rumba Negro
43.  Johnny Dunn, "Sergeant Dunn's Bugle Call Blues" and "Buffalo Blues"
45.  Paul Howard-Quality Shout
46.  Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five-Struttin' With Some Barbecue
47.  Bix Beiderbecke & His Gang -Sorry
48.  Original Memphis Five -Fireworks
49.  Jabbo Smith -Michigander Blues
50. Benny Goodman's Boys-Blue
51.  Roy Johnson's Happy Pals -Happy Pal Stomp
52.  Freddie Keppard's Jazz Cardinals-Stock Yards Strut
53.  McKinney's Cotton Pickers -I'll Make Fun For You
54.  Brownlee's Orchestra Of New Orleans -Peculiar
55.  Fate Marable's Society Syncopators -Frankie And Johnny
56.  Golden Gate Orchestra -After You've Gone
57.  Original Dixieland Jass Band-I Lost My Heart In Dixieland
58.  New Orleans Rhythm Kings-Barataria
59.  Mississippi Maulers -My Angeline
60.  Red Nichols & His Five Pennies -Alice Blue Gown
61.  Jack Purvis -Copyin' Louis
62.  Maynard Baird & His Orchestra -Postage Stomp
63.  Jelly Roll Morton-Burnin' The Iceberg
64.  Tiny Parham -Washboard Wiggles
65.  Danny Altier -My Gal Sal
66.  Paul Tremaine And His Aristocrats -Four Four Rhythm
67.  Cliff Jackson-Torrid rhythm
68.  Duke Ellington - Immigration Blues
69.  Cliff Jackson-Ring Around the Moon
70.  Blue Steele Orch.- Sugar Babe, I'm Leavin
71.  Perdido St. Blues- Johnny Dodds
72.  Tennessee Ten-Long Lost Mama-augmented version of the Original Memphis Five
73.  Charles A. Matson & his Creole Serenaders-Tain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do
74.  Charleston Chasers -My Gal Sal
75.  Lou Weimer's Gold and Black Aces, "Merry Widow's Got a Sweety Now
76.  McKinney's Cotton Pickers - Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble
77.  Jelly Roll Morton - Hyena Stomp
78.  Jimmie Lunceford and his Chickasaw Syncopators-In Dat' Mornin'
79.  King Oliver's Dixie Syncopators-Wa Wa Wa
80.  Louis Dumaine's Jazzola Eight - Franklin Street Blues









Monday, March 23, 2020

Beware Social Distancing Offenders: the Oblivi-Ometer is Here!







At last-a new weapon in the war against the spread of COVID-19: the Oblivi-Ometer! This vital invention is guaranteed to give accurate readings of any citizen’s self-delusion/ego-driven resistance to recognizing the threat of a pandemic. And to do something about it!



Some elements of design remain classified, but we can reveal that the system was built utilizing loading coils in parallel with reruns of Meet The Press to analyze the size of inauguration crowds. The Oblivio-Meter can now penetrate even the thickest skulls and if the meter shows obliviousness readings above a certain level, a shock from Central Headquarters can be delivered, knocking some sense into the subject’s stupid cranium.


Don’t you just wish?



Sunday, January 12, 2020

On Bird's 100th



everyone’s taking a crack at Bird turning 100, so I will:

pubescent ill-fitting jeans of too-early fatherhood.
Out the Shed, gonged by Jo, return to shed.

Dig the drug and start a life spent scoring.

Scares the rest of Hootie’s boys and ripples out.
Dishwashing with a mind full of ecstatic lines. Meets the mob with simultaneous dreams-Diz, Monk…

The dream, sweeping up any musical minds not solely locked into self-preservation. Swamped in the wake of this enormous destroying juggernaut.
The buzz is all and is music and is drugs and the magnetism pulls in the village.

Bastard kind man, generous thief. Appetite’s a ponderous load that crashes wildly down 52nd St., sideswiping and enrapturing.

Wasted bright genius of focus and nod; all things to some and often nothing but tracks and trax. Cracking open the doors. 

Satori and scab, locked in a fatal dance.

Still the purest deeply soiled magnetic field. Swept clean now. Burnished to notes.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Peaches En Regalia

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Frank Zappa's Hot Rats, here are my lyrics to "Peaches En Regalia" (every note).



ENSEMBLE 1

Too lifelike to destroy,
That fruit can bring you joy.

Let’s put those peaches en regalia;
March proudly with them,
Watch them walk down the street.

Please won’t you let them pass by safely;
Don’t spit on them and don’t eat their little feet.

On a melba float, you can gloat,
As you proudly cheer:
“Let the peaches vote,” they can quote,
Shakespeare, they’re sincere,

You won’t feel remote, if you note,
How they wave to you
Just as if you were the proudest parents who had raised them
Like they were your own small fruit-like children.

Teach them loyalty, wisdom, dignity;
Open a can, let your mind expand.


SOLO

Set them free, remember even fruit has dignity.
When they come tell them hello,
When they leave tell them goodbye and
Come again, next time please stay longer.

Beware of reincarnation, that fruit you eat may be family,
What if you have stuffed a great-aunt in a spongy cake,
Have a heart, what if she is suffocating
In gooey artificial topping.

They like to dress in nice clothes,
A small string tie and a leisure suit.
No sense resisting a clean, well-dressed fruit,
Panama hat and their snakeskin boots.

SYNTH

Zappa used lots of notes with harmony that changes keys,
Arpeggios and passing tones that rise and fall with accidentals,
Winding riffs a twisted rock zoo,
Wah-wah pedals run amok too.

ENSEMBLE 2

Hear them coming, closer and closer and closer and closer with
Peaches Leading the way;
Peaches happy and gay,
Why can’t we treat them decently and
Not like delicacies, with a social disease.

SYNTH 2

Choosing fruit that really sings is not as easy as it seems,
No watermelon, pomegranate, seedless grape or sundried raisin
Has the impact of that peach so fuzzy, fully ripe, delicious.

REPEAT ENSEMBLE 1


Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Happy Place and All That Crap From China


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"The Happy Place" represents the confluence of some of the most debilitated and degraded concepts in America. The Military-Industrial complex ain't got nuthin' on this unholy alliance of Kardashians, corporations, Instagram and New Kids on the Block (Happy Place founder Jared Paul is that group's manager).
This depressing shrine to self-delusional nostalgia, kind of a "Pet Rock" writ large, is also an homage to the concept of waste: a full spectrum of un-recyclable plastic, mylar, etc; what we might call:
ALL THAT CRAP FROM CHINA
[This is a set of lyrics I wrote but have been too lazy to write a tune for. 
If anyone is interested, go for it.] 
VERSE
I WENT INTO THE DOLLAR STORE, TO FIND A B-LIST GIFT;
A WONDROUS PLACE FOR ANYONE, WHOSE CHIEF CRITERIA IS THRIFT.
THEIR STORE IS A CORNUCOPIA, A KNICK-KNACK-PACKED UTOPIA;
NOTHING COULD BE FINER THAN
A VERITABLE NIRVANA, OF USELESS CRAP FROM CHINA.

CHORUS
SMERFS AND NERFS AND PADDED BRAS
AND KNOCKOFF GUCCI LUGGAGE;
PEARLS AND FLAGS THAT YOU CAN FURL AND
EVEN REMNANT RUG-GAGE.

HAWAIAN SHIRTS AND POODLE SKIRTS
AND DIRKS FOR MARTIAL ART-NESS;
GOBS OF THINGS THAT SING AND RING AND
OFTEN GLOW IN DARKNESS.

BRIDGE
IT FILLS OUR HOMES, FROM ATTIC TO BASEMENT,
WHETHER YOU’RE RICH OR POOR.
WHO CAN RESIST THE LURE OF THE CHEAP,
CAUSE MAKING A CHANGE WOULD BE QUITE A LEAP.
AND THAT WOULD BE A BORE.

CHORUS
GOOGLY-EYED DOLLS AND PORCELAIN URNS
AND PLASTIC OF ALL TYPES.
LIKE IVORY TOOTHPICKS, LICORICE STICKS AND
SANITIZED HANDY WIPES.

PENS THAT FLOAT AND BUBBLEHEAD GOATS,
HATS THAT FIT SMALL HEADS.
CHATTERING TEETH, EMBARRASSING BRIEFS AND
LOTS OF TOYS MADE OF LEAD.

TRIO
LET'S STAND AND CHEER FOR A
VELVET VERMEER.
IT’S A VERY GOOD BET
THAT CHINESE SWEAT
PRODUCED THE STUFF YOU WEAR.

THE LANDFILLS ADORE
OUR TRASH GALORE
SO DON’T BE AFRAID JUST TO
THROW IT AWAY;
IT’LL BIODEGRADE SOME DAY.
  
CLOSER
TO YOU IT MAY BE DETRITUS, DREGS, JUNK,
RUBBISH, TRASH OR GUNK, 
BUT BUDDY, TO ME , 
NUTHIN' COULD BE FINA
THAN ALL THAT CRAP FROM CHINA!



Wednesday, April 10, 2019

One Night at the 1369 Jazz Club



On October 3, 1985, I brought my Walkman into the 1369 in Inman Sq., Cambridge and recorded singer/pianist Bob Dorough, trombonist Roswell Rudd (who also sings here), Beaver Harris on drums and another singer and bass player. Their identities are announced at about 55" but I can't decipher them. Maybe someone else can-or knows who they are.

During the course of the evening, unspeakable acts are performed by these musicians.

LISTEN HERE (one hour)

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Racial Politics of “Black Panther”




I'm not much for movies based on comics, but I saw “Black Panther”  because I'm a SAG voter and it's nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Since there is no "best picture" category, per se, this becomes the closest equivalent. (‘Black Panther’’ is also among the five films competing for the Best Adapted Screenplay award by the Writers Guild of America).

The hype around the movie was pretty loud, so while I didn’t look closely at the details, I knew that it had a black director and an almost completely black cast and that it featured a somewhat edenic, technologically advanced African country. Bravo, thought I, maybe the movement to get more minority representation in "big" films was starting to get some momentum. Now that I've seen the film, I'm kind of astonished that the actual somewhat regressive racial attitudes portrayed by the movie did not seem to be the subject of much, if any, public discussion.

I don't want to assume that people know the plot, so here’s a very brief recap (skip the next 3 paragraphs if you know it): 

The hero is T’Challa, son of the king of Wakanda, T'Chaka. T’Chaka was assassinated by Luke Claw, the main bad guy (Caucasian variety).

We learn that King T'Chaka killed his brother N'Jobu, because N'Jobu had transgressed the rules of Wakanda-he'd stolen some of their precious material vibranium, which he wanted to use to create powerful munitions for liberation movements around the world. N'Jobu had a son and after T'Chaka killed N'jobu, he chose to leave the child in the US and not take him back to Wakanda. This child, named N’Jadaka, grows up to be the chief antagonist to our hero T'Challa. We learn that as an adult, N’Jadaka joined the US military and the scores of symmetrically tattooed scars on his body testify to the many kills he racked up. He takes on the name Killmonger.

T'Challa goes on a mission to bring the assassin Luke Claw back to Wakanda, but fails; in part, because of Killmonger's intervention. For reasons of his own, Killmonger wants to kill Claw himself. He does and shows up in Wakanda with Claw’s body in tow and challenges T'Challa to a ritual fight to become the new king. He vanquishes T'Challa, assumes the throne and begins the process of sending powerful vibranium weapons to black liberation struggles around the world. The rest of the film is devoted to T'Challa retaking his throne from Killmonger and returning Wakanda to its pristine, isolated condition.

Let's take a look at how these two main characters are presented. T'Challa is a handsome man of noble bearing. He speaks clearly, as do all the residents of Wakanda, in an English inflected by a generalized African accent. Occasionally, the native Wakandan language is spoken. It may be rooted in an actual African dialect. I don't know, but it sounds convincing.

Killmonger, on the other hand, is inner city all the way. Apparently he's as much a killer in the comics as he is in the movie, but what is not said in the film is that he is not merely cunning, but very intelligent, studying technology at MIT. His hair is in modified dreadlocks and his talk is street. When he speaks the Wakandan language it sounds less “genuine.” He is portrayed as violent, vengeful and hateful, thus rendering his attitude about supporting liberation movements null and void. 

After Killmonger has lost the final battle with T'Challa and is sitting with a knife in his chest, he gives an emotional speech. He talks about the fact that his father had promised to take him to the beautiful Wakanda and of course, that it was never to be. T'Challa says that they can keep him alive if he so chooses (Wakanda has very advanced medicine) and Killmonger says no. He knows that if he is kept alive, he will be kept imprisoned. He chooses to die and pulls the knife out of his body. He asks to be buried in the sea, where his forefathers had leapt to their death from ships rather than being brought as slaves to America. This bloodthirsty character is willing to act on the basis of his knowledge and understanding of the history of his people.

There is also the interesting plot wrinkle that has a white CIA agent, Everett Ross, being taken for medical treatment to Wakanda after saving the life of a Wakandan in the course of a gun battle with Claw. As an ex-pilot, Ross is drafted to shoot down the planes trying to carry the contraband vibranium out of Wakanda in the culminating battle. He succeeds in heroic fashion.

This is all simply muddle-headed. On the one hand, the dire conditions that Africans suffered in America are acknowledged as are, during the course of the film, the subjugations that minority populations endure around the world. At the same time, proponents of anything but continuing the isolation of Wakanda are portrayed as thugs and/or traitors.

The crux of the film is whether Wakanda will export its technology or will remain isolated. The problem is posed in these terms: Either Wakanda retains its idyllic existence or it initiates a worldwide bloodbath. The last scene in the film attempts to ameliorate this dire dichotomy by returning us to the scene of the fratricide that took place at the begininng of the film. There, while young black kids playing basketball look on, T’Challa, who has bought up all the local real estate, brings down a Wakandan aircraft, the first step in bringing a cultural exchange center-part of a worldwide outreach effort.

Granted it is a comic put on film, but a project of this magnitude, calculated to appeal to a worldwide audience, has chosen to represent a political/cultural issue in a fairly retrograde way. Yes, this issue is far from simple: When, if ever, is armed struggle necessary to achieve political liberation? Unfortunately, the film is not prepared to actually address that problem, taking a reductionist, somewhat retrograde approach; one that pits black people against each other, with the “good” people on the side of isolation and the “bad” ones on the side of engagement in the struggle.