Friday, January 29, 2016

RIP Paul Kantner

Paul Kantner (March 17, 1941 - January 28, 2016)
Balin, Slick, Dryden, Kantner, Kaukonen, Casady 1967

The Reed City Michigan public library in 1970 was a tiny place on the second floor at the corner of Higbee and Upton right downtown, across the street from the laundrymat where the local kids would hang out because there was a pop machine and nowhere else to go.  Among the hundred or so LP records in the library were 2 albums that made a huge impression on me - E. Power Bigg's "The Golden Age of the Organ" and "After Bathing at Baxter's" by Jefferson Airplane.

formerly the
Reed City Public Library

Funny that "Baxter's", a core artifact of 60s psychedelia, made its way to such a place, a very white, tidy little town of 2500 remote enough that folks there thought it a real city because it was the county seat.  There wasn't a freeway within 40 miles at that time.  My mom was a church organist at the Congregational Church a block up Upton, right across from the veteran's memorial Jim Harrison describes in the opening of his first novel, "Wolf".  Dad was a state cop.

My friend Scott and I took "Baxter's" home and sat on the carpet in the living room listening to it guiltily, expecting our parents to bust us for even listening to it.  We had a pretty good idea what it was all about though I don't remember how we knew.  I think we skipped the acid trip sequence when the folks were home.

To me it is one of the best rock albums ever, certainly among the very best by an American band.  It has a wide range of styles and dynamics, from jazzy chamber music to freeform feedback guitar jams, the wonderful voice of Grace Slick, and though they weren't great musicians by any means they knew how to make effective sounds, and the arranging and vocal harmonies are quite subtle and effective. There's a sort of spacious loneliness to some of the sustained guitar sounds that used to make me think of the beaches and dunes of Lake Michigan 50 miles away.  "Saturday Afternoon" starts with a huge foghorn sound like a hazy afternoon at the beach.  The 11 tunes are grouped together into 5 suites, bookended by the anthemic "Ballad of You and Me and PooNeil" and "Saturday Afternoon",  and the cartoon cover art by R. Cobb is humorous and iconic.

I guess I'll read up and listen to more Jefferson Airplane this weekend - I didn't really follow the band except for this album and don't know much about Kantner.  But I have to pay tribute to him and the band for helping open up my world.

zipped album (my LP rip and improvised CD cover art) on Google Drive: Baxter's

Thursday, September 25, 2014

It's been a big year for chipmunks around here and a friend said it's because they survive the winter better when there is a deep snowpack.  I found a study online that confirms this .

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Horace Silver
(September 2, 1928 – June 18, 2014)

One of the monuments and architects of jazz, and funky too.  I'm going to spend a lot of time trying to fill in my knowledge of the art he left us.  Moon Rays from 1958 with Art Farmer, Clifford Jordan, Terry Kotick and Louis Hayes.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Brad Ausmus - career as Detroit Tiger

The Tigers won their 2014 season opener under new manager Brad Ausmus.  On "97.1 the Ticket" sport radio in Detroit, the question was posed,

"Is this the first time Brad Ausmus has been above .500 in a Tigers uniform?"

This is a great question because the Tigers were terrible during the 3 seasons Brad was with the team.  I looked for the answers on and here is what I came up with:

1996 season

traded to Tigers June 18 1996 and played that day
Tigers record was 18-52
Tigers finished season 53-109 and never made it to .500
traded to Astros December 10 1996

traded to Tigers January 14 1999

1999 season

Tigers were 1-1 on April 6 1999
Brad played the 6th through 9th innings of the All Star Game, batted once and grounded out, and threw out Brian Jordan attempting to steal second base.  He was the only Tiger on the AL squad, presumably chosen because there had to be somebody from each team.
Tigers ended season 69-92

2000 season

Tigers were 1-1 on April 4 2000
Tigers were 63-63 on August 24 2000
* this day in Tiger history was apparently most notable for the flying ant swarm during the game.
Tigers were 64-64 on August 26 2000
Tigers were 65-65 on August 29 2000
Tigers were 66-66 on August 31 2000
Tigers were 67-66 on September 1 2000 - above .500
7 game streak above .500
best record 70-67 on September 5
Tigers were 70-70 on September 8 2000
Tigers finished season 79-83

traded to Astros December 11, 2000

Friday, January 03, 2014

From the Ann Arbor News:

University of Michigan weather observer Dennis Kahlbaum (his website lists his UM job title as "1973-present, Weather Observer/Staff Meteorologist") has compiled a list of the top 10 snowfalls for the Ann Arbor area since 1880:

  1. Dec. 1-2, 1974: 19.8 inches 
  2. Jan. 26-27, 1967: 17 inches 
  3. Jan. 3-4, 1999: 15.9 inches 
  4. March 18-19, 1973 14.6 inches 
  5. Jan 30-31 of 2002, 14.5 inches 
  6. Jan. 25 -26, 1978: 13.6 inches 
  7. Dec. 11-12, 2000: 13.1 inches 
  8. Jan. 14-15, 1992: 12.5 inches 
  9. Jan. 1- 2, 2008, 12.3 inches 
  10. Dec. 18-19, 1929: 12 inches  

link to A2 News article

Saturday, December 28, 2013

I need to identify this country singer:

Jingle Bells Excerpt - Unknown Artist

The clip is from a version of Jingle Bells I am editing that consists of brief clips of different artists in different genres.  Here is what the whole project sounds like as of now:

Many Jingle Bells

Anybody who can help I would really appreciate it.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Here is a 2006 shot of the Jazzbones, and in the lower right is Carl Rinne, who passed away last week. Carl was a fine trombonist and jazz improviser and an even better singer. He was also one of the warmest, most gracious people you could ever want to meet. Rest in peace, Carl, and my profound sympathies to Tamara and all of Carl's family. Carl and Tamara's home in the converted church on Fountain was a wonderful musical haven for us and they did so much to make us welcome.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Ellington Nutcracker and Peer Gynt files are in the
archive for December 2012.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

This is an Antonov AN-124 "Ruslan" cargo plane at DTW. I filmed it this morning from my cab with my Coby Kyros tablet.  It's one of the largest aircraft in the world.  This image is crappy and I didn't have time/access/equipment to get a better shot but I observed the word "Antonov" on the vertical stabilizer and the words "International Cargo Transporter" on the nose of the plane so I think it's an Antonov Airlines plane.
This for me is right up with the Ford Trimotor I saw at the Ann Arbor Airport, a Concorde I saw on at JFK, a B-1 I saw while climbing in the Tetons, and the time I looked up in the air and saw a mid-air refueling in progress. Oh, and maybe the Super Widgeon. Just think, my brother used to work at an AFB that AR-71s flew from!! Here is an official photo of the AN-124:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Grosse Pointe News, Thursday, May 31, 1962, page 4:
I just found this ad in a PDF file of the Grosse Pointe News that was on my computer. It's interesting (to me, anyway) because the property for sale is now Camp Skyline where we go for our annual Labor Day Camp. The file apparently appeared on my computer on September 9, when I was researching the claim that the property is the highest point in Lapeer County. Here is the earlier blog entry in which I refute that claim. (Scroll down to September 9) .

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tunes for the July II-V-I show

Andy Kirk "Wednesday Nite Hop"
 Andy Kirk "Take It and Git"

Andy Kirk "A Mellow Bit of Rhythm" (no video)

Charlie Barnet "Skyliner"

Andy Kirk, "Take It and Git" (no video)

Ella Mae Morse with Freddie Slack, "Mr. Five by Five" (no video):

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Elsie (r) is enjoying a return visit from Lola (l) even though Lola's main pastime is stealing the chunk of rawhide Elsie is chewing on.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Skip Fixing

 Just to demonstrate what weird stuff I find entertaining, here are 2 clips from Dvorak's Symphony Opus 60 that I fiddled with this morning. The LP was a 50 cent Kiwanis Sale special, I found the turntable yesterday morning on the curb while walking Elsie the dog.

Here is the excerpt with the skip.

So a little gentle soap and water, re-record the section in a parallel track in the Audacity sound editor, a little cutting and pasting, and... Here is the repaired excerpt repaired. Of course I could have just recorded it over or maybe even washed the record first but what fun would that be?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ismael Rivera, "El Bombon de Elena". The composer is Rafael Cepeda. This is Puerto Rican Bomba music, apparently.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

George Jones (September 12, 1931 – April 26, 2013)

My favorite George Jones tune, "Burn the Honky-Tonk Down".
Rest in Peace, Possum (not that I think I had any right to call him that...)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

First Turtles of Spring


The turtles are back in Eberwhite Woods! They're right there in the middle on the logs in the pond, trust me. Here to continue my current mazurka kick is Cesar Cui's Mazurka from "Kaleidoscope" Opus 50 .

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hanging Tree No More

The hanging tree is no longer hanging. We had a BIG wind & rain storm Thursday. The base is 12 feet or so to the northeast of where it was hanging and is embedded in the ground. The top came off the fork in another tree that was holding it and the whole trunk is just kind of lolling against a couple of smaller trees now. I think it'll come down pretty quick and just hope somebody doesn't bump into it.  

Here to go with the update is a little medley of Billy Eckstine AHO performing "Rhythm of a Riff" and Slim Gaillard's "Spanish Melody Swing", both from Youtube.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Debbie liked this...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hanging Tree in Eberwhite Woods

Here are some pix from Eberwhite Woods of a tree trunk apparently broken off halfway up, suspended from the top, and hanging vertically about 4 feet from the ground. It's a very strange sight and a little alarming. We found it while Elsie was bushwacking, following another dog's trail. The second picture is from the ground straight up. In the third picture the bare trunk at right is the tree it broke off, I think. I think it snapped at a fork about halfway up, and the top fell to the west until it snagged in vines, limbs, or the fork of another tree, then the bottom swung out and hung below the top. At least that's my theory. It'll be interesting to see how long it stays there. Elsie and I'll be checking twice weekly on our weekend walks.  

Here to go with the pix is War performing "Millionaire" and "Corns & Callouses" in a medley from the 1979 album "The Music Band".

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Eberwhite Social Notes

Lola the dog is the houseguest of Elsie the dog
while Lola’s family is visiting the South,
accompanying Elsie on daily tours of the
neighborhood and quarrelling noisily in the
backyard. Treats have been plentiful and gnawed
chunks of rawhide freely shared and exchanged
add to their enjoyment.

Johannes Brahms, Albumblatt .
Craig Sheppard, piano.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

dizzy gillespie planking the piano, ca. 1947

It's Dizzy Gillespie month at the Creekside Grille so here is the bass part to "Two Bass Hit", the Ray Brown feature.  
I forget what Dave says about why these parts even exist.  It's a good part but does not correspond to this INCREDIBLE RECORDING, which comes from the invaluable YouTube posting of 78 rpm collector SwingMan1937:

Here again culled from the contributions of VDiscDaddy on Youtube is Dizzy's "Grand Central Getaway", performed by the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra on V-Disc 391 from 1945.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Here is David Berger's transcription of the bass part from Ellington and Strayhorn's "Deep South Suite" part 4, "Happy Go Lucky Local".  The bassist is the great Oscar Pettiford.  We'll be playing this tonite at the Creekside along with Ellington's Nutcracker.  For this one there are about half a dozen licks that I've got a 60% chance of getting right on any particular attempt, so it will be an adventure.

I was telling Joe that when it comes to performing a transcription of a bass part like this, some of the licks seem really awkward and hard to play.  The important thing is that  they were apparently idiomatic to Pettiford.  The bassist has to try to get in Oscar's head and figure out what it felt like to Oscar to play the phrase and what he was trying to express.

When I attempt to play a transcription of a part by somebody like Pettiford or James Jamerson I always realize that their playing was unfettered.  From any note or phrase they play they can branch out in a dozen different directions where my technique limits me to running in the same 2 or 3 little alleys.

The recording is from November 25 1946 in NYC as found on Prestige LP P-24029, "The Golden Duke".  The liner notes by Ralph J. Gleason say the tune was originally released as 2 separate 78 RPM record sides which were "edited together" for the LP version.  He doesn't explain the strange reverberation that occurs briefly at 3:26. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

The II-V-I Orchestra holiday show Sunday December 30, 2012 at the Creekside Grill will feature Duke Ellington's classical adaptations: Tchaikovsky's NutCracker Suite, and Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite. The second set will be our usual dance set with featured vocalists Patty O'Connor and Jim Paravantes.

The show starts at 6:30 and we anticipate a good crowd so get there early!

Here are sound files for study purposes:

track 1
track 2
track 3
track 4
track 5
track 6
track 7
track 8
track 9

Peer Gynt:
Morning Mood
In the Hall of the Mountain King
Solvejg's Song
Ase's Death
Anitra's Dance

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Dave Brubeck
(December 6, 1920-
December 5, 2012)

Dave passed away today at 92.  His quartet with Paul Desmond ( November 25, 1924 – May 30, 1977) initiated me into jazz music.

His love of melody, harmony and good solid swing was unabashed.  His art was filled with musical and social courage.

Here from 1954 is "Le Souk", from the early quartet with Bob Bates on Bass and Joe Dodge on drums.  It's not Gene Wright and Joe Morello but the swing is light, tight and strong, Desmond creates understated tension through his phrasing and use of register, and sets up Dave's bombastic, percussive solo.  Listen to the release as they close it - that's real musical empathy.

And here from 1959 is "Strange Meadow Lark"

And here from 1963 at Carnegie Hall is "Bossa Nova USA", the only melody I can think of that starts with a minor ninth interval.

My sympathy to the Brubecks, a great American musical family, and we'll continue thanking Dave (and Paul) for their many gifts.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

For an upcoming gig, here is a PDF and an MP3 of Art Blakey's rendition of Lecuona's "The Breeze and I" from the lp "Meet You at the Jazz Corner of the World".

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

RIP Donald "Duck" Dunn (November 24, 1941 - May 13, 2012)

Here's Time is Tight from Sully's in Dearborn, April 25, 1993. The drummer is Anton Fig.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

(assumes gas is $3.50 and $0.12 per mile)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The II-V-I Orchestra recently performed Duke Ellington's
Sepia Panorama, with a famous Jimmy Blanton bass part. Here is the video, if only to humbly acknowledge that I crashed and burned in the last 8 bars. We were playing the piece from a "Jazz at Lincoln Center Library" transcription by David Berger. Here are PDFs of the 2 page bass part:

page 1
page 2

and here is a hastily scanned cut up of the "hard parts":


I think the transcription is wrong in the last eight bars. Here is their version of the last eight:

...and here's mine:

The only thing left to do is make PDFs of the part with my edit inserted. I'll do that in the next couple days but right now my kid wants on the computer and I'm gonna go run around Eberwhite Woods in the snow a couple times before my rehearsal tonite.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saturday afternoon I got to play at the Scarab Club in Detroit with David Swain's Prez Society featuring George Bedard and Brian Delaney on guitars and a bunch of great sax players: Keith Kaminski, Bobby Streng, and James Hughes. The show was sponsored by hosted by R.J. Spangler and the Detroit Blues Society, and we received a very warm reception.

Playing with Dave over the years has opened the doors to a lot of wonderful places in Detroit that I would never have seen otherwise. If you get a chance to visit the Scarab Club don't pass it up - you've never seen anything like this Detroit cultural institution. And it's right across the street from the Art Institute!

I had just started learning a little about Bert Jansch when he passed away.

Here is a file for Odie.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Garrison Keillor says he'll finally stop in the spring of 2013. I would start a count down calendar but he's being coy about the specifics. He says first he has to find somebody who can muck up duets with good singers as badly as he does.

Anyway, here's some Brazillian jazz I've found lately. This is my first experiment with posting a link to a Youtube playlist.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Starlin Castro looks for something on the ground.

Monday, June 13, 2011

pix from Saturday's dog walk in Eberwhite Woods:

Hummingbird on line. I teased Joe by telling him I had this great shot of a hummingbird then showing him this where the bird is like about 12 pixels. I've seen this guy almost every time I go through the woods lately but before when the community garden was here you could sit for a few minutes and see several. They're pretty hard to pick out unless they're sitting on the wire.

I love this one. It's the only sassafras plant I've seen in Eberwhite Woods in 15 years of bushwacking. If anybody else knows where there is another sassafras plant in Eberwhite Woods I want to know.

This is the meadow where the community garden was replaced with a detention pond, landscaping, bushes and local plants. There's a vine running wild and engulfing the grasses and the sumac.

Here is the vine. I tried dragging this image into Google Images hoping that it would magically be identified and it didn't work at all.

Trail clearing in the woods after some big storms. This was an arch over the path until they cut it. 6 good size trees appeared to go down in one event.

Another trail clearing spot. This is actually where the tree trunk was broken 25 feet up and suspended horizontally from another tree for a year as documented in this Facebook album.

Here are some tunes to go with a walk in the woods:

Paulinho Nogueira, Sem Mais Adeus
Jean Sibelius, Idyll from the 10 Pieces Opus 24
Mily Balakirev, In the Garden

...and this addendum from the next weekend, when I was admiring the little sassafras
bushes in the shots above, this is what I would have seen if I had looked over my head:

Them're sassafras leaves. Turns out there are two main bushes about 15 feet high or so. You can see their trunks in the middle of this shot, sorry for the bad focus:

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Click on the cover for a 46 Meg ZIP file of an Alvino Rey album I found at the Kiwanis Sale today. It is a nice set of ballads with orchestra and a vocal group.

Two iconic local signs that have vanished in the last few months:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

When compressing classical audio files with Audacity to play in the cab, threshhold -24db, ratio 3:1, attack time 0.1 seconds seems to get good results.

Friday, May 20, 2011

"She Looked Very Pleased With Herself"

Mira swam for the first time last weekend on Saturday May 14 and I recorded this video on Sunday May 15. We have had a lot of rain and the pond is as deep and clean as it ever gets.

The Official Mira Swims Soundtrack Album is the full cuts of:

Horst Jankowski, "A Walk in the Black Forest" from a chewed up old copy of Mercury SR 60993, "The Genius of Jankowski". This takes me back to finally learning to swim at the Grand Ledge Country Club in 1965 or so.

Aram Khachaturian, "Trio for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano". This LP, Melodiya C10-08783, leapt into my hands from a bin at Encore Recordings. The performers are Rafael Bagdasarian, Victor Pikaizen, and Arnold Kaplan.

Friday, April 22, 2011

This is a Bentley, southbound on Thompson by the Fleming Administration building on Thursday. I'm thinking it's Mr. Taubman's.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Over the last couple days I have discovered THREE MORE WITCH HAZELS on Central Campus. Imagine my excitement.

Rackham Building, NW corner:

Mendelssohn Theater, north along Fletcher:

Student Activities Building:

so here to go with this is a favorite Sandy Denny demo of Dark the Night, and here is the Propellerheads' take on Romeo and Juliet, "Star Crossed Lovers".