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sledding

Catamount Community Radio - July 8, 2012

More driving adventures: I'm sitting yesterday at a red light, wondering why it's taking it so long to change if there are no cars coming. Finally it changes, and I start to pull out when I see out of the corner of my eye a light green mini van rolling down the road. That vehicle is not stopping, I told myself. Sure enough, she rolled right through the red light. I'm glad I was paying attention or I would have been broadsided.

I'll be driving a hundred miles or so this evening, to the airport to pick up the spousal unit and the issue, who have been vacationing in Miami. Wish me luck. I had MY vacation in Michigan last week. I hope I can blog a little more about it, the Diego Rivera murals in Detroit, especially. What I can mention right now is my bike ride to Alden. It's about eleven miles there and, curiously, the same distance on the way home. Up hill and down hill. Back when I was younger and more of a beast on the bicycle, I would just tack that ride onto the end of a longer one. Those days are over. I took a dip in Torch Lake and then ate at the Alden Bar & Grille. I had a ripper, a deep fried hot dog. Delicious. I'll tell you what: that fortified me for the ride home.

ripper-alden
Here's the ripper. Sauteed onions and mustard. I cut that big boy in half. With Labatt Blue from the tap.

My mom doesn't have internet in her house so, if the library was closed, I would bike up to McDonald's (Mancelona now has a McDonald's - we're on the map), and use the computer there. It makes me realize how addicted I am to being connected. That is something to think about: maybe I could read or practice more and be on Facebook less.

We heard two versions of Billy Strayhorn's "Little Brown Book" today, first a duet between the Duke and the Coltrane; later by the Ellington orchestra.

It's a strange collaboration, but it really happened. Mel Tormé recorded with Was (Not Was), the piece, about strangulation, is called Zas Turned Blue. Say you didn't speak English, and you were listening to the song just for the beautiful singing. You would probably suspect that the lyrics were about lost love or something, not these:

After high school Zaz seemed cool
He worked on cars, went to bars
But then one day he went away
And became a Marine at the age of eighteen
But he didn't want to fight
Didn't do it out of spite
And he didn't want to die
No, he didn't want to die
And he seemed kind of strange
Could it be that he changed
On that night in the park
When he fainted in the dark
Zaz didn't die, lucky guy
There were no parades, how the glory fades
Now he shoots lots of pool and as a rule
He wears a silly grin on his chin
It all started when
Zaz turned blue, what were we supposed to do
Zaz turned blue, what were we supposed to do
When Zaz turned blue

Speaking of Detroit, we heard a funk thing from like 40 years ago, called "River Rouge," by Lyman Woodard and Dennis Coffey. Woodard, who died a couple years ago at the age of 66, was an organist, while Coffey played some good guitar. And, by the way, the Diego Rivera murals I mentioned were based on sketches that Rivera made at the Ford plant in River Rouge. Later the sketches were used to make the great murals (perhaps Rivera's best work) that you can see at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

detroit-institute-of-arts-mural-segment-2-diego-rivera

On the Funky 16 Corners blog I read that "Woodard's muscular, driving Hammond style provided the perfect counterpoint to Coffey's overdriven fuzz guitar." That sounds about right, although "fuzz guitar" might be an exaggeration.

We heard Smiley Culture do a version of Miles Davis's "So What." Smiley was a British reggae singer and DJ who who had a couple hits in the eighties. The first, "Cockney Translation," from 1984, translated between the Cockney slang and Jamaican slang. The sages over at Wikipedia say that "it presaged the creation of a new hybrid accent in which white East Londoners would adopt many terms of black origin. The song's lyric was later used in schools as an example of how immigration has affected the English language." His second hit, "Police Officer," hit the charts later the same year. According to those same brainiacs over at the Wiki and the pedia, the tune "was the supposedly autobiographical tale of how {Smiley Culture] was arrested for the possession of cannabis, but then let off in return for an autograph when the police officer recognised him as a famous reggae artist. In spite of the subject matter – and possibly because mid 1980s radio station bosses in the UK did not understand the terms "ganja" and "sensimilla" – the single was a Top 20 hit."

Just last night I listened to a podcast that I had downloaded about Smiley Culture. He died while in police custody during a raid of his house in 2011, supposedly of a self-inflicted stab wound. According to family members and some journalists, this is a pretty suspicious story, and the stats they give for deaths in police custody in the UK is pretty scary.

I did a sort of French jazz set, starting with André Holdeir. According to the pointy-head intellectuals at the Wikipedia site, "André Hodeir was born in Paris. His initial training was as a classical violinist and composer. He studied at the Conservatoire de Paris, where he took Olivier Messiaen's analysis class, and won first prizes in fugue, harmony, and music history. While pursuing these studies, he discovered jazz, and embarked on an exploration of all music forms, jazz as well as classical. Subsequently as a critic he expressed vigorous disgust with nearly all early jazz." I love the bit about "vigorous disgust with early jazz." That's a hoot. We also heard Sidney Bechet's "Petite fleur," which, for all I know, was composed in Paris. Finally, Guadalupe-born but Paris-based pianist Alain Jean-Marie played a number, "Retour au pays natal." (Return to the home country).

All this and more, on Catamount Community Radio. Sunday mornings, 10-12 (ET) on WWCU-FM.

1. Duke Ellington & John Coltrane – My Little Brown Book
2. Trío Cervantes – Drume, negrita
3. Ballin’ the Jack – Dawn in the Desert
4. Roberta Flack – If I Fell
5. Larry Goldings & Joshua Redman – That’s Enough
6. Johnny Griffin – The Londonderry Air
7. Dinah Washington – I Sold my Hear to the Junkman
8. Re-Vels – False Alarm
9. Etta James – Something’s Got a Hold on Me
10. Coleman Hawkins – The Big Head
11. Sonny Rollins – Where Are You
12. H. “Sleepy” Matsumoto Quartet – You Don’t Know What Love Is
13. Amy Winehouse – Love is a Losing Game
14. Miles Davis Quintet – Footprints
15. Lyman Woodard & Dennis Coffey – River Rouge
16. Bo Diddley – Down Home Train
17. Harry Connick, Jr. – If I Only Had a Brain
18. Andre Hodier – Jazz et jazz
19. Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Petite fleur
20. Alain Jean-Marie – Retour au pays natal
21. Duke Ellington Orchestra – Little Brown Book
22. Was (Not Was) w/ Mel Tormé – Zas Turned Blue
23. Smiley Culture – So What
24. James P. Johnson – Blue Moods, Sex
25. Ronnie Foster – Tuesday Heartbreak (pt. 1)
26. Sly & the Family Stone – The Skin I’m In

Smiley-Culture-Cockney-Translati-503998

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