Termagant Tuesday: “Jumpin’ At The Woodside,” Count Basie vs. Oscar Peterson


Welp, last night was the Iowa Caucuses.  Or, as we say in our household, “Involuntary Nap Night.”  Honest to God – we had at least 10 browsers open full of different polling data, plus NPR on the radio.  We were on it.  Tracking.  …Until I fell asleep in the leather chair.  And by 11pm I couldn’t hit the refresh button any more so I went to sleep.

But today is a new day, Tune-Up Nation, and I for one want to see another kind of battle than the one between Clinton and Cruz, or Clinton and Sanders, or Trump and the collective knowledge of mankind.  So behold the glory of Count Basie and Oscar Peterson doubling up on that old swing classic, “Jumpin’ At The Woodside.”  They’ve got my vote.


Termagant Tuesday: “Let’s Misbehave,” Irving Aaronson & His Commandeers


Welp, we’re on Day Three of “Job?  What Job?” here in our nation’s capital.  The federal government is closed, the Senate punted votes, the House isn’t voting on anything, and we’re all still trapped inside.  Those of us who can get out rapidly discover there’s…really not all that much point, except going to a bar that’s open simply because it’s open.  Yes, it’s a little oppressive.  And now, perhaps, we can all understand why more babies are born in late summer and autumn than any other time of the year.

Termagant Tuesday: “Dear Old Stockholm,” Eddie Higgins Trio


On this day in 1520, Sten Sture the Younger (you remember him), the regent of Sweden, was mortally wounded at the Battle of Bogesund and died on the ice of Lake Mälaren.  Sture’s big thing was independence from Denmark, which, while that’s clearly been taken care of by now, remains an amusing point of contention between these two countries.  Ikea (you remember Ikea), a Swedish company, has a puckish habit of naming their flooring after towns in Denmark.  “Oh ho ho!” you might say.  “How very puckish!”

Well, yeah, but if Burberry named their door mats “Boston,” “New York,” and “Philadelphia,” it might be a little annoying.  (Then again, Americans are narcissistic enough to think of it as a compliment, so IDK.)  Klaus Kjoller, of the University of Copenhagen, discovered that Ikea had named foot-wiping items after Danish towns, concluding this was an insult because, rationally, “Doormats and runners, as well as inexpensive wall-to-wall carpeting, are third-class, if not seventh-class, items when it comes to home furnishings.”  Burn!

Charlotte Lindgren, an Ikea spokesperson, responded by explaining that, even if this HAD been a thing Ikea had done intentionally, which it totally wasn’t so stop alleging it was, it’s a compliment!  “These critics appear to greatly underestimate the importance of floor coverings.  They are fundamental elements of furnishing. We draw worldwide attention to Danish place names with our products. That has to be a positive thing.”  Snap!

So, today, give thanks for Sten – for fighting for Sweden’s independence, and for insuring that one of the world’s largest, most confusing meatball-and-furniture companies can foment mild diplomatic spats with their rugs. Skål!

Termagant Tuesday: “Sweet Home, Chicago,” The Blues Brothers



Today in 1809, the 10th Congress (one of about seven that haven’t totally sucked) created the Territory of Illinois.  That being awesome, and Chicago being awesome, I give you the Blues Brothers.


Termagant Tuesday: Wynton Marsalis, “Sidewalk Blues


It snowed a bit where we are.  And I’m not being sardonic – it really only snowed a bit.  Like, an inch and a half.  It wasn’t even that heavy.  And yet, every sidewalk from my apartment to the metro was 100% pure, un-messed-about-with snow.  No shovel had disturbed its delightful whiteness.  Hundreds of feet, however, had ground the snow into a luge, so I, being aggressively averse to falling down, walked in the street.  I missed my sidewalks.  What a terrible morning.

Termagant Tuesday: “Bugle Call Rag,” Benny Goodman



“So died these men as became Athenians. You, their survivors, must determine to have as unfaltering a resolution in the field, though you may pray that it may have a happier issue. And not contented with ideas derived only from words of the advantages which are bound up with the defense of your country, though these would furnish a valuable text to a speaker even before an audience so alive to them as the present, you must yourselves realize the power of Athens, and feed your eyes upon her from day to day, till love of her fills your hearts; and then, when all her greatness shall break upon you, you must reflect that it was by courage, sense of duty, and a keen feeling of honor in action that men were enabled to win all this, and that no personal failure in an enterprise could make them consent to deprive their country of their valor, but they laid it at her feet as the most glorious contribution that they could offer.”

– Pericles, funeral oration, 431 B.C.


Happy Veterans Day.

Termagant Tuesday: “The Washington Post March,” John Philip Sousa



I marked my 23rd birthday while monitoring the second round of presidential elections in Boghe, Mauritania. I remember so many things about that day. I remember the delay on the satellite phone I used to call my parents during a lunch break. I remember the uneven wooden benches we sat on as we watched hundreds of people file into concrete block schoolhouses, present their I.D. cards, be handed a ballot, go behind a cloth screen, make their choice, stuff their ballot in a plastic bin, dip their finger into an ink bottle, and walk out. Person, after person, after person; men, women, and new-to-voting teenagers. I remember watching an argument between an election official and a woman who had walked twenty miles to vote but had forgotten her identification. I remember watching the vote count, late into the night. I remember being amazed at how fervently people wanted to vote. I remember wishing my country was similar. I remember Mauritanians asking me why it wasn’t. 

Voting is the only thing about which I am an absolute evangelical. It is America’s strongest and most enduring characteristic and the thing that, despite everything, still compels foreigners to emigrate. It is undeniably the most patriotic act an American citizen can perform. It is why 13-year-old Erza Retta Dessie from Ethiopia wore a Captain America costume when he got sworn in as an American citizen four days ago. The greatest gift I got while I was an international election monitor was understanding the power of the ballot box. You can’t change anything without participation.

Tired of corruption? Vote. Think politicians can’t be trusted? Vote. Want your guy or woman to win? Vote? Want any kind of change? Vote. Want to affirm the reasons why your forefathers came to this country? Vote. Want to affirm the assertion that people can change a nation? Vote.

Welcome to America, Captain.

Welcome to America, Captain.

See you at the polling place.  (Not sure where it is?  Look it up here.)

To motivate you, and in honor of the late departed Mr. Bradlee, a titan of the field of journalism, I give you the Washington Post March.

FRIEND WEEK! Termagant Tuesday: “Manteca,” Dizzy Gillespie. Submitted by Kendra.


Original 1947 recording:

Fun 1970 live performance with the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band in Denmark:

Yankette’s Reaction:

Oh now this is a sassy little number.  It makes me wish for swingable hips, tossable hair, and a rooftop (or even a fire escape).  God bless my wonderful K-Smash for picking this tune.  It sounds kind of lounge-y but it doesn’t have the sleaze of 1950s or 1960s era lounge music, though it’s decidedly raunchy (those horns…dang).  Thank the good Whomever for American culture that created this kind of music.

Shameless friend promotion!  K-Smash, aka Kendra, is an absolutely phenomenal photographer.  Should you ever need an A.P.P., give her a ring.  http://kendrajoyphotography.com

Kendra’s Justification:
Tasked by our beloved Yankette with spreading the good word about a favorite jazz tune, I knew immediately I wanted to share my love of Afro-Cuban jazz. (We’re dipping a bit into tomorrow’s Worldly genre, but I’m calling the shots today, and I say it’s ok.)

“Manteca” – literally “lard” in Spanish, but used as slang for marijuana in Cuba – is one of the earliest tunes to weave Afro-Cuban influences into American jazz. (See, we didn’t dive head-long into the “Worldly” realm; we’re keeping at least one foot on American soil.) This tune, co-written by Dizzy Gillespie, Chano Pozo and Gil Fuller, is among the most famous of Gillespie’s recordings.  Gillespie, who was introduced to Afro-Cuban music by trumpeter/composer Mario Bauza, added Cuban conguero Chano Pozo to his big band in September of 1947. Until Pozo’s untimely demise just over a year later, he made a lasting mark on both the jazz and Latin American music worlds; this tune was part of that legacy.

Though Gillespie made a concerted effort to mesh percussion-driven, rhythmically complex Afro-Cuban themes with passages more akin to the melodic and harmonic conventions of American jazz, early performances of “Manteca” revealed that despite their enthusiasm for collaborating, Gillespie and Pozo were quite unaccustomed to one other’s music. Gillespie’s band, for example, was unfamiliar with guajeos – syncopated phrasing common in Cuban music – and they overdid the swinging with atypical accentuation. As it turns out, complete assimilation of Afro-Cuban rhythms and American jazz improvisations was still a few years away for the beboppers in 1947.

Personally, this early stab at combining Cuban and American musical vibes takes me back to the Fall of 2005 when I – a young American girl with absolutely no dance skills – spent an evening dancing on a rooftop in Havana with a ridiculously attractive Afro-Cuban man. My hips, much like Gillespie’s band, were unfamiliar with the rhythms and moves which came so naturally to my newly-made Cuban friends. Nevertheless, I improvised, and we danced the night away. I hope this tune makes you want to get up and move, even if you’re not on a Havana rooftop sipping a mojito.

Termagant Tuesday: “The Autumn Leaves,” Edith Piaf



Okay, I’ll admit, I don’t really like this song.  Like, at all.  I think it’s maudlin and stupid.  (Also, who ever gets sunburned hands?  Seriously?  Anyway.)  But – Edith Piaf could sing an economics textbook and make it riveting.  And, since it’s the first day of autumn here in the northern hemisphere, I kind of had no choice.  No!  Really!  I didn’t!  What else was I going to post?  “Autumn in New York?”  I’m not in New York.  “California Dreamin’?”  The singer is taking a walk in winter.  Really, my hands were tied.  Unless you know of alternatives?  Tell me you know of alternatives.

Termagant Tuesday: “Hawaii,” New York Ska Jazz Ensemble


Aloha, Tune Sharks!  Your intrepid blogger is in delightful Honolulu this week — for work.  (I know, right?)  What with the six hour time delay, I only now had a moment to send you a musical postcard.  I hope its weirdness will make up for my tardiness.