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

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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.

Worldly Wednesday: “Hang ‘Em High,” Jackie Mittoo

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Jackie Mittoo was a baller keyboardist from Jamaica.  This is my favorite song of his, and has been on heavy rotation today, seeing how I need continuous energy injections for this last leg and the last leg of this trip.

Sort of apropos of this song, I want to call your attention to an interesting story going on this week.  In a suburb of Denver, Colorado, this week, a group of high school students staged a walkout to protest changes to how American history is taught.  The local school board had voted to turn the dial down on certain portions of American history that, according to the school board, “encourage or condone civil disorder.”  I think these students are gutsy heroes.  Civil (emphasis on civil) disobedience is one of the highest forms of patriotism because it shows you are actively engaging with your country.  To read more, go see the good people at the Christian Science Monitor.

 

Modernism Monday: “Money Made,” AC/DC

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This is your intrepid Yankette, coming to you from lovely Los Angeles.  I managed to get a wicked cold in Hawaii so I’m more or less running on fumes, caffeine, and Tylenol this week.  But with the help of my buddies AC/DC, I’ll get it done.

WALK-UP WEEK! Termagant Tuesday: “Blues Walk,” Lou Donaldson

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There are a lot of different kinds of ballplayers.  There are the players who are just so amazed to be getting paid to follow their passion that they come across as happy all the time.  Then there are the ones who come across as spoiled little brats, who are more concerned with preserving their badass self-image than they are creating such an image through making consistent contact with the ball.  Bryce Harper, outfielder for the Washington Nationals, is such a player. Harper is good, don’t get me wrong.  But the man can throw a tantrum better than a four-year-old.  If he strikes out, he’s been known to throw his helmet on the ground and jump up and down.  Bless his little $900,000-a-year cotton socks.  “Blues Walk” is a raised-chin, eyes-narrowed, stare-you-down, “see if I care because I’m just that good” kind of a jazz song.  You do you, Harper.

Funk Friday: “Boomin’,” Slynk

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Today, for reasons not yet disclosable, I feel like a total badass.  Also, by a wonderful turn of serendipity, many good friends of mine are also feeling like total badasses – buying houses, getting selected for incredible jobs, sticking it to the man, etc.  We be boomin’.  Have a rad Friday, Tune-Up fans.

Termagant Tuesday: “Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing),” Benny Goodman

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Oh it is so on right now.  Your plucky heroine is in full battle rattle* today (St. John’s knit sheath, 4″ snakeskin stilettos, graduated pearl necklace, eat it*).  I have a long-overdue throw-down with a local self-styled tough** and I’ve been waiting a mighty long time.  Yankette Smash!

*Yes, I know that’s a dated and lame phrase.

**Hey, Glass House, don’t you judge how I pump myself up.  At least it’s not Cheetos and Tang.

***I am fully aware this is one of those moments that Me In Twenty Years will look back on, and with a knowing chuckle, mutter, “God, I was so dramatic when I was a kid.”  Shut up, MITY.  No one cares.

Funk Friday: “Left Hand Free,” alt-J

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This is the second single off of alt-J’s forthcoming album, being released next month.  According to the band, this is the least alt-J-y song ever.  (For a point of comparison, search for alt-J in the search bar on the left hand side of your screen and play “Taro,” the song I posted a few months ago.  Different, right?)  According to me, it’s absolutely, completely, foot-stomingly awesome.  The tone of the song is a mild break from the classic funk music I tend to play on Fridays, but the sassiness of the guitar lick tipped the scales in its favor.  It just slays me.  This will probably be my remainder-of-summer 2014 song.  Happy Friday, Tune Sharks.

Hey shady baby I’m hot
Like the prodigal son
Pick a battle eenie meenie miney moe
Hey flower you’re the chosen one

Well your left hand’s free
And your right’s in a grip
With another left hand
Watch his right hand slip
Towards his gun, oh no

I tackle weeds just so the moon buggers nibble
A right hand grip on his Colt single-action army

Well your left hand’s free
And your right’s in a grip
With another left hand
Watch his right hand slip
Towards his gun, oh no

N-E-O, O-M-G, gee whiz
Girl you’re the one for me
Though your man’s bigger than I am
All my days he disagrees, oh no

Well my left hand’s free
Well my left hand’s free

Hey shady baby I’m hot
Like the prodigal son
Pick a battle eenie meenie miney moe
Hey flower you’re the chosen one

Well your left hand’s free
Well my left hand’s free [x4]
Oh no

Termagant Tuesday: “Go Daddy-O,” Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

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July 22nd.  Blessed day that the Lord hath made.  A day that will live in infamy.  (“Get to the point.”  Oh.  Right.  Sorry.)  Today is my last day in the office before I go on vacation.  I’m sure you’re all beside yourselves with happiness – not because you’re nice people, which you probably are, but because you’re thinking, “God almighty, when will she shut up about vacation already?”  Well, the time is now, Tune-Up fans.  The time.  Is.  Now.

BUT.

There is another reason today should be marked in your daily planner.  Today is the anniversary of the birth the greatest sporter of Dockers, boat shoes, and t-shirts that say “WORDS on a SHIRT” (Snacks on a Plane jokes, anyone?) there ever was.  My esteemed father.  E.F. is currently swanning around abroad, sending risible emails filled with observations about the oddities of Renaissance Italian art and how beer significantly improves one’s experience at the opera.  So please, raise your glasses in salute of world traveler extraordinare, the Frenchman in shorts, and greatest father of all time – my Dad.  Go, Daddy-O!