I have no words. This is just the sublimest of the sublime. “Turn me loose! We shall overcome! Where’d you get that funk from, huh?”
Oh good. It’s the New Hampshire primary today. Anthems of joy.
If you detect snark in my voice, you’re half-right. I’m half-snarking. I love voting. Anyone who has read this blog knows I love voting. I am a votin’ fool. But these elections are starting to feel as drawn out as the commercial “holiday season” that starts …actually I think it just restarted itself. Our nation’s adrenal glands are already shot from the “soaring” rhetoric of these candidates’ speeches, fear-inducing attacks, and tear-jerky patriotism. I’m so very tired.
I’m also very tired of trying to keep track of who all is still in the race. Some of these candidates are easy to remember, being as they are America’s id on two legs. Some of these candidates are…not. Do you remember that luke-warm glass of water you drank yesterday? No? Well you drank one. You did. And you have no idea you did. Would you vote for that glass of water? What exactly are we talking about again?
Somewhere between Id Two-Legs and Somnolent Water Glass we have the rest of the field, many of whom are clinging on for dear life. But after tonight, we will have blessedly fewer to keep track of. My many sources (really only one source) tell(s) me that at least three candidates will have to drop out tonight because of their poor showing.
So get out there and vote, New Hampshire. Vote your conscience. And clear the field. The rest of the country thanks you.
We’ll miss you, Dan Hicks. (1941 – 2016)
I know this “ode” is tongue-in-cheek at best, but I still grew up listening to it and still mean it when I sing out the chorus. Given I’m planning a trip home next month, I have to post some home-town love.
And, hey – do you like apples? On this day in 1788, Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the new constitution. How d’you like them apples?
The exceptionally funky band The Roots cover the exceptionally cool George Kranz. This track is basically a vehicle to showcase Questlove’s amazing drumming and general rhythm skills. But I love it for its spare modernism. It reminds me a lot of what would happen if Bobby McFerrin and Laurie Anderson got together. It’s an amazing and fun soundscape until 3:20 when the rest of the song drops.
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.
Sorry for leaving you stranded yesterday, Tune-Up Nation. Chateau Yankette lost power. It was very sad. But we’re back up and running today, just in time to run outside and trudge through three-feet-high snow drifts just to finally get out of the damn house. That said, the city is really beautiful in its snow blanket, and now that the sun is out, everything looks shiny and clean. It’s also marvelously quieter than it usually is – no honking, no construction, no sirens. It’s delightful.
IT’S SNOWING IT’S SNOWING IT’S SNOWING IT’S SNOWING IT’S SNOWING
The Feds shut down at noon today, which put everyone on the road and on the Metro at the same time, which went totally fine by the way thanks for asking (oh how it hurts to lie). But now we are ensconced in our homes, or in the homes of our friends in my case, watching the rising snow drifts and the synchronous diminution of city activity. So crank that bass up and let’s get down to business.
Oh Sharon Jones, you magnificent bastard. Every component of this song works together. It’s so tight. There isn’t any extraneous mess. That bass guitar, that bari sax…I’m having a hard time typing this…while standing up…and dancing…
Shameless Friend Promotion! Portia, aka Piz, is the best chef I know. If you want to try your hand at her kind of culinary mastery, boogie on over to Portia’s TurnTable.
Here’s an antidote to the ebola hysteria. “Every man, woman and child is catching it. It’s called the Dap Dip, and they say you get it in your pants.”
Original 1947 recording:
Fun 1970 live performance with the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band in Denmark:
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
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.
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.