Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Monday, November 21, 2005

Portraits of the blogger by his not-yet-3-year-old son.


Today the coming-on-3-year-old told me and his mom about his band. Various imaginary friends, most of whom we’d heard of, playing drums, banjo, violin, trombone, and lots of singers, including a chorus of singing, dancing crabs. “Really big crabs. Huge ones.” The name of the band is The Tree The Grass.


Caught a few minutes of Bruce Hornsby on Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz” show on Saturday. He’s a surprisingly solid Bud Powell adept, nothing special as a melodist but solid, which takes dedication, skill, chops, passion. Marian wanted him to talk about his time touring with the Grateful Dead and he happily obliged.

Paraphrased from memory, he said something to the effect of, “People don’t realize how great they were as songwriters. They’ve written 50 or 60 songs that just make the hair on my arm stand up.”

Marian replies, and you can hear the eyebrows arch over the radio: “Really.”

Bruce plows on and mentions how they wrote 10 or 15 songs that sound like old folk songs, like they could have been written 100 years ago.

Marian: “Oh really.”

Highly entertaining radio moment.

Bruce, plowing on, says, “And where else could you play one song for an hour?”

Marian: “Well, there’s Sonny Rollins.”

Bruce (not understanding, and full speed ahead): “He never sat in the with the Dead, but Ornette Coleman did, and [jazz luminary whose name slips my mind].”

They played a duet of Powell’s gorgeous “Parisian Boulevard.” Really nice.

A few weeks ago I caught some of John Medeski on “Piano Jazz.” Marian seemed only slightly less skeptical of this whippersnapper, but John won her over. The first time I heard Medeski, Martin & Wood, years ago, Medeski’s organ playing struck me as analogous to Jimi Hendrix’s guitar playing: not Hendrix’s gorgeous lyricism, but his wildly innovative mastery of timbre and tone color. A few years ago I heard MMW play “Manic Depression” at an absurd Hendrix tribute concert put on by Paul Allen and Seattle’s Experience Music Project; they rocked it, one of the few acts up there that didn’t embarrass themselves. Since they flew in for one song, they didn’t bring their gear, and Medeski borrowed an organ from an acquaintance of mine, a friend of a friend. Afterwards I heard secondhand that the organ’s owner -- a serious, accomplished, gigging rock organist -- was astonished by the sounds Medeski got out of his instrument, an instrument he’d never played before.

Medeski the pianist is also a terrific colorist; and, also, a melodist who doesn’t thrill me. He was a charming interview subject for Marian, friendly and knowledgable and vastly dedicated to the music.


Happy 50th Mr. Gann! Many Happy Returns of the Day!

(And thanks for posting your lovely piece, Satie’s Dream.)

Medeski the pianist won me over with his interpretations from the John Zorn Masada Songbook. Though I have to agree that Medeski the organist has an immediate appeal.
Haven't heard Medeski's Zorn interpretations. Medeski's colors on piano don't dazzle as spectacularly as they do on organ, but they're still mightily impressive.
"Parisian Thoroughfare," actually. Yes, good tune.
Thanks, anonymous, yes, you're right! Parisian Thoroughfare it is.

My favorite of the versions I've heard is Jaki Byard's featuring Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
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