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Everything posted by johnblitweiler

  1. Alvin Fielder - RIP

    Tomorrow, Monday Jan. 7, there'll be a celebration of Alvin on ZoundZ!, 6:30 to 9 pm Chicago time on WHPK 88.5 FM and is an interview I did over a decade ago and Ted Panken has a great interview with Alvin on his (Ted's) website.
  2. Looking for jazz radio stations 2018

    WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago streams over the web at but is now down to 28 hours a week of jazz. My program ZoundZ! is Mondays 6:30 to 9 pm Central Time; there's jazz on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, Saturday and Sunday daytimes and late nights. It's the University of Chicago station and the schedule is subject to the university's whimsies - for example, the whole station is off the air until January 7 we now go off the air at midnight all the time. A more reliable station is WNUR ( at Northwestern University, which has jazz every weekday morning 6 am to noon. It has an especially fascinating program on Mondays, 10 am to noon: Writers Bloc with Art Lange and Peter Kostakis. For one thing, they're how I discovered a Wilton Crawley CD exists. Two other especially good programs. A number of radio stations around the country carry Steve Cushing's 5-hour program Blues Before Sunrise each week. It's about 70% or so blues (1920s to '60s) and the rest is older jazz, mostly vocals. And Lazaro Vega is nightly jazz host on the two Blue Lake radio stations ( - some of his broadcasts are live performances, typically with important artists.
  3. Christmas Jazz

    In fact, I'm playing some enjoyable Christmas downloads by Organissimo tonight.
  4. Return Of The Film Corner Thread

    This is something new for me: In 2018 I volunteered to help program a student film society and one of the series I proposed, a Satyajit Ray series, was accepted. It will happen for 10 weeks in the spring, a night after a 10-week Claude Chabrol series. (I know, 10 weeks is merely an overview of both directors.) No problem locating 35mm or 16mm prints to show, but finding and contacting he/she who has the rights to these has been a bit of a problem A bigger one is, for another series proposal, finding who has the rights to the Bert Stern film "Jazz on a Summer's Day" now that Stern has died and the distributor has vanished. So far just some dodgy advice or "try so-and-so" who suggests trying someone else. Some of you Organissimo folks have experience programming film groups or eaters. Is there somewhere a grand catalogue of who currently own copyrights to films and who distributes them?
  5. RIP Jody Williams

    Jody played with Wolf, Bo Diddley, and plenty of other Chicagoans worth hearing. He said he invented the "Bo Diddley" guitar line, also the guitar line that Mickey Baker played in "Love Is Strange."
  6. Christmas Jazz

    Terrific, glowing music in concert and a delight on CDs, both Volumes I and Volume 2:
  7. Now reading...

    Recent reading: The Doomed City by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky - Curiouser and curiouser, a long allegory about people living in a ramshackle artificial state with baboons running loose. Would people who lived in the Soviet Union 50 years ago undersand this more than we who didn't live there then? Gotta keep reading the Strugatskys and hope for another as fine as Roadside Picnic. The Fall by Albert Camus - Very much a post-WW2 attitude, it seems. His despair doesn't seem to fit 21st century life, however depressing events seem. Diablerie by Walter Moseley - It's jive. Granted hard-boiled is artificial, Moseley once could write good hard-boiled, but this mess is padded with the glitz and sex and psychologizing and silly plotting of a writer at the end of his rope. Reread the script of Mother Courage by Brecht, a breath of fresh air lately. Anna of the 5 Towns by Arnold Bennett - The over-the-top distant, miser father and emotionally strangled daughter are all too believable, the Methodism of the Edwardian times is familiar from my 1950s boyhood, and the industrial-city setting is horrifying amidst Blake's "dark, satanic mills."
  8. Yes, God bless him. He was 20 years old when he recorded that. He led an enjoyable band at the Chicago Jazz Festival this year, too.
  9. What is your favorite hot sauce?

    No, not Pickapeppa. That Jamaican sauce I had once was a yellow-colored and mustard-based sauce, like Melinda's Amarillo Sauce.
  10. Return Of The Film Corner Thread

    Terrific movie. The contrast of that terrible radical Stokely Carmichael speaking to a black audience vs. that distinguished governor-candidate David Duke speaking to his fellow KKKlansmen is illuminating, and a high point.
  11. The Bunk Johnson Corner

    Yes, King of the Blues is pretty wonderful. Along with the inventive horns, there's the Baby Dodds interplay, so hyperactive and colorful all the time - he's not just accompanying, he's really engaged with the horns. Bunk is such a beauty. Even on some other American Music CDs, when Bunk is not tip-top, George Lewis and Dodds keep the music lively. But yes, some of the post-1945 albums are disappointing. His eight sides with the Yerba Buena band are special favorites, partly because the band seems so reckless next to the lovely trumpet melodies. I like Sister Lottie Peavey's singing, never did enjoy Clancy Hayes' singing. Last Testament was the first Bunk Johnson I ever heard, many decades ago. "Kinklets" and the lilting trumpet in "Out of Nowhere" won me over. Jeff, thanks for remembering Bunk Johnson.
  12. Name Three People...

    Rubbin' on the Same Old Thing The Girls Go Crazy about the Way I Walk Dirty, Dirty, Dirty
  13. What is your favorite hot sauce?

    Melinda's Amarillo Sauce (made in LA) used to be a favorite - a mustard-based habanero sauce. The last bottle I bought tastes sorta diluted, though. There's a Jamaican hotsuce (don't recall the name) that tasted like exactly the same recipe.
  14. Bluesman Lazy Lester has died, aged 85.

    Lonesome Sundown - what a great name for a blues singer.
  15. Songs We Should Retire

    I'd like to retire lots of classical music, especially since our Chicago classical radio station is a sort of Top 40 station. Sometimes I scream uncontrollably when I hear a Beethoven false ending.
  16. Musings on how music means

    "Music in the Making" - a little book by Wilfrid Mellers that is about the questions Larry raises. Published around 70+ years ago and extremely hard to find. Sure enough, I want it today but lost my copy in the fire and have not yet found a replacement copy.
  17. Return Of The Film Corner Thread

    Agreed. Great attention to detail and nuance. Another stunning actress (not in the sense of beautiful). It was made by the director of Winter's Bone. Incidentally, ever since seeing Leave No Trace I've been trying to peel oranges in single strips, like the girl and her father do. Seems to work best with Valencias and Clementines.
  18. Musings on how music means

    It's late at night, so maybe I'm missing something. Are you saying that improvisers have "a path" they follow as they create - an emotional or intellectual path above/beyond chord changes, meter, tempo, sound? Maybe some do. But for a comparison, do you know how you feel about a piece of music before you write your review? (I usually know only vaguely.) For me, listening to all those alternate takes of "I Have a Good One for You" on the "All Music" CD is a very good demonstration of how a solo arises, evolves, becomes an fulfilling work in an artist. There's a path. Today I heard a knockout Lester Young "Lady Be Good," broadcast with Basie ca. 1938, that was totally unlike the 1936 classic. Totally improvised out of the aether? Or a different path that night? As to how how intervals, harmony, rhythm affects listeners, the way sound waves land in our ears and the way our nervous systems respond seem to answer your question.
  19. Bluesman Lazy Lester has died, aged 85.

    "Same Thing Could Happen to You" and "You're Gonna Ruin Me, Baby" are two favorites. What was Lazy about his music? Was it just the drawl? Because singing and playing he always was on top of the beat and Neal is right, his music is hot. Less stylized than the Chicago singers like Muddy and Wolf, so the minimal accompaniments of the Excellos were an asset: Bigger bands sounded like they were competing with him. Sorry I'll never get to see/heat him in person.
  20. True, you sold me that Ayler box in Chicago. Thanks for the kind . I hope you're thriving there in Toronto.
  21. Essential Solos

    Yes to Johnny Dodds and George Mitchell in "Perdido Street Blues." AND Johnny Dodds in King Oliver's :Someday Sweetheart." And Johnny Dodds in his "Hear Me Talking." And Johnny Dodds in his 1938 "Melancholy" and Charlie Shavers too.
  22. Wild Bill Davison

    In fact, his playing ended to be the opposite of Wild. A lyric artist, sensitive, even thoughtful amidst the Condon clutter.
  23. A non-jazzfiend friend recommended a Geoff Dyer book to me today and it reminded me of this, from a review I wrote in 1996. Incidentally, I regret my careless clause about emotionally crippled lives : Like 20th Century American poets and visual artists, jazz musicians have suffered a fearful toll in terms of early death and devastated lives. The causes ought to be obvious--most important among them virulent racism in American society and the unnatural circumstances jazz artists have had to endure just to survive. There still are some jazz lovers, most gray-haired by now, who sentimentalize the disabilities of their favorites, and Englishman Geoff Dyer wrote "But Beautiful" for just those fans. It contains portraits of seven jazzmen--most of them major figures, all of them leading emotionally crippled lives--that demonstrate his thesis that their deaths resulted from something inherent in the art form. The book is an exercise in endless mopery. Dyer maintains that it's necessary to know the musicians' lives to appreciate their music. It's true that jazz artists' creations tend to reflect, probably unconsciously, their awareness of life; witness the terrific tension and brittle phrasing of dope fiend Art Pepper's alto saxophone solos, or the similar tension and extreme, perilous, linear developments in the mentally ill Bud Powell's piano works. Pepper's autobiography certainly reflects that tension better than Dyer's "poetic" prose. As for Dyer's chapter on Powell, he addresses the pianist: "Your music encloses you, seals you off from me. . . . Somehow you made it to the piano stool, fingers drooling over the keyboard, dripping from it, like booze from a spilled glass, the tune falling to the floor in puddles. . . . Are you tired of me talking at you like this?" As the Bud Powell character said to the fawning jazz fan in a Terry Southern short story, "You're too hip, man." Lonely men dying in dark rooms fill the book; Dyer rubs your nose in gloom. His "insights" were cliches decades ago: The fiery Charles Mingus and the fiery music he composed and conducted; a sodden Lester Young staring out the window of his hotel room at Birdland, across the street; his description of Thelonious Monk: "He was a funny man, his music was funny . . . " (Would someone please point out what was so funny about the music of this immensely earnest artist?) It's not that Dyer's portraits are wholly untrue, it's that he's just so darned maudlin, and his invented dialogue is absurd. For instance, he has Monk cussing like a '90s rock star. He devotes 34 pages to reflections on jazz history, especially his jazz-is-death thesis. There is a well-organized, if unoriginal, discussion of the music's social relevance, rising to the familiar "jazz today is too sophisticated to articulate the lived experience of the ghetto; hip-hop does that better." Dyer's dying musicians to the contrary, there's still plenty of vital jazz being played today as well as a terrific wealth of historic jazz available, and there are plenty of people listening.
  24. Mosaic Records is releasing a Savory collection set

    The 1938 band, with Dickie Wells and Hershel Evans, is my favorite big band too The Savory tracks are a great way to hear what a grand tenor player Hershel Evans was.
  25. Toronto Fringe 2018

    Happy news - Congratulations!