Dr. Rat

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  1. I remember when I saw this guy's name on the Mercury Jazz collection, I thought it was a pseudonym (I even tried to puzzle it out thinking it was an anagram.) Well, apparently not . . . if we can trust the source. The article below from NYTimes.com Has Clarinet, Will Swing Till Wee Hours March 15, 2004 By COREY KILGANNON The swing era is not over. It is stashed away in Sol Yaged's clarinet case, which he still opens nightly in a dark corner of a quiet Upper East Side restaurant. "I bought this baby in 1938 for $125" at a store on West 48th Street, Mr. Yaged, 82, said recently as he flipped open his worn case and took out his Conn clarinet at the restaurant, Il Valentino, on East 56th Street. The purchase turned out to be a long-term investment. He began playing professionally while still a teenager and has had few nights off since. Back then he had plenty of work on 52nd Street at clubs like the Onyx, the Three Deuces and Jimmy Ryan's. Those days are long gone, but Mr. Yaged is as busy as ever. Since 2001 he has been playing at Il Valentino, which is in the Hotel Sutton and was once a club run by the bandleader Eddie Condon. For a handful of diners each night Mr. Yaged turns back time, playing the same songs the same way he did a half-century ago. This is the Sol Yaged who hired the saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and the drummer Cozy Cole as sidemen and who wrote music for the film "The Benny Goodman Story," teaching Steve Allen to play the clarinet for the title role. Even now Mr. Yaged routinely plays into the wee hours; his business card includes his home phone number and the directive "Call after 1 p.m." Born in Coney Island, Mr. Yaged became a Goodman disciple in 1935 when he was 12. Early in his career he imitated Goodman's runs and phrasing and even mimicked his mannerisms and speaking style. He showed up so faithfully at Goodman's engagements and recording dates that Goodman called him "my shadow" and would jokingly reprimand him if he showed up late. "If it hadn't been for Benny Goodman I'd have been a juvenile delinquent," Mr. Yaged said. The jazz historian and radio-show host Phil Schaap said, "Sol Yaged has always been a solid musician," and noted that Mr. Yaged had played in Max Kaminsky's band on the opening night of the original Birdland. "That his fame has evaporated says more about the state of jazz than it does about him. He's still an employed musician in New York, a city with 600 hard-bop bands without work." The owner of Il Valentino, Mirso Lekic, said, "The man's a living legend and nobody knows he's still around." Mr. Lekic hired him to play quiet, classy music to dine by, and during the dinner hour he does just that, taking a back seat to chatting diners and to waiters reciting nightly specials. But as the evening progresses he seems to grow younger, swinging his group harder, until patrons put down their dessert forks and the dignified northern Italian restaurant turns into a festive jazz club. The musicians in his group sit in a corner in chairs backed against the wall, Dixieland style. They play their share of stompers, but their sets generally begin by invoking Goodman's spirit. Like Goodman's small-group ensembles, Mr. Yaged's band plays straight-ahead standards with simple melodies and a series of riffing choruses. Mr. Yaged plays with a steady, unsyncopated 4/4 beat with a guitar and bass backing. His usual group is Rick Stone on the guitar and Bob Arkin (the younger brother of the actor Alan Arkin) on bass, but he often invites friends to sit in. On a recent Saturday night there was a trumpet player and trombonist waiting for him when he arrived at the restaurant, sweating and puffing from the walk across town from his apartment in west Midtown. Mr. Yaged is built like a linebacker, and with his shaved head he looks like a cross between Yul Brynner and Knute Rockne. He wore a wide tie with a fat knot and had a threadbare fake rose in his lapel. The gold ring on his beefy pinkie shimmered as his fingers fluttered over the clarinet keys while the group began to play "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." He plays with a creamy, elegant tone that evokes Goodman's lyricism. On "Embraceable You" he treated the melody like a fat balloon that he nonchalantly thwacked into the air. "I first heard him play this song 50 years ago," said a man gripping a glass of Scotch. Neither Mr. Yaged nor the group does much creative improvising. On "Lover Man" they played several choruses with no soloist deviating much from the melody, except Mr. Stone. But their tight, swinging ensemble playing is infectious. They did tidy, catchy arrangements of songs like "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" and "Love Is Here to Stay" with tailgating trombone obbligato and brassy offbeat trumpet punches. Mr. Yaged's best improvising is as a showman. He is an unabashed ham, whether delivering borscht belt one-liners while fixing his reed or fake-clobbering a diner with his clarinet. He often plays with one hand and pours wine for patrons with the other. At one point he joined a discussion at a side table, but leapt up in time to play an ornamental run on the final chorus of "How Deep Is the Ocean?" He finished the song leaning against a dessert cart. "So easy when you know how," he chuckled as the diners applauded. At around midnight the place seems like a speak-easy and Mr. Yaged swings the band like a lariat, spurring the musicians on with shouts and comments. When backing up soloists he comes up with simple, floating riffs. He applauds his sidemen's solos, clarinet tucked like an umbrella under his arm. Sometimes, when he particularly likes the way his bandmates end a tune, he will start them up again and have them play it several more times, guffawing gleefully each time. Late on that recent Saturday night a man from the bar wobbled over and stuffed a $5 bill into the tip jar. Mr. Yaged started the band off on a stomping "St. Louis Blues" and then "Flying Home" and "King Porter Stomp." During "Alexander's Ragtime Band" a man leaned over and said, "When you write your article, say the food's terrible and the waiters are nasty so us old-timers can come and not be swamped with people." http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/15/arts/mus...2195efd0a021965
  2. Harrison Ford plane crash

    Wait a minute; where did he land? In the turf
  3. organissimo: 2000 - 2010

    Haven't been around the forums in quite a while, but wanted to let you guys know that your efforts were appreciated up here in TC. I'm only sorry we couldn't do more to turn that appreciation into some financial wherewithal for y'all. Good luck to everyone associated with the band in their future endeavors. Stay in touch via Facebook and whatnot! Let us know when RE-Organissimo happens! --eric
  4. Hoops 2008-2009

    This looks to me to be a good trade for both teams. Watching them in the playoffs last year, I thought DT really needed a dynamic scorer--somebody who can really change the tenor of a game when it needs to be changed, and AI can do that. And he showed under Larry Brown that he CAN play fine defense when he wants to. Particularly if he's in a solid defensive system, like he will be. I think that his movement with the ball will tend to open up some space for Rasheed to get to the bucket, as well. OTOH, Carmello with Billups seems perfect to me. Anthony doesn't need another big star, he needs someone to play a strong supporting role. Billups seems perfect. Should be interesting, but I think this makes the Pistons a more serious contender.
  5. Can't listen to music anymore...

    Larry: Sorry to read about your loss. Reading over the responses here. I have to suppose this sort of response is fairly common: I experience something like this years ago (while I was relatively young--I'd been avidly collecting and listening for 5 years or so). It was about a year and a half after my mother died. For whatever reason the acute feeling of loss that I had had when she first died came back in spades. I hardly listened to music for weeks . . . months perhaps. Sometimes it just seemed to be very bothersome--useless noise. . . sometimes it was because I knew it wanted to move me in a way I didn't want to be moved. Eventually, gradually I think, I got interested in some new sounds and then things were pretty much back to normal. A few time the same symptoms come up again now I'm somewhat older--music brings on the same sort of feelings as my mild claustrophobia does: urgent need to escape. But they've only last for days/weeks rather than weeks/months. Anyhow, I wish you the best. Particularly I wish you the joy of music again, --eric
  6. Ratliff isn't saying that innovation itself was a product of the 1960s, but rather the ideology that innovation was a sine qua non of jazz. Whereas earlier generations may have recognized innovation as an important part of jazz's legacy, whether or not it would always be innovative was more of an open question.
  7. Well, he's searching for God. As I put it in my Circling Om article: You can go way back for devotional stuff in music. I mean to Gregorian chant, or Islamic incantation or any amount of ritual music, probably from the dawn of time. Even to non-religious people (e.g. me) some Church music is quite sublime. With all your debunking stuff ("easy slippage", "inarguable, new-agey quasi-religion", "Coltrane's legacy is ...that of a celebrity."), you seem uneasy with that. A lot of 60s avant garde jazz has a spiritual element - and Ellington. Simon Weil You're right, I'm . . . averse to appeals to spirituality in the discussion of art (or politics or philosophy). I'm NOT hostile to the idea of the sublime, though. Often, though I think the spirituality arguments tend to load up ideas of the sublime with the arguer's specifics of choice, whereas I think of the sublime as something ultimately neurological. That doesn't make it unimportant, just it has nothing to do with anything that exists outside of us, but rather with something we pretty much all have internally. And it may be that that something is ONLY really important because it is common.
  8. what the fuck are you talking about? it's a pretty competitive field lately but Rat, but it's pretty clear you are thee single most inane .5-wit here; couple that with the least sense of self-awareness & like... wow. (& congratulations-- a new paradigm!) let's compare a push lawnmower & a homemade bottle of Guinean ginger beer next, or maybe this bottle of Astroglide [blah blah blah in the usual manner] OK: I'll give you a little help: error does not necessarily evacuate a text of meaning and value. Admittedly, we're talking about two kinds of error: textual errors and factual errors, but if you like we can start talking about great historians and their factual errors and why one still can read Tacitus (or many other good interpretive historians), say, knowing damn well he's misrepresenting things, and still get something valuable out of it. Lazaro: Did the "cult of the solo" begin with Lester Young? Well, something started with Lester Young, something quite important to an entire generation of musicians. "Cult of the solo" may be the wrong moniker. I don't see this as being colossally important--what's important is what was it about Lester Young that got under the skin of so many jazz musicians in the 1940s & 50s? I'm fairly sure it didn't stop at music. The form argument--yes, that's sloppy, but I think we all know what he's getting at, though this is a rather stupid misstatement. The "hippie myth" thing: isn't it? Not a myth that is the sole property of hippies, but a myth nonetheless. And just the sort of neo-romantic kinds thing we'd associate with certain influential streams of 60s thought. As is the easy slippage into inarguable, new-agey quasi-religion: "internalize the salvation radiating from the core of Coltrane's music." If you asked me Iggy Pop/Coltrane sounds like an interesting avenue of inquiry. Coltrane's legacy is not, after all, just that of a musician or a channeler of salvating radiation, but perhaps most importantly, that of a celebrity.
  9. Yes, at a certain point mistakes can make comprehending the larger point of the book impossible. But Joyce's Ulysses is riddled with mistakes. Does that make it worthless? No. Would I question the judgment of someone who read it and started to talk to me about errata? You betcha. The book clearly suggests better things to talk about than trivia. You need not like the book, but errata are not top of the list of things to mention regarding it. Unless, of course, you are uncomfortable with talking about what the book wants to talk about. In which case pedantically enumerating errors is a fine distraction. (I used to notice this tendency among certain post-modern thinkers. Whenever someone would point out something untenable or contradictory in their thinking, they'd immediately focus on some trivial factual error or unimportant but unwarranted assumption in the criticism. This was greatly preferable to entertaining doubts about their own assumptions.) There is a degree to which the fetishization of the trivial (what some might call the substantial) begins to overwhelm not just Ratliff's book, but the music itself. If you told Coltrane that his music was bound to be collected in much the same way as baseball cards are, and that his music would be talked about more or less in the same way that athletic performances are (who was in the lineup?, what position did they play?, who had the big solo performances?, who scored the drugs?) and that any attempt to evaluate his work from a philosophical, historic or aesthetic standpoint would be dismissed as "intellectual bullshit" I think he'd be rather dismayed. Books are written into contexts--pretty rich contexts, in Ratliff's case. The single greatest negative consequence of Ratliff calling Hartman a tenor will be his own embarrassment. Or perhaps the opportunity for self-congratulation he's provided for certain folks. I suppose one doesn't have to think about the intellectual bullshit if one doesn't want to, but I think a musician like Coltrane was playing for listeners of a philosophizing bent rather than for those of a philatelist bent.
  10. Don't know if Woodward is reading a lot into the book, but Ratliff certainly seems to be making big enough points to distract us from the pedantic. I really don't care if Ratliff mistakenly refers to Hartman as a mezzo-soprano. Who cares? What I'd like to know is what he really has to say in the book, not in a catalog of his trivial errors. Granted they ought not be there, but one ought really be able to read past them.
  11. 1. The Clash: London Calling. 2. Wailers/Lee Perry African Herbsman 3. Baaba Maal/Mansour Seck, Djaam Leeli. 4. Duke Ellington, Blanton-Webster recordings 5. Cal Tjader's Latin Concert
  12. Count Basie Octet

    I've always been intrigued by this group because so many of the players are favorites of mine (Chaloff, DeFranco, Terry, Rouse . . .), but I've never come across what looked to me to be a well-done reissue of their stuff. Does anyone have any recommendations regarding the band's music (which I've heard little of) or particular reissues of it. Thanks for any help, --eric
  13. Rome

    I, Claudius is pretty low quality [technically] by today's standard, but Rome has its own problems. The sex in Rome is pretty much of the gratuitous variety, though, reflecting far more on the base motivations of the modern producers than on the base motivations of the characters. I'd say Rome is essentially a fairly well-done soap opera which uses history as an inspiration. Claudius is more a historical novel--an elaboration on history--with some pretty interesting reflections on power, sex, governance, empire and family. There is no mind like Graves' behind Rome that I can tell. It pretty much shouts the fact that it is a product of the entertainment industry. Any deep thinking went into the financing and marketing. By the standards of such products it's well done--like the Sopranos, say. There's enough intelligence in the writing to keep you amused for a while, but for me I can just as easily walk away mid-episode and imagine my own developments. Or read Vidal or Graves or someone else who can imagine better than me.
  14. why is US switing from analog to digital Tv transmissions in '09?

    It's primarily a bandwidth issue. The FCC has been pressured quite a bit by folks who need more bandwidth--cellphone providers, people with all kinds of wireless shemes--to do something about the large amount of bandwidth currently taken up by analog TV signals. See image here. (AM, which also takes up quite a bit, is less desirable for technical reasons, I believe) By switching to digital, they'll be able to jam a whole load of higher-quality signals into a much smaller bandwidth and then auction of the remaining unassigned bandwidth to folks with other ideas. FM radio doesn't take up that much space and (my bet is) probably won't be forced to go give up its analog signal for some time to come. As with every change, some people will lose out. I can't find my favorite brand of big salty pretzels here, anymore. Raw deal for me, business as usual for Frito-Lay, which seized its shelf-space. --eric
  15. Fairly sure I read that Jones lobbied BN not to mention the Ravi connection, and maybe that resulted in playing down her heritage.
  16. XM, Sirius to merge

    One part of the story behind this is that satellite is in a race to get adopted before the advent of high-bandwidth Internet access in your car. If there is not already a whole lot of satellite infrastructure out there (receivers in cars, essentially) when a practically infinite number of free Internet music services become avaialble, satellite is dead. I think part of the gambit here is that if there are two compteting companies, it's going to be tougher to get the car companies to buy in to the extent the satellite companies really need. If they succeed in simplifying the question for car companies (and consumers) to satellite or no satellite rather than XM, Sirius, or sit on my hands and see what happens next, they might get a lot more radios and subscribers out there, in which case they'll have a lot longer to milk the cash cow when Internet in the car comes along. From what I've heard, the money people are not particularly happy with the business outlook for either of these companies --eric
  17. Wynton Marsalis

    The former should be obvious by now, but the latter depends on how you feel about how he, through words & deeds alike, reshaped the professional landscape of the music, both directly & through "ripple effect". We've had roughly a quarter-century of unnecessary & irrelevant debates about what is/isn't "acceptable" to be considered jazz, who is or isn't playing "real" jazz, and just all kinds of bullshit in general that has resulted in a professional environment that is a helluva lot more fractured, factionalized, and tunnel-visioned than it was that quarter-centruy ago. We've also seen the evolution of the "image" of jazz evolve from that of a music distinguished by a slightly "dangerous" viscerality into that of a grand cultural status symbol that is to be revered for merely existing instead of earning its keep by delivering a living & breathing immediate relevancy that also has the depth to stick around over time. Any music suffers when its sudience expects to be readily & immeditely comforted by the mere presence of a historical legacy rather than confronted & challenged (at some level, not necessarily "stylistically, but emotionally) contemporary challenge. Will the music recover? Well, the mummies & necrophilliacs already have their museum, so they're set for "life". But the rest of us might as well get on with the business of making & developing music that for any number of reasons will never be accepted as "jazz" in that museum. All we run the risk of is not being relevant to the people who go to the museum to fornicate with the undead. That, and not getting their money and business networks. Oh well. Sounds like a fair deal to me. I think this is a pretty fair assessment of what has happened to jazz: Jazz entering the arts center, just as the arts center dies; kind of like blacks inheriting the urban political machine just as it dies. In both cases clever people realized that this was something you never wanted to win. BUT, it seems to me that Marsalis was the spokesperson for this development, not the primum mobile, and that he's more a symbol of it than a proper object of blame. The discussion gets more interesting if you widen the historical focus a bit. Long before Marsalis, some in jazz were making claims not to be show biz, not to be jazz, not to owe the audience a damn thing, to be a self-justifying ARTFORM in letters three feet high and if you didn't like it you were nothing but a philsitine/xenophobe/cryptoracist/self-hater/undersexed yadda yadda yadda. THIS kind of rhetoric was the first step toward the Museum door. Marsalis and the institutionalized jazzartist were more or less the logical next stage when people stopped buying the romantic-artist/freak/social outcast line. No more than a plain realization (and along with it professionalization) of the fact that jazz, to a large extent, had already entered the academy. You don't get university gigs when people think you are visceral. You get those when they think you are a curator or a museum piece yourself. And you gotta do something to make them think that.
  18. Don Byron "Do The Boomerang"

    I have a soft spot in my heart for Byron, and I like this one pretty well. His tenor tone is WAY different from Walker's, but that adds to the interest for me. --eric
  19. Putumayo

    Clem's recommedations are all good. But in defense of Putumayo, they've made some pretty solid comps since Jacob Edgar went there. And they are pretty much intended to be cool little introductions to the musics in question. Which purpose they serve pretty well. For someone who's just interested in an intelligent, pop-oriented selection, Putumayo's stuff is often just the ticket, even if they do buy it at a cafe. --eric
  20. Fats Waller - The Complete Recorded Works

    here's an npr feature on this new disc from sony/rca: fatswaller We've got this at the station, and I think it's the best collection I've seen in terms of song selection (some of his own comps, good stuff he did by other composers (e.g. Sit Right Down), bad stuff by others he completely demolished (e.g. Panic Is On), keyboard pieces). A pretty good one-stop for people (unlike me) who don't feel they need EVERYTHING, but would like a lot of facets of Waller's talent represented. Reefer Song conspicuously missing, though.
  21. Is it just me or......

    This is an interesting topic to me as I've always had an ambivalent relationship with buskers. I grew up in a city, and I remember very few street musicians when I was a kid. A few times in town I remember running into street performers of various sorts and my parents' attitude toward them was essentially "it's a scam--it's a way of ripping you off (three card monte) or distracting you so someone can snatch your purse or pick your pocket." I more or less adopted that attitude, I suppose: taking up pavement space and creating sidewalk congestion (I'm claustrophobic) is an imposition; demanding my attention is an imposition (some musicians seem certain that they have something more worthy of my attention than whatever is preoccupying me at the moment, but usually I find I disagree); playing crappy music, as most street musicians do, is an imposition, too, but probably the least of them. Since moving to a much smaller town, though, I've softened a lot toward street musicians. First probably because I know most of them now, and second because it's regulated here and I find that I have a choice when I walk by someone busking: they are set back enough from the pavement enough that I can comfortably ignore them or give them the nod and move on; and they are out of traffic enough that I can pull out of the way and engage with them if I want. I think for me a lot of it is a space issue: you need an area that has traffic, but has a way of getting out of it; a place where an audience can engage with you, but can do it on their own terms. Probably not easy to find such places these days as public space disappears. Anyhow, that's my two cents.
  22. ...and the lottery was in place by then. Not a "get out of jail" card but it limited the chances. IIRC, Cecil told the class to attend the concert and bring the ticket stubs in. He said something like if they couldn't be bothered to attend Miles in their back yard they failed. So Taylor tells them that they'll fail if they don't attend the concert and then hardly any of them attend? That doesn't sound like a very likely story. --eric
  23. I think that's the point. There is no "West Coast" style - the term covers too many varied artists. Like I say: I think there's an identifiable style (not ALL jazz made on the West Coast, but distinct and pretty strongly associated with LA), as practiced by folks like the ones I listed in my earlier post. The term initially meant to refer to that distinct style. Kind of like "Kansas City Jazz" or "Chicago Blues" whatever geographically defined style you might want to mention: of course it doesn't cover all music made in that location, and of course it was possible to play in that style somewhere else. --eric
  24. I'm with Sangrey. Read this book. It's excellent. Same here. A book to read and reread. It is a great book, BUT it doesn't do much to settle the question of genre/style. Gioia essentially says "West Coast Jazz" is jazz made on the West Coast. Though he does have helpful things to say in his chapters on what I would consider to be the definitive figures. --eric
  25. It's a pretty messy questions. There's geographically West Coast Jazz that isn't much different (or any) from what was going on on the East Caost. There's cool jazz from other places than the West Coast. What I like to think about when the phrase "West Coast Jazz" is used is the distinctive music made by folks associated with the West Coast, many of whom worked day jobs in Hollywood, that took the innovations of bop, combined them with innovations of their own (including a stronger role for the composer and arranger in small group stuff), and tried to apply the understated approach of Lester Young to the new music. So I'm thinking Lennie Niehaus, Mulligan, maybe Buddy Collette, Russ Freeman, some Shelley Manne stuff, Bill Perkins, Cy Touff, Jimmy Giuffre, even some Mingus stuff. To me it made for a sort of sound, coming at some of the musical issues of the day from a different angle than, say, Gillespie or Blakey were. To me, a lot of those Pacific records hang together as a genre, and that's what I mean when I say "West Coast Jazz." --eric