Monday, August 31, 2009

Save Charity Hospital Second Line

From our friends at Valid records:

Second Line to Save Charity Hospital TODAY!!!

Rebirth & Hot 8 Brass Bands leading a parade to Save Charity

Monday, August 31, 2009

6:00pm - 7:30pm

Location: Charity Hospital

1532 Tulane Avenue

New Orleans, LA

"Calling all Charity Hospital Babies and Supporters!

It's time to show our support of Charity Hospital in a way that only New Orleans can - with a Second Line parade!

The Rebirth & Hot 8 brass bands will lead a second line march and parade to show our support for the plan to gut and rebuild Charity Hospital.

Line up outside Charity at 5:45pm because this train is leaving at 6:00pm SHARP! We'll be parading around the footprint of the destructive proposed Lower Mid-City hospital.

We CAN save Charity Hospital. This is our chance to show our support for the plan that is faster, less expensive and less destructive!

Sponsored my, the Social Aid & Pleasure Club Task Force and the Committee to Reopen Charity Hospital."

Won't Get Fooled Again

Who guitarist Pete Townshend is writing a musical about aging Baby Boomers called Floss (it's not about dental floss).

"I am writing a new musical," Townshend announced. "Floss is an ambitious new project for me, in the style of Tommy and Quadrophenia. In this case the songs are interspersed with surround-sound 'soundscapes' featuring complex sound effects and musical montages."

Townshend hopes for a 2011 production of the musical. Meanwhile plans are to release some of the musical's more "conventional" songs on a new Who album next year.

Townshend's hero is a pub rock musician called Walter who makes a fortune when one of his songs is used in an advertisement (inspired by Nick Lowe?). "When he tries to return to music after a 15-year hiatus, he finds that what he hears and what he composes evoke the ecologically rooted, apocalyptic mindset of his generation," said Townshend. "Shaken by this and torn by personal difficulties, he and (his wife) Floss become estranged."

Townshend recognized the connection to his classic Boomer tribute "My Generation," which he called "the most explicitly ageist song in rock." (What about the Beatles' "When I'm 64?") Without irony Townshend continued: "At 64 I now want to take on ageing and mortality, using the powerfully angry context of rock'n'roll."

The Who's most recent release is actually the expanded material on the Woodstock soundtrack, a truncated and very, very powerful rendition of Tommy. The Who will never sound better than they did right at that moment -- Keith Moon was at the absolute height of his powers, and Townshend was awesome carrying most of the musical weight. Townshend has been writing really well about getting old ever since The Who By Numbers. It should be interesting to see what he comes up with here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Handa Wanda Obama

Great to see that Obama promises to visit New Orleans before the end of the year. Financial help from the federal government is useful only if local politicians don't steal it or give it to their family members and friends. But Obama is a great communicator and his presence on the ground in New Orleans can be a real inspiration for people to take control of their destiny and wrest it away from the corrupt politicians. One can only hope that while he's in town Obama delivers a private smackdown to that worthless excuse of a city leader currently looking at himself in the mirror and thinking about all the money he's going to make once he leaves office next year. Maybe he can start a consulting firm with his buddy George W. Bush.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Jazz: Still Alive and Well

The noted journalist and Jazz at Lincoln Center patron Doug Garr commented on my last post, which poked fun at what many perceive as the stodgy nature of some of the Lincoln Center Jazz programming. You're absolutely right about Wynton, Doug. I think he is in some ways underrated. Wynton is an outstanding player and I'd love to hear him play in a trumpet cutting session along the lines you suggest. Thanks for standing up for him. My flippant remarks were more a criticism of form than content. It's great that Wynton has been able to elevate jazz to the same level of support that European classical music enjoys. I really love the emotional impact of his New Orleans-inspired work and it's always exciting to hear him play in NOLA.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jazz still isn't dead

Per my previous post, please don't infer any criticism of Wynton Marsalis, who is a one-of-a-generation level talent and has proven himself to be a world leader in the realm of culture. I think Wynton was brilliant in figuring out how to place jazz on the same level as European classical music among the highbrow rich people crowd that funds institutions like Lincoln Center in New York. The first 60 years of jazz history is well worth the attention Wynton affords it and without an institution like Lincoln Center to fund it we might be left with the interpretations of those extremely nice and well meaning people from Norway, Sweden and Denmark who come to New Orleans every spring and remind us of the way jazz was played 100 years ago. Wynton is a genius and he takes very good care of the world class musicians, many from New Orleans, who populate the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Wynton's generosity as a boss extends to regular onstage nap times for certain members of the entourage. As for the audience at those Lincoln Center events, sitting in those ultra comfy sliding plush seats, who could blame them for experiencing some precious REM moments during the show. All the more reason for not scheduling events like Tribute to Albert Ayler or Miles Davis On the Corner, which might provide disturbing sounds that could jar the patrons from the pleasant dreams that jazz music affords them.
None of the previous observations are meant to reflect on the awesome energy generated by Wynton and the LCJO's masterpiece, Congo Square, which has entered the permanent jazz lexicon for my money. Every time I see that performed it reminds me of the moment at Jazz Fest back when there were night concerts when Wynton finally triumphed over Miles by performing Majesty of the Blues.

Wall Street Journal declares jazz "dead"

The Wall Street Journal, the financial mouthpiece of international pornographer/racist/unionbuster/thief Rupert Murdoch, has official declared that jazz is dead. Ironically, one of the key reasons for its demise is cited as its institutionalization at New York's Lincoln Center. Jazz is "alive" in the worldview of Murdoch newspeak only when it is the music of the poor and unfunded.
The recent Terence Blanchard concert at the Ogden Museum in New Orleans, performed to a packed house on a Friday evening, is only one example of how alive jazz remains as an entertainment medium. The fact that bands such as Bon Jovi clamor to be included in the lineup of the New Orleans Jazz Festival, which drew 400,000 earlier this year, suggests that whatever "jazz" is supposed to represent, it certainly remains something fairly popular in the public consciousness. The massive success of the Montreal International Jazz Festival is another definitive demonstration of the life jazz manages to exhibit. I suppose if your sole criteria is based on the programming of Jazz at Lincoln Center, which essentially repudiates the last 40 years of this music's evolution, you might come to some erronious conclusions.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gov't Mule's By A Thread due in October

Gov't Mule, for my money one of the greatest rock bands in history, is set to release its latest record, By A Thread on October 27th. By A Thread was recorded largely in the Texas Hill Country at Willie Nelson's Pedernales Studio earlier this year. The first track, "Broke Down On The Brazos," features Warren Haynes engaged in a guitar slinging exchange with that master of Texas rock, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.

Woostock redux

Now that the windbags have spent their hurricane force of wasted words about Woodstock and the 40th anniversary of the event has passed we can breath a sigh of relief and speculate that by the 50th anniversary the world may finally have moved on. The "Heroes of Woodstock" concert was nevertheless an interesting event that could have led to some thoughtful reflection. Jon Pareles of the New York Times had a good take on the event both before and after it took place, but he was alone in a wildnerness of useless verbiage. Woodstock '69 was one of numerous summer concerts featuring similar lineups of bands. Two weeks before it took place many of the same groups played a three day festival at Atlantic City, New Jersey, for example, a festival that has been essentially lost to history but was probably just as worthy a musical gathering if not moreso. The Who didn't make AC but Dr. John, the Sir Douglas Quintet, Frank Zappa and Chicago all played sets that were arguably as good or better than anything heard at the New York festival.

The Heroes of Woodstock concert was a good deal as these kind of nostalgia exploitation events go, with lawn tickets selling for $19.69, probably the cheapest ticket price for a show of this kind anywhere. Outside of auteur Paul Kantner's ongoing science fiction version of the Jefferson Airplane, which one can imagine being led by a cybernetic Kantner centuries from now, most of the music was forgettable -- Ten Years After without Alvin Lee?! -- but headliner Levon Helm's band can hold its own with anyone on the current touring scene, and Helm's Electric Dirt is one of the best recordings of the year. On the album Helm finds eternal truths in songs by Muddy Waters and Garcia/Hunter and his band translates them into glorious anthems celebrating the human spirit. There aren't many contemporary pop artists who can match the timeless beauty of this music.

I didn't expect much from the expanded 6-CD version of the Woodstock recordings, but there's some worthwhile stuff there. The full Richie Havens set is definitely worth a listen, and the additional tracks from The Who and Jefferson Airplane are fascinating even though other live documents from these bands are available. But to me the real revelation is the set by Country Joe and the Fish, which was hard edged, angular and delivered with a purpose that sounds closer to the throbbing metallic blurt of post punk music than the soft excesses of psychedelia. The band rose to this challenge and guitarist Barry Melton never had a better day.