Sunday, December 20, 2009
Just read an article on the health care bill on Slate
Barring a desertion by Lieberman, which is not out of the question, the bill will go to a Senate vote next week. From what I can glean, this watered down bill could potentially do more harm than good. It certainly seems like a gift to the insurance companies which will have even more business without the competition from a public option. How does this effect people on the fringes who will have to buy health care or face a tax fine? Will they opt to pay the fine? Some people (in the comments section) say that the bill, watered down as it is, will still be a marked improvement over what we have since insurance cos will not be able to drop those with existing coverage, or deny others wilth existing conditions.
Had an interesting conversation with a bass player friend about it today. He is an Obama supporter to a fault. He is extremely progressive, but he sees the political side as well. He is saying that Obama wanted to get things done incrementally. He realized a public option was a non-starter and at least wanted to get the trigger in. He thinks Harry Reid, by forcing a progressive issue caused a backlash on the right. I think it's reading too much into it to presume to know what Obama thinks, but I do agree that there is a political element here that is driving things.
If health care passes and things marginally improve is this huge? Many administrations have tried and failed. It's sad and disheartening the levels of greed and hatred in this country.
Posted at 01:24 am by commish
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I've Got You Under My Skin
No video but this is a great example of Sinatra's connection to the beat. One of the all time great Nelson Riddle arrangements. It's all building tension, almost overtly sexual -- he (and the arrangement) tease you throughout the first chorus but you can sense something simmering, until finally in the instrumental, an orgasm of horns, and when he reenters the tension is rebuilt - climax -- break - resolution.
Posted at 12:26 am by commish
Monday, December 14, 2009
A Republican in sheep's clothing
Speaking of Republicans, did you know that Joe Lieberman's wife works as a lobbyist for medical insurance companies? WTF?! Why does Harry Reid and his cohorts put up with him. They should strip him of his committees before they are not in a position to do so. (appx 1 year from now if math serves)
Posted at 09:12 pm by commish
Friday, December 11, 2009
The pinnacle (possibly of western civilization) is a record called Only The Lonely. It was made at the height of his career in the mid 50s and he's at the peak of his talent. It was the first concept album - it's all ballads, heavily orchestrated around the theme of lost love. He would repeat this formula with less success with Come Fly With Me. Come Dance With Me and others, although that is like saying a BMW is not as good as a Porsche.
Some words about those that arranged for him. Nelson Riddle, who did Only the Lonely, among many others, was one of the greatest arrangers ever and his sound, combined with Sinatra's basically changed the way that people listened to music, or at least it raised the bar to an extremely high level. This kind of symbiotic relationship between arrnanger (sometimes composer, as in Jimmy Van Huesen) and vocalist had never existed before and it made the Sinatra lexicon special, separating him from the ancillary big-band singers who were mere components of a larger group with no real power. I really believe it was an alignment of the stars between singer, arranger/composer, and musicians that made these records so great -- not just Sinatra.
Posted at 09:19 am by commish
I enjoyed playing tonight. Sometimes with a steady, especially one with a singer, I get into ruts, but today everything seemed light and fresh.
I wanted to ask what do you all think of Sinatra? Most people of our generation only remember him from his tuxedo-wearing, larger than life, arena appearances of his last 2 decades. The kind they would parody on SNL. If you listen to the stuff from the 40s, and especially 50s and 60s you hear an original artist whose concept of phrasing is practically unequalled. The way he sings a ballad -- it's romantic, but more than that there is a kind of vulnerability mixed with raw sexuality. He makes you believe in the song and he makes you feel for him. when you think of it there's a kind of genius in that because think of the man -- he was a powerful man who associated with mobsters, liked to drink and carry on and he was not what you think of as a sensitive guy. Anyhow I'm curious because there is this dichotomy in him that I find fascinating.
Posted at 01:16 am by commish
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
In 2006 the Detroit Tigers won the wildcard and went on to lose to the St Louis Cardinals in the World Series. This was an incredible turnaround from 2005 when they finished 72-90. In 2003 they almost set the record for worst MLB season ever finishing at 43-119. Part of me pities the Yankee fan who will never know that kind of jubilation. Their joy is contrived and they will always have rat bastard Giuliani in the front row with his shit-eating grin as God Bless America plays in perpetuity during the joyless 7th inning stretch.
Posted at 11:42 am by commish
Busy day in the Northeast
I drove to Connecticut to drop off some computers to my brother-in-laws office. Then I came back down and taught two home-schooled Larchmont kids (westchester) piano lessons. Then I drove across Westchester to Yonkers for my regular after-school piano teaching, after which I went back across Westchester and down to the Bronx to visit my best friend. We watched a great documentary on the Baroness Panonica who was a jazz aficionado and took care of Thelonious Monk late in his life when he was sick. Now I'm back in Queens.
Posted at 12:41 am by commish
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Tonight I watched the movie version of Gypsy starring Rosalind Russell, Karl Malden, and a young Natalie Wood. It wasn't that good of a film -- bloated and overdone -- but the music is outstanding. Julie Styne wrote the music and Steven Sondheim did the lyrics. You may recall that Sondheim also wrote the lyrics to West Side Story. Soon after he would go on to write musicals of his own.
My father has told me about seeing the original cast on Broadway with Ethel Merman and the way he described it it sounded spectacular. I wish I could have seen that. I have seen youtube videos of Merman singing "Some People" and believe me it is incredible. I have the utmost respect for Merman's singing even though she is a far cry from the jazz singers that I listen to. (Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, Nancy Wilson) She has a natural way of phrasing and of course the built-in megaphone of a voice.
Nevertheless, when you watch a musical, be it a great film such as Oklahoma or the Sound of Music, or flawed efforts such as Guys and Dolls, Carousel, and Gypsy (the films, not the shows) you are going to hear great melodies. Melodies that are so sweet and lyrical that you may cry. I defy you to listen to If I Loved You and hold back the waterworks.
Posted at 12:34 am by commish
Monday, December 07, 2009
Coming back from walking the dog there as a guy coming out the building with a pit bull mix. I could see he was reticent about the dogs passing close to each other so I stepped back so that he could pass. As he passed my dog suddenly broke free and rushed at his dog. I screamed her name and she came back to me but before I could grab the leash she rushed back at the other dog. The guy said "why don't you pick up the leash?" As I was able to grab my dog's leash I screamed at him "Don't you think I would have picked up the leash if I could?!"
Him: Fuck you.
Me: Fuck you
Him: Fuckin' midget
Posted at 01:00 am by commish
Sunday, December 06, 2009
I played the first Christmas gig of the season tonight -- a house party on Long Island. We as musicians have this oddity -- a December repertoir. It's like unpacking this songs out of mothballs. You have to get the dust off of them on that first gig and then you're good to go. Do I like Chestnuts in Eb or F? Where does Let It Snow go on the bridge again? What's that good Charlie Brown song again? Oh yeah, it's Christmas Time is Here. Or is it Wintertime is Here?
Now these tunes are good to go and for the next two and a half weeks we'll be running them into the ground. Then we'll pack them away for another 11 months.
Posted at 01:56 am by commish