Monday, March 30, 2009

We're coming, we're coming, we're coming, we're here!

This is tour week for the IJG: we'll be doing our annual jaunt through the land that gave birth to the band: mystical, zany southern CA.

I've been thinking about that detail lately. It's odd: I'm extremely happy that I no longer live in LA. I adore Portland. In some ways, I still identify as an east-coaster (since that was where I was born and raised). But when it comes down to it, the IJG will always be a California band, at least in spirit. I can't imagine having started the group in any other place. And my impressions of the region are so deep and strong that I suspect they will continue to inform my writing for years to come.

In any case, I find it a stroke of almost unbelievable good luck that I managed to end up in LA for long enough to (almost by accident) get into the wacky jazz business -- which, it turns out, is my kind of business! I don't really believe in fate or anything like that, but yeah. I feel pretty damned lucky.

So I just wanted to say: thank you, CA. See you in a few days!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

His what now?

I love Frank Rich, but his latest essay hits the ground running with an absurd premise (which Rich borrows and amplifies):

It would be foolish to dismiss as hyperbole the stark warning delivered by Paulette Altmaier of Cupertino, Calif., in a letter to the editor published by The Times last week: “President Obama may not realize it yet, but his Katrina moment has arrived.”


Whatever you think of what Obama is doing to try to fix the economy, at least he is trying to fix the economy. (Wasn't the "big story" a few weeks back about how he suddenly has gray hair?) Maybe his solution is wrong, maybe he is being unduly political or cautious, maybe he's just trying to shore up things the way they were, maybe he's secretly in the pockets of the already-entrenched powers-that-be. Or maybe he isn't. But at least he is taking action. And at least he demonstrates a basic level of empathy and concern about the issue.

Bush's Katrina sins, lest we forget, were of a different stripe altogether. When the hurricane hit, Bush was oblivious, incompetent, and criminally cavalier, all at once. His "response" was inaction, and the impression he created was that he did not give a flying fuck. What emergency, remember?

Am I crazy to think there's a difference?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Concerns about privacy...

...can sometimes lead to weirdness.

Ganked from "The Best of Google Street View" at the Times Online.

The caption: "Automatic face recognition obscures a Bobby Sands mural in Belfast." Does this mean the painting was so realistic that the machine thought it was an actual face? Maybe we'll never know.

Part of my (hopefully brief) foray into pseudo-photo-blogging. (This time it's not my photo.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Illogical on its face

So as I'm processing the hype surrounding Glenn Beck's "The 9-12 Project," I have just one simple question.

Mr. Beck: if time travel is your thing, why the hell don't you choose to go back to 9-10 instead of 9-12? That way you can, you know, use your power as a "person of the future" to stop the attack before it happens.

(To your credit, I'm sure that that this is just an oversight on your part, and that you're not exploiting a national tragedy for your own political gain.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Read the fine print, cont'd

Ack! This is becoming the blog o' silly pictures. It's as if I thought a photo blog was the greatest thing since "slicded bread":

Backstory: I was in the store yesterday and had to decide between sourdough or French rolls. I went with the sourdough because of this downright delicious typo.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Upcoming, part 2

With any luck, these will make a guest appearance during our upcoming CA tour. On the band, on the audience -- everywhere!

(I'll be returning to more substantive posts soon, I swear.)

Friday, March 13, 2009


A VERY STUPID, hastily-edited little promo spot about our upcoming tour, done in the style of the bombastic action movie trailer. (All that's missing is the deep masculine voice-over.)

Does this make you want to see one of our shows? Please?

Friday, April 3 (Bakersfield) - Cal State Bakersfield's Dore Theater. 8 PM.

Saturday, April 4 (LA) - El Cid. 10 PM.

Sunday, April 5 (San Diego) - Please note the new venue! We are now at Dizzy's in San Diego! Mesa College Big Band at 6 PM, PLOTZ! at 7 PM, and IJG at 8 PM!

More info at the IJG website.

Friday morning economic meltdown music, continued

John Mellencamp covers Woody Guthrie.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Keep off the grass

And while you're at it, be as delicate as possible in your piano-playing:

A sign directed at my students by a well-meaning adult (not me). Click the pic for more detail.

I'm having a hard time explaining to them how to play the instrument without running their fingers across the keys. Little Richard would be shit out of luck! Ah well.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


(Apologies to those of you who have already seen these via Facebook.)

Below: one "produced / edited" IJG video, one "raw feed" IJG video. Fuller commentary is available at the relevant YouTube pages (just click the videos to get there).

Enjoy 'em if you can!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The intelligence of a box of parrots

This burns with the white-hot fire of eleventy-billion awesome suns. Do you too "find cheap populism oddly arousing"? Watch it.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sometimes it feels like a shit-storm juggernaut

In the last 24 hours or so, I have learned two very depressing things.

1. The Cave, Alan Jones' great new-ish venue here in Portland, has closed. Tom D'Antoni has the story.

It was a potential scene-maker, that place. Loose enough, I think, to allow for the sort of artistic percolation that is necessary for new things to grow.

I was just there with Andrew Oliver a few weeks ago, fer chrissakes. They were doing a brisk business. On a Thursday night. In this economy.

As Tom puts it:

Are you feeling the same, and increasingly (nearly daily) anger and disappointment and frustration as I am? It used to be that we all could go back to day jobs when times got lean and nobody was buying our words or hiring us for gigs. Now there aren't even any day jobs. I wish I had some answers.

Me too.

2. Rocco Somazzi is ill.

Any of you who have ever asked me about the history of the IJG or how we got started in LA will know the high esteem in which I hold this guy. He was an early supporter at a time when we really needed support.

It's kinda too much to ponder at the moment, so I'm just going to point you to the above-linked piece by LA Jazz Collective member / pianist Gary Fukushima. Of which the following section is particularly apt:

I’ve held a theory for a while now that the act of successful improvising requires that the improvisor needs to suspend most of the brain functions that normally govern our lives, things like being hungry, feeling physical pain, being depressed, worried or nervous. All you have left is an intense focus on the next three or four seconds, where your entire life exists in that moment. And when you actually do something that works in those three or four seconds, it’s really all the life validaition you need at that moment. Your life is complete, and it is abundant. For three or four seconds.

I find that I tend to live my entire life, sometimes to my detriment, similar to how I improvise. I’ve never had much of a long term vision about how my life is supposed to work, you could say I’m improvising my way through this world, just trying to focus really hard on the tasks right in front of me. I tend not to freak out about the future, but I can certainly panic when life starts to catch up with me (just like when the changes do the same), be it paying bills, meeting writing deadlines (like the one for this article), getting to a gig or rehearsal on time. I tend to get lost and absorbed in whatever I am doing at that particular moment, which can lead to some semi-dysfunctional episodes…


I get the sense that I’m not the only jazz musician that has this outlook on life. I wonder if its a defense mechanism of sorts that keeps us from getting overwhelmed by the struggles of surviving by doing what we do. I do believe that we can enjoy little instances that happen, we can relish the funny and unusual things that can happen from day to day, gig to gig, evident by the propensity of jazz musicans to tell great stories. We always seem to be laughing, even while we play, and definitely when we’re hanging out off the bandstand between sets.

For me, this is the Abundance of the Moment.

Which brings me to Rocco Somazzi. Now Rocco isn’t a jazz musician, but he might as well be one, for I think he thinks the way we do, only more. I don’t know of anyone who is more enthusiastic about things he likes and who gets more excited when talking about music or art or food or Ferraris or kung fu. His enthusiasm led him to open up several jazz clubs in Los Angeles, where he always created a welcoming, supportive environment for creative jazz musicians and their music. Like many of us, Rocco’s enthusiasm can get the better of him, as witnessed when hard times sadly forced him to move and then close his establishment, leaving him bankrupt and homeless for a time.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Rocco.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Read the fine print

The pooping pets are bad enough, but it's really the pooping owners you have to watch out for.

The plastic sleeve makes this extra hilarious!

(I discovered this on a recent walk around the neighborhood. I was accompanied by my pet, who never poops.)

Two great tastes that taste great together

Holy cow! Science and music: together again!

Rock-It Science is a musical event celebrating the interface between music and science. Rock-It Science is the brain child of Dr. Joseph LeDoux, and the event features scientists and academics who are also active performers of music (and science-friendly guest stars).

Rufus Wainright and Dee Sinder on the same bill? I am so there!

(Oh, wait, it's 3000 miles away. Damned scientists-who-haven't-invented-teleportation yet...)