Sunday, October 29, 2006


Apparently the latest IJG record recently got a bit of good exposure from our friends at KZSU. We were in rotation for nine weeks, and we made the CMJ Jazz Top 10 Report the whole time (even holding the number one slot one week). Here's the breakdown, for those of you who are statistically-minded:

July 30 -- #4
Aug. 6 -- #5
Aug. 13 -- #4
Aug. 20 -- #1
Aug. 27 -- #2 (and #22 overall at the station)
Sep. 3 -- #3
Sep. 10 -- #7
Sep. 17 -- #6
Sep. 19 -- #9

I must admit that this was a bit of very welcome news, both because I've been a little disappointed overall with the reception Go Go! has received (I think it's easily our best and most original record, and so far, though people have liked it, they haven't exactly been bowled over (so sue me, I'm ambitious)), and because I've been pretty frustrated with the experience of booking this January 2007 East Coast Tour, which has been a little bit like pulling teeth (only three shows have been confirmed so far, and yet I'm trying to fill an entire week).

KZSU Jazz Director Craig Matsumoto published a quick sketch of the album, which is as good an introduction to this phase of our work as I've seen.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The things you learn

Peppers being broiled outdoors in a large cylindrical metal broiler (turned with a hand crank), on a crisp Autumn morning, at a local farmer's market, smell vaguely but distinctly like marijuana.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Zappa sighting

Heard "Peaches En Regalia" as bumper music on the Randi Rhodes show today, and was quite glad. It may in fact have been the first time I'd ever heard that tune -- or indeed, any Zappa -- on the radio.

I never quite understood why PER (or the Hot Rats album in general) tends to get whipped out as the quintessential FZ (it's the only FZ tune I know of to have made it into the Real Book)-- but I'll readily admit that it's a beauty all the same. To me it sounds like the perfect combination of self-effacing bombast and genuine joy.

I'm sure that's what this clothing company was thinking too. (That's right: the first thing I think of when I hear Zappa is fine men's and women's apparel.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rex's take

And here is Rex Butters' review of the new IJG album.

BTW, I wish I really did have a clown car.

Anyway: thanks, Rex.

Monday, October 23, 2006

News flash

Hey! Barack Obama is considering a run for president in '08.

He's a little late (like, by eight years), but who knows? Maybe he can help turn things around.

What do I mean? Well, of course there's the "buzz" that surrounds his career. But he really earned my admiration when he appeared on Sacha Cohen's Ali G show a year or two ago. Unlike most of the other (unsuspecting) guests, Obama came out of his interaction with Cohen pretty much unscathed -- that is, sans embarrassment or frustration. I guess when you don't have to protect a gargantuan ego from mischievous deflation, you do better in that sort of scenario.

Yeah, Obama seems to have all the old school "good guy" qualities: integrity, an ability to speak articulately, a sense of optimism, an identification with the little guy, a pretty wife... compare that with someone like Dennis Hastert, who, with his lumbering frame and his constantly-slobbering mouth, seems (like some modern-day Roman overlord) to physically embody the rot that infests Washington.

Wow, I really want to see how this movie ends...

Steveland Judkins, aka Morris

That's right, I'm talkin' 'bout Stevie Wonder. Got him on the brain tonight because I was recently turned on to Innervisions, one of the few good Stevie Wonder albums I didn't already own (though I was more than a little familiar with a few of the tracks on it). Turns out that this may have been his best ever. Who knew? (Well, apparently everyone but me.)

A few measures of SW's genius:

1. The lyrics, though generally admirable in terms of their content, are sorta amateurish from a purely aesthetic standpoint. But it doesn't matter, cuz the compositions (and the performances / recording techniques) are so astoundingly beautiful.

2. SW can get away with synths-pretending-to-be-real-instruments like no one else. (Witness the pseudo-strings in "Village Ghetto Land." Again, it doesn't matter, cuz the other musical ingredients are so strong.)

3. On band road trips, SW albums are generally in that elite club of recordings that are more or less guaranteed to meet with approval from everyone in the van.

And besides, he shares a birthday with my daughter (May 13).

Photo by Chris Walter

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Getting and Spending

I'm in serious trouble. This week we discovered two local establishments that I sense are destined to take all my money: a massage therapy place and a used CD store. Both within walking distance, both down in the "village" section of Multnomah Village (which is the technical term for the area of Portland that we live in).

The massage therapy place was actually one of three such places, all within blocks of each other. The one that I went to is part of a "healing arts clinic" that also offers acupuncture and chiropractic work. What can I say? I had a great session there with Becca, who slowly and meticulously found trigger points I didn't even know existed, expending very little of her own energy in the process, and shunning the flashy repertoire that characterizes most LA therapists. Forgive me, but I can't help reading this as somehow exemplary of more general differences between LA and PDX. And speaking of those differences, get this: by the time I had arrived and filled out all of the necessary paperwork, I was about ten minutes late for the session, which was scheduled for 4 PM. Becca's question to me was whether it was alright if we went beyond 5 PM, so I could get a full hour session.

Was it alright if we went beyond 5 PM?! Holy crap, I love this town. In LA I would have been out on my ass by that time, whether I had been late or not.

Anyway, the used CD store is called Post Hip (you won't find it on the web, it's that small). Here's how the owner describes it in a free brochure entitled "The 2006 Portland Guide to Independent Record and CD Stores" (which lists -- count 'em -- 27 such establishments in the city): "Used Jazz Blues Classical Multicultural CDS. Hand-picked eclectic books cheap. Comfortable. Conversational. Gap-toothed amicable. Trendless commendable quality. Propitious prices. Munificent buying. Multnomah Village."

Indeed. Again with the comparatives (I'll get over this soon, I promise): I found that Post Hip kicked Amoeba's ass, despite the fact that the latter is a much more comprehensive, ambitious, and busy place. You see, the thing I like to do most at a used record shop is browse: an activity (some would say an art) that requires certain preconditions: a finite set of merchandise, non-pushy clientele, not too long of a line to get to the cash register, a sense of connectedness with the merchant. Amoeba violates all these conditions. It's like Costco for just music: it's great if you know exactly what you're looking for, but it's awkward and unweildy (and for some folks even frightening) if you just want to relax and explore. It embodies what Alvin Toffler called "overchoice," a phenomenon that (in the end) may be even more threatening to new music than American Idol.

At Post Hip, the parameters are doable. A tiny single-room shop in which I suspect the ideal shopping experience is to take frequent, fleeting dips into an ever-changing pool (can't wait to see what's on the racks next week). The proprieter / clerk (who Daphne is convinced must be independently wealthy, because he's surely got to be losing money with this joint) was jolly, even giddy. He seemed unwilling to let us leave when the time came. Not out of desperation or a desire to get us to buy more -- rather, he seemed genuinely, sort of irrepressibly friendly. How novel!

My haul included a copy of Ellington's SRO (a longtime favorite of mine that may even have been the first Ellington recording I owned, albeit originally in cassette form -- don't get me started on this one, but it's a live recording that swings like a motherfucker (thank you, Sam Woodyard), especially on the version of "Rockin' in Rhythm"); an untitled (or eponymous) Don Pullen / George Adams recording, originally released on Soul Note; a compilation featuring pieces by Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Lou Harrison, and Terry Riley (quite beautiful, and a hit with the kid; may need to comment on the liner notes in the weeks ahead); Herodotus' histories; and, I don't know, a whole lot of other stuff that I hope I have the time to actually sit down and enjoy someday.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Two reviews

Found these this week:

First, a very flattering take on the new album and the group in general at Courtesy of Sheldon T. Nunn.

Despite the kind words contained therein, I feel obliged to correct a few of Mr. Nunn's statements: 1. we are not in "constant demand" throughout the states he lists (though I wish we were, and maybe someday we will be), 2. "the Industrial Jazz Group experience" is not "beyond comprehension," and 3. the latest CD does not rely on a formula that has gone "virtually unchanged in [our] six years together." In fact, with respect to the material on Go Go!, we're a totally different band from the one we were six years ago.

No need to dwell on these points, of course, and again many thanks to Mr. Nunn for writing such a positive review. But I mention the bit about the so-called "formula" because of the other thing I found this week: a writeup on Hardcore (our first album, released in 2001) that appeared in the electronic version of some east coast fanzine (the web version is called BLOG TO COMM).

First of all, fuck CBGB. I don't know the latest details on the whole fight to keep the club alive, and I don't really care. But after they served me up an enormous helping of grief and stress by cancelling the show we were scheduled to play there during our first east coast tour (June 2005) -- cancelling it, I should add, a week before the show was supposed to happen (remember, we're from LA -- that's a long commute) -- I've gotta say I don't have a lot of sympathy for them.

Needless to say we were never "front and center" at CBGB. But even if we had been, we wouldn't have been performing any material from Hardcore, which, while a good album that I am proud of, is admittedly more "in the tradition," and in any case is light years away from the sort of thing we're doing now. That's not to say that Mr. BLOG TO COMM (what does that title mean, anyway?) would be more interested in the kind of thing we're doing now, but, unless he were stone cold deaf (a possibility, I guess) he'd be hard-pressed to dismiss it as "old hat."

Hmmm. Am I being cranky?

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Random bits of data pertinent to our second week in Portland:

1. I learned of the imminent demise of both "new music" series at Club Tropical (Cryptonight on Thursdays, and Ear Orchard on Mondays). The reason? Carlos, Club Tropical's owner, is selling the restaurant. Hard to say whether these series (these serieses?), which collectively make up a good portion of the lifeblood of interesting music in LA, will resurrect somewhere else. Probably -- the LA scene has always been something of a moveable feast. But given that CT has been the IJG's "home base" for the last few years, I have to add this particular development to the list of reasons I'm glad I got out of Los Angeles when I did. Sooner or later, the band was going to wither and die due to a lack of light.

2. Continuing with the botanical theme: Thandie and I spent at least three mornings this week raking leaves. Holy crap, it's Autumn! We never really enjoyed that season in "the Southland." Here, we've got lots of trees, and thus lots of colorful dried foliage lying around. Raked up a bunch of it and had a blast demonstrating to the kid the art of "leaf pile jumping."

3. And more: gonna have to learn how to take care of a full-on yard (I was about to say "a garden," but technically there are numerous gardens scattered throughout the property). That's right, urban Durkin is gonna have to develop a green thumb, right quick. I must say that I'm actually anticipating this, much to my surprise. I still identify primarily as a city-dweller (which is why I'm thankful that downtown Portland is a mere ten minutes away). But I have always enjoyed yard work -- at least the somewhat simple tasks I had to do as a kid (mow the lawn, rake the leaves, clip the hedge) -- because, strangely enough, I did some of my best thinking while engaged in it. When I was a kid, yard work ran a close second to walking in terms of providing a, ahem, fertile context for conceptual creativity.

One last twist on this point: now there is the added benefit of really feeling the resonance of the famous ending to Voltaire's Candide, where, after a series of unbelievably unpleasant run-ins with the worst of human nature, the hapless hero decides literally to focus on cultivating his own garden (the language is Voltaire's). I can feel the value of that now -- living in this increasingly horrific world, with its litany of problems -- I suspect that from this point forward, my own contributions, whatever they may be, will need to radiate outward from a carefully nurtured backyard.

4. What with the move and all, I had originally been planning a brief sabbatical from the group. Let me clarify: work on the new recording, and whatever new compositions might develop, would of course continue, but I wanted to step away from the drudge work of booking and promoting for the rest of the year. I sort of felt like I needed this for my own sanity. But with our upcoming trip east (for IAJE in January 07), there's just no way I can let down my guard. This will surely be our most complicated trip yet -- putting it together is sort of like the hardest game of chess I have ever played.

Of course, I remain optimistic that IAJE could pay off. But I also have to admit at this point that the show I am most excited about is our double bill with Darcy James Argue's Secret Society -- one of a handful of other big bands out there playing original music. Check out Darcy's blog if you haven't already -- he's a motherfucker composer, he writes (prose) well, too, and in general he's fighting the good fight.