Please step inside my emporium. I have some rare curios for your inspection—odds and ends of various sorts. It’s a motley assortment, I’ll admit. But you won’t find this selection elsewhere, and a few items might be edifying or at least amusing.
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Let’s start by wishing a happy 80th birthday to Paul McCartney.
What is he doing at this advanced age? Relaxing on the Isle of Wight with Vera, Chuck, and Dave? Not in the least. For one, he’s still giving three-hour concerts. And he’s also pushing ahead into new sounds—consider this recent recording of Macca playing bass with a group of African musicians from Malawi.
I always thought the goal was to age gracefully, but Sir Paul convinces me that there might be better options.
It’s bad when even telemarketers selling bogus auto warranties look down on you.
If I taught at Berklee, the lecture on Day One would be on disintermediation. Modes and Scales can wait for Day Two.
My friend John Altman gave me permission to share this photo of a page from his 1972 phone book. Hard to beat John for eclecticism. I can’t decide which celebrity I’d call first—maybe I’d go Z-to-A, starting with Frank Zappa in the morning and ending up with June Allyson that evening.
Speaking of alphabetical lists. . . .
If music critic Gene Lees were alive today, he would be on Substack. Back before the worldwide web, he invented homemade jazz journalism with a mail-only newsletter called the Jazzletter—and it boasted an impressive list of subscribers.
Once every year, he would publish the names of every one of them, and it was remarkable how many music legends were on the list. It always gave me a thrill to see my name a few centimeters away from Dizzy Gillespie’s.
Who would dare get into a scat-singing battle with Ella Fitzgerald? I give credit to trumpeter Clark Terry, who matches her phrase-for-phrase at the 2:15 mark with his inimitable ‘mumbles’ style of vocalizing.
I love this band. I love this track.
This article finally shares the details on the new super-vinyl technology from T-Bone Burnett—answering questions that other media outlets haven't bothered to ask. All the specs are fascinating, but here’s the short explanation of what it does.
Here’s a poster for A Female Drummer, a Broadway show from 1898. I can’t tell you the plot because I’m afraid to find out.
Today I learned that a musician was responsible for the introduction of the Post-It Note. It was first used to mark important passages in choir music.
Can you learn Method Singing?
Konstantin Stanislavski changed the course of theater and movies with his ‘system’—more often called Method Acting. But did you know that Stanislavski trained for a career in music and applied the same techniques when working with singers?
Music to distract from dental pain (1922).
A correspondent asked me if ambitious cities have the best music. Here’s how I responded.
A new service aims to tell you what music tastes like.
And in the end. . .
And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make.
Will have to pick up that Ella LP - did Pablo ever put out even a mediocre album? I think Granz was at his peak as a producer in the '70s - and the musicians he recorded were, too. Basie's small-group recordings on Pablo are uniformly revelatory.
And McCartney's superb bass playing has almost always been overshadowed by his songwriting and singing - but he and Ringo formed one of the most supple rhythm sections ever in rock 'n roll.
Besides, he IS aging gracefully! I don't remember if it was Paul or Mick Jagger, but one of them said that seeing the earlier generations of swing, jazz and blues musicians keep producing vital music into their 80s had inspired them, and made them realize that their earlier notion that rock was strictly a young person's game was foolish.
Ella....what a talent. In my day I was a pretty good singer, and once in a while I tried to imitate that kind of scat vocalizing and failed miserably.....it's really difficult to get that kind of control...or it was for me anyway. She was amazing.
Music to alleviate dental pain? Isn't the varying tone of the drill supposed to do that?