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Halloween Suggestions

For all of you who revel in the opportunity to celebrate All Hallows Eve by donning a scary costume and frightening the living shit out of your more reactionary friends, I offer the following costume suggestion.

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Fly My Pretties!

Hurry though, this costume only has two more uses before it becomes obsolete.

Musings on a link

This link… crossed my path and I was struck by this quote:

“The Buddha emphasized the importance of transforming the three unwholesome motivations: greed into generosity, ill will into loving-kindness, delusion into wisdom. Today we also need to address their collective versions: our economic system institutionalizes greed, militarism institutionalizes ill will, and the media institutionalize delusion. The problem is not only that these three poisons now operate collectively but that these institutions have taken on a life of their own, as new types of collective ego. Any personal awakening we might have remains incomplete until it is supplemented by a “social awakening” that motivates us to find ways to challenge these institutionalized causes of widespread suffering.”

As a consultant  whose practice (http://www.wheelwrig…) has been to assist organizational leaders to become more effective through increased (non)-self awareness,  I find the above to be spot on.  The three poisons are, for me, at the center of every ill this world is currently dealing with.  In our own mess, we can clearly see hatred (fear), greed (desire), and delusion (ignorance) operating at every level and on each side of the current debate.  Not only are these poisonous mind-states pervasive, they have become so enmeshed as to present as an nearly impermeable membrane against which our multi-lateral charges seem to have little effect.

I’m thinking primarily now about how this plays out within the Democratic party as it struggles to come to grips with its lack of spine, purpose,  and direction.  I wonder how the party would look if it was dedicated to reducing or minimizing the grip of the poisons on our society, relationships, foreign policy, and economic structures.  Would it even survive?  Sadly, I don’t know if any existing ‘party’ is up to the job of confronting what has become  nearly universal obsessions with terror, money and ideology.

50th Annual MJF-For Nightprowlkitty

Friday Night
Dave Holland, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Chris Potter, Eric Harland

Dave Holland is a cerebral bassist whose works are always introspective and interesting. Rubalcaba is a fine Cuban pianst whose powerful playing
helps set off Holland’s quieter moods. A great, tight group-very cool.

John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension

McLaughlin is a great musician and guitarrist. He was back to his 70’s fusion style here though, and with the rain starting, it was an ordeal. Too many notes.

Issac Delgado

Listened to him on the way home, in the pouring rain. As the arena venue is outside, we bailed before the deluge hit. September rain is very rare here. Wasn’t particularly impressed with what I heard, kind of popish and certainly not the latin standard of Puente or Tjader in years past.

Saturday Afternoon-dedicated to the blues

James Hunter

This guy was on fire! An English band doing 50’s style blues and rock & roll. Hunter was funny, energetic and capable of sounding like anyone from Sam Cook to Chuck Berry, to Fats Domino Little Richard and James Brown. He had a falsetto he could reach that was better than Brown’s screech and the moves to back it up. Very entertaining…give him a listen, but in person is the key.

Otis Taylor Band

Son of a blues legend, Taylor had his charming and beautiful daughter playing bass for him. Started his set playing banjo to a strong Louisiana blues backing. Went on to range over some traditional material. He was kind of reticent at first, but when he wound up, he was down on the arena floor shouting the blues and revving the joint up. Kind of a cajun smoked Delta sound.

Los Lobos

Tim Jackson, the festival head, must feel its necessary to bring in rock and roll groups that have a kind of appeal to younger fans or potential ticket buyers. Too loud, too much rock and roll. Short on blues and feeling.

Saturday Night

Terence Blanchard Quintet with Monterey Jazz Festival Chamber Orchestra – PREMIERING “REQUIEM FOR KATRINA”

One of the festival highlights for me. Very moving work done with string orchestral backing. Fantastic quintet with all the players very very good.  Place was as quiet as I’ve ever heard it, befitting the subject matter and  musical excellence.  This is out in CD….see if you can listen to it…beautifully done.

Gerald Wilson Orchestra with Special Guest Kenny Burrell Premiering “Monterey Moods”

Gerald Wilson is 89 and still leading, with gusto and verve, his own long standing band in his own composition comissioned for the fest. I didn’t like the pieces, all built around a 3 note theme to suggest the word Mon-te-rey, all that much, but there were moments. Kenny Burrell is a legend and a hero of mine as a jazz guitarrist whose playiing covers every facet of the guitar repetoire. He seemed a little out of place with the big band, and his playing wasn’t up to what I remember. Not the best use of his talents. But he too is getting older…must be in later 60’s now.?

Diana Krall

Had just seen her in concert in May at the Mountain Winery. Was impressed here with how she’d gotten her piano chops back into shape after marriage/twins. Her voice and sensibility with lyrics, as always, fantastic. She has matured into a confident and engaging performer.
Backed up by her trio plus Jeff Hamilton on drums. John Clayton, her bassist, and Hamilton have their own big band based in LA and are both consumate side-men. Her guitarrist, Anthony Wilson, is becoming quite a fine player and happens to be Gerald Wilson’s son. He also performed with his father on the Monterey Moods piece.

Sunday Afternoon:

Los Angeles County High School For The Arts / Winning Big Band from the Next Generation Festival Orchestra

Got there a bit late on Sunday p.m. The day is devoted to kids from all over showing off how they’ll keep jazz alive in the face of all the crappy pop stuff crowding the airwaves. It is always astounding to hear how sophisticated these youngsters are. They play their butts off, leaning into the music as only a teenager can do, with boundless energy and complete abandon. I missed this first group, but many were part of the next act as well.

Next Generation Jazz Orchestra with Artist-In-Residence Terence Blanchard

Blanchard played with these kids, not in front of them. It was great to watch him interact with all the players, from guitar to bass, and of course, with the horn section. The band played some very complex stuff, full of great harmonies and capped by high quality soloists.

Ornette Coleman 3 Bass Quintet

Its as hard to say anything meaningful about Ornette as it is to understand him sometimes. His quintet was a trip to listen to. Acoustic bass, stand-up electric bass, and a five-string ‘guitar’ bass w/ drums.
He played some of his typical avant avant avant guard stuff, and also some beautiful new stuff with haunting rhythms formed by all the crossing bass lines beneath his solos. Drummer was playing some amazing rhythmic stuff tying it all together. A couple of the pieces were so loaded w/harmonic overtones is was like listening to gongs playing melody…very cool. Then some of it was honk and squawk…which I’ve never resonated with, but one thing is for sure, Ornette is in a musical class by himself as a thinker and performer.

Sunday Evening:

Monterey Jazz Festival 50th Anniversary All-Stars with Terence Blanchard, Nnenna Freelon, Benny Green, James Moody, Kendrick Scott & Derrick Hodge

Benny Green was leading this. He is a great young pianist with a powerful, be-bop influenced attack. The band was very tight and Blanchard’s quintet made up the backbone playing again with verve,
agility and feeling. Green was very engaging, I had no idea he was so young.  I didn’t particularly care for Nnenna Freelon’s vocals, but I don’t fault here, I don’t the arrangements were were suited to her talents.

Dave Brubeck Quartet with special guest Jim Hall

I would bet this was Dave’s last visit. He seemed quite old and frail, getting up slowly from the piano, and not saying very much except with his music. I had tears in my eyes listening as it took me back to my own youth in the early ’60’s when Brubeck was my introduction to jazz which became a lifelong love for me. Listening to Take 5, I could actually see myself on my bed, reading and digging Time Out/Time Further Out etc.,
and dreaming of how I would make it big as a flamenco player. Sweet and bitter sweet. Dave’s playing was great, given his age 84/5, and his band, all older guys, were as cool as can be. Jim Hall, like Burrell with Wilson, seemed a little lost, as though there hadn’t been much rehersal together. Hall is another of my guitar heroes, a guitarist in the Bill Evans mode of introspection.

Sonny Rollins

Knocked down the house completely. His colossal frame staggering around with his horn, blowing like a madman, bent to his task with love, passion and consummate feeling. His band was tearing it up behind him,
keeping him up and on top of his game. His last number was a long, extended caribbean-oriented piece a la St. Thomas that just blew us all away. He got standing O’s after every piece it seemed, and at the end, vowed to be back 50 years from now to play again as he did at the first festival. If you could have seen and heard him, of that you’d have no doubt!

So….50 years of jazz at Monterey in the books. One of the reasons I ended up here was because I wanted to be close to this, to feel the vibe, and to see my heros play before they went into the dark. I’ve been fortunate, in the last 25 years, to have attended a good many of them.
I got to see Diz, Tjader, Tito Puente, Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughn…on and on…never saw Miles or Bill Evans though, damnit. This year was a treat, because at almost 60, I realize I may not have all that much longer to listen, and the greats are passing from our lives all too quickly.