April Mea Culpa

First things first: it’s time to apologize for the lack of updates here in the month of April. April, which according to poet T.S. Elliot is the cruelest month, is also Jazz Appreciation Month, and National Poetry Month. Cruel, certainly. There were horribly destructive tornadoes in the southern U.S. (Learn more, and how you might help, here).

Fortunately, it’s always jazz appreciation month on this website. Some jazz-in-April links: Over at Jazzwax, Marc Myers is up for two jazz journalist association awards. David Brent Johnson’s Nightlights radio show featured bassist Scott Lafaro, amongst others. Undated, but musician Danny Barnes wrote a great article about how to play in someone else’s band. Don’t forget Donna over at Elements of Jazz dot com. She’s got the Twitter Jazzerati list over there, as well as other great stuff.

And the weather? It was also too cold for April in Minnesota, even in Minnesota. More soon…

Hip-Hop and the Gmail Fiasco

Google Houdini picture

H Houdini at gmail dot com?

Back in the day, when Google first started up “gmail,” I got one of the early invites to the service. Because I was present not-too-long-after the creation, I was able to pick a fairly straightforward user name that consisted of my first initial plus my last name. It was great, or at least it seemed great at the time. Sadly, even though my shiny new google email address was all mine, over time a lot of people began trying to use it. The reasons seemed various, but the simplicity of my address meant that:

  • It was used as a made-up address to register for various types of online things, or given in answer when someone else kept bugging that person for their email address in any number of ways.
  • Other people assumed they had the correct address for the person they were trying to email.
  • A small of group of people apparently thought the email address was theirs somehow. They even tried to reset the password. But, you see, the reset email comes to me.

Anyway, what all this means is that I’ve gotten lots of crazy email over the years. Blow-by-blow accounts of drunken vacations across Europe, notices from coaches and choir directors, “special thanks” from businesses about “your inquiry.”

I do try to respond and tell people of their error. I’m always nice about it, unless the temptation to “put people on” is too great. For example, one email was intended for “Pastor Chris.” Update: I should note here that the email I received was sent to a group, and that one of included addresses was “@” DHS (Department of Homeland Security) dot gov.

Pastor Chris I know this is your down time, but (smile) if time permits you please take a look at the other two items in this email and send us your reply by Thursday, that is when our next meeting, after Thursday night [sic] we hope to have an idea what is needed budget-wise and be presenting it to you for your approval shortly.

Thank you,
Anniversary committee

My response:

Dear Committee:
Thank you very much for your email, and for your acknowledgement that this is my (smile) downtime. I have no problem with providing input, but first, I must be completely candid and tell you that I am not (smile) pastor Chris. While my name is Chris, and I have no particular training as a pastor. Nevermind; on to the budget.

We will need to budget for plenty of office supplies, particularly sticky-notes. The brand does not matter, but I am partial to 3M. On to these sticky notes we shall write reminders to ourselves to check the accuracy of email addresses we intend to use for the official business of the anniversary committee. If necessary, we shall affix these sticky-notes to our foreheads. This will allow others to see the reminders, even if we cannot remember ourselves.

Further, if we work for some government agency, say, the Department of Homeland Security, we shall refrain from using that email address to conduct the business of the committee. The anniversary committee, while it no doubt conducts important work, should not “gum up” (smile) the email of the DHS. Write this admonition on a sticky note. Affix it to your forehead if necessary, then pause and get a Gmail account.

All Best Wishes and Regards,

Not-a-Pastor, Chris

Recently, I got some hip-hop — nothing in the message but a sound file. The subject line read “song.” The linked mp3 file below is an excerpt.

Roll Up (Excerpt):

Of course, the message demanded a musical response. Fortunately, I had a short Garageband track I had already composed that would fit the purpose well. All that was necessary was to add an extra vocal, and voila!

Email Wrong:

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

It’s Sunday, which means that, at least today, it’s link roundup day. Well, it’s impossible to round them all up, but here are a few: Over at Jazzwax, Marc Meyers would like to remind you that he’s on Twitter and other social networks you might be on.

Through the grapevine, or the internets, or the Series of Tubes, Marc passes along a link to a radio show about guitarist Mary Osborne. The show on which Osborne was featured, Night Lights, was produced at public radio station WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana and is hosted by David Brent Johnson. Incidentally, you can hear Osborne play on this Art ford Jazz Party kinescope from the internet archive. Sidenote: Back in the day, when I was doing graduate work in Jazz Studies at Indiana University, I used to bother Johnson at the Borders where he worked. Of course, he took copious care of the jazz CD section, but the Borders has gone the way of the dodo.

Donna M of the Elements of Jazz website is a blogger for Grammy dot com. Read her take on the Grammys here, called Jazzed at the Grammys.

Al Grey/Wild Bill Davis: Keybone

Update: This recording seems to be gone from the iTunes store again. iTunes links below will take you to the main Al Grey feature page.

It’s good to see that the Al Grey/Wild Bill Davis album Keybone is at the iTunes music store. A short story: I bought the vinyl version of Keybone when I was on a band trip to New York City with The Pride of Southland Marching Band. Yes, that was some time ago. In those days, jazz records had a definite inventory limit at Record Bars across the country, which meant that getting to New York City was a golden opportunity to find some off-the-beaten-path jazz records. I’m not sure I remember how, but I found King Karol records easily — probably at the 42nd street location — and was happy to find a huge jazz section.

Al Grey Keybone cover art

Here’s how I found out about Keybone on iTunes: I had transferred some of the vinyl tracks to digital myself. With the correct track info entered into iTunes, one day iTunes found the Keybone artwork. Voila! — apparently it had been added to iTunes.

Anyway, it’s a fun set of music, and was recorded in 1972 at Seed Studios in Vallauris, France. The rest of the personal includes Eddie Vinson on alto saxophone (Vinson sings on Alimony Blues and Person To Person), Floyd Smith on guitar and Chris Columbus on drums. Check it out; this is a good set of music.

Dan Wynn: Art of the Cover

Last time, I wrote about the varying quality of digital transfers at the iTunes music store, specifically on some Kai Winding and J.J. Johnson recordings. The odd situation I mentioned was that newer cover art sometimes accompanies some digital transfers of the albums — even from a scratchy LP as the source ― while the original cover art sometimes accompanies separate digital transfers, which — possibly ― come from the original master tapes.

But wait — there are more geeky details: below is the original LP cover art for J Is For Jazz. Look familiar? The striking photo sets J.J. against a black background, head-on down the length of his trombone slide, just like the art for Kai Winding’s The Trombone Sound (See the last post, which appeared far too long ago).

J is For Jazz cover Art

What you can’t see on the iTunes cover art is the photo credit that exits on the LP versions. Not surprisingly, both of these album cover photos are by the same photographer, Dan Wynn, who died in 1995. Although he had training in art, Wynn began developing technical skills in photography while serving in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. Out of the Army in 1947, he began focussing his photographic eye on fashion while working for Seventeen Magazine. In his subsequent career, he ended up photographing nearly everything — cars and scooters, food, models, movie stars, and, of course, musicians.