Aurex Jazz in Translation

Out of the randomness that makes up YouTube content these days, real surprises occasionally surface that don’t have to do with dogs riding skateboards or cats playing the piano. One such find is the “Aurex Jazz Special” that aired on Japanese television in the 80s, apparently concurrent with the Aurex Jazz Festival. In the clip below (click movie to start play), J.J. Johnson explains his early musical influences:

There’s also a version of Jay and Kai playing It’s All Right With Me with a rhythm section that includes Tommy Flanagan on piano and Roy Haynes on drums. On what seems to be the same occasion, Dexter Gordon and Clark Terry join for I’ll Remember April, and Milestones. There are a few awkward Lost in Translation moments during the show as the musicians smile and “play along” with whatever is being said by the show hosts.

Holiday Redux…

The nephew

OK, so I know all that stuff I said about holidays and enjoying the holidays, and avoiding the holidays, and etc., but none of that happened, possibly except for the enjoying part, which somehow happened anyway.

What else, you might ask, did I manage not to avoid? Well, in the above picture, you can see the rough-housing nephew. With the nephew, I did lots of throwing around of an exercise ball. Alternately, and for the entertainment of the nephew, I pretended to be sisyphus, pushing an exercise ball up to nowheresville and falling back down again. In the process, I think I herniated the sisyphus disc. Funny thing about the sisyphus: the nephew had never heard of sisyphus. Seriously kid! You’re 7 years old! It’s time you heard of sisyphus, and what a sisyphean task it apparently is to keep you entertained with an exercise ball, despite the presence of a nintendo Wii!

Don’t get me wrong—I’m very fond of the nephew, but it was relief to get back to Minneapolis, MN. Minneapolis, as you may not know, is now known as the “quasi-frozen” or “tepid north,” and also the home of underground flamenco music.

Happy New Year.


on the road in fog

The holidays are upon us, and this means the usual mixture of travel, panic, and general dissatisfaction brought on by unreal expectations of Nintendo Wii availability. It’s sad, really, that the “holidays” may have been holding you hostage for some time, but do not fall prey to Stockholm Syndrome! Remember, you can break free of the insidious holiday cycle, and it’s easier and cheaper than you may have imagined.

Try any one of the following:

  • Celebrate The Holiday In Question

    In this scenario, there is limited emphasis on preparation, and more emphasis on celebration. Do not drink to excess unless you are in for the duration, however.

  • Try Festivus

    It’s the new holiday everyone’s is talking about, requiring only an investment in a metal pole, if that. The patron saint is Jerry Stiller; Festivus features “feats of strength” and the “airing of greviences.” More information is available in the Festivus Wikipedia article. There’s also a website and book. Seriously, you can celebrate the birth of The Savior any time.

  • Opt Out Entirely

    As demonstrated by many people over the years, this is a completely viable option that can involve “disappearing” into a small “wood shack” just off rt 10.

Carol Channing Reads the CNN News Crawl

It’s day 4 of the writer’s strike. The slogan for their strike is “Pencils Down.” It’s a slogan that brings to mind the world of high school and an overly officious teacher who tells you to put your pencil down or else. Here’s another try: “The Day the Cliches Died.”

Anyway, with writers striking and late-night television comedy affected first, it’s time for the many content creators of the web to take up the slack and fill in the void. Below is a little creation Commander Trombone likes to call “Carol Channing Reads the News Crawl for CNN,” and it may be an indication that the strike should be concluded as soon as possible.

(Note that it’s not really Carol Channing reading the CNN News Crawl.)


Picture of Dick Cheney Pumpkin

Halloween is unquestionably a big deal here in the USA. By “big deal,” I mean that this “spooky day” is reserved as an opportunity for certain commercial interests to sell lots of Halloween junk to the unsuspecting public. Halloween isn’t really scary. Selling junk isn’t scary—it’s the American Way, particularly when that junk is made in China.

But despite rampant commercialism ruining the true meaning of Halloween, certain simple rituals persist, like pumpkin carving.

About four years ago, the secret labs at Commander Trombone carved a pumpkin in the likeness of Dick Cheney. Also about four years ago, an American presidential election happened. Coincidence? You decide.

During one of the 2004 vice presidential debates on television, John Edwards, then the democratic vice-presidential candidate, gave what I thought was a sound answer to a question. Although I confess I can’t remember the content of the question, what really stuck in my memory was Dick Cheney’s response: “There are so many inaccuracies [in John Edward’s answer] it’s hard to know where to begin.”

A picture of the Dick Cheney Pumpkin

There are so many inaccuracies it’s hard to know where to begin.” As a debating tactic, it’s brilliant. Without really refuting any actual fact, you’ve refuted everything. The comment says, “No need to think further. Everything that man said is false.”

Today, you don’t need to think too hard to realize that the phrase “There are so many inaccuracies it’s hard to know where to begin” is fraught with lots of unintentional irony when applied to many of Mr. Cheney’s statements before, during, and after the 2004 election, particularly in regard to the war in Iraq.

Fear, though, is Mr. Cheney’s real stock and trade. It’s the kind of blind and unreasoning fear that says “We’ll get hit again” if the electorate elects the wrong politcian. On the other hand, it’s a “don’t-think-too-hard,” fear that has the cheap, plastic smell of a Halloween mask. Is it any wonder that Commander Trombone retrieves the vice president’s pumpkin likeness out of digital photo cold storage each year for Halloween?