It’s J.J. Johnson’s Birthday, 2018

It’s J.J. Johnson’s Birthday! This is from J.J. Inc, one of my very favorite recordings from this fantastic musician, who left us in 2001. J.J. Inc was recorded in August 1960 for Columbia Records, NYC, and released on April 10, 1961. The other personnel include Clifford Jordon, Tenor Sax, Arthur Harper, Bass, Albert Heath, Drums, Cedar Walton piano, and a young and fiery Freddie Hubbard on trumpet.

Here’s Mowhawk from the album:

Happy 2018, But Not For Donald Trump

Twilight Zone with Donald Trump

Just like the headline says, Happy 2018. It’s now been nearly a year since Donald Trump entered the White House. By Trump’s own design, each day, then each week, of his administration has featured mind-blowing, (and too numerous to list), antics, lies, and plain old bullshit. Trump believes — just like anyone with good reality show TV experience — that these antics are absolutely necessary to try and “get over” with 30-something percent of the American People. It’s all made worse by the fact that Donald J. Trump knows he’s absolutely guilty of everything.

Of course he denies it, but he knows he’s guilty of Russian collusion and almost every other charge directed his way, and it’s eating away at him. Trump is a haunted man, but unlike on the old Perry Mason TV show, he’s not going to just suddenly confess everything in court. (Notice how the trombones sometimes enter when whoever-it-is confesses?)

Some mental health care experts have offered that maybe President Donald J. Trump is losing it. Of course he is. He’s in one of the most uniquely ridiculous situations a citizen of the United States could possibly find themselves in: Unintentional Presidency of the United States. Trump is completely out of his depth. Daily, he tries to deal with subjects beyond his grasp while simultaneously possessing an ego which self-labels “stable genius.” This, dear friends, is where bluff and bluster meet their limits. Or is it?

Sure, you could write this plot into a movie and some people would believe it. Some people would, which is how he got elected in the first place.

Jack Teagarden High Tone Studies

High Tone Studies for Trombone

Almost any English teacher can be counted on to make some sort of a handout on when to use a comma. It’s sort of that same way with brass players and exercise books, going back — at least — to Arbans famous method.

Both comma handouts and brass exercise books have this in common: despite some points of controversy, you end up with lots of similar material and advice. And yet, despite all that, there’s still the occasional insight and innovation.

In 1936, Jack Teagarden, the jazz trombonist from Vernon, Texas, known for his ability to play a whole lot of trombone in the first 4 positions, came out with his High Tone Studies for Trombone, a short treatise of 51 exercises designed to help get the player up to a high D. The book is currently available on Apple’s iBooks, and also at Cherry Classics Music. As CCM’s blurb says, “it is obvious that Teagarden had put a lot of thought into his technique.” A bit of classic good advice from the book:

Do not force or strain at any time. Rest frequently.

Fear, Loathing, & Donald Trump

Happy 2017! Why no updates recently? I, for one, deflect blame to the election of one Donald J. Trump to hold the office of President of the United States. Is it an “unmitigated disaster?” Why yes. Yes it is.

Our election process — which obviously goes on far too long to the tune of extremely questionable substance — has pooped out this result. There have been plenty of postmortems, some of them quite thoughtful, as to why it all happened, but the reality is the causes are various. Yes, the electoral college is outdated. Yes, plenty of people were stricken from the swing state voter rolls in key areas that gave Donald J. Trump the advantage. Yes, many people feel the government is out-of-touch and doesn’t listen to ordinary Americans. Yes, these voters — some of them — can be fooled all of the time. Yes, the Russians hacked. And yes, most voters wanted Hillary Clinton to be president, accurately identifying Donald Trump as a freak show, or possibly more charitably as a guy primarily interested in advancing a personal brand that somehow persists despite years of personal shenanigans.

Sometime before day one of his campaign, Donald J. Trump decided to put R after his name. After descending a golden escalator, he started in with his ridiculous demonization of Mexico and Mexicans, and talk of building a great, great wall. God knows that was only the beginning. Throughout the primaries, 16 other GOP candidates resisted, but it was no use. The Trump crazy train was leaving the station, and the “establishment” Republicans had to get on board.

During the years of Barack Obama’s presidency, the Grand Old Party mostly decided to obstruct, and what little muscle they had for actually governing completely atrophied. Worse, the Republicans, who work in the U.S. government, generally don’t approve of the U.S. government doing anything for the general welfare of the people except, you know, military things, and trying to control women’s reproductive systems. Otherwise, everything really ought to be privatized: Social Security, the VA, Medicare, Medicaid, the Post Office . . .

“Obamacare,” aka The Affordable Care Act (really, health insurance reform), is an example of something the Republicans think the government has no business doing. The ACA has been a Republican punching bag for years now, and numerous times Republicans wasted time trying to repeal it even when they knew it wasn’t really possible. Now, it’s possible, and it will mean pulling the rug out from under some 30 million Americans who are covered by its benefits. The ACA is no perfect law, but if the USA insists on using the Health Insurance model of providing access to health care, many of the law’s assumptions are necessary. Sadly, the ACA still can’t stop insurance companies from taking unfair advantage of the fact that they are, in fact, healthcare gatekeepers whose real objective is not healthcare at all.

“Repeal and Replace” of Obamacare became a Republican slogan, but most of the replacement ideas are in reality unserious or inadequate: health care savings accounts (Yes, maybe you can save up for that gall bladder surgery), vouchers, and selling insurance across state lines. Recently, the Republicans have adopted the “patient-centered care” slogan, something that clearly confuses access to health care with that care’s actual execution. Make no mistake: Republicans have no good idea what to replace Obamacare with, even though Trump would like both The House and the Senate to do so immediately.

On yeah, Trump! It’s really hard to describe how much of a train wreck the guy really is, but part of it is described here anyway. Every day from the time that post was written, The Donald found new ways to smear himself with glory: he changed positions often, displayed bigotry, lied constantly, and used his favorite 5th grader rhetorical device with abandon:

“I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever hits me bounces off and sticks to you.”

Now he’s been elected to be PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.