Saturday, May 17, 2008

It's Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Springtime... Monk Is In The Air

First Hike of The Year... Finally!

I have a label for hiking and I could easily click it to find out when my most recent hike was... but I ain't gonna, would depress me too much. Well, probably not depress me but I'm still not gonna find out -- just gonna look ahead.

It's been awhile... I'm pretty certain, Jane Curtain, that it was last year. Again, not gonna think about it -- just gonna look ahead.

Twas a fine day, a fine day indeed. Beautiful sweatshirt weather tonight. With temps in the mid-50's, it's sweatshirt weather for some people all day long. I love this!

Had another outdoor backyard hamburger and hot dog hoedown to go to this evening... actually this was hamburgers, moose burgers, hot dogs, and reindeer sausage. It was a local Habitat for Humanity group outing to get to know others who will work on projects this summer here in Fairbanks and also in a couple remote villages in the bush. When people have homes that are so run-down, it's nice to get them into something that doesn't give them worries all the time. I feel like I'm the odd man out, in a way, not being someone in construction full time like most of these people. Ahh, no worries, I know my way around a hammer and nails just fine. Home repairs I am quite able to get accomplished with having to dial the phone for someone to come do it for me, thanks. I might not have the technical expertise that many Habitat volunteers appear to have, but I love lending a hand in whatever way I can.

The hamburger hoedown wasn't a beer party version that could last quite a few hours into the night so I was outta there before it got too late. The plan was to hit the trail but not for a run... for my first hike o' the year, baby!

I had my mp3 player loaded and ready to play some tunes... this post was almost gonna be titled -- Almost Went Hiking with Thelonious in San Francisco. I've heard of a lot of bear activity lately... being Spring they're eagerly looking for food. I didn't want to be food... so I paid music-less close attention as I wandered along a stretch of the Chena River. My first hike wasn't long, about an hour and a half and wouldn't ya know it, within 30 minutes, a wicked smell arose from the brush... something rotting... something that not too long ago lived and breathed and walked along just as surely as I was. The carcass I never saw but probably a young moose that became dinner for a grizzly and her cubs. Good idea to go music-less. I'd hate to be dessert!

After awhile I turned around and headed back, my feet clearly feeling two or three spots where I'm not used to such an outing in my hiking boots. Running shoes my feet are perfectly used to... but this is new, at least new right at the moment. Now, if I can work more hikes into my week, my feet will adjust and I'll be good to go for the summer!

I love that this far north in the hemisphere one can, as I did tonight, set out on a 90-minute hike at 10 o'clock at night and be back before dark. That's just sweet.

These almost were my trail tunes...

The other day Sugar Mag, who might be the nicest person on this whole interweb dealie... or maybe in the world! put up a cool post with some jazz videos -- Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Wynton Marsalis, and Louis Armstrong with Johnny Cash -- and that post inspired me to start listening to more jazz... daddy-o. There's so much that I'd love to get into my ears... so little time. This one's been sitting and waiting for me to Press Play... so this, and only this, is what I'll be doing as soon as I click Publish.

Thelonious Monk - Alone In San Francisco (1959)Thelonious Monk

Alone In
San Francisco


Blue Monk
Ruby, My Dear
Round Lights
Everything Happens To Me
You Took The Words Right Out Of My Heart
There's Danger In Your Eyes, Cherie (Take 2)
There's Danger In Your Eyes, Cherie (Take 1)

Solo piano is something I don't think I have ever listened to before this album. I started listening a little bit before Publishing this post and right off the top, Blue Monk is so beautiful... it's really taking me back in time, quite awhile ago, to when I was just a wee little Zoooma child... I'm remembering visits to my Godfather's in Hartsdale, Westchester County, New York, about an hour drive from where I grew up in northern New Jersey.

There in my "Uncle" Frank and "Aunt" Muriel's apartment, during dinner and after when they played bridge and had espresso with my parents, there'd be some quiet background music, from a radio station that played music just like this. Wow. Just wow. I'm so glad I decided to give this a spin! I love remembering Frank & Muriel back in New York. Spent every Christmas with them on the Hudson... but that's a whole nother remembrance for a whole nother day. For now this is just a slice of heaven!

here's the liner notes, from The Thelonious Monk Website:

This is an album created, you might say, by stripping things down to the essentials: a bare hall, recording equipment and one highly talented musician. When that musician is THELONIOUS MONK, it should not be at all surprising that the result is as intriguing and challenging a program as you could hope to get from any jazz combination of any size.

This remarkably creative pianist has often been considered "alone" (sometimes correctly, sometimes not) during the course of a still-expanding career that spans all of modern jazz. Ihelonious was of course a focal point of the "be-bop" revolution of the very early 1940s and he has remained a major force ever since, both through his own work and by his influence on others. There were years when much of the public, most critics and even some musicians left Monk alone, either admitting that he baffled them or claiming that he was merely an over-legendized eccentric. But by the late 1950s, there was widespread recognition of his unique talents (for examples: first place among pianists in the Down Beat Critics Poll and second in their Readers Poll in both 1958 and 1959), and he remained musically alone only in the sense that so highly personal an artist and composer must always remain somewhat apart and totally understandable only (if to anyone) to himself.

Being "alone" in the specific sense of recording by himself is of course a somewhat different matter, but not too different This is Monk's second album of this kind; the first ("Thelonious Himself" -- RLP 12-235) having been recorded two and a half years earlier, before the current acceptance of Monk began to take hold. In the notes to that LP, I commented that it is not always easy for other musicians, no matter how skilled or sympathetic, to "grasp fully or execute perfectly the intricate and demanding patterns that Monk's mind can evolve," so that one special attraction of a solo album is that it presents the pianist in a self-sufficient vein, offering an opportunity "to hear Thelonious as he thinks and sounds when he has chosen to be, temporarily, complete in himself." All this certainly still holds true for 1959 solo Monk, particularly since his now being a much bigger name than he was early in 1957 is both less surprising and less distracting to Thelonious than it is to just about anyone else. Actually, circumstances combined to add several extra degrees of aloneness to this recording, and to make it perhaps an even more striking example of an artist looking into the depths of himself. Monk was making his first visit to San Francisco (a second solo album had been planned for some time; the coincidence that Thelonious and this writer were both in the West Coast city at the same time brought it into being there). In a long, empty meeting hall - acoustically quite good, but rather bizarre-looking, with Monk sitting onstage with banks of ancient, ornate chandeliers for background. In a strange city - when photographer Bill Claxton drove him to various landmarks (including the cable-car setting of the cover photo) during a break in the session, it was Monk's first real view of San Francisco. And, although personal matters generally don't belong in liner notes, it might also be relevant that Thelonious had just had to leave his wife behind in Los Angeles, recuperating from major surgery; and that the first recording session came the afternoon after the opening night of his engagement at the Black Hawk - when, due to varied confusions not of his making, Thelonious had been the only member of his quartet on hand for the first two sets.

To what extent all these varieties of aloneness are reflected on the LP is an open question. What is clear is that Monk is in a predominately lyrical and introspective mood, with quiet emphasis on the blues and also with flashes of his characteristic wry humor. Some of the selections make for interesting comparison with previous recorded versions: Pannonica is now less 'tough', more richly a ballad than in the original quintet version on "Brilliant Corners" (RLP 12-226); Blue Monk is more subdued than in the on-the-job quartet effort on "Thelonious in Action" (RLP 12-262). The latter is one of three blues included here, the other two being new ones: Bluehawk, and Round Lights - this last in honor of those chandeliers! Ruby, My Dear has always been a ballad (he had most recently recorded it with Coleman Hawkins on "Monk's Music"--RLP 12-242), but seems still deeper and firmer as a solo.

The other of his own tunes is the appropriately-titled Reflections; and then there are four standards, two of which (Everything Happens and You Took the Words) are old favorites of Monk's, the sort he often plays solo at the start of a set in a club. Remember is a rather affectionate analysis of the Irving Berlin warhorse. But There's Danger in Your Eyes, Cherie, a 1929 number associated with Harry Richman, is something else again, an unplanned-for and unlikely inclusion. Thelonious came across it while leafing through a folio of old standards, recalled it, and proceeded to have a ball with it, exploring it in search of Monk-ish chords, and generally justifying his comment that "they won't be expecting something like this from me."

320 kbps mp3 download MUSIC NOTE find a dload @ Jazz à Gogo 320 kbps mp3 download MUSIC NOTE

How about a Video?!
(nothing here this time)


Sugarmag said...

Your hike sounds so nice, daylight at 10:00 PM, I am so jealous. I want to go for a long hike by myself with no kids. Maybe I will walk my dog today, not the same but the best I can do.

Thanks for linking to my blog, that was nice of you! You inspired me to listen to Thelonious Monk, too. I don't have the one you have, but I do have 9/11/58 at the Five Spot.

Zooomabooma said...

Daylight at midnight, too. The sun's below the horizon, it's not too bright, don't need sunglasses, could even drive just fine without headlights on. But it's weird in late Spring & early Summer -- just as millions do in America, you'd go to sleep at night but here it'll be light out and then you wake up when it's light out... you never see the darkness of night!

On the flip side (unless you work a nightshift and sleep during the day!) in wintertime you do get to see the daylight and when not cloudy you even get to see the sun briefly... but only 3-5 hrs of daylight for weeks and weeks on end... enough to drive a person batty... batty, I tell ya!

That's part of the reason I'm thinkin' of vacating this land for a more normal region of America. When you're not from here you can get used to this just fine but it takes many, many years to really get used to it and for me, after just a few years here, it's still something I notice and marvel at all the time.

So much Thelonious to get to eventually, maybe someday I'll get to that one you mentioned.

Hope you get a kid-less hike eventually, Sugar Mag. Some nice quiet alone time's always a good thing -- a great opportunity to let your mind wander and/or just enjoy that head's all empty and you don't care feeling :)

Anonymous said...

Anna from WA said:

You need to move down a state and fall in love with Washington State. It's got everything you want plus normal day and night time.
I guarantee you'll want to stay

Zooomabooma said...

Hey Now Anna from WA... thanks for stopping by and for the comment!

I'm so glad you said Washington State otherwise I totally would have thought Washington, D.C. ;)

(I kid... that's a pet peeve of mine, I mean, I have never once been to New Jersey State and I grew up there!)

Anyway, I've been to WA a few times and it's beautiful, the coast, the mountains, Puget Sound... but it wouldn't be home, and I feel like that's what I want down the line. I'm sure I could dig a week there, a month there, probably even a few years there! But I'm an East Coaster... I did live in Utah and western Montana, each for several years, and while I believe with all my heart that the Western U.S. is much more beautiful than the East, with a lot more space to enjoy the outdoors... I just feel, after so many years away, like I'm destined to eventually, maybe kinda soon (2 yrs or even a year or less!) wind up back East.

Then again... ya just never know what'll happen in life! Maybe I'll stay here forever, maybe Australia or Scotland, maybe somewhere else in America! At least I'll keep an open mind!!

Thanks for the suggestion, though :)

Deadman said...

If I was single I'd move to Washington just to meet Anna.

I've seen the pics, Chris. She's a babe. Especially in a yellow cloth-and-fishing-line bikini...

Anonymous said...

Anna from WA said:
Chris.. don't listen to the deadman talking @#$%. LOL, sorry to burst y'all's bubble, but I don't do bikini's.
Now shh.. deadman, or I'll make your name come true

Deadman said...

Now shh.. deadman, or I'll make your name come true

Naw, never. You love me too much, pretty woman...


one says one number and the other another
but they were set at the same time. Hmmm...

Calvin and Hobbes in the snow -- animated