My first words at the office today were who the hell put a fucking platypus on my monitor? Normally it’s good morning, but there was a platypus on my monitor.
I was up till three in the morning writing, come to work a few hours later and have to deal with a monotreme. A stuffed blue monotreme with absurdly bulbous eyes. Cute.
I hate cute. I’m six and a half foot tall and look like an aging linebacker and that and cute don’t jibe.
But I work at Disney. ‘Nuff said.
Once I came to work many years ago and found an eight foot Tinkerbelle painted on my wall. There was me, my desk, my computer, and Tinkerbelle. The girls had a ball with that. A big macho dude with a huge Tinkerbelle over his desk.
That’s not even cute. It’s just sick.
And while none of this is worthy of a blog post, it’s my blog so there.
[Sent this late January 2012. Amazingly enough a mess of people showed up to the York on the basis of this. People showed up at the other gigs too. Ya never know what'll work.]
Hopefully there’ll be some great jazz in a bar sometime soon, a bar with loud people and hustlers and tourists who don’t know shit from fuck and drunk chicks trying to get laid and people you have to shush to hear the music. That’s my kinda scene. Actually I see Matt Marucci has his annual two nite run at Jax with Manning on tenor on Jan 20-21. That’s a great gig. Fucker doesn’t play one tune he didn’t write, and is a killer drummer besides. Wanna go see Elliott Caine blast it Blue Note style in a loud bar this Sunday at the York. Never seen him overwhelmed by any crowd. When ya play they kinda stuff, you can crank it. He’s got a veteran drummer from Chicago, too, who knows to make it loud when necessary.
I can’t remember who I sent that to but yeah, the Caine gig at the York sounds like a good deal. Cool joint too, along one of my fave stretches of Highland Park. Rich jazz fans won’t be anywhere to be seen, since rumor has it Mexicans live in the neighborhood, and I recall how terrified rich jazz fans were of the “blighted intersection” Charlie O’s was on out in the valley…..you know how squalid and desperate those middle class neighborhoods can be, and there were middle class people all over the place outside Charlie O’s. Gives me chills just to think about it. Hence tonite we’ll be going to Vibrato, far up in the rarified Bel Air. Not a lot of tourists there, but the rich people don’t know shit from fuck either, and there’s a whiff of a meat market at the bar, with rich chicks looking to get laid, and loud blinged out dudes talking shop bullshit. I love it. The food is delicious but beyond the means of almost anyone I know…but you can snack on the free breadsticks at the bar and watch as entire herds of cattle, well sliced and grilled to perfection are delivered by absurdly cute waitresses who smile at the millionaires and pretend they give a flying fuck.
We’re going to Vibrato because I have been jonesin’ bad for some of that Benn Clatworthy saxophone. Charlie O’s is history and he can’t seem to get booked at Jax anymore but lord can that dumb English bastard play a saxophone. (It’s OK, I call him a dumb English bastard to his face all the time. It’s an Irishman’s compliment.) And Pat Senatore went and booked the guy because Pat Senatore is probably the single coolest club booker in town. Benn goes on about nine, but the rich people who don’t know shit from fuck will still be whining about the 405 to each other at the top of the solid gold lungs so that opening set might be a tad understated. The second set opens up though, and the last set will be glorious. We’ll probably get there after 9:00. There’s no cover, too. Nor a minimum. Nor a dress code. Hell, you don’t have to wear clothes at all.
Hope yer all cool, groovy, high, whatever….
ps: ya gotta love a guy who quotes his own email.
Man, I love Joe Bataan. I finally got to see him several years ago (circa 2004, I guess) at the Filipino Cultural Festival in San Pedro. All around those huge old trees with their screaming parrots was a sea of Filipinos. They were chattering like mad, averaged about four feet, and craned their necks and stared waaaaaay up at me, giggling. We got some pansit or something and watched the inevitable beauty contest. There was some important pinoy dude emceeing the thing, and some politicians, and somebody from the consulate. And there were two beauty queens, former Miss Philippine Cultural Festival or something. One was a perfect pinay virgin, prim, sinless, polite, with a sweet smile. The other was some saucy knockout, an LA girl, this smartass, hysterically funny gorgeous chick who made a risque joke and I fell immediately in love with her, of course. She had some kind of connection with the LA Raiders, had been a girlfriend or something. A wantonly sexy woman. I remember the good beauty queen was obviously offended by her.
Anyway, there was some bad singing group that opened and went on forever. Then out came Joe Bataan. Really thick NYC accent and attitude. He called himself Joe Bataan (as in ran), and not Bataan (as in on) or Joe Bata’an (as in ah-on), which is how he was introduced. What an amazing set. Great soul and funk, all the classics. A total showman, he owned that stage. I stood in line afterward to have him sign the CD I bought there….something I never did before or after. I felt like a complete geek. But he was soooooooooooooooo cool, that Joe Bataan….
(2003 or so)
There was a helluva jam session at Sonny’s down in Leimert Park 0on Saturday night. Right around the corner from the World Stage. Lots of players. And old guy in a wheel chair laying down some very nice conga. Isaac Smith went monster on his trombone, reaching places way way up where God did not intend that instrument to go. And there was a guy, I can’t remember his name. a physician, played remarkable bop piccolo. Apparently the place is jumping like that almost every night. Amazing street that, music at half a dozen or more spots all within a few doors of each other. Unknown cats, amateurs, students and professionals mixing it up. Guys with horns walking up and down the street. You drop by Sonny’s and listen a while, then walk around the corner to the World Stage, catch a set, and head back to Sonny’s where they’re still blowing. Crazy.
Sigh…..wrote that all back in 2007. Ain’t been like that in years. Recessions are brutal. Jazz just disappears. Everything disappears. Everything but the bills. They just keep coming as if nothing had happened.
Elliott Caine is at the York in Highland Park on Sunday, March 18 and the place goes nuts whenever he’s there. Helluva band–Carl Randall on tenor, Mahesh Balasooriya at the piano, Trevor Ware on bass, and Kenny Elliott on the drums–and Elliott gets all fired up doing his Lee Morgan Blue Note thing, the band wails, the people fucking cheer and–get this–give the band a stand ovation. At a jazz gig for a local band? Is this possible? Plus you’re allowed to talk and even hit on each other. I don’t (the wife would pour her beer on my head and kick me, hard), but you can. Fish’n'chips ain’t the best, tho’. But everthing else is. No cover. Parking behind the place in the city lot. Groovy neighborhood, reminds me of Silver Lake sorta before Silverlake got on the cover of Los Angeles Magazine and was ruined forever.
Wandered into Jax last nite with Fyl for a late dinner. There was a trio happening, but the way the piano is there you can never see the player unless he’s my size, and there aren’t that many Andy Langhams in jazz. But this cat was playing some beautiful be bop…his voicings were gorgeous. I figured he was a veteran because you don’t really hear that kind of sound anymore…it’s much more strong-fingered now, much firmer on the keys, all that classical training I suppose. But this guy’s chords floated over the melody, and I’m trapped in my limited language chops here, trying to describe something I can’t actually understand. Let’s just say I dug it. So I got up from our booth and went up to the stage and peered way over the piano, and there, bent over the keys and completely lost in his music was Frank Strazzeri. Of course, I shoulda known that sound. Not many of his old west coast bebop comrades still working. But he’s at Jax pretty regularly, and is a real treat for us jazz fans that are left…..keep an eye out for him. Certainly was a nice surprise last nite.
I was sick all the night before…was still shaky when I got to the hotel for the protest. Dropped by Trader Vic’s in the hotel first for a whiskey. I felt like such a cliche….a reporter dropping by a bar on the way to an assignment and it ain’t even noon yet. Whiskey helped, though, and things settled down enough for me to interview a bunch of angry musicians. Drove to the day gig right afterward, still feeling sick as a dog, and when I walked into the elevator on the way to my office there was this overwhelming odor of cheap Mexican food…they were giving away nachos for some reason. Got to my desk, opened my email and I’m getting yelled at by a couple people for not telling people how incredibly important some gigs were. Work was fucked. Got home at 8 I think. Tried to eat. Tried to write. Tried to sleep. Shit. Why do I keep doing this? I was gonna quit a couple weeks ago and had guilt trips laid on me like type can’t believe. And now I still have that thing to write and my regular copy to write and I am tired of this writer crap real bad. Either that or I need a vacation. Anyway, I got the piece written. Now all I have to do is not think about nachos and I’ll be fine.
Moyindau is a band from East Lansing, Michigan whose name, they explain, means “acknowledgment” in Kazakh. (And, “Brick’s Picks”, it turns out, is Burushaski for “keep on trucking”. Ya never know…..) Moyindau describe themselves as a quartet of saxophone, piano, cello, and drums that integrates experimental jazz, contemporary classical, folk, and free improvisation. Quote unquote. We realize that 99% of you were scared off by that. And yeah, their website presents them as terrifyingly intellectual, a scary smart bunch of not-just-jazz players who could really use a weekend in a cheap hotel room with a couple bottles of Thunderbird and the first Ramones record. Intellectuals who live in small college towns can drive you nuts. We ought to know, we flunked out of one. Moyindau travels throughout the United States “to collaborate with inspiring artists and present their music to a wide array of audiences”. Which is why apparently they’re at the Blue Whale out here in Los Angeles on Wednesday. That and maybe the fact that East Lansing, Michigan is colder than fuck in January. And they’ve seen Baywatch. But you know, people, there’s a fascinating tune on their site that we’ve been listening to. These cats got chops, a light touch, even warmth. So what if they write prose like college professors. They play like real musicians, and when you come into a space like the Blue Whale in a town like L.A., that’s all that matters. We say check them out. Plus they’re sharing the bill with Slumgum, who we really dig. Which kinda makes this one a pick.
And our New Years resolution remains the same—to not listen to a single note off a jazz tribute to Michael Jackson. Not even the Grammy nominated ones. Not ever.