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North County always reminds me that one can find empty perfection anywhere. Even in crowded ass California.

North County always reminds me that one can find empty perfection anywhere. Even in crowded ass California. Btw, its a bit bigger then it looks…

What a spectacle!?! Who what have thought such a thing would go down?  Certainly not I.  There I found myself with compatriot John on the beach at Davenport in the mist of an innocent surf check.  To be honest the surf was pretty bad at that point, the tide was a bit too high and getting fatter by the moment.  The wind had picked up out of the north west causing a bump and crumble from hell and the swell had appeared to have backed off, or was just not showing so great on the reef.  We ambled around the shingle for a bit in the hopes of seeing something magical.  What we ended up getting a look at was more like starring into the sun as she bent down to pick up a shell.  “You take a quick look and then you look away, it’s too risky otherwise”. I will just leave the rest of that up in the air for imagination and a laugh between John and I that pretty much set the pace of the entire trip.

Ahhha ha ha ha ha, pardon my brief sinister laugh.  I just was unable to contain myself.  This story all began just like many other summertime tales that involve surfing on the West Coast of the America, down off the coast of Anartica in the shape of some storm that sent crazy huge surf to South America, while gracing California with a nice groomed long period south swell.  My initial plan was to just stay home and take my chances with both Ventura and Malibu.  The period of the swell was a little long for River Mouth, but one can always find something to surf if he is keen.

Then on Tuesday July 9th the day after another less then stellar Trestles mission I found myself bitching to my boy John up in San Francisco just how much I hate the fact that I suck at surfing Lowers and dealing with the crowd there.  He mentioned the possibility of renting a car for the weekend and cruising down to either Santa Cruz or San Mateo in search of some empty reef surf.    It didn’t take much convincing to get me to make the drive north to join him in his endeavor.  Just like that I found myself on the 1o1 north heading to San Francisco.

You always see something interesting on the interstate.

You always see something interesting on the interstate.

I got up there in record time actually cracking city limits in just over four and a half hours.  Thanks to not properly following John’s directions I quickly became lost on the complete opposite side of the city.  Luckily with a little help from John I was back in the right direction and at his place only  with a thirty minute detour.  It was good to see my old friend and former surf shop minion.  I seem to find my way up there to see him once a year these days during either the spring or summer.  Santa Barbara pretty much sucks in the summer time anyway being that there is no surf to speak of and the majority of the town’s population, primarily made up of students bails for the summer.  Plus I don’t work and have nothing better to do either.

Early to Bed, Early to Surf

Just another empty cove off PCH. This one offered a very tricky to access right wedge.

Just another empty cove off PCH. This one offered a very tricky to access right wedge.

There are some places in the world where the surf actually stays clean all day or is better in the afternoon.  California on the whole with certain exceptions is not one of them.  This means if one wants to catch the best surf of the day he usually has to get up with the sunrise.  At one time in my life I was quite the early bird.  I used get up at 5:30 every morning when I was in my late teens early twenties, then it became 6:30, then between 7 and 8.  These days if I find that if I am out of bed and brushing my teeth by 8:30 I call it a “damn patrol”.  Hooray for laziness or maybe I just like surfing shitty blown out waves so that I can blame the conditions for the fact that I suck at surfing.  Whatever the case I can’t tell you the last time I have been up before 8 am for a surf.

As it turned out John was short a roommate in his place at the moment thus I actually had my own room instead of a spot on the couch.  I don’t really know if you could call it a room for that matter.  It was more like a walk in closet with a nasty stained full sized mattress on the floor that may or may not have wished to give me a social disease or two.  All of that was renting at the “bargain price” of $950 a month and I thought Santa Barbara was insane.  I have slept on a lot worse in my past.  Around 7:30 am there was a knock at my door and it was John looking to shred.

It was fucking freezing out.  I know Mark Twain once penned “The coldest winter I ever spent was in San Francisco” but this was ridiculous.  I am lucky I didn’t freeze to death in my sleep.  My poor dick had just about crawled up into my body like a scared little turtle.  What better way to warm up then to pull on a 4/3 and boots and jump into equally freezing water.  Oh and I guess one can completely forget about seeing the sun up there.  The entire time I was in the city it was foggy and grey.

Lefts galore. Just another empty beach break.

Lefts galore. Just another empty beach break.

We loaded up and headed down the PCH to find something to surf since Ocean Beach was not doing it one bit.  That was fine by me.  I love that stretch of coast  between San Francisco and Santa Cruz.  The Pacific Coast Highway just weaves in and out of all these cool pristine beaches, coves, points, reefs and river mouths.  On the whole most are unscathed by the stain of man.  Its food for the soul in my book.  The thing about this coast is that there are actually so many options to choose from it can drive a surfer mad.  My rule of thumb is never drive away from something fun.

From the get go we had Waddel Creek in north Santa Cruz County in mind because of its variety.  The place has an array of reef peaks, a river mouth peak and a beach break all with in walking distance of one another.  There is something there to suit any surfer of any level.  For the entire trip the place did not disappoint.  From fun rip-able reefy lefts to left beach break keggers, to kill-able walls to boost-able stupid close outs.  It was a party that allowed us two very keen sessions.

A kegger about to scream  down the line unridden at Waddel Creek.

A kegger about to scream down the line unridden at Waddel Creek.

Thanks to hard afternoon on shores we had to settle for a small protected cove in San Mateo County called Grey Whale Cove.  This wave was average at best and reminded me lots of Mesa Lane here in Santa Barbara.  It was consistent and had some really good corners.  I had two good sessions there, where poor John on the other hand had a hate session.  All and all I would say surfing wise I could not complain.  For details on these sessions consult the July ’11 Surflog dates 7/11-7/15.

Grey Whale Cove, this place looked like Point Dume except it broke more like Mesa Lane.

Grey Whale Cove, this place looked like Point Dume except it broke more like Mesa Lane.

Fancytown is a State of Consciousness (or lack there of), Not a Specific Location

Now how could I ever visit a major city or anyplace with booze for that matter and not party?  Friday night after an amazing day of surfing, charged up, John and I bought a bottle of Bacardi from the corner bodega and decided to cut loose on the town.  Unfortunately time and bus schedules were not on our side.  We had to make due with the legendary (according to Kooky Kyle, whom I found out had never actually been there) Buck Shots, John’s old college hang out.  College season is over at the moment thus leaving us in a dive bar with a barely palatable DJ, dingy picnic tables across the bar, dead animals on the wall and two forms of skee ball.  Shit, I might as well have been in a shit hole in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Speaking of dead animals here is a picture of a sea otter skeleton that we decided to put sandals on.

Speaking of dead animals here is a picture of a sea otter skeleton that we decided to put sandals on.

I got wasted so who really fucking cared in the end anyhow.  I went to the bar to order a drink.  They had $6 double shots of Bacardi.  As the bar tender was pouring the top fell off the bottle and I ended up with a brimmed glass.  He was going to pour it out and start a fresh one.  Luckily I caught him and got way more then I bargained for.  From then on I was on the out skirts of Fancytown the rest of the night.  Besides a game of skee ball against John, which I got my ass whooped in I would say it was a most uneventful night.

Saturday night one of John’s friends was throwing a birthday party in the Mission.  We assumed it was going to just be an apartment event on the small side and in my opinion lame.  When we got there the party was in an auto body shop with cars and everything.  Apparently they rented out the whole space for the night.  It was packed and there was an open bar.  Things were looking up.

The bar was packed so we ran across the street and bought a large flask of Captain  Morgan to satiate.  It was not long before I was in full on Fancytown and not long after that when I became the president.  At one point towards the end of the night I found myself behind the bar downing whatever was alcoholic, just fiending.  That was about the last thing I remember before winding up in a puddle of my own vomit on the sidewalk in front of John’s apartment.  I totally ruined my suit.  From what I heard I was pretty much a full fledged shit show and John was barely able to get me home.

Next morning I woke up around 1 pm still drunk and an absolute mess.  John had this look mortification in his eyes, still a bit taken aback never having seen me in full on Fancytown before.  As the day wore on and I sobered up I found that I must have hurt my foot in one of my falls on the way home.  There was no surfing that day for I could barely walk let alone surf.  I  probably would have drowned. John’s friend Marc said he got “white girl drunk” that night.  I suppose then I must have been crack whore drunk. You have to pay hard to play hard sometimes.

Styling in my suit before Fancytown took over.  Lets just say the majority of that outfit found it's way into the trash.

Styling in my suit before Fancytown took over. Lets just say the majority of that outfit found it’s way into the trash.

The Impromptu Jam

Sitting at John’s kitchen table hating my life Sunday afternoon I noticed he had picked up his roommate’s base and began noodling around.  His roommate, Jesse got behind the drum kit and shit got real.  Jesse had a saxophone and although a beat to shit student alto with a crap mouth piece and tattered reed I decided to pick it up and give it a whirl.  It had been two years since I have jammed with anyone and John and I have never played together in all the years we have been friends.

Sure we played nothing earth shattering and most of the time it was out of sync, out of tune and out of tune.  I was still drunk for most of it and was just thriving in the moment.  I think if we laid tape there would have been a riff or two worth something.  We jammed out on “I want you back” by the Jackson 5 for like ten minutes that sounded pretty tight.  After years of lots of serious play it was great to just kick back and make some noise.  Almost made me stoked I drank to much to surf that day.

All and all despite some adversity and a port-a-potty or two from hell it was a “most excellent adventure”.  Life can get pretty stagnant if you stay in one place all the time.  Every so often even if its only a few hundred miles away I must change things up a bit.  One thing is for sure when I ever I leave Santa Barbara it feels that much better to get back.  When I got home I cooked an amazing Shrimp Scampi (click here for my Scampi recipe) for both Heather and Bizarro and all was well, business as usual.  I am actually headed to San Diego with Bizarro for the next four days for some surf, party and Comic Con fun.  Look for a fun filled adventure blog on that trip soon or follow along with the surf log while I am there.
July_SF-095

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Today marks the official end of summer on the modern Calendar and if those Mayan dudes are correct we are just a few months till the end of the world and thank fucking  god cause I don’t really have a back up plan for 2013 if the world does not end.   With the end of this summer also concludes the SUMMER OF ALF!!! I know it feels like it only just began and now it is over :(.  Was it a success or failure?  You will just have to wait for my Summer of Alf index report blog to find out, although if you read the surf log you might have been able to speculate the answer to that one.  If not check back at June, July, August and September and you can make your own assumption.  Then read “Of Things to Come” and really see how well I did accomplishing some of those summer goals and if your completely lost on what the Summer of Alf is read “I declare this the Summer of Alf” blog.  Then answer the fun poll below.  Hooray!!!

The 21st of September does not just end the summer of 2012 or THE SUMMER OF ALF, but also the summer quarter of the UCB.  I know what your thinking, what quarter you only wrote like 2 UCB’s.  Whatever, sorry folks I was too busy living in the moment of the SUMMER OF ALF and getting drunk at the Wild Cat and fornicating with loose women.  Yeah for sluts at the bar.  Nothing says good times like waking up in the morning next to a person you have no idea ever meeting or how she got to be in your home, let alone why she is naked next to you.  Ahhh single living,thank you Ades for all you have done for me.  I am sure I will look back on all this someday and laugh…NOT!

Before I close out the summer UCB quarter I thought why no conclude it with one more Power of Ten list.  Mauriello takes the cake on this one.  I must say there were some really hefty lists posted.  Choosing one was a realy mental fight.  Ultimately I let Alfie choose.   John you can thank him for your two points.

The cat of cats Alfie making this months Power of Ten winner selection.

 

1. Die AntwoordDie Antwoord is this ridiculous house music group from South Africa.  Mauriello is currently obsessed with them and after watching way way way too many of their videos on YouTube.com I too have been a bit corrupted.  Who are we kidding I was already fucked to begin with.  You can make the decision for yourself. “Old enough to breed, old enough to bleed, old enough crack a brick in your teeth”.  Oh the shit that is out there in this world and then we wonder why our society is slowly falling apart.  Then again people thought Shakespeare was obscene in his time.

2. Interacting With Normal PeopleI think by now if you have been reading for a bit or even if you just read the intro to this blog you have figured out that I am not like everyone else.  The word “normal” is very subjective kind of like when one tries to judge surfing.  To me normal means behavior that comes natural to oneself.  In my mind everything I do is normal.  Unfortunately according to the standards of society I am actually very abnormal.  So that brings us to the question at hand, how do I interact with normal people.  Mostly they are appalled by my actions, speech and behavior.  Some are awestruck, others deeply impressed and the a small group slightly to very confused.  Most of the time I am not serious about anything and am very sarcastic.  I make a suicide joke on here at least once a week.  I find the taboo very amusing and like to play with those parameters.  This makes your run of the mill everyday American very uncomfortable.  More then that I do whatever I want, whenever I want, where ever I want regardless of the consequences. I am brutally honest and not afraid to make a complete ass of myself, which usually is the outcome for me 90% of the time.  Normal people just don’t understand me and therefore put on an uncomfortable smile and occasional awkward giggle biding their time till they can politely, but promptly take their leave of me and never come back.  Those of you out there who have witnessed this know exactly what I am talking about.

3. Nicholas CageI really like Nicholas Cage.  As a matter of fact I cannot think of a movie he has been in that I have not liked.  Sure he only has three looks, creepy happy, creepy angry and creepy pathetic, but he uses them well.  “Leaving Las Vegas” is one of my all time favorite tragic romances, “The Wickerman” is a gnarly ass suspense that has you guessing till the last second.  “Lord of War”  and “The Weatherman” will have you laughing your ass off.  “Gone in 60’s Seconds” is action packed and “8mm” is just plain heavy.  Just to name a few.

Sort of looks like when I go grocery shopping.

4. The Implications of Granny PantiesThis is a very good topic and one I have some experience sadly with.  When the granny panties come out you can kiss your sex life with your girl friend goodbye along with it.  Basically what cotton full cover panties means is “I don’t care about turning you on anymore”.  With this always comes the sweat pants, “Im too tired” and ultimately her sleeping next to you in full on pajamas.  It means your girlfriend, wife or whatever does not give a shit about sex with you except for that two times a month when she is horny.  Its a very sad predicament my friends.  I am not saying ladies that you have to be in thongs all the time, but there are plenty of sexy options out there in pantie design that will still offer comfort but drive us wild.  Yes you may not be comfortable sleeping naked, but there are also plenty of sexy sleep options that are comfortable as well.  That XXL t-shirt does not do shit for me.  I know, how bout if I gain thirty pounds grow a beer belly and sit around on the couch all day in a pair of stained tighty whities and a wife beater.  Sounds grotesque doesn’t it.  That is exactly what we think of the granny panties.  Its only ok if your a granny and I am so old that not even an entire bottle of Viagra could get my dick up. Let the hate mail begin!

5. RoommatesAhh roommates, the necessity of the poor.  Sure I could live with out a roommate if I wanted to go live in Goleta, Carpinteria, a shitty part of town and give up my ocean and mountain view.  Either that or I could rent a studio with one room, a bathroom a microwave and a hot plate.  Sorry I need a kitchen and love my view.  That being said the Lisanti Palace is not cheap and Alfie that lazy S.O.B wont go out and get a job.  Thus I have roommates.  Here at the Palace we have been through dozens.  Some were crazy, some sucked, some loved shooting heroin, others were great.  Overall my only goal in this life is to someday make enough money that I can support the Palace on my own.  That and get my Bentley of course.

6. Backside Barrel RidesI love backside barrel riding.  It is way gnarlier, looks sicker, is more technical and you can just get so much deeper in the tube.  When you come out of an acid drop drainer back hand with no grab and nothing but your hands on your testicles it’s legendary.  I am a goofy in the northern hemisphere which contributes to an inane backside tube ridding ability.  It also helps that I grew up in New Jersey known for either flat days or heaving right hand barrels.  Now I live in Santa Barbara home to two of the best right hand barrels in the world, Sand Spit and El Capitan.  Lets just say when a heavy one is bearing down on me backside I don’t even think twice about pulling in.

Slab Happy in South Australia

7. Bar FightsThere is something really invigorating about getting into a good old fashioned bar fight.  It seems these days I have been getting into way more of my share then I should be.  The main cause of it is when other guys girl friends decide they would rather hang out with myself or my buddies.  Then the other guy gets jealous and comes over all angry “What are you doing with my girl”.  Then I respond “hey guy if I were you instead of wasting your time getting all huffy with us you ought to check your bitch”.  Next thing you know punches get thrown.  In Australia and New Zealand guys will drag you out of the pub with the sole intention of fighting you just because.  You will rumble and then the winner buys the loser a beer and they are friends for life.  It happened to me when I was in NZ and that dude and I chilled all the time after that.  For a funny bar fight story involving yours truly at Fiesta last year read “Fiesta 2011 Ole!” Blog.  Basically I started a full on bar room brawl by accident.  Read it I promise you will laugh.

8. Fast FoodI know I am a very accomplished cook and purveyor of eating well, but there is just something about a juicy Big Mac that just gets my mouth watering.   I have this guilty passion for fast food.  There is just something about consuming a weeks worth of caloric intake in just a matter of minutes that fascinate me.  I am also dumbfounded on how they manage to charge so little money. All that sodium and grease, oh baby…YUM!  Top five national fast food places in order from least to greatest: 5. Taco Bell, 4. Wendy’s, 3. KFC 2. Mac Donalds, 1. Subway, fuck if its good enough for Happy Gilmore it is good enough for me and with $5 foot longs all month you bet your ass I am doing some damage there.

9. The Fountain Head: The Fountain Head is a master piece novel by Ayn Rand.  I was turned onto her by my ex-girlfriend who at the time passed it along to me.  It blew my mind and I could not put it down.  The Fountain Head pretty much sums up human integrity into a few stereo typical categories reflected from each of the main characters.  Be for warned you many not end up being the character you expected if you are a person who can look at yourself truthfully.  I saw who I was really fast and it helped me a bit to make certain alterations in my own life.  If you do read it or have read it I think you will clearly see which character reflects me the most as well.  More then anything the novel is a true testament to the human spirit and staying true to your own beliefs no matter what the cost.  First and fore most this has always been the driving force in my own life.  “All these years I had hoped to run into you so I could ask you just what you thought of me after all I have done to destroy you”…”Honestly I don’t think about you at all”-Howard Roark.

10. How to Meet Ms. PerfectThese days popular opinion keeps telling me that I am going to meet her on the internet on some online dating site.  I could not even stomach the idea.  I would be ok with meeting someone off Craigslist cause like I said before its a bit more sketchy on there.  Any chick who has the guts to post on there is a woman worthy of my esteem or at least a look.  I am sorry but I am a hopeless romantic at heart and our meet cute has to be something out of a story.  I have only seriously been with three woman and all there were such.  There was no internet involved, well maybe just a little bit in my most recent failure.  I guess that was not so recent anymore.  If you don’t have a romantic story early on than what is going to happen to your relationship years down the pike?  Maybe I am just old fashioned and a dreamer, but I think I will keep dreaming.
 

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There was a time when Jazz became watered down and very generic in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  This music was aptly labeled Smooth Jazz and sold to the masses.  The music found its way into elevators, doctors offices, The Weather Channel and in the homes of every white middle aged middle class American.  Kenny G was the most notable and the man everyone thinks of when the topic of smooth jazz comes up.

In the midst of this watered down garbage there were still plenty of solid cats who straight up shredded on their instruments within this format.  Art Porter was one of these men. The cat burned on both the alto and soprano saxophones.  Unfortunately due to an untimely death courtesy of a boating accent he was taken from us way before his peak as a player.  I only discovered his music in 1998 when the album “For Art’s Sake” was released, a posthumous compilation of some of his unreleased tracks and live performances.

My mind was blown by his ability on the Saxophone and my heart saddened that I would never get the opportunity to see him play live.  Like me Porter also spent time at Berklee College of Music in Boston.   Most jazz guys are always the first to discredit smooth jazz saying that it is a travesty to the art form.  Then I will always reference people such as Porter or Grover Washington Jr, David Sandborn, etc. who managed to still play to the best of their ability in the format.

Whenever I have a live performance or am going into the studio to blow over something more contemporary, but leaves me room to get on the wild side I always listen to a bit of Porter for inspiration.  The song I really wanted to share with you guys was a tune called “Lay Your Hands On Me” an 11 minute live version from the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1996.  I would say his playing on that tune in that performance is nothing short of all time.  I was unable to find an embed-able version.  I settled for this version of “Straight to the Point from the same concert and also a very cool Art Porter song.

In this performance he utilizes sheets of sound a jazz technique originally used by pianists and guitarists where multiple layers of notes are played simultaneously to give a sense of a wall of sound and creating the illusion that more then one instrument is being played at one time.  The technique was later popularized on the sax by John Coltrane on his rendition of “My Favorite Things”.  It is a skill I managed to pick up in high school and pissed off many of the traditionalist jazz guy because of it.  Porter also plays two horns at once towards the end of the tune as well.  I hope you enjoyed it.

I though I would leave you with one more, my favorite Art Porter tune, “Inside Myself”.  It is a very commercial version but you can still here how bad ass a player he is.

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Shredding

My second installment in this Groovin’ High series of people who inspire me to wail on the saxophone is none other then my favorite saxophonist of all time, Kenny Garrett.  Before I go on I want to clarify that in this series I am going to feature artists that are still alive and creating new music today.  The jazz cats who are on the scene right now.  There are plenty of guys from the past who helped shaped me into the player I am and I may run that theme at some point as well.  For this succession I am sticking with the players who are turning heads right now.

Kenny Garrett is in my opinion the best altoist I have ever gotten to hear play the instrument.  I have had the privilege of seeing him multiple times in concert and have never failed to be impressed.  If you have never heard jazz live before and have the opportunity to catch a Kenny Garrett show I implore you to check it out.  Whether a jazz fan or not I believe you will walk out in awe.  I brought this classical flutist I was seeing back when I went to Berklee to hear him play.

She was one of these conservatory snobs over at North Eastern. I met her at some frat party over at Boston University.  We were both fish out of water at the thing so it was only obvious that we gravitated towards one another.  As it turns out she was a nut job eventually stalking me for nearly I year after we had broken up.  She was always down on the musicianship of a jazz group.   After hearing Garrett she never had anything to say again.  I took my Dad to one of his shows as well and he too walked out stunned.  The guy is that good.  What else would you expect from a man who played in both Duke Ellington’s and Miles Davis’ last band.

Lets talk a bit about the tune and the album.  “Lonnie’s Lament” is a tune originally written and performed by John Coltrane on the album Crescent and was in the midst of his more avante gaurde recordings.  The important thing to consider musically about Lonnie’s Lament is the fact that  it is a modal tune that incorporates a complex V’s pattern in the chord progression allowing for more interesting improvisation where as in many modal tunes such as “Foot Prints” or “Equinox” the changes can get rather stagnant for the improviser.

The tune can also open the argument that Modal tunes are suppose to be left simplistic to allow for more freedom in one’s improvisation.  What I can say is Lonnie’s Lament is a tough to tune to blow over, but once you figure it out playing on it becomes addictive and its not uncommon to hear a soloist take an excessive amount of choruses as a result.  I know I am good for at least ten before my band would pull the hook on me.  I think most saxophonists on the whole are refrain hogs.  I once saw Sonny Rollins blow fifties choruses of one of his tunes for his solo, then blew on it again after each of his band members took their solos.  I think they played that song for almost 25 minutes.

Lonnie’s Lament is off his 2006 release Pursuance: The Music of John Coltrane.  At first I was uneasy to purchase a tribute album my reasoning being if I want to hear the music of John Coltrane I will just listen to John Coltrane.  In my quest to listen to every track ever played by Garrett I decided to give the album a shot.  I was blown away.  Guitarist Pat Metheny joins him on this collaboration.  Metheny is another one of these players that influence me and will most likely be featured in his own blog at some point.

The two of them burn on the album but really flow in this tune.  Their duel at the end of the song is so fucking hot.  I could go on and on but instead all I am going to say is listen to it…

Then if your enticed please listen to this solo of his from his days with Miles.  This tune is “Human Nature”, Miles’ cover of the Micheal Jackson hit.  It’s a live recording and it really shows how explosive Kenny Garrett really is live.  The solo starts at 3:16 and runs till the end of the track.  I recommend listening to the solo in its entirety.  He locks in so tight with the band towards the end it will have you in an uproar.

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Then man Killing it…

Now that I am writing again, I know its pretty amazing isn’t it?  I don’t really know what gave me the sudden angst to get the mind working again, but I’m back baby!  There are only another six weeks left in the Summer of Alf.  At the moment I have not decided if it was total flop or semi-success story.  I guess we will all just have to wait another six weeks to find out.  For the remainder of the Summer of Alf I have decided that every week I will post a Groovin’ High of what I really consider great music and more then that great music played, written and performed by masterful musicians.

These are the people that inspire me to play the saxophone on a higher level and constantly allow the bar to continue to be raised.  I feel on the whole most of what I post here in Groovin’ High are decent songs by decent artist.  Usually I pick a song by how it pertains to my life at that moment.  For me music has always been more of a stream of consciousness then just something to fill space or a vehicle for dance.  The next six weeks I will spot light six tunes by six artists that have helped shape me into the person and artist I have become.  If this is not your particular genre listen anyway and keep an open mind.  When “Call Me Maybe” is top on the American music charts I think it is time to give a comparison on what skilled artists are doing.

The first song in this installment is “Of Things to Come” by Stefon Harris and it appears on his Black Action Hero album.  He released it in 1999 and it found its way into my hands in 2000.  I have always been a huge fan of the vibraphone enjoying the likes of Milt Jackson and Roy Ayers.  I came across a very interesting write up in a Jazz magazine about this young vibes player who was combining contemporary jazz, R&B, Soul,Hip Hop and Jungle beats to create a very distinctive sound.  The description alone was enough to get my purchase.  I love the jungle work done by Dizzy Gillespie back in the 60’s.

“Of Things to Come” was the first song to really catch my attention on the album.  I was already blown away by the playing, but had yet to hear anything that really grabbed me.  Then this track came on and I was mesmerized.  I think I played this one on loop for nearly a month after hearing it.  I own another five albums, four solo and one collaboration by Stefon and I must say I am truly impressed.  I would have to put him as my favorite vibraphonist and in my top ten favorite Jazz Musicians.

The band on this are no slouches either.  Every player is masterful.  Greg Osby is playing Alto Saxophone and he also is at the moment one of the hottest jazz altoist on the market.  Listen to the infliction of his solo on this track.  The guy fucking burns.  On trombone you have one of my former jazz mentors, Steve Turre, who in his own right may be the best living Latin jazz trombonist at the moment.  I have had the opportunity to perform with Mr. Turre a few times in my life and if you think he blows on the trombone you need to hear what he can do with a conch shell.   As for the rest of the group they kill it too although I am unfamiliar with any of those cats.

I could go on and on about this tune but I would rather have you just listen to it.  Enjoy and please let me know your thoughts on the song, the playing, the style, or even the new direction of Groonin’ High in the comments.  I am always stoked for feedback.

Now Listen to this and tell me there is not a big difference in musicality.  If you can’t understand the difference please stop reading my blog.

“Before you came into my life I missed you so bad…So Call Me Maybe”  Now if that is not great American song writing I don’t know what is.  Rodgers and Hart, Gershwin, you guys have nothing on this tune! FTW…

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Alright…I’m gonna write this..from a..stream of …….musical consciousness.
My beat..be.in..4/4 time..
Quarter note gets….65…..
Use this tune as your set…cause that is what I am talking in time toooo…ooooo
Oh yeah. Oh yeah
Im-a-talkin’ ’bout that…soooouulllll…..Muuuuussaaaaak…

Who better to put the soul on the track then D’Angelo?  Yeah that’s right not that many.  What am I rambling about?  I am talking about that soulful, easy groovin’ baby making music, that black music.  Yeah I know its been a while since I have written.  My only defense is that I have been bogged down in the out of control, door swinging in the wind life style all of you my readers have come to love.  I don’t even know where to start and I think that has been why I have not been able to get any constructive words on paper.  At the moment I still don’t have words for all that has happened in my life over the previous few weeks.  In the mean time while I compose myself and gather my thoughts and “mouth words” (two extra UCB points if you post in the comments where and what I am referencing in quotations.) you can enjoy this entry of Groovin’ High.

My new couch guy (yes that’s right after being vacant for over two months there is finally an intrepid soul up for the task of being completely Lisantified.  How many words have I made up here on SurfingRuinedMyLife.net with my name somewhere in them? Talk about great moments in narcissism), Sean and I were discussing last night how the majority of America has no soul both musically and symbolically.  America is slowly diluting human ingenuity, integrity and individuality.   If the government had it their way they would start mass producing man like the Mustang and Costco, but that is a master piece blog for another day when I am at my most anarchistic.

What does this have to do with Music or D’Angelo?  Everything.  Americans on a whole have no appreciation for really good, creative and authentic music.  All the people want to hear is generic bullshit that has been re-recorded, re-produced, re-mixed, re-masterd, re-cycled and spit out the back end so they can shake their ass on the dance floor to the same song all night long.  Face it right now the majority of new music being made en mass no matter the genre is complete watered down, inaudible shit.  That is why the DJ’s turn the base real high and load it up with sound effects to make you forget how bad the song your listening to really fucking sucks.  Then people wonder why I cant bring myself to do anything with music anymore. What’s the fucking point?

I was first turned on to D’Angelo while playing with the Proximity Theatre Group this past summer by the music director and in my opinion one of the more brilliant cutting edge composers I have had to pleasure of working with, Ken Urbina.  He had this pre and post show music mix that always opened with “Lady” another great one by this fat cat, D’Angelo.  I used to jam out to it back stage on my soprano sax before each show.  Since then I have picked up a myriad of tracks from him and still jam out on all three of my horns to them.  If I was born black I totally could have been blowing back up for all these guys, but alas I am just a white boy trying too hard as usual.

“Me and Those Dreamin’ Eyes”  is just such a passion filled tune.  That was the whole point of my ramblings earlier in this piece was how too many in this world around me lack passion.  “Whatever” although the one word phrase that should most likely go down as the tag line for my generation is a terrible state of being.  This is the kind music you get down with that special lady in your life to.  Slow dancing round the living room after a hard day at work, bumping and grinding.  Slowly caressing each other as clothing begins to be shed.  I hope you have experienced the passionate love making I am describing  at least once in your life.

When I had a girl friend there was nothing I loved more then sweeping her off her feet in a soulful dance unexpectedly out of nowhere.  Its a bit easier for me since I always have music playing in my house and 1 out 3 songs on my ipod is a soulful, baby making kind of song.  These days I just cross step and shuffle around my apartment by myself on occasion forcing poor Alfie to indulge in a dance on his hind legs with me.  It is after all “The Summer of Alf“.

I want to for a moment refer to the video for this tune as well.  Take a look just for a moment at the scene where this is all going down.  Notice how classy this little juke joint is.  I used to go to places like that to hear music just like this in NYC, NJ and Boston.  Take a good look at the clothing everyone is wearing.  Yeah that’s right they are all dressed fly as fuck.  I don’t see any flannel in this crowd, do you?   I love that the bassist is playing an upright.  When ever I show up to see a group I never heard play and I see an upright bass I know I am in for a solid show.  If I ever get shit going like I want this is the kind of place I want to open up.  I probably wont stay in business too long if I do it in Santa Barbara.

D’Angelo fucking shredding.

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I got big things to say here really soon.  I know I took a break for about a week or so.  I must say it was well needed.  As everyone knows I like to stew on just about everything that happens in my life.  I finally have an explanation for that.  I am not going to give that out tonight.  Nah….  I am however going to write about this song “Somebody I Used to Know” by Gotye.  You will just have to hold your breath and wait for the next News From Lisanti Land for the big story.  Please don’t hold your breath I don’t want anyone to die on my account, although I am pretty sure unless you put a plastic bag over your head or a louse around your neck the human body will force you to breath.

This song was actually introduced to me about two months ago by a lady friend who despite all my attempts to make her become someone I used to know has managed to still stay an unhealthy part of my life.   Let me rephrase that.  She may actually be a very healthy part of my life at the moment.  I don’t really know and truth be told has been one of the many things I have been stewing on for some time.   Shit I have been stewing so long on this one it might have broken the crock pot.

She was obsessed with the song and after hearing it a few times I really did enjoy the groove.   After some research I found out apparently Gotye is doing all the work on the tune himself.  I have to respect a man who can proficiently play everything.  Since then I have heard the song in saturation, on the radio, at the club etc.  Still I found it rather enjoyable to listen to.  My cooking partner in crime and I always turn the shit up in the kitchen when it comes on.

Last week I actually stopped and listened to all the lyrics and realized how beautifully terrible they were.  Then I realized how fitting they were to my own life and most other people.  Nursing a broken heart is not easy as many know, although I feel these days romance has eluded the majority of the population, but that is another blog for another day.  When a relationship ends that maybe one thought was the love of his life it is a terrible blow.  Its only happened to me three times and as much as it stung it made me realize a ton about myself.

Its really hard to understand yourself till your are tested.  Ironically, and we all know how much I love irony, that was what the Christians always told me that short stint I spent in there rapture.  They  said I was being “tested”.  Their God was not for me, but once again I feel I have passed the test.   Here I am a year later still here and going strong.  For the first time in a long time I believe I know what I want.  You will have to wait a day or so for that answer.

Adrienne crushed me.  You know what I let her.  Not making any excuses for her behavior cause it was unacceptable on any level of human decency.  I never really expressed how I felt about her till it was too late.  That is where this song comes in.  “You can  become addicted to a certain type of sadness”.  You know I had become addicted to feeling sorry for myself  and the subsequent depression.  Everyone around me got tired of it so I ostracized myself.  Who lost out? I did.

Then the female singer comes in at the end and she presents her side of the case and it put everything in perspective for me.  While I pine over the good times we had, Adrienne looks back at all the times I was a son of a bitch to her.  Despite everything we had together it is over.  No matter how sad I get or how pathetic I am or whatever she will never be in my arms again.  In her head it was two years of misery.    In the end I guess she really is just “Somebody  I Used to Know”.

Thank you Gotye for putting everything in perspective for me.  Thank you everyone here for indulging in my ridiculousness.   Stay tuned for my new plan in life.  For now enjoy Gotye.

This is pretty cool too:

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