Marion Groves Quick Shot at the Jazz Jam!

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Now, here is an unexpected treat indeed: locally legendary and globe-trotting vocalist Marion Groves makes a fairly rare appearance at the Green Street Trio’s weekly Tuesday jazz jam held in City Sports Grill.

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And what does the vocally power-packed lady sing, but a particular favorite of mine, Percy Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone to Love” – more a blues number, you say?  No matter; the sensitive dirge is a jazzily-handled blues here tonight, not to mention capably, authoritatively, and just plain nicely handled as well- this is classy stuff!

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I like what Wikipedia says of the song (by the way):

“It has been called a ‘multilayered universal lament.’  Mayfield sang it in a soft ballad style. Its appeal lay in the sensitivity of its lyrics in juxtaposing an awareness of a world in conflict with a personal expression of the need for love.  Sung in Mayfield’s gentle, suave vocal style, the lyrics were a combination of a romantic love ballad and a social message against discrimination.”

My main frame of reference for the song is from Paul Butterfield’s first Better Days album, in 1973, which is a pretty high bar to come up to- Geoff Muldaur’s vocal took the thing to a near-Gospel level of spirituality.  And Ms. Groves, tonight?  Blues…blues with authority… jazzy blues, but pretty heavy (as it should be) and muchly appreciated.

We should talk more about Marion Groves- just you wait; she’ll have a show soon.

 

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Help a Brutha Out?

Would someone mind doing me a bit of a favor, please … ?
“Jimm O’D on Facebook” link, even though it says ‘not a valid url.’
I’m working on some stuff, most of it annoying and frustrating
and time-consuming… wait, did I say “most of it” …? Yeah, well….
Clicking there should bring you to my FB page, actually; it does for
me in fact, even though it shouldn’t on account of the red text.

Piper Blues Jam ~ Gibson’s, E. Windsor CT

After Steve Piper and Co. (Paul Dabrowski & Jason Arnold) opened up the Blues Jam at Gibson’s with a fairly blistering set-  well, ‘blistering’ in the sense of, like, incredibly “smart,” shall we say: energetic and solid, driving and steady, rolling and rollicking without ever going any kind of “over the top” … civilized, highly enjoyable rocking blues, true to the tradition and stimulating to a wide audience- and at just the right volume level.  Maybe it’s the room; maybe it’s the sound in the room…  probably it’s the size and shape ahd the acoustics in the room, combined with the mighty fine PA and all, provided by the house (nice!) … that right there is a HUGEly welcome thing.

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So, after that cool opener, the next-up set came from good ol’ Special K- Phyllis Lataille and Kenneth Kucza.  First time we’d seen ’em here in this particular loco.  LOVE the way they do that Stevie Windor boppy-roller, “Higher Ground,” and so did a bunch of others; I heard ’em say so.  The song might not be entirely within the blues genre, strictly speaking, but the execution brings it on home.  And the umbrella can open wide when we consider qualifiers like execution and delivery, or ‘presentation,’ musically speaking, on the one hand; and source or origin on the other (btw, Steve and I were just kicking this around, so…). 

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Material culled (or ‘sourced’) from all kinds of ‘neighboring pigeon-holes’ can transfer in: Motown especially, all kinds of rhythm & blues (obviously), and the over-arching spectrum of soul music (of course)… all this brings us to the very thing that Bill Goodwin just brought to my attention: DIVERSITY.  Open ‘er up a bit, and next thing ya know, all kinds o’ peeps can play, and SO many more can enjoy, other expert axes, and audients alike.  Jazz, arguably akin to blues as an authentic and indigenous American art-form, allows for the inclusion of the above ‘categories’ and a lot more, like funk and pretty much whatever the hell yawanna play- as long as ya lay it down with a blues twist, or play it between a couple o’ blues numbers. 

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Besides all that, as MC Piper said a little while ago, “it’s a JAM.”  It ain’t quite ‘anything goes,’ but any decent player can work it in and make it work within the broad band of “blues” … and there SUREly ain’t no lack of decent players here; in fact, ‘decent’ is about the bare-bottom, entry-level minimum of talent here, and even ‘good enough’ is a rarity here.  This is a “performance-portal” for professionals here; it’s almost (to my mind, anyway) like a gateway to the high-level and highly respectable network of pros who circulate around the Soringfield-Hartford corrider and thence southward.  An element of this exists, admiradbly and inarguably, on Worthington Street in Springfield within the walls of Theodore’s Blues, Brews and Barbecue; and Wildcat O’Halloran holds forth an excellent outpost at City Sports in Northampton (also on Sundays).  But, in these last couple-few years that your humble scribe has been on this beat, beating these friendly streets (not mean at all- communal, more like), it has been apparant that the sense of connection and community that exists within the entire, wide web of musicians in general and certain sub-groups as associated by style or age, or whatever; this bond of casual professionalism prevails among a HUGE number of blues players (and lovers) in the region starting in Springfield and extending south while spreading sideways both ways, east and west. 

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Diversity prevails as well, without an element of exclusion, as evidenced by the involvement, acceptance, and increasing regional success of a variety of blues-oriented artists.  Bobby Paltauf, for example- the dude’s like, twelve I think!  No, he must be 21 or more by now.  And the Balkun Brothers- still fairly young as well, but paying their dues by carrying the blues to the whole generation of our parents’ grandchildren.  In both cases, they present their love packaged for palatabilty but without compromise.  In other words, these artists and others around the area are on a mission: they deliver to a wide audience and “educate the masses.”  Those young hipsters and jammers might not realize it at first, and in fact these proponents may not have their ‘mission’ foremost in their minds and intentions at all times- they’re just doing what they dig, and sharing their passion.

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Take Cold Shot for instance, Southwick’s trio of young ‘uns playing the blues and staying faithful to the tradition.  Matter o’ fact, the excellently-slimming Jeff Fortier, that band’s bass-meister, brought his svelte-ness down here tonight and played a set (quite well, natch) with Jason Arnold and pals, including another even younger guy (brought Bobby P to mind; had to look twice).  Perdomo came to the kit next, and then, for the next three hours, a dizzyingly mind-blowing array of artists took the stage and took our attention- and ran widdit, man; they took us places!  We had some grooves in the mix, and some soulful singing; a set of instrumental funk stands out in retrospect; and some smooth jazz- energetic, ebullient even, but still smoooth….  I chirped in surprise, a bit loudly, as I thought I recognized the strains of Steely Dan’s “Peg” in one feller’s treatment, but no- ’twas a Grover Washington number.  Oh, and flute- I heard a freakin’ flute, man!  How cool is that?  Blues flute- could be my new calling!

         Gibson’s is the Gateway, it seems… 
                     Piper’s portal is the entry-point… 
                                 Others help to set the stage… 
                                              It all heads south from here!

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Bobby Palteuf pics from FB page

Jimm O’D ~ The Dusty Turntable

Done with WordPress . . . ?

After launching the following tirade, the “dropped” post re-appeared. Now I can finish it. Tomorrow.

Before heading off to bed, though, I thought I would quickly move the post into the “drafts” section, to remove but save. Since it no longer applies … right? But wait, there’s more! Move it, you say? “Quckly,” you think? HAH! Guess again!!!
So, after another (much shorter) passing of time, I’m thinking I oughtta leave the sum’bit right where it is. Bwaah-HAH!

OK, WordPress… we’re done. 
You have disappointed and frustrated me once again…
You dropped a perfectly good write-up as I was working on it.
This time, you even confirmed that it had actually posted and up-loaded, pictures and all.
I was in the middle of a project and had to divert away, so I saved my work, natch… and when I went back… nada!

I know, I know:  I should write on a separate document, like Word or whatever, but this “live in the moment” approach works really well for me.  My little write-ups, or “memoiryviews” I still like to call ’em, just ain’t the same otherwise, and that particular feature is quite important- it’s popular, and has been right from the start.  Gonna keep that going.
 
FaceBook has never lost a post on me, and it’s a whole hell of a lot easier to work with.  Sure, I have to put the pics at the bottom of the entry only; no way else-wise, but dat be a weeny little price to pay.  I mean, really– that right there is a great example of what an effing p-i-t-a you are, you friggin’ WordPress piece o’ time-wasting trash-tech, you  . . .   –  When I first started this whole bloggy-thing, you used to let me have my way with you, as far as putting my pictures wherever the hell I wanted.  Then you got uncooperative in that way, one more of the many ways in which you refuse to play nice.  I’m sure it’s all about your “WHSIWYG” technology, but FB is basically the epitome of the same, and it works just fine.  Besides, with the quality of results I get with my low-ball device, 2MP camera and all, it ain’t worth the worry. 

So I no longer have a PC and internet access in the same place at the same time…  I do my thing, all of it; in fact I do pretty much all my things on my mobile device.  Whatever’s the deal with an Android system, as soon as the constraints and conditions of my indigency-induced reality necessitated a more complete reliance on the SamTab, you got more cantankerous and difficult.  Come to think if it, I had similar issues with you when I tried another tool, a Windows phone-  Operating system more to your liking, or so I hoped; but still a mobile device, so not good enough I guess.  Sorrr-REE!  

I realize, as well, that things might get easier if I forked it over for a “fully” functional account and its seeming web-site.    I would like to, really I would, especially for the credibility that a bona-fide “dot-com” address would bring to a blogger.   But come now, do tell:  why, oh WHY would I cough up the cash in the indiscriminate hope of expected improvements over something that just doesn’t work in its basic format?  I figured I’d get used to you in your free form, and then later, further on down the road when I get my affairs in order, I’d go for the upgrade.  Now, though- no freakin’ way- you suck! 

When I am in a position to spring for the full package…  a better device; maybe a Mac i-thing; I hear that might solve my problems, but at a premium…  or maybe they’ll start making Tablets with better cameras, and then in another little while the cost will come down to where a hand-to-mouth chump like myself can swing it (which just ain’t quite yet, anyways)…  HELL man, even the working space on my screen is a bother with you; do you have any idea how annoying it is to focus a finger of my mannish ham-hands on the 32nd-of-an-inch (if even that much) margin you give me to swipe you back into place once I’ve gone back ^up^ to look at my earlier text to check for mistakes or revel in the brilliance?  Nay, I think not. 
Anyhoo… when I have it to spend wisely, I’d be an idiot to spend it on you.  Whether other so-called “easy-to-use” web-net resources are all about the same as you in terms of heart-wrenching recalcitrance I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that it might be likely-  I’m told that it’s about the “What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get” techno-crap; and cuz it’s a freebie-version.    So I suppose I can’t blame just you, my dear WP.  But surely you understand that I can not continue with this frustration.   This has become one of the most exasperating experiences- relationships, even- of my entire existence.  How can I go on?  
Some of the fault has to be mine, of course- much, in fact.  I realize this.  Others my age manage to hold up in the face of such frustration, so it can’t be just that.  Although some of those, I really really think they don’t find it as easy as they say-  you know what I mean, they struggle their porculent butts off, but once they “got it” they forget their toils in getting it.  Or their kids did it, set ’em up and cut ’em loose.  Either way, they’ve long since lost the accountabilty that would allow for actual honesty; denial keeps them convinced of just how very easy it all is and how straight-forward this stuff is for them.  Too, they stick with what works, once it’s up-and-running; they keep it all inside the boundaries of what they already know how to do-  if they tried to stretch out, the whole cycle would start up again.  That’s what I think, anyway.  I’m not stupid! 

Or maybe it has something to do with neuro-psycho-inner-working issues.  [Aw jeez, here we go with that crap]  But wait!  Let me try to explain … let me see if I can make this make sense … to you.  Not that there should be any need for defense, of course, but just so we can all understand… or try to… will you?  Try, I mean?  May I…?  Alrighty then- meter’s running…!   
Let me see if I can put it this way:  A friend of mine told me about something he observed at a certain “support center” for men.  Not unlike the kinds of support groups that women might find, or maybe almost anyone with some sort of  something such as no one need bear alone; but not so much like twelve-step recovery, or even actual therapy, either…  These fellows were given a suggestion, an idea for how they might start a project, see it through, and come to satisfaction at the end.  This would serve to bolster the self-image and their self-confidence; they would come to a new (or renewed) sense of Self (appropriately, that is), and all that-there good stuff like that.  That was the general gist of it, anyway.  

These men lived with post-traumatic-stress disorder and various other issues that will often come with the cluster of complications and compounding ‘satellite syndromes’  in association with PTSD.  Of course, being men, we -I mean, they– were generally expected by others, society, and themselves, to “grin and bear it” or keep the ol’ chin up, or nose to the grindstone; whatever… they are -I mean, were– supposed to be strong, or at least silent, and work it out.  Which makes it worse.  So after some length of time, as my friend “reported” the “experiment,” these guys not only didn’t manage to pick through the process of creating their own little corner of the world by way of this system designed for ease-of-use for the end-user, they in fact became increasingly discouraged and dejected, their hopelessness resurfacing and rearing its ugly, noisy, and self-defeating head.  The “assignment,” or suggestion they were given, was for each of them to start a blog.

Jimm O’D ~ The Dusty Turntable

Ben Falkoff Quartet @ Schwemm’s, Amherst College

“When one thing falls thruough, another comes up” … ever heard that saying?
Or something like it?  Words to live by, or keep in mind, at least.  Let me explain:

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There I was, contentedly bopping into Mi Terra in Hadley for Brutha Larry’s weekly Open Mic with John Fuller and Conga Bob, thinking that the parking lot was AWEfully full…  I mean, whaaat, like the house had suddenly got behind this thing and advertised?  But no, we all know that don’t help…  Once inside, though, it made sense: something was Goin On, and it wasn’t Larry’s Jam.  That whole side of the building was, in fact, quite empty- and you know that never happens when Mister D & Co are in the house!  So, it would seem that some group or ‘nother had seen fit to book the main dining room for their Very Special Occasion, and what with all the singing they were doing (pretty sure that’s what the sound was), it
was deemed prudent to keep the bar/cafe side free of sonic intrusions.  So no, no Larry tonight.

So… I sits me butt down for a minnit, chatting with a couple area music-types (Dan Daniels and Helmi Pucino and sundry.  This gives me my first shot of wi-fi for the day; I Ain’t Doin’ Too Bad, mind you, but the virtual roster is piled kinda high by this evening-hour of the day- I gots a lots to tend to!  Inside o’ five minutes, though, it’s over and done and I’m out the door and into my wheelie-mobile.  Y’see, somehow; I know not how and cannot begin to conceive (barely believe, as a matter o’ fact), I had at some point in the not-too-distant past, … I had SOMEhow managed to neglect an entry in my trusty SamTab calendar.  Soon’s I hit the Face-page, don’tcha know, there it is: the reminder.  Praise ye Lord, and stay below the speed limit; I’m on my way to Amherst College to catch a set by Ben Falkoff and his Quartet, which just happens to feature none other than the younger Dulong, he of similar stature and likewise darkly and muchly follicled as the elder(-ish) gent.  It’s almost like a double bill for me- exciting and cool, right? ***

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Now, little did I realize, coming in to this wee little cafe of a room to the rear of Amherst College’s Student Center, that this Thursday night jazz thing is an Actual Thing- like, Ben said told me as much, but he speaks so quietly.  I did in fact remember that the Quartet was to play for an hour only, as there were other groups on the bill, so I knew to make haste at any rate (so to speak).  Immediately upon entry to the funky yellow building, I knew I’d found it.  Just by the jazz sounds emanting from the nether regions of the joint, and maybe by the quality of said sounds, it was clear that I’d hit the spot.  Even so, this was not quite what I’d come expecting.  Again, I may well have been properly and well-advised ahead of time, but what I heard as I aporoached the cafe was … well, soft.  This was soft and pleasant jazz, more or less along the lines of olde-schoole, but not by way of any easily recognizable, jazz-standard songs.  Doubly-dazzled was I then, as I found myself greeted by and treated to not only the lovely and acoustic guitar of Mr Falkoff and the stand-up bass of the young Master Dulong, when I had expected the searing fusion of a new-millenium Midnight Gypsy session (lol), but all original compositions as well.  The one ‘version’ they did, of a Police song, was so sweetly balanced between faithfulness to the melody as we all know and love it, and creativity in adventering beyond any mere transcription, that it fit right it with the rest of the material, like a piece of found poetry amid a writer’s own in a published volume.

Kinda like the time some friends and I (and the ex, too) went to see Allan Holdsworth at the Iron Horse, and with him was none other than Flim (the BB) Johnson on bass- and even drummer Gary ‘Usband (as Jack Bruce called him), though at the time, well… what did I know?

Bruce Diehls

Jimm O’D ~ The Dusty Turntable

Shatterack at the Rapids

Triply taken aback, I was… or I should prolly say ‘trebly’
but din’t wanna confuse- being as Music is the overall topic here…

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First, this rootsy-folksie, multi-genre but open-aire (not ‘country’) band started off tonight with a Pink Floyd song.
Next, the song was on the obsure-ish side, or a ‘deep cut’ at least:  “Fearless” from the early-ish Meddle album (’71).
Third-ish-ly, it struck me as just about genius that this band would choose that song- like, I whoa’d out loud (wol’d);
a couple of others from that same album might seem to be more likely choices (“Seamus” or “San Tropez” … right?).
And the fourth and final of our three points?  They did it well.  Well, no surprise there; this is a pretty fine band here.
It’s just that what they did with the moody, acousticly oriented but still decidedly progressive composition was exactly
as we never knew it should be.  Ain’t that the mark of creative musical expertise?  The interpretation goes to a place,
or in a direction, unexpected and surprising but not shocking or jarring or otherwise egregious (ouch!).  End result:  a
pleasant surprise indeed!  A viable take on an underground classic, sounding sufficiently reminiscent of the original to
remain recognizable, but it takes a minute… and the realization is refreshing as an unanticipated and viable ‘version.’

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And with that, ummm… we’re just about at the end of the second set, or the end of the show- The End, and not the Doors. 

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Most of Shatterack’s repertoire is original material from the pens and minds and fretboards of the band’s acoustic axe-toting lead singer, Dani Cross, and their second guitarist, John Putnam.  They write the songs, then they work ’em in, and then they bring the works to the band and they all work it out from there.  Reason for this discussion is, they did likewise for pretty much all the ‘versions’ (not covers) they did tonight- in fact, one of the selections (I forget which, now) took me quite a while to place for sure, and then my confidence in the conclusion continued to wishy-washy waffle back & forth.  The creative collaborations might have had an initial intention to stay fairly close to the originals, and the results don’t stray from the spirit of the song, but they do tend to wind up in a place that steps aside a bit- and favorably so. These are ‘versions’ and not covers (we’ve had this discussion before). Might that not be one way to spot a highly creative artist, to recognize that ability to carry a composition beyond itself, to add dimension?

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The view from the pool room

The Rapids in Huntington is one of the many points we’re gonna leave hanging for now…
This band warrants and will surely bear up to further discussion… there’s a lot to talk about!

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Jimm O’D ~ The Dusty Turntable