Amoeblog

Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue

Posted by Whitmore, August 17, 2009 11:27pm | Post a Comment

So I use to run this illegal bar, a speakeasy, and the specialty of the house was your traditional Vodka or Gin martini -- straight up, a couple of olives or a tiny pickled onion or a sliver of a lemon peel, no frills but a damn, damn good martini and never, ever a frigging apple pomegranate fusion monstrosity.
 
(H. L. Mencken once said the martini was "the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet," and I’d like to keep it that way. And since I’m on the subject... a martini should be stirred not shaken. Sorry Mr. Bond, but all you are ordering up is some weakass drink, watered down by melting shards of ice. Once and for all, a martini should be stirred, never shaken and served in a painfully cold glass.)
 
Anyway, the best part of the night was always after hours, around 4 or 4:30 in the morning. At that hour it was always quiet, I was relaxed, the patrons were relaxed, folks just sat around -- the trouble of the day or week was behind them, the stress of trying to get laid had more or less strayed, at least momentarily, though sex springs eternal and with the new dawn you knew at least one fresh scheme would soon ascend, prospectively. The soul, body and mind, conceivably worn to the bone, inevitably found a re-energized oomph in a good drunken conversation over one last martini. I loved the pretension almost as much as I loved that time of the day. And the perfect music to play at that hour was always, always Miles DavisKind of Blue.
 
Well, 50 years ago today, August 17, 1959, Kind of Blue was released on Columbia Records, in both mono and stereo, catalogue number CL-1355. The recording sessions took place earlier in the year in New York City, on March 2 and April 22, and featured soon to be legends all: Miles Davis on trumpet, pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, and John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley on saxophones, with drummer Jimmy Cobb and bassist Paul Chambers.
 
So cool, so beautiful, so perfect, contemplative, sleek and sophisticated. Kind of Blue soars into uncharted space; five decades ago it stretched the boundaries and the very definition of jazz. Davis’, along with arranger Gil Evans’ modal experimentations abandoned the traditional song concept of chord changes to support a melody in favor of musical scales, re-inventing improvisation and a sound that would dominate the form of jazz for rest of the century. And though exact numbers have never quite been formulated, Kind of Blue has been cited as the best-selling jazz record of all time. On October 7, 2008, it was certified quadruple platinum. But beyond numbers, Kind of Blue is regarded by many critics as the greatest jazz album of all time and Miles Davis's masterpiece.


(Wherein we weigh which warble wears weather well.)

Posted by Job O Brother, June 8, 2009 03:11pm | Post a Comment
rain umbrella

The last few days in LA have been kind of gloomy – gloomy by LA standards anyway. I mean, it’s still no place for Ian Brady and Myra Hindley to stage a killing spree, but the clouds have been thick, grey and low, and wet, cool swirls of breeze pour through my window as I write this.

This is a good thing. This is a great thing! I did not move to LA for the weather. My idea of perfect weather is something akin to a cemetery scene in [insert gothic horror film here].

Recently, I found myself at yet another pool party where Industry types multi-tasked by schmoozing while sunbathing, enjoying tropical cocktails and posing atop Danish-designed chaise lounges as the desert sun baked their copper hides; the air perfumed with herbal ointments, oils and extractions, occasionally flavored with dissipating puffs of cigarette smoke – sex was in the air and everyone was hoping to be noticed by someone they were pretending not to notice – and all I could think was, “I wish it would rain.”

Inspired as I am by the titillating tenebrous of today, what follows is some of the music I save for a rainy day. These ditties are safely tucked in a specific playlist for whenever the Sun’s obscured and the scent of moisture’s all around.

Siouxsie & The Banshees – "Dazzle
"


This song takes me back to the appropriately dark days of the 1980’s. I had just dropped out of high school my sophomore year and the world was a new and wonderful playground of drugs and whimsical fashion choices.

(In which we bric some brac and knick some knack.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 11, 2009 05:46pm | Post a Comment
severed heads in boxes
As God is my witness, I don't know what I'm supposed to pack my collection of vintage boxes in.


Phew! Hey – how’s it going? Oh, you’re reading the Amoeblog, I see. Well, hope I’m not interrupting you – I just needed to take a break from unpacking. I don’t know how I fit so much stuff into my previous, tiny, New York-style apartment! I mean, I don’t remember sleeping on a pile of books and LP’s eight yards deep, but I must have.

The whole process of moving can be especially complicated for those of us who are avid collectors of music and film and all manner of art-faggory. It becomes a reenactment of that crucial scene from Sophie’s Choice (I won’t include any spoilers here for those of you who’ve never seen the film; suffice it to say that, due to Sophie’s fear of baking soda, her love for the town’s baker suffers some dire tragedies. And her cat turns out to be the murderer.)

I find myself reconsidering whether or not I need a collection of punk 45’s, but before I can decide, I’m distracted by the hilarity and exuberance of the Blatz song then suddenly stuck in my head, and before I know it, everything’s in the box “to be saved” and all that makes it to the thrift store is a redundant garlic press and a cutting board whose origin I cannot recall.
astronomy
I suppose I could live without my antique sextant. But what if I wanna measure the altitude of a
celestial object above the horizon while onboard a ship without electricity? ...I better keep it.

To be honest, I never really identified with the “collector” mentality. I have this many albums because I love this many (and more) and I have these DVD’s, books and posters for the same reason. I don’t keep hold of anything simply because of its cash value. I never questioned what I could sell my autographed, first pressing of Stories From the Nerve Bible for on Craig’s List – I just wanna read it again and again, ‘s all.

MY FUNNY VALENTINE

Posted by Billyjam, February 14, 2009 11:44am | Post a Comment
chuck mangione my funny valentine
Long a jazz standard, the beautiful song "My Funny Valentine," which originally was unveiled to the world as a show tune in the 1937 Broadway musical Babes In Arms by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, has remained a most popular song for musicians, especially vocalists, to cover ever since-- the song has reportedly appeared on over 1300 albums to date, and still counting.

Artists who have covered the song over the years include Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Costello, Nico, Rufus Wainwright, Sarah Vaughan, Chuck Mangione, Chaka Khan, Stan Getz, Dolly Parton, Chet Baker (who scored the first major hit with the song), Miles Davis (who in 1964 released the live album My Funny Valentine recorded at a concert at Lincoln Center, NYC), Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Sammy Davis, Jr., Van Morrisomy funny valentinen (off his 1994 LP A Night In San Francisco), Carly Simon, and Etta James (Kanye West sampled her version on the song "Addiction" on his album Late Registration).

Although the song was first performed in 1937 in Babes In Arms on Broadway, where it ran for an impressive 289 performances, it wouldn't be recorded for another 8 years when the first record release of the song by Hal McIntyre with vocals by Ruth Gaylor briefly charted in 1945.

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