Saturday, March 9, 2013

March 9th, 2013: Coming Back to Reality

March 9th, 2013

Coming Back to Reality & a Letter to Congressman Capuano

It has been a long time since my last posting and the lesson I have learned is shame on you, Internet! The original intention of this blog was to post transcriptions I was working on as an incentive to transcribe more often and have the internet discipline me if I did not. Clearly that has not worked, so I am using this blog as a more general expression on thoughts as well as transcriptions. 

Recently in the news, Sen. Rand Paul engaged in a traditional, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington filibuster of President Obama's nomination of CIA Director John Brennan. Rand Paul spoke...and spoke...and spoke some more. He spoke for 13 hours. 

Excerpts from Rand Paul filibuster

Today Senators no longer have to engage in this type of filibuster and have the option just to turn in a piece of paper saying they are filibustering a nomination or bill without having to stand on the floor. In my opinion most filibusters that are used today are either posturing for a constituency or to serve personal, political ends. I am not a fan of the filibuster. I think it is a rule that should not be used in the Senate as it is not at all implied or mentioned in the Constitution, but has the impact of making all laws require sixty votes in a political body that is not proportionally representative. 

All that being said, Rand Paul's filibuster is one of the rare examples of a politician using the tools of government to serve the public interest. If you have not heard or read already, the reason Sen. Paul took up this filibuster was not because John Brennan was being nominated, but in regards to the admission recently by the Obama administration that US citizens could be targeted on American soil by drones in a hypothetical situation without due process.

Think about that for a second. 

If a president thinks you are a terrorist, they can send a robot to come kill you. That power is unchecked and at their discretion. 

Benedict Arnold is happy that he does not live in this time

After hearing about the drone strikes and this recent episode, I was inspired to do the thing you are suppose to do when you have a problem with what the government is doing: write your congressman. So I wrote a email to my congressman, Frank Capuano

Frank Capuano doesn't shake with one hand, when he can shake with two.

Below is the letter I wrote to the congressman.

Congressman Capuano,

I am writing this message to you out of concern for the recent disclosure on the Obama administration's ability to use drone strikes to kill American citizens. I understand that the administration is saying that the use of drones is highly specific for targets against enemy combatants who happen to be American citizens. This notion, however, is incredibly troubling as there is no oversight or due process when there are institutions already set up that could easily serve this function in the Judicial branch. 

What is even more troubling is the lack of outrage in congress over this issue. The fact that only a few senators have been vocal against this issue and, for most Americans, they have only heard Sen. Rand Paul's recent filibuster, highlights the trend by congress to give away power to the executive branch. I realize the polarity that exists in congress makes work difficult, but if there were one issue to unite both parties it should be the mandate that the executive branch must respect the right to due process. 

I call upon you, Congressman, to be vocal against the administration's hubris. To say that, while the state has the sole authority to punish people for their crimes, every citizen of this country must receive due process. To leave that authority in the administration's hands alone, even one claiming to be benevolent, leaves the opportunity for abuse with no means for correction. 

Thank You For Your Time,
Walton Clark

Not to get on a soapbox, although one could say this entire post has been a digital soapbox, but if you think this an issue, something that is truly outrageous, I urge you to contact your congressman as well. Don't contact them thinking that your letter will change the world. In all likelihood it won't matter at all. But if enough people are contacting their congressman, they will have to give a response. And that is a huge step forward from not talking about it. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July 12th, 2012: Subaru Contest

July 12th, 2012

Subaru of New England Jingle Contest

Hey all, I know its been a few days, but I have been hard at work with a project with the one and only Austin Wells. We have been recording (props go to Austin for this one) and recording our version of the "Ooh Ooh It's Love" jingle for the 2012 Subaru of New England jingle contest. The contest is to cover the jingle and submit a video. The original jingle from the past year is below. 

We decided to up the ante a little and get some inspiration and slightly more extravagant video editing. We were inspired to do it in the style of the one and only Tom Jones. Below is a clip of Tom Jones for those who do not recognize his presence in only his name and the masterpiece that we hope wins. I don't think there is any sort of voting that accompanies it so just pray. 

Tom Jones in the critically acclaimed(bahaha) film "Mars Attacks!"

Friday, July 6, 2012

July 6th 2012: New York Herald Tribune by Martial Solal

July 6th 2012
New York Herald Tribune by Martial Solal

It another hot one out there for much of the country so I thought I would go back to some French art film music. No other than Martial Solal, who some consider to be the Art Tatum of France. He has wrote a number of compositions that have been featured in films, notably during the 1960's. The composition I have transcribed below is "New York Herald Tribune" from the the film "A bout de souffle" (or "Breathless" for the English translation)by Jean-Luc Godard.

The film is about a thief named Michael who is on the run after shooting a police officer. Michael hides out with his American girlfriend, Patricia, who is a student and journalist that sells copies of the New York Herald Tribune on the streets of Paris. 


The song that plays while she is selling newspapers is very understandably the New York Herald Tribune. The reason I thought to write out this song is in the expressive way Solal plays his long runs, but its also a song I have never heard played or covered anywhere. I think there is a recording of Solal playing at the Village Vanguard, but besides this track no one else has thought to play it. I thought it might be interesting perhaps in a trio setting to play this as either a) a stand alone piece or b)as almost solemn transition between two larger compositions or improvisations. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 5th, 2012: July 4th Reflection and Oh You Pretty Things! by David Bowie

July 5th, 2012
July 4th Reflection and Oh You Pretty Things! by David Bowie

Happy July 5th, Everyone! This was the day the men at the signing of the Declaration of Independence woke up the next morning and thought, "Oh, Hancock wasn't joking. We are doing this thing..." Apologize for the delay in between posts. I had a couple days working on some original tunes (won't divulge these until they are ready for proper consumption), a larger project which I will get to in a moment, and doing some job scouting and future gig searching.

"I will find you, gigs. Oh yes."

I have a special treat for any Bowie Fans with a written version of "Oh! You Pretty Things" off the album "Hunky Dory".

"Oh! You Pretty Things"

Unfortunately, the program I am using, Musescore, which is free for download, is picky about its formatting, so I cannot post it here on the blog. I do hope to maybe perform it sometime in the near future, so I will update when that happens. 

I went down to the Esplanade for the Fourth of July Pops Fireworks Celebration. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Boston, the Esplanade is a stretch of public land by the Charles River where the Boston Pops conducted by Keith Lockhart perform their nationally televised concert which is accompanied by Fireworks. 

Keith Lockhart, You Smiling Rogue

This year and apparently for the past two years, this show has been hosted by one Michael Chiklis, whose most famous work that I know of has been as the main character on the Shield and as 'the Thing' from Fantastic Four.

The clear choice for a program of symphonic music and explosions.
I understand that he is from the area, but as a person who was at the event his role in the whole thing was confusing. I guess he actually did something for the national telecast because he was introduced to everyone before the show started i.e. a lady told him he was so great and asked him what his next projects are. If I had not seen that introduction I would have no idea that the guy was even the vicinity. If anything, it seemed like the host was our good buddy, Keith Lockhart. 

Hopefully, not relation to this Lockhart

Going forward, I think if you are going to take the reigns of the program out of the conductor to a host in title only, make it for honorific reasons. Like maybe to a group of Marine Corps members who have just done a tour of duty. Or maybe a group of kids from a Boys and Girls Club. The Fourth of July is a nostalgic, feel good event and enough things are encrusted with token celebrity. Not to say Chiklis has not worked hard to get to the position he is in, but having a middle aged white male actor who is famous for beating up suspects and being a genetically altered version of Hulk Hogan does not line up well with symphonic music, especially when they are covering Mamma Mia.

I really didn't know what to say either

So to the people at Boston 4 Productions, if you are looking at next year and still want a in-name only host who is a white middle aged actor whose screen credits revolve around fighting bad guys and doing a little torture along the way, might I say upgrade a step...

"Damnit, Chloe. Its Lockhart again..."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 26, 2012: Page 2 Solo on "Hackensack" + Short Review of "Midnight Marauders"

June 26, 2012

Page 2 of Jimmy Smith Solo on "Hackensack"

Sorry all for my absence the past two days. I took a short trip to Jersey where I did not have access to a tuned piano, so no transcription for two days. I have done a little more work on the Jimmy Smith transcription, finishing one page and halfway into the second one. This part of the solo gets a little chromatic so pace has slowed a little, seeing where he is trying to go, but pushing through. 

In terms of other interesting musical things going on, my group, "the Space Monkeys", have decided as a group to stop writing songs for the moment due to the high number of compositions we need to perfect and get tight to this point. Things are going well if we have too many songs to learn, I guess.

In terms of listening, I bought the album, "Midnight Marauders" by Tribe Called Quest a few days ago and have been listening it frequently. I was introduced to the album awhile back by one Dan "D.J." Fellman who at almost every party will at some point blast the song below. 

Steve Bilko (Stir It Up)

What really caught my eye about the album was that Tribe sample Freddie Hubbard's song, "Red Clay", in the baseline of one of their tracks. The album, in general, is that old school, east coast rap and has some cool horn samples going on throughout. In comparison to other rappers today, like Drake who raps about in almost every song how he is famous now and he doesn't know anybody at the party he is at because he is famous now, there is some real insight and thoughtfulness in a lot of the tracks on this album. 


       Red Clay (at around 1:09)     

                Sucka Nigga

I will probably finish this chorus by Jimmy Smith and then take some time working on the solo. I'll start another transcription TBD tomorrow. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 22, 2012: Jimmy Smith Organ Solo on "Hackensack"

June 22, 2012

Jimmy Smith Organ Solo on "Hackensack"

As mentioned yesterday, I have started a transcription of Jimmy Smith's track, "Hackensack", off the album "Softly as a Summer Breeze". 

I got through about one course of his solo. May God help me on getting the rest of it...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 21, 2012: J.A.T.P. Blues and Hackensack

"J.A.T.P. Blues" by Charlie Parker
"Hackensack" with Jimmy Smith 

First up is the track "J.A.T.P. Blues" by Charlie Parker. I only transcribed the first 8 bars because it is Oscar Peterson and anyone who has listened to any Oscar Peterson knows that 8 bars is all it takes for him to fill up a lot of space. I couldn't find a good recording online anywhere, but I got the track out of one of those huge box sets. This track is an alternate to the other take of J.A.T.P. blues which is taken at a slower tempo.

The other track is "Hackensack" by Jimmy Smith. The original tune is written by Thelonious Monk, featured below. 

"Hackensack" by the Thelonious Monk Quartet off the album "Crisscross"

This track is off the albums "Retrospective", which is a best of album, and originally off the album "Softly as a Morning Breeze". I could not find another version of this track on the interwebs so that you all could get a chance to listen through here. So far, I have written out the melody and chords of the song, which the guitar player, Kenny Burrell, plays while Smith comps. 

The reason I selected these two songs to transcribe are because I have not to this point transcribed any organ, although I have been using organ sounds in performances for a little while now. I figure if I am transcribing anybody I should get the great Jimmy Smith. For those who haven't heard him, here is a track rightly titled "The Champ".

"The Champ" by Jimmy Smith off "A New Sound A New Star Jimmy Smith at the Organ Vol. 2"

My reason for the Oscar Peterson recording is to work on fast introductions and increase my blues language which Oscar is well versed in. 

Tomorrow, I will be beginning the organ solo which is as about as hot as it was today here in Boston at 95 degrees. Enjoy all!