auto incorrect

i think i've got a pretty decent handle on the english language.  i'm certainly not an expert, but i do enjoy grammar and knock out some okay writing without much effort.  spelling has never been an issue for me either.  i proofread my work, enjoy learning new vocab, and try to be sure that i don't use too many commas (but boy am i hooked on parenthesis).

you know what really bugs me?  auto correct.  i mean, has microsoft word already lost faith in my knowledge and spelling skills before giving me a fair shake?  they don't even know me.  when i choose a word, odds are that i am actually intending to use that particular word and don't need the automated advice.  where's the trust?  gimme a chance, baby.

when i'm typing up the names of jazz performers, their identities fall into one of three categories.  some pose no difficulties for autocorrect (jim black, chris cheek, evan parker).  others are inexplicably already in the autocorrect data base (branford marsalis, susie ibarra, mal waldron), and select others stymie autocorrect altogether (ambrose akinmusire, john zorn, kurt rosenwinkel).  

here are some of the more entertaining suggestions for jazz guys, with ironically appropriate definitions provided by my friends over at the new oxford american dictionary (we're not really friends mind you, but nothing builds street cred like running with a pack of lexicographers).

* charlie haden - harden - make or become more clearly defined
* stan getz - guts  - personal courage and determination
* marc ducret - dulcet - sweet and soothing
* sam yahel - yahoo - expressing great joy or excitement
* uri caine - coin - to invent or devise a new word or phrase
* jaki byard - juke - move in a zigzag fashion
* jack dejohnette - detonate - explode
* john scofield - coiled - twist into an arrangement
* paolo fresu - frisk - a playful skip or leap
* albert ayler - alert - intellectually active, vigilant
* bobby previte - private - free from people who can interrupt
* marc ribot - robot - a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically
* ornette coleman - ornate - unusual words and complex constructions

funny footnote.   i once attempted to type musician into an email and it took me four times before stubborn autocorrect would finally take it, only after recommending magician, marijuana, and minivan.

okay - i just read a bunch of autocorrect text conversations online, and haven't laughed that hard in quite a while.
this one is good.  so is this one.  and this one too.


turn my headphones up

i find myself listening to the radio a lot these days.  my kids call it "talk talk radio".  i remember talking with tim o'dell, a buddy of mine back in graduate school, about his 50 minute commute to school.  i wondered aloud about what he listened to on the mundane drive into iowa city, imagining that he was ears-deep into some heavy coltrane shit every morning and night.  he guffawed and told me that he listens to a ton of talk radio.  i couldn't believe it.

later that same year, i scored a slot in the sunday night rotation on krui, our college radio station.  i called my two hour show jazz train.   i had a blast picking out cds for my show and was thrilled to be on the air spinning for the scant few that tuned in.  my girlfriend sonja (yep, same one) used to experiment in the kitchen, throwing together a new twist on lasagna for the both of us to scarf down after my shift.

fast forward about ten years... my buddy abe goldstien, local savant (a tzadik, although he'll quickly deny that title) on everything in recorded jazz music, asked me to cruise through dsm and appear on his radio spot for kfmg.  i was there to promote the miles davis experience show that is coming through ames (believe it or not) in a couple of weeks, with ambrose akinmusire in the starring role.  man, we had a blast!  the rapport was smooth and not calculated.  the laughs were real. the music was killing. here's the playlist:

miles davis straight no chaser newport '58
ambrose akinmusire what's new when the heart emerges glistening
miles davis boplicity birth of the cool
charlie haden en la orilla del mundo nocturne
david binney out beyond ideas south
cannonball adderley autumn leaves something else
miles davis springsville miles ahead
dave douglas sea change charms of the night sky
masada katzaz live in nyc
palmetto all stars satin doll the other side of ellington
ambrose akinmusire tear stained suicide manifesto when the heart emerges glistening
django bates like someone in love quiet nights
pat metheny bright size life bright size life
miles davis my funny valentine cookin' with the miles davis quintet
the bad plus chariots of fire suspicious activity
charles lloyd lotus blossom the water is wide
miles davis cta miles davis: volume two

abe brought all of the miles and that ambrose record.  the rest is mine.  the django bates was a stretch for his repertoire, but is one of my favorites.  i found out that abe is trying to bring charles lloyd to dsm for a show.  he also told me a story about how he drug his kid to a matt wilson show and, after the gig was over, his jubilant son ran and told matt that his was the best rock and roll show he had ever seen.  abe liked the dave douglas cut that featured fellow accordionist guy klucevsek.  i found out (after the fact) that ethan iverson left a bad taste in his mouth and that he can't stand jazz guitar players, but his jovial self appeased me like a good host would.  fun show, abe.  great after party.



i am admittedly out of the pop culture loop.  when did this happen to me?  i don't watch the award shows anymore, simply because i've never heard of most of the people being acknowledged and haven't heard nor seen much of their work.  i don't watch reality tv at all, rarely go to the movies, keep my ear close to music i need to learn, and fast forward to the sketch comedies on the late night talk shows.  every once in a while a curveball is hurled in my direction, knocking my socks off while restoring hope that i can get my head back in the us magazine mix.  enter ice t.

now... back in the day, ice t was a bad man.  he lent that biting voice quality to many classic anthems from the gangsta rap hanger.  hailing from south central los angeles, he brought the street cred to back it up.  dealing mary jane and pimping were things he had actually done in his life.

i first learned of his rhyme style when i heard him light it up on my new jack city cassette.

i rewound a bit and caught him putting down a laid back title track to the movie colors.

the wife is a big law & order fan and, even though i have a hard time getting into the subject matter on s.v.u, i like watching ice t run things.  crazy seeing him on a weekly tv drama, but he really pulls it off.  and pairing him with so-so comic richard belzer?  why not.

but hey man - why you on the reality tv scene?  they've got you documenting your relationship with some gal who is probably getting famous off you.  your show is lined up on E! around kendra, an annoying playmate, and that kardashian who hooked it up with lamar odom. how you going out like that?

i decided to watch an episode of ice loves coco, just to see for myself.  it happened to be their anniversary party.  snoop dogg was there, and the master of ceremonies was that weird pimp-cup-weilding guy from snoop's crew.  i skeptically waited to see coco, the gal he had married.  who names their kid coco?  once she appeared on the screen, it finally made sense.

okay, i get it.  you're just keeping it real (pun intended).  


the wright stuff

i played a fun gig this weekend with some of my friends from up the road.  we provided the entertainment portion for a high society event that included gourmet cuisine, old timey cars, an expensive auction and an open bar that featured a vintage martini recipe that dates back to 1910.   mason city was out in full force, celebrating the refurbishment ($18 million, yo) and grand re-opening the park inn hotel, the only remaining hotel worldwide designed by the famous american architect frank lloyd wright.

the place was spectacular.  lots of angles and lines, as you would expect.  impeccable woodwork.  mesmerizing stained glass.  some guy waltzing around, dressed as frank lloyd wright.  attractive and somewhat comfortable furniture (hey-it's tough to get both).  classy color schemes.  nifty statues.  an lcd tv screen, playing a rerun of some david blaine stunts, embedded in the mirror of the men's bathroom.

we played fun tunes, old tunes, tunes i don't usually play.  i got my start doing some vocal jazz stuff, and have always been a sucker for getting through chestnuts like a foggy day, but beautiful, don't get around much anymore.  one lady even requested laura, one of my favorites (dig bird with strings). i am obsessed with crafting and observing the design of my lines when i improvise, and was acutely aware of this while nestled inside of a building chock full of this stuff.

i was people watching on this gig too.  i remember reading something where ornette coleman (whose name was just autocorrected to ornate) talks about his thought process when he looks out in to the crowd, wondering "who's that girl...what's she drinking...who's that joker saddled up beside her...did she come here with him?"

i noticed that the invite for this ticketed event suggested "cocktail attire", which was interpreted in several different ways.  plenty of guys were wearing ho-hum navy or charcoal grey suits.  most women accessorized fancy black outfits. cleavage and open-back dresses were common, some unnecessary. a handful of people risked it with crafty patterns and vibrant colors.  the fumes of cologne and hair spray hung in the air. most were strutting in their sunday best.

i wonder why we, as a society, think that dressing up in stuffy and expensive clothes is an important statement of status.  what if we could all just "look nice" and call it at that?  why do orchestras need to wear tuxedos?  choir girls wear unflattering gowns?  why are we so concerned with dressing to impress?  it's a tough situation we have found ourselves in, that i understand.  how can we buck this trend?

people feel good about wearing clothes that they like.  i know that the smug smile i wear when gussied up in a suit and tie would spread all over my face if i could show up in some jeans & a t-shirt (which, ironically enough, is what i wear to school).  i would much rather be around folks in a high class social setting who are more interested in talking with each other than stumbling over their heels, reworking that slip, or sucking it in with a belt that's cinched too tight.  wear the funky clothes that have all kinds of back story.  wear that scarf you got as a gift from your friend's european travels. sport that jewelry your kids made.  rock the hat that hides your receding hairline.

beauty is in the eye of the beholder, musically and otherwise. except for that orange dress.  that woman has no business leaving the house with that thing on.


reunited and it feels so good

i have learned a great life lesson.  expecting the best out of people and situations often proves to be surprisingly beneficial and enjoyable.

i was never too thrilled with my high school years, neither during the throws of them or in moments of reflection.  life is tough on the artsy fartsy, especially when you're slugging it out in small town u.s.a.  i had friends but never considered myself popular, had a couple of relationships but never considered myself attractive, had some success but never considered myself successful.  i suppose you can chalk some of that up to being a teenager.  i liked plenty of my classmates, could take-or-leave a fair amount of them, and utterly despised a handful.

with that as my foundation, i was never motivated to stay in touch with anyone from my first 17 years.  facebook has fixed some of that, cloaked as a mild-mannered stalker who has limited access to its victim's discretion.  my folks still live in my hometown, and their proximity to the gossip wheel keeps me loosely up to speed every six months or so.  those two resources have more than satisfied my meager curiosity.

i had a class reunion this weekend.  i had never attended one before.  we missed sonja's because of an insurmountable scheduling obstacle (hello, des moines opera).  i wasn't sure i wanted to attend this gathering.  plenty of people told me to consider going.  recos for handling included wear black (the slimming color), make a beeline to the bar, create some wild tales of my life and share them liberally, and leave the car running so i could split at a moment's notice.

my wife was down for going.  my folks encouraged it.  a couple of high school pals emailed me and asked when i was coming to town.  i got my workouts in.  my botched haircut was growing back nicely.  the poison oak all over my arms was all dried up.  i had the weekend free.  i went for it.

i admit, i was SUPER nervous.  i am usually insecure about myself, but plenty of people in my corner had filled my ears with ego boosting observations.  i had a good workout before we drove down to my old stomping grounds.  i found a couple of flattering outfits, brushed the hell out of those teeth one last time, buzzed off that tacky ear hair, and headed over to the venue.  i reviewed my senior yearbook with sonja, refreshing my memory about who was actually in my class and getting a quick glimpse at what they looked like back in the day.  who was planning to show up at this thing anyway? what would i talk about with these people?  what do i have in common with them?  could i get past my disinterest, fear, and disgust?  do they have any idea what i have done with my life? do they even care?

you know... they did.  i bumped into several people that i hadn't seen in so long.  we shared memories, swapped stories about our kids, dug into each others' careers, watched other classmates together, and enjoyed deep belly laughs about days gone by.  yeah, the jocks were still the jocks.  the snooty girls were still kinda snooty, but actually much more real than i had figured.  many of our teenage bodies had undergone life's revisions - some for the better.  i caught up with buddies that i hadn't seen in ages and reconnected with classmates i had known since kindergarten.

quick synopsis:  one guy is a advocate for prisoners.  one gal has lost a sister to cancer.  some have been married for 15 years.  others are divorced.  many have stayed in iowa. others are trying desperately to move back.  one is unemployed. several are pharmacists and nurses.  a couple are full time moms.  some farm.  one gal teaches yoga.  another sells jewelry. one guy fixes windshields.  another manages a bank. some have lost their folks.  some are teachers, others self employed.  a bunch have kids.  one gal has gone back to school.  another runs a trucking company with her husband. one guy sells real estate.  some love traveling.  and a bunch are cyclone fans!

what do they all have in common?  we are all in the same boat, middle-aged citizens in society trying to make our way.  i had a wonderful time.  no posturing.  lots of down-to-earth conversations that slipped past the protective surface.  some people told me that they liked to see me smile, hear me laugh. they all loved sonja (who could resist that southern charm?). i was back in the comfort zone i never really knew i had.

i love talking about records, concerts, tunes, projects.  i dig playing alongside people, creating and inventing new ideas for our ears and heads.  i enjoy teaching, sharing concepts, guiding people through their personal paths in music and life. i will continue to put my kids and the wife at the center of my personal universe.  but every once in a while, i need to balance myself out.  i want to talk to friends about stuff that has nothing to do with my job or my passion.  hanging at a basketball gym or sitting at a soccer field or being cooped up with some p90x videos doesn't always cut it.

thank you to my creston classmates for giving me some perspective and a renewed faith in society.  you are wonderful people.  thanks for liking me.  i really needed that.