looking under the hood

i’m not waiting for the new year.  that arbitrary reset day is not better than any other day.  i want a better me, and i want the overhaul to start now.  i am jumpstarting the process with daily journaling (and this app).  the wife does this religiously (literally and figuratively) and she is turning out ok, so there must be something to it.  i'm gonna track my personal crusade right here with a brief weekly synopsis.  the purpose of documenting this is twofold; it keeps me accountable for what i want to adopt as a lifestyle change, and offers an opportunity to help anyone else that is looking for inspiration.   want a workout buddy?  need a practice partner?  trying to clean up your diet too?  want to check out new music?  let's do this.  i'm starting with the man in the mirror.  i really am asking him to change his ways (plus i came up with a clever acronym to help me remember). it's kinda like wwjd, minus the commercial exploitation.

many of my friends (greg, matthew, john, dave, jodi, the wife) are practice junkies.  i go through this in spurts, usually when i have something pressing in front of me. i am tired of sounding like the same old me.  i want new ideas, better ideas.  i want more control in my embouchure.  i want cleaner technique.  i want to strengthen my time concept.  i want to deepen my personal voice. the best progress i witness personally happens when i log my minutes, just like they do in middle school band.  the numbers don't lie.  no more talking shop and rehearsal face time counting as practice.

i remember reading an interview with david harrington, founder of the kronos quartet.  he mentioned that he spends almost 8 hours daily listening to new music (to his ears).  i need to listen to more stuff.  i try to keep up with what's going on today while catching up on what i neglected yesterday and, let me tell you, that's a bunch of music.  after teaching this stuff all day, often times the last thing i want to do is hear more music.  it's tough to not listen critically, but i need to work on this.  i want to become better informed.  i want to keep up with the current developments in my field.  i also want to listen to all those ted talks and npr podcasts that everyone sends me and that i never check out (sorry).  i finally have internet in the home (after a 3 year hiatus), so that should make things easier.  so long, ho-hum tv programs. hello, new and exciting music (to my ears).

my diet leaves much to be desired.  i don't eat fast food red meat, or candy.  i don't really drink much anymore.  however, there are plenty of holes in my food consumption plan (or lack thereof).  guilty pleasures like kraft mac & cheese and jack's frozen pizzas need to be shelved.  late night eating must be eliminated.  eating out should be curbed (with the exception of my thursday indian buffet lunch bunch).  i heard kevin love say that he won't eat in restaurants because he is unaware of what they put in their recipes.  i pledge to do more cooking at home, eating more veggies, and blending smoothies in my magic bullet.  it's time to go back to taking my vitamins and saying my prayers like a good little hulkamaniac.

i always feel a thousand times better after burning off a mess of endorphins while in the gym.  i like the discipline of completing a p90x workout and need to eliminate the stress of my daily life in a productive manner.  turns out, bitching isn't very productive.  i have built a gym in my house but haven't done much with it in the past three months.  i imagine that the wife would appreciate me justifying those expenses, i want to take advantage of the convenience i have configured for myself.  working out is good for my self esteem, gives me more energy for the day, and keeps me from needing to buy more clothes because the old stuff doesn't fit so well.  more cardio, weight training, and yoga!!!

so, here i go.  wanna join me?


the giddy vol. 8 - st. patrick's day edition

i don't own much in the celtic department (except for a couple of larry bird trading cards), so here's a st. patrick's day playlist that keeps the theme going.

love-cars lucky you - chump lessons
an early, more rock oriented incantation of halloween, alaska. james diers' lyrics are windy and wise, dave king's drumming is on point, and the record flows nicely.  i've always been much more of a closet hip-hop fan, slow to embrace rock music as it were.  i came to this band late but hell - at least i showed up.  my favorite part hits around 1:48, when james references a kool-aid smile and james brown as only he can.

keith jarrett wild irish rose - the melody at night, with you
i saw the keith jarrett trio back in my minneapolis days. i was nervous about how the show would go, knowing that he is temperamental and fussy.  the set was going great, and then somebody requested "poinciana".  i thought that was gonna be the end, but instead keith talked a bit about ahmad jamal and proceeded to play the tune.  he was very gracious (and a little quirky) when i met him backstage. he is an incredible musical talent, and i don't mind his vocalizing one iota.  my favorite part comes early, with the d-c/7-6 resolution on the cadential Eb major at 0:14. how does he see this far ahead?

shirley horn green - light out of darkness
my friend katrina, whom i met while in vocal jazz school (i know, i know), was a big shirley horn nut.  shirley was a gem in the rough for me, a life preserver in the sea of singers that surrounded me.  she sang with a comforting huskiness, painting around the lyrics with empathetic voicings and lines while perched behind the piano. this record is a ray charles tribute album.  i love 1:47 when she concludes the bridge with "green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree." right up there with kermy & ray's duet.

willie nelson i'm looking over a four leaf clover
this track comes from willie's album "rainbow connection". i grew up listening to country music, and have always loved willie's delivery.  he is brutally honest and artful. his guitar playing stretches the time, but in a way that leaves me lenient and forgiving.  the vh1 storyteller album with johnny cash is one of the best records of all time. this tune strikes me as a short little ditty, maybe an afterthought for the session.  my favorite part in all of its nerdy glory first happens at 0:04 in the 5 of 5 (secondary dominant, ladies), when willie drops the octave and runs up to the c#.

john scofield guinness spot - meant to be
i love this quartet.  bill stewart, marc johnson, and joe lovano at his best (and sometimes with jack and/or dennis irwin).  my buddy matt bernemann turned me on to these records.  i think the writing is so strong on all of these albums (but the song titles are too figure-of-speechy).  my man jay cook really had a sco thing going back in college. it's always those guys, right?  the ones that didn't go to music school per se, and it all just came so easy to them. lovano is killing here, giving me my favorite part in the out at 6:00 when he fragilely goes up in the altissimo.

chick corea leprechaun's dream pt. 1 - the leprechaun
dave stuart, musical guru and walking encyclopedia, hipped me to this record.  dr. stuart is a trombonist and music historian, one of the coolest guys around.  he definitely knows his shit.  this tune is pretty out there, with the choir and ring modulator and string group and jazz flute. chick is a tremendous musician, never one to stand pat while the world kept revolving.  my favorite part is at 4:40, when chick's rhodes solo takes over.

they just don't make them like this anymore.  slash's intro, duff's opening line, axl's swaying, those big downbeat cymbal crashes, and the video!!!  the best part is at 4:39, when the bottom drops out, leaving axl & slash to bring it back.  maybe i sound like an old fuddy duddy, but this stuff on the radio today doesn't hold a candle to guns & roses.  plus, i'd take this band over those goofs from nickelback in a fist fight, 10 times out of 10.  why hasn't anyone put this idea together for pay-per-view? celebrity deathmatch, without the claymation.


feed the big man

fifty years ago today, wilt the stilt put up 100 big ones on the new york knickerbockers.  on that night in hershey, pennsylvania, the hometown kid went 28-32 from the charity stripe, dunked on some fools, and got the remaining points from the paint.  he lived in new york and commuted to the games.  in fact, after this landmark performance, he drove back to the city with some of the opposing knicks.  once wilt went triple digits, the crowd of 4000+ rushed the floor. legend has it that they never finished the game, leaving 46 seconds on the clock.  wilt allegedly stopped scoring because "100 sounded better than 102", and his squad won 169-147.

wilt was so much bigger and more imposing than his peers in the league, and dominated most games while braving a multitude of (unsuccessful) defensive strategies.  the big dipper became most known for this statistical anomaly.  he played for several pro teams, including the harlem globetrotters.  he dropped the c-note while playing for the philadelphia warriors. he had a deft touch, great footwork, horrible free throw form, and a sweet spot for the ladies.

wilt never won a championship, and plenty of sports critics chide him for that.  shaq has 4 rings, magic and kobe sport 5, kareem, michael and scottie boast 6, big shot bob won 7, and wilt's arch nemesis bill russell tallied 11.  so what's more important - the stats or the hardware?

i find myself often unimpressed with musicians that can really play the snot out of blues changes or one-chord jams.  i'm picky and stubborn when it comes to repertoire.  i want to play interesting music, either originals or re-imagined arrangements of tunes.  i scoff at the idea of simply playing a head chart, ripping through it like everyone else, and displaying polished licks that have no relevance.  my wife calls her flute-rep equivalent "flashy trashy".

i need to learn to appreciate that approach to music.  i most certainly believe that it's important to be a part of the new wave in the arts, but should be a little more lenient with my opinions on those who are racking up the stats on real book tunes.  who am i to say what's most important?  i am all about creativity, but also know that our balance is found in the common place treatments of this music.

i tip my hat to wilt chamberlain for his unapproachable record and that memorable photo.  could you imagine if he was holding a sign with the number of his conquests?  the myth grows...