Saturday, July 16, 2016

Esperanza Spalding Featured in She Shred Magazine: The Philosophy and Tools of Esperanza Spalding’s D+Evolution

Esperanza Spalding is featured in this month's issue of She Shreds Magazine, a magazine dedicated to female guitarists and bassists. Esperanza's inventive new #1 Jazz album, Emily 's D+Evolution, is showing up on several lists of Best Albums So Far for 2016.

The Philosophy and Tools of Esperanza Spalding’s D+Evolution

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Beatles Revolver in Mono for the 50th Anniversary

The Beatles​ are my favorite group of all time, and Revolver is my favorite album, I think it is the greatest pop & rock album of all time. It will be 50 years old next month in August. One year, my sister and I each got for Christmas a Beatle album- she got Sgt. Pepper and I got Revolver. I remember both of us being enthralled with both albums for months, and we both played our albums for friends. Both Sgt. Pepper and Revolver have been proposed for the greatest rock album of all time by various polls and critics. The album is also noted for it's iconic cover art, done by the Beatle's long time friend from Hamburg, Germany, artist and bassist Klaus Voorman. ​

Rubber Soul and Revolver present Lennon & McCartney at their peak song writing, in my opinion. The Beatles immense song-writing skills may have been aided by pot and LSD on this album. It feature such classics like Taxman, Eleanor Rigby, Yellow Submarine, Got to Get You Into My Life, and the Lennon psychedelic masterpiece, Tomorrow Never Knows, based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The album features great musicianship by all four Beatles.

Paul McCartney displayed brilliant bass playing, especially on And Your Bird Can Sing, which also featured George's elegant and complex guitar riff that drove the Lennon composition. Ringo's inventive drumming on Lennon's Tomorrow Never Knows is some of his best work. Paul took over lead guitar from George on George's Taxman, and delivered a searing, psychedelic solo for the opening track.

The Beatles did not play selections from the LP during their last tour, which took place in America in August of 1966, because at the time, the technology did not reasonably allow them to replicate the album live. But fortunately, Paul McCartney has included several selections from Revolver in his set list over the last 27 years of touring.

I scored this brand new sealed 180 gram vinyl copy at Half Price Books. Below is a technological description of how the audio was processed for this pressing. I prefer analog vinyl records for their warmth and resonance. The album sounds great!

No one can touch the Beatles, and this LP is a testimony to their greatness.

From the insert:
"The album was cut for vinyl from the original Master tapes by using a completely analog signal path and with constant reference to the notes made by the cutting engineer for the first pressing of the LP. It has been made with current technology and without imposing the restrictions necessitated by the limitations of record players in the 1960's. Consequently, this version reveals more of the content of the audio on the master tapes.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Esperanza Spalding's Emily D+ Evolution

Every once in awhile, I get an album that I play incessantly and never seem to tire of. In 2016, this is going to be Esperanza Spalding's Emily D+ Evolution. I bought my copy from Target, because their edition has an extra, exclusive track.

I have posted a live performance of Spalding's Emily D+ Evolution NPR's Music Front Row program on YouTube.

As one of the commenters said, "when she plays the first bass note, it's like 'wow!'" Esperanza Spalding gives an amazing performance, with powerful vocals and flashy fretless bass guitar playing, a well as playing bass pedals and keyboards. This is excellent jazz-rock-funk in a performance-art setting. She is very expressive with her eyes and face as she performs all the songs.

I am still amazed, after following Spalding the last six years, seeing her perform live and on video clips, at her proficiency at singing at her level and playing complicated bass at the same time. A recent review suggested Esperanza is liking having Joni Mitchell and Jaco Pastorius rolled into one. I would add maybe a little bit of Geddy Lee, too.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I am for Bernie; Hilary doesn't get it

Hilary Clinton does not get it; when she made that crack about "we're not Denmark," at the first debate, she lost me. If she wins the Democratic nomination, I will only vote for her because of the SCOTUS.

She does not understand to the extent Sanders does how the poor and middle class are getting creamed, how we are be eviscerated by health care costs and student loan debt, she doesn't get it.

We DO need to be more like Western Europe and have more social solidarity. This is what Sanders is tapping into.

Her daughter, married to a hedge fund manager, disparages single payer health care, when those countries that have it pay less per person and less as a percentage of their GDP and enjoy better health outcomes and cover everyone.

People cannot afford insurance, even with the ACA. We have to get rid of private insurance, she does not understand that.

We cannot do business as usual, we need a revolution, the blue dog centrist democratic thing is not going to win people over. Hilary Clinton needs to show she understands what is happening to Americans, and wants to do something about it.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Meaningful things on my birthday that reflect my values

What do the Beatles, Franklin Roosevelt, and the Three Holy Hierarchs- St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nazianzus- all have in common?

Today is my birthday, and there are at least very meaningful things about my birthdate, that reflect my passions and values:

1) My favorite music group of all time, the Beatles, played their last live performance on the roof of Apple Records on this day in 1969, 47 years ago. The Beatles are such a huge influence in my life. I play bass because I am an avid Paul McCartney fan, and my main instrument playing out is a Hofner Violin Beatles Bass. I have all the Beatles music, electronically, on vinyl, and on CD, and their music has been so important in my life. I remember being in a deep depression once, and I did not have energy to clean my home. But then I put Rubber Soul on the turntable, followed by Revolver, and within a short time I had a clean house. The Beatles music is filled with a joy that can often lift my spirits.

2) Franklin Delano Roosevelt also was born on this day. FDR is the greatest U.S. President in our nation's history. He was elected four times, help lead us to victory in World War II, brought us out of the Great Depression, and created Social Security and the New Deal. His policies brought our country close to a democratic socialist state, which reflects my political values- I am an unabashed democratic socialist, and believe our country should have universal health care, free at the point of delivery, free public higher education, employee ownership of corporations, and a highly unionized work force. No one can tell me we can't can most of the western industrialized world already has all and most of those things. We lack not the way available to us, but the political will.

3) Today in the Byzantine Churches is the Feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs - St. Basil the Great, who is my personal patron, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Gregory Nazianzus. My Christianity is rooted in the Patristic, Orthodox, Catholic Church of the First Five Centuries. I adhere to a patristic understand of the Holy Mysteries (sacraments) of the Church, the Holy and undivided Trinity, the Incarnation of Christ, and, in nice harmony with my political stance, the social teaching of the fathers on wealth and poverty. St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom often inveighed against the wealthy, and called for a sharing of the wealth. What socialism and Christianity (orthodox, catholic Christianity) have in common is a communal ethic.

I feel that there is a spiritual synchronicity between my date of birth and my values. I therefore celebrate my date of birth as an affirmation of my arts, passions, music, philosophy, and social values.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Remembering John Lennon on the 35th anniversary of his passing - December 8th

In a perfect world, John Lennon would be alive and 75 years old. Today, on the 35th anniversary of his passing, I want to remember and honor John Lennon, he has been a hero of mine since childhood. I have some of my favorite quotes from him, and three videos of some of his most trademark songs: Imagine, Come Together, and Cold Turkey.  - Lance

"If you can imagine a world at peace, with no denominations of religion not without religion but without this my-God-is-bigger-than-your-God thing then it can be true"  - John Lennon

"We're all Christ and we're all Hitler. We are trying to make Christ's message contemporary. We want Christ to win." - John Lennon

“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.” 
― John Lennon

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” 
― John Lennon

“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.” 
― John Lennon

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” 
― John Lennon

“When you're drowning you don't think, I would be incredibly pleased if someone would notice I'm drowning and come and rescue me. You just scream.” 
― John Lennon

“I'm not afraid of death because I don't believe in it. 
It's just getting out of one car, and into another” 
― John Lennon

“Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind,
Possessing and caressing me.
Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes,
They call me on and on across the universe,
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way
Across the universe
Sounds of laughter shades of love are
Ringing through my open ears inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a 
Million suns, and calls me on and on
Across the universe” 
― John Lennon

Imagine Video:

Cold Turkey Video:

Saturday, November 28, 2015

What society has a true Christian Ethos?

I think that Europe, which seemingly has rejected formal religion and even Theism, nevertheless, reflects a Christian ethos with their generous welfare states and social democracies.

On the other hand, Americans, 44% of whom attend church services, have the "bug eat bug" ethos. We hate the poor, hate refugees, hate immigrants, and are in the process of dismantling our social safety net.

Don't get me wrong, don't misread me; I am not saying that the state has anything to do with the Church or the Kingdom of God. But the ethos we have adopted in this country is that of selfishness, Ayn Rand, and Antichrist.

Europe still has a sense of the common good, which is a legacy of Christianity.

Unfortunately, some in Europe, like Cameron, want to move more toward America.

Austerity measures do not work; they do not revive an economy, they do not serve the common good.