Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Esperanza Spalding Performs Winter Sun (Trippy-Hippie version) on The View

Esperanza performs a trippy-hippie version of her Winter Sun, live on the View. I am into trippy-hippie. Guess I am stuck in the 60's- this video looks like it could have been done in the sixties, which is cool.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Esperanza's Art and the Art of Theology- A Blog Essay by J. Kameron Carter

I ran across this excellent blog post by J. Kameron Carter on the implications of Esperanza Spalding's art for Christian theology. Very interesting. 

From the blog post: 

"[Esperanza's] art suggests how we might think towards a different aesthetic and poetics for Christian life and thought in the 21st century. She suggests what may be called a jazz cadence for Christian theology. Such a theological poetics and aesthetics would need to reimagine tradition (I would do this in the direction of a scriptural discourse of “covenant”), it would need to think in tongues, it would have to exist pentecostally in ways akin to what I’ve talked about here, and finally it would have be Christian in a way that drinks deeply from the wells of love and not from the the noxious waters of fear—fear of loosing “our” culture. It must be a Christianity that refuses mastery."

You may read the entire essay here: 

Bernie Sanders: Stop Oil Speculation now!

Bernie Sanders points out that demand for oil is down and supply is up, yet the price of a gallon of gas is almost doubled because of oil speculators. It is time to stop them- NOW!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street

One of my favorite albums of all time is Exile on Mainstreet. It is arguably the Stones best album, and probably one of the 2 or 3 best rock albums of all time. Here are four of the best tracks from the LP.

Rocks Off

Hip Shake

Tumbling Dice


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Who is right about President Obama- Cornel West, or Frank Schaeffer?

I find the discussion about Obama on the left interesting:

1) Is he a big corporate sell out, the suave handsome face of an Empire, who really does not care about the poor but about the big banks and corporate interests?

2) Or is President Obama a well accomplished president, who after inheriting a mess averted a second Great Depression, doing the best he can for the people to get reforms in health care and other areas, within a system highly resistant to change?

On my blog, I have posted a couple of critical posts of President Obama by Dr. Cornel West who who represents the first view, but I also have posted a couple more supportive of him by Frank Schaeffer, who stands by President Obama and represents the second view.

Truth is, I change my mind about him all the time, sometimes I agree more with Schaeffer, other times with West.

The people I admire the most among American elected officials are Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. But I cannot foresee a progressive candidate of their ilk having a realistic chance to win the Presidency in this country at this time.

And I probably will have to vote for President Obama if we need to stop whatever ticket the Republicans may run in 2012- especially if they run a crypto-fascist, or some version of the crazy train. 

But if the President has a comfortable lead in Minnesota, I may not. The last several election cycles I have been trying as much as I can to vote for Socialists and Greens. We need to have run off voting and fusion voting in this country.

Right now, the only democrats I feel good about voting for in my state are Keith Ellison, my representative, and our new governor in Minnesota, Mark Dayton.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Esperanza Spalding - Some of the finest, most melodic, creative, and tasteful bass -playing you will ever see on an upright bass

In these two videos, Esperanza Spalding performs some of the finest, most melodic, creative, and tasteful bass -playing you will ever see on an upright bass.  These performances are from her appearance at a White House event, "An Evening Of Poetry, Music & The Spoken Word" which took place in 2009. The first video is Esperanza jamming with pianist ELEW. The second video is Esperanza’s interpretation of Lauryn Hill’s Tell Him, singing with the just accompaniment of her double bass.

This video is available for a free download from Youtube.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ashram Diary: In India with Bede Griffiths

Thomas Matus' video on Youtube relating his experience of visiting Bede Griffiths and the Shantivanam Christian Ashram in India.

Bede Griffiths: Surrender to the Mother

Bede Griffiths relates his experience of encountering the Divine Feminine after a stroke, in which he underwent  a "death of the mind," leading to a death of the dualistic mind, and the Presence of overwhelming unconditional love. He relates his experience to that of Jesus' experience on the cross, in which Jesus experienced an absence of God, only to find overwhelming love in surrender.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Charlie Haden: Everything Man- from Jazz Times


From country music to free jazz to Sophisticated Ladies, his romantic new release featuring Quartet West and a host of vocal greats, there isn’t much Charlie Haden hasn’t done musically in his 73 years. Here, the historic bassist, composer and bandleader details recent projects, takes stock and hints at the possibility of a new recorded collaboration with
Ornette Coleman.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thomas Merton: Hear the Bells

I was reading from Thomas Merton’s sublime Thoughts in Solitude.  I ran across a remarkable passage on the meaning of bells in the Church.

Thomas Merton, a monk, has something beautiful to share about the use of bells in the Monastery or Church:

“Bells are meant to remind us that God alone is good, that we belong to God, that we are not living for this world.  They break in on our cares in order to remind us that all things pass away and that our preoccupations are not important.  They speak to us of our freedom, which responsibilities and transient cares make us forget.  They are the voice of our alliance with the God of heaven.  They tell us we are God’s true temple.  They call us to peace with God within ourselves.” …

Merton goes on to give voice to the bells, so we can hear what they are saying to us:

“…the bell says: ‘We have spoken for centuries from the towers of the great churches. We have spoken to the saints, your fathers, in their land. We called them, as we call you, to sanctity. What is the word with which we called them?

We did not merely say, “Be good, come to Church.” We did not merely say, “Keep the commandments”, but above all “Christ is risen, Christ is risen!” And we said: “come with us, God is good, salvation is not hard, [God’s] love has made it easy!”

As I reflect on Merton’s passage, I am reminded that the bells compel us, as in Jesus’ parable of the wedding banquet (c.f. Matthew 22.1-13), to come into the Kingdom, and receive God’s love: “And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was filled with guests”- Matthew 22.10. 

Yes, God’s love has made salvation easy.  Jesus tells us “If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more will your Father who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him?”- Matthew 7.11; and again, “[God] is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil.” – Luke 6.35.

God first loved us. This is the Gospel. And the bells invite us to imbibe this love. So when you hear church bells in your neighborhood, remember that God loves you the way you are- you do not have to be “good.” As Christ teaches us “None is good but one, that is God.” (Mark 10.18). God loves us anyway; all we need do is accept that love.

Archbishop Rowan WIlliams on Osama Bin Laden

Archbishop on Osama Bin Laden

"I think that the killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling because it doesn't look as if justice is seen to be done, in those circumstances. I think it is also true that the different versions of events that have emerged in recent days have not done a great deal to help here. I don't know the full details anymore than anyone else does but I do believe that in such circumstance when we are faced with someone who was manifestly a 'war criminal' as you might say in terms of the atrocities inflicted, it is important that justice is seen to be observed. "

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Shot of Love by PJ Harvey

An extremely worthy cover of one of Bob Dylan's best but often overlooked songs, Shot of Love.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bakithi Kumalo

Bakithi Kumalo, Bassist for Paul Simon since the Graceland album, gave a free clinic on his unique bass-playing techniques at Schmitt Music Store in Burnsville, Minnesota. Bakithi is playing with Paul Simon Monday, May 2nd in Minneapolis. I went with my sister, nephew, and grand-niece, and I had the pleasure of meeting this wonderful man and musician.

Bakithi has played with many other well known artists, such as Herbie Hancock, and Cindy Lauper.

Bakithi told his story about meeting Paul Simon the first time for the Graceland album. He described how his clothes were worn out and dirty from his job, his shoes were six years old; the neck of his bass was warped and the strings were high off the fret board and there were blood stains on it. But he impressed Simon with his playing, and Simon eventually bought him new gear, and paid him $5,000 for the first day of recording. Bakithi then called his boss and told him he would not be returning to work.

Bakithi did excellent work on the Graceland album, of which Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, and You Can Call Me Al are the most notable. He is most proud of his work on the former, and of course, most of us are very familiar with the terrific bass solo on the latter.

He was also an incredibly gracious and humble man to meet. At the end of his presentation, I introduced myself to him as a bass player, and asked him what other albums besides the Graceland album would show case his bass playing well. I wanted to find out which albums I could learn the best from him. But instead of touting his own playing, he said twice, "any South African music will have great bass playing for you to hear."

Bakithi seemed very approachable, and was really good with the kids who came to see him. One can tell he is a good and patient teacher. He gave his miniature bass to my nephew to play, but my nephew, who can play, was too shy. Bakithi was very patient with him, and drew him out of his shell and got him to play just a little bit. 

I asked him during the Q&A what other bass players he admired most, and he said, "anyone, whether they are 10 or 50, who plays the bass." We pressed him a little on the question, and he did finally give some predictable names, such as Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius, and Ron Carter. However, his first answer seemed very genuine and to come from his heart. But he also mentioned that Stanley Clarke asked him for some lessons! 

Bakithi is an amazing bassist. He is a gentle soul, a delight to see and hear play bass and tell his life story. A native of Soweto, South Africa, he now lives in the United States with his wife and children.

Visit his web site at: Bakithi Kumalo

You can order or download Bakithi's music here.

Here are some videos of Bakithi's bass technique:

South African Bass Line:

You Can Call Me Al solo:

Bass Tap:

Bass Slap 1:

Bass Slap 2:

Bass Slap 3:

Bass Slap 4: