Sunday, January 25, 2009

This and That

Had a very nice evening last night - Robo drove up from Tallahassee for a flying visit. I didn't realize that the main purpose of his visit, much to my horror, was to hear the Fourth Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra's gig (only our fourth) at the Highland Inn Ballroom. What if he hated it? But it all went well. Before the gig we had a nice Thai dinner with some of Rob's friends, and afterwards we had a little mellow music and one more beer before hitting the hay. And the gig was successful, musically and in terms of audience reaction. I am a little disconcerted, though, when I compare how tight we have gotten the arrangements in rehearsal to how loose (even sloppy) they are in performance. I feel that I personally butchered a couple of the tunes. But as Robo pointed out, this is probably something that will be self-correcting with more gigs under our belt. In any case, this is a really exciting band to be a part of.

On another note, I realize I haven't written the obligatory post-inauguration Obama blog post. This is partially because others, including Robo, have written about the changing of the guard much more eloquently than I could. But I will say that my low point in terms of being proud of my country came when George W. Bush was reelected in 2004.* Once was bad enough, but the thought that enough Americans voted for this man to keep him in office after seeing what he was about for four years was beyond discouraging - I really didn't feel like part of my country for awhile after that. But now... I know Obama will mess up at times, but it sure is nice to have a president who can put three coherent sentences together. Obama could be a great leader - we'll see. And at least he seems to have the country's best interests at heart, not any particular pseudo-neo ideology.

And finally, I just found out that David "Fathead" Newman died five days ago at the age of 75. Born in Texas (like so many outstanding tenor players), Newman wasn't one of the greats of jazz, by any means - just a tasty, bluesy, all-around journeyman saxophonist (and flutist). He could make an Aretha Franklin or Ray Charles single sound better with an idiomatic, just-right solo, but he could also handle the more complex chord changes of standard ballads. His 1958 recording of Atlanta pianist Paul Mitchell's "Hard Times" is classic - undemanding enough to be a jukebox hit, yet totally individual and unforgettable. So long, Fathead.

*Of course, it could be argued that he wasn't reelected and wouldn't have stayed in office if not for election shenanigans in Ohio.

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