Saturday, July 18, 2009

*Down With The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Anti-Gay And Lesbian Military Policy

Click ON Title To Link To National Public Radio's Segment On The Fight To Have The Obama Administration Overturn The Clinton-era Policy. This space is unequivocally opposed to every aspect of American militarism and the expanding American imperial presence in the world. That is a knock-down, drag-out fight to the finish. No question about that. Nevertheless, we uphold the democratic rights of those who are in the service. While in the military those who serve, whatever else, are entitled to the same benefits as anyone who serves. Down with this policy now.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

*A Musical Change Of Pace- Tin Pan Alley-Cole Porter

Click On Title To Link To YouTube's Film Clip Of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes".

Night And Day, Indeed

CD Review

Night And Day: The Cole Porter Songbook, various artists, Polydor, 1990


Billie Holiday. That is the name, voice and magic that I conjure up when I hear the name Cole Porter and his tasty and tasteful lyrics that evoke a simpler time, a time of my parents’ generation rather than my own. The generation that went through the last depression, the Great Depression of the 1930’s and then fought World War II successfully. Billie, thus, is something a thread that carries these tunes to my generation, the generation of the 1960’s. In fact, I believe the first time I recognized Cole Porter songs (although I probably hear then as background music on the radio in the old days) was on Billie’s “Night And Day” album of Porter tunes.

Here though, other voices, perhaps more representative of Porter’s work such as his Broadway show tunes, are featured. Like the slyly salacious “Love For Sale”. Or the agitated longing of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”. How about the peppy “Anything Goes”. Or “It’s De-Lovely”. Or the very lyric-driven “Let’s Fall In Love”. And, of course, the dreamy title track “Night And Day”. So if you want to know what your parents (or grandparents) listened to while they were spoonin’ here is your stop.

"Love For Sale"

When the only sound on the empty street
is the heavy tread of the heavy feet
that belong to a lonesome cop
I open shop

The moon so long has been gazing down
on the warward ways of this wayward town
my smile becomes a smirk, I go to work

Love for sale
appetizing young love for sale
love thats fresh and still unspoiled
love thats only slightly soiled
love for sale

who will buy
who would like to sample my supply
who's prepared to pay the price
for a trip to paradise
love for sale

let the poets pipe of love
in their childish ways
I know every type of love
better far than they
if you want the thrill of love
I have been through the mill of love
old love
new love
every love but true love

love for sale
appetizing young love for sale
if you want to buy my wares follow me and clime the stairs
love for sale

*A Musical Change Of Pace- Tin Pan Alley-George Gershwin

Click On Title To Link To YouTube's Film Clip Of Billie Holiday Doing George Gershwin's "Summertime".

CD REVIEWS

The Great Songs Of George Gershwin, various artist, Columbia Legacy, 1998

George Gershwin's short but productive career has always been associated in my mind with the Broadway musical. Much more so than that another composer from that same period of the 1930's-1940's whom I recently reviewed in this space, Cole Porter. They both worked this milieu but I always think more of New York (or Paris) cabarets and caf├ęs with Porter's work and the theater with Gershwin (and I will tag along his brother, Ira, here as well). Perhaps, it's because George Gershwin's name is most associated historically with the classic Broadway black musical "Porgy and Bess". In any case this little CD is filled with songs by many well-known singers who won their spurs in Broadway productions of his work, or wished they had.

So here we have Billie Holiday doing her trademark "Summertime" from that "Porgy and Bess" mentioned above. The virtuoso pianist Teddy Wilson doing "Embraceable You". The underrated Mildred Bailey on " They Can't Take That Away From You". The recently departed Mel Torme doing "Isn't It A Pity" and the still legendary Tony Bennett on "Fascinatin' Rhythm" (from Lady, Be Good). If your thing is Gershwin show tunes you have definitely come to the right address.

George Gershwin
Summertime lyrics


Summertime,
And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high

Oh, Your daddy's rich
And your mamma's good lookin'
So hush little baby
Don't you cry

One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings
And you'll take to the sky

But until that morning
There's a'nothing can harm you
With your daddy and mammy standing by

Summertime,
And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high

Your daddy's rich
And your mamma's good lookin'
So hush little baby
Don't you cry

*Free The San Francisco Eight- An Update From The Partisan Defense Committee

Click On Title To Link To Free The San Francisco Eight Web Site.

The following is passed on from the Partisan Defense Committee and needs no further comment from me except- Free The Eight!!

Drop the Charges Against the SF8 Now!

The following June 6 protest letter was sent by the Partisan Defense Committee—a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization associated with the Spartacist League—to California Attorney General Jerry Brown.

The Partisan Defense Committee demands an immediate end to the state’s vindictive prosecution of the San Francisco 8—Richard Brown, Francisco Torres, Ray Boudreaux, Henry “Hank” Jones, Harold Taylor, Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom)—who were arrested in 2007 on frame-up charges of murder and conspiracy in relation to the 1971 death of San Francisco police officer John Young. In more than two years of court hearings, the prosecution has not produced a shred of evidence against these former Black Panthers. Now they face another three months of preliminary hearings, beginning on June 8, to determine if the case will go to trial. The relentless persecution of these men, all of them in their late 50s or older, is a continuation of the government’s decades-long vendetta against the Black Liberation Army and other former Panthers. We demand that all the charges against the SF8 be dropped now!

For close to 40 years, the police have tried to pin the killing of Young on these men. In 1973, two San Francisco police inspectors interrogated three Panther members including one of the current defendants, Harold Taylor, who had been arrested by the New Orleans cops. The three were tortured for several days—stripped naked, blindfolded and beaten, covered with blankets soaked in boiling water, shocked with electric cattle prods on their genitals and anus—until they “confessed.” In 1975, the charges were thrown out of court on the basis that their confessions had been coerced through torture. Thirty years later, the police and government prosecutors were still unsuccessful in obtaining indictments of any of these men despite convening California state and federal grand juries—first in 2003-2004 and later in May and August 2005. But this frame-up was revived again in 2007 when the SF8 were rounded up and arrested on orders from your office of California State Attorney General.

More than two years of court hearings have produced no evidence tying these men to Young’s killing. The “discovery” of a shotgun alleged to be the “missing murder weapon” was found not to match any weapons evidence in the case. Similarly, DNA swabs taken from the defendants in June 2006 did not match any evidence from the crime scene. The prosecution has refused to release fingerprint evidence that exonerates all of these men. The judge ruled against releasing FBI wiretap surveillance of Black Panther phone lines based on an FBI “taint team” affidavit asserting that there had been no wiretap surveillance of the SF8. One need only recall the case of another former Panther, Geronimo ji Jaga (Pratt) who spent 27 years behind bars for a murder that the FBI and California state officials knew he did not commit. The FBI claimed that it had “lost” wiretaps proving that Geronimo was at an Oakland Panther meeting, 400 miles away from L.A. where and when the murder was committed. Geronimo was released from prison in 1997 when an Orange County Superior Court Judge ruled that he had been denied a fair trial because the prosecution had withheld vital evidence from the defense.

The FBI’s murderous COINTELPRO program took the lives of 38 Panthers. Those they couldn’t kill were framed up and thrown in jail, including Mumia Abu-Jamal who remains on death row today on fabricated charges of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981. Mumia’s death sentence was secured by the prosecutor’s lying argument that his membership in the Panthers as a teenager “proved” that he had been planning to kill a cop. The prosecution of the SF8 is a continuation of the same COINTELPRO-style frame-up campaign. Together with other fighters against racist injustice, labor unions and federations like the S.F. Labor Council and others, the Partisan Defense Committee demands: Drop the charges now!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Night Belongs To......, Vietnam (Oops!) Afghanistan Update At A Glance

Click On Title To Link To "Boston Globe" Article By Farrah Stockman, Dated July 14, 2009, Which Might Help Explain The "Oops" Of The Title Of This Entry.

Commentary


Now that the Obama Administration has waded knee-deep into "The Big Poppy", Afghanistan, and made that war its own, including a recent signature 4000 Marine excursion deep into Taliban territory we are starting to see the outlines of the problem that confronted the Kennedy Administration and its lead advocate, the late War Secretary Robert S. McNamara. As the posted article indicates the American military presence can be overwhelming and appear to be invincible.....during the day. The night, however, belongs to the Taliban. Sound familiar? I will not, as I tried not to do with Iraq as well, overdraw the analogies between the wars, objectives, goals of the opponents and other factors in this benighted region and the Vietnam War that consumed a good portion of my youth. I do, nevertheless, make this point early on in this escalating conflict. When the deal goes down the American forces will be in Afghanistan propping up the increasingly corrupt and inept Karzai government for a minute. Or a couple of minutes. What then? The Taliban after almost eight years, seemingly, has the capacity to wait that time out. Since I made the point I also make the proposal and, in the end, what appears to be the rational solution. Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops From Afghanistan! And while this will be of no avail now that the American Commander-in-Chief has dug in his heels-Obama,remember the fate of one Robert Strange McNamara.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

*If You Like Your T-Bone Rare This Is Your Stop- The Electric Blues Guitar Of T-Bone Walker

Click On Title To Link To YouTube's Film Clip Of T-Bone Walker Doing "Don't Throw Your Love On Me So Strong"

CD REVIEW

Back On The Scene Texas 1966: T-Bone Walker, T-Bone Walker, Castle Music, 2003


Okay, ask around. Here is the question. Who was (and maybe still is) the most influential electric blues guitarist of the post- World War II period. From casual listeners you may get a variety of answers, all of them somewhat worthy of consideration like Muddy Waters and B.B. King or from a later period , perhaps Eric Clapton. But down at the soul of the electric blues you will find one name that all the other choices will gladly agree (if they are honest) is the max daddy of the electric blues guitar, T-Bone Walker. He owns the thing. It is part of his physical person and combined with that plaintive sweet but catlike menacing voice presents a strong case for his place in the blues pantheon. In short, if you hear someone today playing electric blues guitar that sound like they are gently running the piano keyboard and with a sense that the player has been through some kind of hell that person was influenced by Walker. No doubt.

That said, this is not his strongest work but is a better than average primer considering that it represents the latter part of T-Bone’s career. Still just listening to the way he introduces a sing and then goes through his paces will set the mood for you. Try the ironic “Good Boy” for starters. And the title track “Back On The Scene”. Close out with “ Afraid To Close My Eyes” and you will start looking for earlier T-Bone CDs right away.

alimony blues lyrics

It's a cold-blooded world when a man has to pawn his shoes
It's a cold-blooded world when a man has to pawn his shoes
That's the fix I'm in today, I swear I've been abused

Yes, the woman is a devil, she will trick you if she can
Yes, the woman is a devil, she will trick you if she can
She will tell you that she love you, an work out some other plan


"Call It Stormy Monday"

They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday's just as bad
They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday's just as bad
Wednesday's worse, and Thursday's also sad

Yes the eagle flies on Friday, and Saturday I go out to play
Eagle flies on Friday, and Saturday I go out to play
Sunday I go to church, then I kneel down and pray

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy on me
Lord have mercy, my heart's in misery
Crazy about my baby, yes, send her back to me


Got those alimony blues an I sure got to pay some dues
Got those alimony blues an I sure got to pay some dues
And if I run short of cash, it's the road camp, I've got to choose


"Midnight Blues"

Well, the clock is strikin' twelve, somebody's got to go
Well, the clock is strikin' twelve, somebody's got to go
Gee, but I'm going to miss ya baby, this is one thing I'm sure you know

When it's twelve o'clock in Memphis, it's one o'clock in San Antone
When it's twelve o'clock in Memphis, it's one o'clock in San Antone
When it's midnight in California, I'll be so all alone

Midnight is an awful hour, why does it come so soon?
Midnight is a awful hour, why does it come so soon?
It never bring me happ'ness, it always leave me filled with gloom

Don't ever gamble buddy, unless you're sure that you can't lose
Don't ever gamble buddy, unless you're sure that you can't lose
You better take my advise, unless you want this midnight blues

"Put it away!"


"T-Bone Shuffle"

Let your hair down baby,
Let's have a natural ball.
Let your hair down baby,
Let's have a natural ball.
Cause when you're not happy,
It ain't no fun at all.

You can't take it with you,
That's one thing for sure.
You can't take it with you baby,
That's one thing for sure.
There's nothing wrong with ya baby,
That a good T-Bone shuffle can't cure.

Have fun while ya can,
Fate's an aweful thing.
Have fun while ya can,
Fate's an aweful thing.
You can't tell what might happen,
That's why I love to sing.

*A Different Guitar –The Jazz Guitar Of Wes Montgomery

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Wes Montgomery performing "'Round Midnight".

DVD Review

Wes Montgomery: Live in 65, Wes Montgomery and various sidemen, Reelin’ In The Years Productions. 2007


As I have mentioned on more than one other occasion in reviewing various musical genres, what goes around comes around. On the basis of doing a review of the legendary and ground-breaking Texas blues guitarist T-Bone Walker a friend sent me a this DVD of jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. Well, although jazz is not my main area of interest (except where it intersects, as it does in many places, the blues) of course I knew the name, if not the specific work, of Wes Montgomery.

What we have here is very lovingly done tribute to Brother Montgomery, as part of a jazz icon series, by showcasing a set of three European performances in 1965 done during the prime of his jazz powers. Look, I know folk guitar and many of its virtuoso players backward and forward. I know rock guitar and many of its virtuoso performers as well. I know blues guitar and its virtuoso performers, like the above-mentioned T-Bone Walker, backward, forward and side way. I cannot same the same for the jazz guitar. I can say, though, off viewing this series of performances that Mr. Wes Montgomery fits very comfortably in that virtuoso category.