Inhuman Swill : Music : Page 16

December's CD mixes of the month

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November's CD mix of the month

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October's CD mix of the month

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September's CD mix of the month

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August's CD mix of the month

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CD mix of the month reunion

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March's CD mix of the month

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[from Missionary Man, a memoir still in progress]

I had a very stupid argument once with my girlfriend Bertha, back when we were still living together. (Actually we had a lot of very stupid arguments, but I only plan to consider one here.) This was 1995, and we were at a small club in Seattle waiting for Barenaked Ladies to take the stage. We had both enjoyed the opening band, an act which managed the impressive feat of playing tunes in tricky time signatures without ever alienating the audience.

"How would you count that last song they did?" Bertha asked me. She had taken a class in music theory in college, coming away with just enough knowledge to make her a danger to herself and those around her. "It didn't sound like you could count it like a normal song."

This was her way of asking the number of beats per measure. "It was in five," I said.

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All that Ken Burns

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I don't know if any of you watched Jazz, or if you decided to boycott PBS for the duration of January. I've been prowling around for alternate points of view, and I found some interesting ones at This is a site run by a former colleague of mine who also happens to be a jazz journalist of two or three decades' standing. He calls himself the Pariah when writing and editing Bird Lives, because his opinions have done some damage to his connections in the jazz world.

Anyway, there's an article on Bird Lives right now that provides a nice antidote to all things Jazz: "J'Accuse Burns and Marsalis" by Michael Zilber. Give it a look, if jazz interests you at all, or if you happened to have swallowed the documentary. Zilber is articulate, even if he hasn't yet learned how to set his words down on paper to best effect. (He could use some editing too, Mr. Pariah, if you happen to be reading.)

But still, Zilber's drift comes across pretty well, and I recommend his article. But if you can't be bothered, attend to this snippet of email from my friend Andrew, who runs and played jazz piano for a living for nine years:

The sentiments reflected in [Zilber's] article summarize my take on the series and reflects the views of many on my site too. Most jazz musicians recognize JAZZ as a well-orchestrated Wynton Marsalis puppet show. He was scorned by his hero Miles Davis in the mid-80's and has since turned his back on him, along with the whole post-60's jazz movement. Is it any coincidence that the show reflects Miles in a poor light, dismisses music made after 1959 and lionizes Louis Armstrong to the point of the absurd? And isn't it interesting that Wynton was virtually the only musician interviewed? Too bad, JAZZ is going to be regarded as fact by most long after its opponents are dead. Oh well, at least the music speaks for itself.
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Babe the blue OX

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For you BOX fans out there, I just got a very nice email from Rose Thomson, who tells me that they'll be playing February 17th at Mercury Lounge. Appropriately, one can get there by taking the F train to Second Avenue.

Of course, just my luck, I'm scheduled to be in Arizona for a friend's wedding reception that day. I missed the last Babe show, January 18th at the Knitting Factory, because I was in Los Angeles. I wonder if I can convince them to abandon this strategy of only scheduling shows when I'm out of town?

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
could afford.

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William Shunn