Sunday, October 26, 2014

SFJazz Collective

We caught them at the SFJazz Center last night during their four-day fall residency. With this octet, you pretty much get what you expect: modern jazz playing of the very highest order. It is not exactly a working band, because they come together only intermittently, but it is not a one-shot all-star band either. The music, composed or arranged by band members for the group, is complex and seems to be exceedingly difficult. I say that both because it sounds really hard to play, and because even these guys, the best in the business, look like they are sweating some of the changes and time signatures.

Minor complaints: I wanted more swing, and more Latin groove, and I especially wanted longer, looser solos from these masters. But minor. The band is definitely worth seeking out. For me, the revelation was Warren Wolf on vibes. The guy plays with such velocity, precision, and harmonic inventiveness. But especially welcome was the bluesy feel of his solos... not so easy on the vibes, and reminiscent of Milt Jackson. He is a worthy successor to Bobby Hutcherson, who was with the Collective last time I heard them.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mt. Davidson

Botanically speaking, San Francisco's Mt. Davidson is kind of a disaster, much of it overgrown with invasive English ivy, thickets of weedy blackberries, privet, and eucalyptus trees. Still, it's a primal place, sticking up from the middle of the city, with the chilly marine mist blowing through the tall trees and across the twisted outcroppings of red Franciscan chert.

When and if the fog clears a little, the views from the top are splendid. And the lichen-lover will not be disappointed...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Here's another thing that doesn't change...

... kid-drawn stick figures. This one from medieval Russia. Interestingly, if you add up the fingers, they appear to have the correct number between them.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

“Doctrine doesn’t change, but it is understood in a deeper manner”

So said Cardinal Reinhard Marx, chairman of the German bishops’ conference, with reference to the wishy-washy conclusion of the synod on the family. May the good Lord help them deepen their understanding sooner than later with respect to gays and divorce, not to mention the role of women in the Church and society...

Helping industries

Here's a very nice piece of righteous indignation from Dean Baker about Airbnb and related sharing services. Like Baker, I have read my Adam and believe in mutually beneficial exchange as the cornerstone of a modern economy. But even Adam thought trade should occur within a structure of rules, and it seems reasonable that everyone should follow the same rules when operating in the same markets. His little analogy about Sovaldi allows him to ride one of his favorite hobbyhorses once again, but it has a particularly nice sting in this context.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What Paul K said...

In Defense of Obama...
I'd say Paul kind of lets him off the hook on the security state stuff. But on the whole the assessment seems fair and accurate to me. Who would have done better?

Friday, October 10, 2014

More El Paso!

Another outstanding version of my favorite song!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Snakes... eek!

I remember reading somewhere that human nightmares about snakes may be hardwired from our earlier evolutionary days avoiding lethally venomous bites. I find snakes really cool and admirable... I seek them out when I am hiking– even rattlesnakes– at a respectful distance. But I do have snaky nightmares, which are genuinely scary. Still, they are most extraordinary creatures. The sidewinder is one of nature's exquisite dancers. Watching the ugly, ungainly robot try to emulate the motion can only increase one's admiration...