Monday, September 25, 2017

The ACS: Please fill it out

The American Community Survey arrived at our house in the mail today. Well, not the survey itself, but the instructions for how to access it on line. As the envelope says, "YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW." But that's not the main reason you should complete this survey carefully, should one arrive at your address (about 1/480 chance each month). The reason is that this is the largest high-quality source of information about the U.S. population available. It covers about 1% of the U.S. population each year. I and thousands of others use the data for teaching and research: It informs reality-based policy and social science. The Census Bureau folks are real pros, and they are a lot more reliable with your information than Equifax or Target. For those of us who try to deal in facts rather than alternative facts, the ACS is indispensable. Please answer truthfully, and double-check your answers. Thanks!

La Canción del Final del Mundo

Only Rubén Blades could make all the bad news sound so good.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Can Music Be Perfect? Vol. 79

Charles Mingus's two Changes albums are among my very favorite recordings. There are versions of this song on each of the albums, but the instrumental on Vol. 1 (this one) is the winner. My favorite pianist, Don Pullen, takes a piano solo that is uncharacteristically lovely and lyrical; George Adams kills it on tenor, and the bassist... well... he's Mingus.

Whatcha gonna do when the pond goes dry?

At least, that's how I hear it.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Holger Czukay, RIP

Can was kind of a cross between German prog-rock and Lou Reed, and apparently Holger Czukay was their "major sound architect." That sound, hard driving and full of oddly distorted electronic effects, was unlike anything else. This album (Landed), which I still have in vinyl, had great, twisted tunes and a most amazing glossy cover. It was popular at parties in the late 70s, at least for a song or two.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

John Ashbery, RIP

I've been dabbling in his Flow Chart for a while now. Concentrating, I just don't get it. Relaxing, nearly nodding off, I hear the music in the words. It may be gibberish, but it is not nonsense. Or do I mean the reverse?

Walter Becker, RIP

As are many others of our generation, I imagine, we are playing a lot of Dan today. I can understand why they are disdained or actively disliked by many– the slickness bordering on schmaltz, their unseemly seeming admiration for molesters and low-lifes, the flirtations with racial stereotypes. But at a time when jazz was fracturing between free-jazz noise and fusion schlock, they showed that jazz could be pop and still maintain musical integrity and– yeah– hipness. Interestingly, I suspect their influence will be greater on jazz than on pop moving forward.

As college students we revered Pretzel Logic and had our serious doubts about the sellout that was Aja. I still love Pretzel Logic, but Aja has improved with age. Yes, that was Wayne Shorter taking the solo on the title track. Yes, the album was worthy of his consecration. (And yes, the very best Steely Dan album was a Donald Fagen solo album– The Nightfly. That doesn't detract from Walter Becker's greatness.)