Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Phenomenology of Athesthetic Angst

The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Angst

Fragmentation, acceleration
Peter Brotzmann
blasting, howling,
the world's sorrows and beauties
in my car.

Then...inside the store
Kenny G mangles an already
treacly Christmas song.

I fantasize:

The Highest Aesthetic Authorities apprehend G.--should have been done long ago...
They shear him of all hair above his neck.
They tie him to a wooden chair
in a room
Peter Brotzmann,
who proceeds to play every reed instrument
for two hours
with his trio.

What's left of G is
better for our world.
And I am vindicated.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Thomas and Coltrane

While listening to a Coltrane bootleg and reading a Thomist thinker, it occurred to me. The higher something is, the more imperfections we are willing to endure in contemplating it. The sound quality of this recording was very bad; I could not hear Jimmy Garrison on bass at all. But Trane and Roy Haynes were in another world. It was worth it.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Duke Ellington and Teaching

At the funeral of Duke Ellington, in 1974, his long-time friend, Stanley Dance, said this of the Duke: "He brought out qualities in his musicians they did not always know they possessed. He had the knack of making good musicians sound great, and great musicians sound the greatest." It strikes me with force that this is precisely what a good teacher should do for his or her students.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Swing again.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Vice, virtue, knowing

Virtuosity (of a certain debased kind) is not truly virtuous, but rather vicious, vane, and vexing to the discerning--those few who are not easily impressed with pyrotechnics, spectacle, and ego feigning to be art.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ravi Coltrane in Denver

Accomplished saxophonist, Ravi Coltrane, will be playing at Dazzle on July 28. He is John Coltrane's son, and has developed his own voice. I own and enjoy several of his recordings. Maybe I will see you there.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Martino in Montreal

Here is a discerning review of The Pat Martino Trio in Montreal on July 6. I agree with all the reviewer says. This is the same group I saw in Chicago on May 31 and June 1 at The Jazz Showcase.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Albums of Note

Many of Pat Martino's recordings. I have them all, except one, which is on the way: "Fire Dance."

Monday, July 2, 2012

Emily Remler

Emily Remler, I miss you. We were born in the same year (1957); yet you were taken away from us (and jazz) in 1990. It is hard to imagine how good your guitar playing would be had you lived into today.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Here is my review of "Stone Blue" by Pat Martino and Joyous Lake. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Good and You (and Jazz)

Become a connoisseur of the good;
don't settle for being a spectator of the superficial.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Here is my review of "The Return," by the inimitable Pat Martino, jazz guitar master.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Pat Martino in Chicago: Transcendent Jazz Greatness

It was pure wonderment. On May 31 and June 1, at The Jazz Showcase in Chicago, I heard the Pat Martino trio perform two shows each night. My friend has claimed front row seats (although the legendary club--in Chicago since 1946) did not officially allow it. We came at about 7:00 for the 8:00 show and heard the band doing a sound check. We instantly recognized Pat's pure, clean, rapid lines. While we waited to go in, we spoke with long-time jazz promoter, and jazz snob/curmudgeon, Joe Seagal, who provided to be charming in his own acerbic way. The outer waiting area was filled with posters and tickets from groups that Mr. Seagal had promoted over many years, including Dizzy Gillespie ("He's my man," said Joe), Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and more luminaries.

When we were let in, I greeted Pat, who was standing on stage. I mentioned that we can come from Denver and that I had written him a card containing my booklet Are All Religions One. After jogging his memory, he caught on and thanked me. I also mentioned reading his autobiography, In the Moment. He seemed warm and unassuming.

The first show was superb, with the band playing standards and originals by Pat. Sitting on a bar stool, Pat flew up and down the fret-board, playing long, mellifluous lines of post-bob jazz brilliance along with Pat Bianci on Hammond B-3 organ, and young drummer whose name I forget (he was hot, though).  Past never ran out of ideas, and freely mixed his solos with legato runs and chords. He uses very heavy gauge strings and picks hard, but with the sense that he is hold the pick as one would hold a demitasse cup. The venue was, sadly, not filled. It seated about 100, and we estimated about 60 souls there. There was a warm response, but no encore.

During the break, I asked Pat if his group played "Sonny," a pop tune that he has played off and on for years. He said, "No. This groups hasn't played it, but who knows?" I took hope in that proviso. It is jazz, after all. (We just got a puppy named Sunny, so it has some significance in that sense).

After another swinging, mind-boggling, heart-warming set, the group played the last number. After a standing ovation (from only about 30 people), Pat turned to both accompanists and asked, "Sonny?" After both nodded, he launched into a phenomenal version of that warm and happy tune. It warmed my heart and feed my aesthetic yearnings more richly than anything in recent  memory.

On June 1, Pat was greeted by a larger crowd, but we still had front row seats--due to the kindness of our waitress, the lovely Camilla (who also gave me four olives in my dirty gin martinis that night). Pat played standards and originals, and smoked through every piece. The man never lets up and never errs. He does things that no other jazz guitar player can do. At the end of the second set, while greeted with a standing ovation, Pat pointed to me and called out "Sonny" to the band. I was stunned and ebullient. That night we exchanged business cards. I thanked him for the beautiful music and told him that he never ran out of ideas. He said we should stay in touch "for years to come," and assured me that I should look him him if I am ever in his home town of Philadelphia. I said the same about Denver, although Pat has not played in this area for fifteen years.

I was also delighted to initiate two friends into the higher and sublime mysteries of live jazz performed by a modern master, who has been playing since the early 1960s. (Pat is 67.)  Craig, my sugar daddy, who sponsored the whole trip as a gift (since I never have holidays) was swinging and buzzing for days afterward. Another friend, Drew, knew nothing of Pat, but was overwhelmed by his virtuosity.

There is aesthetic goodness in the world; and musical geniuses can be humble and friendly. For this, I give thanks to God, the giver of every good and perfect gift. The Jazz Philosopher experienced a jazz holiday that he will take to his grave with thanksgiving.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Apologetics event at Denver Seminary

It’s time for our next alumni webinar! Bring your lunch and watch LIVE, next Wednesday June 13 from 12:00 – 12:50 pm in Classroom 100b. It will be on the topic “Bringing the Truth to Light: Christian Apologetics” with Dr. Doug Groothuis presenting (description is below).
Dr. Groothuis will discuss the importance in having a rational and credible Christian witness before the world that involves discussing:
·         The nature of truth
·         Arguments for the existence of God
·         The reliability of the Bible
·         How we deal with people who hold other worldviews
Much of the discussion will be based around Dr. Groothuis' new book "Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith," the 2012 Christianity Today Book Award of Merit winner!
As usual, the webinar will also be broadcast to our many alumni all over the world! You are welcome to invite friends to attend as well. Hope to see you all there!
Jazz guitar virtuoso: Pat Martino.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Promoting Jazz

Here is a simple way to promote jazz. Go to Amazon and "like" your favorite recordings and have that recorded in your social media. Better yet, take someone to a jazz concert. I initiated two souls into the sublime mysteries by having them attend a Pat Martino concert in Chicago.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

"Sunny," by Pat Martino

Pat Martino played "Sunny" twice as encores in the four shows I saw last Thursday and Friday in Chicago. I asked him to play it during an intermission. He said, "We haven't practiced it, but who knows?" On the last night, he pointed to me before the group played it. The supporting musicians on this are different from the ones I heart, but this take is gorgeous as well.

Exchange: Jazz and Heaven

My wife: "I bet you think there will be jazz music all over the place in heaven, don't you?"
Me: "At least in my part in heaven. You can come over when you want to."

Friday, May 18, 2012



Group vibe
Group-audience vibe
Vibe different every time.

The sound of surprise
The sound of surmise
The sound of reprise

Jazz, baby...Jazz, dig it.
Learn it.
Live it.
Love it.

Teach it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Miss Rosie Smith at Wellspring

Tonight, jazz singer and children pastor, Rosie Smith, performed at the annual fund-raising event for The Well Ministry of Wellspring Anglican Church. She was supported by drums, acoustic bass, and electric piano. The quartet performed standards such as "Route 66," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," and others. All were done well, but Miss Smith stole the show. The highlight was the performance of Duke Ellington's sacred classic, "Come Sunday," originally sung by Mahalia Jackson. This is no easy tune, to put it mildly. The group, which had never rehearsed, performed the piece at a slightly faster pace than the original, which fit. Miss Smith rose to the nearly impossible occasion of doing this masterpiece justice, putting both her sterling voice and entire Christian soul into it.

Given the event, few people were actively listening to the music, but rather dancing and talking. Miss Smith did not mind. I, for one, was all ears. I hope my ears and soul are so gifted again in the near future by this wonderful and local talent. Bravo, Rosie Smith!

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Listen to everyone else, then learn to sound like yourself.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ron Miles at Dazzle!

Tonight a friend of mine and I took in an hour-long 6:00 PM set with Relay, playing the music of Ron Miles with Ron Miles. Relay is made up of electric piano, drums, and guitar. Mr. Miles, who also heads the Jazz Studies program at Metro State College of Denver, plays trumpet and composes. He is well-recorded and highly-rated as a performer and writer. As I listened to his playing, I was attempting to identify who he sounded like. My conclusion was that he sounded like Ron Miles!

Mr. Miles music tends to be ballad-like and contemplative, giving each player a winning structure within which to improvise. Relay performed two of their own pieces (one in a fast and challenging 7/4), within which Mr. Miles fit perfectly.

The event was well attended and well received. Those in Denver are quite blessed some have venues such as Dazzle and musicians such as performed tonight. There was another set at 8:00.

My only complaint was the visuals provided by a long-haired guy operating a computer to remix the live show with random (I think) scenes. Whatever the artistic merit, it served more as distraction to the live jazz than anything else. Live jazz is enough for me. I don't need a hyperactive screen to participate.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


If you have the chops,
then keep blowing...
until someone listens.

Friday, March 23, 2012

In recent weeks, I have sent three hand-written cards to three of my favorite contemporary jazz musicians: Ravi Coltrane, Pat Martino, and Vijay Iyer. I included my booklet, Are All Religions one, since all have overt spiritual interests. I hope I hear something back from them--at least one of them.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pat Martino

Pat Martino's jazz guitar solo on the live version of "Sonny" is remarkable for its velvet intensity and the long flowing, integrated sense of building to an apex of intensity--and then pushing even beyond that. This man is a treasure to jazz and has no peers.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I sent a personal card to jazz saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, John Coltrane's son. I pray he gets it and reads it and reads the booklet I included, "Are All Religions One?"

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


4.0 out of 5 stars Often majestic, February 21, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Infinity (Audio CD)
Somehow, although a Coltrane aficionado (to put it mildly), I had never heard this recording. It may have not been released on CD previously, and I had never seen the album.

While only 38-minutes long (which was normal for an LP at the time), this recording brings the widow of John Coltrane back to his recorded music. Alice takes selected solos from her late husband and orchestrates them with strings, organ, harp, and more. The effect is often magical, majestic--although, at times, a bit cluttered. Yet the density is not deadly, but alluring, entrancing. I plan on listening to it many more times.

Mrs. Coltrane understood her husband's work. The orchestrations seems to fit the earlier solos, which were recorded with a smaller group. We still hear Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones as supporting musicians. These were members of "the classic quartet" (1960-1965). We also hear from Charlie Haden on bass.

While I cannot endorse the references to the philosophy of astrology in some of the music, the music itself stretches the soul in new directions. For this, I am thankful.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I listened to a 1972 release by Alice Coltrane called "Eternity," which was just (I believe) released on CD for the first time. She takes her late husband's solos and adds strings, harp, organ, and more. It is a dense, lush, exhilarating exploration of other realms. It is helping me recover from the 10 seconds of Kenny G that a cultural terrorist inflicted on me yesterday.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pat Martino, "The Maker"

I just listened to "The Maker" straight through on headphones tonight. What a wonderful set of numbers it is: long-form, plenty of space for group and individual improvisation, fine fidelity, and the inimitable guitar stylings of Pat Martino, whose attack, note choice, and swing are without peer or parallel in jazz.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"It don't mean a thing if it ain't go that swing"--Duke Ellington.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pat and Pat

Having listened to most of Pat Martino's most recent recording, "Undeniable," I must say that the man is the best straight-ahead jazz guitarist living on this planet. The way he builds a solo is unparalleled; the tone is perfect. Yes, I love the other Pat--Metheny..but not this much in this genre of jazz.

Big, Good

Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Stan Kenton
knew how to make big
very good.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ellington's America

Here is a short, but apt, review of Cohen's magisterial work, Duke Ellington's America.