"Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone ..." William Wordsworth

30 April 2022

Rushing.


Spring has come to the northern forest. 
The evening wind blows cold 
As the breath of the frost giants. 
Just overhead there is a sound like the rushing of crows' wings. 
Can it be a coven of witches has flown over these woods?

On any other night, 
You would probably swear 
That there was no such thing as a witch―
At least, not the kind that streaks through the sky 
On a broomstick with guttering taper and billowing cloak. 
But this is no ordinary night; 
It is the thirtieth of April, 
The very eve of May. 
Walpurgis Night.

Jethro Tull, "Jack-in-the-Green"

Chrissie Hynde, "Talk of the Town"

Oh, but it's hard to live by the rules
I never could and still never do ...

Benefits.


There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy, we sow anonymous benefits upon the world, which remain unknown even to ourselves, or when they are disclosed, surprise nobody so much as the benefactor.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Excellent.

An excellent book ...

Toto, "St. George and the Dragon"

More Coors Light!
More nachos! More ranch!
Five plays for a dollar,
Then get up and dance!


The first cut on the Cowbell Culture Mix.

Prosper.


OLD MAY SONG

All in this pleasant evening, together come are we,
  For the Summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
We shall not sing you May again until another year,
  For to draw these cold winters away,
We’ll tell you of a blossom and buds on every tree,
  Drawing near to the merry month of May.

Rise up, the master of this house, put on your chain of gold,
  For the Summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
We hope you’re not offended, with your house we make so bold,
  Drawing near to the merry month of May.

Rise up, the mistress of this house, with gold along your breast,
  For the Summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
And if your body be asleep, we hope your soul’s at rest,
  Drawing near to the merry month of May.

Rise up, the children of this house, all in your rich attire,
  For the Summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
For every hair upon your head shines like a silver wire,
  Drawing near to the merry month of May.

God bless this house and harbour, your riches and your store,
  For the Summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
We hope the Lord will prosper you, both now and evermore,
  Drawing near to the merry month of May.

So now we’re going to leave you, in peace and plenty here,
  For the Summer springs so fresh, green, and gay.
We shall not sing you May again until another year,
  To draw you these cold winters away.

Anonymous

Caerphilly.

Trethowan Brothers' Gorwydd Caerphilly ...


Agreeable.

Bruce Cockburn, "40 Years in the Wilderness"

Precedent.

Savage, George Washington, 1789


On this day in 1789, George Washington took office as the first president of the United States.
As the first of everything, in our situation will serve to establish a Precedent, it is devoutly wished on my part, that these precedents may be fixed on true principles.

Wise.


There was an owl liv'd in an oak
The more he heard, the less he spoke
The less he spoke, the more he heard.
O, if men were all like that wise bird.

Old Nursery Rhyme

29 April 2022

Schubert, Wanderers Nachtlied II, D. 768

Over all the summits is peace, 
In all the treetops
You feel hardly a breath;
The birds fall silent in the forest. 
Only wait, soon
You too shall rest.

Goethe

Julia Bullock performs with Christian Reif accompanying ...

27 April 2022

Watching.


The FAIRIES

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather!

Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain-lake,
With frogs for their watchdogs,
All night awake.

High on the hill-top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and grey
He’s nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with the music
On cold starry nights,
To sup with the Queen
Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,
Between the night and morrow,
They thought that she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of fig-leaves,
Watching till she wake.

By the craggy hillside,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn trees
For my pleasure, here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather!

William Allingham

Twinkling.


"Across the Moor" from Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden ...
At last the horses began to go more slowly, as if they were climbing up-hill, and presently there seemed to be no more hedges and no more trees. She could see nothing, in fact, but a dense darkness on either side. She leaned forward and pressed her face against the window just as the carriage gave a big jolt.

“Eh! We’re on the moor now sure enough,” said Mrs. Medlock.

The carriage lamps shed a yellow light on a rough-looking road which seemed to be cut through bushes and low-growing things which ended in the great expanse of dark apparently spread out before and around them. A wind was rising and making a singular, wild, low, rushing sound.

“It’s—it’s not the sea, is it?” said Mary, looking round at her companion.

“No, not it,” answered Mrs. Medlock. “Nor it isn’t fields nor mountains, it’s just miles and miles and miles of wild land that nothing grows on but heather and gorse and broom, and nothing lives on but wild ponies and sheep.”

“I feel as if it might be the sea, if there were water on it,” said Mary. “It sounds like the sea just now.”

“That’s the wind blowing through the bushes,” Mrs. Medlock said. “It’s a wild, dreary enough place to my mind, though there’s plenty that likes it—particularly when the heather’s in bloom.”

On and on they drove through the darkness, and though the rain stopped, the wind rushed by and whistled and made strange sounds. The road went up and down, and several times the carriage passed over a little bridge beneath which water rushed very fast with a great deal of noise. Mary felt as if the drive would never come to an end and that the wide, bleak moor was a wide expanse of black ocean through which she was passing on a strip of dry land.

“I don’t like it,” she said to herself. “I don’t like it,” and she pinched her thin lips more tightly together.

The horses were climbing up a hilly piece of road when she first caught sight of a light. Mrs. Medlock saw it as soon as she did and drew a long sigh of relief.

“Eh, I am glad to see that bit o’ light twinkling,” she exclaimed. “It’s the light in the lodge window. We shall get a good cup of tea after a bit, at all events.”

It was “after a bit,” as she said, for when the carriage passed through the park gates there was still two miles of avenue to drive through and the trees (which nearly met overhead) made it seem as if they were driving through a long dark vault.

They drove out of the vault into a clear space and stopped before an immensely long but low-built house which seemed to ramble round a stone court. At first Mary thought that there were no lights at all in the windows, but as she got out of the carriage she saw that one room in a corner upstairs showed a dull glow.

The entrance door was a huge one made of massive, curiously shaped panels of oak studded with big iron nails and bound with great iron bars. It opened into an enormous hall, which was so dimly lighted that the faces in the portraits on the walls and the figures in the suits of armor made Mary feel that she did not want to look at them. As she stood on the stone floor she looked a very small, odd little black figure, and she felt as small and lost and odd as she looked.

Happy Birthday, Grant


Ulysses S. Grant was born on this day in 1822.
 
To me he is a mystery, and I believe he is a mystery to himself.  A more unpromising boy never entered the Military Academy. Let this be a lesson to all of us: looks are deceiving.

William Tecumseh Sherman on Grant

26 April 2022

Robert Plant, "Shake My Tree"

Spring.

'Tis Spring.

From The Wind in the Willows ...
The line of the horizon was clear and hard against the sky, and in one particular quarter it showed black against a silvery climbing phosphorescence that grew and grew. At last, over the rim of the waiting earth the moon lifted with slow majesty till it swung clear of the horizon and rode off, free of moorings; and once more they began to see surfaces—meadows wide-spread, and quiet gardens, and the river itself from bank to bank, all softly disclosed, all washed clean of mystery and terror, all radiant again as by day, but with a difference that was tremendous. Their old haunts greeted them again in other raiment, as if they had slipped away and put on this pure new apparel and come quietly back, smiling as they shyly waited to see if they would be recognised again under it.

Fastening their boat to a willow, the friends landed in this silent, silver kingdom, and patiently explored the hedges, the hollow trees, the runnels and their little culverts, the ditches and dry water-ways. Embarking again and crossing over, they worked their way up the stream in this manner, while the moon, serene and detached in a cloudless sky, did what she could, though so far off, to help them in their quest; till her hour came and she sank earthwards reluctantly, and left them, and mystery once more held field and river.

Then a change began slowly to declare itself. The horizon became clearer, field and tree came more into sight, and somehow with a different look; the mystery began to drop away from them. A bird piped suddenly, and was still; and a light breeze sprang up and set the reeds and bulrushes rustling. Rat, who was in the stern of the boat, while Mole sculled, sat up suddenly and listened with a passionate intentness. Mole, who with gentle strokes was just keeping the boat moving while he scanned the banks with care, looked at him with curiosity.

“It’s gone!” sighed the Rat, sinking back in his seat again. “So beautiful and strange and new. Since it was to end so soon, I almost wish I had never heard it. For it has roused a longing in me that is pain, and nothing seems worth while but just to hear that sound once more and go on listening to it for ever. No! There it is again!” he cried, alert once more. Entranced, he was silent for a long space, spellbound.

“Now it passes on and I begin to lose it,” he said presently. “O Mole! the beauty of it! The merry bubble and joy, the thin, clear, happy call of the distant piping! Such music I never dreamed of, and the call in it is stronger even than the music is sweet! Row on, Mole, row! For the music and the call must be for us.”

The Mole, greatly wondering, obeyed. “I hear nothing myself,” he said, “but the wind playing in the reeds and rushes and osiers.”

The Rat never answered, if indeed he heard. Rapt, transported, trembling, he was possessed in all his senses by this new divine thing that caught up his helpless soul and swung and dandled it, a powerless but happy infant in a strong sustaining grasp.

In silence Mole rowed steadily, and soon they came to a point where the river divided, a long backwater branching off to one side. With a slight movement of his head Rat, who had long dropped the rudder-lines, directed the rower to take the backwater. The creeping tide of light gained and gained, and now they could see the colour of the flowers that gemmed the water’s edge.

“Clearer and nearer still,” cried the Rat joyously. “Now you must surely hear it! Ah—at last—I see you do!”

Breathless and transfixed the Mole stopped rowing as the liquid run of that glad piping broke on him like a wave, caught him up, and possessed him utterly. He saw the tears on his comrade’s cheeks, and bowed his head and understood. For a space they hung there, brushed by the purple loose-strife that fringed the bank; then the clear imperious summons that marched hand-in-hand with the intoxicating melody imposed its will on Mole, and mechanically he bent to his oars again. And the light grew steadily stronger, but no birds sang as they were wont to do at the approach of dawn; and but for the heavenly music all was marvellously still.

On either side of them, as they glided onwards, the rich meadow-grass seemed that morning of a freshness and a greenness unsurpassable. Never had they noticed the roses so vivid, the willow-herb so riotous, the meadow-sweet so odorous and pervading. Then the murmur of the approaching weir began to hold the air, and they felt a consciousness that they were nearing the end, whatever it might be, that surely awaited their expedition.

A wide half-circle of foam and glinting lights and shining shoulders of green water, the great weir closed the backwater from bank to bank, troubled all the quiet surface with twirling eddies and floating foam-streaks, and deadened all other sounds with its solemn and soothing rumble. In midmost of the stream, embraced in the weir’s shimmering arm-spread, a small island lay anchored, fringed close with willow and silver birch and alder. Reserved, shy, but full of significance, it hid whatever it might hold behind a veil, keeping it till the hour should come, and, with the hour, those who were called and chosen.

Slowly, but with no doubt or hesitation whatever, and in something of a solemn expectancy, the two animals passed through the broken tumultuous water and moored their boat at the flowery margin of the island. In silence they landed, and pushed through the blossom and scented herbage and undergrowth that led up to the level ground, till they stood on a little lawn of a marvellous green, set round with Nature’s own orchard-trees—crab-apple, wild cherry, and sloe.

“This is the place of my song-dream, the place the music played to me,” whispered the Rat, as if in a trance. “Here, in this holy place, here if anywhere, surely we shall find Him!”

Then suddenly the Mole felt a great Awe fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head, and rooted his feet to the ground. It was no panic terror—indeed he felt wonderfully at peace and happy—but it was an awe that smote and held him and, without seeing, he knew it could only mean that some august Presence was very, very near. With difficulty he turned to look for his friend and saw him at his side cowed, stricken, and trembling violently. And still there was utter silence in the populous bird-haunted branches around them; and still the light grew and grew.

Perhaps he would never have dared to raise his eyes, but that, though the piping was now hushed, the call and the summons seemed still dominant and imperious. He might not refuse, were Death himself waiting to strike him instantly, once he had looked with mortal eye on things rightly kept hidden. Trembling he obeyed, and raised his humble head; and then, in that utter clearness of the imminent dawn, while Nature, flushed with fullness of incredible colour, seemed to hold her breath for the event, he looked in the very eyes of the Friend and Helper; saw the backward sweep of the curved horns, gleaming in the growing daylight; saw the stern, hooked nose between the kindly eyes that were looking down on them humourously, while the bearded mouth broke into a half-smile at the corners; saw the rippling muscles on the arm that lay across the broad chest, the long supple hand still holding the pan-pipes only just fallen away from the parted lips; saw the splendid curves of the shaggy limbs disposed in majestic ease on the sward; saw, last of all, nestling between his very hooves, sleeping soundly in entire peace and contentment, the little, round, podgy, childish form of the baby otter. All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.

CONNECT 

The euphony of bird-haunted branches ...

Schubert Octet
Mullova Ensemble


Debussy: Complete Chamber Music
Deutsche Grammophon Artists


Beethoven: Symphony No. 6, "Pastoral"
The Philadelphia Orchestra, Riccardo Muti


Vaughan Williams: A Pastoral Symphony/ Oboe Concerto
The London Symphony, Bryden Thomson

Enthusiasm.


Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

Sir Winston Churchill

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

Happy Birthday, Olmstead


Frederick Law Olmstead was born on this day in 1903.

PBS' Frederick Law Olmstead: Designing America ...

Viviani, Sonata prima

Siegfried J. Koch performs with accompaniment from organist Johannes Ebenbauer ...

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

Happy Birthday, Audubon

Audubon, Raven, 1837


John James Audubon was born on this day in 1785.

24 April 2022

Dall'Abaco, Capriccio primo

Elinor Frey performs ...

Landscape.


Foreshorten the horizons, fence the days, restrict the hours, erect deadline, add punctuality, alarm clocks and speed -– enclose the commons of time, in other word -– and people will feel pressured, even if they know how to live in a clock-driven world.  But, i
magine time as a landscape: long hills of open afternoons, unfenced horizons of hours, the vast and immaculate freedom of time which, until so very recently, all of humanity knew. 

Jay Griffiths, from A Country Called Childhood

One of the most important books I've ever read.

Dreamed.

Lepcke, The Archer, 1910


ARCHERY

           was still a thing, then. To have timed your arrow
perfectly meant watching the air for a moment
seem stitched throughout with a kind of
timelessness. To have straddled at last, correctly,
the storm of falling in love (and staying there) meant
the smell of apples, victory, tangerines, and smoke
all mixed together on the breath

of a stranger, half asleep still, just beginning to remember a bit,
as he stirs beside you. I dreamed we were young again,
he’s mumbling, as if to someone whose name he’s known
long enough to have called it out more than once in anger
and sex and fear equally. Somewhere happiness too,

right? All those hours spent trying to outstare the distance
of what the days must come to,

and pretending a choice to it: now the shadow-script
that willows and hazel trees mark the barn’s western
face with; now the wind-rippled field, like a lesser version—tamer,
tameable—of the sea, for movement (same infinite
pattern, and variation; randomness and intention; release;
restraint—that kind of movement) ...

                                                         Dear saddle
of gentleness. Dear moss, sweet moss that only
the dark and wet and patience make possible. To sing a song
of  water, and not drown in it. And some calling that
a good trick. And some calling it

mastery. That last flickering before nightfall. From beneath
the low branches. I dreamed we were new again. Stars. Just a little
past dusk.

Carl Phillips

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

Leclair, Scylla et Glaucus

L'Academie performs "Air de Sylvains" ...

Questions.


Sir Roger Scruton on the questions that have no answers ...
Not all questions have an answer. In mathematics and science we solve our problems as well as create them. But in art and philosophy things are not so simple. Hamlet's great soliloquy starts with the line: "To be or not to be: that is the question." The play revolves around that question. Would it be better not to exist? Is there anything in human life that makes it worthwhile? When, confronted by the extent of human treachery and scheming, we fall into complete contempt towards our species, is there some trick of thought, some perception, some argument or some appeal to higher authority that will restore the will to live?

When I look at the great artists of the past, I am often struck by the extent to which their work has evolved in response to a question. Milton asked himself how the flawed world in which he lived could be the work of a supremely good God and his answer was Paradise Lost. Bach asked himself how variants and permutations flow from the basic moves in music and his answer was The Art of Fugue. Rembrandt asked himself how the soul is revealed in the flesh and what the lights and textures of our bodies mean, and his answer was his extraordinary series of self-portraits. In art it is always as though the question is what the work of art is really about.

Milton's poem implants the question of man's relation to God in the centre of our consciousness. It does not answer the question but instead creates wonder and awe in response to it. Wonder and awe are the diet of the artist and without them the world would be far less meaningful to us than it is.

The same is true of philosophy. Although there are philosophers who give answers, it is usually their questions and not their answers that have survived. Plato asked how it is that we can think about the property of redness and not just about red things. How can finite human minds gain access to universal realities? Plato's question is still with us, even though few people today would accept his answer to it. Aristotle asked how it is that there can be time and change in an ordered universe. Is there a prime mover who sets it all in motion? Few would accept Aristotle's answer to this question: but the question remains. How can there be time, change, process and becoming, in a world that could as easily have been permanently at rest? 
CONNECT

23 April 2022

Pardon.

Blondie, "(I'm Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear"

Happy Birthday, Shakespeare



William Shakespeare was born on this day in 1564.
Come, thou monarch of the vine,
Plumpy Bacchus, with pink eyne!
In thy fats our cares be drown’d,
With thy grapes our hairs be crown’d:
Cup us, till the world go round,
Cup us, till the world go round!

From Antony and Cleopatra

Hot Rize, "Walk the Way the Wind Blows"

Happy Birthday, Turner

Turner, Rain Clouds Approaching over a Landscape, 1840


I have no secret but hard work. This is a secret that many never learn, and they don't succeed because they don't learn it. Labor is the genius that changes the world from ugliness to beauty, and the great curse to a great blessing.  I know of no genius but the genius of hard work.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, born on this day in 1775

22 April 2022

Play.


PAN WITH US

Pan came out of the woods one day,—
His skin and his hair and his eyes were gray,
The gray of the moss of walls were they,—
  And stood in the sun and looked his fill
  At wooded valley and wooded hill.         
 
He stood in the zephyr, pipes in hand,
On a height of naked pasture land;
In all the country he did command
  He saw no smoke and he saw no roof.
  That was well! and he stamped a hoof.         
 
His heart knew peace, for none came here
To this lean feeding save once a year
Someone to salt the half-wild steer,
  Or homespun children with clicking pails
  Who see no little they tell no tales.         
 
He tossed his pipes, too hard to teach
A new-world song, far out of reach,
For a sylvan sign that the blue jay’s screech
  And the whimper of hawks beside the sun
  Were music enough for him, for one.         
 
Times were changed from what they were:
Such pipes kept less of power to stir
The fruited bough of the juniper
  And the fragile bluets clustered there
  Than the merest aimless breath of air.         
 
They were pipes of pagan mirth,
And the world had found new terms of worth.
He laid him down on the sun-burned earth
  And ravelled a flower and looked away—
  Play? Play?—What should he play?         
 
Robert Frost

Released.


J. Geils Band released their best live album, Blow Your Face Out, on this day in 1976.

"Love-itis" ...

Bow.

Chatham, Montana Evening, n/d


MYSTERIES, YES

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
    to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the 
    mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
    in allegiance with gravity
        while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will
    never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
    scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
    who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
    "Look!" and laugh in astonishment,
 and bow their heads.

Mary Oliver

Abel, Desden Manuscript

Johanna Rose performs an Arpeggio ...

Eudaimonia.

O'Keeffe, Ladder at Abiquiu Ranch, n/d


I think it's so foolish for people to want to be happy. Happy is so momentary--you're happy for an instant and then you start thinking again. Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.

Georgia O'Keeffe


For more on exhilarating perplexity, human flourishing, and other good habits ... HERE

Georgia also said, "It's not enough to be nice in life. You've got to have nerve.”  What she means is, no balls, no banners ... be the ball.

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

Paradise.


I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.

Jorge Luis Borges

Leclair, Scylla and Glaucus

l'Ensemble Diane Française performs the Overture ... ...

Happy Birthday, Kant

von Stägemann, Immanuel Kant, 1790


Immanuel Kant was born on this day in 1724.

Enlightenment is man's release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man's inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! "Have courage to use your own reason!"- that is the motto of enlightenment.

Immanuel Kant

21 April 2022

Hang.

"Hang care!" exclaimed he. "This is a delicious evening; the wine has a finer relish here than in the house, and the song is more exciting and melodious under the tranquil sky than in the close room, where the sound is stifled. Come, let us have a bacchanalian chant—let us, with old Sir Toby, make the welkin dance and rouse the night-owl with a catch! I am right merry. Pass the bottle, and tune your voices—a catch, a catch! The lights will be here anon."

Charles Ollier, from "The Haunted Manor-House of Paddington" 

For best results, listen to this ... DEVO, "Girl U Want"


The euphony transformed me and inundated my soul in a roguish countenance, the likes of which I had know well in younger days. Such impishness soon drove out the complaints of the day.

Umberto Limongiello

Illiterates.

Durable.

Ramsay, David Hume, 1766


Where we often find the one side excusing any seeming absurdity in the ancients from the manners of the age, and the other refusing to admit this excuse, or at least, admitting it only as an apology for the author, not for the performance. In my opinion, the proper boundaries in this subject have seldom been fixed between the contending parties. Where any innocent peculiarities of manners are represented, such as those above mentioned, they ought certainly to be admitted; and a man, who is shocked with them, gives an evident proof of false delicacy and refinement. The poet's monument more durable than brass, must fall to the ground like common brick or clay, were men to make no allowance for the continual revolutions of manners and customs, and would admit of nothing but what was suitable to the prevailing fashion. Must we throw aside the pictures of our ancestors, because of their ruffs and fardingales? But where the ideas of morality and decency alter from one age to another, and where vicious manners are described, without being marked with the proper characters of blame and disapprobation; this must be allowed to disfigure the poem, and to be a real deformity. I cannot, nor is it proper I should, enter into such sentiments; and however I may excuse the poet, on account of the manners in his age, I never can relish the composition. The want of humanity and of decency, so conspicuous in the characters drawn by several of the ancient poets, even sometimes by HOMER and the GREEK tragedians, diminishes considerably the merit of their noble performances, and gives modern authors an advantage over them. We are not interested in the fortunes and sentiments of such rough heroes: We are displeased to find the limits of vice and virtue so much confounded: And whatever indulgence we may give to the writer on account of his prejudices, we cannot prevail on ourself to enter into his sentiments, or bear an affection to characters, which we plainly discover to be blameable.

Aggressively.


Wynton Marsalis on the importance of aggressive inspiration in education ...
In the past thirty years, I have had the good fortune to teach thousands of bands and an incalculable number of students in diverse settings. Though each situation is unique, students share many of the same concerns in pursuit of a more profound relationship with music and with life through music. Every style of music presents distinct challenges which demand the development of different skills. Jazz requires creativity, communication and community.

Through improvising we learn to value our own creativity; through swing we coordinate our communication with others; and through the blues we learn to find and celebrate ‘meaning’ in the tragic and absurd parts of life that afflict every community. Certainly three things worth learning. I believe jazz revolutionized the art of music by vesting the individual musician with the authority to ‘tell their story’ and by positing that an even larger ‘story’ could be told, by choice, by a group of equally empowered musicians. Our educational system has yet to be retooled to accommodate that revolution. Of course there are some educators pointing the way, but many still view this music as exotic, mysterious and unteachable. Some jazz lovers believe the music can’t be taught in schools when, truth is, it can’t be taught THE WAY we are teaching it.

How many decades must we watch these faulty methods fail? It’s time to begin an earnest national effort to teach our kids the glories of jazz. Not a way to play scales on harmonies, or some jazzy misrepresentation of rock tunes, but an engagement with the stories, songs, rhythms, and the lives of those who made this music so vital— from the inspired dancers who blanketed this country in the 1930’s to the many earnest and eager kids now in jazz programs all over the world, to the local musicians playing their hearts out in small clubs everywhere.

Jazz is life music and education is not anti-life.

To achieve greater success in producing students who play inside the reality of this music, the modern teacher should consider combining various methods of instruction:

1) The gradual, graded, literature-based method employed in most traditional music education. Students should perform music of the great composers and arrangers, from Bill Challis to Don Redman, Duke Ellington to Gil Evans and Charles Mingus and so on. A selected and graded canon makes the compositional victories of the music obvious and provides a practical way to assess progress; performing the "best of" of all eras creates a more informed, sophisticated, and technically proficient musician who is better equipped to influence the tastes of listeners as well as develop and defend a comprehensive art.

2) A method that focuses on the substance of all periods of jazz instead of segregating them by decade and arbitrarily assigning greater value to later styles. In this way, free expression (which encourages experimentation and the focusing of personal intentions) and early New Orleans music (which is rich in melody, danceable groove, and triadic harmonies) is taught concurrently to beginners. More structured and/or rigorous harmonic and thematic material is covered later. The initial instruction should be entirely aural in imitation of how we learn to speak our mother tongue. (By the time we study the mechanics of English we have employed them for years). Teaching jazz is sometimes confused with teaching theory. Instead of learning what scales to play on which chords, we should be thinking about HEARING ideas in the context of harmonic progressions and understanding what those ideas mean.

3) A method that teaches vernacular grooves and dance as integral to jazz. For example: a New Orleans two groove is different from a Texas two, or the Kansas City two or a Nashville two. The 12/8 blues-rock shuffle is different from the Afro- American church 12/8…. on and on. Each groove has its own characteristic, meaning, and dance. I call this ‘root groove’ teaching. Many of these grooves were achieved after years of distillation. It’s a shame to discard cultural victories in lieu of grooves that machines can play, or old-timely, corny reductions of the actual groove, or no groove at all. A jazz musician should be able to convincingly play a wide cross section of American vernacular music. Let’s teach our kids how to play the most essential part of our music—-the rhythm—-with authority and feeling and lets encourage all kids to improvise. Of course most are shy at first because it sounds so bad, but any activity (playing ball or singing or doing almost anything) takes time for little ones to develop. The seeds are always there. It’s up to us to tend to them with love, concern and intelligence.

In all of my years of teaching, I have encountered all types of directors. Regardless of philosophical differences, I have found them to be principally concerned about the education of their students. They often ask me to comment on the most common problems confronting the modern jazz ensemble (after improvisation). These are a few suggested solutions to issues I have encountered with bands throughout the world:

1) Implement good listening habits. If students don’t listen to the type of music they play in band, there is no way they will sound good playing it. You want your students to develop their musical taste as well as their playing. At the beginning of each rehearsal have the students listen to a great piece of music. Assign weekly listening and put aside time to discuss what was heard.

2) The band is just too loud! The median volume of a jazz band today is a soft. It should be an intense mp, with a powerful and dramatic f. Rehearse the band at pp so they become accustom to hearing each other while playing. Also, the acoustic bass and rhythm guitar are a great check to balance the power of drums. Checks and balances in the rhythm section were developed over decades of playing. Why should they be discarded so easily for a less favorable result? Jazz is constant communication. Above a certain volume communication becomes very difficult.

3) TEACH a piece of music when rehearsing. Students should know how we get from one theme to the other and what musical devices are used for what effect. Knowledge of form and function lead to a much more listenable performance. Furthermore, improvised solos require detailed listening because you are required to respond with some degree of appropriateness to music as it’s being invented. After playing a piece, ask members of the band to recall what the soloists played, then have the soloists explain what they were doing.

4) Embrace the dance beat orientation of jazz. There is such a proliferation of non-swinging styles bearing the name of jazz; it’s hard to know what to teach. Samba has a principal rhythm, mambo has a rhythm, rock has a rhythm, Jazz has one too: Swing! It is such an elegant, supple, and dynamic rhythm constantly evolving; it must be tended to with care in the same way the most serious Latin musicians tend to the clave.

5) How to make students want to learn … hmmm …. My father used to say, :You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him thirsty." The best way I’ve found to combat the haze of uninspired participation that engulfs some of our young is for the director to be aggressively inspired. Yeah, that’s what we need to do out here: stay inspired no matter what.

And encouraged that we are not alone.

20 April 2022

Hilarious.

Lamb, Evelyn Waugh (detail), 1930


Filled with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain —
Quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies
Come to life and fade away;
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today.

Edgar Allan Poe

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

Whatsit.

19 April 2022

Choose.


Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Viktor Frankl

Depositions.


In PROVINCIAL CONGRESS, Watertown, May 22d, 1775.

RESOLVED, That the fol|lowing Narrative of the excursion and ravages of the King's troops under the command of General Gage, on the 19th of April last, together with the Depositions taken by order of the Congress to support the truth of it, be sent to the press for publication.

Attest.
SAMUEL FREEMAN, Sec'y.

Echo & The Bunnymen, "Do It Clean"

Embalm.


Charles C.W. Cooke on gratitude ...

That the Founders fought their war anyway was admirable. That the leading voices of their era had the presence of mind to hijack the American revolution and to codify a set of radical principles into a national charter was even more so. Indeed, we might today learn a great deal from a political culture that, per Burke, preferred to detect “ill principle” not by “actual grievance” but instead to “judge of the pressure of the grievance by the badness of the principle” and to “augur misgovernment at a distance; and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.” And yet our celebration of their fortitude is rendered as folly if we forget that, for all that the rebels went through, they were not facing down evil in its purest form.

That task would fall to other Americans — many of whom would pay a terrible price for their rebellions. Eventually, after a century-long struggle and a series of yo-yoing attempts, the twin horrors of slavery and segregation would indeed fall to posterity — but only after they had presented challenges that eclipsed those that were posed during the Revolution. The two eras are essentially incomparable. The crime of the British in America was to deny British conceptions of good government to a people who had become accustomed to it, and to do so capriciously. The crime of white supremacy in the South was, in the words of Ida B. Wells, to “cut off ears, toes, and fingers, strips off flesh, and distribute portions” of any person whom the majority disliked, and to do so in many cases as a matter of established public policy. When Paul Revere warned that “the regulars are coming,” he was alerting his neighbors against an invading force to which more than half the country felt it belonged; when a teenaged Rosa Parks conceded that she wanted to see her grandfather “kill a Ku-Kluxer,” she was fighting for her very survival.

For most of America’s story, an entire class of people was, as a matter of course, enslaved, beaten, lynched, subjected to the most egregious miscarriages of justice, and excluded either explicitly or practically from the body politic. We prefer today to reserve the word “tyranny” for its original target, King George III, or to apply it to foreign despots. But what other characterization can be reasonably applied to the governments that, ignoring the words of the Declaration of Independence, enacted and enforced the Fugitive Slave Act? How else can we see the men who crushed Reconstruction? How might we view the recalcitrant American South in the early 20th century? “It” did “happen here.”

Later, quoting President Lincoln...

But soberly, it is now no child’s play to save the principles of Jefferson from total overthrow in this nation.

One would start with great confidence that he could convince any sane child that the simpler propositions of Euclid are true; but, nevertheless, he would fail, utterly, with one who should deny the definitions and axioms. The principles of Jefferson are the definitions and axioms of free society.

And yet they are denied and evaded, with no small show of success.

One dashingly calls them “glittering generalities”; another bluntly calls them “self evident lies”; and still others insidiously argue that they apply only to “superior races.”

These expressions, differing in form, are identical in object and effect–the supplanting the principles of free government, and restoring those of classification, caste, and legitimacy. They would delight a convocation of crowned heads, plotting against the people. They are the vanguard–the miners, and sappers–of returning despotism.

We must repulse them, or they will subjugate us.

This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.

All honor to Jefferson–to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.

CONNECT

Spirit.


The American Revolution began on this day in 1775.

CONCORD HYMN

By the rude bridge that arched the flood, 
   Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, 
Here once the embattled farmers stood 
   And fired the shot heard round the world. 

The foe long since in silence slept; 
   Alike the conqueror silent sleeps; 
And Time the ruined bridge has swept 
   Down the dark stream which seaward creeps. 

On this green bank, by this soft stream, 
   We set today a votive stone; 
That memory may their deed redeem, 
   When, like our sires, our sons are gone. 

Spirit, that made those heroes dare 
   To die, and leave their children free, 
Bid Time and Nature gently spare 
   The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mott the Hoople, "One of the Boys"

Hoof-Beats.

Wood, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, 1931


On this date, at this hour, in 1775, Paul Revere began his portion of the famous ride.

PAUL REVERE'S RIDE

Listen, my children, and you shall hear 
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, 
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five; 
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year. 

He said to his friend, "If the British march 
By land or sea from the town to-night, 
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch 
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,— 
One, if by land, and two, if by sea; 
And I on the opposite shore will be, 
Ready to ride and spread the alarm 
Through every Middlesex village and farm, 
For the country folk to be up and to arm." 
Then he said, "Good night!" and with muffled oar 
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore, 
Just as the moon rose over the bay, 
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay 
The Somerset, British man-of-war; 
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar 
Across the moon like a prison bar, 
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified 
By its own reflection in the tide. 

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street, 
Wanders and watches with eager ears, 
Till in the silence around him he hears 
The muster of men at the barrack door, 
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet, 
And the measured tread of the grenadiers, 
Marching down to their boats on the shore. 

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church, 
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread, 
To the belfry-chamber overhead, 
And startled the pigeons from their perch 
On the sombre rafters, that round him made 
Masses and moving shapes of shade, — 
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall, 
To the highest window in the wall, 
Where he paused to listen and look down 
A moment on the roofs of the town, 
And the moonlight flowing over all. 
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead, 
In their night-encampment on the hill, 
Wrapped in silence so deep and still 
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread, 
The watchful night-wind, as it went 
Creeping along from tent to tent, 
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!" 
A moment only he feels the spell 
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread 
Of the lonely belfry and the dead; 
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent 
On a shadowy something far away, 
Where the river widens to meet the bay, — 
A line of black that bends and floats 
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats. 

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride, 
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride 
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere. 
Now he patted his horse's side, 
Now gazed at the landscape far and near, 
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth, 
And turned and tightened his saddle girth; 
But mostly he watched with eager search 
The belfry-tower of the Old North Church, 
As it rose above the graves on the hill, 
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still. 
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height 
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light! 
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns, 
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight 
A second lamp in the belfry burns! 
A hurry of hoofs in a village street, 
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark, 
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark 
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet: 
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light, 
The fate of a nation was riding that night; 
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight, 
Kindled the land into flame with its heat. 
He has left the village and mounted the steep, 
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep, 
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides; 
And under the alders, that skirt its edge, 
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge, 
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides. 

It was twelve by the village clock, 
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town. 
He heard the crowing of the cock, 
And the barking of the farmer's dog, 
And felt the damp of the river fog, 
That rises after the sun goes down. 

It was one by the village clock, 
When he galloped into Lexington. 
He saw the gilded weathercock 
Swim in the moonlight as he passed, 
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare, 
Gaze at him with a spectral glare, 
As if they already stood aghast 
At the bloody work they would look upon. 

It was two by the village clock, 
When he came to the bridge in Concord town. 
He heard the bleating of the flock, 
And the twitter of birds among the trees, 
And felt the breath of the morning breeze 
Blowing over the meadows brown. 
And one was safe and asleep in his bed 
Who at the bridge would be first to fall, 
Who that day would be lying dead, 
Pierced by a British musket-ball. 

You know the rest. In the books you have read, 
How the British Regulars fired and fled, — 
How the farmers gave them ball for ball, 
From behind each fence and farm-yard wall, 
Chasing the red-coats down the lane, 
Then crossing the fields to emerge again 
Under the trees at the turn of the road, 
And only pausing to fire and load. 

So through the night rode Paul Revere; 
And so through the night went his cry of alarm 
To every Middlesex village and farm, — 
A cry of defiance and not of fear, 
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, 
And a word that shall echo forevermore! 
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past, 
Through all our history, to the last, 
In the hour of darkness and peril and need, 
The people will waken and listen to hear 
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, 
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

CONNECT

Dr. William M. Fowler, Jr. lectures on the interesting relationship between the facts of Paul Revere's ride and the story told by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem ...

17 April 2022

New.


Kurt has Reverend Baker's Easter message from 1990 ...
[W]e love not just what the world can give us, but for what what the world is intended by God to be for all people - a new creation.