Archive for December, 2008

critic’s pick 52

jack bruce: spirit

jack bruce: spirit

No one will ever be able to accurately accuse Jack Bruce of modesty. Be it his musicianship (a fire-and-brimstone bass guitarist though an often overwrought vocalist), temperament (he was rumored to have once ripped a sink from a wall in order to hurl it at one-time musical accomplice Graham Bond) and ego (he told Rolling Stone magazine two decades ago he had devised “my own musical language” and more recently claimed to have composed music while in a coma). Onstage and off – sometimes, way, way off – Bruce was a defining, over-the-top rock ‘n’ roll presence from a by-gone generation.

But Bruce also possessed a sense of musical daring that regularly crossed genres into jazz to, eventually, back up much of his artistic boasting. On Spirit, a splendid new collection of five BBC performances spread out over three discs – the breadth of Bruce’s career after his tenure in the iconic power trio Cream is fleshed out with often stunning clarity and immediacy.

Two of the BBC sets have been issued before – a September 1971 outing with Bond, the extraordinary British guitarist Chris Spedding, Soft Machine drummer John Marshall and saxophonist Art Themen, as well as a June 1975 set by the then-highly-hyped Jack Bruce Band for the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test.

Those earlier recordings sport dramatically inferior sound quality. In fact, Spirit is worth purchasing just for the warmth and detail that now emerge in keyboardist Carla Bley’s contributions to the ’75 concert. Cream/Bruce die-hards may go on about the virtues of the initial releases. But as Spirit seems to be designed more for the curious than the completist, the ’71 and ’75 recordings are, as presented here, very much new finds.

The ’71 set finds Bruce working a power trio format within a quintet-size band. The drive of Spedding’s guitar work and the looseness of the compositions (especially the jam-hearty Powerhouse Sod, which Bruce would soon play regularly with ex-Mountain-eers Leslie West and Corky Lang) result in wide-scale, celebratory boogie.

The real surprise is on the ’75 set, one of the few live documents of the short-lived Jack Bruce Band with Bley and guitarist Mick Taylor, who had just exited the Rolling Stones. Even pop-savvy material like Without a Word reflects a jazz sensibility. But a mixture of denser songs from what remains Bruce’s most overlooked solo album (1974’s Out of the Storm) and the first of two regal treatments of Spirit‘s title tune (penned by the late jazz drummer and one-time Bruce boss Tony Williams) defines the band’s brief lifespan.  Spirit is reprised on an April 1977 performance rooted more in pop, fusion and funk.

Finally there are improvisatory excursions with British free-jazz saxophonist John Surman pulled from performances in August 1971 and September 1978. Neither set betrays the times. The interplay between Surman, Bruce and drummer Jon Hiseman, though exhibited in sets cut seven years apart, unravels without a trace of pop. It instead rolls with alert swing that that never stays settled for long.

Bruce’s playing has more of a rubbery, Jaco Pastorius-style bounce on the ’78 recordings, although one is at odds to say who influenced who here. What remains, though, are unspoiled portraits of progression in how the electric bass bridged rock and jazz. More exactly, Spirit presents an artistic intellect as vast and inventive as the ego that has too often overshadowed it.

freddie hubbard, 1938-2008

jazz trumpeter freddie hubbard

jazz trumpeter freddie hubbard

The news yesterday afternoon on NPR was more of the dreary same. But after updates on the airstrikes in Gaza and the newest winter storm set to slam the Northwest, a bit of bop came over the airwaves. Of all the times you hope to hear jazz on the radio, this was not one of them.

The music was a lead-in to the announcement of Freddie Hubbard’s death at age 70. The acclaimed trumpet player had suffered a heart attack.

Hubbard was a giant in his day – equaled in terms of tone and temperament, perhaps, only by the great Lee Morgan. A veteran of the golden age of Blue Note Records during the ‘60s, Hubbard, like so many of contemporaries, collaborated with legends (specifically, John Coltrane on 1961’s The Africa/Brass Sessions and 1965’s groundbreaking Ascension), flirted with fusion (on a series of underrated CTI albums) and, for a time, gave in completely to pop.

For much of the past decade-and-a-half, he has been out of the spotlight fighting various illnesses and a career-threatening lip infection. However, Hubbard returned last summer with a well-received studio outing aided by the New Jazz Composers Octet called On the Real Side. The flourishes and flash that peppered his early playing were gone. Hubbard had also switched from trumpet exclusively to flugelhorn. Still, his tone remained vibrant.

Hubbard’s Blue Note recordings exemplify the label’s boppish command, especially Here to Stay (recorded 46 years ago this week) and Ready for Freddie (cut a month earlier, in November 1962). While 1965’s The Night of the Cookers was a seering live set that placed him alongside Morgan, the ’62 albums presented the tenor sax giant Wayne Shorter as Hubbard’s primary foil.

That relationship reached a zenith in the late ‘70s. Hubbard was recording slick, orchestrated and largely forgettable pop albums at the time. But he moonlighted in an all-star band called VSOP that featured all of Miles Davis’ classic mid ‘60s quintet: Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Everyone that is, except Davis himself. The trumpet seat now belonged to Hubbard.

VSOP, though, tackled an entirely different repertoire than what Davis designed for the group. Comparisons were unavoidable. But for the record, figuratively and literally, Hubbard was as volatile a trumpeter as Davis was cool.

The best surviving recorded statement from VSOP is a two-disc set of 1979 concert performances issued in 2004 under the title Live Under the Sky.

For all the boppish glory of the Blue Note recordings, which far and away remain Hubbard’s best work, and the celebrity summits of VSOP, the Hubbard albums that hit me the hardest came in the early ‘70s – a time when artists like Hancock, Shorter and Williams were experimenting with primitive fusion.

Of those records, all cut for the CTI label, 1970’s Red Clay was the most heralded. It’s beaut, to be sure, with Hancock on electric piano, a 20 year old Lenny White on drums and sax great Joe Henderson. It’s also the only jazz record I know of that dared take an instrumental stab at John Lennon’s karmic nightmare, Cold Turkey.

But my favorite remains Straight Life. Cut 10 months after Red Clay, it sports two extended jams that echo funk, fusion and urban urgency. Yet the album concludes with a lovely take of Here Comes That Rainy Day, a subdued but brief serenade with a young George Benson providing the merest sketch of a backdrop on guitar.

Admittedly, it took the news of Hubbard’s passing to bring those recordings back to mind. But a listen again last night to Straight Life for the first time in many years only brought smiles. Sure, the groove was wicked. But this was the music of a titan with an intuitive edge that deserves to he heard for generations to come.

The Negotiations Trap

The Washington Post December 7, 1990 | Charles Krauthammer President Bush’s dramatic negotiating overture to Saddam Hussein was intended, no doubt, to disarm Congress. Congress, following Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), was in the process of disarming Bush by scuttling his military option until well into the presidential year 1992. The Bush maneuver calmed Congress for a full 72 hours – until the Senate Foreign Relations Committee opened its Gulf hearings with a parade of antiwar witnesses, a display of antiwar speeches by committee Democrats and a pummeling of Secretary of State James Baker for not giving peace – pardon me, sanctions – a chance.

Baker, who is supposed to impress Saddam with American resolve next month in Baghdad, limped away wounded. Saddam, who watches a lot of CNN, was apparently satisfied. He praised the U.S. Congress, which, he surmised, “feels deeply its responsibility” for “not rushing into war.” (Quotes courtesy of the Iraqi New Agency).

Bush’s negotiation maneuver did not just misfire domestically. It will backfire internationally. Bush may honestly believe that he is not entering into negotiations but simply “discussions” and that he is sending Baker simply to deliver Saddam a message. But a president with Bush’s long experience in foreign affairs must know that once a negotiation begins, it acquires a dynamic of its own. go to site art of war quotes

Saddam doesn’t need much to come out a victor. He need only come out intact and in power with something to show, some reward for his aggression. He has many cards to play for his little rewards.

He played his first card swiftly and brilliantly. Yesterday he agreed to free the hostages. That will bring him favorable PR, weeks of media distraction (the story is hostage joy rather than Kuwaiti agony) and an even more pliable U.S. negotiating partner. The hostage release, judged Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), father of the mission-to-Baghdad idea, will create a “positive atmosphere” and “accelerate” U.S.-Iraqi negotiations.

Other cards? At some point, Saddam might offer pieces of (what is left of) Kuwait. On Tuesday, a British report had Saddam offering to leave most of Kuwait in return for the Rumaila oil field and a “lease” on Kuwait’s Bubiyan island. (How would you like to be Saddam’s landlord when the lease runs out?) The report, although denied, is plausible. Saddam covets the oil and control of the island that commands Kuwait City would give him effective military control of the country. If he allows the royal family to return, they return as his clients. Moreover, this kind of offer completely diffuses the military threat. In 1939, no one was prepared to die for Danzig. Anyone prepared to die for Bubiyan?

Saddam has Palestinian cards to play. And even a democracy card. What if he insists on – and makes peace hinge on his demand for – “free elections” for the benighted feudalism of Kuwait? Having depopulated Kuwait and colonized it with Iraqis and Palestinians, Saddam could not lose such an election. (Saddam is the first political thug to have taken seriously Bertolt Brecht’s mordant suggestion that when the people lose trust in the government, the solution is not to change the government but for government to change the people.) Bush could explain to Americans that such “elections” are a ruse for Saddam’s de facto annexation of Kuwait. Still, could Bush mobilize America to fight in order to prevent “democracy” from coming to Kuwait? web site art of war quotes

Baker may intend his trip for delivery of an ultimatum. But Saddam has shown himself to be a resourceful and duplicitous negotiator. (Mubarak and the Saudis really believed his promises on the eve of the invasion not to invade.) He has already shown his skills in preliminary jockeying over the shape of the table. The Arabs who have gone out on a limb with the United States are quite nervous that Bush might cut a deal with Saddam behind their backs. Bush therefore proposed that the Washington talks include America’s allies.

Saddam countered by saying that, in this case, he would have Baker in Baghdad meet not just with him but with his allies too, namely Yasser Arafat. The United States quickly agreed to one-on-one in both venues.

Outflanked from the start, America’s Arab allies are rightly afraid that Baker might return from Baghdad clutching a piece of paper and promising peace for a time. Watch for them to begin their own back-channel negotiations with Baghdad. Yesterday only has-beens and outcasts like Ramsey Clark and Kurt Waldheim went to Baghdad. Today France and the European Community are offering high-level meetings with Iraq now that the United States has broken the taboo. The bazaar is open.

Saddam has already won at another level too, a level that counts for much in the Arab world: prestige. If Bush wanted to negotiate, why not simply in Washington with Foreign Minister Aziz? Sending Baker to Baghdad shows that one can imprison 1,000 Americans for four months and be treated not as an outlaw but as an equal.

Before Nov. 30, the president was bent on war. Congress was bent on waiting. Then the president held out a tantalizing third option: a deal. He may say he does not want one. But Congress will seize on the idea. And Saddam will certainly labor to produce one. Because if he does, he wins. Any concession, anything short of unconditional withdrawal, is victory for him. And like Hitler after the Rhineland, if he wins, he’ll be back.

Charles Krauthammer

the best recordings of 2008

Did pop music slip into hibernation during the last third of 2008? It sure seems that way.

In compiling an annual critic’s pick list of the year’s best recordings, an odd statistic emerged. Without realizing it, every entry came from the first eight months of the year. Usually, “best of” lists can’t help but favor more recently released product. If for no other reason, such music is fresher in everyone’s minds. While a few autumn items caught the ear (including albums by Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon and Chrissie Hynde’s ageless Pretenders), all of these Top 10 picks were released by early August. Nine of them came out by the end of June.

Even an unusually lengthy list of runner up albums by Elvis Costello, Adele, Bill Frisell, Vampire Weekend and John Hiatt all surfaced before summer began to fade.

Maybe the keener pop visionaries knew the economy was going to tank. Maybe they were glued to the election. Who knows? But a look at the finer music of the year this time meant sifting further back through the calendar than usual.

From Randy Newman’s vicious Americana postcard to Fleet Foxes’ new generation psychedelia to Tift Merritt’s country music from a foreign shore, the year’s richest recordings surfaced before 2008 went South.

Here’s the list:

randy newman: harps and angels

randy newman: harps and angels

1. Randy Newman: Harps and Angels (August) – On a brilliant but frightening return to pop duty, Newman offered a sadly hysterical testament of the times – a saga full of warped patriotism, bloated self-worth and ways those demons designed an ugly world vision.

fleet foxes: fleet foxes

fleet foxes: fleet foxes

2. Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes (June) – While not a debut record, Fleet Foxes nonetheless introduced the Seattle band’s modern view of pop psychedelia – an atmospheric, spiritual, folk-based sound that referenced The Beach Boys, Fairport Convention, My Morning Jacket and more.

tift merritt: another country

tift merritt: another country

3. Tift Merritt: Another Country (February) – The best country album of 2008 that country radio never touched. Merritt’s third studio outing was more appealing, emotive and lyrical than any modern Nashville fare, but was inspired by the singer’s recent pilgrimage to Paris.

marcin wasilewski trio: january

marcin wasilewski trio: january

4. Marcin Wasilewski Trio: January (May) – As Tord Gustavsen did last year on Being There, Polish pianist Wasilewski created an ECM record of understated instrumental grace that is jazz by definition more than execution. I’ve listened to no other 2008 album more than this one.

marc ribot: party intellectuals

marc ribot's ceramic dog: party intellectuals

5. Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog: Party Intellectuals (June) – Aided by a fearless new electric trio, New York avant-garde guitarslinger Ribot cranked up the volume and emerged with a dance album for the apocalypse. Rich in distortion, dissonance and radical groove.

teddy thompson: a piece of what you need

teddy thompson: a piece of what you need

6. Teddy Thompson: A Piece of What You Need (June) – The sleeper pop treat of the year, A Piece of What You Need came packed with vintage Merseybeat melodies, twilight cool, articulate storylines and a seasoned sense of musical adventure and fun.

james mcmurtry: just us kids

james mcmurtry: just us kids

7. James McMurtry: Just Us Kids (April) – “I like to pretend I’m just a visitor here,” sings a crackhead heroine in one of Just Us Kids‘ murkier tales from the on-the-edge outskirts. Such songs reaffirmed McMurtry as a master spinner of dark, rural Americana yarns.

dr. john and the lower 911: city that care forgot

dr. john and the lower 911: city that care forgot

8. Dr. John and the Lower 911: City That Care Forgot (June) – Lamenting his native New Orleans, Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack fashioned eulogies for the past, protests for the present and prayers for the future with the celebratory soul/funk spiritualism of his homeland.

jenny scheinman: crossing the field

jenny scheinman: crossing the field

9. Jenny Scheinman: Crossing the Field (April) – The second of two recent albums by the New York violinist (the first was a vocal effort) mapped out a panoramic instrumental journey of animated jazz, classical and folk terrains as well as the wonderfully indefinable locales in-between.

marah: angels of destruction!

marah: angels of destruction!

10. Marah: Angels of Destruction! (January) – The Philly-turned-Brooklyn rockers designed a pop tabernacle of joyous pub-style righteousness. Banjos and bagpipes along with hints of minstrel music and vaudeville fueled Marah’s infectious rock ‘n’ roll revival.

christmas

leo g. caroll as marley's ghost in the 1938 version of "a chrsitmas carol."

leo g. carroll as marley's ghost in "a christmas carol" (1938).

the musical box is going to mingle with the christmas spirits, including ol’ mr waverly (above), for a few days. in the meantime, the best of the season to you all. see you shortly.

current christmas listening

george harrison: all things must pass (1970)

george harrison: all things must pass (1970)

+ George Harrison: All Things Must Pass – Okay, so it’s not technically a holiday album. But the feel is Christmas all over, from the top of Phil Spector’s muddy but still spectacular production to the spiritual slant of Harrison’s greatest music outside of The Beatles. Still far and away the finest Fab Four solo venture. A spectacular listen.

todd rundgren: runt (1970)

todd rundgren: runt (1970)

+ Todd Rundgren: Runt – Also not a seasonal album, though released concurrently with All Things Must Pass in late 1970. Rundgren’s mix of Phily soul, power pop and fuzzy guitar psychedelia sets the stage. But the album’s air of wintry mystery sells the music. I listen to this every Christmas Eve, usually while on the road (to) somewhere.

john fahey: the new possibility (1968)

john fahey: the new possibility (1968)

+ John Fahey: The New Possibility – Still my favorite Christmas album and, arguably, Fahey’s finest hour. The landmark guitarist plays carols and spirituals as though they were river tunes. Fahey’s unaccompanied acoustic guitar tone is alternately relaxed, brittle, warm and remarkably patient. Beautifully atmospheric and profoundly soulful.

waterson-carthy: holy heathens and the old green man (2006)

waterson-carthy: holy heathens and the old green man (2006)

+ Waterson-Carthy: Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man – This is the one to reach for when you want a taste of tradition. Heathens is a set of vocally dominant tunes of ages-old seasonal celebration punctuated by brass, cellos and melodeon. Leave it to the British to make merry with wassails that shake Yuletide cheer down to its very traditional core.

paddy moloney: silent night, a christmas in rome (1998)

paddy moloney: silent night, a christmas in rome (1998)

+ Paddy Maloney: Silent Night, A Christmas in Rome – A heavily orchestrated album by the chief of the Chieftains. While there are hints of animated Irish folk tradition, Silent Night bears a more global and ghostly sound. The mix of the late Derek Bell’s harp and the Bulgarian Voices Angelite on Hei Lassie is hair-raising stuff.

Langerhans cell histiocytosis.(PAHTHOLOGY CLINIC)(Report)

Ear, Nose and Throat Journal March 1, 2010 | Camelo-Piragua, Sandra Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH; formerly histiocytosis X) is a neoplastic proliferation of Langerhans cells (antigen-presenting histiocytes). Involvement of osseous and extraosseous sites of the head and neck has been reported in as many as one-third of cases. Osseous LCH may involve the flat bones of the skull, the facial bones, the bones of the jaw and sinonasal tract, and the medial part of the external auditory meatus. Destructive bone lesions can manifest as headache, toothache, tooth loss, hearing loss, and otitis media. Involvement of the skull can also cause exophthalmos and diabetes insipidus. here langerhans cell histiocytosis

[FIGURE OMITTED] Radiographically, bone lesions appear as sharp, punched-out radiolucencies. Sites of extraosseous involvement include the facial skin and scalp, the periorbital region, the gingiva, and the cervical lymph nodes.

Demographically, LCH occurs mainly in children (~1/200,000 annually), it is rare in blacks, and it has a predilection for males (male-to-female ratio 3.7:1).

It is important to remember that while LCH may present as a solitary lesion (known as an eosinophilic granuloma), it can also be multifocal and involve several systems (e.g., the liver, spleen, lung, gastrointestinal tract, and central nervous system). In Hand Schuller-Christian disease, there is multifocal involvement of a single tissue, usually bone. In Letterer-Siwe disease, there is multisystem involvement. Patients can also present with fever, rashes, and pancytopenia. The etiology of LCH is unknown. go to website langerhans cell histiocytosis

On tissue biopsy, the histopathology of LCH is distinctive. Lesions are characterized by an accumulation of mononuclear and multinucleated Langerhans cells admixed with abundant mature eosinophils (figure, A), as well as some neutrophils and small lymphocytes. Eosinophilic abscesses can feature central necrosis. Langerhans cells have grooved, folded, indented, or lobulated vesicular nuclei (figure, B). They are typically positive for immunohistochemical stains against CDla (figure, C), langerin, S-100 protein, and CD68. The hallmark of Langerhans cells is the ultrastructural presence of cytoplasmic Birbeck granules, which are rod- or tennis-racket-shaped structures (figure, D). LCH must be distinguished from reactive histiocytosis, Hodgkin lymphoma, NK/T-cell lymphoma, ErdheimChester disease (a CD 1 a-negative histiocytic disorder), and Rosai-Dorfman disease.

Patients with treated unifocal LCH have an excellent prognosis, but the presence of multisystem in volvement is a poor prognostic sign. Unifocal disease progresses to multisystem disease in about 10% of patients. Spontaneous regression has occurred in rare cases. The choice of treatment depends on the number of sites involved. Solitary lesions, which frequently occur in the head and neck, can be conservatively resected with curettage or excision. Systemic chemotherapy is administered to patients with disseminated or multifocal disease and to those who do not respond to local treatment.

Suggested reading Buchmann L, Emami A, Wei JL. Primary head and neck Langerhans cell histiocytosis in children. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2006;135(2):312-17.

Davis SE, Rice DH. Langerhans’ cell histiocytosis: Current trends and the role of the head and neck surgeon. Ear Nose Throat J 2004;83(5):340, 342, 344 passim.

Quraishi MS, Blayney AW, Walker D, et al. Langerhans’ cell histiocytosis: Head and neck manifestations in children. Head Neck 1995;17(3):226-31.

From the Department of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston (Dr. Camelo-Piragua); the Department of Pathology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (Dr. Zambrano); and the Department of Pathology, Baystate Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Springfield, Mass. (Dr. Pantanowitz).

Camelo-Piragua, Sandra

critic's pick 51

neil young: sugar mountain, live at canterbury house 1968

neil young: sugar mountain, live at canterbury house 1968

Among the many pop recordings released in November 1968 to be eclipsed by the Goliath that was The Beatles’ “white album” was the self-titled solo debut LP of Neil Young. Fresh from the wreckage of the Buffalo Springfield, Young’s record revealed a primitive, isolated innocence. Its romantic echoes were invariably troubled, sharing greatly with the poetics of another Canadian-turned-Californian that had also issued an intial album in 1968: Joni Mitchell.

Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House 1968 is an amazingly unblemished and fresh sounding archival concert recording cut in Ann Arbor a mere two days before Neil Young hit stores to start solo a career than remains remarkably vital today.

The nostalgic allure of such a recording is outlined in an accompanying audio DVD, which, in its few fleeting video backdrops, highlights two advertisements for the Nov. 9 and 10 performances. One says the shows will include “free eats.” The other reveals the ticket price of $1.50. An outrageous $2 was charged at the door. By the way, tickets for Young’s just completed North American tour topped out at $250.

So what was once a bargain is now pure gold. Sugar Mountain presents a youthful, unusually chatty Young in a solo acoustic performance that mixes tunes from Neil Young, a few Buffalo Springfield favorites and, as has always been Young’s way, a handful of then-new tunes that wouldn’t surface on an album for years.

The solo setting serves the Neil Young tunes especially well. The Loner, for instance, may not pack the electric charge of the finished studio version or even the punkish gallop Young put the tune through in ensuing decades with Crazy Horse. But the solitude suits the song, and not just in obvious ways implied by the title. It brings to the surface a fragility that marks not only the song’s forlorn protagonist but its entire storytelling element. It was designed as a confession, of sorts. And in the stark intimacy of Canterbury House, the song and the character it details are offered no refuge. In fact, the audience quiet that surrounds The Loner is almost as chilling as the music itself.

Ditto for the Springfield relics Expecting to Fly and Broken Arrow as well as the Neil Young masterwork The Old Laughing Lady. To varying degrees, all were infected with intrusive string arrangements and other production excesses. Here, the more elemental deliveries sound quite complete. As with The Loner, the club setting is full of such stirring and complimentary quiet that an audience cough during The Old Laughing Lady sounds like a clap of thunder.

There are over a half-dozen points during Sugar Mountain where Young talks at length to the audience. The most amusing of these comes when he describes how seemingly long the songwriting process for a tune can be (“like an hour-and-half, two hours”). A smattering of chuckles understandably follows. But then Young tells how one song took him a mere five minutes and a single draft to compose (“you’re a radio station; you send out and it comes to you… that must have been what happened”). With that he rips into Mr. Soul, a Springfield classic Young would drag through grunge and electro-pop revisions in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Here, it’s like a youthful protégé to the haggard, sinister blues version on Young’s 1993 Unplugged album. But the sentiments are the same.

“Is it strange I should change? I don’t know,” Young sings. How prophetic, given the changes that would soon mark Young’s brilliant career.

ESCONDIDO DOG PARK TO CLOSE TEMPORARILY

US Fed News Service, Including US State News September 18, 2008 The city of Escondido issued the following news release: web site escondido humane society

Escondido city officials have closed Mayflower Dog Park after determining that a dog abandoned at the park has died of Parvo. The park will remain closed until further notice while various decontamination options are evaluated. go to website escondido humane society

This morning Escondido Humane Society staff notified Robin Bettin, Assistant Director of Community Services, that they had rescued an abandoned dog from the dog park earlier this week. The dog has since been diagnosed with Parvo and has died.Contact: Robin Bettin, 760/839-6269.

Robin Bettin, 760/839-6269.

troll the ancient yuletide carol

donna boyd of the center for old music in the world in rehearsal at st, michael's episcopal church. photo by herald-leader staff photographer mark cornelison.

donna boyd of the center for old music in the new world in rehearsal at st. michael's episcopal church. photo by herald-leader staff photographer mark cornelison.

It has long been designed as one of the final holiday celebrations in Lexington, a performance staged on the closest available Monday before Christmas. But this year, the Center for Old Music in the New World is really coming down to the yuletide wire.

On Monday, a mere three days before Christmas arrives, the organization devoted to the performance of early music presents a holiday concert of traditional carols and songs that has become a tradition unto itself.

For more than three decades, the center has presented A Handefull of Christmas Delights. The program defines “old music in the new world” by presenting medieval and Renaissance music that celebrates numerous aspects of the season. Lutes, recorders, viola da gambas and more bring the music to life. And there are voices. Many voices. They sing of the season, of the solstice and of celebration.

As such, A Handefull of Christmas Delights has become one of the most lovingly unspoiled of Lexington holiday celebrations. But squeezing it in with so little breathing room before Christmas itself – a time when seasonal stress seems to reach its zenith – is both a challenge and a reward for the performers.

“The fact we are almost always one of the very last events before Christmas is a challenge,” said Donna Boyd, director of the Center for Old Music in the New World and a veteran of all 30 previous Christmas Delights concerts. “Things get so frantic, and there is always so much to do. But people tell me when this concert comes around, it feels like it’s time to step back from all that and become part of a more peaceful celebration of the season.”

This year’s Christmas Delights concert will have a broadly European feel with emphasis on early carols and winter festival music composed from the 12th to the 15th century. “There is Czech music, Spanish music, Italian, German, Scandinavian, Scottish, French. … We just love to do a great mixture of things.”

The concert is rehearsed in sections. A band of five medieval instrumentalists rehearses separately from Boyd and a group of about a dozen vocalists. Soloists round out the performance. Several are Lexington professionals. Some even spend weekends delving into sounds vastly removed from the early music of Christmas Delights. Among that pack is John Hedger, who has been a featured lute soloist for more than 25 years with the center. But he is also one of Lexington’s most established blues guitarists. He leads Johnny Roy and the Rub Tones and is a guitar instructor at Transylvania University, Berea College and Centre College.

Hedger brought up one of the more immediate but unavoidable obstacles in performing music – any kind of music – at the heart of the holiday season: winter illness.

“Respiratory illnesses around this time of year can sometimes knock out a key singer in the group,” he said. “They become so ill that they absolutely cannot sing.

“Actually, two Christmases ago I was working hard, preparing my lute solo for the program, and came down with pneumonia. I had to cancel about two weeks before the program because I couldn’t continue practicing and preparing.”

But even in the mildest winter weather, a substantial level of chance surfaces in bringing the instrumental and vocal groups of Christmas Delights together. While each practices extensively on its own, joint rehearsal time is minimal.

“What we finally put together for the concert happens in one or two rehearsals,” Boyd said. “The ability of that to work really depends on people who are devoted to making music in any situation. You take a big risk doing things this way.”

Adding to the danger element is that Christmas Delights isn’t like The Nutcracker in that it doesn’t enjoy an extended run or even a repeat performance. It happens once.

“It’s not a tour,” Hedger said.

“There is only one chance for us to perform this music,” Boyd added. “Of course, that means there is only one chance for the audience to hear it, too.”

But above the physical and rehearsal demands of performing so close to Christmas is the motive for making the music in the first place. Boyd doesn’t want Christmas Delights to be viewed, as she terms it, as “an antiquarian kind of thing.”

The sounds and songs might be centuries old, but she is devoted making the music alive and in-the-moment.

“This is living music to us, and I think that is communicated to the audience,” she said. “After all, they are there. They are part of this living thing.

“Music exists in the performance and in the connection between the audience and the performers as it happens. That’s a real creative synthesis right there. All of this comes together, especially at Christmastime. But that’s partly because the audience brings such a special spirit of its own.

“What we’re presenting isn’t a religious celebration, although there is a spiritual aspect to the music that everyone responds to. Our audience is wonderful in that respect. It’s an incredible representation of a lot of differences in the makeup of our community. To me, that’s just a really special thing.”

The Center for Old Music in the New World presents “A Handefull of Christmas Delights” at 8 p.m. tonight at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 2025 Bellefonte Rd. Tickets are $5 (students), $8 (seniors) and $10 (public). Call (859) 269-2908.

in performance: the manhattan transfer

the manhattan transfer: alan paul, cheryl bentyne, tim hauser and janis siegel

manhattan transfer: alan paul, cheryl bentyne, tim hauser, janis siegel

In order to bend tradition, to fashion it into something even remotely your own, you first have to know it like a family member. That’s what the Manhattan Transfer, with its blend of jazz, swing, gospel and pop, has done over the last 38 years. Last night at the Singletary Center for the Arts, the veteran vocal troupe simply adjusted the scope of its music rather than the intent. With its own popular material taking up less than one-third of the 90 minute concert, the Transfer designed an immensely spirited program of seasonal music with help from a solid backup quartet and an orchestra comprised of University of Kentucky faculty and students.

It was a pretty natural alteration, mind you, as so much popular Christmas material maintains strong connections to the Swing Era that has always been a prime inspiration for the singers. Once those styles were fully embraced, the Transfer ably moved on to other restorative turf. For instance, the show-opening swing of Irving Berlin’s Happy Holiday was a prime fixture of the 1942 movie musical Holiday Inn. That film also introduced the world to White Christmas. So, the Transfer tackled that one too. But instead of treating it as a tired, sentimental warhorse, the group transformed it to a light, balmy and thoroughly convincing bossa nova.

While the group’s obvious harmonic agility was on generous display, the singers’ individual personalities were also given considerable room to roam. Alan Paul, who displayed the group’s strongest vocal range, had a field day singing lyrics he wrote to the melody of a Paul Desmond saxophone solo during Santa Claus is Coming to Town. By channeling idol Eartha Kitt a bit, Cheryl Bentyne had plenty of vampish fun on the 1953 holiday hit Santa Baby. And in an earthier blues turn, group founder Tim Hauser set up the hearty r&b foundation of Charles Brown’s Merry Christmas Baby. Best of all was Janis Siegel’s exhaustive, but thoroughly unforced swing serenade on Sleigh Ride.

So arresting was the holiday spirit that when Birdland erupted late in the program, you forgot how similarly absorbing the group’s own music was. To be fair, the tune was composed and initially recorded as an instrumental work by the late Weather Report keyboardist Josef Zawinul in 1977. But the Transfer’s 1980 vocalese arrangement did more than simply unveil the group’s greatest performance dynamics last night, including a tireless lead from Siegel. It also displayed a load of luscious drive from the horn section, which revamped melodies Zawinul had originally written for synthesizers. It was as rich a display for the brass and wind players as The Christmas Song, which immediately preceded Birdland, was for the string section.

Two mainstay Transfer hit revisions, Operator (again with Siegel in the driver’s seat) and Java Jive, were served as encores, sealing the show’s unavoidable sense of pop nostalgia, its scholarly jazz command and, most of all, its honestly inviting Yuletide vibe.

in performance: heartless bastards

heartless bastards: dave colvin, erika wennerstrom, jesse ebaugh

heartless bastards: dave colvin, erika wennerstrom, jesse ebaugh

As of last night, Christmas was a mere week away. But there wasn’t any holiday slant at all to the thick power trio charge Erika Wennerstrom designed with her newest Heartless Bastards lineup at The Dame.

Though the singer/guitarist was a congenial host, flashing broad smiles to the sizeable crowd between songs, her music was spun from a dark, dense yet often hopeful fabric. Vocally, emotively and, at times, instrumentally, the trio recalled the muscular attitude Johnette Napolitano fashioned two decades ago on her first albums with Concrete Blonde. Wennerstrom’s music wasn’t quite that anthemic. But the husky authority of her singing and the band’s assertive rhythmic drive, particularly the tight, thunderous support drummer Dave Colvin summoned on Searching for the Ghost, brought more than a few Blonde moments to mind.

Though it wasn’t openly flaunted, there was also a pronounced power pop undercurrent to Wennerstrom’s songs, from Jesse Ebaugh’s opening bass stutter during the Ramones-like New Resolution to the crankier Neil Young guitar colors of Blue Sky.

Not everything could be so quickly pegged to past influences, though. Gray hitched a theme of personal restoration to a pop assault the Bastards could rightly call their own. A similar sense of personal rediscovery (“things are coming into focus”) propelled Into the Open, where Wennerstrom lightened the volume for an introductory keyboard melody but not the show’s inherent drive and restlessness.

Nordstrom Opens First Florida Store in Boca Raton.(Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News)

Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News October 31, 2000 | Walker, Elaine Nov. 1–Ask a die-hard shopper what he or she likes about Nordstrom and the answer will usually be either its legendary customer service, liberal return policy or vast selection of shoes.

South Florida consumers will get the chance to experience the things that make Nordstrom unique on Friday, when the retailer opens at the Town Center at Boca Raton.

The Town Center store marks the beginning of the Seattle chain’s expansion into Florida. While the majority of Nordstrom’s 75 full-line stores are in the West, the company has been expanding on the East Coast since 1988.

“We’ve looked at Florida for a long time,” said Blake Nordstrom, who in August became president of the company his great-grandfather founded as a shoe store in 1901. “We think that there are a lot of opportunities here. It’s a natural extension of our growth.” Nordstrom is scheduled to open in Fall 2002 in Coral Gables, as an anchor at the Rouse Co.’s Village of Merrick Park. The chain also has committed to projects in Orlando and Tampa. here nordstrom coupon code

And Blake Nordstrom acknowledged this week that the company has looked at other sites in Broward County and North Dade for a full-line store. Plus, the company is looking for sites for Nordstrom Rack stores, the company’s retail outlet store.

“We have a strong desire to fill in some of those areas if possible,” Nordstrom said.

Nordstrom’s opening is part of a grand reopening of the Town Center, which has undergone a major renovation and the addition of a new 267,000-square-foot wing. In addition to Nordstrom, the expansion will add more than 30 stores and restaurants, including Cole Haan, Hugo Boss, Lucky Brand Dungarees, J. Jill and Legal Seafood.

Mall managers and many retail analysts expect Nordstrom to lure customers from as far as Miami-Dade County.

“They’re a good attraction,” said Herbert Leeds, president of Leeds Business Counseling, a Miami retail consulting firm. “They bring more people to a center because they’re unique from a quality and inventory standpoint.” While Nordstrom is most often compared to stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s, it is not a full-line department store. Nordstrom carries only apparel, shoes and accessories, not any home or electronics merchandise.

The Boca Raton Nordstrom will have the extensive shoe collection that is the company’s trademark. It will stock almost 80,000 pairs of shoes for men, women and children in sizes up to 13 for women and 20 for men.

At Nordstrom many services that other competitors charge for are complimentary, including personal shopping, basic alterations, delivery, gift boxes and shoe shine.

Plus, Nordstrom sales associates are authorized to do whatever it takes to satisfy a customer. That can mean changing a customer’s flat tire, taking merchandise to their office or returning merchandise for them to a competitor’s store.

It’s that service that has made loyalists out of people like Ruth Margolis. She moved to Coral Springs nine years ago from San Francisco and has driven to Atlanta just to shop at Nordstrom.

“You’ve never seen anybody so thrilled to have a new store opening,” said Margolis, who was checking out the store at Monday night’s charity grand opening. “I’ve already got my credit card warmed up and ready to go.” But Fort Lauderdale retail consultant Bill Wholey isn’t sure there are enough shoppers in South Florida who are familiar with the Nordstrom name. He thinks the company has made a mistake by hop-scotching across the country, instead of sticking to the region it knows best. in our site nordstrom coupon code

“They’re coming in here, and they’re unknown,” Wholey said. “They’ve got to introduce people to the store. If they don’t do a good job of that, they’re going to be in trouble.” The expansion into South Florida comes at a time when Nordstrom is struggling to rebound from disappointing operating results and a declining stock price.

The retailer announced last month that it won’t meet Wall Street’s third-quarter earnings expectations and will at best break even. The poor performance has been blamed on excessive inventory markdowns, severance costs related to management restructuring and a writedown on its investment in the Internet grocer Streamline.com.

The Nordstrom family took back management reins of the company two months ago, when Blake Nordstrom was named president. His brother Pete Nordstrom was named president of full-line stores and their father Bruce Nordstrom became chairman.

While Blake Nordstrom declined to discuss any details of his plan for improving the bottom line, analysts expect his focus will be on the company’s merchandising, which was unsuccessfully revamped under previous management to attract a younger customer.

“We’ve taken our eye off the ball, and we haven’t executed as well as we could,” Blake Nordstrom said. “We’re committed to improving and demonstrating that through our actions.” Walker, Elaine

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first we take manhattan

the manhattan transfer: tim hauser, janis siegel, cheryl bentyne and alan paul

the manhattan transfer: tim hauser, janis siegel, cheryl bentyne and alan paul

The most humbling aspect surrounding the Manhattan Transfer’s ongoing international popularity is the fact its members initially counted themselves lucky just to have a fanbase here at home.

Take singer Tim Hauser, the one-time Madison Avenue marketing executive who started the first Manhattan Transfer group in 1969. That ensemble didn’t last long. But when a second lineup began to establish itself with a blend of robust jazz harmonies, pop appeal and, eventually, scores of stylistic inspirations and variations, the world came calling.

When we caught up with Hauser earlier this month to discuss Manhattan Transfer’s final concert of the year – a Saturday performance of holiday music and more that will team the group with 25 members of the University of Kentucky Orchestra – he was out of town. He was way out of town. Hauser, in fact, had just arrived at his hotel in Tallinn, Estonia following a flight from the group’s previous destination: Tel Aviv, Israel.

Before making its way to the Singletary Center next weekend, the Manhattan Transfer will play Finland, Slovakia and Russia.

“It never occurred to me when we started that we would be an international band,” Hauser said. “Never. My visions back then as far as popularity went were very limited. Now, musically, they weren’t limited at all.

“What I was looking at then musically was what we’re doing now. It’s grown since then. But the various styles we address were already there – vocalese, rhythm and blues, swing, big band, four part harmonies and gospel harmony. I thought it would be great just to get steady work in the United States with that.”

The second Manhattan Transfer was formed in 1972 when Hauser was paying bills as much by driving taxis in New York as he was through performance work. Save for one lineup change – Cheryl Bentyne for Laurel Masse in 1978 – the membership of the Manhattan Transfer has remained consistent through the years. Janis Siegel and Alan Paul complete the group.

“There is a very high level of communication when the four of us are onstage,” Hauser said. “Of course, it helps that we really like each other. We’re friends offstage. But when we’re onstage, the communication becomes pretty linear. By that, I mean, we don’t falter. It’s a sacred place for us.”

While the Manhattan Transfer’s music may be rooted in jazz, undercurrents of pop, in almost every sense of the term, are strong. Hauser absorbed the music of vocal greats like Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington and Frank Sinatra in his youth. But it took a voice from his generation to make the prospect of a professional singing career seem real and possible. That voice belonged to Frankie Lymon, the African-American soprano from Harlem that found stardom at the age of 14 in 1956 with the Teenagers hit Why Do Fools Fall in Love.

“I listened to Frank Sinatra and Dinah Washington. But they were adults when I was a kid. I couldn’t grasp the idea of singing like them because they were just on another level. But when you’re a kid listening to another kid, you go, ‘I can do that.’ I mean, it’s all still incredible, but at least you can aspire to it.

“Franklie Lymon was one of the greatest singers I ever heard. At his age, he was singing and phrasing like (Swing Era bandleader and vocalist) Billy Eckstine. He was remarkable.”

The links between jazz and pop quickly became a multi-generational – and, in some cases, multi-cultural – journey for the Manhattan Transfer. The group brought lyrics and vocal life to a celebrated jazz fusion instrumental (Weather Report’s Birdland) and crafted pop hits out of everything from vintage doo-wop (a cover of the Ad Libs’ The Boy From New York City) to TV themes (Paul’s Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone). It revived standards (a 1981 a capella version of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square), devoted entire albums to specific jazz styles (1985’s Grammy winning Vocalese and 1997’s Swing) and even diverted into Brazilian music (the 1987 album Brasil) and children’s songs (1994’s The Manhattan Transfer Meet Tubby the Tuba).

So it should follow that the Manhattan Transfer would visit holiday music on 1992’s The Christmas Album and 2005’s An Acapella Christmas. The latter, true to its title, put exclusive emphasis on the intimacy, playfulness and swing of the group’s harmonies. The odd sleigh bells and finger snaps served as the only accompaniment.

“Music is always a challenge,” Hauser said. “I mean, that is certainly true when it comes to performance. But that’s a given. You also have to develop arrangements that are either fresh enough to put a new spin on a tune or, by virtue of the voicings, are able to make it sound so rich that someone might say, ‘This is the one of the best versions of that tune I’ve ever heard.’ No matter how good you sing, if you don’t have a good arrangement, nothing else will make any difference.”

The challenge awaiting the Manhattan Transfer in 2009 will be a recording devoted to the music of jazz keyboardist and composer Chick Corea. Hauser hinted that Corea himself may even make an appearance on the project.

“You know, I never used to think about how far this band would go,” Hauser said. “That just never occurred to me. I was always thinking of it in the now, if you will. It wasn’t until we became really successful that we started wondering how long all this would last.”

The Manhattan Transfer performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 20 at the Singletary Center for the Arts. Tickets are $45, $50, $60. Call: (859) 257-4929.

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