current listening 02/20

soft machine: "drop" (2009)

soft machine: "drop" (2009)

Soft Machine: Drop – A new, brilliant sounding archival recording of the Softs in transition. Cut during a German tour in the fall of 1971, founding drummer Robert Wyatt has left, tipping the scale toward the free jazz inclination of saxophonist Elton Dean. Keyboardist Mike Ratledge favors Rhodes piano over organ, steamlining both the older material and the more manic improvisations. An extraordinary find.

frank zappa: "one shot deal" (2008)

frank zappa: "one shot deal" (2008)

Frank Zappa: One Shot Deal – One of the mystery delicacies for sale at the late composer’s website offers very little info on when this music was cut. Upon purchase, we discover it’s largely from the ‘70s with some passages and solos edited together by Zappa himself prior his death in 1993. It’s all beautiful sounding stuff from the orchestral Hermitage to an Inca Roads guitar solo dubbed Ocean’s Razor.

hank crawford: "true blue"/"double cross" (2001)

hank crawford: "true blue"/"double cross" (2001)

Hank Crawford: True Blue/Double Cross – The recent passing of yet another member of Ray Charles’ titan saxophone team (the third in just over a month) prompted a listen to this 2001 single disc reissue of two early ‘70s Crawford albums. At times the groove is dated with hullabaloo arrangements but on Mellow Down (from True Blue) and Mud Island Blues (from Double Cross), the orchestration is colored in strokes of lustrous blue.

the derek trucks band: "already free" (2009)

the derek trucks band: "already free" (2009)

The Derek Trucks Band: Already Free – Guitarist Trucks has an understated yet encyclopedic knowledge of jazz, soul and blues and displays keen ways on Already Free of making those sounds a natural fit for his groove-hearty band. In their hands, Bob Dylan’s Down in the Flood sounds like wiry, primeval blues while Something to Make Happy ibecomes pure Curtis Mayfield street R&B. A warm, unassuming jam band delight.

paul motion trio 2000:

paul motion trio 2000 + two: "live at the village vanguard, vol. two" (2008)

Paul Motion Trio 2000 + Two: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. II – Motion has a history with the Vanguard, New York’s most treasured jazz club, that goes back to groundbreaking albums cut there with Bill Evans’ trio a half-century ago. Motion’s prime foil for Trio 2000 is tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, who more than compliments rhythms that shift from playful to dreamlike to strident. An album full of beautifully percussive dialogues and ensemble passion.

Cost of gas makes life in slow lane less idyllic: Rural commuters’ finances stretched.

The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, OH) April 30, 2006 Byline: Randy Ludlow Apr. 30–BLUE ROCK, Ohio — Amid the wooded ridges of rural Morgan County, there’s no such thing as a short trip to work or the grocery store.

Jeff and Lynn Mercer live down 4 narrow miles of hilly, rutted asphalt and bare gravel known as Gaysport Hill Road and Pisgah Ridge Road.

Once that shock absorberstraining stretch has been navigated, it’s 16 miles north along the Muskingum River on scenic Rt. 60 to Zanesville, the nearest city of any size. go to web site 2002 honda accord

These days, the Mercers are paying an ever higher price for their desire to escape the boxed-in feel of the city.

Their monthly gasoline bill has sprinted from less than $200 a month in recent years to $365 on their most recent BPAmoco statement. The amount promises to rise with gas prices predicted to top $3 a gallon.

And if American Electric Power follows through on its gas price-driven talk of taking away the take-home van that Jeff drives to repair meters, $365 will seem like a bargain.

For many families in Appalachia, where good-paying jobs are scarce, bringing home a paycheck often is accompanied by a long, and increasingly expensive, commute.

Lynn, 46, drives a 50-mile round trip each weekday to her job as human-resources manager of the Muskingum County Library System. That’s at least $30 a week burned in her 2002 Honda Accord.

Include runs to the store, son Matt’s Cub Scout meetings in McConnelsville and other trips, and it’s becoming a budgetbuster. Lynn packs all the errands she can into her lunch hour in Zanesville to avoid evening and weekend jaunts.

The family plastic is receiving a break, however, as 19-year-old son Marc takes a quarter off from Washington State Community College in Marietta. His four-days-a-week commute totaled 280 miles.

Dad drives a 1993 Dodge Dakota and remembers topping-the-tank landmarks.

“A few years ago, at $1.50 (a gallon), it was the first time it cost more than $40 to fill the tank. After Katrina, it was $50. Now, we’re probably headed for $60,” said Jeff, 50.

Average Columbus-area gas prices stood at $2.87 a gallon for regular Friday afternoon, said the American Automobile Association, up 39 cents from a month ago and 71 cents from a year ago.

Commuting aside, tending to the family’s 15 forested acres also burns gas.

Larry the sheep trims some grass, and has an annoying appetite for Lynn’s flowers, but firing up the tractor-mower, chain saw, tiller and weed trimmer now tops $12 a week.

The Mercers’ energy costs don’t end there, though.

There’s the “outrageous” propane to heat their saltbox home. It has soared from about $1.40 a gallon in recent years to more than $2 a gallon. The Mercers raided savings this winter to place 200 gallons in their tank.

The thermostat was lowered from 70 degrees to 65 degrees, and sweaters and extra blankets on the bed became part of the winter routine. “Luckily,” Lynn said, “we had a mild winter.” Gas costs also are figuring into the family’s anticipated trip to Toronto this summer — Matt, 7, wants to see Canada — when prices might hit historic highs. go to website 2002 honda accord

“That could be scuttled by gas prices,” Lynn said, adding that even if they head north, more expensive gas may shorten the trip because less money would be available for hotels and meals.

Like many others, the Mercers have a frown-and-bear-it mentality toward gas prices while considering an electricgas hybrid for their next new car.

“You used to just fill up the tank and go. You don’t look at it like that anymore,” said Jeff, who thinks oil companies might be guilty of price gouging amid record profits.

“You can write your congressman or raise some hell, but you adapt to what you have to do. No matter how bad it gets, you’ll find a way to get by.” Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

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