Archive for March, 2009

ian carr, 1933-2009

ian carr

ian carr

You tend to accept the sad reality of a neglected artist’s worth to a mainstream music world when his death doesn’t stir a ripple until weeks after he has flown away.

Such was the case with Ian Carr, a savagely underrated trumpeter, bandleader and author. He was also a vital but often taken-for-granted link in bridging progressive rock with free and fusion based jazz out of England in the early ‘70s.

Carr died of complications from strokes and pneumonia at age 75 in London on Feb.25. But mentions of his passing didn’t circulate until last week.

Maybe that was to be expected. There was, as Frank Zappa was fond of saying, “no commercial potential” when it came to artists like Carr. He was perhaps best known for ties to the fabled prog-turned-fusion ensemble Soft Machine, even though he was never a member. Instead, Carr’s ‘70s band Nucleus became, in 1971, an academy for players that would take Soft Machine into the final phases of its career. Among them: keyboardist and de-facto Softs leader Karl Jenkins, bassist Roy Babbington and drummer John Marshall.

Nucleus itself didn’t age all that well as the ‘70s progressed. Like so many bands born in a post psychedelic age, its music became slicker and safer as the decade wore on. But the 1970-era Nucleus – which included the future Softs trio – was exquisite.

The stylistic prototype for that group was the primitive fusion Miles Davis was creating at the time. Carr was enamored of Davis’ music to the point that, in 1982, he wrote Miles Davis: A Critical Biography. A well-received appraisal of his idol’s work, it was reprinted years later as Miles Davis: The Definitive Biography.

Carr led a sometimes difficult life. His first wife died in childbirth. He suffered from depression. He reportedly spent his final years battling Alzheimer’s disease. Yet, in the grooves of his best music, made seemingly in another lifetime, Carr respectfully knelt at the alter of Miles while taking Nucleus on a journey of discovery that balanced free jazz improvisation, prog rock drama and fusion-flavored jams.

A surprising amount of Carr’s Nucleus music is still in print. A 2002 reissue of the band’s first two albums, Elastic Rock and We’ll Talk About It Later is the pick of its initial (and best) studio work. Both feature the equally unheralded British guitarist Chris Spedding. But a sublime 2003 archival album, Live in Bremen, offers a full two-set radio concert from May 1971. That’s where you want to start.

The music is a mix of spacious jazz-rock with flourishes of post psychedelic fancy that sounds gloriously dated. And at the nucleus of Nucleus, is the trumpet voice of a Scottish-born Brit honoring his muse, the times and a sense of electric invention that was never properly appreciated during or after his lifetime. But spend some time with Bremen, and you will hear the depth and daring of a true jazz continental in full flight.

“it’s never too soon to start working on a phony irish accent”

zakir hussain

zakir hussain

It was, as they say, a good day at the office.

Although a lunchtime phone interview appointment fell through, we managed to connect late yesterday afternoon with Zakir Hussain, the Grammy-winning  Mumbai-born tabla player who will perform with Pandit Shivkumar Sharma on April 4 at the Singletary Center for the Arts.

We will save specifics of our chat until closer to the concert date. But suffice to say, Hussain is the sort of artist we appreciate a lot here in The Musical Box. For nearly four decades he has brought Indian classical music deep into contemporary American culture by collaborating with the likes of jazz guitarist John McLaughlin, jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, cellist Yo Yo Ma and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

In short, Hussain has made the world a smaller place without making a big deal about it. The thrust of the conversation wasn’t his own achievements, but the sense of excitement he felt over touring the United States with lifelong inspiration Sharma, an elder master of the hammer dulcimer-like santoor.

bela fleck

bela fleck

Bela Fleck is a similarly minded journeyman. A one-time Lexingtonian versed in bluegrass but with eyes and ears for jazz and beyond, his new Throw Down Your Heart album (which we reviewed here yesterday; just scroll down and you’ll find it) is the product of a voyage to Africa that celebrates multiculturalism in a refreshingly unassuming way. In the two weeks Throw Down Your Heart has been out, three friends independently remarked to me that one of the most striking attributes of the record was that Fleck chose not to make himself the center of musical attention.

Curiously, Hussain was holed up with Fleck and bluegrass-bred classical bassist Edgar Meyer in a San Francisco studio when we reached him for our interview. In a manner that reflected his playful and upbeat nature, Hussain apologized for missing our earlier appointment but was quick on the draw with a scapegoat.

“It was all Bela Fleck’s fault,” he said with a laugh.

After immersion in banjo-laden African music and collaborative Indian classical projects, we had forgotten yestrday was St. Patrick’s Day.

We had fully intended to spruce up The Musical Box with some sort of Irish delight. So for music, we again recommend the wonderful Liz Carroll/John Doyle fiddle-and-guitar album Double Play that’s pure Irish-inspired grace without the blarney (see Critic’s Pick 62). But nothing today seems more in spirit with yesterday’s revelry than a repeat viewing of U2′s highly amusing Top 10 list two weeks ago on The Late Show with David Letterman. It’s all over the web, but here’s a link directly to Letterman site.

u2: on top of the top 10 list.

u2: on top of a different top 10.

Pay particular attention to No. 2. Looks like Bono and the boys have us Americanos pegged.

critic's pick 63

bela fleck

bela fleck: throw down your heart

When banjo pioneer and one-time Lexingtonian Bela Fleck performed at the Kentucky Theatre in the spring of 2005 with an acoustic trio, he talked extensively about a just completed trip to Africa – specifically, Uganda, Tanzania, The Gambia and Mali. Fleck spoke in almost spiritual terms about the experience which he chronicled with both a professional field recording team and a film crew headed by his brother Sascha Paladino.

Four years later, with the recorded results in hand, we get a far deeper sense of why the global collaboration so thrilled Fleck.

Throw Down Your Heart: Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 3 – Africa Sessions is a pilgrimage in some ways, as the banjo has a vast African heritage. Fleck lets that point speak for itself during the album’s more stirring and intimate string sessions. Among the most arresting is a Tanzanian duet on Pakugyenda Balebauo with Warema Masiaga Cha Cha, who plays bowed lyre with a resonance organic enough to mimic a Jew’s harp and vast enough to sound electronic.

The collaborative spirit deepens on Throw Down Your Heart‘s title track, one of the few tunes where Fleck’s Americana accent on banjo is pronounced. The tune enlists two of Mali’s foremost players of the multi-string ngoni, Basekou Kouate and Haruna Samake. The ngoni is often viewed as a forefather to the banjo. But here, the instrument’s rhythmic sway is distinctive and deceptively potent. Aided by three percussionists, the summit brings to mind the cross-continental recordings the late Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure cut with American artists Ry Cooder and Corey Harris.

Two larger ensemble Uganda sessions greatly expand Throw Down Your Heart‘s scope and sound. The traditional Angelina features the 15 member Luo Cultural Association on an outdoor recording that surrounds Fleck with ensemble vocals, modest percussion and a chorus of bowed harps. That Fleck serves largely as an understated voice in the crowd speaks well to the album’s deeply intuitive spirit.

The other Ugandan adventure teams Fleck with the Muwewesi Xylophone Group. On Wairenziante, the ensemble plays a 15 foot “giant marimba” set up the center of the Ugandan town of Nakasenyi over a pit (for resonance). Fleck says in the album notes that “the whole earth shakes when they play the instrument.” On the album, though, the tune, like, so much of Throw Down Your Heart, abounds with a sense of joy and community that is inescapable.

Several key African artists serve as a foundation for the album, including Malian vocalist Oumou Sangare, Senegalese singer Baba Maal, Malian kora master Toumani Diabate and Madagascan guitarist D’Gary. All help make up the “science project” tune D’Gary Jam, which began with Nashville sessions involving D’Gary and longtime Fleck fiddle accomplice Casey Driessen. Contributions by a dozen additional artists were added as the Africa trip ensued. The dense, exuberant rhythms Fleck creates out of these sessions mirrors of the otherworldly global mixes of Peter Gabriel.

Mostly, though, Throw Down Your Heart possesses a profoundly infectious warmth. You sense that in the singing, the rhythms and the very unassuming way Fleck becomes a contributing rather than a leading presence here. And like all great music, it finds a willfully unified voice out of seemingly foreign sources. Simply stated: Fleck’s Acoustic Planet is a right neighborly place.

Delegates Adopt ATT Rules of Procedure

Arms Control Today March 1, 2012 | Zughni, Farrah Delegates from UN member states reached a last-minute agreement on rules of procedure for negotiation of an arms trade treaty (ATT) on Feb. 17, the last day of the weeklong fourth and final session of the ATT Preparatory Committee in New York. Participants agreed that consensus was necessary for adoption of substantive matters and the final treaty text.

The ATT, a potential multilateral agreement intended to regulate international trade of conventional weapons, is scheduled to be negotiated July 2-27. The rules of procedure provide guidelines for delegate participation, the roles of officers, and decision-making at the July meeting.

“We had to fight quite hard for it and were pleased that the final outcome reflected a reasonable balance,” Jo Adamson, the head of the United Kingdom’s delegation to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), said of the meeting in a Feb. 19 interview. The United Kingdom was one of the initial supporters of an ATT.

The main issue of contention at the meeting was whether the participants would vote on proposals if they could not reach consensus. Under the adopted rules of procedure, all substantive decisions must be made by consensus while procedural decisions can be made by a two-thirds majority vote, but only after the conference president has determined that “efforts to reach a consensus have been exhausted.” An earlier draft of the rules of procedure, submitted Feb. 6, allowed for substantive matters leading up to a final text, as well as procedural issues, to be put to a vote, but required that a final text be adopted by consensus. see here att uverse coupon code

A number of countries, including Cuba and members of the Arab Group, objected to the Feb. 6 draft, arguing that the language was not in keeping with UN General Assembly Resolution 64/48, the mandate under which the July negotiating conference will be convened. The resolution, which was adopted in December 2009 with the support of 158 countries, states that the ATT negotiation will be conducted “on the basis of consensus.” The Cuban delegation also claimed that because the resolution “made no distinction” between procedural and substantive decisions, it required consensus on all matters.

Some critics of the draft maintained that consensus was the only way to safeguard their autonomy on such a sensitive issue as arms sales. “The reason for the introduction of this stipulation was to assure participating states that their vital security interest[s] are not cast aside by a show of hands,” the Israeli delegation said on Feb. 13.

However, Mexico, Norway, and member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), among others, objected to the draft rules of procedure on the grounds that they did not go far enough to ensure a robust final text. These countries supported voting in any instance in which consensus was not possible, including adoption of the treaty.

“It should be noted that matters of substance go to the heart of treatymaking,” said Eden Charles, a delegate from Trinidad and Tobago, speaking on behalf of the CARICOM countries. “[P]rogress on these issues should not be allowed to remain stagnated due to a failure to arrive at consensus as a result of unreasonable political or other divisive schemes.” Several delegations, led by the United States, supported a middle ground between the opposing camps. These countries, whose position ultimately prevailed, argued that although disagreement on procedural matters should not hamper negotiations, consensus on substantive issues was crucial. go to web site att uverse coupon code

The United States “made a cabinet-level decision [in 2009] that we were going to participate very hard for an ATT, but only with the understanding of consensus,” Donald Mahley, special negotiator for nonproliferation at the Department of State, said in a Feb. 17 interview. The Obama administration announced its support for ATT negotiations in 2009. (See ACT, November 2009.) Another debate at the meeting concerned the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the negotiation process. Delegates worked to strike a balance between incorporating the perspectives of outside parties while allotting enough privacy and time for work among member states. It ultimately was decided that NGOs would be allowed to attend open meetings and could address the July conference “during one meeting specifically allocated for that purpose.” Mahley and a number of other delegates stressed that the toughest battles over an ATT awaited them in July. Participating states have not agreed on a number of fundamentals, such as the treaty’s scope, including whether ammunition and small arms and light weapons will be covered, and the role and size of its implementation support unit. Another challenge will be to produce the treaty text during the four weeks of negotiations, the delegates said.

Committee Chairman Roberto Garc?a Morit??n of Argentina has produced a draft text, but it is not an official draft treaty.

“We appreciate the chair’s text and really believe it is a representation of the discussion in [the Preparatory Committee], but it is a resource paper, not a basis for negotiation,” Mahley said.-FARRAH ZUGHNI [Sidebar] Members of the Arms Trade Treaty Preparatory Committee meet on February 13 at the United Nations.

Zughni, Farrah

in performance: the blue note 7

the blue note 7

the blue note 7: lewis nash, nicholas payton, peter bernstein, ravi coltrane, bill charlap, steve wilson and peter washington.

Just the scope of The Blue Note 7′s mission last night at the Singletary Center for the Arts seemed daunting enough: to condense a musical legacy than spans, as of 2009, seven decades into a single 90 minute set. Admittedly, to honor Blue Note’s most prestigious history, that meant zeroing in on music from the label’s golden era of the ‘50s and ‘60s. And when all was said and swung last night, the performance repertoire spanned a mere six-year slice of Blue Note works (1961-1967). But the blues-meets-bop material from this marginalized period represents jazz compositions that, in terms of sheer cool and soul, have yet to be outclassed.

The septet – an all-star jazz tribute ensemble, of sorts – proved to be up for the challenge of rekindling the Blue Note flame onstage. The program – seven compositions by Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver, Cedar Walton and Lee Morgan – openly embraced Blue Note’s sleek sense of soul, whether it was through artful arrangements that employed the front line horn team of Steve Wilson (alto saxophone), Nicholas Payton (trumpet) and Ravi Coltrane (tenor sax) as a warmly orchestrated melodic voice or with solos that, save for several explosive outings by drummer Lewis Nash, were nimbly managed – orderly, even.

But aside from the sheer reverence the band displayed during these ‘60s compositions, it was also a blast watching the 7 play with stylistic expectations in forging their own Blue Note voice. In many instances, trademark elements of the esteemed composers behind the repertoire merrily leaped into other tunes.

For instance, pianist and musical director Bill Charlap (the only band member who records for Blue Note today) offered boogie woogie-inflected chords during Silver’s The Outlaw that had more in common with the muscular modal playing of Tyner. In turn, Tyner’s Search for Peace sounded almost like a Gershwin-inspired lullaby with a light melody expressed with equal grace (and in quick succession) on piano and horns. Similarly, the brass dashes Payton indulged in during Shorter’s relatively obscure United (written for drummer/bandleader Art Blakey in 1961) briefly brought the younger genius years of fellow trumpeter Morgan into view. But an encore version of Morgan’s loose and bluesy Party Time possessed the kind of musical frolic one might expect from a classic Silver recording.

And then there was the unpredictable placement of solos. Bassist Peter Washington (a longtime member of Charlap’s regular working trio) was allowed only two extended instrumental breaks. The first was a show-opening prelude to Henderson’s Inner Urge while the other, save for a brief ensemble coda, concluded the concert. And let’s not overlook was the gorgeous, matured tenor tone of Coltrane that reflected several bright voices last night. Most were of his own creation. But during the home stretch of Walton’s Mosaic (another ’61 tune composed for Blakey), the rich, patient glow of his tenor sound couldn’t help but recall the soloist’s legendary father, John Coltrane.

One could go on. But what was most remarkable about this tribute was how luminous the whole Blue Note vibe remained. The vintage compositions, and the performance inspirations of the artists that penned them, were purposely shuffled. But the sound was still Blue Note – rich, conversational and often sublimely intimate. Jazz, in any arena, seldom gets better.

The Blue Note 7 performs again at 7 tonight at the Bomhard Theater of the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville. Tickets are $30 and $38. Call (800) 775-7777.

Shark vs squid: new studies suggest that great white sharks may migrate so they can dine on giant squids, writes Jill Leovy.(science)

Investigate April 1, 2010 In what could be the ultimate marine smack-down, great white sharks off the California coast may be migrating 2,600 km west to do battle with creatures that rival their star power: giant squids.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] A series of studies tracking this mysterious migration has scientists rethinking not just about what the big shark does with its time but also about what sort of creature it is.

Few sea denizens match great white sharks and giant squids in primitive mystique. Both are the subject of popular mania; both are inscrutable. That these two mythic sea monsters might convene for epic battles on the stark expanses of the Pacific is enough to make a documentarian salivate.

For more reserved scientists, the possible link between sharks and squid, suggested by marine ecologist Michael Domeier of the Marine Conservation Science Institute in Fallbrook, Calif., is just one part of emerging research that has altered their understanding of the great whites.

The shift began eight years ago with the surprising discovery that great white sharks migrate, somewhat as humpback whales do. That and subsequent studies have demolished the iconic image of Great Whites lurking in relative shallows, ready to snatch an errant swimmer, as popularized in the movie Jaws.

Domeier said he believes the animals “are not a coastal shark that comes out to the middle of the ocean. They are an ocean shark that comes to the coast. It is a complete flip-flop.” Picture them not as a dorsal fin off the beach but rather as an unseen leviathan swimming through black depths where the oxygen thins and fish glow in the dark, and maybe pouncing on a 10-metre squid.

The squid part is controversial. But Domeier’s work and that of other scientists increasingly suggest that great white sharks are not randomly roving eating machines. Instead, they obey set migration patterns, have distinct populations and return to the same locales. They are not desperadoes but dutiful migrants: Nomads but not outlaws, they yearn for home. web site great white sharks

But this new understanding raised a question: Why would an animal so large, that grows teeth as humans grow hair, bother to go so far when it can dine on just about anything in fin’s reach? The migration is especially puzzling because it means sharks miss out on coastal food supplies, said the University of Hawaii’s Kevin Weng, who also tracked sharks’ migration.

Determined to find the reason, Domeier and his team spent three years catching 22 great whites off Guadalupe Island, southwest of San Diego and bolting high-tech tags to their fins. The area, like California’s Farralon Islands, is a hot spot for shark visits. greatwhitesharksnow.net great white sharks

The team used hooks that could cradle a volleyball. They wrestled the sharks onto platforms, lifted them aboard their vessel and put towels over their eyes. The 1,800-kg predator is only a minor threat out of water, Domeier said. But after being thwacked off his feet, he learned to tie up their tails.

Funded by Newport Beach’s George T. Pfleger Foundation and others, Domeier arranged a voyage with a National Geographic Channel television crew to follow the sharks in a 35 metre boat. The crew used the tags to track the sharks to an area of the deep Pacific about 2,500 km east of Kauai that scientists consider an ecological desert because it is so biologically unproductive. There, the sharks abruptly ended their migration, and satellite tags showed them milling around and diving.

Despite hours of surveys and trolling during last spring’s monthlong voyage, members found barely any fish or other prey that the sharks might be eating.

But there was an exception: squids. Purple and neon flying squids were easy to find. There also were leaping sperm whales, a marine mammal known to feed in spawning areas for large squids. To Domeier, it was clear: The sharks had found a squid-based ecosystem with big enough prey to attract sperm whales.

Finally, the crew found a whitish carcass of a giant squid that had been chewed on, perhaps by various predators. Because of the lack of alternative food sources, and the pinging tags that traced deep and frequent dives, Domeier said, he formed a speculative conclusion: The sharks go to the area for the same reason as sperm whales: to feed on large squids, including the giant ones in the area, and on various predators the squids attract.

The weather turned bad, and the investigation ended early. The trip back was boring enough for the crew to form a band, then break up.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Domeier said he believes the sharks return to the coast to breed. His tags showed that some females stayed out at sea full-time.

The idea has set off robust debate. Some scientists argue it remains possible that the sharks mate offshore, and all agree that more research is needed to determine exactly what, and when, they eat. And it’s highly unlikely anyone will ever see a shark making an easy kill of giant squid.

But Oscar Sosa-Nishizaki, a fisheries biologist in Ensenada, said the tagging effort helps researchers count sharks and plan conservation efforts.

Shark scientists face a dilemma: There is intense popular interest in their work, but some fret it may hinder conservation. Media interest in sharks tends to be “sparse on detail, high on testosterone,” said marine biologist Weng. “It’s as if aliens were to visit planet Earth, and the only thing they saw of human beings was ultimate fighting on TV.” Though wary of pop biology, Domeier made the most of it. He used his time on camera to lobby against eating blue fin tuna and Chilean sea bass.

If mythic predator-mania gave him the chance, so be it, he said. “We are at a state of real disaster of our oceans,” he said. “Perhaps the scientific routine … doesn’t work.” RELATED ARTICLE: Tracking the great white Researchers tracking tagged great white sharks have discovered that some make long-range, seasonal migrations from the Farallon Islands and Guadalupe Island, gathering at a deep-water zone.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

dex in lex

the dex romweber duo: sister/drummer Sara and guitarist/singter/brother dex. the duo plays sunday at the dame.

the dex romweber duo: sister/drummer sara and guitarist/singer/brother dex. the duo plays sunday at the dame.

The first thing you notice is the source material. Actually, that’s a lie. Before anything, there are the variations of the two-member-band sound Dexter Romweber has been pioneering for the past 25 years. But once they settle into your skull, you are alerted to the inspirations he digs into and the generations he unleashes them upon.

On his new Ruins of Berlin album, the veteran North Carolina guitarist, singer, bandleader and indie rock impresario resurrects Still Around, a stoic country tune Billy Sherrill wrote for Tammy Wynette in 1969. Romweber found it on the back of a Wynette 45 single and fashioned it into a duet with Neko Case.

Then there is Lonesome Train, a tune that wheezed along torchy orchestral tracks when Stan Kenton’s orchestra cut in 1952 with the woozy vocals of Kay Brown as a locomotive. Romweber strips the song down to rockabilly essentials, has a ball with the unavoidably spastic chorus and enlists X’s Exene Cervenka as a vocal partner.

And on the new album’s title tune, Romweber reinvents a song Marlene Dietrich sang surrounded by smoke and servicemen in Billy Wilder’s 1948 film A Foreign Affair. There are no big names on this one. Ruins of Berlin instead promotes Romweber’s current guitar-and-drums aggregation, which enlists sister Sara Romweber on percussion. Their new Berlin is lean, efficient and immensely rhythmic.

“My record collection has everything from J.S. Bach to Jackie Gleason,” said Romweber, whose duo performs tonight at The Dame. “So I’m always digging around, whether it’s in music from the early surf movement in California or rockabilly or country.”

Having such eccentrically disparate cover material at hand almost overshadows the fact that Romweber has some expert original tunes peaking through on Ruins of Berlin.

The album opening instrumental Lookout teams Romweber up with Southern Culture on the Skids’ frontman Rick Miller for a tasty slab of brassy surf and twang. Romweber and Miller are longtime friends and near neighbors. Romweber even recorded his last album, a 2004 solo venture titled Blues That Defy My Soul, at Miller’s Kudzu Ranch Studio.

The guest list may initially impress the most when listening to Ruins of Berlin (alt-pop chanteuse Cat Power also helps out on a cover of the 1962 Kitty Lester hit Love Letters). But the album – and, indeed, the duo – are essentially refinements of an elemental, roots-derived rock charge Romweber has favored since the dawn of the ‘90s. That’s when he began touring relentlessly with Flat Duo Jets, a two-man band with a tireless, primal vitality. The new duo with sister Sara (also a pop pro, having served in Mitch Easter’s Let’s Active band during the mid ‘80s) moderates the Jets’ manic drive but not its underlying musical edge or eclectic, roots-driven intent.

“It’s doesn’t change what Romweber does, of course – a timeless rockabilly-vampire bullroar that’s as powerful now as it was when he led the Flat Duo Jets,” wrote David Menconi last month in the News & Observer newspaper in Raleigh, where Romweber has long been treated as a regional hero. Technically, the singer has long resided in Chapel Hill.

Of course, as novel as fronting a two-member band might seem, Romweber said recording and touring with in a duo setting has been more a decision of simple workmanlike practicality than an example of artistic ingenuity.

“The Duo Jets started out as a duo purely by accident. It wasn’t anything we set out to do or plan. There was just no else around at the time. Today, I would love to have more people onstage with me and Sara. But the problem is financial.

“I have another band here in Chapel Hill called The New Romans. We have nine members – saxophonists, back up singers, a keyboardist, bassist, a second guitarist and even another percussionist. And we can’t even begin to afford to tour. Even now with the duo, we barely make enough to keep going.

“But a duo situation really offers something. I think drums and guitar are the basis of rock ‘n’ roll. And we do a lot with what we have. But, for me, I wouldn’t mind seeing a third person up there.”

Artists like Case and Power teamed with Romweber on Ruins of Berlin largely out reverence, having vocally cited his music with Flat Duo Jets as an influence. Another formidable talent not on the album has also credited Romweber’s inspiration – Jack White, who has re-defined the rock duo format over the past decade with The White Stripes. White has referred to Romweber as “one of the best kept secrets in the rock ‘n’ roll underground.”

“A few months ago, I went through a period where I listened again to all of my records just to see if I still liked them at all. From that, I thought it was pretty cool that Jack had gotten something from those records and went on to do what he did.

“I find that pretty interesting.”

The Dex Romweber Duo performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at The Dame, 367 East Main. Tickets are $8. Vandaveer will open. Call: (859) 231-7263.

Technology News.

Banking Wire November 30, 2001 Two CUs Are Recognized HAMILTON, Ohio-Two credit unions have won 2001 Best In Microbanking Awards from Microbanker, Inc., which publishes technology newsletters. The $108- million Chaco Credit Union finished second for automating portions of its operations, including reductions of 17 hours per week in processing time and establishing a thin-client network. The $1-billion CommunityAmerica CU, Kansas City, Mo., received an honorable mention for implementing a contact information system to decrease costs and increase revenue. here chaco credit union

Wescom Adds E-Statements PASADENA, Calif.-Wescom Credit Union has added electronic statements (estatements) as a service for its members. The e-statements include hyperlinks from members’ checking account statements to online images of each check that has cleared. The $1.9-billion credit union is providing the service at no charge, with access available via its website at www.wescom.org.

Corporate Zooms Past Goal MIDDLETOWN, Penn.-Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU said it has surpassed its five-year goal for growth in its Electronic Bill Pay (EBP) service in just 2.5 years. The goal had been 150 credit unions signing up for the service, but the latest, USSCO Johnstown FCU, has become the 158th to sign up. (Johnstown, PA).has become the 158th to use the corporate’s U in 24 states, DC and Guam. It has also established marketing agreements with Louisiana Corporate Credit Union and Tricorp FCU, and entered agreements with internet banking providers that include AMIS, Commercial Business Systems, CMC Flex, HomeCU, iSolaria, Liberty Cavion, VIFI and Western New York Computing Systems to process payments for their CU customers. site chaco credit union

ISU FCU Selects re:Member TERRE HAUTE, Ind.- Indiana State University FCU (ISU FCU) has selected re:Member Data Services (RDS), Indianapolis, as its new core data processing business partner. The $57-million credit union will use cuStar21 in an ASP environment, marking a shift from their previous software, which was operated in- house.

For info: www.remember.com.

go big blue note

the blue note 7. from left, lewis nash, ravi coltrane, bill charlap, peter bernstein, nicholas payton, peter washington, steve wilson. photo by jimmy katz.

the blue note 7 perform saturday at the singletary center. from left: lewis nash, ravi coltrane, bill charlap, peter bernstein, nicholas payton, peter washington and steve wilson. photo by jimmy katz.

The music was cool, sophisticated and unavoidably hip. Pick up any Blue Note album and you could tell so just by looking at the cover art.

The titles signified the spirit: The Cooker, Soul Station, The All Seeing Eye, Moanin’ and Blue Train.

Then there were the names – the groundbreaking instrumentalists that, respectively, recorded those titles: Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley, Wayne Shorter, Art Blakey and John Coltrane.

Finally, there was the groove that made up the Blue Note sound. It was jazz rooted in bebop but still open and welcoming to its most distinctive ingredient: the blues.

This year, the blues, swing and profound jazz of Blue Note Records turns 70 years old. To celebrate, the music of the label’s past is being honored by a team contemporary jazz’s most respected names. Collectively, under the banner of The Blue Note 7, they are bringing the label’s living musical legacy to audiences all across the country – audiences, that in some instances, may be receiving its first serious performance exposure to Blue Note music.

“You don’t need a slide rule to understand the music that we’re playing,” said Blue Note 7 pianist and musical director Bill Charlap, who also records for the present day Blue Note Records. “The music feels good to listen to and feels good to play. The audiences, even if they’re not necessarily jazz audiences, respond very strongly to the chemistry within the band and the feeling of the music.”

But treating the music of Blue Note Records as a museum piece isn’t what the band – Charlap, saxophonists Ravi Coltrane and Steve Wilson, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, guitarist Peter Bernstein, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash  - is after.

While the music that makes up The Blue Note 7′s new Mosaic album consists entirely of material recorded for the label in decades past (its title tune, for instance, is a Cedar Walton composition cut by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in 1961), the arrangements, nearly all of which were done by members of the 7, are new. Similarly, the repertoire that will make up The Blue Note 7′s Saturday performance at the Singletary Center for the Arts as part of the Alltech Festival, will highlight new arrangements of classic Blue Note works.

“We want to approach the music with respect for the essence and feelings of these compositions,” Charlap said. “But we want to do so within our own trajectory and our own vision of the music.

“This is not a repertory band. We’re playing this music as we play any music in 2009. That’s the whole point. More than anything else, jazz is about being yourself.”

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The first Notes

Blue Note Records was started in 1939 by Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, two Jewish immigrants that fled to New York to escape persecution in Nazi Germany.

Wynton Marsalis, another present day Blue Note artist, put it this way during a performance with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra last fall at the Singletary that relied heavily on the label’s vintage material: “Alfred Lion and Francis Wolf celebrated their freedom by producing the music of freedom.”

A 1939 Sidney Bechet performance of Summertime was among Blue Note’s initial recordings. While early works by Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell and Ike Quebec helped carry Blue Note into the early ‘50s, it was the advent of so-called “hard bop” coupled with the introduction of 12″ vinyl albums that ushered in the label’s golden era.

From 1956 until Lion’s retirement in 1967 and, finally, Wolff’s death in 1971, Blue Note created blues-savvy music that reshaped jazz – be it with Blakey’s boppish Jazz Messengers, the sleek cool of trumpeter Lee Morgan and pianist Sonny Clark or the more compositionally daring and improvisationally free music of Andrew Hill and Ornette Coleman, respectively.

With the help of engineer Rudy Van Gelder (who recorded many of the label’s artists in his living room studio) and graphic artist Reid Miles, Blue Note albums looked as good as they sounded. Wolff, a commercial photographer while in Germany, even chronicled recording sessions with vivid blank-and-white portraits that became visual signatures of Blue Note albums.

“What you hear and feel in those early records is a real performance,” said Grammy winning saxophonist and longtime Blue Note artist Joe Lovano prior to joining Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for a string of Blue Note tribute concerts last month in New York. “Each record had its own life, force and spirit.”

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The new Blue

Though dissolved in the late ‘70s, Blue Note was revived in 1984 with former CBS and Elektra Records chieftain Bruce Lundvall in charge. It has extensively reissued much of its back catalogue (to the point that some of it is going out-of-print again) while taking on a broader roster of pop and soul talent. Among it biggest selling artists in recent years are Norah Jones and Al Green.

But the material that constitutes the current winter-to-spring tour of The Blue Note 7 (and a planned European trek this fall) is the ‘50s and ‘60s music made when jazz giants like Morgan, Gordon, Blakey and others roamed and grooved on the planet.

“When we say ‘Blue Note material,’ what we’re really talking about are the artists,” Charlap said. “We’re talking about some of the most important figures in jazz history: Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Hutcherson, Lou Donaldson, Horace Silver and so many others.

“These are heroic figures for anybody who is interested in jazz. They are, most certainly, musicians who made playing this music their life’s work. To honor the contributions, recordings and compositions of those artists… it’s not so much a challenge as it is an inspiration.”

The Blue Note 7 perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Singletary Center for the Arts. Tickets are $30, $35 and $40. Call (859) 257-4929.

Cheaponsale.com: Groupon Enters the Chinese Market.

ACN Newswire March 1, 2011 However, the analyst from Cheaponsale.com castdoubts over how successful Groupon can be in China given the numerous group-buying websites that are already active in the country.

As we all know that Taobao, China’s largest consumer e-commerce website, launched a group-buying website last year, while other sites such as Mei Tuan and Man Zuo have also sprung up. Popular portal websites such as Tencent’s QQ and Sohu.com have also launched group-buying websites. web site groupon boston

Cheaponsale.com analyzes that Groupon had been widely reported to be scoutingout locations and workers in China, seeking the global expansion its plethora of rivals have not embarked upon.

Groupon, the two-year-old start-up that has met bankers about an initial public offering and which sources say rebuffed a 6 billion U.S. dollars advance from Google Inc.

The data from Cheaponsale.com shows that it has grown to about 50 million users from 3 million across 500 cities in 40 countries over the course of 2010.

Cheaponsale.com points out that Groupon recently completed a 950 million U.S. dollars round of financing on its way to pondering an IPO, which sources have said would be one of the largest technology IPOs of 2011. here groupon boston

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toumani diabate out of musicnow festival

toumanu diabate

toumanu diabate has pulled out of tonight's musicnow performance in cincinnati due to a "grave illness."

This evening’s second concert by the Kronos Quartet at Cincinnati’s MusicNOW featival is still a go, even though it will be without one of its star attractions. Malian kora master Toumani Diabate has cancelled his co-headlining performance. A somewhat cryptic message posted yesterday on the festival’s website stated only that Diabate was suffering from a “grave illness” and will be unable to perform.

Kronos, which opened the festival last night, was scheduled to split this evening’s bill with Diabate, who was to close the festival with selections from last year’s Grammy-nominated solo kora album, The Mande Variations. The quartet will still keep MusicNow’s finale focus on world music tonight with works by Ram Narayan, Blind Willie Johnson, Hamza El Din, Chalino Sánchez, and Alexsandra Vrebalov.

This was to have been a busy year for Diabate. He is scheduled to begin a tour next week with banjo artist Bela Fleck in support of the latter’s new Throw Down Your Heart: Africa Sessions album. That tour will include a mid June performance at Bonnaroo. But there is no official word at this point as to whether or not Diabate’s illness will interfere with those plans.

Tickets are still available for tonight’s MusicNow performance at Cincinnati’s Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., by Kronos. Admission to the 8 p.m. performance is $20. Doors open at 7. 

Apologies all around if you opened up The Musical Box today to read our promised feature of Saturday’s Blue Note 7 performance and this year’s 70th anniversary celebration of Blue Note Records. We’re going to keep that under wraps until tomorrow. Please call again.

Summary Box: Review of myTouch 4g Slide phone

AP Online August 10, 2011 | The Associated Press THE GADGET: Over the past several years, cameras built into phones have improved tremendously and the myTouch 4G Slide ($200 with a two-year T-Mobile contract) is the latest smartphone that focuses on this feature. here mytouch 4g review web site mytouch 4g review

THE DETAILS: The HTC-made smartphone has an 8-megapixel camera and lots of the settings you get with a standard digital camera. As with other phone cameras, there’s no optical zoom, but it does take crisp, bright pictures and is easy to use. It’s also a good Android smartphone overall.

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you’re looking for a smartphone with a great camera, the myTouch 4G Slide fits the bill. It’s not perfect, but in many ways it’s better than available low-end digital cameras.

The Associated Press

the favorite blue notes

joe lovano and art blakey's "free for all" on the cover of this month's downbeat

joe lovano and art blakey on the cover of this month's downbeat.

How do you whittle 70 years of Blue Note Records down to a handful of favorites? Well, Downbeat magazine asked those at the forefront of today’s jazz generation to go one step better and name their very favorite Blue Note album of all time. On the cover of its current issue is sax man Joe Lovano, who will release his 21st record for Blue Note (Folk Art) in May. Cradled in his arms is his pick: Art Blakey’s 1964 masterwork Free for All.

Bill Charlap, pianist and musical director for The Blue Note 7 – which will help celebrate the label’s milestone 70th anniversary with a Saturday performance at the Singletary Center for the Arts – chose pianist Horace Silver’s 1954 album with an earlier and altogether different lineup of the Messengers (the aptly named Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers). But, in a recent telephone interview, he all but dismissed any notion of a single “favorite” Blue Note work.

“It’s a very show business question to ask about your favorite Blue Note record,” he said. “If you have more than one child, would you choose a favorite?”

Rather than limiting the choices to a single selection, here is a critic’s pick sampling of five champion Blue Note recordings. The choices – which represent a mere four years of the label’s mammoth history – purposely omit Blue Note’s more iconic artists (Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and others) in favor of less appreciated players that defined the label’s timeless blues, bop, soul and swing.

hank mobley

hank mobley: "soul station"

Hank Mobley: Soul Station (1960). One of the happiest Blue Note sessions ever teams sax great Mobley with drummer (and one-time boss) Art Blakey and pianist Wynton Kelly for a session of soulful cheer. A guaranteed smile-maker of an album.

sonny clark

sonny clark: "leapin' and lopin'"

Sonny Clark: Leapin’ and Lopin’ (1961). A sadly overlooked pianist, composer and sideman, Clark’s records as a leader mixed playful blues (summarized here on Voodoo) and exquisitely reflective solo playing (his cover of Deep in a Dream).

kenny dorham

kenny dorham: "una mas"

Kenny Dorham: Una Mas (1963). Like Lee Morgan, trumpeter Dorham had a way with a lyrical phrase. Note the similarities between Una Mas‘ title tune and Morgan’s The Sidewinder. But Dorham also reveled in understated swing and cool.

lee morgan

lee morgan: "search for the new land"

Lee Morgan: Search for the New Land (1964). You could argue to infinity about who was Blue Note’s greatest soloist and composer. Morgan gets my vote. While he cut harder swing sessions, few reached the sleeker emotive extremes of New Land.

andrew hill

andrew hill: "point of departure"

Andrew Hill: Point of Departure (1964). Albums like this woke Blue Note up to the times. Within the jagged rhythmic strides of New Monastery, Spectrum and Dedication, pianist/composer Hill took the blues of Blue Note into brave new improvisatory turf.

Tomorrow, in further anticipation of Saturday’s concert, we survey Blue Note’s extraordinary jazz history with Charlap and Lovano as tour guides. See you then

FLORIDA STATE COLLEGE PROJECT DELTA: $728,000 FEDERAL GRANT WILL DELIVER EDUCATION WITH LOW-COST ALTERNATIVES TO TEXTBOOKS this web site florida state college

US Fed News Service, Including US State News November 3, 2009 JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Oct. 30 — Florida Community College at Jacksonville issued the following news release:

A $728,112 U.S. Department of Education grant awarded to Florida State College at Jacksonville will help adult learners and displaced workers complete college degrees and re-enter the workforce with skills and knowledge for the 21st century. The grant, from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), was awarded in a special-focus competition for community colleges seeking innovative ways to provide education to those targeted learners and workers.

A major element of the three-year grant is the innovative delivery of education with low-cost access to degrees and certifications. The program courses will be taught through Florida State College’s unique teaching-and-learning strategy SIRIUS, which offers creative, interactive instruction and inexpensive alternatives to costly textbooks.

Instead of textbooks, students use college-provided instructional materials supported by classroom instruction, online learning or a combination of both. Current courses include basic math, English and psychology; those in development include effective study methods for adults returning to school, to make the transition even easier. Some new courses will use artificial intelligence (AI) to help these students earn college degrees and lead to higher paying jobs. Best part: the instructional and learning materials will cost less than $50 for most courses, a fraction of what textbooks usually cost. Students also get online career counseling and support services. go to site florida state college

Known as Project DELTA (Disseminating Effective Learning Through Automation), the grant-funded project also provides training to community college faculty in interactive course delivery, increasing the educational opportunities for adults. The project will begin in January 2010. Florida State College is leader on the project in cooperation with George Mason University, Iowa State University the National Alliance of Community and Technical Colleges (NACTC) and a consortium of community colleges across the nation.

Michael Corby, 904/632-3310.

critic's pick 62

van morrison

van morrison: "astral weeks - live at the hollywood bowl"

And here you thought last week’s release of U2′s No Line on the Horizon was the extent of this month’s Irish music invasion. Not With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner and two similarly “new” albums, along with their very different links to Irish music’s pop and past.

Van Morrison leads the pack with a live recording of his seminal 1968 album Astral Weeks cut last year at the Hollywood Bowl. Veteran artists revisiting their early works as a performance piece isn’t a novel concept. But for Morrison, who has never been anything akin to a nostalgia act, this rite is a very much a curiosity. Especially since little from Astral Weeks has remained in Morrison’s concert repertoire over the years.

Not surprisingly, the new versions come off – vocally, at least – a little curmudgeonly. Morrison is less the charmed mystic this time and more the restless earthbound spirit hungry for release, just as he has been on many of his finer records. But my, that Celtic muse, aged though it may be, still takes flight during the wondrous Sweet Thing while The Way Young Lovers Do (easily the new Astral Weeks‘ highlight) still possesses profound and jazzy cool, summery drama and a sense of desperation that Morrison places very much in motion.

The song order from the original recording is juggled as well with Madame George, an apt song of youthful awakening and farewell, now serving as the finale. To be honest, the spiritual fire and focus Morrison packs into 1972′s Listen to the Lion and the truly bizarre call and response “mystic church” recitation of 1980′s Common One – served up here as bonus encore tunes – rival much of the Astral Weeks performance. But it’s all pretty wild stuff. No one in the pop world plays with transcendental fire while reexamining their own artistic past quite like Morrison on this flawed but fascinating concert document.

liz carroll

liz carroll and john doyle: double play

A far more modest Irish affair comes to us courtesy of Dublin born guitarist John Doyle, an alumnus of the new generation Celtic band Solas, and Irish-American fiddler Liz Carroll of Cherish the Ladies. Their second album of duets, Double Play, often possesses the intimacy and drive of a pub session. Carroll and Doyle lock horns early on during the medley of The Chandelier and Anne Lacey’s with Carroll firmly in the freewheeling driver’s seat and Doyle’s often percussive support setting a spirited pace.

There is also a nod to Irish music tradition in Lament for Tommy Makem, a lovely, rustic but still intuitive duet exchange. Doyle adds light, conversational vocals that recall the great folk stylist Bert Jansch to several songs, including Ed Pickford’s mining anthem A Pound a Week Rise, a song popularized decades ago by Scottish singer Dick Gaughan. Mostly though, Double Play sings with quiet, conversive dialogues of guitar and fiddle. Morrison may still wrestle with enlightenment on his revisit to Astral Weeks. But on Double Play, Carroll and Doyle sound like they’ve already found it.

NEED A CHEAP DATE? HERE ARE SOME IDEAS

The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, VA) February 8, 2006 | Claire Guzinski Cave Spring High School This Valentine’s Day, don’t sweat it if you can’t afford the greatest gift.

As long as the day is special and you show your date how much you care, he or she is sure to appreciate anything.

Here are three date ideas that will impress your sweetheart and save you some cash. (Mix and match or add your own touch of flair.) Date 1 Materials needed:

Blanket Candle and holder or votive A single flower (in season) Food for a picnic Good weather is necessary for this date. Upon picking up your significant other from school or work, blindfold him or her. go to site cheap date ideas

Help your date to your car and drive to a site on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Take your date’s hand and lead him or her from the car. Then break out the blanket.

With your date still blindfolded, begin setting the picnic dinner, laying a flower next to your sweetheart’s place.

Light a candle and place it in a votive. Remove the blindfold and let your date take in your gesture.

If the timing is right, stay and watch the sunset. Otherwise just enjoy dinner and the company. (Approximate cost: $1 if picnic is homemade; otherwise expect to pay $10 if food is purchased.) Date 2 Materials needed: here cheap date ideas

Pizza Beverage Candle and holder Champagne flutes or regular glasses A good flick A single flower (in season) Order a pizza with his or her favorite toppings (just the ones that you can stand.) And make sure it arrives before your date does.

Set out a candle and a single flower in a vase to make this pretty-average date something special.

Place a bottle of his or her favorite drink next to the candle. Get your parents’ permission to break out the champagne glasses for an extra touch of elegance.

Rent a movie that your date will enjoy. Make sure it’s something you want to watch as well. When your date arrives, cover his or her eyes and lead your date to the romantic spread.

It’s likely that he or she will appreciate your resourcefulness, and you can avoid spending $16 on movie tickets.

(Approximate cost: $13. To lower the cost, try making dinner.) Date 3 Materials needed:

Notecards Time Prize (for example, flower or candy) If your valentine has to work on Feb. 14, never fear.

Create a scavenger hunt around your date’s car or workplace for when his or her shift is over. Put the first hint on the windshield so your sweetheart is sure to see it. Have the hunt continue from there.

At the end, you can hide anything romantic you can think of: a flower, a small gift, or you with a hug and a chocolate kiss — or a real one. (Approximate cost: $3) Claire Guzinski Cave Spring High School

Flu symptoms

now you know

kronos quartet

kronos quartet - john sherba, jeffrey zeigler, david harrington and hank dutt - perform this week at the musicNOW festival in cincinnati.

Everything is coming up Kronos this week for Cincinnati’s MusicNOW festival.

The groundbreaking Kronos Quartet will headline both nights of the annual contemporary music gathering with two very different programs.

On Wednesday, Kronos will offer world premiere works by Battles’ Tyondai Braxton (Uffe’s Woodshop) and Arcade Fire/Bell Orchestre’s Richard Reed Parry (Quartet for Heart and Breath). Music by the Grammy winning Latin rock ensemble Café Tacuba, multi-stylitsic Australian composer J.G. Thirlwell, American guitarist/composer Glenn Branca, Palestine’s hip-hop inspired Ramallah Underground, Bang on a Can co-founder Michael Gordon as well as an extended segment of selections from John Zorn’s The Dead Man will complete the program. The indie pop and found sound duo The Books will perform during the first half of the concert.

The focus shifts to world music on Thursday when Kronos shares the bill with master Malian kora player Toumani Diabate. A world reknown innovator of the 21-stringed kora and its harp-like sound, Diabate’s music began surfacing in the West two decades ago. He has collaborated with blues giant Taj Mahal, pop priestess Bjork, jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd and, most significantly, the mentoring Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure, with whom Diabate won a Grammy Award for the 2006 album In the Heart of the Moon.

Diabate has also led the multi-generational, Griot-heavy Symmetric Orchestra, but last year released a beautiful album of solo kora music called The Mande Variations. It was nominated a Grammy this year, but lost in the Best Traditional World Music Album category to Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Although Diabate has never performed in the region before, his cousin, fellow Malian kora artist Mamadou Diabate, performed in Lexington for the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour in 2007.

Works by American blues pioneer Blind Willie Johnson, Indian sarangi virtuoso Ram Narayan, Nubian oud artist Hamza El Din, Mexican vocalist Chalino Sanchez, Serbian composer Aleksandra Vrebalov and more will make up Kronos’ set. Diabate will close the concert.

The MusicNOW Festival will be held Wednesday and Thursday at Memorial Hall, 1215 Elm St. in Cincinnati. Tickets are $20 each night or $35 for both. Showtimes each evening will be 8 p.m. Doors open at 7. Call (859) 581-6877.

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