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November 18, 2011

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Pretty awesome display of circular breathing, but he's really only doing that. The playing is extraordinarily boring, possibly because he's got most of his attention on breathing technique.

The Internet says saxophonist Vann">http://www.vannburchfield.com/news.html&sa=U&ei=8WPGTrmZM9GbtwfHl9mMDA&ved=0CBkQFjAD&usg=AFQjCNEGCMRH7RZVDclHPJ4dyjYxOHzlPg">Vann Burchfield held a note for 47 minutes 6 seconds, but rumor mill says that Rahsaan Roland Kirk once played for over two hours without pausing for breath.

I would tend to believe that of all these artists, Roland Kirk would be the one to be playing something interesting without pause.

Here's Roland Kirk playing two recorder-type instruments continuously (with a couple of instants of him actually playing three; the third from one nostril) for a minute and a half, and that's just the first couple of minutes of the very first thing I looked at on Youtube.

Speaking of epic solos, I am completely unable to find Little Feat's live version of Mercenary Territory from their Waiting for Columbus album. The sax solo in that song is performed by Tower of Power's Lenny Pickett, and it is absolutely unreal. Not that it's very long, but what he does is almost beyond belief.

This describes it well:

"Mercenary Territory" — If you don't own a Little Feat album, just go buy the newest release of Waiting for Columbus (1978), which is without a doubt the greatest live rock album ever, Live at Leeds be damned. "Mercenary Territory" is relatively bland for the first two minutes, but then it changes gear, switching into a groovy walking bassline and Lowell George slide solo. When Lenny Pickett from Tower of Power unleashes his sax solo, all hell breaks lose. As he's climbing into ridiculously high notes, notice how George is trailing him with his slide. If it don't make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, then you ain't breathin'.

I wish I'd written that. His review of the whole album should make you run out and buy a copy, if you don't already have one.

I am completely unable to find Little Feat's live version of Mercenary Territory from their Waiting for Columbus album on YouTube

Fixed

hi gang! Pursant to your many suggestions, tomorrow is Belgian Tasting Night around here. I hope to remember to take pictures.

I didn't get around to mentioned it at that post, but the reason we won't be tasting Young's Double Chocolate Stout is because that's *normally* my post-pollworking celebration beverage. This time I had some leftover whitefish salad to eat, though, and I didn't think the chocolate stout would be quite the thing. I don't feel that Young's really needs to go with food, because it *is* food! Beer+chocolate=the platonic ideal.

Whitefish salad would go better with a light-textured Belgian, or perhaps a Weißen.

I saw Richard Thompson in concert once and he went OFF on Kenny G saying that his circular breathing technique was just a gimmick. I think it's the same here.

You know who's really good at this? Didgeridoo players. And they have to move a LOT of air.

Slarti:

Those are too wimpy, IMHO, to stand up to the uber-fishiness of whitefish. The Ommegang Abbey did a fine job, however.

But then, my taste in brews tends to run toward what I call "full-flavored" and what others call "sludgy".

I thought "whitefish" was a generic term covering many kinds of fish, Doc. I've had cod, and that falls into the "whitefish" bucket, but wasn't in the least bit fishy. However, there are specific fish known as whitefish; something I had not been aware of.

So: I'm confused. Is this an ocean fish, a freshwater fish, or what? Choosing the correct beer is important! ;)

It is a smoked freshwater salmon, what the Brits call a "bloater". Very strong-flavored, very oily. A traditional Jewish food -- I won't say "delicacy", because it's traditionally what you have when you can't afford lox or nova.

Grand Cru Winter Reserve for me tonight. Belgian-style beer made right here in NJ at Flying Fish (not Flying Dog, or even Dogfishhead for that matter).

what the Brits call a "bloater"

With all due respect, no we don't. A bloater is a herring smoked intact (not gutted first), in contrast to a kipper, which is split open before smoking. Smoked salmon is smoked salmon.

Also I have to agree with slarti about that circular breathing thing. Very clever, but I was wishing he's stop long before he did.

slarti, you sent me on a wild and wonderful trip down a lenny pickett memory lane.

Among other things, the man was one of the great crazy-legs dancers of all time. Funky as James Brown, acrobatic as Michael Jackson, but made of 100% fun.

And oh yeah, a monster master of invention tenor player.

L.P! Lenny Pickett! L.P! Lenny Pickett!

Yeah man. Thank you.

Rahsaan Kirk, likewise. The great buddha of serious effervescent overflowing humane jazz bliss. I'm sure it simply never occurred to the man that you couldn't play three horns at once. While humming along and playing the maracas.

Giants walk among us every day.

Big fun.

egad, I was deceived! It turns out that the North American bloater is not a British bloater at all. How confusing.

It is a smoked freshwater salmon, what the Brits call a "bloater". Very strong-flavored, very oily.

Hm. I never knew what kind of fish it was. But smoked whitefish, the only kind I'm aware of, is very tasty, poor man's lox or not.

Which brings me to my observation that "poor people's food" is often better prepared than rich people's food. I suppose this is because, historically at least, it takes more skill to make cheap food tasty. Stews, barbecue, various bean dishes, much southern (read "African") food in general falls into this category.

Phil's right about didjeridu players. My trombone instructor at UW, Stewart Dempster, played both. And did multiphonics besides, among other things (like Deep Listening Band).

Bernard wrote:

"Which brings me to my observation that "poor people's food" is often better prepared than rich people's food. I suppose this is because, historically at least, it takes more skill to make cheap food tasty. Stews, barbecue, various bean dishes, much southern (read "African") food in general falls into this category."

One of the amusing grifts in America is the restaurant and food industry's selling of poor people's food to richer people for exorbitant profit margins: polenta or grits, the lowly but tasty and healthy sardine, the gourmet hot dog, a white bean salad, chicken wings, etc.

Try and substitute a fresh tomato for tomato paste on a pizza in an inner city school though, and Herman Cain will be all over your expensive, Taliban regulatory a*s.


Chaz,

Everything about Kenny G is a gimmick. Nobody filleted Kenny G better than Pat Metheny. No one.

Chaz,

Thankfully, Richard Thompson's bit about Kenny G is available here.

One of the things that makes Chinese cuisine so outstanding - the world's best, I would argue - is that so many of the cooks had so little to work with in the way of meat and other pricy "raw materials," so they developed ingenious ways of maximizing the tastiness of what they had.

Whereas the essence of good British food half a century ago, Katharine Whitehorn (IIRC) claimed, was that it was "good ingredients simply prepared." Meaning that if you didn't have "good ingredients," it was pretty awful. (My English girlfriend of the time, when we went out to eat on our student budgets, would specify "Anything but English" - so Indian [usually] or Italian or whatever foreign it was!)

"good ingredients simply prepared."

Not that there's anything wrong with that if they're available. It's also the principle of Italian cooking.

Mmm, whitefish.

There a lot of fish out there that has nice tasty kinda white flesh, but doesn't have an appetizing, marketable name (ratfish, etc). So what the hey, we used to cut it all up and sell it as North Altantic Whitefish. Stuff would fly right off the counter.

Everything about Kenny G is a gimmick. Nobody filleted Kenny G better than Pat Metheny. No one.

I hadn't seen that before; thank you for posting it. It's the harshest critique of one musician by another that I've ever read.

Which is not to say I've read many. Still.

That aside, I've never thought Kenny G. was really worth any of my attention. Which explains why I was unaware of what he had done to the Louis Armstrong tune that had Metheny up in arms.

I've been imagining an alternate universe where bringing up the didjeridu on a blog results in the kind of lengthy, bitter discussion that abortion or gun control sparks in this one. They'd probably eat peanut butter and ketchup sandwiches in that universe, too.

I'm going to read that Pat Metheny thing once a month, just so I'll always have something to look forward to.

Didjeridoo isn't really an instrument anyway, so no argument is possible.

There. That ought to get things started.

And quit spelling it wrong.

The thing that I especially took away from the Metheny commentary, as someone who played saxophone, is the comment about him playing off key. I always suspected that and I'm glad to see someone credible confirm it.

This is not to defend Kenny G in any way but Metheny's point that he plays consistently sharp, and I tend to think of that as a trend on the part of a lot of musicians to make everything sound brighter. I've gotten inured to it, so much so that when I hear something that is actually in tune, I can't figure out what is so neat about it.

I'm not stepping into the didj thing, either as regards spelling, or as regards its status as an instrument.

Peanut butter and ketchup, however, is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Decline of civilization wrong.

I tend to think of that as a trend on the part of a lot of musicians to make everything sound brighter.

I hear that with alto and soprano saxophonists in a jazz context, less with other instruments. I wonder if there's something about the physics of playing the instrument that tends toward playing sharp.

Another point of interest here is the divergence between the jazz and classical world as regards tuning. The classical world has moved to 442 hz as the standard for concert A, while jazz players remain at A 440.

This is very annoying for jazz vibraphonists, who are forced to either pay a couple of hundred bucks to have new instruments retuned, or wait a couple of months for the manufacturer to do it.

Most guys just look for an older used instrument, which were tuned to A 440 in the first place.

Some classical orchestras use even higher tunings.

This follows a longer-term trend, the standard orchestral tuning had historically been even lower than A 440, more like A 432 or A 440.

The issue even comes with its own conspiracy theories.

People get wacky about tunings.

To reiterate: People get wacky about tunings.

Oh, holy crap russell. I had no idea.

It gets even more weird. There must be some law that says that anything that can be conspiracy-theorized will eventually converge to Lyndon Larouche.

I really need to quit Googling this.

What? A isn't 440 any longer? Will they change the dial tone as well? Is nothing sacred??

What? A isn't 440 any longer?

Still 440 in jazz all around the world.

A 442 in most classical circles, especially in Europe.

Inflation hertz.

ouch.

Slartibartfast FTW!

In1988 I worked organizing a celebration of Human Rights Day for Amnesty International. One of the celebrants was the Polish jazz pianist, Adam Makowicz, whose agent called and went over the requirements. The first one she mentioned was that the piano MUST be tuned to A440.

Makowicz, played beautifully, including a lovely rendition of Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing."

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