Do You Realize?

“do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?” – Flaming Lips This weekend I heard the final mix of the now-released Trot Fox cover recording of “Do You Realize.” This coincided with my Uncle Tom’s 80th birthday celebration in Baltimore. All of this would sound both innocuous and tangential without some context. But…

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Top 10 Favorite Larry Coryell Tracks

I think Larry Coryell (1943-2017) has to be one of the most underrated guitarists in modern music. Aside from his clear historical significance in melding jazz and rock guitar traditions and techniques, the pure artistic brilliance with which he straddled those lines is rather stunning. While nowadays it may be more common for guitarists to be fully fluent in both of those arenas, Coryell broke tremendous ground for all of the youngins. Many rock guitarists lack the rhythmic nuance and harmonic fluency to play jazz authoritatively, and many jazz guitarists sound comparatively wimpy and/or cerebral when they play rock. Larry pulled off both with utter conviction, and I’ve always been particularly enamored of the contexts in which he has been able to do both.

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Joy Will Find a Way (and the Myth of Lukewarm Water)

I believe that joy will find a way in 2017. I really do. I also think there will be pain, some of it residual and bleeding into the New Year and some of it relating to new hurts that still lie before us. So much of the richness of life involves embracing the full scope of experience. Sometimes that means holding joy and suffering in tandem. This, of course, becomes harder to swallow as the suffering reaches the depths of despair, but in a sense that is when it becomes most important to remember. As much as Western binary thinking might challenge this, the existence of one does not negate the other.

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The Election, Jazz, and Discourse Across Lines

Since the 2016 election, a lot of folks are feeling a lot of different feelings. And expressing a lot of feelings. And feeling very strongly about the distinctions between their feelings and others’ feelings. And in some cases trying really hard to figure out how to find that balance whereby they are true to their beliefs and morals and yet remain able to engage genuine dialogue* with other decent humans who feel (and in some cases voted) differently. And with Thanksgiving coming up, some who aren’t ready to attempt that engagement on a broader societal level will be forced to figure out how to find common ground in their own families. OMIGOD, HOW DO WE DO THIS? Okay, take a breath. And another. The answer, of course, is thinking like a jazz musician. Just work with me for a minute.

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Top 10 Favorite Bobby Hutcherson Tracks

Aside from being in shock that Bobby Hutcherson is gone, I struggle to figure out a way to summarize his musical contributions. For me his music will always be defined by the way his infectious warmth and rugged creative searching shattered any listener’s capacity to put the resulting music into a rigid box. Here is a small sampling of my favorites from his discography.

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