Core

It’s Monday and, yup, I’m up early today for more core; Day 2 specifically of my Round #3 of the “Core Project”.  While I don’t necessarily have a new training goal to pursue at the moment, I figure it’s time to get back on something of a successful – albeit easier and less intense – training program in case, hey … just in case.

That, and I need to prevent myself from ballooning out and helping to stave off the post competition “Ironfunk” just as I did after Ironman Wales.

It’s a thing!

Anyway, this morning’s underwear on the mat workout is set to more cheesy Exotica, this time the ‘Percussive Big Band Jazz’  album by Bobby Christian and His Band.

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This is a 1960 album on the Stroboscopic Audio Fidelity Label and, like the ‘Percussive Jazz‘  album by Peter Appleyard, it was the badass needle on the front cover that first appealed to me but, yes, I do dig my big band Jazz Boner as well.

What can I say?

It’s a less-than-guilty pleasure.

But, hey, I’m up early and crunching, squatting and pushing-up with Toby the “Morning Crack Cat” once again so, yeah, whatever … it’s wins all around with this album from The Bop Shop in Rochester, NY.

There’s not a whole lot to get into with this album except, oh yeah, it also features none other than Buddy Weed among the other lesser known big band musicians.

How random is that for a Monday morning?

I forgot about my coffee though, so that kinda sucks.

I’m soooooo out of practice …

But, anyway, Day 2 is in the bag and Round #3 is underway and I feel pretty good about it honestly.

Time now to quickly shower, caffeinate, and drag my ass to work.

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Core

I don’t have any serious designs on things to accomplish today aside from maybe coaxing HRH out on her bike later on.  So far, all I’ve accomplished this morning was to prepare and crush a homemade Ironman breakfast and enjoy a very exciting Stage 9 of the Tour de France with Toby the “Morning Crack Cat” (albeit a very sleepy and lethargic Toby the “Morning Crack Cat”).

However, now that the beautiful morning bacon and bikes breakfast is over, I’m going to top of the morning now by revitalizing Round #3 of my “Core Project” (Day 1) to this ‘From Another World’  album as arranged and conducted by Sid Bass.

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This is one of my own purchases from The Bop Shop in Rochester a few weekends ago …

Okay, May

Whatever.

I’ve been doing stuff.

Anyway, this is a true cheese jazz classic from 1956 released on the Vik label.  It is an attempt of orchestra leader and songwriter Sid Bass (1913–1993) to come up with a vivacious Space-Age album that both enchants and alienates the listener enough to make him or her feel uneasy and well-loved at the same time.

The surroundings work to the album’s advantage indeed. The 12 interpretations of well-known compositions here are all tied together by a common theme: weather phenomenons, moon-related serenades and otherworldly encounters, most likely with bewitching women. While ‘From Another World’  doesn’t feature one single original tune, Sid Bass is able to color the gold standards in his own particular way.

The large orchestra not only features the standard collection of strings, horns and woodwinds, there is also a healthy amount of various mallet instruments and bells on board. They make for varied sceneries of romance, nights out in the bustling city and pipe dreams. All of these encounters, alas, are earthbound. The tone sequences and harmonies aren’t overly weird once the textures of a tune are firmly in place. However, there is an interesting tendency that makes the album worth the Space-Age fan’s while: the prefix and ending of each composition feature very interesting conflations of acoustics, surface-altering effects and mysticism. They frame the symphonic and big band-oriented songs most of the time, though there are genuinely prolonged whole trips of excitement included as well, making ‘From Another World’  an accessible, euphonious artifact of the genre. A closer inspection is thus deserved.

And off we go with the title track that is already inspirational enough to keep the album spinning. ‘From Another World’  is originally penned by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers, transmogrified here into an eerie nullspace of neon helixes … at first. The prelude is indeed delightfully spacy and eldritch, comprising of whirling strings of suspension, echoey cymbals and glistening crystals. After 35 seconds, this exciting reticulation is already over and leads to a more streamlined interpretation of the source material. The brass layers, harps and flutes are mellifluous, the swinging rhythm romantic, and only the occasional warped string cascade and scything brass propulsion bring back the galactic notion here and there. E.Y. “Yip” Harburg’s and Burton Lane’s ‘Old Devil Moon’  is even more streamlined.  After a pulsating aureole of sub-zero frost, a perfectly earthbound guitar-centric cannelure opens up and lets the good old Friday night show tune atmosphere outshine all cosmic catenae. The xylophone and flute blotches are still offering a good punctilio in this setting.

Afterwards, a stellar two-part medley comes into play, comprising of two compositions by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler: ‘Stormy Weather’  is actually a delightful Space-Age escapade supercharged with clandestine turbulences, aureate brass protuberances, heavily reverberated timpani tentacles and oneiric-surreal flute-based mirages of the Orient, whereas ‘Ill Wind’  seamlessly connects to the tempestuous theme, although Sid decidedly focuses on the mellower, more languorous string cascades, therefore making this a rather horticultural, nondestructive appendix which eventually leads to Nancy Hamilton’s and Morgan Lewis’ ‘How High The Moon’: a weird-uneasy mélange of vibes and echoey trombones leads to a bustling fast-paced tunnel vision of gorgeously piercing brass volcanoes, euphonious leeways and squally strings. Bass’ interpretation here is mercilessly effervescent and upbeat, there’s no time for contemplation.

Maybe there is time for contemplation after all, as it takes time to flip the vinyl and allow Side B to enchant. But once it is spinning, a flurry of activity ensues again. Walter Donaldson’s and George Whiting’s ‘My Blue Heaven’  only fakes the quasi-cajoling dark matter susurration of purple strings, as this mellow serration eventually leads to a surprisingly jazzy situation with a lead trumpet amidst cavalcades of brass layers and silver hi-hats. The shift away from the strings is a nice touch, but it’s no trend at all, as Brooks Bowman’s ‘East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon)’ greets the listener with an inter-mixture of strings and horns whose vanillarific entanglement is delightfully altered by echoey bursts within tawny glockenspiels and even benthic orchestra bells. It is a great arrangement, even leaving enough time for another cellar-like “circumambience”.

While Hoagy Carmichael’s and Mitchell Parish’s ‘Stardust’  is a Space-Age fan’s dream due to the plinking vibes, glasses and diaphanous diorama overall, Eugene Lockhart’s and Ernest Seitz’s ‘The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise’ returns to orchestra bell-backed tachycardia rhythms full of trombones and trumpets, also making sure that the song fades out in a dazzling, enigmatic string-infused manner. Vernon Duke’s and John Latouche’s’ Cabin In The Sky’  offers a standardized lilac waltz with trumpet protrusions in a particularly cosmic prelude and appendix, with W. Frank Harling’s, Leo Robin’s and Richard A. Whiting’s ‘Beyond The Blue Horizon’  rounding the album off with buzzing strings which lead to an incandescently swinging brass serenade with glossy vibes and reduced string retrojections.

Shit, there’s even time for a Haitian fife which adds a vestibule to – the back then uncoined genre – Exotica, and not a minute too soon.

This album is both a gimmicky and a successful Space-Age record, reciprocating between the needs of big band aficionados and fans of cosmic music, the latter of which is still in its infancy stages back in 1956. The primary arrangement trick faces the danger of growing stale after a while: the first few seconds and the final afterglow of each composition usually contain a variety of alienating sequences comprising echoes, prongs, weird harmonies, you name it. The effect is well-intended and its ambiance cajoling to the ears, but these instances only serve as frames for the normalized compositions.

The material itself, however, is flawless and perfectly suited for a Space-Age album, as all the denotations of moons, skies and weather effects gracefully show …

… as for my core.

Well, that’s another story altogether but, “graceful show”?

Yeah, not so much.

Hey, at least I’m back officially back on the mat one week post-Ironman.

That’s definitely worth compliment.

As it is, I’ve had my seven days worth of rest and recovery time and downed more than my fair share of guilty pleasure calories so now, it’s time to officially get things back under control a bit beginning with these planks, crunches, etc…

… and, yes, more early(ish) morning records and core workouts, hopefully.

Toby will be pleased I’m sure.

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Saturday Vinyl (Part 5)

Continuing on with Saturday’s mellow listening pleasures, is another Goodwill Hunting from my personal “Shangri-la of record picking”, the Goodwill located in Port Colborne, Ontario, ‘Verities & Balderdash‘ by Harry Chapin.

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Yes, yes … it has ‘Cats In the Cradle‘ on it.

I love it too.

I couldn’t name another single Harry Chapin song but this song is the AM radio classic from back in the day.  This was one of those songs to which your father would immediately respond to with “keep it down back there!” to whomever it was that was unfortunate enough to squabbling in the backseat.

However, it turns out there’s a lot more to appeal to listeners, along with enough personal, topical material to make it seem a bit didactic at the time, but Chapin was cultivating a politically committed audience at the time.

My dad among them, apparently.

Verities & Balderdash‘  walked several fine lines, between topical songwriting and an almost (but not quite) pretentious sense of its own importance, humor and seriousness, and balladry and punditry, all intermingled with catchy, highly commercial ballads such as ‘I Wanna Learn a Love Song’ (which is about as pretty a song as he ever wrote).

Chapin is in good voice and thrives in the more commercial sound of this album, which includes lots of electric guitars and overdubbed orchestra and choruses. He still loves to tell stories – most are like little screenplays, with ‘Shooting Star’ offering details and textures and a sense of drama akin to a finished film (in the manner of ‘Taxi’).  The “haunt count” on this album is extremely high, boosted by gorgeous ballads like ‘She Sings Songs Without Words‘.

What Made America Famous‘ may be the one song that comes off as dated, a parable – perhaps reflecting the near-meltdown of politics surrounding the Nixon resignation of 1974 – about long-haired teens and crew-cutted firemen who discover a mutual dependence and respect for each other and reconciliation; it seems like ancient history and probably will be incomprehensible to anyone born after 1968.

Chapin also lapses into excessive dramatics in the finale, which shamelessly borrows a couple of lines from one song out of the musical 1776. The album also offers a pair of humorous numbers on ‘30,000 Pounds of Bananas’ and ‘Six String Orchestra‘, not the most significant songs in Chapin’s repertory, but both adding balance to the mood. Producer Paul Leka retained some elements of the relatively lean sound that characterized Chapin’s debut album, embellishing it only enough to give the album some potentially wider commercial appeal. Even the cover art seems to reflect the two delightfully contradictory thrusts of this album: an image of Chapin posed like Uncle Sam on the military recruiting poster with a wry smile on his face.

Once again, not a bad purchase for a mere ¢0.50 wouldn’t you say?

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Saturday Vinyl (Part 4)

Moving along with this mellow evening’s vinyl listening extravaganza now that our Grand Champion has relocated to the basement to continue her triumphant celebration in front of Netflix, is the ‘New Blood‘  album by Blood, Sweat & Tears.

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Never in a million years did I ever think I would ever have a Blood, Sweat & Tears album in my collection but, then again, I never saw the Taylor Swift coming either.

In fact, the only reason I own it now is because HRH  happened to find it at on the shelf at The Bop Shop in Rochester for a buck or so and, of course, it had a bird on it so, yeah, of course we had to have it.

Serious*.

The first Blood, Sweat & Tears album following the departure of lead singer David Clayton-Thomas and chief arrangers Dick Halligan and Fred Lipsius has its moments. The band vocals on ‘Touch Me’  and the arrangement of Herbie Hancock‘s ‘Maiden Voyage’  are among the highlights, but then there’s Bob Dylan‘s ‘Down in the Flood‘and Steve Katz’s ‘Velvet‘ (about a horse, for Pete’s sake!). Gerry Goffin and Carole King‘s ‘Snow Queen‘ almost makes up for it, with sensational solos from Dave Bargeron on trombone and Lou Marini on sax.

So how do I feel about finally having some Blood, Sweat & Tears in their collection?

Umm, not so much honestly.

In fact, it’s complete Shit List material for sure.

Thankfully, this will likely be the last BS&T album in our collection – birds be damned!

*The album’s cover, painted by Bob Schulenberg and Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean, portrays two male peacocks sitting on a garden wall – a common Indian peacock and a white peacock.
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Saturday Vinyl (Part 3)

We’re working on a pretty mellow evening here of cooling thunder showers, BBQ pork chops, and blogging as our new Grand Champion revels in her horsy accolades and, apparently, part of those ceremonial accolades this evening include the ‘Aoxoamoxoa‘  album by the Grateful Dead.

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This has been on HRH‘s “To Find” list for, like, ever.

At least since she saw it many moons ago while leafing through one of my coffee table books on trippy ass Like, WOW! man! album covers.

In fact, this was one that I had almost given up on altogether but, low and behold, there it was sitting at the Rocket Number Nine record shop in Kingston, NY last weekend so, of course, I hobbled over and picked up.

The Grateful Dead’s third studio effort was also the first that the band did without any Warner Bros. staff producers or engineers hampering their creative lifestyle and subsequent processes. As they had done with their previous release, ‘Anthem of the Sun‘, the Dead were actively seeking new forays and pushing envelopes on several fronts simultaneously during ‘Aoxomoxoa‘ (1968) – which was created under the working title of “Earthquake Country.”

This was no doubt bolstered by the serendipitous technological revolution which essentially allowed the Dead to re-record the entire contents when given free reign at the appropriately named Pacific High Recording facility.

As fate would have it, they gained virtually unlimited access to the newly acquired Ampex MM-1000 – the very first 16-track tape machines ever produced – which was absolutely state of the art in late 1968; fans and critics alike consider this era to be the band’s “experimental apex”.

The band was also experiencing new directions artistically. This was primarily the net result of the budding relationship between primary (by default) melodic contributor Jerry Garcia (guitar/vocals) and Robert Hunter (lyrics), who began his nearly 30-year association with the Grateful Dead in earnest during these sessions.

When the LP hit the racks in the early summer of 1969, Deadheads were greeted by some of the freshest and most innovative sounds to develop from the thriving Bay Area music scene. It includes seminal psychedelic rockers such as ‘St. Stephen‘, ‘China Cat Sunflower‘, and ‘Cosmic Charlie‘, as well as hints of the acoustic direction their music would take on the Baroque-influenced ‘Mountains of the Moon‘ and ‘Rosemary’.  The folky ‘Dupree’s Diamond Blues‘ would likewise foreshadow the sound of their next two studio long-players, ‘Workingman’s Dead‘ (1969) and ‘American Beauty‘ (1970).

The album was certified gold by the RIAA on May 13th, 1997 and in 1991 Rolling Stone selected ‘Aoxomoxoa’  as having the eighth best album cover of all time.

Simply the Tits.

Definitely an epic album to finally tick off your “To Find” bucket list.

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Saturday Vinyl (Part 2)

I’m plodding on here with the race report.  I’m onto the bike portion now but my momentum has been somewhat thwarted in lieu of a need to cook everyone dinner (*le sigh*) and, while this all goes down, it’s onward and forward with the next of this evening’s Goodwill Hunting finds, this ‘Soul Dressing‘  album by Booker T & the MG’s.

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What’s a 2nd time Iron dad and husband going to do?

I found this for ¢0.50 at the Goodwill Shop in St. Catharines across from the Pen Center.

I stopped in on a total lark and ended up finding three incredible records, this being the first.

I think I may have even unashamedly giggled a bit as well.

This 1964 (Stax Records) album may  be assembled mostly from (non-hit) 1963-65 singles, however, this is solid stuff, but still just a notch below their peak collections. The best tracks (‘Soul Dressing’, ‘Tic-Tac-Toe‘, ‘Can’t Be Still’) are usually included on their best-of anthologies, but ‘Plum Nellie‘, featuring some ferocious, cutting-edge solos by Cropper and Jones, is an overlooked highlight.

In other words, there’s some funky shit going down currently.

Not bad for a quarter, two dimes and a nickel.

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Saturday Vinyl (Part 1)

Hard to believe that exactly one week ago I was participating in my 2nd Ironman competition and, today, I’m doing as little as possible.  I watched HRH ride herself – at her 2nd ever horse show I might add – into a Grand Championship, dozed a little in front of the Tour, dozed again in bed afterwards and now I’m trying my best to recall last weekend’s adventure for my blog race report.

It’s not going well.

Anyway, while I struggle with that I also get to listen to some heady cheese jazz I found Goodwill Hunting not long ago, so that’s definitely a win.  In particular, I’m listening to the eponymous album by the Buddy Weed Septet.

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I won’t lie, I largely bought this album because the dude’s last name is “Weed”.

Mock me if you must.

It was an easy decision too seeing as how it was only cost ¢0.25.

Turns out though that Buddy was a prominent American “Cool Jazz” pianist and arranger, having worked with the “Jack Teagarden’s Orchestra”, Sidney Bechet, Charlie Spivak and Teddy Powell among others.

This 1979 UK album released on the From the Vault record label, is honestly a pretty fucking groovy listen for a 6:00am yoga session in your underwear with the cat.

Besides Buddy himself, the septet also includes musicians Barry Galbraith (guitar), Stan Webb (reeds), Allen Hanlon (guitar & banjo), Arnold Fishkind (bass), Morey Feld (drums) and none other than Don Elliot (mellophone, vibes & trumpet).

Maybe this wasn’t the craziest thing I’ve picked up for a quarter.

It’s also makes for a great Day 14 of my 31 Day Record Challenge (Part 2); ‘An album that features someones name in the title…’

Heheheh…

…Weed.

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