The World According to Keitho

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56 is the new 55

Posted by keithosaunders on August 24, 2016

Tomorrow a momentous event is occurring:  I’m celebrating it with two gigs, which is actually how I would be spending the day even if it wasn’t an anniversary of my birth.

I’m not one of those who shy away form celebrating his birthday.  While it’s true I am now one year more removed from the salad days of my 20s and one step closer to the grave, there is an important facet of the birthday not to be overlooked:  Presents.

Folks you have to milk it.  Need a new shirt?  A new set of linen?  A beer?  A chocolate cake? Strike a pose and drop a hint.  It’s go time!

Now right about now, you’re probably wondering, ‘How can I, the mere blog-reader, contribute to Keitho’s birthday celebration?‘ Well I’m glad you asked.

Go to this link:  www.keithospresent.kickstarter.com

And remember, linen always makes a great gift.

 

Wayne Shorter was born on August 25th too, as well as Leonard Bernstein, Rollie Fingers and Fred Frink.  (a baseball player form the 20s)

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Naked Trump

Posted by keithosaunders on August 20, 2016

Naked Trump statues are happening, and apparently in more than one city.  There’s one in the Castro district of San Francisco, as well as four other cities.  That’s what you get when you brag about the size of your penis in the age of the smarmy internet.

That said, I am more amused than offended by the statue. In fact I’m not offended at all.  What has offended me is an incurious, docile media that has treated this man as if he was a serious, qualified candidate.  Too many articles take Trump’s proposed policies seriously rather than question the hubris and sanity of the man.

You’ve got a media that is in the pockets of corporate America, and in Trump, a ratings bonanza.  This is not a good recipe.  It is not in the media’s interest to question the man or to report on an America that is decidedly more racist than was previously imagined.

If all that is left for us plebes is to engage in locker room humor then I say bring it on!

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A weekend out of town

Posted by keithosaunders on August 16, 2016

Sometimes the most strenuous part of gigging is getting to the venue.  The playing of the gig is often times the easiest thing we do.  Of course there are tens of thousands of hours of practice that we draw on, but for the most part when good musicians play together ideas tend to flow easily.

On Saturday I played at the San Jose jazz festival with local Bay Area legend, saxophonist Noel Jewkes.  San Jose is an hour south of where I live in the East Bay (Albany, which is next to Berkeley) but with traffic it’s usually at least a 90 minute trip.  (Our gig was only slightly longer than 90 minutes!)  At the conclusion of the gig we were interviewed by some jocks from the local jazz station, KCSM, one of whom is an outstanding sax player in his own right, Patrick Wolff.

noel

 

On Sunday I drove down to San Luis Obispo to play with my former teacher, vibraphonist Charlie Shoemake, and my former band mate, trumpeter Joe Magnarelli.  I studied with Charlie when I was in high school –  from 1975-78.  Before that I had studied classical piano for 8 years.  I had become disenchanted and wanted to quit the piano when my mother heard of a teacher who specialized in jazz improvisation.  I agreed to give it a try almost instantly I was hooked.  The fact that I had a classical background, had good technique, and knew my scales was a boon to me.  It gave me a leg up on learning how to negotiate chord changes.  Charlie was a great teacher and just the right person for me at that time in my life.  He introduced me to the music of Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, and Miles Davis among others. These are people I never would have been exposed to in my suburban California upbringing. Perhaps I would have discovered them in college or as an adult, but I just as likely could have stuck with Jethro Tull and Yes.  I dodged a bullet there.

charile

Joe

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In his cups

Posted by keithosaunders on August 11, 2016

Yesterday somebody climbed Trump Tower using suction cups.  Who could have been so attention starved to have attempted such a stunt?

cruz

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My Favorite Things 1965

Posted by keithosaunders on August 7, 2016

Here’s a jaw-dropping version of My Favorite Things as played by the John Coltrane Quintet circa 1965. Music doesn’t get any better than this.

In particular I was blown away by pianist, McCoy Tyner’s, solo.  I’m going to show this to all my young students who play flat handed.  You can see that true power and finesse comes from above.  (No, I’m not speaking religiously here.  Get your mind out of the church!)  Tyner drops his hands onto the keyboard rather than pushing his fingers into the keys.

Technique aside, McCoy’s solo is like a lesson in harmony and rhythm.  He takes the lone E minor chord and superimposes dorian, phrygian, harmonic minor, and diminished modes over it. (among others!)   These modes are interwoven into his barrage of left hand 5ths and right hand 4ths, and are simultaneously rhythmically and harmonically transcendent.

Compare this version with one performed four years earlier to see and hear the evolution of one of the greatest groups in the history of jazz.

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The Olympic sham

Posted by keithosaunders on August 4, 2016

Is there a more bullshit sporting event than the Olympics? What a joke. The networks package idiotic sports that nobody gives a rats ass about into a barrage of human interest, kumbaya dreck. Nobody cares about track and field. NOBODY. Ooh! Who won the 400 meter swimming party? WHO CARES!
 
I’ll tell you how you know the Olympics are a sham. We send NBA athletes. That’s right, next week you can tune in to a great prime time basketball event: USA v Luxembourg.
 
If you are a fan of the Dream Team going back to the original I have no respect for you. Zilch. You’re the kind of person that would spike a volleyball onto the head of a 5 year old and follow it up with a fist pump and a Howard Dean-esque scream. You’re probably a Trump fan but you could just as easily be for Hillary. They’re both Olympic-worthy.
Come to think of it there *is* a more bullshit sporting event than the Olympics. It’s called The Winter Olympics.
 

Posted in basketball, sports, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Singer’s choice

Posted by keithosaunders on July 30, 2016

Imagine that you are a singer living in a world that has known composers such as Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Richard Rodgers. Now imagine that between these (and other) composers that there are hundreds, if not thousands of great songs to choose from. Finally, imagine that from this wealth of repertoire you select Van Morrison’s Moondance.

Posted in jazz, music, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Report from the front lines

Posted by keithosaunders on July 24, 2016

Do you think being a working musician is easy?  Do you?!  Well let me tell you something, IT’S NOT!

Yesterday’s gig was a  corporately booked gig — a private party for a rich swell who lives in a mansion in Lafayette, California.  It was an outdoor event so I need my keyboard and amp.

I arrived at the scheduled time, an hour and a half before the gig.  Our set up was in his back yard but getting there involved taking my equipment down a long, steep, incline.  (the house was recessed into the hill) I had my keyboard and amp on my hand truck, as usual, and I figured I would walk backwards down the hill keeping my equipment in front of me so that I could brace it against gravity.

Wrong.  The path was made out of this ultra smooth, polished gravel.  My shoes, being somewhat new, had no traction.  Down I went in a slow motion face-first fall, my pitiful life flashing before my eyes. With my left hand I held onto my dolly for dear life, while with the right hand I braced my fall.  I landed flat on my stomach and my dolly ended up on its side.  I tried to get up but it was no use.  I would still be lying there today if the drummer and guitarist hadn’t happened by at that moment.

It took a bit of doing to get both myself and my equipment at an upright angle but finally I was righted and I was able to locate a set of stairs to access the backyard.  Did I mention it was 91 degrees outside and I was wearing a suit?

It was a long gig with short breaks.  There’s not enough time to detail the hilarity that ensued but I will say that I really enjoyed the music and the musicians that I played with.

How’s that for a happy ending?

 

Posted in jazz, music, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The clown car has arrived

Posted by keithosaunders on July 21, 2016

The Republican convention, which will conclude tonight with a speech by the potential OOTUS (Orangutan of the United States) has not disappointed.  Outside Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena you have cops and media outnumbering protesters by an impressive margin, but inside the Arena is where the real crazy people are.

On Monday night Melania Trump gave a speech and we awoke Tuesday morning to the news that large chunks of it had been plagiarized from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech.  The media erupted in a swarm of indignation and outrage, but can I say something?  Who cares!  So she pilfered a few lines from the first lady.  Here’s a news flash:  It’s not a rare thing for potential first ladies to speak about family values or their husbands leadership ability.

What irks me the most about this [non] scandal is you can just picture some smarmy millennial on his iphone googling away until he uncovered the ‘scandal of the century.’  I guaranteed you this kind of thing has happened before but nobody cared.

Now we all owe a debt of gratitude to Lyin’ Ted Cruz for making our Wednesday night entertainment-packed.  Cruz’s speech, in which he failed to endorse Donald Trump, while delivering the opening salvo of his 2020 campaign, was like the high school kid getting his revenge on the school bully.  My hat is off to him.  He provided the image of the convention:  The Trump family standing in shocked disbelief, frowning and scowling.

I can’t wait for tonight.

 

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Pokemon Go-time

Posted by keithosaunders on July 18, 2016

squirtel

I have to say that this Pokemon Go game is really dangerous. Why, I was just playing it the other day when… [Flashback music]

I’m driving to the post office when I hear a beeping coming from my phone…a Charizard! I spring into action. I’m driving into oncoming traffic, onto the sidewalk, just missing pedestrians, and I end up crashing into the dry cleaner’s window.

The next day I’m playing the ap and all of a sudden I find myself in the ladies room. Of course everybody starts screaming, “What the hell are you doing in here, you sicko?  Get Out!”

“But there’s a Squirtel…”

“WHERE?!”

Everyone whips out their phones until we discover him cowering by the XLerator.

I’m really going to have to delete this thing. It’s just not saf…WAIT! There’s one by the PGE transfer station… To the Pokemobile!

 

 

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