The World According to Keitho

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Archive for April, 2016

420 Day

Posted by keithosaunders on April 26, 2016

Amidst this run of notable gigs I’ve forgotten to report on an interesting one. Last week, on 420 day I played a gig at a medical marijuana dispensary. It was my first time playing a pot ‘club,’ and in fact the first time I’ve even seen the inside of one.  Here in California they’re all over the place, which explains why a significant portion of the population stays high all of the time.

I’ve never known the reason why marijuana is referred to as 420 but I do know that the phony-holiday powers that be found it convenient.  The Magnolia Club, located in West Oakland, was packed with people buying their favorite strains – Kandy Kush, Mr Urkel, and Notorious O.G. Between tunes one of the employees politely asked us to play softer. “The patients are having a hard time hearing.”

I looked around…patients? “Oh! *those* patients,” I said. Riiiiiiight.”

They sent us home with all sorts of swag — pot-laced macaroons, pot-laced cookies, and even THC lip balm for those cold, dry days where you’d like to get a buzz on.  All in all it was a good gig.

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A spate of nice gigs followed by stress

Posted by keithosaunders on April 25, 2016

Being a jazz musician requires paying a great deal of dues.  For a pianist it means playing the majority of your gigs in noisy bars on inferior instruments for [often] indifferent audiences.  The word, ‘audience,’ I use loosely since it would be more accurate to describe them as patrons of the bar – customers.

Last week I had a couple of nice gigs with great musicians that were artistically, as well as monetarily rewarding.  On Thursday night I played a concert with saxophonist, Mel Martin, at SF Jazz.  We performed a tribute to the late, great saxophonist Joe Henderson’s 1966 album, Mode For Joe.   The music is challenging, containing thorny, angular chord progressions over catchy, inventive melodies.

On Saturday I played with another great sax player, Ernie Krivda, who lives in Cleveland and was on the west coast playing a few gigs.  We played at a concert series in Fort Bragg, which is just north of Mendocino, about 160 miles north of San Francisco.  The promoters put us up in a quaint hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

I spent a rare Saturday afternoon relaxing in my hotel room as well as going for a run on the beach, taking in the spectacular scenery.  The gig, at the Tap Room of the North Coast Brewery, consisted of one 90 minute set and was over by 9pm.

Both venues gave me marvelous, in-tune pianos to play, had outstanding sound systems, and provided a delicious dinner.  Rarely do a pair of such ideal gigs happen in a three month period, let alone three days!

I have returned, however, to the grind.  I came home to discover a malfunctioning key on my keyboard which I’m going to need by Saturday for a gig.  Unlike cars, keyboards rarely get fixed in one day.  You must bring them to fusty, temperamental repair men, prostrate yourself before them and pray for expedited (and costly) service.  And why do things always break on the weekend?

Onward.

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The day that Dock Ellis beaned everybody

Posted by keithosaunders on April 15, 2016

Dock Ellis, who spent the better part of his career pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates, is mostly famous for having claimed to have pitched a no hitter while on acid.  He managed, however,  to compile some impressive stats in his 12 year major league career.  His lifetime ERA is 3.46, he has a record of 138-119 including 71 complete games and 14 shut outs.

A couple of days ago I read an article in Deadspin about Ellis that knocked me out.  I’ll summarize, but you really should check this out, if for no other reason than to see how differently the game was played 35-40 years ago.

According to Ellis the only team that intimidated the Pirates was the Cincinnati Reds.  The Reds and Pirates had been alternating appearing in the World Series — the Pirates in 1969 and ’71, and the Reds in 1970, and ’72 – and the two had been meeting in the playoffs almost every year.

By 1974 Ellis had had enough and he decided that the next time he faced the Reds he was going to bean every batter.  Every batter!   On May 1st Ellis faced the Reds for the first time that season and he proceeded to make good on his threat.

He considered not hitting Pete Rose because he knew Roses would shake it off like it was nothing and charge towards first base like a bull. ( Rose was also a personnel friend) He thought better of it and hit him anyway.  He proceeded to hit Joe Morgan in the kidneys.  Then he beaned Dan Driessen.  He tried to hit Tony Perez but Perez was already backing up.  So he threw behind him, but Perez stepped forward, eventually walking.  He tried to hit Johnny Bench but once the count got to 2-0 manager, Danny Murtaugh, came out of the dugout and pulled him.  Ellis said that “[Murtaugh] looked at me hard.”  All I could think of was Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm when he stares down an adversary to detect if he is lying.

For those of us used to observing today’s pinkies-up style of baseball, in which the catchers are no longer allowed to block the plate, and pitchers are not allowed to complete potential no-hitters for fear of exceeding the magical number of 100, this is outrageous stuff.  The fact that Ellis was not ejected after hitting the third batter, and had to be pulled by his manager, is shocking!

I’m not advocating violence.  Obviously Ellis was a free spirit and his behavior was out of line to say the least.  But for crying out loud, is there a middle ground?!  Is baseball better off in this sanitized homogenized age?  Allow me to offer a response:

NO.

dockellis

 

 

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Happy NCD!

Posted by keithosaunders on April 13, 2016

Well I can’t believe it’s finally here – the holiday we’ve been anticipating and planning for all of these months.

HAPPY NATIONAL CARPET DAY!

Now I know that we all want to have enjoy this day to its fullest potential, but please folks, for Gods sake, be safe!

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National whatever day

Posted by keithosaunders on April 12, 2016

I’m sick of these made-for-internet holidays.  Sunday was National Sibling Day followed by Monday’s National Pet Day.  Now come on, folks. don’t kid a kidder. THESE AREN’T REAL HOLIDAYS.  They serve as excuses for narcissists to post photos of themselves, and humble-brag about their pets.

As someone who wouldn’t mind if Thanksgiving were cancelled, the addition of a myriad of new holidays is causing me no end of stress.

Well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  I have hereby created, and am proud to introduce to you a new holiday.  Henceforth April 12th shall evermore be known as, National Lamp Day.

Have a joyous, festive Lamp Day, and above all, be safe!

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100: The magical number

Posted by keithosaunders on April 9, 2016

In baseball there is a number that is so sacred and  profound that no pitcher may exceed it.  Regardless of his size, endurance, and mental makeup a pitcher must exit a game after his hundredth pitch or risk a career ending injury.  Never mind that history is full of pitchers such as Bob Gibson, Warren Spahn, and Steve Carlton who inexplicably managed to have two decade plus careers flaunting the magic number, so it has been said, so it must be done.

Baseball has become a joyless, corporate, soulless, dickless, hell hole of a sport, managed by pussies and run by pencil pushing geeks who wouldn’t know Don Drysdale from Don Knotts.

Last night the Dodger rookie pitcher, Ross Stripling, was removed from a game in the 8th inning in which he was ahead 2-0 and throwing a no hitter.  Had he been allowed to flaunt science and stay in the game he could possibly have been the first pitcher to throw a no hitter since 1892.  Saber metrics won the day, as it does 95% of the time, and out came Chris Hatcher, bringing with him his customary can of lighter fluid.  Bink, blank, blunk, three pitches later the game was tied courtesy of a cantaloupe served to Giants catcher, Trevor Brown.

The Dodgers are a simpering, gutless team that deserves to lose. It’s no coincidence that they haven’t won since Tommy Lasorda years.   Lasorda was a manager who knew how to ride a hot pitcher. In 1988 he pitched Orel Hershiser with abandon, allowing him to pitch complete games and often using him on short rest — hell, he even used him out of the bullpen against the Mets in the playoffs.

In 1981 when Fernando Valenzuela was a rookie, Lasorda pitched him into the ground, letting him work late into games, well over 100 pitches. Some people think that Fernando’s career was shortened by this overuse, but you know what? WHO CARES?! The Dodgers won a World Series. RIDE HIM.

You take your rookie pitcher out of a game in which he is throwing a no hitter? That’s losing baseball. Ask the Nationals and gimp Strasberg.

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Hitchcock and Bebop

Posted by keithosaunders on April 5, 2016

The record, Sonny Stitt, Bud Powell, JJ Johnson was recorded in 1949 and 1950 and features some jaw droppingly brilliant playing from my idol, Bud Powell.  Check out his two-chorus gem of a solo on Bluebird starting at 6:55.  Better yet, check out his playing on the entire record. (Full disclosure, John Lewis plays on the latter tracks but their playing is so different that it’s easy to tell them apart.)

Back when I was studying with Charlie Shoemake (1975-’78) this record was always on display in his studio –  I know he transcribed several Powell and Stitt solos from it.  Funny thing, though, I never really checked out the cover until yesterday.  It’s a bizarre image that is simultaneously humorous and frightening.  I admit that bebop was a revolution but this looks more like an out an out revolt!  It’s Hitchcockian.

 

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The dawn of the baseball season

Posted by keithosaunders on April 1, 2016

And so, after a long cold winter, or in the case of the Bay Area, a wet winter, the baseball season begins again this Sunday.  This year, instead of the traditional opening night game, there will be three Sunday games:  The Cardinals vs the Pirates, the Blue Jays vs the Rays, and my Mets will visit the reigning World Series champion Royals.

First of all:  Nice touch by baseball tweaking the opening day schedule.  It will be great to have the triple header to kick things off instead of the usual anti-climactic lone Sunday night game.  Plus, baseball feels better in the day, especially to open the season.  I don’t say this very often but…kudos to MLB!

Not only that, but we have three sexy match-ups.  I don’t know about you, but I loves me some NL Central division teams and the Pirates have long been one of my favorites.  So you have a classic match-up between two of the oldest teams followed by a game between two expansion teams.  The Blue Jays figure to be a lot of fun this year and they have earned their slot in the opening day spotlight.  Perhaps we’ll get a Joey Bautista bat flip which will insight another juicy Goose Gossage rant.

Finally we’ll have the Mets vs the Royals.  This is the first time in 30 years in which I’ve gone into the season expecting the Mets to win their division.  Usually the best I can hope for is for them not to embarrass themselves.  This year, with the signing of Cespedes, and the return of their young, stellar pitching staff, the immediate future looks bright.  By the way, when is the last time the two World Series teams from the previous season opened the season against each other?  Answer:  Never.  Yet another nice move by the schedule-maker: finding a clever new spin on a hackneyed inter-league format.

Play ball!metsbeagle

 

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