The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘jazz’

President wanted: No prior experience necessary.

Posted by keithosaunders on May 21, 2017

When I was a kid and encountered an alpha-dog, as an introvert I suffered largely in silence.  I took comfort in the rationalization was that after high school these dullards would end up in dead-end jobs and would almost certainly become alcoholics, wife-beaters,  or felons.

And there you have the most irritating part of the Trump phenomenon.  This brainless oaf who never got his come-comeuppance, and was in fact rewarded for his loutish ways. Personally I yearn to see Trump having to resign in disgrace, even though I realize this means that Mike Pence, someone whose politics are just as bad, if not worse than Trump’s, will ascend to the presidency.

The 2016 election actually confirmed one of the tenets of the American dream –  anyone can become president.  Allow me to rephrase that:  Anyone with money can become president.

As we now know, there are no necessary qualifications for the job of United States president.  You don’t have to have been a politician, a lawyer, a military officer.  There is no need to possess a thorough knowledge of history, science, civics, or economics.  I could be president, even though my greatest life-skill is knowing what to play over a C7+9+5 chord.

If only I had enough money…

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The decline of western civilization. Part 36: The talk show

Posted by keithosaunders on May 12, 2017

How low have we suck as a society?  There was once a time – in my lifetime, in fact – when you could turn on your television, tune to ABC, and see a top jazz pianist demonstrating the difference between the styles of Nat King Cole and Erroll Garner.

Dick Cavett was urbane to a level which bordered on pretentiousness, but he was able to stay out of the way of his guests, allowing them to shine.  Johnny Carson was a master at this too. Carson loved jazz and had musicians as guests, but you wouldn’t have seen such depth to the interview.  It would be miles above today’s standards, however.  By the way, I had no idea Oscar Peterson was so glib.  He’s the greatest jazz musician guest of all time!

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The Tinder follies

Posted by keithosaunders on May 1, 2017

Yes, I admit it.  I’m a man in his 50s who is on Tinder. WHAT ELSE AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?!   I’ve actually been on a couple of Tinder dates, and while they haven’t yet led to a relationship, they were good experiences.

I’ve noticed a similarity in many of the profiles that I view.  In regards to photos, people seem to check off certain boxes.  For instance, I am surprised at how many photos I see of women scuba diving.  Really?  Is scuba diving a thing?  I’m thinking that it must signify wealth and health.  I’m sure it’s not cheap, and you must have to be in some kind of shape to deal with it.

So you have the scuba photos, and these are almost always accompanied by photos in ski gear, as well as beach photos.  Throw in a photo with your pet, and one of you standing in front of some corporate logo at a swanky affair and you’ve got yourself a Tinder profile.

Needless to say I’m not into scuba and skiing and the photos of me sitting behind a piano do not seem to be capturing the imagination of a nation, so I gave a friend who is good with photoshop, an assignment.  Here is his first effort.  I expect that my social calendar will soon be filled to the brim.

 

scuba keith

Posted in life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Music has gotten too loud

Posted by keithosaunders on March 18, 2017

Music is too loud these days.  I played an early gig at a bar in the Haight and after we were off there was a band with a singer, sax, trumpet, hammond organ, bass, and drums.  They were pretty obnoxious overall, but even worse they were loud as hell.  Even the horns were miked.  It was god awful.  It’s acoustic music.  There’s no need to pummel the patrons over the head.

Just a terrible job out of them.

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The jazz woo

Posted by keithosaunders on March 7, 2017

Alcoa presents: The Jazz Ethicist…with Keitho!

Dear J.E. When is the proper time to employ the jazz ‘woo?’

Curious Yellow

Dear CY,

Good question! First of all, whatever you do, do not use it on the bandstand. Horn players, when they are not soling, should effect an insouciance with head cocked at 45 degree angles, looking passively into the audience, occasionally snapping on the 2 and/or the 4.

NOW. During the break you will be talking about great musicians with your fellow band members. For example, someone one will say, “Herbie was killing it on Speak Like a Child!”

Now is your chance.

With a barely audible, yet excited 2 second falsetto, you proclaim, “Ooooh!”

Note: The W in ‘woo’ is silent – if you say ‘woo’ you’ve blown it and will be instantly ostracized from the herd.

I hope this helps.

Posted in jazz, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The art of the humblebrag

Posted by keithosaunders on February 28, 2017

Last night’s jam session was packed with people.  The establishment was going out of business and somehow this attracted jazz ghouls, suddenly smitten with nostalgia for a place that they were loathe attend during its run.  As a result the session went an hour overtime so that every last singer, sax player, and whistler could be accommodated.

When we finally finished the last “act,” a Danish accordion player who played Baby Elephant Walk in 5/4, I breathed a sigh of relief, and stood up from the piano when all of a sudden an audience member starting yelling, “LET’S HEAR ONE MORE FROM THE BAND!”  Of course the crowd cheered and hooted and the marathon night dragged on for another 15 minutes.

Now I love music as much as the next guy (probably more, since I actually play it for a living) but after having played for two hours straight I was ready for some Netflix.  Enough is enough, people.  If you really liked this club you would have patronized it during its heyday.

But let me tell you something, when a guy screams at the band to play one more song, it’s not about his love of music or his appreciation of the band.  It’s about injecting himself into the conversation.  It’s all about ego.  Look at me – I love these guys, I love music so much, I’m so hip.

The art of the humblebrag.

 

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Vestibules now!

Posted by keithosaunders on January 3, 2017

Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting and night

Folks, here is concrete photographic evidence of a clear and present danger in the Bay Area: An alarming lack of vestibules.

When people observe jazz in their overcoats they are not enjoying the music – they are counting the minutes until they can be reunited with their heater. Head colds and gig-related illnesses are predicted to spike in future years.

Stop the madness. #vestibulesnow!

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Glass Enclosure

Posted by keithosaunders on December 17, 2016

It took me almost half a year but I finally finished it – a piano transcription of Bud Powell’s Glass Enclosure. It was such painstaking work that two to four bars would take 40 minutes at which point I’d either be out of time or exhausted. The middle section, in which many of the measures contain a different chord for every beat, was particularly thorny. I’m confident I have accurate melody and harmony, but with the lower fidelity of 50s recordings I can’t be certain of the voicings. They are very close, though, and the genius of the piece is evident.

Glass Enclosure was written in 1953 shortly after Powell had been released from Creedmore State Hospital in Queens. According to a 1996 article in Atlantic Monthly written by Francis Davis, Bud, who had an ongoing engagement at Birdland, was kept locked in his apartment during the day by his manager, who was also his legal guardian. One day producer Alfred Lion, the co-founder of Blue Note records, came to Bud’s apartment and heard him working on new material. Glass Enclosure was the most striking of the songs he heard.

After living with this piece for 6 months my level of awe for Bud Powell has increased, if this is possible. The way I see it Bud’s repertoire can be divided into four distinct categories. There are compositions such as Dance of the Infidels, Wail, and Bouncing With Bud which are brilliant, as well as accessible to mortals.

Then there are the through composed pieces that are somewhat inaccessible, such as Glass Enclosure, Sure Thing, and Un Poco Loco. There’s also Tempus Fugit, which you can blow on, but is ultimately a giant pain in the ass. The thing is, even if you learn these tunes, what are you going to do with them other than attempt to play them as much like the original as possible?

In addition there are Powell’s reworking of standards such as I Should Care, Over the Rainbow, and Polka Dots and Moonbeans. These are so personal to him he may as well have composed them.

Then there is late Bud which still contains some gems such as John’s Abbey, Time Waits and Cleopatra’s Dream.

I believe that there is a legitimate case to be made that because of his compositions and the debt that every subsequent pianist owes him, Bud may have been deeper than Bird. At the very least they’re on par.  See for yourself.

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Just another night at the office

Posted by keithosaunders on December 7, 2016

There are so many louts at our gigs that it’s hard not to go all Stockhomy and start liking them.  When your office is a dive bar expectations had better be low or you could go crazy from frustration and aggravation.

At last night’s gig there was ultra loud couple sitting in the booth right across from the band. This guy must have been the funniest thing since Sid Caesar because every ten seconds there would be an ear-piercing cackle from his date. He had this nasal voice that could penetrate the loudest decibel, like a knife slashing through butter. We could have been Led Zeppelin and you would have heard this guy.

Needless to say they stayed the entire night. After the gig I noticed they were making out in the booth so I decided to give them a taste of their own medicine. “GET A ROOM,” I screamed. Then I approached them: “How do you like it when I intrude on your business?”

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

Mansplain the vote

Posted by keithosaunders on December 1, 2016

The worst thing about Trump being president is having to endure countless thinkpieces, as well as mansplaining-lectures from dullards as to how the salt of the earth rust belters cast a protest vote against the Dem machine. Two years from now while these idiotic,racist idiots scratch their heads while standing on unemployment lines I’ll be sitting in my ivory tower laughing and pointing. I can do $50.00 gigs until I die, what do I care?
 
But don’t tell me that Trump was employing some kind of Machiavellian strategy, pulling the wool over the American people. Please. Americans are stupid and racist enough. They saw a celebrity with racist overtones and these cretins who couldn’t accept being governed by a woman voted for the blowhard.
 
And fuck Hillary too. That’s the best the Dems could come up with? She’s a modern-day Ralph Kramden, not even bothering to campaign in Wisconsin. That’s how cocky she was.
 
Hillary: I had it and I went with it. Easy come, easy go!
 
So keep on writing and explaining to me, media. I’ll read every wor….[brrrrring!]
 
Hello? Yes? Yes? How much? 50? What time does it start?!

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