Friday, June 21
Wednesday Dan and I went out for breakfast, bought some bread, worked here a little cleaning up the studio, went out for lunch (to Demo's for kebabs, with Jacques Pardo, the funny big-nosed french leader of Atlas Soul) and bought some CD furniture, worked here a little bit sorting out a couple of MIDI interfaces. Dan is one of the biggest consumers I know. He tends to buy good things, but he just buys a lot. We got word of a They Might Be Giants instore appearance at a Borders, so we went to try to convince the Johns to check out the Jim's Big Ego gig that night. We didn't get a chance to talk to them but we did slip them a CD and driving directions, thanks to well-positioned JBE fans in the crowd and in TMBG's entourage. So we stood in the rap section (ogling the Princess Superstar and Deltron discs) and peered over the crowd of mostly young parents. They (my fourth time seeing Them) were playing to support a new kids record, called No. A few songs from that (the best was "I'm going to bed…bed, bed, bed, bed, bed") and stripped down (guitar and accordion) "Older," "Cyclops Rock," "Constantinople." Jim and Dan were impressed by the power of their minimalism, but thought they looked bored.
Then to the Kendall Cafe (with signed posters on the wall from Jason Falkner, Robbie Fulks, Jewel, Big Head Todd, and the King himself), where Rebecca met us and got in free as well. Over ample but pricey portions (blackened catfish, rice and summer squash) we listened to the openers - an unfunny uncanny Dan Bern soundalike, and a hip-swiveling every-folkstress with derivative but pretty music and a very nice cover of "Just Like a Woman" - interspersed with Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Then JBE got on (not long after which the waiter/bouncer tried rather menacingly to kick me out for being under 21) and did their thing. A completely different experience from their Worthstock show - much looser, with a lot of banter from Jim in between songs. In a couple of instances, his banter would turn into a completely new, improvised song, the best of which was "that country one-two rhythm." In general, they stuck to slower songs, skipping most of my favorites from the newest record and doing a lot of old stuff and a few newer ones - best of which was an angular funky song about Spiderman "I enjoy be-ing a bug." There were tons of fans in the intimate audience, and they were totally into it. The famous napkin poetry went down too - my contribution "Abe is afraid of eggs" and Rebecca's "One Woody Allen to rule them all" got a lot of laughs but no repeat reading - he latched on to "kitty in the house" "i'm at my best on a trampoline" and
wake up America
to the REAL World Series
it's called the World Cup
Yesterday, by contrast, contained far less expenditure by Dan. We got a late start, cleaned out a whole bucket from the Neve (this meant taking out each module, unscrewing the knobs, then cleaning the surfaces with a toothbrush, cleaning the knobs separately, drying them all and then replacing them, making sure to orient them all correctly), and took a lunch break - tuna melts and purple OJ on the front porch steps and a visit from Mikey (neighbor - musician - friend), a drummer and a dancer and a baseballer, but not a James Brown fan yet.
Prompted by a call from Rebecca (done seeing Your Mom) I headed out on my own into the gorgeous sunny day. Bus to Harvard Square (overhearing a conversation on the seat behind me, one of whose participants referred several times to his B.M., which it took a while to figure out meant "baby mother") and train to Park St. as instructed, but no Rebecca. I waited for twenty minutes or so, and then decided to walk over to Copley Square on my own, after checking out a conveniently posted map. Around the edge of the Commons and down Boylston street until I saw the sizable gathering people and the trio setting up on stage. They were late in getting on too, and I called home to make sure Rebecca hadn't called. She and her Dan turned up not long after the band started, but didn't want to sit in the sun, so she sat off to the side and I took a spot right up front, which may have been a bit warm, but it was undisputably worth it to see the group. Man. It has been much too long since I've seen good live jazz, or any live jazz for that matter.
I'd only heard Brad Mehldau on his highly-touted cover of "Exit Music (For a Film)" and as a sideman on a couple of records, but I knew enough to be excited, and not to miss this like I had his show at Kilbourn Hall a few weeks back. He and his trio (bassist Larry Grenadier was fabulous, very musical and solid; I wasn't so keen on the drummer though - he was obviously technically great, but there wasn't much sensitivity or musical interest in his playing) did a lot of that dizzingly complex time stuff - nobody's keeping a steady groove, and it gets so loose that it's easy to lose sight of any time signature at all, but you know it's there, steady as a rock, in each of their heads. Then Brad goes off, improving Bach-style counterpoint, improvising with both hands independently, unexpectedly veering into fast eighth-note runs over an octave left hand melody statement, etc. etc. It's pretty sick. Actually they did as much in 7 as they did in 4.
The opening number was one of those insane time-signature pieces. I'm pretty sure it was in 5. But then, I didn't even recognize the melody until he announced somewhat later that it was Cole Porter's "Anything Goes." Two originals, a funky 7/8 with a relatively recognizable rhythmic grounding ("Boomer") and a very familiar-sounding waltz, which didn't stray too far from Evans-Corea territory ("Embers.") And then a Radiohead cover, but not the one I'd been secretly hoping (and singing to myself the whole walk down). Even better - and I knew it from the first four piano notes, after an extended bass solo - he played "Everything In It's Right Place," which of course works perfectly as a slow-burning tension-building mod-jazz tune, played fairly true to the original too. Rossy (the drummer) took his only real solo on that one, banging the skins something awful and making it sound more like Rock and Roll than Radiohead ever did. Then two more standards: "I've Grown Accustomed to her Face," which was fairly straight until Brad unexpectedly took off again into a cadenza-like solo which built rather dramatically, and a swell reading of "Get Happy," in an obtuse seven that I couldn't pin down until Grenadier started laying down a walking line in the middle of solos. This was nicely loose in its form - they didn't seem to be obsessively counting measures, but rather allowing for some space before the A-section came around again. Anyway. Very cool. Melhdau is intense. I do like jazz, I remember.
Becca gave me a little Boston geography lesson and walking tour, including her school and the duck pond in the Common (site of Make Way for Ducklings) on our way to a T station to meet up with Ruth for Moroccan dinner. Not too spicy, sticking fairly close to tamer Mediterranean styles, but still decently flavorful. Oh, and home-made ice cream afterwards, although I'm lately always tempted by these almost unnatural-seeming flavors like coconut creme and ginger molasses. Yeah...
Today I cleaned another bucket from the Neve. Dan's upstairs working on one of the SeneRap tracks. I'm going to go to the Morgenthau cousins party (the annual family gathering on my mom's dad's side) in Westchester, where I will surprise everyone there who doesn't know I'm coming - including my parents. That's because Carla called up this morning and asked if I wanted to go with her. So that will be fun. I ought to pack. I'm writing a song in my head.
I know you called
I know you called
I know you hung up