November rain (in the north)

November ( in the north) is  a restless time for me.  It’s the cloudiest month. When daylight savings time comes, my wife and daughter rejoice for the extra hour of sleep.  I cry.

It is the getting ready to die month. The glorious Autumnal leaves, golden, purple, red, yellow, aspen, maple & oak, now lay on the ground, faded ,crunchy, and forgotten.

When it rains in late fall, it usually chills you to no end. I have camped it, but hovering over a fire trying to absorb heat does not appeal to me anymore.

So when the sun emerged yesterday afternoon after the morning rain, I rejoiced. November sunlight  is not the piercing , brilliant   fire of July.  It is more of a  warm glow.  Yesterday, the temperature rose, with a sweet humidity of April and it’s trout streams.
Victor and I took our weekly walk in Mounds Park, overlooking the Mississippi, downtown Saint Paul, and the great expanse southward.  No eagles today, but an open sky to  sound-dream upon.

On these walks, music enters my imagination, in random ways, snippets of this or that.  I hear my friends  play passages, and often get seeds of new ideas from the winds.   Other passages waft in with the breezes.

Here is a random list of songs which came to me this week, in that “ipod of my mind”

Eddie Vedder. Those ukulele songs are amazing. .  I never listened to Pearl Jam that much – but these songs really grabbed my attention. His voice is plaintive, yearning, and the ukulele is a simple, refreshing backdrop for these stories. Go listen to “ Ukelele stories”.  My wife bought me a ukulele, and I got a baritone uke this summer.

Pharoah Sanders “ Love is everywhere”. After my gig, Brian was telling Andrew about Cecil McBee. It reminded me of one of his most killer, sweet bass lines.  Mr. McBee is one of the most overlooked bassists.  He has played with a lot of people, and I hope that he is making a good living now. This recording is from  the album “ wisdom through music” a jewel from 1973.

Alan Hovhanness “ Sonata Fred the cat”.  When most of us think of Alan Hovhanness, we think of large orchestral works, long , panaramoic phrases featuring lush lower brass sounds melded with strings… very  rainy west coast, a view of mountains, ie a BIG sound. Now imagine  the opposite- a spry little piano works, light in mood, dancing off the page of an ever-changing ostinato. A delightful work by a brilliant composer.

Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy “ I only have eyes for you”.  I have always loved what Mr. Bowie has done.   Although I am called a “ jazz” musician, at least half of the jazz I  hear drives me to boredom… especially  most “ jazz” radio stations.  (I hope I never hear “ My funny Valentine” again! ) But Lester Bowie  played MUSIC: on this now vintage R & B classic, Mr. Bowie brings the lushness from this brass group… along with humour. Warm, inspiring, quizzical. Big chords, and that sound Lester got from “ talking” into his horn.  Check it out.

The Velvet Underground “ I’m sticking with you” . Maureen Tucker will never win awards for her singing- it is hesitant, and tends to be flat. However, this song is a gem. A sincere song about loyalty, quirky, without pop song clichés. It changes key, mood, and is entirely amazing.

I rode with my friend to a meeting in Wisconsin.  He put on the jazz radio station.  I liked some of the intro’s but I those tunes…. Oh man did I get bored. Finally, we turned to a soul station.   The Temptations “ hold on, I’ll be there” has got to be one of the most inspiring songs.  Yes, the hoof  beats are cheesy… but…. Cheese is nutritious!  The groove is infectious, the voice compelling. More than just a love song, it can be heard as an expression of true friendship.  It captured my imagination.

Oh yes, I really like that Bon Iver guy. His voice, unusual guitar tunings, and simple studio warmth is amazing. I will never sound like that- maybe that’s why I like it so much.

It’s going to rain some more today.  This afternoon, when I am done looking at homework, I think I will sit in the chair, with the dog on my lap, and listen to random songs on the ipod.


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