Sunday, August 15, 2010

An Amateur's Tribute to Jazz

The great jazz singer and civil rights activist, Abbey Lincoln, passed away today. I've been listening to her music a lot today and that led to listening to some of my other favorites. So in tribute to those wonderful artists I'm posting clips of a few of the tunes I've revisited today.

Throw It Away is from Abbey Lincoln's final album of songs she composed herself. Some critics have labeled it her most moving song.
Throw It Away

This is the song that inspired my love of jazz. Take Five is from the first jazz album I ever bought. I love me some Dave Brubeck, even if he and his band look like a group of nerds.
Take Five

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free by Nina Simone is one of my all-time favorite songs. Some days I just leave it on repeat.
I Wish

This isn't my favorite by Anita O'Day, but I do like it very much and I love the hipster show host.
Body and Soul

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong were amazing and it's hard for me to pick a favorite so I'm cheating. One by each and a duet. Dream a Little Dream is one of their fantastic duets (and one of my favorite Mamma's and Pappa's songs).
Dream a Little Dream

It wouldn't be right to include a clip of the First Lady of Jazz that didn't have a little of her scatting.
Lullaby of Birdland

I love Edith Piaf's version of La Vie En Rose but I think I love Louis' even more.
La Vei En Rose
Piaf's Version

Here's another cheat -- Cole Porter was a composer not a singer. This is my favorite Porter song sung by Billie Holiday.
Night and Day

And now one of Billie Holiday's most famous songs, Strange Fruit. Strange Fruit was a poem put to music; the fruit was a reference to the dead bodies of men who had been lynched.
Strange Fruit

Duke Ellington was the most prolific American composer ever. There are much crisper recordings of Mood Indigo but I was feeling nostalgic. For all of the youngsters out there, the crackling noise is that of a needle on vinyl.
Mood Indigo

Fables of Faubus is probably my favorite protest song; a great "up yours" to Governor Faubus who was infamous for calling out the national guard to prevent integration of schools in Little Rock. Charlie Mingus' record company orignally refused to put out this song with lyrics.
Fables of Faubus

The man with the cheeks. One of my favorite online discussions about Dizzy Gillespie was, of course, regarding his puffed-out cheeks. Somebody commeted on how bad that was, the reply was "so what if his embouchure was bad, he still plays better than you." Here he is with another great, Charlie Parker.
Night in Tunisia

John Coltrane and Miles Davis together; can you ask for anything more?
So What

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Reed Sisters have finished reading Of Human Bondage. Stay tuned as we will be blogging our favorite Asian food and a bottle (or two) of wine.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My progress with reading Of Human Bondage has been slow as well. I'm on chapter 50, which according to my Kindle means I'm 37% of the way through. At first the plot seems to be part Jane Eyre and part Pip from Great Expectations: a child becomes an orphan who is then raised by uncaring relatives who then send him/her/it to a boarding school where life is atrocious. However, that is where the similarities end. It's a great story and I'm enjoying the journey.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Progress So Far

My progress on reading Of Human Bondage is not great although I love the book. I've been sidetracked by websites about how to blog so it is related. The goofy code at the top of this post something you have to do to "claim" your blog so that you can submit it to another site to increase readership. Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Reed Sisters' Magnificent Book Quest

I've been a major slacker on the blog so I decided to recruit my sister Heather to help me out. We've decided to start a book project based on the Modern Library's list of the best 100 novels.
"Why the Modern Library list?" you ask.
"Why the hell not?" we reply.

The modern library actually has two best novel lists; the editor's list and the reader's list. The Reed Sisters cut a bunch of junk books out of the reader's list then combined the leftovers with the editor list. We will use a random number generator to pick each book and once we've finished reading we'll blog about the book together. For those of you who knew us when we were kids -- do not be alarmed. Heather and I have learned to work together without hurting each other.

We've just started the first novel, OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham (no Heather, this is NOT a dating manual).

If anyone wants to play along, the next few books in order are:

LORD JIM by Joseph Conrad
I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves
THE RAINBOW by D.H. Lawrence