• It was 20 years ago today ...

    January 25, 2008

    As we roll into the meat of the primary season, I was overtaken by a sense of nostalgia for the bygone day when one journalist (Dan Rather) inserted himself into the 1988 presidential primary by going mano a mano with the leading Republican candidate (George H. W. Bush).


    It was on this date two decades ago that this TV confrontation between Rather and Bush over the Iran/Contra scandal (and what G.W. knew or didn't know about it) became part of presidential political lore, and perhaps got George W. thinking about how he could pay Dan-O back, which he kinda did now that I think of it. (see Rather's report on the president's Vietnam service and the fallout thereafter.) It seems tame when compared to today's shock jock aesthetic, but it still probably makes the current George Bush mad as hell. Enjoy! - David Cruz

  • How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?

    January 16, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Benny Goodman Carnegie Hall CoverIf I had a time machine (preferably a DeLorean with a Flux Capacitor requiring 1.21 jigowatts of juice), one place I would go to is Carnegie Hall. Specifically on the evening of January 16, 1938. That's because seventy years ago today, jazz giants roamed the stage at Carnegie, and jazz was finally getting some respect from the concert hall scene.What an extraordinary night in many ways. There are a million stories about this show, and historians have cleared most of the myth from the reality. That's important work, but at the end of the day, I just like the music. I've listened to this stuff over and over. When modern listeners' conceit gets in the way of hearing an "old sounding" recording like this, those folks are simply missing the point. It's the music.And the music is amazing. Benny Goodman with his trio (pianist Teddy Wilson, drummer Gene Krupa), his quartet (add Lionel Hampton), and his orchestra with Jess Stacy, Harry James, Ziggy Elman etc. With Fletcher Henderson and Jimmy Mundy arrangements. You can't go wrong with this. It's enough.

    But it wasn't enough. Ellington sidemen Johnny Hodges and Harry Carney sat in. Not to forget Cootie Williams' muted trumpet on "Blue Reverie." That's my reverie. Plus, a jam session on "Honeysuckle Rose" that's crazy long, with Count Basie and most of his men. No Papa Jo on the drums, but Krupa turns the volume down a bit. Hell, even rhythm guitarist Freddie Green takes a two chorus "solo" of strumming the strings...

    If I had my way, I'd post the whole show online, RIAA be damned. People need to hear it. If you haven't heard it, what exactly are you waiting for?
    As for me, I'm waiting for lightning to strike the clock tower. It's 10:04 on November 12th, 1955. I'm in my DeLorean. Trying to get back home.

    -Josh Jackson

  • Smurfin' the Web

    January 14, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Chick Corea Smurf Cover

    Yeah, that's really the cover of a Chick Corea record. As if The Leprechaun and The Mad Hatter weren't enough...

    I just read that the Smurfs, the lovable band of blue forest denizens who lived in mushroom houses, are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year. Belgian Pierre Culliford (aka "Peyo"), a projectionist turned comic artist, introduced the original blue man group in a 1958 comic strip, a story of Johan & Peewit in "Le Journal de Spirou". I, however, remember them very fondly from my TV-heavy childhood. At that time, I thought Gargamel and Asrial (meow) were a lot cooler. Expect a Smurf Tour later this year (yes, really), plus new comics and DVDs of the television series. "La - la - la la - la la, sing a happy song ..."


    "La - la - la la - la la, Smurf the whole day long ..."
    -Josh Jackson

  • The early bird gets the Diz ...

    January 9, 2008

    I am not, by any stretch, a morning person. Working Doug Doyle's morning shift means a 3:30 a.m. wake-up for me. I feel much better getting to bed at 3:30 a.m. than I do getting up at 3:30 a.m., but, hey, I ain't complaining. (That's not why you read this blog, right?)

    But one of the great reasons for getting up so early is that I get to listen to Gary Walker in the morning. He mentioned on the air today that it was on this date (January 9) in 1945 that John Birks Gillespie first recorded "Salt Peanuts," one of the greatest jazz tunes ever written, in my opinion. (Composed by Diz and Kenny Clarke, whose birthday is today, by the way.) Jazz heads have heard Diz and Miles and many, many others play "Salt Peanuts," but a young friend, not a Jazz head, reminded me that "Salt Peanuts" was also the tune you hear in the bathroom fight scene from Jim Carrey's movie "Cable Guy." That is Owen Wilson on the receiving end. "You know, from this angle, you look just like Dizzy Gillespie." - David Cruz