Dave Douglas on Wayne Shorter

Dave Douglas: Music, Commerce and Culture Wars

I have to say that when Wayne Shorter started leading a small group again and I heard them, what they were doing—he’s always been an inspiration for me, but I think that the way that they were doing it was so, I hate the word “revolutionary,” but revolutionary! It was a way of taking the songs and then throwing out your assumptions about the way they’re supposed to be played, and who’s supposed to play what part, and what’s supposed to happen when, and what does the idea of tempo, and key, and texture mean. And they shook it all up and poured it out on the table and it’s this beautiful mosaic of all the constituent parts of the music—but without the glue of all of our assumptions about the way it’s supposed to be.

I like the part about assumptions. One of my major musical breakthroughs came when i realized that my preconceptions about what I was expected to play or what I thought people wanted to hear were all baloney.

The rest of the DD interview is good as well, and it covers a lot of bases.

Dewey Donation System

Dewey Donation System

I received the following email from a friend tonight.

I try never to forward mass emails — but this one (I hope you’ll agree) is worthy of sending to everyone you know who is a book lover.

As you might already know — I grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi, where Hurricane Katrina took an enormous toll. Tom and I recently toured the devastation and it’s remarkable that now (10 months later) most places still look like a bomb just went off. It was so much more vast and overwhelming than photos can possibly portray.

The one thing that hit me the hardest was seeing the Gulfport Library in such ruins. I spent nearly every Saturday morning there with my family — I was the Lisa Simpson of our clan — and I knew the librarians/staff there and their collections well. I have so many memories of that place — doing research for hours in high school — writing college papers while seated in the aisles of the stacks of books — reading all the classic children’s literature in their special room devoted to kid’s books — participating in their summer reading programs, etc. It was the place that probably meant the most to me in Gulfport, apart from my home.

So — here’s an easy way to contribute to their re-building effort —


These nice folks run a book drive each year — in the past, they have supported school districts where funding for libraries have been cut, or even supported libraries in the tsunami-affected areas — and this year (2006) they selected the Gulfport/Biloxi public libraries as their targeted beneficiary.

The libraries in Gulfport/Biloxi have even put together “wish lists” on Amazon.com — and you KNOW how easy it is to order things there — or you can send whatever you like — including just a cash donation — and there’s a place to leave a note, letting them know what you’ve sent and why — the website has everything you need — including an adorable mascot — Dewey (he’s a decimal).

PLEASE (after you send a few books/dollars of your own) consider forwarding this to everyone you know who’s a book lover and who would support this worthy cause — you can spend big/little, you can send your favorites or some classics, you can send anything you like — and be sure it gets directly to the good folks who are rebuilding in Mississippi.

Think for a moment — how different your life would be without books/libraries — and consider what an amazing thing a public library is — it’s a Barnes & Noble where everything is free, so long as you promise to return it.

Thanks for letting me share this with you —

Claire Brantley

Claire is a great person. She has a special spot in heaven because she married a trombone player.

If you are looking for a cool way to share a few dollars you have been blessed with, with some folks who are still only beginning to recover from Hurricane Katrina, consider the Dewey Donation System.

dewey donation banner

What I learned from George last night , or a common characteristic of great musicians

One of the beauties of working in the New Orleans scene is that I get to play a lot of different music. I have the pleasure of playing with a great bunch of musicians in the city’s growing adventure jazz/improv scene, I get to play with the Louisiana Philharmonic occasionally, and I get to work with some of the legends of the New Orleans r&b/funk scene. Last night fell into that latter category.

I had the honor of playing with George Porter Jr. and Runnin’ Pardners. George is the bass player in The Meters. He is a New Orleans music legend, and a big influence on much of modern funk.

The gig was a wedding. The kind of gig that many people would have phoned in. We had to do “What a Wonderful World” for one of the bridal party dances. While that is a classic tune, it is pretty far from the band’s normal repertoire. George joked that he learned it the night before, then put on his glasses and squinted at the lyric sheet on his stand.

Then he sang one of the most deep, soulful, honest renditions of that song that I have ever heard. It sounded like it had been his song all along.

That’s when I realized that great musicians are always in touch with the music inside of them. Here is a man that is known as one of the world’s greatest bass players and groove masters, yet he is singing a wedding standard, and it still becomes a personal musical statement. George is always George, no matter what the music is, and we can always hear that soul pouring out.

We should all strive to let our musical souls be available at all times. That’s what I learned from George last night.

Xtempor: new improvised music web forum

I have recently joined a brand new web forum at xtempor.com. It looks like it could become a vital place for the discussion of improvised and experimental music.

When you join the forum, you have to fill out an application that is reviewed by a human before your membership is activated. I don’t think this is intended to be snobbish, but rather to try to keep it a spam free zone.

Check it out. Xtempor

Papo Vazquez – Live at The Point Vols. 1 & 2

A recent eMusic score that I have been enjoying lately is Papo Vazquez, Live at The Point. It was issued as 2 CDs, Vol. 1 and Vol.2. The music has the great spirit and groove of the NY latin music scene that Papo comes out of, but a jazz concept and American funk vibe are very present as well. The musicians are all excellent, and Vazquez is a superlative trombonist.

Vol 1 cover

Vol 2 cover

Click the covers for links to the CD Universe site with sample sound clips.

offBeat :: Alt. N.O. :: Online Duets

Louisiana music magazine offBeat has an article about my online mp3 store in their June isuue. It also appears on their website.

offBeat :: Alt. N.O. :: Online Duets

Such releases, though usually unheralded, are nevertheless spelling trouble for a record industry already plagued by online music trading. While Duets Volume I isn’t free, at $6.93 it’s still a lot cheaper than most anything in a music store. “And,” says Albert, “I’m trying to get people to discover my music, so it’s nice to be able to price it.”

As the Internet becomes a medium in which music is not just stolen but also legitimately sold, its implications for the music industry are unclear. For his part, Jeff Albert is cautiously optimistic. “I think on some level that’s where the future is, but I’m not sure if people are ready for it. People get nervous about the technology.”

For the big labels, that nervousness comes with good reason.