Monday, 31 August 2009

Lester Young Centennial

100

Lester Young was born 100 years ago today (aug 27). He died just over 50 years ago, in March 1959.

Young is the most important link in the chain between early jazz and modern jazz.  He sounded good playing with both New Orleans-style musicians and beboppers. If he were around now he could probably go to Smalls tonight and sit in with whoever was on the bandstand without any problem.

While few other jazz musicians from the pre-1950 era continuously invented new phrases, serious Young lovers get every record he???s ever made because they know that there???s always the possibility that he will play something they haven???t heard before. In addition, Young had one of the most swinging beats in the history of the music.  And though he could deliver a honking, stomping tenor, even his most frantic outbursts sound curiously relaxed.  He never tried too hard or worked for the impossible.  He just was:  Cool.  

In fact, he may have literally invented the word ???cool??? and given it to the English language, for his verbal jousting and pre-beatnik beatnik behavior gave him a iconic mystique almost inseparable from the sounds coming out of his horn. The improvisation, the beat, the cool, and the mystique has made him one of the most well-loved musicians of the 20th century. These posts document my attempt to learn from Lester Young in the 21st.  

I ask the forbearance of dedicated Young fans and scholars. They are sure to find errors and incorrect assumptions in my work.  If I ever to decide to officially publish I promise to clean up all errata and double-check all suppositions. For now, this is just a private journey made public.  

  1. 18 with Lee K.
  2. Oh, Lady!
  3. Calling the Masters
  4. The Power of Vulnerability
  5. Miles Davis and Lester Young
  6. A Beginner???s Guide to the Master Takes
  7. The End and the Future
  8. Top and Bottom
  9. Footnotes
  10. Further Reading

posted Aug 27th, Ethan Iverson's tour of Prez is brilliant, thoughtful and thorough, a veritable complete education in the full spectrum of jazz encapsulated in the life of this one most amazing player. Sorry for including the whole clip, but I just didn't have the heart to snip it down.

Friday, 28 August 2009

The Science of Kids

Nick is a 6-year-old boy who doesn???t lie. At least according to his father, Steve. So imagine Steve???s chagrin when he witnessed what a hidden camera had documented in the McGill University laboratory of psychologist Victoria Talwar. In order to win a prize, Nick readily cheated in a game, then lied to cover up his cheating. When pressed, he elaborated on his lie, and he showed not a glimmer of remorse. Indeed, he was gleeful.

Is Nick a ???young sociopath in the making???? Probably not. In fact, he???s fairly typical of 6-year-olds, who lie about once an hour, usually to cover up a transgression of some kind. That???s about twice as much lying as 4-year-olds do, which suggests that kids are learning to lie. Looking at kids of all ages, fully 96 percent are liars. Indeed, Talwar views lying as an important developmental milestone, linked to intelligence.

That doesn???t mean lying is okay, and both father and son know this. It???s uncomfortable to watch Nick squirm through his lies as he digs himself in deeper. And Steve is a fairly typical parent too, in the sense that all parents are very bad at lie detection...


Nick???s story comes from science writers Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, who include it in NurtureShock, their delightful new collection of essays on the ???science of kids.??? Though not exactly a parenting manual, the book does offer a lot of useful information on why kids do what they do... Bronson and Merryman???s essay on lying is representative of this engaging volume, in its mix of pitch-perfect science writing and soft-pedaled guidance for parents. Many of their essays???on sleep, racial attitudes, self-control, sibling relations, and more???are animated by actual flesh-and-blood kids, who we meet on an excursion through many of the nation???s top child psychology laboratories. It???s a rewarding and entertaining excursion. NurtureShock is published by Twelve Books, and is in bookstores now.

Smiling Faces

you can keep it in a library or something, and when you want to see some particular town???s people???s smiling faces you can go and check that section of the film. We can also arrange it with a television network so that whenever you want to see faces of a particular location in the world, all you have to do is to press a button and there it is.

This way, if Johnson wants to see what sort of people he killed in Vietnam that day, he only has to turn the channel.

see also the detailed instructions How to ... SMILE -- you can also participate in the Smiling Face Film Project at their flickr group page

Monday, 24 August 2009

Quincy Jones: Arts Education in America

make no mistake, every artistic vocation whether it is music, dance, painting, literature, the moving image or architecture is vitally important to the fabric of our country's history and deserves to be protected, promoted and nurtured

In other news, the Harvard School of Public Health and the Quincy Jones Foundation will present this year???s Q prize to the leaders of El Sistema:

Quincy Jones commented, "I am honored to join with Harvard in presenting this year's Q Prize to Maestro Dudamel and his mentor Dr. Abreu for their dedicated work on behalf of the children of Venezuela through El Sistema.  Throughout my life I have been able to witness firsthand the power of music to bring forth change in the lives of those less fortunate, and the work of El Sistema is a glowing example of the magnitude of that power around the world.  I eagerly anticipate furthering the message of music as a tool for bringing young people together in a common cause for mankind when we convene the National Music Summit next year in New York. Music is the only thing that engages the left and right brain simultaneously - it's soul and science.

"It tore my heart apart that on this day that my alma mater was naming a building after me, that this young man had no idea who the men were that put me on their shoulders and helped shaped who I was as a young musician. Men who will forever stand at the foundation of popular music, and who I believe in years to come will be regarded as America's Chopins, Griegs and Tchaikovskys."

NFB Digital Storytelling Workshops

Part of the Canada CODE side-events of the Olympics (and why not!!) NFB presents its storytelling traveling show:

super cool and an incredible opportunity for those who wish to participate.

The goal of the program is for participants to contribute to Canada CODE and learn about the NFB collection at the same time. We???ll have bilingual facilitators traveling across Canada to deliver 3 types of workshops:

  • Student/participant workshops ??? a full day, hands-on program designed for delivery in-class.
  • Educator workshops ??? a 3 hour hands-on program to provide educators with the tools to deliver a digital storytelling workshop to their students.
  • Conference workshops ??? a 1 ??? 2 hour lecture-style program with hands-on activities designed to build awareness and encourage educators, community leaders and librarians to deliver digital storytelling workshops to various people.

If you want to host or organize a workshop in your community, just call Melissa Wheeler at m.wheeler@nfb.ca or at (416) 973.0896.

Canada CODE gives people who live in Canada a collaborative way to share who we are with each other and the world. Show the world what we're made of - upload short stories and photos about your daily life and neighbourhood now.

/EDU, the online education portal for the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and 2010 Legacies Now, are developing an educator???s guide to help Canadian teachers connect Canada CODE activities to their curriculum through art-infused education.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

the truth of all

To understand the truth of all is to find a few simple points
translation via translationparty.com where english is taken to japanese and back again, over and over, until the process reaches equilibrium.

original: "All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them." (Galileo Galilei)

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Ladies: Be Optimistic ... or Else

Optimistic women have a lower risk of developing heart disease or dying from any cause compared to pessimistic women, according to research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers also reported that women with a high degree of cynical hostility — harboring hostile thoughts toward others or having a general mistrust of people — were at higher risk of dying; however, their risk of developing heart disease was not altered.

“As a physician, I’d like to see people try to reduce their negativity in general,” said Hilary A. Tindle, M.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

“The majority of evidence suggests that sustained, high degrees of negativity are hazardous to health.”

Just in case you were thinking that perhaps the Optimists were less likely to smoke, hide in dark places and eat poorly, and more likely to socialize, be active and ah ... get more ... ah ... healthy exercise, be assured that one of the important features of this study is how they took all these factors into account and still lost the pessimists.

Curiouser still, tho not beyond common sense, it turns out the Optimism can be theraputically contageous, as reported elsewhere on that site the story of a Lodz Ghetto physician who was only able to treat patients with his patience leading to a modern empirical study of the effectiveness of positive attitudes among the caregivers:

It’s amazing what positive thinking and positive reinforcement from those around you can do to get you through illness, bad times, and whatever other barriers you encounter.

Sometimes, this kind of empathy all by itself can promote healing. In a study published in the July issue of Family Medicine, Dr. David Rakel, director of integrative medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, looked at 350 patients who were randomly assigned to one of three groups: no interaction with a doctor (the patients saw only study staff), a standard visit with a physician, and a visit in which the doctor asked more questions and tried to show more empathy. The patients then rated their doctors on empathy.

Rakel found that the 84 patients in the latter group rated their doctors best and got rid of their colds a day sooner than the others, and they had stronger immune responses on a standard test. Said Rakel: “Kindness matters.’’

 

Can a gun have a soul?

Brad Bird???s award-winning but critically ignored feature animation debut pondered how a paranoid, post-war America might react to an overwhelmingly powerful interstellar invader. A decade on, the cult classic stands as arguably the most intellectually and emotionally moving science-fiction tale in recent history.

Ten years on, Wired notes that not much has changed in the wake of the Iron Giant. If anything, the mainstream of movie making has gone from bad to worse:

For proof, look no further than G-Force, the recently released children???s CGI spy-fi fantasy starring sentient and armed guinea pigs working for the FBI.Or consider Iron Man. The 2008 movie, based on Marvel Comics??? armored war machine and released during the so-called war on terror, managed to make an arms-dealing billionaire look cool. If you think there???s going to be much more than explosions or jokes in its highly anticipated sequel, due in 2010, I???ve got a subprime mortgage to sell you.And then there???s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the ultimate weaponized fantasy about gas-guzzlers that suddenly become useful for something ??? and not just carting around Megan Fox???s massive rack, either. The list goes on.

Even Harry Potter, a once innocent lad in a world of endless possibilities has become focussed on a revengeful teen who with his masters will stop at nothing to get back at the Undeniable Evil. I was so dissappointed: in the scene where Draco Malfoy is brought to tears over this terrible task put to him, I thought how wonderful would it have been had Harry found him, consoled him, pledged to work with him to free him of the illusion of his 'immutable' fate, and the two once mortal enemies could finish the series as the very best of friends. Naturally, I hear you say because you've been led to expect it, this would be absurd and would somehow 'destroy' the Potter Franchise. To that I can only counter that it is the standard plot twist of nearly every Pokemon movie! And with that I lament on how many parents I've met can forbid their children from pokemon cards yet fully fund their child through the Harry Potter's Revenge cycle held out as a far more 'decent' path in their literary tradition.

For my part, as a parent, I'll point my kids at Hogarth Hughes, ???the luckiest kid in America.???

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Why can't you tickle yourself?

MindHacks vs the BBC who sadly had not done their due diligence on the question of why we're unable to tickle ourselves no matter how hard we try. The answer? Turns out to be another evidence that the world you inhabit is not the same world I inhabit, it is a 'Matrix' simulation, but one of our own making, grounded periodically in sensory input:

a scientific paper [pdf] entitled 'Why can't you tickle yourself?' addresses exactly this question.

The science of this is quite well known (in fact, it was featured in the original Mind Hacks book as Hack #65) but in summary it seems that the brain simulates of the outcomes of actions based on your intentions to move because the actual sensory information from the body takes so long to arrive that we'd be dangerously slow if we relied only on this.

This slower information is used for periodic updates to keep everything grounded in reality, but it looks like most of our action is run off the simulation.

So it is true: Life is but a Dream!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

CwF + RtB = Paydirt

Some complained that such a model only worked for "big" name acts like Reznor, so I later expanded the original presentation to include many other acts of varying levels of fame and success to show how it could work at many different levels. Most recently, I used those examples to show where I believed the overall music industry was heading.

But, it actually goes beyond just the music industry. In fact, I'd argue that these models apply to many different industries, including the media business.

Merce Cunningham 1919-2009

High American Modernism is drawing to a close; it's hard to imagine anyone keeping that flame alive into the 22nd century.  I love all of its masters, regardless of genre:  Elliot Carter, Jackson Pollock, Ornette Coleman, Thomas Pynchon, etc.

But I think dance, with its corresponding advantages of kineticism and athleticism,  might have been the most comfortable place for that temperature, even more so than with music, painting, or fiction. I only saw the Merce Cunningham company a half dozen times.  Now that he's gone I wonder why I didn't see even more.  Every time I left the theater electrified and inspired.