Juno and the Paycock

Laughed myself to sleep on the sofa watching Hitchcock’s ancient take (1930, I think) of the Sean O’Casey gem Juno and the Paycock. The characters are enchanting and the dialog is poetry, the stereotypes ring all too familiar and it is funny as hell. A darling film, it is, a darling film. As Fyl passed through the parlor I burst out laughing. What did he say? He said rest in peace. That’s funny? Well, he said it in Latin. But I thought this was an Irish play. Well, yeah but…. Never mind, she said. She stood there silent as the characters prattled on. You people never do stop talking, she said. Well, it’s not so funny in the original Sioux, I said. Though not out loud.

I highly recommend Juno and the Paycock though how anybody not familiar with the brogue could understand a word of it is beyond me. If so, I recommend picking up the Criterion DVD and either switching on the subtitles or listening to it dubbed in Spanish or Portuguese. Also, it is really great high with the sound off and Dark Side of the Moon on the stereo.

Seems I’m having trouble coming up with a comparison to wind this up. I’m terrible at this movie reviewing thing. You’d be amazed the things you do not learn being a jazz critic. However, it’s safe to say that Hitchcock fans will be disappointed. As will most of you English speakers, or anyone who saw Riverdance or wears Kiss Me I’m Irish buttons on St. Patrick’s Day. Think of The Informer but with lotsa laffs. Actually, now that I think about it, it is sort of like The Informer but with lots of laughs.

Hope that helps.

Juno and the Paycock.jpg

A little bit of heaven.

Jazz

I saw Monk at the Five Spot he said. He saw Trane at some little dive too. I remember walking down the street in Harlem, he said, and there was a piece of paper in a bar room window with a hand written George Benson in letters almost too small to read. Went inside for a beer and heard this young cat just burning on guitar. He was playing jazz back then. I can’t remember who was on the B3. I remember seeing Lee Morgan at the Lighthouse, the other guy said. Bennie Maupin was on tenor. The same band on the LP that’s playing now, listen. I listened: Bennie was cooking, then in comes Lee, solid. I remember the music was so good, he said, and Lee so right on and I was so happy and before I knew it I was drunk. I mean drunk. My ride had split, they were sweeping the floor and stacking the chairs and I had to walk home from Hermosa Beach to Inglewood. Damn man, how far was that? It was twenty miles. Hangover hit me about halfway there. He shook his head at the memory. But man, Lee Morgan sounded so good.

Dave Pell

First show I ever saw at Charlie O’s was the Dave Pell Octet. Mort Sahl walked in and sat at a nearby table. Pell blew long, airy solos in a set of Lester Young. This is Prez’s horn, he said. I heard Mort Sahl tell someone that Prez had left it to Pell in his will. The band was swinging, precise, beautifully charted, a lot of Shorty Rogers arrangements, very West Coast. The crowd dug it. Everyone seemed to know everyone else. Out back in the parking lot silver hairs huddled, giggling and smelling of weed. We stepped back inside just as Dave Pell counted off a perfect Lester Leaps In. He crooked the horn at an angle, shut his eyes and let the notes flow.

Rest in peace.

Dave Pell

Tim Buckley

A flat out classic cut in the brickspicks.com corporate offices and would be everywhere if anyone ever played it again. Or even heard it ever. Too rock’n’roll, I guess, for people in a Tim Buckley mood, while the rock’n’roll people see the name Tim Buckley and rear away–it’s the dreaded singer songwriter genre. But this thing grooves in a tough noir way like Jack Nicholson dancing, and the lyrics have just the right coked out horny 70’s nihilism, like a Blue Thumb session gone bad when the drugs were edgy and paranoid. And while the mood is as wrong as any song could be in 1972, Tim Buckley could have stomped into CBGB’s with this about 1976 and fit nicely and no one would have noticed he was a hippie. Or could have, had he not been stone cold dead already.

Unlistenable pleasures

Somebody innocently mentioned a cactus being picked up by the wind and hurled at them. Which was bad enough, but someone raised the discomfort level by several orders of magnitude by responding with a YouTube of Cactus doing Parchment Farm. Egad. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with Cactus. Well, they were Detroit band you loved if you thought the Grand Funk Railroad live album was overly melodic, subtle and well crafted. Because Cactus dispensed with even a hint of melody, subtlety and craft. They were the Detroit sound after Detroit had burned down. I remember finding their their album Restrictions in a bin somewhere for fifty cents. I think it was their third, by which time they had shed any hint of musicality, and is one of the most gloriously unmelodic hard rock records of its time. 40 minutes worth of songs pummeled to death by drums and guitars and the most tone deaf singer ever allowed into a studio. I loved that album. Wish I still had my copy, if only to bother people. Anyone who partied at our place in the mid 80’s was subjected to it at ridiculous volume.

Alas, at some point I became a jazz critic and now find that record utterly unlistenable. But there was a spell there circa early-mid-eighties when somehow finding the loosest, rawest, trashiest music imaginable became of utmost importance to a select few of us. I remember Humble Pie’s rendition of Honky Tonk Women was an unlistenable pleasure. Makes me almost glad that not a single soul in the entire world, not even some tone deaf record collector in Germany or Japan or Brazil, has posted the Lee Michaels unclassic Roochie Toochie Loochie, off his forgotten Tailface, which even then I thought was one of the dumbest album titles ever. But if you drunkenly drove from the Anti-Club to our pad in the mid 80’s at two in the morning, you and our neighbors were subjected to Roochie Toochie Loochie at ridiculous volume until one of you complained.

Anyway, here’s a cut off of Restrictions. If you are at work turn the volume as high as possible right now.

The single dullest paragraph ever written about Matt Groening

Odd the way Matt’s surname looks and is pronounced. It LOOKS like “Groaning” but is pronounced “Gaining” (from Facebook)

The oe was actually ö, so Groening was Gröning. Which in standard German should be pronounced more like Grerning, but in some German dialects, such as Swabian (Schwäbisch) an ö is pronounced more like an English short e or (depending on the consonants around it) a long a. I think this happens because in Standard High German the ö is a diphthong, but if you take the diph out of the thong (or the thong off the dip) that ö would be pronounced like the double e in the German “Schnee” (meaning snow) or the English “say” (meaning say). So apparently there were a lot of Swabian emigrants in the stretch of Canada where Matt Groening’s German father’s family had settled. I know there were lots of Swabians in Ontario, and I’d explain how it is I know that, but this is already the single dullest paragraph ever written about Matt Groening, so why ruin it.

You say potato, eu digo batata.

Uh oh. Nobody emote. You might weird out this Scandinavian piano trio on ECM. Not exactly Bud Powell or Monk, this stuff. Is this what a century of peace, socialism and drunken blonde sex culminates in? It’s so careful. So tentative. So pretty. It’s good, sure, but I never liked Bergman movies either.

Finland I can understand, but they’re not Scandinavian in anything but propinquity. They’re more like an Estonia’s hip, rich uncle. Or the people on the nice side of town pretending they are not distant cousins of those crazy Hungarians in the trailer park. (Finnish has fifteen cases, Hungarian twenty eight, now that’s crazy.) But I understand the Finns, I think, mainly because I can’t understand then. I mean they’re loud, party too hard, love hockey and crazy rock’n’roll and hate when people push them around. That I can understand. I just can’t understand what they are saying. Now Swedes, Norwegians, Danes I could understand fairly easily, would be conversant in a year’s time. Might even get to like lutefisk. But Finnish? I mean just how many ways can you say potato? Which reminds me that I was at a fun Finnish party once, above a sauna. They made greyhounds in a huge bucket and didn’t tell any of the girls–they invited mostly girls–that it was Everclear (jet fuel in a bottle) and not vodka. The poor things got smashed. One pretty little blonde–they invited mostly blondes–got her foot stuck in a waste basket and stumped around for a moment, bewildered, the most darling Jerry Lewis you ever saw. The Finns laughed and said potato fifteen different ways. Great party, but we left before the orgy in the sauna.

The computer is shuffling its little brain out and switches from Sven Svensson or whoever to Tania Maria. Piquant. It’s on Concord and is about as far from the ECM label as Rio is from Flekkefjord or Bodø. Sunny Brazil. Brazilians I can understand. They’re crazy, for one thing. I understand crazy. And everything they do there could possibly wind you up in bed or in prison. I understand horny and dangerous, too. And they have the best music. Some of the worst music, too (it’s too bad the military didn’t ban Arp synthesizers when it banned everything else), but also some of the best. Tania Maria is riffing up a storm here, pounding the piano with almost Monk like muscularity, such strong little fingers she must have, and the melody flows this way and that, like a borboletta going from flower to flower. Hips sway, undulate, go backwards, then that way, then the other way, and finally two steps forward. Uh oh, dig that bass. It’s huge. Now she’s doing a cuica with her voice, and the cuica is doing the voice beneath crazy hand clapped syncopation. Repeated figures on the piano, building and building. Now more of the clapping,and the cuica voices and voiced cuicas, and a pile of overdubbed vocals in ways that would just confuse and frighten Scandinavians. I hear they dig this in Finland, though. If they can say potato fifteen or twenty different ways, who knows how many ways there are to say samba. It’s so much simpler in Brazil. You say potato, eu digo batata.