Here’s today’s viral earworm. You can thank me later. No worries, it’s safe for work. Family friendly. Infectious. Infectious as the Spanish Flu, in fact, so if you are at work make sure to turn it up so you can hear as it spreads throughout the whole office. They’ll be singing it standing over the xerox machine, or waiting for the elevator, or in the restroom when they think no one else is in there. They’ll bring it up on YouTube and post it. It’ll pop up in emails, texts, ringtones. And there’s no antidote for it, either. No anti-virus fix. No other song that can quash it. You know that commercial that says if you had chickenpox you have the shingles virus? This is like shingles. That’s the beauty and power of ear worms. And this is the greatest ear worm of all time. If an ear worm could destroy civilization this would be it. All you evil types take note. You marketing types, too. Though the damn thing is driving me nuts now and I gotta turn it off. It’s been playing on YouTube who knows how many times the whole time I’ve been writing this. Sheesh, infected myself. I can still hear it. Over and over and over. That double bass drum. The glockenspiel. The infinite na na na na’s and interminable hey hey’s….. oh death where is thy steam?


All it takes is one listen.

Plastic Bertrand

I had Plastic Bertrand going through my head all day yesterday, Someone said it was his birthday (I was never quite sure that there actually was a Plastic Bertrand…I thought it was Lou Deprijk) and shared a video which I watched nostalgically. Bad mistake. All day long I had Plastic Bertrand going through my head. Which is harmless enough–It could have been Bohemian Rhapsody or Free Bird or I Know What Boys Like–except  that I would find myself saying aloud (in a French monotone) Ca Plane Pour Moi moi moi moi moi, Ca Plane Pour Moi.  If I didn’t catch myself I’d do a couple choruses. This went on for hours. I ignored it. Last night I’d put on Joe Henderson’s Inner Urge. The title cut is one of my favorite jazz tunes ever. I can’t really express what it means to me, it’s beyond words. The lights were out and I sat in the dark and Joe was blowing and blowing and the tempo was crazy and McCoy Tyner’s left hand came down in crazy comps and Elvin Jones drop kicked and danced across the cymbals. Each soloed. Bob Cranshaw’s turn came and the bass was down, solid, grooving. Then expressive. Exploring. The music grew hushed. The room was silent. I closed my eyes and laid back awaiting Joe’s tenor return. It’s one of those jazz moments where space and silence means so much. It was just perfect. Everything silent except for the bass. And in that absolute quiet, that zen perfection, I heard another sound. It was a voice, my own voice. “Ca Plane Pour Moi” I sang, “Ca Plane Pour Moi moi moi moi moi….”

Plastic Bertrand

Plastic Bertrand


Woke up with a tenor saxophone solo going through my head and I can’t remember whose and it’s driving me nuts. It’s just a fragment, fifteen or twenty seconds of somebody blowing something really nice. I can’t really even hear the rhythm section. I’m not one of those cats who wakes up hearing a Hank Mobley outtake and recognizing it. I know guys like that, though. Most of them are players. Jazz players know everything about jazz. Well, they don’t, not everything, but to a layman they might as well, we can’t tell the difference. The other kind are jazz critics. Not all of them, but the serious ones. The encyclopedic Scott Yanows and Don Heckmans and Kirk Silsbees and Richard Ginells and Tom Meeks et al of the jazz universe. We’d all be hanging together in the Playboy Jazz Festival press room looking expertly and the conversation would turn to jazz players, then jazz sessions, then jazz sides, then jazz solos, then outtakes. That’s when you find out that basically you’re just a glorified rock critic. I mean these guys know everything. It’s like listening to baseball fanatics rattle off stats. I’d stay quiet, then slip off and stuff the complimentary beers into my jacket pockets to take back to our seats. You weren’t supposed to take them outside but I hate rules. Give the wrong time, stop a traffic line the poet said. Once I copped a whole bottle of wine. Then went back and got another. You just can’t trust some people. That wine sure went down nice with Wayne Shorter’s set, though. Wayne was so out, I mean he didn’t give a flying fuck if the crowd liked it or not (they didn’t) and his band–Brian Blade on the drums, John Patitucci on bass, Danilo Perez on piano–were so intense, and I’d slipped into the seats they reserve for VIPs and network newsmen and beauty queens…like the beauty queen who sat next to me, in fact. Lovely. We chatted, me and Miss California. It wasn’t a bad gig, really, being a jazz critic.

Stan Getz. Obviously. Ligia. The Jobim tune. Once the guitar filtered in I recognized it. João Gilberto’s playing is so instantly identifiable. Well, it is now, though it would have spared me some annoyance if I recognized it an hour or two ago. Of course now the whole tune with guitar and bass and drums is going through my head over and over. But that’s OK, I absolutely love this take. I have it on a comp–think it’s The Lyrical Stan Getz–and not  on the original. I can hear the long solo blowing through my cerebral cortex now. There are worse earworms. Ça Plane Pour Moi, for one. You even think of that name and the infuriatingly catchy chorus will skip around inside your skull like a broken record. Like it is now, in fact. Brick, you’re an idiot.

Richard Ginnell and Scott Yanow surrounded by rich people and looking way too smart for their own good. Playboy Jazz Festival, 2011. Photo copped from