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Wednesday
Dec012010

The Muppets do jazz.

There was a time when jazz musicians were invited to appear on television. It happened quite often. Shows like The Tonight Show, Ed Sullivan, Dick Cavet, Merv Griffin and The Dean Martin Show invited great jazz artists on to their show's all the time.

The Muppets even invited on a few jazz giants on to the show. Dizzy Gillespie and Buddy Rich both took off their serious jazz personas and opened their minds to a new experience for a new audience.

Dizzy had one of his more playful moments during his career during his guest spot on The Muppet Show when he donned a gold Turban and sang (gulp) Swing Low Sweet Cadillac. Yup, you read that song title correctly. Here it is:

How do you follow that up?

Sunday
Nov282010

They grow up fast.

Remember when your kids were young?

I just dropped off my eleven year old off at the ski hill for the day. He seemed so confident in where he was supposed to go and what he was supposed to do. It's like I wasn't needed at all... except for my wallet.

They grow up fast. We, as parents, are forced to grow up fast as well. But it wasn't long ago when you had a curious kid that needed answers for a million questions a million times a day.

Here's a little tune about a little kid growing up with all those questions. Enjoy Mel Torme swinging a sweet little tune called Dat Dere.

Saturday
Nov272010

Thanksgiving leftovers ... and a song.

Now that the turkey has been stuffed... and you have been stuffed with it... you're probably thinking, "What should I do with the left overs?"

Make turkey stew with this recipe courtesy of Maureen Callahan at Cooking Light.

And what does this have to do with jazz? Simple.

When I post something about food I always post a song or video of a song to go with it. This time it's a link to Gravy Waltz from Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown. You can check it out or buy it here. Gravy Waltz link

Here's your dinner tonight:

While usually an ingredient in moles, roasted pumpkinseed kernels add another layer of nutty flavor to this posole-style broth. Look for them in specialty markets and health-food stores. Substitute ancho chile powder if guajillo is unavailable.

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3  large Anaheim chiles, seeded and halved lengthwise
  • 2  teaspoons  canola oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped onion
  • 4  garlic cloves, minced
  • 2  tablespoons  ground guajillo chile powder
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  dried oregano
  • 4  cups  water
  • 3  cups  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  (15-ounce) can golden or white hominy, drained
  • 4  cups  leftover shredded cooked turkey breast
  • 1/3  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  cup  roasted unsalted pumpkinseed kernels
  • 1/2  cup  thinly sliced radishes
  • 1/2  cup  thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) crumbled queso fresco cheese
  • Lime wedges (optional)

Preparation

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Place pepper halves, skin side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 6 minutes or until blackened. Place in a paper bag, and fold to close tightly. Let stand for 15 minutes. Peel and chop; set aside.

3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add chile powder and oregano; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in 4 cups water, broth, and hominy; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Stir in Anaheim chiles and turkey; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in cilantro and salt; cook 3 minutes. Ladle about 1 1/3 cups soup into each of 8 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon pumpkinseed kernels, 1 tablespoon radishes, 1 tablespoon green onions, and 1 tablespoon cheese. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Thursday
Nov252010

The Top 10 Jazz Fashion Crimes

 

Sure Jamie Hyneman is cool... but it's not because of the beret

Jazz musicians are incredible at what they do. They are Ferrari's of musical capability and horsepower. So why are jazzers the perpetrators of so many crimes against fashion?

I'm no expert when it comes to fashion but I do know that a suit and tie can go a long way for a gentleman or a fashionable black dress can do wonders for any woman. Duke Ellington once said, "You've got to find some way of saying it without saying it." Sure, he was talking about performing music but in this case he also happened to nail down a philosphy for what jazz musicians should wear on stage.

Here are the top 10 jazz fashion crimes:

  1. Berets - these classic french chapeaus show up in jazz far too frequently. If you wear a beret to look cool... please know that you're only achieving the opposite. Beret = too ironic.
  2. Past Jazz festival t-shirts - Okay. We get it. You were actually at that festival. But we know how old the t-shirt is by looking at the year. If your festival tee is over one year old it's time to retire it.
  3. Ballcaps - never, never, never wear a ballcap when you're performing in front of an audience unless you're at a family reunion.
  4. Fedora's / Pork pie hats - a great haircut is much more effective... these hats make you look silly and insecure. Just blow us away with your chops, man.
  5. Hawaiian shirts - sure they are colorful but they are also FOR HAWAII and VACATION. They are clearly not work shirts.
  6. Jazz swag - say NO to any piece of clothing that simply has the word "jazz" on it.. especially in sequins or sparkles. This type of display smells of runny cheese. 'nuff said.
  7. Captains hats - there are only two exceptions. Count Basie and New Orleans brass bands.
  8. Muscle shirts - are underwear.
  9. Bandanas - if you sweat that much bring a towel and discreetly use it between numbers.
  10. Po' boy hats (frontward or backward) - even Samuel L. Jackson has moved on from wearing these hats (and he wore them for a long time) so it's time for jazz to move on as well.

Do you see a pattern? Yup, it's hats. Everybody stop wearing them.

Jazz has a long legacy of snappy dressers. Duke Ellington was one of the finest examples. Sure Duke wore hats in his day but he wore them outside as protection from the elements. Chances are you are inside at your gigs. Take your hat off.

Not every jazz artist is guilty of these fashion crimes. Jazz suffers from the fashion crimes of a few (well intentioned) individuals but it may be time to challenge them to change their style. It could lift jazz.

Ladies, if youre looking for some inspiration see Melody Gardot, Brandi Disterheft or Diana Krall. Gentlemen check out Wynton Marsalis. A good suit will take you a long way. It's armour for any artist.

You - the jazz artists - are Ferarri's. Dress like you drive one.

Wednesday
Nov242010

Christmas season is jazz season

Think about it: how perfect is jazz at Christmas time?

Some of the most beloved holiday music comes from the jazz family of music. Lee Mendelson, the producer of a christmas cartoon special heard a song on the radio by the Vince Guaraldi Trio while traveling in a taxi cab. He contacted Guaraldi and next thing you know POW Vince was writing music for "A Charlie Brown Christmas". Vince went on to write and perform the music for sixteen Charlie Brown cartoons. Sometimes life comes at you in great big delicious chunks doesn't it?

Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald all made hugely successful christmas albums. When you're doing your Christmas shopping this year you'll probably hear ol' Bing singing White Christmas. Michael Buble told me himself that he's working on a new Christmas CD for 2011.

Even though gatherings during this season are now called "hoilday parties" (to be politically correct) there's still a good chance you're going to hear Christmas jazz at those parites. Even if you stay away from Christian songs like The First Noel and Silent Night it's a good bet that Frosty the Snowman, Silver Bells and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas will swing out of some speakers somewhere.

So this holiday season when you're wondering what music you should put on for dinner, a party or even just atmosphere think jazz. You can't go wrong.