Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Played, Playing, Heard, Read, Seen

Couple interesting gigs I have taken part in/am taking part in New York:

j a z z a t t h e s e a p o r t

seaport district cultural association performance space Front Street at Beekman Street (South Street Seaport)
fridays at 8:00 pm - 2 sets - admission $10

july 13 - daniel carter, reeds and piano; louie belogenis, tenor saxophone; hill greene, bass; harris eisenstadt, drums

july 20 - twice told tales
tony malaby, tenor saxophones; louie belogenis, tenor saxophone; mark helias, bass; harris eisenstadt, drums

subway: 2,3,4,5 to Fulton Street or A to Broadway/Nassau

Have heard/seen some lovely gigs this summer in New York. Two I'd like to make mention of:

- Taylor Ho Bynum and Positive Catastrophe at Zebulon, June 26. Wow, almost a month ago now. I've really not been blogging! Better late than never. The band included THB (cornet, conductor), Matt Bauder (tenor sax, clarinets), Michael Attias (alto, baritone saxes), Mark Taylor (french horn, mellophone), Raul Navarrette (trombone), Evan O'Reilly (guitar), Keith Witty (bass), Satoshi Takeishi (percussion), Abraham Gomez-Delgado (vocals, percussion), Jen Shyu (vocals, violin, erhu). Great band, fantastic arrangements of Sun Ra compositions, and a joyful feeling amongst the band and in the room. Very enjoyable and I think the first gig for this group.

- Basya Schecter (voice), Ayelet Rose Gottlieb (voice), Jon Madof (ac. gtr.), Sebastian Noelle (ac. gtr.) & Shanir Blumenkranz performing music from John Zorn's Book of Angels at Bowery Poetry Club, July 15. First gig for this band too and they sounded wonderful. Zorn's compositions were soulful and the group's arrangements effective - a particular treat to hear two excellent vocalists working together. Nice one, folks.

Just started Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Incredible ideas. Complicated but decipherable for non-professional urban planners. Sincere and humanist. More about this true VIP in future posts.

James Clavell's Gaijin is finally over. Not that I didn't love the swarthy, adventure/romance novel meets Dickens-loving prose, all 1000+ pages of it. "Back to feudal Japan, which now enters the modern world, from the master of the three-decker behemoth..." begins the Kirkus review here. They're not kiddding. I've read all of Clavell except Whirlwind and I must say I was overjoyed when I ran across Gaijin in the stacks at The Strand. Perfect reading on the bike at the gym. Oh how the time flies. I'd previously valued Clavell as great road-reading, that is, long sprawling epics that go down easy on trains in Europe, on planes to Asia or Oz, etc. I almost wish I'd saved it after buying it for future travels, but hey there's always Leon Uris to get into. Gaijin is not as good as Tai Pan or Shogun, probably comparable to Noble House, different than King Rat so hard to include K.R. in the list. I guess its number 3 for me Clavell's Asian Saga. I'm a sucker for feudal Japan. Written the year before he died, and I must say the book kind of runs out of steam a few hundred pages before it ends. Thoughts on this, anyone?

Wizzed through Israeli author Amos Oz' mid-career Black Book from 1988. Excellent NY Times review by Mary Gordon here. Oz is always a joy, and I recommend his conflicted, peace-loving, realistic authorial voice to any baffled by the prospects of peace in the Middle East. Not that his novels that I've read propose any concrete solutions; just that you get a sense that if his already-prominent voice were heard more along with similarly-inclined Palestinians, and whoever else had something of real value to say, maybe some peace could actually be achieved.

Been watching The Sopranos and Deadwood of late. I hadn't watched much Sopranos before the past few months. I've been watching many episodes, trying to get caught up. I know its very popular, and just ended, and blah blah, but as it turns out it actually is fantastically-layered storytelling. Great acting too, pretty much across the board. Somehow actually not over-the-top for the most part. Its been fun, and a great way to get my hours of rudiments-on-practice-pad time in, but it is not as singular nor as epic as Deadwood. And there were only 3 seasons of Deadwood to the Sopranos' 6, so thats saying something.

I've watched the 3 seasons of Deadwood slowly over the last couple years. I intentionally spaced them out for a couple reasons. First and foremost, I am a on-line or on-DVD TV viewer so have had to wait long periods of time for each successive season to be released on DVD. Second, because there are only 12 episodes per season, they tend to zoom by and I wanted to savor as much as possible. Third, and less significant, I spaced out my viewing because such a large percentage of the show's wonderfully-poetic dialogue is made up of swear words. This ends up taking a toll on my own vocabulary. What can I say?

Anyways, I'd just like to reiterate (i've mentioned it in this blog several times) that Deadwood is on my extreme short list of television-watched. Desert island? Give me this before Lost any day. My only real complaint (and corresponding deep sadness) is that there will not be a 4th season due to "budgetary concerns" from HBO. C&#ks&$kers! (Apologies for the profanity; its entirely appropriate considering the subject matter and hey, at least I censored it).


Reuben Radding said...

My wife based much of her masters' thesis on Jacobs' book! You have to come over when you finish it and we'll have a roundtable. Heavy!

Harris Eisenstadt said...

no way! that'd be great....the book is amazing, but dense!

Andrew said...

Why apologize for profanity? Let it all hang out, man!

Very much diggin' yer writing here... hope life is good...

Jeb said...

Deadwood was great -- just finished watching the last season and I liked the fact that it is a limited narrative arc. Tells the story of the transition from anarchy to the uneasy entry into the social order, and then leaves it at that.

Even better, though, is The Wire. You gotta check that out!

Harris Eisenstadt said...


the wire kills. i've seen it all and i have to say if anything is more epic than deadwood, the wire is it.
i eagerly await season 5!