Stuff That Stocking

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Are you a musician, or do you know any musicians?

My Moleskine music notebook is one of the two most valuable tools I have. I’ve got a bunch of different music notebooks, but this is the only one I carry around with me—the hard cover protects the interior, and the paper inside is nicely printed with light, thin ledger lines. Indispensable. The one above fits into a bag or backpack, there’s also a pocket size version that you can carry in a jacket, or cargo pants.

Of course, you need a writing instrument. I use and strongly recommend the Tornado Stealth mechanical pencil.

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I’ve been using one for over three years, and I’ve used nothing but this in all that time. Very sturdy and well-made (it’s metal, not like so many plastic ones) with a nice thick, soft lead that does everything. I love this and have given it as a gift, and will keep doing so. If you don’t like the basic black, you can get various colors and designs, including one with Einstein’s formulas for getting to the equation that energy is equal to mass times the speed of light squared.

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Stuff That Stocking

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For anyone who listens to music through smartphone or tablet, these Bluetooth headphones are an exponential upgrade over earbuds. The sound is excellent, close to that of my Sony studio monitor cans, and you can’t quite imagine how wonderful it is to be free of those danlings wire until you actually try it. Pairs with my iPhone immediately just by turning them on (no fussing with the system application) and they recharge via included USB cable. Once you have them, you will have a hard time imaging how you did without them.

Tip Jar

A gentle reminder, there is an ongoing fundraiser here at the Big City. Every little bit helps, even tiny donations.

If you can give more, I have many of what the public broadcasters call “premiums.” Since I’m below even subsistence level, your donation means a lot more to me, and if you can’t give any more to NPR since they got rid of jazz coverage, consider helping out here.

Hitting Amazon links for purchases helps, a few pennies go to me instead of their company. You can also buy my excellent book!

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Even more, treat yourself or a loved one to a signed, personalized copy. A donation of $20 (add $5 for expedited mailing if you need this in time for Christmas) gets you a copy with the inscription of your choice. It’s a way to give and get.

Thanks.

Where It’s At

My transfer back to WordPress.com is fundamentally complete, though cleaning up graphics and taxonomy on the back end is an ongoing project. As great as my previous host, WPEngine, was, I just can’t afford it; freelance writing produces a below poverty level income, and this blog has never produced any income.

As for the lack of writing here—it was summer! My life is, after thirty years, once again organized around the school calendar, and I had a slow summer, concentrating on my little girl’s fun and on writing music—like Mahler except happier (I hope) and far less competent. I did cover a few concerts at the New York Classical Review, though.

Labor Day is past, and I’m back at it. This new article at New Music Box was written into the summer, and it was difficult to think about music after it was done. The subject is what sounds might be left behind after civilization falls apart, or is inundated, and how future peoples’ idea of what our music was will be nothing we expect:

“This haunting, wrenching, agonizingly complex concept of a post-apocalyptic cultural legacy has certainly existed in music for thousands of years. Fragments of Medieval music concerned with the End of Days have come down to us, and apocalyptic thought began neither in Europe nor with Christianity. But the context of that music is the Second Coming, a redemptive and transformative event. And with no means to preserve the sounds of what was the present in the 10th century, nor that advantage of a post-Cageian concept of what constitutes music, there was no thought toward what the past might sound like to those who might come after.”

Read the rest here

My book Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew is currently available, and you can order it directly from the publisher at a currently discounted price. The New York Review of Books reviewed it in the latest issue (article is behind a paywall), and critic Adam Schatz took it authoritative:

“… a perceptive new monograph by George Grella Jr. in the 33 1/3 series…”

Lastly, for this post, the September installment of the Rail Tracks podcast is up, check it out for some selected 2016 releases, and read out whole excellent issue here.

Early Summer

On mental vacation—in case you hadn’t noticed already. Left things to read elsewhere: a profile of composer Alex Mincek at Music & Literature, pointing out that there’s no bullshit with the blues over at one of my posts, and the usual accumulation of concert reviews at the NY Classical Review.

June will deliver something I’ve been working on for New Music Box that has been difficult, in that the topic is hard to face, but hopefully will be meaningful. And I’ve got Recordings of the Week to hip you to. In the meantime, enjoy this extraordinary piece I heard in concert last night.

Is This Thing On? Miles Davis' Bitches Brew News

Mic check, mic check … Apparently, it’s on now.

As you can see from the timeline, it’s been several months since my last post, I confess. While I have written tens of thousands of words on music, none here. But there will be more forthcoming, starting with this post (and you can keep track of recent work here and here).

First, some news about myself and my work: my 33-1/3 series book on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew is in production and will be available October 22, pre-order now!

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Looks like there will be a couple (at least) book events in New York City, and one in Montreal, those are in the administrative stages and I will update when there’s anything specific to report. I will sign any copy of my book that you present to me!

And on Miles related news, the next installment of the Bootleg Series is due July 17. This new, 4-CD set is all live performances from the Newport Jazz Festival, with appearances spanning 1955-75. There’s a substantial amount of electric Miles on it, including Bitches Brew material and later music. It’s redundant to recommend this, because Miles’ music should be a part of everyone’s collection. Pre-order it for the best price.

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