Monday, December 30, 2013

1 - Please read this article on the last Wizards' game.

2 - Please listen to this song (featuring Eric Roberson) off of Robert Glasper's latest offering. The lyrics are depressing, but it's a good song, that R. Kelly needs to listen to:

3 - My Philadelphia Eagles are in the playoffs, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Nyles Roman Mobley is now two years old. Two also represents the number of times I've blogged this year, so there is beautiful symmetry there. I know good and goddamn well I should let this blog finally die the slow death it has been dying, but I just cannot do it. So once again, I will attempt to conjure up the energy to get this train going again. In the meantime, you (by you I mean me) cannot go wrong with a birthday picture of young Nyles and his birthday cake.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

I love Michael Jackson and I love Nyles. Put it together and...

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

I realized just now that I had good news in my life on Friday, but I neglected to write about it. I had an MRI on my brain on Thursday morning (it was just as agonizing as I remember) and on Friday afternoon around 5pm, they doctor called me and said that I was 100 percent healthy. The tumor they found on the CT Scan did not show up on the MRI, and the doctor blamed this on artifact (something I had never heard of until that day). I suppose I should be angry that the doctor put me through a few days of absolute terror and negative thoughts, but I am happier that I don't need surgery, radiation or anything of the sort. I still have to see a neurologist because I am still having intermittent headaches, so that concerns me a bit.

Part of me wishes I hadn't said anything to anyone until after the MRI, because I caused lots of people to worry over something that was ultimately nothing. Still, I was scared as hell, and who expects the doctors to be THAT wrong? I sure as hell didn't. Still, any mistake that results in things turning out in my favor is a great thing.

Now, per my dad's instructions, I need to a get the type of job that will allow me to write for a living, so I can finally be happy. I don't need someone to throw the "life is short" cliche' at me right now, because I got a taste of it last week.

Good times.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First off, here's yet another article I helped to write.

It is funny how many different directions this blog has taken the last seven years I've been writing. At first it was just about the observations of single man in his 30s. Then I spoke about the challenges of overcoming a devastating fire, then I got married, then I had a son, then I was boring, then I was dormant, I came back by focusing on father's records and then I went silent again. Now it is time for yet another direction.

Last Friday, after two weeks of intermittently painful headaches, I went to the doctor and got a CT scan. On Friday afternoon I was told there was something irregular about the film, and then on Saturday morning I was told there is a tumor in the back of my head. I don't know whether it is cancerous or not, and they aren't exactly sure of how big it is, but surgery is in my future barring a sudden change. I have an MRI on my brain at some point this week--I had one 5 and a half years ago, and I wrote about it here.

As you can imagine, my emotions are all over the map. On Saturday, I felt like I was going to die, Sunday, I wanted to be around friends and family to forget, Monday I was in denial and tried to go to work only to break down crying, and today I feel ok enough to write about it. If you're reading about this and i haven't told you, I am sorry, it just gets difficult to keep telling folks, when I know damn well that I can write it a bit better.

My exact condition is called Meningioma, and based on what I've read, I have an excellent chance at coming out of this with nothing more than a scar that can be shown off at barbecues and Christmas parties. But this is still brain surgery we are talking about, so nothing is guaranteed, and the cancer part still looms large. What I do know is that this is the time for me to rely on what i (used) to do best, and that is writing. I keep hearing the questions, "How do you feel?" or "What can I do?", and the kneejerk reaction for me is to tell folks to be and act normal. But as my boss told me, you can't hear someone say they have a brain tumor and act normal. My mother's reaction was to pray, my brother's reaction was to ask me a million and one questions, my dad took a long pause then shared his own past health challenges. My wife is doing a great job of being strong, but I have no idea how she feels and acts when I'm not around.

I just know i don't want to die, and I want this to be a good, "remember that time?" story one day down the line.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Please read my article right here

Is it arrogant for me to ask you to read my article after I've been dormant on the writing front for almost a month? Perhaps. Has life been kicking me in my monkey ass the past month? Hell yes. Do I promise to be a bit more prolific (anything beats nothing for a month) than I have been? Hell yes. Do I hate those people who ask themselves a series of rhetorical questions? You bet your sweet ass I do.

Anyway, here is some video of young Nyles being captivated by the iPad:

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Chuck Mangione - Feels So Good

it is 1:28 pm on Thursday afternoon, and I have just downed two glasses of wine, while finishing Questlove's book that i reference in an earlier blog entry.. The book was brilliant in that Questlove had no problem focusing equally on his failures, successes, near-misses and everything in between. The book also makes me realizes that I am in a severe slump when it comes to writing about me, music or basketball.

My knee-jerk reaction is to blame my son Nyles for my lack of writing production. He takes up a lot of my time (as he should) and when I have quiet time, I'd much rather rest, relax, or talk to the wife, rather than spend time and effort trying to construct an above-average article--but that's not fair to Nyles. Other times, I'd like to blame my lack of production on my wife, because when I'm not doing Nyles-related things, I'm trying (only she could tell you whether I'm succeeding) to be an above-average husband, and that takes just as much effort as trying to be a good father. But again, to blame my lack of writing on my wife is just pure selfishness.

I suppose the reality is that life in general has put me in a place where I do not successfully know how to balance my writing--via my blog or Truth About It, my selfish needs, and the people who depend on me everyday. I'm sure it is an issue that everyone with responsibilities goes through, but since those people did not share their coping techniques with me, I feel like a ship without a captain at times, and it is equally hurtful and frustrating. And the fact that I am writing this much truth on a day when no one is likely to read it (July 4th) is not at all lost on me. I'm sure I'll get it together sooner or later, but right now, I have no clue what I'm doing and what the quick fix is or should be.

* * * * *

Anyway, the next record from my dad's collection that I inherited is Chuck Mangione's Feels So Good. Ordinarily, this record would go against everything I believe in music-wise. It is smooth jazz that was specifically targeting a pop culture audience. Yes there is a bit of a latin feel throughout the album, but in general this album is void of the technical and musical prowess that makes jazz so damn appealing to me. But on the flip side, there is a point when childhood nostalgia becomes the driving force, rather than snobbery, so hearing this song makes me smile. When my wife heard me playing this record, she said that it immediately reminded her of her mother.

There are only five other songs on this album besides the hit title track, and none of them are even worth me writing about. But the title track is enough to carry the rest of this mediocre album I promise you...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I've been on a bit of a writing hiatus because I've been in throes of moving over the last week or so. All of my records are now unpacked, and I'll resume with review my records tomorrow. Today, i have to rant and rave about a book written by someone who is a music nerd like me X 1000 and that is Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson.

The wife was nice enough to buy his book, "Mo Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove", and it basically a memoir about his life and his life-long love affair with all music. My father always told me that he wanted to write a book about his life, with his love for music serving as the backdrop, and one day I hope he does it. But in the short term, this Questlove book is the closest thing to my father's dream, and he nails it. I won't spoil things but giving away stories or his numerous music references, I'm just saying you need to buy it.

Speaking of music, young Nyles is a music fan too:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

So the wife had to attend a work function tonight, which means I had to pick up Nyles from daycare, feed him dinner, bathe him, and put his ass to bed. I've done it before, so its really no big deal provided he behaves himself and tonight he did just that for the most part. When I picked up him from daycare he ran up to me and hugged me, when he ate dinner, it stayed in his mouth and not the floor or his hair, and when we read "God Loves Me" at reading time, he kept his grubby hands off of the book. Unfortunately, during bath time, things went a bit askew.

While I was running Nyles' bath water he tried to jump in the tub with his clothes on, but I caught him and politely told him to fall back. He then ran into the living room to dominate and terrorize the tv remote, and I followed him in there because I was watching/listening to PTI, and I had no interest in him interrupting my program. For a split second I lost track of Nyles while I watched Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon interview Jeff Gundy, but I really didn't notice because the interview was just that good. And then I heard three things (in this order):

1) A splash
2) Clapping and yelling
3) Da-da

I immediately took off running down the hallway and into the bathroom, and by the time I got there, Nyles wasn't splashing, clapping, yelling or saying Da-da. He was just sitting in the damn tub looking simple, and after a few minutes he looked up at me and said, "Hi!", and in the tradition of Uncle Leo, I said hello.

I picked him up, dried him off, stripped him buck-ed nak-ed, and put his ass in the tub the more traditional way. We had a normal bath time, and he went to sleep like a champ. The lesson here? I always give my wife a hard time, because she's constantly texting or playing words with friends (a game I still can't play because I refuse to give up my old ass Blackberry) and sometimes she neglects Nyles (not really). So what do I do in return? I completely ignore the little guy for 30 seconds, and he goes hard in the tub like Kareem taking a 33-foot dive. I need to take my own advice and pay attention. The wife is SO winning right now, and I could use a glass--ok five glasses--of wine.

By the way, it was my intention to write yet another installment of I-have-my-father's-records-now, but the record I chose, Stanley Clarke's "Modern Man", absolutely sucked ass. It was more smooth jazz from 1978, and I tried to listen to the entire record, I was just not interested. Here was the only good song:

you may recognize the intro from this Jay-Z song (start at the 12 second mark):

Father's Day 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bobbi Humphrey's Best: Bobbi Humphrey

As happy as I am to have inherited my father's fantastic record collection, there is one dirty, little secret that I've managed to hide all this time: He bought a whole lot of smooth jazz. Now I can justify by mentioning that smooth jazz was a bit different in the 70s, because it was recorded by artists would could and did play classic jazz, but wanted to try something different (see: Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock). And I suppose if I had grown up during that era, I'd have been a smooth jazz fan too. But my roots are more steeped in jazz, so I always reserve a healthy dosage of hate for the entire genre.

Having said that, Bobbi Humphrey is the exception to the rule. She was one of the few women in the jazz genre having being discovered by Dizzy Gillespie while she was in college at SMU. She's played with Stevie Wonder (she had the flute solo on "Another Sun"), and later on in her life--this has nothing to do with jazz mind you--she discovered Tevin Campbell.

Anyway, this particular album, "Bobbi Humphrey's Best" is a greatest hits album and I was just going about my business when I heard the song, "San Francisco Lights", which was sample by Brand Nubian in their song, "Love Me Or Leave Me Alone". So now I know one of the few redeeming qualities of70s smooth jazz: It is chock full of hip-hop samples:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Third Album - Jackson 5

Like most kids who were born in the mid to late 1970s, my introduction to Michael Jackson was ass backwards. The love affair started with "Off The Wall", then it was ramped up several notches with "Thriller", and then I became obsessed with finding all things Michael Jackson whether it was old or new, and that started with my dad's record collection. I grabbed up every Jacksons and Jackson 5 album I could get my hands on, and I begged my father to play them. He'd regale my brother and I with stories about how much he and mother partied off Jacksons' records while he was in college, and he told me that everyone knew Michael was going to be a star way back then.

When I was younger, the two songs that drew me to the "Third Album" were "I'll Be There", and "Goin' Back To Indiana", because they were most popular. Now at 38 years old, after listening to the album front to back, I think I like "Ready or Not" the best--only because I get a kick out of hearing 11 year old Michael Jackson sing the lyrics to what become a Fugess song 26 years later...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Smackwater Jack - Quincy Jones

Since I last wrote an entry a little over a week ago, my grandfather (my mother's father) passed away. He had been battling a variety of illnesses over the last several months that included diabetes, heart issues and cancer. There were several close calls in the last few months, and each time, he'd recover, and go back to his home in Detroit, Michigan. The day before he died he was having some heart troubles and before he told his wife (my step-grandmother) to call 911, he told her, "Sandy, its time". That night he lost consciousness, through the next 12 or so hours he was unresponsive, and at 5:55pm on June 3rd, he passed away--just 5 days before his 82nd birthday, which was when he was buried.

I didn't have the best of relationships with my grandfather, but I always respected the man's sense of family and education. But I went to the funeral to be there for my mother who was a wreck as you can imagine. I'll spare you the details of the funeral, just know that it was good to see the family, but definitely not under those circumstances. Here is his obituary

Now back to the music. This is one of five Quincy Jones' albums my father had in his collection and is entitled "Smackwater Jack". As was the norm for Quincy during the 70s and 80s, there are elements of rock, blues and R&B, but jazz is clearly the centerpiece. And as is also the norm for Quincy, the list of guest stars on his album resembles that of a Macy's Day parade lineup: Hubert Laws (flute and tenor sax), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Valerie Simpson (vocals), Bob James (Fender Rhodes), Joe Sample (piano), Jimmy Smith (organ), and even a vocal performance by Bill Cosby on a song called, "Hikky Burr", which was the theme of "The Bill Cosby Show" which aired from 1969-1971--not to be confuse with "The Cosby Show".

There is always a bittersweet quality to Quincy Jones' albums. He clearly believed in jazz, making good music, and gathering the best musicians around to do so. Robert Glasper did this a bit with his grammy-winning cd, "Black Radio", but overall it isn't exactly a concept that has picked up steam. I know Quincy is one of a kind, but still, it would be nice to see someone attempt to pick up and run with that golden baton.

Anyway, here is "Hikky Burr". The lineup is:

Bill Cosby on vocals
Toots Thielmans on Guitar and Whistler
Freddie Hubbard on flugelhorn
Eric Gayle on guitar
Hubert Laws on the flute

Sunday, June 02, 2013

1st Haircut

Nyles' hair has been awfully unruly over the past couple of months, but I really wanted to wait until he was two years old, before I pulled the trigger on his first cut. His hair was patchy in spots, plus he has a benign cyst on top of his head, and I worried about whether a barber could gingerly maneuver his way over that, all while taking into account how delicate haircuts could be for a 17 month old. But on Saturday morning, I looked at Nyles' hair, and decided that it was time.

Now originally, this initial trip to the barbershop was just going to be me and Nyles. I knew how important it was my wife to be there too, but the barbershop is still by and large a place for men to talk unfiltered--even when kids are around. In my barbershop, there are a few women with Zhane cuts who come in from time to time, there are women who get their eyebrows down and there are even single women who bring their sons in as well. But 90% of the barbershop are men between the ages of 18-65, so I was not totally comfortable with bringing my wife in that lion's den. I did not want them looking her up and down, and coming up with mental lists of things to say once me and my family left. I've been in the barbershop after women leave, and i know the kinds of things--complimentary, flattering and X-rated--that are said. But I got over myself, and the family took a Sunday morning trip to the barbershop.

When we arrived there were only a few other people there, but my barber did not have anyone waiting on him, so he was up first. I started to sit Nyles in the chair alone, but Stan (my barber) suggested it was better if I sat in the chair, while the youngster sat in my lap. When the clippers first touched Nyles head, he looked back at Stan as if to say, "Who is this dude?",and then he looked at me as if to say, "Are you signing off on this?", but that was the only resistance he put up during his 15 minutes stay. He squirmed a bit, but not as much as you'd expect a kid his age to do. He looked at his mother for comfort, he studied the other folks in the barbershop, and he'd occasionally flash looks at me just to make sure I was still by his side.

When the haircut was over, Stan put a mirror in front of Nyles (like Jerome would do to Morris Day) and he laughed, and then tried to grab the mirror, which in baby speak means I approve. I let him out of my lap, he ran to his mother, and that was it. For the rest of his life, he will go in and out of barbershops requesting all types of wonderful styles, but I'm so glad me, my wife, and young Nyles got a chance to experience this together.

Here's the before:

and here's the after:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mulgrew Miller, a legendary lead and background jazz pianist, died yesterday at the age of 57. I went to see Mulgrew, along with Ron Carter and Russell Malone (aka the Golden Stryker Trio) about three years ago. Here's how it went.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Maiden Voyage - Ramsey Lewis

I was thinking just now about how I really don't have a record collection to pass down to my son as we both get older. The records from my dad's collection may not be in playing condition in 30 or so years, which would render them downright useless. In fact, the best I could offer my son is my zipfile or hard drivie with all of my music, which may not be so bad--uncovering a record collection is more fun though.

Anyway, I never knew my father had this Maiden Voyage record by Ramsey Lewis, so I listened to it for the first time about 20 minutes ago. Of course, I am familiar with Herbie Hancock's version of this record, so that song was no big deal. But song number two on this record is called "Mighty Quinn", and the first time I listened to it, I noticed some familiar piano riffs being played. I lifted up the needle and move it back a bit (aka rewind) and I listened again, and realized that the riff was used in this hip hop classic:

I'm not saying the rest of the album isn't good, because it actually is. Ramsey Lewis is on piano, Cleveland Eaton is on bass, and Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire fam is on drums, strings and vocals. But the Case of the PTA sample is what made me smile the broadest.

"Mighty Quinn"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm Still In Love With You - Al Green

I have no problems admitting that I ignored my father's attempts to turn me on to Al Green when I was younger. I knew the music was cool, soulful and tinged with the gospel sound, and his voice was undoubtedly unique. But my young ears just could not appreciate his greatness--that is until Eric B and Rakim's "Mahogany" came out in 1990:

Once that song came out, and my father told me that Eric B & Rakim sampled Al Green "I'm Glad You're Mine", I suddenly had a new respect for Reverend Green, and it started with the "I'm Still In Love With You" album. My second favorite song on the album is "For The Good Times", only because my dad used to sing it to my mom, and replace the word "times" with "wine", which I find hilarious (and ironic considering I'm imbibing right now). Of course now, I realize the gravity of this album, but I have no problems admitting that hip-hop--more importantly the greatest rapper of all time, Rakim--led me to Al Green. I'm Reverend Al appreciates that too.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Golden Hits, Part I - Dionne Warwick

When "That's What Friends Are For" and "We Are the World" were out in the mid-80s, I remember telling my dad that Dionne Warwick did not appear to have a very strong fact I remember saying she sounded like she had been chain smoking for years. My dad then put on this Golden Hits record, and let me hear how Dionne's voice sounded in its prime, and I was blown away. There was nothing hoarse or scratchy about her voice. She sounded clear, she hit all the notes, and she sounded like a bonafide diva. The music snob in me likes to stay away from Greatest Hits-type albums, because you really cannot truly appreciate an artist unless you buy their collection, and listen to those obscure songs that no one has praised. Plus, the flow and tracklisting of those types of albums rarely make sense. Still, for someone like me who didn't know much about Warwick's career prior to 1985, this was right on time.

"This Empty Place":

Thursday, May 23, 2013

No Problem - Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins (and Ron Carter) is like the George Burns of jazz. He survived the drug culture of the 50s, 60s and 70s (maybe the 80s too). He made his first record on the legendary Prestige label in 1953, and his most recent album was in 2011 on the equally legendary, EmArcy label. In 2011, he received a Kennedy Center honor from President Obama with Meryl Streep, Neil Diamond and others. The man has paid his dues, reaped the benefits, survived new musical genres, and now gets to do what so many legendary musicians want to do, but die too soon: Bask in old age and success.

His "No Problem" album was his first in 80s (1981) and it featured Rollins on tenor sax, Bobby Broom on electric guitar, Bobby Hutcherson on the vibes, Bob Cranshaw on electric bass and Tony Williams on drums. There's nothing terribly memorable about this album, it is just good solid jazz--although it is kind of short for a jazz album (36:51).

Here's "Jo Jo":

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Eric Dolphy - Eric Dolphy

We reached yet another record in my dad's (now it's mine) collection that I never knew he owned. The self-titled compilation album from Mr. Eric Dolphy. Dolphy, like Clifford Brown, John Coltrane--died way before he was truly able to reach his full potential (he died at 36 in 1964). On this particular record, he played the alto sax, the bass clarinet, the flute, and the B flat clarinet. The cast of characters on this album are Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Roy Haynes (drums), Ron Carter (cello), Jaki Byard (piano) and George Duvivier (bass).

Here is "Les":

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Other Side of Round Midnight - Dexter Gordon

So the movie 'Round Midnight came out in 1986, and on the set of the movie, a group of musicians, led by the movie's main star Dexter Gordon (saxophone) decided to record an album. These musicians were Ron Carter (bass), Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Herbie Hancock (piano), Tony Williams (drums), Billy Higgins (drums), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Bobby McFerrin and many more. Some of the artists (Gordon, Hubbard, Higgins and Hancock) played together in 1962 on Hancock's first album, "Takin Off", so this was a reunion of sorts. Gordon was a little older in 1986 (62), so he wasn't as sharp as he was in his prime, but still, this is a great album with lots of different sounds and personalities coming through the speakers. And to this day, I still have not seen the movie "Round Midnight", because I suspect it hasn't aged as well as jazz albums can and do.

My favorite song is "Society Red". The cast of characters are:

Dexter Gordon - tenor saxophone
Freddie Hubbard - trumpet
Cedar Walton - piano
Ron Carter - bass
Tony Williams - drums

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Kaleidoscope - Nancy Wilson

I have no clue why my mother and father never played this Nancy Wilson record when I was younger, but I just played it for the first time just now, and it is great. I didn't dig her covers of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine", and Gladys Knight's "If I Were Your Woman", but that's only because the originals were just fine on their own. Those two songs notwithstanding, the rest of this album is just good, old-fashioned fully grown adult music. When I listened to this, I felt like I should smoking a cigar, sipping on something brown, and talking about how things used to be. By the way, this album came out in 1971, overall she recorded over 30 albums between 1959 and 2006, and it is still amazing that this is the first one I've ever heard. I need to work on that.

The first time I saw Nancy Wilson, she was on the Cosby Show doing this (start at the 58 second mark:

And here is Nancy singing, "I'll Get Along Somehow":

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Forever, For Always, For Love - Luther Vandross

My parents used to play this Luther Vandross record for two main reasons: One, they loved to dance to Bad Boy/Having A Party (also made famous by that scene in House Party when Kid escaped his father's house), and two, my dad loved to play Luther's version of "Since I Lost My Baby", and then he'd play the Temptations version just to demonstrate how much better the Temps did it (he was right too).

But every now and then after "Since I Lost My Baby" would go off, I'd hear the song, "Forever, For Always, For Love", and I was amazed. Luther was sing loud, then bring his voice back down depending on what that beat did, and the band spent the entire song compliment Luther, slowly building up to a certain point, and abruptly stopping while Luther still sang softly. And every minute or so, you'd hear the bass drop, which sounded great with high-powered speakers. If you ever have the chance to listen to this song with headphones, I highly recommend it, You'll hear the bass (Marcus Miller), drums, guitar, and a flute solo to go along with Luther's voice...oh and did I mention Luther wrote the song too?

I love Lalah Hathaway's version of the song, and i appreciated the spin she put on the song from a female perspective. But Luther's version takes the cake here, and this just happens to be the song I sing in the shower AND it is the song I plan on singing if I ever go on American Idol.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Live At Blues Alley - The Wynton Marsalis Quartet

First off, please read my latest article over at Truth About It. We are doing player recaps from this past season, because as you know, the Washington Wizards season always ends in mid-April.

Wynton Marsalis always holds a special place in my heart. Not only did my father take my brother and I to see him early in his career, but we also got the opportunity to get our picture taken with him, before he became the megastar he is today--or as megastar as a jazz musician can be in this country in 2013.

This Live At Blues Alley record from my dad's collection is special to me for many reasons:

1) It was recorded in 1986 at Blues Alley, and it was released in 1988. In 1986, my family was living in Newtown, CT, and we had to travel to NY to hear Wynton play. By the time he released this album in 1988, we were living in the Washington DC area, and we actually saw Wynton play several times in the infamous Blues Alley. (of course now Wynton acts like he's too good for Blues Alley, and he only performs at the Kennedy Center. )

2) Wynton's band consisted of Marcus Roberts on piano, Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums and Robert Leslie Hurst III on Bass. Marcus Roberts played with Wynton for several years before going solo, and he currently juggles his pianist career with being a teacher of music at Florida State University. Jeff "Tain" Watts played with Wynton, then left to play with Branford Marsalis, while peppering in some solo albums. Robert Hurst played with Wynton, then left to play with Branford Marsalis' band on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in the 90s, before pursuing his solo career as well. Wynton didn't play with this quartet very often, so this album is something to be cherished

3) One of my favorite jazz standards is Cherokee, and Wynton covers this on this album. Cherokee was written in 1938 by Ray Noble, but the version I'm most familiar with is by another trumpet player, Clifford Brown (whose album I wrote about last month).

4) The foreword in this album was written by controversial jazz critic, Stanley Crouch, who is considers Marsalis a good friend of his. Crouch has often been staunch critic of rap music and Miles Davis' decision to play smooth jazz in the 80s, but when he can be a dynamic critic when he wants to be--and in his lengthy foreword inside this album--Crouch was indeed eloquent. Here's one of my favorite quotes from the lines notes:

Marsalis demotes the avant-garde trumpeters one and all, playing with such force and bold fluidity that one wonders what the course of jazz would have been had he arrived twenty years earlier.

And now, here is Wynton playing "Cherokee":

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

This Is Niecy - Deniece Williams

This is Niecy was one of my mother's favorite records, and Deniece Williams remains one of her favorite female vocalists to this day. I am listening to the record as I type, and it still amazes me how effortless it is for her to sound amazing. Even when she hits the high register, it sounds no more difficult than taking a breath or exhaling. She doesn't sound QUITE as effortless as Minnie Riperton, but there's no shame in that. Of course, "Free" is my favorite song on this album by far, and I never get tired of playing it.

**sidebar** There is a go-go version of this song that came out around 1994 or 1995, and the only reason I know about it (I hate go-go) is my brother played it for me when he visited me at Hampton University around that time. If you have this song, please let me know so I can pay you off. I haven't been able to find that damn song anywhere **sidebar off***

Earth, Wind and Fire put their imprint all over this record. Charles Stepney produced, Maurice White wrote, played drums and sang background vocals, while Verdine White wrote and played the bass. This is a very good album, and even 37 years later, it still sounds new.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Goin Out Of My Head - Wes Montgomery

My father had quite a few of Wes Montgomery's records, but I never heard this particular one before today. After doing a little research, I read that this album was criticized for being more big band, than traditional jazz, but after listening to this album twice, I don't think the criticism is warranted. There are elements of big band, but it is clear that Wes was still firmly rooted in jazz when he recorded this. It is a very mellow album though. My favorite song is "End of a Love Affair":

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

So Full of Love - The O'Jays

First off, please read my latest article on former Washington Wizards center, Jason Collins.

This particular O'Jays record contains three songs that invoke three distinct memories for me as a child: "Use Ta Be My Girl", "Cry Together" and "Brandy". "Use Ta Be My Girl" was a record that would get both my mother and father out of their seats on the dance floor (also known as our living room floor). I never knew what the hell kind of dances they were doing, but they had fun laughing, joking and borderline inappropriately touch, while my brother and I looked on without a clue. Actually I did have a bit of a clue.

Conversely, when "Cry Together" would come on, my parents had the audacity to openly slow grind right there in the very same living room where they acting a damn fool. This was flat out disgusting to look at, and frankly my brother and I thought it be best if we just left the room. No kid needs to see all that.

My memories of "Brandy" have much less to do with dancing and everything to do with family. You see Walter Williams, the lead singer on "Brandy"--a song about a damn dog--is my cousin on my father's side. My father told me first, and I didn't believe him, but my late grandmother and aunt confirmed, and they (along with Joni Mitchell) never lie. My relation to Walter has yet to score me O'Jays tickets, autographs or paraphernalia, but I'm glad he's my cousin anyway. This record came out in 1978 by the way.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Send in the Clowns - Sarah Vaughan and the Count Basie Orchestra

I knew when my parents were playing any Sarah Vaughan record, that I was listening to bonafide, grown-up mellow music. She didn't have an overpowering voice, but that was just fine, because the band backing her--in this case the Count Basie Orchestra--knew just how to compliment her. Sarah used her voice like an instrument without oversinging the way so many R&B (and jazz) singers tend to do, and there weren't many singers like her then or now (Cassandra Wilson is close, but not really). So when this record was playing, I knew that I had to minimize any talking I had planned on doing, and I had to just shut up and listen. Even this evening while I was playing this record (the quality on this particular record was subpar because my parents must have worn this out), I didn't say a whole lot. I just listened.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Parfait - Ron Carter

I asked my father why he had so many Ron Carter records, and he said they all have a calming influence that he appreciated--especially on Sunday mornings. I don't remember my father playing this particular record, but I definitely appreciate it as an adult. It was released in 1982, and I've never heard of the other three member in his quartet. But it is definitely relaxing..

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Gula Matari - Quincy Jones

This is yet another record my father managed to hide from me all these years. He played "The Dude" and he played "Back on the Block" but it wasn't until today that realized that a) this record existed and b)I even had this record in the group that I inherited. And then when I open the record and started examining the credits, I realized that records like this simply don't get made anymore. There are exactly four songs on this record:

1 - Bridge Over Troubled Water (written by Simon and Garfunkel and 6:10 in duration)
2 - Gula Matari (written by Quincy Jones and 13:05 in duration)
3 - Walkin (written by Richard Carpenter and made famous by Miles Davis and 7:55 long)
4 - Hummin (written by Nat Adderley and 8:05 in duration)

The cast of characters is simply diverse as hell. Valerie Simpson (of Ashford and Simpson) is one of the vocalists, Bob James and Herbie Hancock play keyboards, Ron Carter is one of the bassists, Freddie Hubbard is one of the trumpet players, Hubert Laws has a flute solo, and Quincy Jones is directing them all.

Here's "Hummin":

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

I shall take a break from record-related posts to present a 16 minute talk by my mother:

Monday, April 29, 2013

Reed Seed - Grover Washington

There were some records my dad played for me, and I loved them because of the wonderful stories he'd include with them. Then there are some records I looked for because I knew there were samples buried in there somewhere, and this Grover Washington record was in that group. My favorite Tribe Called Quest record at the time was People's Instinctive Travels and Paths of Rhythm and played it over and over again. So when a DJ at my 16th birthday told me where the sample for the first song on that tape/cd came from, I checked to see if my dad had that record, and lo and behold he did. So here's Grover Washington's "Loran's Dance" follow by Tribe Called Quest's "Push It Along. And if you're lazy, skip to the to the 5:45 mark of Grover's song, and the 57 second mark of the Tribe song to hear the similarities.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Perfect Angel - Minnie Riperton

From birth until I was four years old, my mother would sing Minnie Riperton's "Lovin You" to me before I went to sleep. She didn't do it every night, but she did it enough that I would recognize the song, and try to chime in during the few parts I understood. Of course, there were some lyrics that weren't exactly applicable to the mother/son relationship, but my mother was savvy enough to elude or ignore those parts. As I got older, and as my mother and father played records every Saturday, my parents would still pepper in this song, as I reminder of how things went down when I was younger. Of course as I wrote here a couple of years ago, now when I hear the song, it creeps me out because I know it'll make me sad when and if my mother passes away. I know that's a bit dramatic and morbid, but he this is how I think occasionally.

Anyway, once I got older, I was able to appreciate Minnie Riperton, "Perfect Angel" album in its entirety. Every song on this album (except for two) was written by Minnie and her husband Richard Rudolph (also known as Maya Rudolph's parents). The two other songs they didn't write were written by Stevie Wonder and they were: "Take A Little Trip" and "Perfect Angel". "Take A Little Trip" featured Michael Sembello (Mr. Maniac) on lead guitar. "Perfect Angel" featured a young Denise Williams on background vocals. This is just a great f**king album.

Here is Stevie Wonder singing "Perfect Angel" and "Lovin' You" a short time after Minnie died in 1979.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Street Life - The Crusaders

My mother used to play The Crusaders all the time, and there didn't seem to be anything special about their sound. They mostly created smooth jazz, and every now and then, they'd pepper in a singer (like Randy Crawford on the title) track, but it wasn't enough to command my attention as a youngster. As I got deeper and deeper into hip-hop, I appreciate the abundance of samples that could be found on smooth jazz records, and then as I got older, I came to appreciate the genius of Joe Sample (a member of the Crusaders) as a producer. But this record is perfect background music of chores around the house, or reading the paper on a Sunday morning. It also can border as the soundtrack for 70s porn, and ultimately, isn't that the kind of versatility you're looking for in your music?

Night Faces - The Crusaders

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Right On Time - The Brothers Johnsson

There were some records that my father played for my brother and I all the time, and then there were other records we specifically requested for him to put in rotation every Saturday--The Brothers Johnson's "Right On Time" was one of them. I didn't even appreciate the other songs on this record, I just wanted to hear, "Strawberry Letter 23", so my brother and I could dance to this song over and over again. Our favorite part of the song was the guitar solo from the 2:16 mark to the 3:18 point, and all we did is twirl around at a high speed until we could barely stand. And even once the guitar solo was over, we would still try to dance around like damn fools while we were dizzy as hell. This was 1984, I was nine and my brother was six. Now at 38, I don't twirl around like a jackass when I hear that solo, but I do listen closely to the bass guitar, to the lead guitars, the high-hats, the drums and everything in that song, and album as a whole. By the way, it is worth mentioning that "The Brothers Johnson" also played bass guitar on "We Are The World".

By the way, there was a great article in the NY Times two weeks back on Shuggie Otis, who wrote "Strawberry Letter 23". You can read that here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fulfillingness' First Finale - Stevie Wonder

My dad never played Stevie's "Fulfillingness' First Finale" album for me when I was young. Not even once. In fact, I heard most of the songs on this album on various other Stevie Wonder greatest hits albums over the years. After awhile I got curious about how this entire cd, so I bought it in 2001, and of course I couldn't get enough of it. Back in 2000, during a bad snowstorm, I decided to play the "At the Close of a Century" four-cd collection that my girlfriend at the time got me for my birthday. The last song on the second cd was "Creepin", and at the time, I thought Luther Vandross was the only who had written and perfomed this song. Of course later I find out that not only did Stevie write and produce this song, but the great Minnie Riperton sang background vocals.

So I actually have two favorite songs on this album.


And then the song Stevie Wonder sang at Michael Jackson's funeral, "They Won't Go When I Go" (which is a song that only Stevie can do justice, which makes me wonder who will try to sing it at his funeral):

Monday, April 22, 2013

Brenda Russell - Brenda Russell

I remember my mother playing this Brenda Russell record and loving the song, "So Good, So Right". I remember my father telling me that Brenda Russell wrote, produced and performed, "If Only For One Night", a few years before Luther Vandross took the song and ran with it. And I remember reading the words and the credits of this album (always the best part of the record opening/buying experience) and seeing that Brenda Russell wrote every song on the album and produced or co-produced the rest. She's a good singer, but she's an even better songwriter. My favorite song on this album is entitled, "In The Thick Of It". This song sounds like it could have easily been sung by DeBarge or Switch:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Temptations - Meet The Temptations

My father moved to Arizona today, leaving the DC area (he lived in Ellicott City, which is right outside of Baltimore) for better opportunities and of course, a warmer climate. I've known he was going to move for a few weeks now, and I was in total denial about how it would affect me. But today, after my brother and I said our goodbyes to him, and I got in the car to drive back home, I cried like a baby for 45 minutes straight. I just feel like at my dad's age (62), he needs to be closer to me, not all the way across the the country. Plus he's lived in this area for quite some time, and I took comfort in knowing that at any moment, I could drive 30 minutes up the road, and see how he was, rather than just listening to him talk on the phone. Now that he's in Arizona, we will Skype, we will talk more, and I'm ok with that. I just hope he moves back soon.

Also, I would like to shout out my main Sabin, who led a beautiful Honors College ceremony at THE Hampton University with my mother as the keynote speaker. I was sitting in the audience next to my 15-year old son Carlton, while I watched my mother and my roommate from college sit on the stage. It was a great feeling that had me emotional in a good way.

Now, back to the albums. In honor of my dad leaving me here in the DC area by myself, I choose The Temptations - Meet The Temptations, which was the first album the Temps ever released in 1964. I remember my dad sitting me down one day in 1988, and breaking down the entire album, including the first single, "Dream Come True". David Ruffin was a late addition to the group, so he was on this album, just not on this song.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Main Ingredient - Afrodisiac

I wish I could say I like this next album because of the singing, the harmony, or the fact that the lead singer's son is Cuba Gooding Jr--but I cannot. Growing up, the only reason I was infatuated with The Main Ingrdient's Afrodisiac album had everything to do with the nekkid lady on the front and back covers. This was way before I had access to google and a wife, which both allow me to see as much nudity as I want on a daily basis by accident. So I was loving this cover as well as many others by the Ohio Players.

Of course 20 years later, I still dig the nudity, but the harmonies are now a bit more prominent in my mind...just a bit. I also think "The Main Ingredient" is just a stellar name for a group. You're making a statement that you ARE the sh*t, and you challenge anyone to think otherwise. Plus most of the songs on this album were written by Stevie Wonder and his writing partner/wife at the time, Syreeta Wright, including my favorite song "Girl Blue":

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Clifford Brown - Alternate Takes

I met Wynton Marsalis way back in 1984 before I had really developed my sound as a trumpet player (a 9 years old no less), but 5 years later, when I was a veteran 14-year old trumpet player, Wynton's advice was a little more sophisticated and specific. He told me to buy a Miles Davis album called, "Bags Groove", (which took me forever to find), and Wynton also told me to buy anything and everything by Clifford Brown. I already knew Brown's song "Cherokee", but I didn't own a full-length album from him, so my father bought his album, "Alternate Takes". Instead of appreciating the greatness of Brown's sound and technique, I was intimidated by how far I had to go as a trumpet player, and I wanted no parts of this f**king album--until now of course.

My favorite song on the album, "Wail Bait", was written by Mr Quincy Jones, and it features the great Art Blakey on drums:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Charles Mingus with Eric Dolphy and Jaki Byard - Portrait

First off, I have never gotten as sick as I have since Nyles was born. He's given me at least 4 or 5 colds, and yesterday (and today) he gave me a nasty stomach virus that has caused me to lose obscene amounts of weight. Nyles had it Friday, my wife had it late Saturday and all day Sunday, and I got it at 5am yesterday, and I'm still not right. Thanks Nyles

Anyway, there were some records in my father's collection that he rarely played, which I meant I didn't even know they existed. Charles Mingus' (with Eric Dolphy and Jaki Byard) "Portrait" album was one of those records. I knew my dad loved jazz, and he certainly had his favorites, but he did a great job hiding this record from me. Mingus isn't someone I appreciated until after college, when I dove head first into the cds of every bass player I could get my grubby little hands on. This particular Mingus album features Eric Dolphy on the flute, clarinet and alto sex, Jaki Byard on piano and other lesser-known artists I'd never heard of before playing this record. This album was released the year Mingus died (1979), and it features live music from his Concert Performance At Town Hall New York, Spring 1964 and a concert Performance in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer 1965.

This songm "Praying with Eric" is about 27 minutes long, but it is my favorite on the album so far, and it also seems to be keeping Nyles' attention which is always a plus. There are lots of tempo changes in this song, and selfishly speaking I just like to hear flutes and clarinets in my jazz. Because I started off playing in marching band when I was younger, I never associated clarinets and flutes with jazz, but now I know better. Anyway, I digress...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

War - Deliver the Word

As I've gotten older, I've learned to appreciate ths musicianship and message of the group War. But when I was younger, I only knew them as the group that sang, "Me and My Baby Brother". I blogged about this song back in 2006 right before my brother got married. I won't rewrite that entire blog entry, but I'll just say that my father used to tell Jamal and I to always look out for one another no matter how old we were. That song, and this album in general, have stuck with me every since. Of all the records I took from my father's record collection, this one had the most sentimental value.

War - Deliver the Word (1973)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Lionel Richie - Lionel Richie

If it weren't for Michael F. Jackson, Lionel Richie may very well been the HNIC of the 1980s. He wrote, he danced (kind of), he sang, he played the piano, and he successfully worked his way out of the shadow of the Commodores. His first album after going solo was entitled Lionel Richie, which featured a picture of inside the record cover, laying down with some red and white Nikes on..very sexy. Although as my wife points out, it is sexier than Michael Jackson laying down inside HIS record cover with a tiger.

Anyway, my favorite song on the album is "You Are", which Lionel co-wrote with his then-wife Brenda. Also, Richard Marx who had a few minor hits in the 90s sang background. Anyway, here's Lionel:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Manhattans Greatest Hits

Back when my parents were together and fully in love with one another, my dad would put on the Manhattans Greatest Hits album, play air guitar (no matter what instrument was really playing, his default move was the guitar), and sing to my mother with lust and love in his eyes. My brother and I would watch this and be totally disgusted, but we appreciated the love our parents had for each other and us. There was no cynicism, no worries about bills or money, just love via a Manhattans record on a Saturday night. I loved that feeling, and hearing this record makes me think of that--in fact, on the first day of my honeymoon, as I laid on the beach with my wife, I played, "I'll Never Find Another", and I just smiled my ass off. But the song I will link in this blog is entitled, "Don't Take Your Love From Me", and I did so because of urgency Gerald Alston (the lead singer) has during the last 21 seconds of the song. That type of urgency is rarely displayed in R&B, but he nailed it.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

First off, please read my article right here.

Today's record of the day is entitled The Louis Armstrong Story - Vol. 2, Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven This and Volume 1 were recorded with Armstrong's band (the Hot 7) and they were recorded over a span of eight days in 1927. Yes, 1927 (two years after Malcolm X was born, two years before MLK). It is listed as jazz, but true to his New Orleans' roots, there are strong elements of blues as well.

Monday, April 08, 2013

So a couple of weeks ago, my father called me up and told me that he was finally ready to give his extensive record collection to both me and my brother. He's in the process of moving, and he realized that he hasn't played his records in years, and the righteous thing to do would be to give up his records to his selfish, but appreciative sons. My brother and I have had designs on his record collection since 1990, when we discovered that he had Richard Pryor and a ton of hip hop samples in the mix. Back then, my father consistently said no, and he wasn't ready to share, so thank god he changed his mind.

When my brother and I were divvying up the collection, it was fairly easy to decide who got what. I got all the jazz and smooth jazz (smooth jazz in the 1970s was way more hip and rich in sound and texture than it is today), and Jamal got mostly R&B with some exceptions. But there were four records that we could not agree upon initially:

1)Minnie Riperton - Perfect Angel
2)James Brown - Solid Gold
3)Otis Redding - The Dock of The Bay: The Definitive Collection
4)Stevie Wonder - Innervisions

I really wanted the James Brown album because you could basically put it on and dance for a good 2 hours straight. I wanted Minnie Riperton's album, because "Perfect Angel" (written by Stevie Wonder) is one of my favorite Minnie songs ever. I wanted Otis Redding because..well its fucking Otis Redding and Innervisions is the best Stevie Wonder album (in my opinion) recorded. Unfortunately for me, my brother had those very same reasons for wanting those exact same albums, so we were in a bit of a pickle. In the end, he got the James Brown, I got everything else, and neither one of us is truly happy, which is the sign of a good compromise.

So now, in honor of this great record collection my father has given to me, I will play a record a day and write a bit about it. You see my father, from 1980 until 1990 (when my parents started to drift apart..they eventually divorced in 1992) played records every Saturday, so that my brother and I would share his love for all types of music--and it worked because I'm a rabid fan. So every day (or every time I blog) I will share the record I chose to play that day.

First up? White Rabbit by George Benson. It came out in 1972, and the title track is a cover of a Jefferson Airplane song written by Grace Slick. The musicians on this album are like an all-star roster: Ron Carter on bass, Earl Klugh on gee-tar, Herbie Hancock on electric piano, Billy Cobham on drums, Hubert Laws on flute, clarinet and piccolo) and others. My favorite song off the album is California Dreamin:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Twice (Questlove remix) - featuring The Roots, Robert Glasper and Solange

The song is good, the beat is good, but the star of the song is the syncopated, DJ Premier-like bell you hear throughout the song. It is slightly off beat, but right on time...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I would like to say thank you to my main man jazzbrew, for assisting me with a question I've had for 23 f**king years. If you've ever seen Mo Better Blues (it was on HBO on Sunday afternoon, and it just so happens to be one of my favorite movies/soundtracks) you know there's a scene where Bleek is on the bridge alone with his trumpet. He had just called both of his ex-lovers, and neither one of them answered the phone (one was ignoring his call, and the other was getting thoroughly boned by Wesley Snipes' character). That song was NOT on the Mo Better Blues soundtrack, and for years (23 to be exact) I have wondered what that song was called, and how I could get my grubby hands on it.

I emailed jazzbrew on Sunday afternoon, and he gave me the answer, and the background story behind it, which is just the kind of answer I love and appreciate. Apparently the inclusion of this song is what helped Terence Blanchard win additional scoring gigs for Shelton "Spike" Lee. So thank you jazzbrew for your assistance. Unfortunately, this song is not available via itunes, but Amazon came through for me, and it will be in my collection soon enough. Here's the song:

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Saturday, March 02, 2013

So Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ended up doing an impromptu comedy set together earlier this week. After I got over my jealousy, and my fantasies of seeing both comedians in concert together, I started thinking. In the 50s and 60s, jazz musicians like Miles, Dizzy and Bird would collaborate all the time, it really wasn't a big deal--in fact I'm 100% sure they didn't do it for the fans, but they did it for themselves. How else do you know where you measure against the best, if you don't subject yourself to a face-to-face meeting (with the audience playing the role of fans/judges)? Or maybe the artists are big fans of their competition, and sharing the stage during the jam is a huge thrill for them. I hope this is a trend that doesn't die anytime soon. I love Chappelle and Rock. I loved it when the Roots and John Legend did an album together. I love PTI with Wilbon and Kornheiser, and I love movies with Pesci and DeNiro. Apparently I love rambling too.

More about the Rock/Chapelle show here

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Between the ages of 11 and 14, my son Carlton had some serious struggles with maintaining any semblance of academic excellence. He could get good grades on a test here, a quiz there, but ultimately, his report cards would have all Cs and Ds on them. I tried various forms of motivation, but none of them worked. But of course my son is now at that age, when material things--more importantly having the money to purchase them--are the one of the most important aspects of his life. So when I found this out, I was able to coax academic excellence out of his lazy ass, by promising sums of money. In fairness to Carlton, I think he's also motivated by the fact that his friends have begun talking about college and he does not want to get left behind. Anyway, he's gotten all As and Bs for two consecutive semester (the second semester of 9th grade and the first semester of 10th), and as a result I initally offered him cash, and then he explained that he wanted Jordans (Concord 11s to be exact).

Now when I was under 18, my dad refused to pay that much money for shoes, and to this day I have never owned a pair of Jordans. Even when I was working and could afford a pair, I just found it difficult to justify that kind of money for shoes I will wear on Friday and Saturday only. Dress shoes are worth spending $100-$300 for, because I will get plenty of mileage out of them. I'm not crazy about Carlton getting Jordans with the little bit of money he earned last semester, and I did my best to tell him how asinine it was to make that purchase, but he stood his ground. He'll learn his lesson the hard way. Before we got off the phone, I told him to send me the shoe he wanted, and the size he wore via email. This is how the email exchange went down:

Carlton: Concord 11

Me: Carlton I have no problem getting you the shoe, because as I said before, you earned this money. But I asked for the name of the shoe and the size. The least you could do is put them both in a complete sentence, instead of you sending me two words, because I don't know if the shoe is called Concord 11, or if it's just called Concord and your size is 11, so please clarify for me.

Carlton: Concord 11 size 10

Me: That's still not a sentence, stop being lazy.

Carlton: The shoes are called the concord 11, and I wear a size 10.

Me: Thank you, I'll order them today

For some reason I feel the need to call my dad and apologize for all the headaches I caused as a teenager.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Here is a quote from Questlove, on why he feels it is important to teach. He's currently teaching a music course at NYU. I dig the quote, and it is why both my sons needed to understand the importance of all types of music:

You’re hoarding all this information, but have you taught someone that this is important?” The mistake we made is that the potent magic of the music I listened to when I was growing up would just somehow transcend mankind through the ages, like throwing a stone in a lake and watching it ripple. Now I realize that we’re the ripple. My goal is simply to teach 24 students how to enjoy music. There’s a wealth of knowledge and information on the internet and a lot of it is overwhelming and there’s too much to process. I just want to point out and say, ‘Hey, try door 36. Try door 513, that’s kind of cool’ then have them decide for themselves.

Friday, February 22, 2013

First off, check out this article regarding the latest and greatest trade by my beloved Washington Wizards. I know you've been waiting with anxiously.

Second, here is young Nyles:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

As part of ESPN's massive media push to celebrate the 50th birthday of Michael Jordan, a beautifully-written piece was posted on their website. I won't spoil it by giving out specifics, but it basically showed MJ at his best, worst and most candid. Wright Thompson, who wrote the piece, was granted an unprecedented amount of access to all aspects of MJ's life, and I have no problem admitting that I was/am supremely jealous.

But after reading that piece, and reading about MJ's reluctance to the aging process, my thoughts went to my father. He's going to be 63 soon, and he's told me about how frustrating it is to know there are things he can no longer do. He's also explained to me how scary it is to know that he's closer to death than he ever was--not that he's sick or anything, but the air of invincibility that people(particularly men) have in their 20, 30s and even 40s is all but gone. I mean damn, I'm 38, and I can no longer play ball with the same kind of ferocity I used to play, and I've had two head colds knock me on my ass and keep me from work. I'm not ready to imagine my 50s and 60s. I know I want to live that long and beyond, but I don't know if I'm ready for my powers to be lessened (assuming I don't dabble in HGH or deer antler spray of course).

In a related note, I've decided to run a 5K race in June. I don't workout as much as I used to, so this will serve as a great motivator. That's all for now..I'm trying to write while I'm in bed, and it isn't working out. But speaking of aging, here is an aging, but effective Big Daddy Kane with some new music:

Monday, February 11, 2013

So today is my last day at my current job. Starting tomorrow. I will be relocating from the suburbs of Virginia, back to downtown DC. I will be closer to daycare, closer to my wife, closer to the Verizon Center (where the Wizards play), and most importantly, closer to my house. The job will be more challenging, and my boss definitely seems tough, but fair, but I'm used to that. But that's not why I'm writing this email.

The job I'm leaving today, requires me to supervise 30-40 people, which means all of them have to say goodbye to me in some shape, form or fashion. I have been at this job since June of 2012, and I have varying degrees of closeness with my staff. I am cool with some, stay at arm's length from others, and the rest fall somewhere in the middle. Still, right now it is 3:38, and three members of my staff have left already, and it is hilarious to watch try to say goodbye.

One woman just kind of looked at me and said "bye", not knowing whether to hug me or shake my hand, so she did neither. One dude didn't know whether to shake my hand in the traditional sense or to give me the handshake/half hug combo, so we ended up playing rock-paper-scissors. One woman clumsily came up to me and gave me the churchiest of church hugs known to man--and we still have 30 or more awkward confrontations to go. I want to just sneak out the door to avoid this madness, but these people have treated me to lunches, cards, and a bottle of wine over the past couple of days, since learning of my departure. If I were to just walk out, that would be uncivilized right?

By the way, since I started this blog, another lady just got real close to me to say goodbye. No hug, no handshake, just an invasion of personal space. This is awesome.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

The wife looked at me about 10 minutes ago, and told me she missed my blog, which is exactly what I've been thinking for a couple of weeks now. I definitely don't have items to report on a daily basis, but there still times, when something is on my mind, and I'd like to put it down--the words of course. So, for the fourth time after ending it, I am back on the blog scene again. We'll see how this goes, although I am not sure anyone is reading anymore.