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: