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If you’ve been wondering what’s kept me quiet here at the blog for the past couple of months, it has been the extremely stressful and nerve-wracking process that is graduate school admissions. US News’ Education page and Online Graduate Programs both have more information on what goes into the strenuous application process.

After I was mercilessly rejected by five schools, UCLA, Wesleyan and Brown University all came through with excellent offers to attend their programs in the fall. In the end, I decided to return to California to study at UCLA — where I will begin coursework in September. Read the rest of this entry »

Thanks to a tweet by freeform, I was just hipped to this recent article in the Wall Street Journal by jazz writer Larry Blumenfeld about New Orleans wunderkinds Christian Scott and Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. It’s well-done, so give it a read.

… done yet? OK, now for my take: I can see where Blumenfeld is coming from, citing their similar New Orleans musical pedigrees and holding them up as exemplars of young musicians expanding the style and reaching out into new, albeit different, musical horizons.

But having just listened through both of their most recent CDs — Andrews’s Backatown and Scott’s Yesterday You Said Tomorrow — in the past month or so, I don’t believe that the comparison holds up upon closer examination. Maybe it’s just my bias towards kickass trombonists, but if anything these two are a study in contrasts in how to leverage a privileged New Orleans musical heritage. Read the rest of this entry »

Sonny Rollins and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

A couple of weeks ago, Wynton Marsalis teamed up with New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden to talk on camera about the relationship between jazz and basketball.  The coverage from the basketball blogs was cursory, while the jazz blogs made fun of it.  It became clear to me from the reactions from both sides that neither understood the other particularly well, nor did they care particularly much about the connection.  This is due in part to the increasingly divergent communities that follow jazz and basketball, but also a product of the obvious lack of depth in Marsalis’s and Rhoden’s attempt to explore the common ground that the sport and music share.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a big fan of both jazz and basketball, and I believe that there are some interesting parallels and similarities that are worth exploring between them.  Watching the NY times video, I get the impression that Rhoden and Marsalis see it, too, but fail to convey the connection to their audience, only to end up looking like a couple of goofy middle-aged guys dissing each other’s post moves. Read the rest of this entry »

RIP Wayman Tisdale

RIP Wayman Tisdale

Since I started Lubricity last week, I’ve been thinking about the meaning of the word and, ironically, how this space will define itself in its own non-definitional way.  One way of going about this has been to think about what won’t be happening in this space.  Expect more soon on what kinds of things you WILL be seeing, as well!

One thing that I am planning to leave off this site is the obituary.  Perhaps the most difficult part of being a member of the jazz community as a young man with a whole life in jazz ahead of me is being constantly surrounded by the reminder that everyone of import in the jazz world seems to be either dead or dying.  In my last post, I talked about being raised by ghosts.  That will continue to be true without having to take note of the passing of every next jazz musician (today it was Wes Montgomery’s brother Buddy.)

Lucky for me, most of my favorites are already dead anyway.  My man Jack Teagarden kicked it 20 years before I was even born.  Miles Davis met his maker when I was 7 and hadn’t even heard of jazz.  I remember hearing news of JJ Johnson’s death in high school, but I never had a chance to hear him play live.  Who knows, maybe this is about my own fear of death more than it is about any kind of editorial decision.  But when I read the news of bassist, retired basketball player and inspirational cancer-battling amputee Wayman Tisdale’s death this morning, I realized that I’d have to make an exception in my non-eulogizing policy.

Read the rest of this entry »

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