Saturday, January 23, 2016

IN ORBIT WITH MAJOR TOM

I recently watched the Clark Terry documentary Keep On Keepin'On, and then listened to his autobiography Clark.  Both made a strong impression on me.  I live a couple miles from the baseball museum and historical jazz district and CT's decency and joy and generous teaching reminded me so much of what I've seen and heard about Buck O'Neill.  There is warmth and happiness in his music and if you learn more about his life, that warmth and happiness shines all the more.

The wonder and worry of Spotify is finding entire discographies available for ten bucks a month.  I make an earnest effort to treat Spotify as 1) a research tool to inform purchases and 2) a way to listen to my vinyl and cd collection remotely.  There are three or four records I've listened to a great deal on Spotify lately and I have my eye out for each of them: Blood by B'last; Discreet Music by Eno; Blood Donation by Mariam The Believer; and this Clark Terry album.  I've looked for them all, lately. It's really quaint, but I've made the deal that if I'm going to have an album in heavy rotation on my "smart phone," I owe it to that artist to buy it, at some point.

The new David Bowie is nowhere to be found, and I can't bring myself to listen to it on Spotify or any other digital source.  I did review half of his classic discography last week, after bursting into tears in the shower, the morning I learned he died.  I think if I had to choose one, it would be a very tough choice between Ziggy Stardust and Station to Station.  The song that really, REALLY struck me was "Sweet Thing/The Candidate" from Diamond Dogs, which in its arrangement and vocal style opens up the second half of the 70's for Bowie and is kind of a creative leap.  And we are talking about someone who leapt creatively all the time.  Just my dumb opinion but great artists surge forward, move back, settle in, send out a sonar ping, then move on into what's next. "Sweet Thing" sweeps the chess pieces off the table. 

So, anyhow, I gave this CT record a spin or two and made a mental note to pick it up. I like the cover, a lot, and I like that Monk is a sideman on it, and it is adjacent chronologically to the other CT album I have, from all the way back in high school, Duke With A Difference. I don't know how I got that album, it was either a gift from my brother-in-law Jonathan or a pure impulse buy on my part.  Steve Tulipana and I used part of it to make a promotional ad for The Trash Dance, a goofy geek-friendly high school dance where we played Devo and The Clash and slam-danced.  I prompted my dad to say something about how The Trash Dance was really hip and cool, and recorded him with Clark Terry in the background.  Steve and I also recorded some ambient guitars that segued into the Clark Terry/Dad bit and our assistant principal Mr. Stessman said it sounded like Country Joe and The Fish.  

I got a haircut today at Endicott, asking for the usual though I'm kind of wanting a hair style change up, I just don't know what.  My barber Joe and I talked about the Royals and Chiefs and stuff and his grandkids were in there getting after him for money for ice cream.  I went to Endicott the first week I lived here and have gone back every month or six weeks since.  Endicott is down the street from Mills Records so I always go there and it is my Saturday thing, like my dad getting a haircut but instead of shopping for records, Dad shopped for Metamucil at Wal-Mart and fertilizer at Frevert's Tru-Value.

I gave Loretta the dog record clerk some strokes and talked to Judy for a while and looked through the used jazz and half-heartedly flipped through different genres.  It's almost always TOO MUCH information and I shouldn't be spending money anyway.  Then as I was about to bail, feeling like the dip-thong guy who goes to stores but never buys anything, found a small section of new jazz album, maybe thirty or forty albums, and In Orbit was in there.  It just seemed super random and wonderful and I bought it.  Did I mention it is the first record to feature the flugelhorn in the lead role throughout?  So joyful and mellow, it just feels good.

These are circular and self-referential thoughts about how a record arrives in my life but it's one of my joys, it matters to me, more than an accurate review or recommendation.  I know I can't own, know, or understand every record ever made, but I do know how instinct feels and how records define a season of life and this is my particular kind of treasure hunt.

 
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