Reading and Listening

I used to bookmark all the interesting articles, videos, and songs that I came across on the Internet, but, after a while, it ended up as an exercise in digital futility. But, that won't stop me from trying again! This time, I'll list everything here: both for myself and for you, phantom reader. Procrastinate at your own risk!
Listening Notes — this is where I help myself remember what I've been checking out. Considering the suffocating quantity of music out there, it's likely that you won't be in need of any recommendations, but in case you are for any reason, maybe look around.

And music-related resources on YouTube? This is probably overkill, but if you've got nothing better to do, feel free to take a look ("Infinite Recommendations").

And, lastly (really), if you have utterly run out of recommendations for books and movies to read, I keep a little reading/watching log, which is really more for me than it is for you, but in case anyone's interested.

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Selected Shorts

"College, from which some 1.5 million people will graduate this year, is, basically, a sleepover with grades." — "The Graduates" ('taco talk'), Louis Menand

"For a reporter, or even an experienced reader, something not being on the Internet sets off alarms. Further reading raised more: The referee story first appeared in one of the often sleazy London tabloids and spread from there, like fact-checking syphilis. One person told one reporter, and all the other stories repeated the anecdote. It bore all the telltale symptoms of origin myth." — "Portrait of a Serial Winner," Wright Thompson


"The early critical success did nothing to dissuade Vollmann’s view that his personal vision for his books trumped all other considerations. As he has often said, the money you’re paid for your writing is never enough. Therefore, why compromise?" — "You Are Now Entering the Demented Kingdom of William T. Vollman," Tom Bissell

"In a culture that has the phrase “Good job!” on endless rotation, he dares to say, over and over, “You must be fucking kidding me" — "I know why Bret Easton Ellis hates David Foster Wallace," Gerald Howard

"Even in the most chaotic fights and collisions, everything makes sense. This is not a matter of realism — come on, now — but of imaginative discipline. And Mr. Miller demonstrates that great action filmmaking is not only a matter of physics but of ethics as well. There is cause and effect; there are choices and consequences." – "'Mad Max: Fury Road,' Still Angry After All These Years," A.O. Scott

"'It’s like with Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, Bill Murray, Jamie Foxx. A lot of our favorite actors were put in a box before they destroyed that box'" — James Ponsold, "Jason Segel Makes a Career U-Turn as David Foster Wallace in 'The End of the Tour,'" Cara Buckley

"The first-person boom, Tolentino says, has helped create 'a situation in which writers feel like the best thing they have to offer is the worst thing that ever happened to them" — "The First-Person Industrial Complex," Laura Bennett

"It's a silly, silly list...But you need someone to collapse the universe for you" — Frank Bruni on the "World's 50 Best Restaurants" in "Who's To Judge," Lauren Collins (New Yorker, 2 November, 2015)

"Because I'm overeducated and insecure, I package my banal observations in semantic finery, so I feel a kinship with lines like 'Earthling inserts to chalice the green cutchie/Groundation soul finds trust upon smoking hose," which is a fancy way of saying "a guy smokes some weed" — "Letter of Recommendation: Sleep, 'Dopesmoker,'" David Rees

"The law of evidence that reigns in the domain of childhood is essentially medieval" — "After the Fact," Jill Lepore

There is time, too, for fantasy about what life would be like outside the White House. Mr. Emanuel, who is now the mayor of Chicago but remains close to the president, said he and Mr. Obama once imagined moving to Hawaii to open a T-shirt shack that sold only one size (medium) and one color (white). Their dream was that they would no longer have to make decisions." – "Obama After Dark," Michael Shear

The Chinese ability to sleep wherever, whenever, is something of a national pastime." — "Shh. It's Naptime at Ikea in China" (New York Times)

"But the case is also unique, experts say, because it exposes what is essentially a legal black hole: Chinese statutes do not clearly indicate who owns property with intergalactic characteristics."  "Meteorite Finder Fights China’s (Mostly Terrestrial) Property Law" (New York Times)

"When a cabdriver lied about a route, or a shopkeeper shortchanged me, I felt that it was my fault, for speaking Turkish with an accent, or for being part of an élite. And, if I pretended not to notice these slights, wasn’t I proving that I really was a disengaged, privileged oppressor? Epictetus shook me from these thoughts with this simple exercise: “Starting with things of little value—a bit of spilled oil, a little stolen wine—repeat to yourself: ‘For such a small price, I buy tranquillity.’ ” "How To Be a Stoic" (New Yorker)

"Every age invents respectable formulas to convert local limits of imagination and experience into universal limits on reality"  "The Spiritual Case for Socialism" (New Republic)

"I returned to Tombstone and Shakespeare in an effort to change the angle from which I approach immigration issues, to step outside my usual dynamics. In effect, I wanted to reënact my own past, in a different persona. I returned to the borderlands to look hatred in the face. But what I saw was not quite hatred. It was something more hollow, circular, repetitive. Something more like a reënactment of hate." The Wild West Meets the Southern Border (New Yorker)

"Art that strives to be super topical makes something that should be uncontainable and puts it in a container. In a cynical way, it’s easier to sell when it’s in a container. It looks great for grants, it looks great to promoters. The danger is that it dilutes the emotional content of what could be a strange, uncontained morsel of humanity. It should be shocking or accessible or euphoric or sad just because it is. I don’t want anyone to tell me what the song is about." — Interview with Chris Morrissey (Jazz Speaks)

"Some will love the prime rib, which could not be any more moist without breaking several laws of chemistry. Others will wish that it had more concentrated beef flavor and that the flaps and handles had not been trimmed off, perhaps in pursuit of some Kellerian quest for bovine symmetry." — Thomas Keller Brings Country Club Cuisine to the City (New York Times)

"For a long time, linguists have been arguing that the most interesting type of language is the informal speech that you produce when you're not thinking about it, because when we do stuff fast and without seemingly thinking about it too hard, we access these levels of unconscious linguistic awareness that we all have. If you do something that's filtered through an editor or filtered through more self-consciousness, you're going to do something that's more homogenized, more standardized and less interesting, because it doesn't represent the ... whole beauty of the world and everything that's possibly out there." "Our Language is Evolving, 'Because Internet'" (NPR)

"It's because as you get older, your desire to be right diminishes. When I was in my 20s I always wanted to be right about what I thought about certain films, or film directors, or actors. Now I don't care. It doesn't matter to me if I'm right. I mean, I think I'm right, of course, and I can defend my judgments. Which I think is important for critics to do. Instead of writing letters of apology to the reader for not liking a Pirates of the Caribbean movie." — A. S. Hamrah interviewed

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The Bizarre

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Jazz Lore

Ken Peplowski: I have a story about Oscar Pettiford, and I bet this has happened to you in one form or another. Keter Betts told me this one. One of Keter’s first big gigs was working with Dinah Washington. He’s on the bandstand with her and he looks out and there’s Oscar Pettiford in the audience. She’s playing a nice ballad and he’s playing just one, three, one, three. They take a break and Pettiford comes up to him and says, “Young man, can I offer you some advice? You know, every time a bass player just gives me beats one and three in a ballad, it’s the most boring thing I’ve ever heard. You’ve got to add something to the music, you’ve got to fill in behind her. If there’s space when she’s singing a ballad, play a line behind her, play something interesting.” Keter goes, “Yes sir, thank you.” They go back to the bandstand and Dinah’s singing another ballad and she turns around to Keter, who’s playing tiny figures, and says, “When I want you to solo, I’ll let you know.” Three weeks later, Keter goes to see Oscar Pettiford performing with Sarah Vaughan, and she’s singing a ballad and he’s playing one, three, one, three.


Ted Panken: That was “Bemsha Swing,” interpreted by John Coltrane, Donald Cherry, Percy Heath and Edward Blackwell from The Avant Garde.  A couple of things came to light during the break.  First of all, Blackwell did play once with Thelonious Monk in 1972.

Ed Blackwell:    I’ll tell you what happened with Monk.  During the course of the gig, after about a week… He used to give me a lot of solos.  Then one night we were playing, and he gave me a solo, and I played, you know, and after he came off the stand he come over to me and he said, “You know, you ain’t no Max Roach.” [LAUGHS] And I don’t know why he told me that!  He just danced away. Wilbur Ware was in that group also.


Electric Miles: A Conversation

MTUME: A lesson I learned from Miles about tension—and it involves you, Gary, and Keith Jarrett—we were playing in Italy with Gato Barbieri. I’m in the dressing room with Miles, and Gary, you came in cussing like twelve sailors! “I can’t stand Keith! I’m sick of that stuff! Matter of fact, I don’t even want him to play when I’m soloing!” And I’m sitting there like, “Oh, shit!” And Miles just did this “Okay, okay.” So then Gary, you left the room and Miles tells Jim Rose, the road manager, “Go get Keith.” Keith comes in and I swear on my mother’s grave, Miles looked at Keith and said, “Gary said he loves everything you play. As a matter of fact, he said, ‘Play more of that shit!’” But here’s the moral of the story: That next set, man, that music went there [raises hand to the sky]! Gary’s looking at Keith, hating it, and Keith’s smiling, “Yeah!” That’s Miles Davis!

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Writers' and artists' archives on the internet:
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Maybe it's because I'm still developing my personal sound, but reviewers tend to drop frequent comparisons to known-saxophonists as a reference point. For my own amusement given the vast range of references to date, I'm collecting them here:

"The bandleader’s explosive saxophone, à la Anthony Braxton, is tonally and rhythmically in sync with bassist Walter Stinson and drummer Matt Honor, as he alternates breathless runs and intervallic leaps to their constant beat ... A heap of history is evoked across the album, too, though Sun is the sole composer and chief innovator with his Coltrane-like sprints up and down scales, and his nod to the past with suggestions of Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young." -DownBeat (March 2021)

"Sun is reminiscent of mid period Sonny Rollins, loosely bopping over the nimble groove on “Bad Lady” and sleek around Stinson’s bass on “Seaworthy (Unseaworthy)”. Honor gets some solo space on “Prelude/Genuflecting at the Cathedral of Perpetual Hustle” and simmers with Stinson on “Latinate” while his hi hat sizzles after Stinson hands him the baton and Sun goes into a frisky Coltrane mood on “Facsimilate (Unlike You)"." - Jazz Weekly (January 2021)

"Yet deep down, Sun has a warmth, richness and rhythmic vitality to his playing that at times brings Lester Young or Sonny Rollins to mind; and that aspect helps him stand out from other avant-gardists who rely more on head than heart for their appeal." - All About Jazz (November 2020)

"At twenty-five minutes in length, the tune goes through several more evolutions: a segment of O'Farrill blowing brassy and bold, with Sun going to a deep, Ben Webster tone; then a shift (Sun on clarinet) to a twilight stealth mode, the rhythm section whispering then stepping back to bright daylight (Sun switching back to sax), the band exuding a palpable joy." - All About Jazz (April 2020)

"Non fa parte della pattuglia del free jazz o di quella che si ispira direttamente a Threadgill o all'M-Base di Steve Coleman, ma vi trova una via di mezzo, tenendo conto anche di Anthony Braxton e di certa musica da camera dotta contemporanea" - AudioReview (March 2020)

"There are several moments that may remind listeners of the music created by Henry Threadgill, Fred Hopkins, and Steve McCall (the trio Air) – like the best trio music, the pieces are conversations, a push-pull of melody and percussive tension with Stinson serving as "foundation", counterpoint, and soloist." - Step Tempest, November 2019

"This fierce-swinging tune evokes early Steve Lacy and Lenny Tristano with its free-thinking bop inclination" - Audiophile Audition, June 2018

"Sun’s tenor is used on most of the tracks, and his tone is filled with Sonny Rollins muscle and warmth, floating like a leaf on “Transaccidentalism” going the role of the bopper on “Find Your Pose” and oozing with Stan Getzian fog on “Ballroom Dancing.” - Jazz Weekly (April 2018)

"As I listened, the promo text’s mentions of Warne Marsh and Lee Konitz rang true, and the way the band engages with tradition while eschewing the straight ahead brought Steve Lacy to mind. Much of these 71-minutes can be described as cerebral, even the reading of “All Of Me,” but occasionally they step fully outside, as on “One Never Knows Now,” which reminded me of ’70s Braxton teamed up with Milford Graves and Alan Silva." - The Vinyl District (February 2018)

"Flying with avant-garde intricacy, “Three Ravens” is a hard-swinging slice of Steve Lacy-esque free-ish bop ... Yet, the trio awakes further tonal instincts within the dark chamber atmosphere of “Misanthrope”, where bowed bass abrasions combine with saxophone tonalities that brought Tony Malaby to mind ... Operating across a rock platform, “Find Your Pose” sounds close to Chris Speed Trio, while “Announcements” sparks with cymbal splashes and a frantic improvisational language that immediately takes us to Steve Lehman." Jazz Trail (January 2018)

"Sun also manages to invoke players like Art Pepper and Stan Getz." - NYC Jazz Record (January 2018)