Thursday, March 30, 2006

Vocalist Cheryl Tolbert

Cheryl Tolbert is a fine jazz vocalist and music educator that has moved to Lexington from New Orleans after Katrina. I first heard her sing at a Sunday morning church service at Madison Hills Christian Church in Richmond and enjoyed her very much. I was in a rush that day and didn't get to speak with her, but certainly intended to meet her at a later date and perhaps work together on some musical efforts.

At last night's Giuseppe's gig, I recognized her as she sat at a table across the room from my bandstand. There were two other ladies with her, all enjoying the evening as they celebrated Cheryl's birthday. I met Cheryl, her sister, and a good friend.

What beautiful women with exciting personalities I observed! Even though their lives have been changed forever due to the disaster, their strong faith in God and optimistic outlook will allow them to continue to be happy and enjoy life.

I succeeded in prodding Cheryl to sing a tune with me. She sang a slow blues that was enjoyed by everyone. We are hoping to do some gigs together in the future both as a duo and as part of a combo. I certainly look forward to those gigs, as it is always fun to play with fine musicians that truly enjoy the experience.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Matthew's Trophy

To our great surprise, Matthew made the school academic team this year. The team completed a successful season of competition and each member of the team was awarded an individual trophy. The academic team had his trophy incorrectly engraved showing his name as "Mathew." The misspelled name may have been more understandable had it been a football team trophy...but academic team???

If he makes the academic team again next year, I think I'll make some signs and banners to display at the competitions. Some of the phrases might include "Go academick team!" or "Hour team is smarter than yours is!"

Thursday, March 23, 2006

TV Viewing Priorities

My limited television viewing time is spent pretty much watching only sports or news broadcasts and maybe an occasional syndicated rerun of a selected comedy series. When I had HBO I would watch The Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm, but I no longer subscribe to that channel. I've never watched a reality show, don't watch any new series, and certainly not American Idol or talent contests.

It has become apparent to me that I should only invest my time in programming that pass the cheezit/popcorn/sandwich/pizza test. If I were to sit down in front of the tv to watch a show, it would need to be a show that is worthy of at least a Cheezit rating. I have determined that it is helpful when planning and prioritizing my viewing schedule to keep in mind the rating factors.

Here is my cpspt rating scale:

Pizza (Delivery) * * * * *
Sandwich * * * *
Popcorn * * *
Cheezit * *
Not really worth a snack *

Shows I typically watch generally receive these ratings:

Super Bowl - Pizza
NCAA Final Four - Pizza
NFL Playoffs - Pizza
World Series - Pizza
NBA Championship - Pizza
Cincinnati Bengals - Pizza
UK Basketball - Sandwich
UK Football - Sandwich
Cincinnati Reds - Popcorn
Fishing shows - Popcorn
NFL Channel programming - Cheezit
Fox News - Cheezit
Andy Griffith - Cheezit
Seinfeld - Cheezit
Batman (Adam West) - Cheezit
Get Smart - Cheezit
Green Acres - Cheezit
The Honeymooners - Cheezit
All other shows - Not really worth a snack

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Jury Dury

My number came up again to do my civic responsibility of jury duty. In the past when I was called, I would show up each morning only to be later rejected by the attorneys.

They don't tell me why I am rejected, which makes me it because:

1) I look like a taxpayer?
2) I look like a family man?
3) I speak English?

Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not complaining, only curious. We'll see what happens this time around.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Chicago XXX

I was pretty excited when I heard that Chicago was releasing a new studio album this month. It's the first album of all new songs that they have done since 1991. They have been one of my favorite bands for many years, so I have been eagerly awaiting this release.

I have always bought their albums during the first week of each release, and had preordered this one too. When it arrived, I put it aside and scheduled my calendar for a listen tonight. I did this so my first listen would be in my studio, where I can hear EVERYTHING without interruption. I played the disc in it's entirety the first and second time, and then isolated several of the parts for close scrutiny.

The verdict...I like it. The musicianship is excellent, the production is unbelievable (some of the vocal voicings are simply incredible), and there are several very good songs. The production of some of the tracks may be a little overkill on the studio effects, but the state of the art production gimmicks are pretty neat to hear through my studio reference speakers or headphones. One of my favorite vocalists is the legendary Bill Champlin. In addition to his solo and Sons of Champlin work, he has been a member of Chicago for many years. He is featured a lot on XXX and, as always, does some remarkable things with his voice. Original Chicago member Robert Lamm sounds good. Bassist Jason Scheff sings in tune on this album! I've always liked the tonal quality of Scheff's voice very much, but I have a hard time listening to his poor intonation on the live recordings and in concerts as he attempts to sing the old Peter Cetera parts. In the studio he sounds wonderful. Guests Rascal Flatts sing with Chicago on "Love Will Come Back." The tight harmonies make this track sound like a potential commercial hit to me. The vocal arrangement is outstanding. The other tune being promoted as a hit is "Feel." Though not my favorite, Sharon and Melody both liked it very much and think it may become a hit. Like all Chicago albums, the horn charts are by trombonist James Pankow. They have that good unmistakable Chicago sound. I always wish for more horn section features, and this album is no exception.

Though XXX is much different than the early Chicago albums, this is a fresh and powerful sound that still has a hint of the early stuff. Many fans from the early years may feel that this new album doesn't compare to the great early ones, and they are right in a sense. This new one is different, but it's good too. And it's a whole lot better than most of the stuff being played on the Top 40 stations today! Welcome back Chicago. I can't wait for XXXI.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Smooth Jazz Meets Reggae

One of my friends has been telling me for years about a cd that she has been looking for, but could not locate. She heard and loved a couple of tracks played on a smooth radio station of guitarist Lee Ritenour playing Bob Marley tunes.

I found the cd earlier this week. It is a 2001 GRP release titled "A Twist Of Marley - A Tribute". The all star lineup of musicians includes Lee Ritenour (guitar, keys, and producer of the project), Michael Brecker, Gerald Albright, Patti Austin, Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, Will Downing, Marc Antoine, Lisa Fisher, Dave Grusin, Maxi Priest, and Phil Perry.

I'm not a huge reggae fan, but do enjoy listening occasionally. I found this cd to be very nice and really interesting. Some reggae purists may not appreciate the overwhelming smooth jazz sound injected into Marley's great reggae and ska anthems, but these players are SO GOOD! To me, the great Michael Brecker tenor solo on "Exodus" is worth having the album. Likewise, alto saxman Gerald Albright sounds fantastic on "Jamming". Lee Ritenour is such an incredible player and sounds great on everything he does. A pleasant surprise for me on this cd was how much I am enjoying the two tracks featuring "The King Of Lover's Rock", British reggae artist Maxi Priest. He and Ritenour sound wonderful together on "I Shot The Sheriff" and "Waiting In Vain".

I played a couple of cuts from the cd during my break at the restaurant last night. No less than four patrons came up to me asking about the recording that I was playing. They all loved what they heard.

I'm looking forward to my gig tonight. I am going to present to my friend the cd that she has been wanting for so long. I'll be getting another one for myself, as I'll need to include an occasional "Twist Of Marley" in my break music mix.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

March Madness

It's my favorite time of the year...March Madness. I've filled out my brackets and am anxious to win the car, plasma tv, cash, or free Mt. Dew t-shirt. I think Connecticut is the best team, but everybody and their grandmother is picking them or Duke. I'm going with a little bit of a dark horse this year...Florida. I figure that not many people will pick them, and if they DO win it, I'll be driving the new Hummer, or at least sporting the new t-shirt.

The Madison Central High School basketball team made the Sweet Sixteen. Melody is excited about it, as some of her friends play on the team. Go Indians!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Celebration Of The Life Of Our Dog "Jazz"

Jazz, our 14 year old shih tzu, died today. He was a great dog and lived a happy life. His health had drastically deteriorated over the past year, and it was his time to go.

He loved listening with me to Sonny Rollins, Woody Herman, and David Sanborn albums.

At the end of my gig tonight I will play a short New Orleans style funeral medley to remember him, starting with the slow and melancholy "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" and finishing with a happy and upbeat version of "When The Saints Go Marchin' In". Jazz is in doggie heaven.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Madison Central Mock Trial Team

Melody has enjoyed being a member of the Madison Central High School mock trial team the past two years. She is fortunate to have worked as one of the team's lead attorneys in the competitions.

Emily and Melody at the 2005 State Championship

Over the years I have seen many great programs for the high school students, but none compare to this outstanding one. The program is a valuable tool that teaches the students how our judicial system works, provides them the opportunity to enhance their public speaking skills, builds their self confidence, and teaches them to think and understand both sides of an issue.

In yesterday's first match, Melody was a defense attorney in a case held in the Manchester Circuit Courtroom. She and her team won the case in outstanding fashion. Later in the day she was a prosecutor for the same case against a different mock trial team. Melody and the Madison Central team also won that match and advance another step toward their goal of achieving an undefeated season and winning the Kentucky state championship.

The 2006 Madison Central Mock Trial Team

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Thank You Don Knotts

When Don Knotts died this past week, we lost an icon. I think a "National Barney Fife Day" is in order.

The Andy Griffith Show is my favorite television series and Barney Fife my favorite character. Some of Barney's best quotes are:

"Fly a quail through here and every one of 'em would point." (Talking about the women at Mrs. Wiley's party)

"There ain't no gold. And don't be hanging around when that truck comes through."

"If only somebody would just commit a crime, one good crime! If only somebody would just kill somebody! Oh, I don’t mean anybody we know, but…well, if a couple of strangers was to come into town, and, well if one of ‘em was gonna kill the other one anyways, they might just as well do it here."

"Like they always say...the quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth like a gentle dew from Heaven...well, you're not talking to a jerk you know!"

"Well, I guess to sum it up, you could say, there's three reasons why there's so little crime in Mayberry. There's Andy, and there's me, and [patting gun] baby makes three."

"Gomer, get down there with them spiders!"

"Oh, you're just full of fun today, aren't you? Why don't we go up to the old people's home and wax the steps?"

"Man gets his best suit spotted and pressed, spends two hours polishing his hat, and for what? Heartaches!"

"This is what we call the deadly game, and I'm in it for keeps".

"Can I put my bullet in, Anj? Can I? Can I?"

"Jaywalking is rampant in the streets of Mayberry."

"You know what they call me? Fast-gun Fife"

"Boy, giraffes are selfish! Always running around, getting hit by lightning, looking out for number one."

"She's still ugly, single, and pitting prunes."

"From your head down to your feet, there is nothing quite as sweet; as Juanita, Juanita, lovely, dear Juanita."

"It's a good thing she's not campaigning for folks to have their eyes checked, one kiss on your jaw and we'd all be wearing glasses... if she ever kissed you on the lips we'd all have to have our appendix taken out."

"Well, today's eight-year-olds are tomorrow's teenagers. I say this calls for action and now! Nip it in the bud! First sign of youngsters going wrong, you've got to nip it in the bud. Nip it! You go read any book you can on the subject of child discipline and you'll find every one of them is in favor of bud-nipping."

"I'm a man of the world, Andy. Why, I've even been to Raleigh!"

"Andy I got great news! My throat ain't sore after all! And you know that lump you seen? That's the uvula! Doc says everybody's got one! Open your mouth, Andy. Yep, there's the good ol' uvula! I got a uvula, you got a uvula, all God's children got a uvula!

"You know Andy, I never thought our town would come to
this...Mayberry...gateway to danger."

"Do you know what your sheriff has in the trunk of his squad car for emergencies? A shovel and a rake!"

"What's the matter? Ain't you never seen a man take off a dress before?"

"No more doing what you want whenever you want. No more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches."

"You know something I found out? If you ride in the wind with your mouth open and you put your tongue up on the roof of your mouth, it's impossible to pronounce a word that starts with the letter 'S'."

Friday, March 03, 2006

Playing A Musical Instrument Can Give You A Hip Look

Doesn't a sax look cool? Just holding the axe can give a person a look of hipness. Coltrane album covers are extra sharp when he is shown playing his tenor or soprano. Miles Davis looked good standing alone, but when he put a trumpet in his hands, the look was three shades of fine.

Some instruments look cooler than others. If I had to rank the top three instruments pertaining to CLF (coolness look factor), it would be as follows:

1) Sax
2) Acoustic Bass
3) Guitar

Some instruments definitely do not have a cool look. Some present a very unhip image. When a student is pondering the type instrument to learn to play, he or she should definitely consider the CLF before choosing.

Carroll Hall (Dad) playing his merry melodica
(A wiser instrument choice would result in a higher CLF)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Going To SEC Basketball Tournaments

Over the years I have loved going to SEC basketball tournaments. During my college days back in the late 70's, friends Kim, Steve, Phil, Bob, Ruby, Ace, and others would go to Birmingham to pull our Wildcats through. What fun times! Over the past few years it has been held in Atlanta where I have gone with Sharon, Melody, Matthew, and David T.

Last year Matthew, friend David T. and I headed to Atlanta. It was a last minute decision, as we made plans to go only about twelve hours prior to Kentucky tipoff. David T. was concerned about us not having tickets in hand, but I assured him that I had been to many of these tournaments and that tickets are available outside from scalpers and problem. I explained that I was an old pro at this, always getting good seats at reasonable prices.

Upon arriving in Atlanta, I told David T. and Matthew to stand aside and watch the old pro take care of business in handling the ticket situation. After an hour or so of work, I came back with three excellent tickets, just off center court, about 25 rows up. They costed a little more than I had anticipated, but hey, we only do this tourney thing once a year.

Now we are ready to enter the Georgia Dome. Just outside I ran into Kentucky basketball legend Kenny Walker. He had seats on press row. I thought briefly about checking with him about the possibility of getting me on press row, but decided against it since my seats were so outstanding anyway. Kenny entered the Dome and told us to cheer loudly for the Cats.

Kenny Walker and Me

When we gave the attendent our tickets, he scanned them and said "Whoooaaa, sir, you can't go in, these tickets are fake". What a drag! The ticket dude explained that there were thousands of fake tickets out there, and that everyone should know not to buy them off the street. "Only idiots try to buy them off the street", he said. Matt and David T. were hot. I was too, but decided not to worry about it, and just go to the Dome ticket window and buy some Bob Eucker cheap seats. We went to the ticket window and were told that no tickets were available, and that the only way to get in would be to buy them off the street. Ouch!

I wasn't about to get burned again, so we went to sports bar across the street to watch the game and enjoy great food and Mt. Dew. It was a blast. We probably had more fun than we would have had from the 25th row. The joint was packed with other "idiots" that had been burned by fake tickets. 95% of the patrons were Big Blue fans. It was like Rupp Arena South. When Kentucky won on a last second shot, a blonde babe ran over to us and started kissing and hugging Matthew. At age nine, Matthew didn't appreciate it. David T. and I didn't have a problem with the celebration.

Matt not celebrating

Matt celebrating

This year we are not going to the tournament. I plan to go to the hottest local sports bar and look for some more celebrations!