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My thoughts on Super Bowl XLVI champion New York Giants February 19, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Commentary, Football, Internet, Media, News, Personal, Radio, Sports, TV, Video.
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(Starting with the Giants’ first win against the Cowboys, I link to highlights from Dial Global Sports‘ coverage of each win.)

Two weeks have passed since the New York Giants of the National Football League won Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.  So, I thought I’d take this time to share my thoughts on their win and their season.

I became a Giants fan in the early ’90s, but didn’t make an effort to watch the games until the 1997 season.  I was too young to appreciate the Giants’ Super Bowl championship seasons of ’86 and ’90 and only saw it through retrospective clips and documentaries.  I thought 2000 would be the year I would see them win a Super Bowl, which was held in Tampa that year.  My dad and I were in the area the week of Super Bowl XXXV.  We saw some NFL and media personalities at the Innisbrook Resort, where my grandparents lived, and went to the NFL Experience outside of Raymond James Stadium two days before the game.  We watched the game back at Innisbrook, but it was very depressing.  It left such a bad taste in my mouth I couldn’t watch highlights until after the 2007 season.  Why?  The Giants did the improbable, beating the undefeated New England Patriots to win Super Bowl XLII.  I was finally old enough to see my Giants win a Super Bowl and appreciate it.

In the seasons after ’07, the Giants would get off to a hot start and then slack off in the second half.  They symbolized that in one game, a collapse in a December 2010 game against the Eagles.  It was devastating.  They still could have made the playoffs by winning their last game of that season two weeks later, but the Packers had to lose.  They didn’t, and Redskins fans made that known as they chanted for the Giants and visiting Giants’ fans: “Green Bay won!  Green Bay won!”  And the Pack went on to win Super Bowl XLV, but I was proud of them because they knocked out the Eagles in the Wild Card round.

The 2011 season started on a down note, a loss to the Redskins in the same venue where eight months earlier, the G-Men learned they had been eliminated from playoff contention.  But then, three wins a row.  After a loss to the Seahawks, they won three more.  The first of those games, against the Bills, was a result I had to keep under wraps as the game was in progress.  I was at the baptism (and post-baptism party) of a friend’s daughter and the brother-in-law was a Bills fan that DVR’d the game.  The third of those games was a very satisfying win in New England against the Patriots.  Unfortunately, past history repeated itself after that.  The Giants lost four in a row to fall to 6-6.  In the middle of that losing streak, I wrote the following status update on Facebook:

This second half collapse will cost [head coach] Tom Coughlin his job on January 2.

After the third loss in a row, a blowout loss to the Saints, I wrote:

If the Giants finish 8-8 or 9-7, I’ll be amazed. 6-10 seems likeliest.

Despite the losing streak, at 6-6, the Cowboys were not far behind at 7-5.  The two teams played each other the following week at Cowboys Stadium.  The Giants came from behind to win that game and led the NFC East on a tiebreaker.  (Dial Global highlights.)  But then they lost to the Redskins a second time, which led me to write this update:

Today was dream-killing day for the Giants and Jets [who lost to the Eagles while the Bengals won their game].

The Giants’ next game, the second-to-last of the regular season, was a “road” game against the Jets at MetLife Stadium.  The Giants usually beat the Jets in their regular season match-ups every four years, but I couldn’t see a Rex Ryan-coached Jets squad lose to the G-Men.  So, thirteen hours before the game…

My prediction: The Jets will beat the Giants and the Cowboys will beat the Eagles a few hours later.

The opposite happened: the Giants trailed early, but stormed ahead and won 29-14.  (Dial Global highlights.)  The Eagles nearly shut out the Cowboys and won 20-7.  The stage was set for a winner-take-all season finale between the Giants and the ‘Boys at MetLife Stadium.  The result:

The Giants beat the Cowboys 31-14, win the NFC East, and will face Atlanta next week.  [Dial Global highlights.]

The Falcons blew out the Buccaneers in their last game of the regular season, so I expected the same against the Giants.  Instead, it was a Giants win 24-2.  An intentional grounding safety was the only Falcons score.  (Dial Global highlights.)

There was no way the Giants could beat the 15-1 Packers at Lambeau Field, but they did 37-20.  (Dial Global highlights.)

Then, history repeated itself again in the NFC Championship in these ways:

  • 1991 (’90 season): Giants beat 49ers 15-13 at Candlestick Park on Matt Bahr field goal; Steve DeOssie was the snapper; Jack Buck called the game for CBS Radio (now Dial Global)
  • 2008 (’07 season): Giants beat Packers 23-20 at Lambeau Field on Lawrence Tynes field goal
  • 2008 (’07 season): Patriots are the Giants’ opponent in Super Bowl

Joe Buck called this year’s NFC Championship for FOX TV.  Before the game-winning kick by Tynes in overtime, Buck listed the snapper (Zak DeOssie), holder, and kicker.  The kick was good.  The Giants won 20-17 and were off to Super Bowl XLVI, a rematch with the Patriots.  (Dial Global highlights.)

The next two weeks were tough because I feared a revenge-fueled blowout by the Pats, which came to me in a dream, sort of:

[1/27, 11:23 PM]: I had a dream last night that I hope isn’t an omen. The Giants were playing somebody–I don’t remember who– and got blown out.

Four hours before Super Bowl XLVI:

My pessimistic Super Bowl XLVI prediction: Patriots 45, Giants 10. I would love to not only get the outcome wrong, but the team that wins wrong. In other words, I want the Giants to win.

I didn’t watch the game live until 9:30, when there were about four minutes left in regulation.  (Dial Global highlights.)  The Patriots led 17-15, but only for a few more minutes.  Ahmad Bradshaw’s accidental touchdown put the Giants ahead 21-17.  I breathed deeply and my extremities grew numb as I watched the Pats’ final drive.  Then, at 9:53, seconds after Tom Brady’s incomplete Hail Mary pass, I swiveled my desk chair to the left and typed:

Oh, baby! They did it! The New York Giants win Super Bowl XLVI! My hands are numb from anxiety.

I was both relieved and excited.  About $80 later, I was the proud owner (through online purchases) of the championship cap, locker room t-shirt, parade t-shirt, and DVD.  There was also the matter the following day of getting the Monday newspapers, which I posed with in the guest bedroom:

Tuesday was the day of the Tickertape Parade along the Canyon of Heroes and the Victory Rally at MetLife Stadium:

The Super Bowl XLVI DVD doesn’t come out until March 6.  I’ve watched the following to hold me over while I wait:

There you have it: the Giants’ 2011-12 championship season as I saw it.  Thank you for reading.  To paraphrase the team’s playoff catchphrase, I’m all out.


Jessy J at Iridium recap February 11, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Broadway, Hockey, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, TV.

(2/25 UPDATE: Jessy has posted video of six songs from the 8:00 set to her YouTube channel, including two in one video.  They are embedded in the set list below the corresponding titles.)

I was at The Iridium jazz club Thursday night to see saxophonist/vocalist Jessy J perform.  There were two shows: 8:00 and 10:00.  I went to the earlier one.  It was the first time I’d seen her solo since I first saw her with Guitars and Saxes in 2008.

I had originally planned on seeing Jessy at the Daniel Street club in Milford, Connecticut back in late July, but I was unable to make it.  I was unaware she’d be at The Iridium until the previous Monday, January 30, when the date was listed in her latest newsletter.  Not about to let this opportunity pass me by, I immediately bought a ticket.  (6/22/12 UPDATE: Daniel Street closed one month before The Iridium show.)

Before we get the show recap started, I’d like to share a funny thing that happened after I bought that ticket.  The site I bought it through, TicketWeb, listed my hometown, with the 11793 zip code, as Briar Park rather than Wantagh.  I had never heard of that alternate name and a Google search was inconclusive.  I reached out to my Facebook friends from Wantagh or North Wantagh through a status update, but none of them commented.  A comment in this old message board thread helped slightly, but not much:

… While my neighborhood is served by the Levittown School district, I am 110% positive that my development is considered (for intents and purposes) North Wantagh. Just north of me is the “R” section of Levittown, and the Briar Park section of Wantagh; and south of the parkway is the “T” section …

I walked through that “T” section of North Wantagh earlier today, so called because most of the street names begin with the letter “T” (i.e. Twin, Tally, Toll Gate, Tumble, etc.).  So, apparently, Briar Park is a section of Wantagh, but I still don’t know where.  If anyone happens to read this and knows the answer, please leave a comment.

On to the recap:
I was dropped off at the Wantagh LIRR station at 5:30, 29 minutes before my Penn Station-bound train arrived.  I killed some of the time in the adjacent McDonald’s, buying a small meal, before returning to the platform.  The train I was on was an older model, an M1, the predecessor to the M7, which features an automated voice recording – which I do a good impression of – and synthesized bell.  When I arrived at Penn Station, I immediately walked to the 34th Street subway station to take the uptown 1 train to 50th and Broadway.  I barely missed one, but another arrived four minutes later.  Finally, I arrived at The Iridium, 45 minutes before showtime.  Since I was early, I got a great seat: a table on the left side of the stage.  After a spaghetti and meatballs dinner, it was finally time for Jessy J and the band.

Jessy was on the tenor sax:

Her pants look pink, but they’re red.

She was backed up by Jay Rowe on keyboards:

Mike Nunno (“NEW-no”) on bass:

Jon Roundtree on drums:

And Rohn (“Ron”) Lawrence on guitar:

Fiesta Velada
2. Sin Ti

3. Mas Que Nada (Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 cover) – Jessy, vocals; Rohn, background vocals
4. Tequila Moon

5. Tropical Rain

6. Remember the Night

7. Hot Sauce

8. Conga (Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine cover) – Jessy, vocals; Rohn, vocal solo
9. Oye Como Va (Tito Puente cover, arrangement similar to Santana version) – Jessy, vocals; Rohn, vocal solo
10. Baila! – Jessy, vocals

1-4 are from Tequila Moon (2008).
5 and 10 are from True Love (2009).
6 and 7 are from Hot Sauce (2011).

A few songs featured a call and response, wild at times, with Jessy and Rohn Lawrence.  Here’s a sample:

The view from the HD monitor behind me:

Jessy wore two musical hats for “Mas Que Nada,” “Conga,” “Oye Como Va,” and “Baila!”: saxophone and vocals. Here she is during “Mas Que Nada”:

Rohn backed her up:

Mike Nunno’s “Mas Que Nada” bass solo:

Rohn’s “Remember the Night” guitar solo:

Clapping in the middle of “Hot Sauce”:

Jessy switched to alto sax for “Conga” and “Oye Como Va”:

“Conga” vocals:

Rohn’s “Conga” solo:

Miami-style clapping:

Vocal solo…

…with audience participation:

Jay Rowe’s “Oye Como Va” keyboard solo, first seen from a monitor:

The end-of-solo glide:

Jessy switched back to tenor sax for the last song of the set – “Baila!”:

Jay’s “Baila!” solo:

Then, it was Rohn’s turn:

And finally, a drum solo by Jon Roundtree:

The last note:

The end!

Afterward, Jessy and I briefly caught up with each other and shot this picture:

She asked if I still had my blog and I told her I do.  I also met Rohn in person for the first time and caught up with Jay and Mike, who I’d previously seen on bass for drummer John Favicchia’s Dharma All Stars.  Outside of the band, I saw my friends Katherine Gilraine, who came for the 10:00 show, and Kat Sarracco who was at the 8:00 show, but I didn’t even notice during it because I was focused on the stage the entire time.

Going back to Penn Station, I was unable to find the entrance to the 50th-Broadway subway station’s downtown platform.  So, I gave up and planned on walking all the way down to Penn.  I didn’t realize it, but I would be walking through Times Square.  The tourists were out in full force and I was one of them, shooting these pictures:

My last picture of the night was the exterior of the Times Square station:

I was finally able to board the downtown 1 train, but had to walk a bit above ground before finding the LIRR entrance.  I ran to catch the 10:05 Babylon-bound train.  The New York Rangers hockey team had a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden that ended moments earlier.  (The Rangers won 4-3 in overtime.)  So, the train I barely made was packed.  I stood by the car door until Jamaica when one of the fold-out seats next to me was vacated.  I got back to Wantagh just after 11:00, ending a great night of music and travel.

Thanks to Jessy, Jay, Mike, Jon, and Rohn for a wonderful, exhilarating show.  It was a blast!

Double feature: “It’s Love” and “Galaxy” February 2, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal.

Tuesday was doubly good to Eric Marienthal and Jeff Lorber.  Eric’s solo album, It’s Love, was released, and so was Galaxy, the album for Eric’s other band, The Jeff Lorber Fusion.  Both have a presence on each other’s albums, which I received via UPS yesterday evening.

After getting my Grover Washington, Jr. albums out of the way, I spent today listening to Eric and Jeff’s works.  We’ll start with It’s Love, produced by Chuck Loeb.  Chuck was on all but one of the ten tracks, wrote one, and co-wrote two with Eric.  Jeff Lorber appeared on four and co-wrote one with Eric.  Russell Ferrante of Yellowjackets appeared on five and also co-wrote one with Eric.  Jimmy Haslip, formerly of Yellowjackets and currently of Jeff Lorber Fusion, played bass on four tracks.  Brian Culbertson co-wrote and appeared on the last track.  The tracks are as follows:
1. Get Here (Brenda Russell cover) (4:29)
2. In A Sentimental Mood (Duke Ellington cover) (5:20)
3. Can’t Buy Me Love (The Beatles cover) (5:49) – This is a radically different arrangement than the original.  I call it a Beatles bossa nova.
4. It’s Love (5:51)
5. Two In One (6:21) – This has what I consider the vintage Chuck Loeb sound, which makes sense since he wrote it.  I love the call and response in the latter part.  That will be a blast if it’s played live.
6. Costa Del Soul (5:20)
7. Babycakes (4:41)
8. Café Royale (6:00)
9. St. Moritz (5:25)
10. When I Found You (4:20)

And then there’s The Jeff Lorber Fusion’s Galaxy; not to be confused with Galaxian, the Fusion’s 1981 release.  In addition to new compositions, three original Fusion tunes and one Jeff solo tune are redone.  Eric Marienthal appears on nine tracks, Jimmy Haslip appears on seven.  The tracks:
1. Live Wire (7:03) – They start the album off with a bang here.
2. Big Brother (4:50)
3. Montserrat (4:58)
4. Singaraja (4:37) – Featuring Randy Brecker on trumpet
5. Galaxy (5:17)
6. City (4:29) – First heard on Wizard Island (1980).
7. Horace (5:34) – Dedicated to Horace Silver (2/13 UPDATE: The end is reminiscent of “Hudson” on Jeff’s 2007 album, He Had a Hat; a reprise, even.)
8. The Samba (4:49) – First heard on Soft Space (1978).  The original led with Terry Layne on saxophone, but this time, sax is traded for Larry Koonse on guitar.  The percussion isn’t as wild as in ’78.
9. Rapids (4:26)
10. Wizard Island (4:50) – First heard on Wizard Island (1980).
11. The Underground (4:39) – First heard on Jeff’s long-awaited solo album (seven years after his last one), Worth Waiting For (1993).; featuring Randy Brecker on trumpet.  An album that started with a bang ended with one.

I love both albums.  They are superb from start to finish.  For approximately two listening hours, I was in heaven.  I wish more people from my generation appreciated this genre as much as I do.

My Grover Washington, Jr. collection February 1, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal.
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From Grover’s AllMusic bio page

I was first exposed to the late Grover Washington, Jr. in 1996, the year I began listening to what was then CD 101.9 (now FM News 101.9) here in New York.  “Mister Magic” was the first song I heard.  Then, there were “Take Five (Take Another Five)” and “Soulful Strut.”  In the early 200s, Before I wised up and bought physical CDs or digital MP3s (through iTunes or Amazon), I downloaded two of those songs through a free file-sharing program.

When my aunt moved to South Florida in 2003, she gave me a Grover compilation album.  I only listened to two songs on it: “Let It Flow (For Dr. J),” a tribute to Grover’s love of Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers, and “East River Drive,” a tribute to the Manhattan parkway otherwise known as the FDR Drive.

A few years ago, with the help of my friend Matt Marron’s TWC Classics site, a tribute to The Weather Channel, I learned of many more Grover songs that were used in the Local Forecasts in the 1980s.  They included “Winelight” and “Jet Stream.”

Finally, in December 2010, I took the big step and began my Grover Washington, Jr. collection of CDs.  I bought:

  • Winelight (1980)
  • Come Morning (1981)
  • The Best Is Yet To Come (1982)
  • Inside Moves (1984)
  • Time Out Of Mind (1989)
  • Next Exit (1992)
  • Soulful Strut (1996)

That was it until a few nights ago after reading an online interview with Bob James (h/t Fourplay website cross-post).  Since I didn’t have Grover’s early albums in my collection yet, I didn’t think of this:

You were with CTI for a few years before your own project debuted. When did Creed Taylor interject and aid in the progression of things?

Well, I was working a lot with Creed at the time for CTI. But I was working primarily as an arranger and would play piano on other jazz artists’ records. After doing this for about two or three years, on a fairly stable basis, and being on the support staff for other artists like Grover Washington, finally Creed asked me if I wanted to do my own album. So of course I said yes. One ended up being my first [album] for CTI.

Bob appeared on Grover’s first five albums.  Saturday night, I bought the last two of those five and a few after that:

  • Mister Magic (1974)
  • Feels So Good (1975) (Amazon MP3s)
  • A Secret Place (1976) (Amazon MP3s)
  • Reed Seed (1978)
  • Paradise (1979)
  • Strawberry Moon (1987)

Some of the early stuff is a little too fusion-y for me, but still great.

Grover Washington, Jr. died in December 1999 at the age of 56.  His legacy lives on through his recordings, a generation of saxophonists inspired by him, and jazz fans like me.