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Expanding my collection May 16, 2013

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Jazz, Music, Personal, Travel.
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The mental seed for expanding my music collection was planted at the first night of this year’s Smooth Jazz for Scholars benefit concert.  One of the guest musicians that night was wind instrumentalist Nelson Rangell.  He played one song from one of his albums and two covers not on any of his albums.  The first of the two covers was a Return to Forever song called “Spain.”  Nelson’s cover featured guitarist Marc Antoine, who was the first guest introduced that night.  “Spain” was Marc’s fourth song in a row and followed Nelson’s contribution to his cover of “Mas Que Nada” by Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66.

Return to Forever (or RTF) is one of a few bands Chick Corea has led in his long career.  I don’t have any of his solo albums, but I did have all but one by the Elektric Band (plus one Elektric Band II album).

That Friday night at the Parsons Complex, I was unaware “Spain” was an RTF cover.  But the refrain sounded familiar and typical of Chick.  The following morning in my hotel room, I did a Google search for spain jazz song.  The top result was this Wikipedia entry.  So, I listened to a little bit of the song in Spotify.  The mental seed that was planted the night before was starting to grow.

At home a few days later, I looked into the rest of Return to Forever’s works.  Bypassing their eponymous debut album, I liked what I heard on half of Light as a Feather (where “Spain” originated), but I haven’t listened to Flora Purim’s vocal contributions to the other half.  I liked all of Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy, Where Have I Known You Before, No Mystery, and Romantic Warrior.  But I didn’t like Musicmagic because it was all vocals.  So, after a week of deliberation, and purchasing saxophonist Andy Snitzer’s The Rhythm, I bought Light as a Feather as an MP3 download and the four albums that followed it (Hymn, Where Have I, etc.) on CD.  Some songs on those albums were good, but the rest were great, especially if they featured various synthesizers.

I will eventually buy Return to Forever’s recent live album, The Mothership Returns.  The latest incarnation of RTF, after several hiatuses, features 75% of the band during most of its 1970s run (Chick, bass player Stanley Clarke, and drummer Lenny White) plus violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and guitarist Frank Gambale.

While I was waiting for the four RTF CDs to arrive, I remembered that I had a Chick Corea Akoustic Band album – the CD, at least – for six years and never ripped it to my computer.  The CD arrived by accident in a jewel case that had artwork for the Elektric Band’s Beneath the Mask album.  I eventually got that album’s CD, but never listened to the eponymous Chick Corea Akoustic Band CD.  That changed last Thursday.  I liked the jazz standard covers in the first three-fifths of the CD, but loved Chick’s originals that rounded it out.  The Akoustic Band was the Elektric Band without saxophonist Eric Marienthal and the aforementioned Frank Gambale.  That left Chick on piano, John Patitucci on bass, and Dave Weckl on drums.  The four Chick originals were “Morning Sprite,” “T.B.C. (Terminal Baggage Claim),” “Circles” (a nod to Chick’s Circle band?), and a new arrangement of “Spain.”  The one I got hooked on was “T.B.C.” because it reminded me of walking through airport terminals, particularly at Tampa International Airport.  And since the album came out in 1989, I harkened back to plane rides I took to Tampa that year, and the joy of seeing my grandparents, who lived 45 minutes away in Crystal Beach, greet me in the terminal and walk with me and my immediate family to baggage claim.  “Many bags look alike,” the baggage claim announcement included.  (The rest of it was something about claim checks.)

As the RTF CDs came in, I also found the GRP All-Star Big Band album that I had been sitting on for just as long as the Akoustic Band album.  That, too, featured a cover of “Spain.”  And when my girlfriend shipped me Brian Simpson’s new album, Just What You Need, and Tom Borton’s 1992 album, The Lost World, I finally listened to the other album of Tom’s that I’ve had for eight years, Dancing with Tigers.  I bought that one after learning excerpts from a few songs were used as Local Forecast music on The Weather Channel in the early ’90s.

As if all of this music wasn’t enough, I decided to give the later albums of Miles Davis a try.  I’ve had downloads of “Tutu” (from the album Tutu) and his cover of “Human Nature” (from You’re Under Arrest) for years, but finally decided to buy Tutu and Amandla.  The latter was Miles’ last album completed in his lifetime.  (He died during the production of Doo-Bop.)  Eventually, I’ll get Aura, You’re Under Arrest, Decoy, Star People, and maybe The Man with the Horn.

In three short weeks, that seed for expanding my music collection has blossomed into an enormous music tree.  One song at one concert led to the purchase of five albums, then discovering two albums I never put on my computer, then buying two more albums, then receiving two more albums from my girlfriend which led me to give an album I hadn’t listened to eons another shot.  Thank you, Nelson Rangell, for planting the seed in my head by covering “Spain.”


Sandy retired May 15, 2013

Posted by Mike C. in Media, News, Personal, Weather.
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I missed this story last month, but the National Hurricane Center has retired the name Sandy from its list of Atlantic Basin tropical cyclone names.  Beginning in 2018, and every six years thereafter until the next retirement, the “S” storm will be named “Sara.”  Here are the first two paragraphs of NOAA’s article about the name retirement:

Sandy has been retired from the official list of Atlantic Basin tropical cyclone names by the World Meteorological Organization’s hurricane committee because of the extreme impacts it caused from Jamaica and Cuba to the Mid-Atlantic United States in October 2012.

Storm names are reused every six years for both the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins. If a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of the name would be insensitive or confusing, the WMO hurricane committee, which includes personnel from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, may retire the name. Sandy is the 77th name to be retired from the Atlantic list since 1954. The name will be replaced with “Sara” beginning in 2018.

I think I speak for everyone affected by Sandy when I say “good riddance.”

You can read about my Sandy experience here.  I was lucky.  All I experienced was nine days without power.  It was nothing like the horror that waterfront residents experienced, and many are still recovering from.