Thursday, April 28, 2005

You are what you drive

I don't really like or agree with this whole blue state/red state dichotomy that the media has been pushing for a while, so while I don't exactly appreciate the premise of this article, I found it somewhat interesting. A lot of it was pretty obvious, Republicans like pickup trucks, Democrats like econoboxes, etc. I think the most interesting finding was how Democratic familes are more likely to drive minivans than Republican families because women tend to have more of a voice in the car buying decision in Democratic households.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Kevin Norton's Bauhaus Quartet

Westcott Community Center - Syracuse, NY
Sunday, April 24th

This was the second time I've had the pleasue of hearing Kevin Norton play at the Westcott, though this was my first time experiencing the Bauhaus quartet. The ensemble he brought last time, Living Language, didn't impress me for some reason that I can't quite remember, but this group was outstanding. For one, they played incredibly well together. This band certainly falls into the category of free jazz, but not for the usual reasons. They definitely showed their free jazz chops on the first and last pieces of their single-set concert, but the rest of the pieces really didn't exhibit the high-energy cacaphony usually associated with free jazz. One my great disappointments of free jazz is the inability a lot of bands have overcoming the rigid separation between solo and ensemble playing. While I'm sure "Ascenion" sounded really crazy when Coltrane recorded it in the 1965, in form, it really isn't much different than a regular jazz tune. You have a "head" of sorts, then each musician takes a solo, then you come back to the head. The Bauhaus quartet really didn't pay much attention to this orthodoxy. That's not to say that there were no solos, there certainly were a number of great solos, but on most pieces, instead of sitting around while the soloist played, the rest of the band continued to contribute to the musical conversation. Solos had less of a defined beginning and ending as well. While improvisation was still at the heart of this music, it was definitely composed and structured. That may sound like planning to be spontaneous, but in music as well as in life, freedom generally needs some boundaries placed around it in order to be used to its fullest extent.

Another thing I really liked about this band was their ability to play quietly. The best tune of the show was a ballad called "Terms". On a lot of their more subdued music, the horn section of Tony Malaby and Dave Ballou played some really nice soundscape-esque lines. This was interesting because it sort of inverted the band, allowing the rhythm section of Norton and bassist John Lindberg to take over the reigns and move the music forward while the horns provided the continuity. Norton was yet another example of my rule that states the skill of a drummer is inversely proportional to the size of his or her drum kit. He had a bass, snare, single tom-tom, two cymbals, and a high-hat, but he got an incredible sound out it. I think this group would've been even more exciting if there was a dedicated drummer, which would've allowed Norton to play the vibes the whole time. His approach to the vibes was not really rooted in jazz, it was more of a contemporary classical/minimalist approach, which made for some really interesting sounds. It's a shame that the group wasn't able to explore that further.

They definitely left me and the rest of the audience wanting more. I picked up a copy of their live CD "Time-Space Modulator". It's hard for a recording to measure up to a great live performance, but as the memory of tonight's music slowly fades, I'm sure the recording will come in handy, until they make their next visit to the Westcott.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


I heard about this cool new travel website today. It's called pinpoint travel and it's brought to you by our good friends at AOL. It aggregates results from a number of different travel sites and shows you the information. If you want to purchase a ticket, you have to go directly to the site where pinpoint found the ticket. Pinpoint facilitates this by providing you with links that will take you to it directly. It has an extremely slick user interface and as far as I can tell, it's pure DHTML.