Sea of Tranquility

We’re now into week seven. Not too much going on. Or should I say everything that’s happening is happening slowly. Spring has been pretty cold and rainy so far. I mowed the lawn last week for the first time.

I’ve finished the style redesign on the Global Jukebox, and now I’m doing data work, updating the model for the cultures tree, and adding in 700 pop songs. We should be going live before too long.

In music land, I’ve been working my way thru Patterns for Jazz on the sax, I’m up to pattern 78 now, getting into flat thirds and fifths. I’ve also been working thru the Real Book, sight-reading every head and running down the changes, doing a few every day. If there’s a song that’s interesting I’ll take a few days and study it and try and memorize it. So far all the Charlie Parker songs have been interesting in that way. Right now I’m up to Blues for Alice, and the next few songs after that are Bluesette, Boplicty and Bright Size Life, so that’s a fun place to hang out for a while.

I ordered the Charlie Parker Omnibook in Bb. I studied the thru whole book back in high school, but in Eb on alto. I always thought playing Bird songs on tenor was kinda weird, cuz they don’t lay on the horn as well. They tend to wrap around the octave in funny ways and are often either too high or too low, since Bird made use of the full range of the horn. And his tunes are hard enough to begin with. But now I’m thinking it’s worth it to try and get some of his riffs in my bag.

On piano I’m also working my way thru the Real Book, but at a much slower pace, picking and choosing songs to work up as solo piano pieces. Mainly ballads, with alot of emphasis on voicings. I’ve finally gotten pretty good at Body and Soul, and I’ve been playing ‘Round Midnight for ages. Next tune I’m gonna woodshed is either My Romance by Rogers and Hart, or Naima by John Coltrane, or maybe both.

It also occurs to me I know literally hundreds and hundreds of rock and pop songs on piano and voice, and there’s many more I kinda know, but I rarely play more than a handful of them. So I’ve started putting together a notebook of all the charts so I can rotate them in and out of my practice and keep them fresh.

In the recording realm, I’ve finished my sax and synthesizer parts on The Story Lies and Who Speaks on Your Behalf (actually only WSoYB had synths), so now we’re up to the vocals, and then it’s just the mixdown. At the start of the year I was hoping these songs would be done by end of June. Together they’re about 10 minutes, which would put me on track for 20 minutes of produced music for the year. Now it’s looking like they’ll be done in early May, and with luck it’ll be more like 30 minutes of music this year. Woo-hoo!

In origami land, I’ve been continuing to work on my book. I settled on eight or maybe nine models, somewhere between 50 and 60 pages. I have six of the models done with new diagrams and layouts complete. The others are mostly done: the diagrams are finished and I have a draft of the layouts. That is, except for one model. The Martian appeared my previous kit book, and although it’s a great idea I was never really satisfied with the final design. So now I’m redoing that model without the constraint of having to keep it to an intermediate level with a low step count. Changing the body proportions, adding more detail to the head, everything. It’ll be substantially a new model in the end.

Stormy Monday

We’re now at one month of social distancing. As you might expect, the days are all kinda the same and life is sorta boring. Mostly that’s alright, at least we’re all getting enough sleep these days.

But spring is here and we’re not spending that much time outside. I feel like I should be biking and skating more, maybe doing some hiking too. The winter has come and gone and my focus on my health has paid off, so that’s a good thing. But now I’m starting to feel restless.

I was gonna expand my patio this spring, but that project starts with going out to buy stones and gravel. Obviously many of my plans are on hold. To be fair, even though we’ve had a handful of sunny days, it hasn’t gotten that warm yet, and there have been quite a few windy and rain days. Today was both, and pretty heavy.

I did take the mustang out over the weekend, but didn’t go on the highway, just around the neighborhood.

Yesterday was Easter. Usually this time of year we like to take a couple days off from work, since the kids are off school, and then take a day and go to a museum or something. And on Easter Sunday it’s always a big family day with feasting and all. This year we were gonna take road trip up to Buffalo and visit some collages on the way for Michele, and then visit my parents and Lizzy.

As it was, we did a video conference call instead, with Jeannie’s parents, bother, and sister, and everyone’s family. That was fun and we’ll do another next weekend. Lizzy hasn’t been home since her winter break, and the end of her semester is coming soon. Her plans for the summer and even the fall are up in the air.

I have been working on the Jukebox a good amount. I’ve been going for a walk and working out every day, keeping up practicing sax, piano and bass, and working on my recording project. Actually making good progress there; working on sax parts now. I did another mix on Sun of the Son, to make the drums sound cleaner and less overbearing in the intro. But haven’t finished putting together the album cover and getting it for sale online. Not doing so much with origami or Foldinator either. Been folding some of John Montroll’s new models, proofreading his diagrams. But I haven’t put much time into developing new models or finishing my book.

I’ve been doing lots of reading, and even a little writing, but mainly Wikipedia and articles on the internet, not actual books. Been spending more time on social media than before. And we’ve been watching a lot of movies on the weekends. We just finished the whole series Avatar: The Last Airbender. We’ve been playing more games recently, particularly Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan.

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Sometimes work can be fun. I recently completed an assignment for The Global Jukebox to put together a list of the greatest jazz singers of all time, along with representative songs to showcase their greatness. It’s been very enjoyable listening and curating the list, and I learned alot along the way. For example, Nina Simone used to live in my neighborhood.

Originally I had wanted to do the top ten or maybe twenty artists, but it was hard to stop. I extended it out to thirty, albeit with fewer songs as you get on down the line. The list features both old and newer singers, spanning the entire history of jazz. Some central to the genre, others maybe coming in from neighboring forms such as blues or pop, but nevertheless great contributors to the legacy of jazz as an art form, and particularly to the vocals. It also really gets across the variety oh jazz styles out there and how it’s evolved over time.

Even though list is definitive because I say it is, naturally that’s absurd. It’s necessarily pretty subjective. Of course Ella, Satchmo and Lady Day are 1-2-3. After that you can debate the relative ranking of the performers or maybe point out someone that I neglected to include. That’d be a fun debate. Regardless, all the performers and songs listed here are pretty great.

Here’s a link to the playlist on Spotify. Enjoy!

Greatest Jazz Singers of All Time for The Global Jukebox

1. Ella Fitzgerald – How High the Moon, I’m Beginning to See the Light (w/ Duke Ellington), My Romance, I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm, The Lady is a Tramp

2. Louis Armstrong – Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Jeepers Creepers, Cuban Pete, Hello Dolly, What Wonderful World

Bonus: Ella & Loius – Cheek to Cheek, Dream a Little Dream

3. Billie Holiday – Gimme a Pig Foot and a Bottle of Beer, Strange Fruit, Lover Man, Stars Fell on Alabama, God Bless the Child

4. Tony Bennett – (I Left My Heart) In San Francisco, Anything Goes (w/ Lady Gaga), There Will Never Be Another You (w/ DaBrubeck)

5. Sarah Vaughn – Black Coffee, Lullaby of Birdland, Body and Soul

6. Johnny Hartman – Lush Life (w/ John Coltrane), My One and Only Love (w/ John Coltrane), Our Love is Here to Stay

7. Frank Sinatra – Fly Me to the Moon (w/ Count Basie Orchestra), Summer Wind, Luck Be a Lady

8. Dee Dee Bridgewater – Afro Blue, St. James Infirmary (w/ New Orleans Jazz Orchestra), Love from the Sun (w/ Theo Croker)

9. Kurt Elling – Nature Boy, Matte Kudasai, Steppin’ Out

10. Esperanza Spalding – I Know You Know, Cuerpo Y Alma, Funk the Fear

11. Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit, Holding On

12. Chet Baker – Do It the Hard Way, Everything Happens to Me

13. Nat King Cole – Unforgettable, Smile

14. Shirley Horn – A Foggy Day, Makin’ Whoopee

15. Mel Tormé – They Can’t Take That Away from Me, The Christmas Song

16. Etta Jones – Bye Bye Blackbird, Etta’s Blues

17. Joe Williams – Five O’Clock in the Morning, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

18. Nina Simone – I Put a Spell on You, Mississippi Goddam

19. Bessie Smith – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, Devil’s Gonna Git You

20. Ray Charles – Mess Around, America the Beautiful

21. Joni Mitchell – Goodbye Porkpie Hat

22. Billy Eckstine – Oo Bop Sh’bam

23. Dinah Washington – Destination Moon

24. Jazzmeia Horn – Out the Window

25. Patti Cathcart – I’ve Got Just About Everything (w/ Tuck Andress)

26. Dianna Krall – Peel Me a Grape

27. Bobby McFerrin – Thinkin’ About Your Body

28. Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why

29. Harry Connick Jr. – It Had to Be You

30. Etta James – At Last