Archive for the ‘St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Category

1999 SOUNDTRACK: JANE BUNNETT AND MAQUEQUE-Tiny Desk Concert #548 (July 12, 2016).

bunnettJane Bunnett is a soprano saxophonist and flautist from Toronto who performs largely with Cuban musicians.  She has been traveling there for about 30 years and has performed with all kinds of musicians.  For this Tiny Desk and her current she is playing with the women from Cuba in a band called Maqueque (they won a Juno award last year).

And they sound great together.  It’s interesting that Bunnett takes something of a back seat (or position anyhow) to singer Melvis Santa (who seems to mostly sing sounds (ah ah ahs, bop bop bah dah dahs, as opposed to words) .  But when it’s time to shine, Bunnett is there to impress everyone with her skill.

Felix Contreras says “If you want to hear what Cuba sounds like today, then be sure to listen.”

“Little Feet” features Bunnett playing a cool solo on her sax and Santa singing notes along with her.  But for this song Bunnett really wails.  (she’s quite winded by the end).

Of the three songs, the ten minute “Maqueque” is my favorite.  That’s in part because I don’t really like the sound of the soprano sax (she plays flute on this one) but also because the band membranes really get to show off their chops.  It starts with a simple piano melody and pretty vocals.  Then Bunnett plays the melody on the flute as Santa sings along.   When Bunnett gets her solo on, you can hear her vocalising a bit as she plays the flute.

After the song Bunnett says that women in Cuba don’t get the exposure they deserve, so she picked these woman to let the world hear them.

About 4 minutes in Dánae Olano plays an amazing 2 minute piano solo–fun to listen to and to watch as she is all over the keys–she plays  some great trills and riffs.  She’s very impressive.  About 8 minutes in Yissy Garcia (who Dave Matthews has said plays drums like Jesus) plays a great drum solo.  On the drum kit she is using her palms and fingers to play all of the drums and cymbals–she switches to sticks at the end. The percussionist Magdelys Savigne accompanies her, and while not actually soloing, she is keeping rhythm as well.

Celia Jiménez plays bass.  She doesn’t get to do anything fancy–no solos, but she keeps the rhythm perfect.

bunnett2“25 New Moves” has Bunnett back on sax with Santa singing along to her melody.  It’s a short (4 minute) catchy piece with another cool fast solo from piano and a few cool bass lines as well.

It’s a pretty great set with lot of cool jazzy Cuban melody and rhythms.  I enjoyed this set quite a lot.

[READ: November 3, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1999-2000

This is the final volume of Peanuts strips. After 50 years, it finally came to and end.

Schulz was diagnosed with cancer in 1999.  He died in February of 2000.

I was hoping that this book would be shockingly good–full of great “I’m finishing the trip” closure.  But as I understand it, he wasn’t ready to finish the strip, so things move on more as less as normal.

In fact, I found the first few weeks of 1999 to be kind of dull.  The punchlines just didn’t make me smile as much.  Of course there is something to be said for the consistency of the strip.  Linus still has his blanket, Rerun is still coloring (he has become a dominant force in the strip), Patty is still getting things wrong and Sally still doesn’t want to do anything. (more…)

Read Full Post »

1950SOUNDTRACK: FRAZEY FORD-Tiny Desk Concert #73 (August 15, 2010).

frzeyFrazey Ford used to be in the Be Good Tanyas.  Here she is touring her debut solo album Obadiah.  She is quite a character, wearing a leopard print outfit.

But her music is really complex and interesting.  On the opener, “Firecracker” she plays the guitar with unusual chord progressions but it’s her voice that is so arresting.  She use atypical phrasings and pronunciations that belie her origins (I could never guess where she was from).  Strangely, I get a kind of Cat Stevens vibe from the way she says words, but also another inexplicable emphasis: the way she pronounces exploding as explohdun.

She talks briefly about her new record while apologizing for having to tune her guitar.  “Lost Together” slower, pretty song.

“If You Gonna Go” is a breakup song which she messes up and then apologizes for, saying she’s nervous and very tired.  And she mocks herself for wearing a ridiculous cheetah outfit.  She says she bought it in London where everyone was dressed like this.  Stephen Thompson chimes in that if it was cooler they’d all be dressed like that.

She asks if they want one more and she ends with “The Gospel Song.”

It’s a really good introduction to an unusual voice.

[READ: September 10, 2015] The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952

After reading the Sunday Peanuts books, I had to go back and start the series from the beginning.  Holy cow, Peanuts started in October 1950 and ran into the 21st century!  That’ amazing.  It’s also amazing to see how different everyone looked back then.  It’s very disconcerting.  The only thing more disconcerting is to immerse yourself in the old comics, start to really appreciate them, and then see a contemporary version and wonder why he changed them so much.

When the strip first started there were just three of them: Good Ol’ Charlie Brown, Shermy and Patty (not Peppermint Patty) and they are all four years old.  Those first comics are really really different–the kids are practically stick figures.  (Although Charlie always had that little wisp of hair).  The kids all have huge heads and tiny bodies and are very minimal in their expressions.  Snoopy is there too and he looks very much like a real dog.  As it turns out I like this version of snoopy better than the current one.  He looks much more like a dog and he acts alike a dog–Schulz gets some great jokes out of doggie behavior.  Things like Snoopy hearing and smelling food and running over to beg started almost from the beginning.  As did they ways that Snoopy interacts and often drives the other characters crazy.

peaWhat’s mostly different about the early ones is that the kids are all mean to each other and CB sometimes wins in the verbal sparring.   He’s as much of a buster as the others.  It’s really fun and funny. (more…)

Read Full Post »