Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fine And Mellow

I found this video yesterday. I have not been as utterly and completely blown away by a performance of any kind in a long, long time. There are two things about this clip that are very interesting. Actually there are more than two, but we'll keep it simple today. I'm playing this right now and I have this big grin on my face.

First off, this was recorded two years before Billie left us and she is in rough shape. Towards the end of her career, her voice was not what it once was, but she had lost none of her ability to sing, and by sing I mean transmit through her voice to us feeling even the essence of the song. In the words of Gary Giddins, "Her voice was frayed in those last years, but she communicated more deeply than ever, making banal songs more urgent and the good ones radiant." Miles Davis said, "I'd rather hear her now (1958.) She's become much more mature. Sometimes you can sing words every night for five years, and all of a sudden it dawns on you what the song means....So with Billie, you know she's not thinking about now what she was in 1937, and she's probably learned more about different things."

She can say more with one single word and note, than most singers today can in a whole song. I love watching her face, at times peaceful, at times you can see her thinking and listening, even working the song in her head. And I absolutely love the way she watches the soloists, truly appreciating their playing, even adoring in the case of Lester Young and Ben Webster. But behind the joy of her singing and her appreciation of her bandmates, there is a deep sadness and a hint of desperation in her eyes. I watch this video with joy and despair, having been in her shoes, at least partially. Her story is worse than my own, as I did not grow up as she did. Her childhood was horrible, and I cannot claim that, but I went through addiction so I share that with her. The joy comes from the music and from her sheer brilliance and artistry, and that of her bandmates.

And the second part of this video that is astounding her is band. Imagine a concert with Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Paul McCartney and Rick Wakeman backing up the singer. I'm sure I could come up with a better analogy, but the lineup is obscene. The first pair of solos is taken by tenor saxmen Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. After another verse, trombone player Vic Dickenson and baritone sax player Gerry Mulligan take turns. The final pair of soloists are Ben Webster on tenor sax and Roy Eldridge turning in a blistering trumpet solo. Watch Billie's face, particularly during the solos of Lester and Ben. Lester is amazing in his solos simplicity, yet deep bluesy feeling.

I share this with you in hopes you may enjoy it too. I would encourage watching this in it's entirety if you listened while reading. Go back and watch....oh, Lord....I'm being bossy, huh? Just a suggestion...lol. And I have one more quote about Lady Day in her last years....

"I feel there is no one in jazz who can come close in terms of emotional penetration to the Holiday on these tracks (referring to her last albums.) For those who say they liked the youthful Holiday and don't dig Billie in middle age, I would suggest they not abandon these records yet, and instead save them for their own middle age." - Nat Hentoff

Thursday, March 20, 2008

All that jazz........

Life is so amazing. You can be minding your own business, and something jumps up and grabs you. Or maybe something jumps up and smacks you and says, "Hey!! Where the hell you been?" Well, SL is the same. And here is another example....

A few weeks ago, I went with Jenda to hear a friend of ours DJ some blues. Bill actually played "real" jazz. Now, I'm sure most of you have been to jazz clubs in SL and I have too. The music is nice and romantic and great to dance to. But, for the most part, it's not jazz. Frank Sinatra was a great singer, but really didn't do jazz. Billie Holiday sang jazz. Don't get me wrong, many of the clubs there are fun and very nice to go to, but Bill and I started talking and he wanted to open a club where he could play the real deal. I agreed. About this same time, someone contacted me about DJing some jazz at a club she managed. So I started DJing at JD's Jazz & Blues for the owners and for Parker. Talk about synchronicity or serendipity.....two different events occurring within days to lead me to where I need to go.

The thing is, I used to listen to jazz a lot, and I had quite a good collection on vinyl. After selling most of my albums during my addiction, I recovered most on CD, but still have a ways to go. I have not listened to jazz hardly at all in years though, only when it comes up randomly on my stream. So Bill decided to open this club and I'm involved in that with him, along with Jenda. And it has been amazing for me spiritually. There is not another form of music that I know of that is as rich creatively as jazz. It's one thing to write a great song, and go into a studio and perform and record it. There may be some improvisation during the solos or some vocal embellishment here and there. In jazz, you have a few guys (or gals) who may just have a general outline of what they're playing. And they just wing it....and I know that's oversimplifying, but it is so amazing to hear it done well. The thing about jazz is, they players aren't just playing what's in their heads, they are actively listening to each other, responding and playing off of each other. Listening is so important.

I really know so little about jazz. I know what I love. I cannot speak eloquently about it as I would like. I know that when I hear Horace Silver play Song For My Father, I get chills every time, particularly when I hear Joe Henderson's tenor sax solo. I know that EVERY time I hear Miles Davis and his sextet play So What, I'm utterly blown away....by every note...it's perfection. I know that when I hear Scott LaFaro and Bill Evans play together, I'm witnessing a psychic connection that I'm honored to be able to share in. I am humbled by these musicians, for what they achieved cannot be matched in any other genre of music, or possibly any art. And this is art...the height of creativity. There are so many aspects....Stanley Turrentine's tone, John Coltrane's epic virtuosity, Charlie Parker's...well, Bird did everything....lol. Listen to Miles Davis play anything. He doesn't fill your ears with notes, like Coltrane might, but he understood better than anyone, the spaces between the notes and that they were also part of the music. Listen to Billie Holiday's phrasing....I cannot explain what she does well. All I know is that I hear someone who has better pipes (think Christina Aguilera) and how they have no idea how to get to the soul....the heart of a song. Most pop stars today really need to listen to Billie and Miles, and stop with the lame embellishments. (Beyonce and Christina, this means you)

I'll close by saying, this is one more thing that SL has added to me life. Or rather, somthing that SL has reminded me of....brought me back to. I've played more jazz in the past weeks than I have in years. And my life is richer for it....my heart is fuller...my soul, happier. Thank you to Parker and Bill, and to Jenda for encouraging me.

I'm laughing inside because yesterday, I started out DJing blues at Not Too Hot, then played pop/rock at the Hive, and finished up last night with Jazz at The Savoy. I can't keep this up too long, as I'll get burned out, but damn it has been fun. I would like you all to join us sometime at the Savoy Club. This is Bill's baby, and I'm happy to be along for the ride. Please join us. If you love jazz, this is the place for you. If you want to learn about it, we can help...heehee. I should say, Bill can. He's extremely knowledgeable. Personally, I need to do my research better. I've caught myself announcing incorrect personnel on song....the horror. And jazz is about the players, so I need to make sure I get that right...lol.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Hi! My name is Aeryn......

.....and I am Crighton's alt.


Where do I begin....

Months ago, I was dicking around with some friends at Sporks and I donned my Head Nurse avatar, which I will not show here, as she causes blindness and mental illness. My friends, well, they were less than kind. And I decided that I would show them, by turning that big, hidddeous creature into a ravishing beauty. Eventually, this became a battle that lasted after that party was over. And it continued on for weeks. At that point I didn't have an alt, it was just Crighton being a girl. But one night, a couple of friends encouraged me and I created an alt. Aeryn Lovenkraft. What started as a joke became somewhat of an obsession and a battle, me against the SL female form. Once I got her shape the way I wanted, and I had found the skin that worked with her, I started shopping! And, the rest is history. Shopping for guys stuff on SL is so freaking boring. But man, let me start shopping for Aeryn, and I could go all night. And then I started hair shopping. And then I fell in love with boots. All kinds of boots. And I discovered something. I actually had a good eye for fashion and hair and boots. I will admit, I just don't have the patience and the time to accessorize properly. Shoot me, okay?

Part of why I created Aeryn was to create some space for me. It was a kind of selfish way to have some time alone and to do something different. A weird thing happened along the way. I went to a live music event and some guy started chatting and, well, you know. He liked me...lol. At this point, I realized I had to figure out a way to deal with amorous fellas. I toyed with the idea of dating, but realized I could not do it. It felt wrong and dishonest. I put myself in the guy's shoes and if that were me, I would be pissed! I was willing to consider dating, just for the experience, but I could not deal with the repercussions of possibly hurting someone else, and as I said, it just felt dishonest. It's one thing to innocently socialize and shop, but quite another to get involved with someone.

So Aeryn is a virgin. Sadly. I may one day log both her and Crighton in and go ahead and fuck myself silly. There may be another post in that for you guys, huh? Pics too? :-)

It has been interesting to say the least. I've noticed that Aeryn seems to have her own personality when I settle in to SL with her. I'm very proud of how she looks and dresses. I have been ridiculed for a couple of my outfits, but I think there may be jealousy at work there. You know how women are. :-D I'm sure that some will run with this revelation and think the worst. I ended up being introduced to a friend the other night and had to let him know who I was before it got weird. I also had a bit of fun last week by logging both Crighton and Aeryn on and wearing the same shape, skin, hair, and outfit and hung out at the Bee Hive together. That was fun, once everyone figured out what the fuck I was doing.

I realize this post has been horribly disjointed, and I'm sorry for that. I'm not redoing it though..lol. Lots going on today. Why is this so much fun for me? I have no idea, really. I love the playing and shopping parts. I have got a kick out of the occasion idiot asking me to "make sexy" with him. I have had an old friend of Crighton's get fresh with me, which I would feel bad about if the guy wasn't such a dickhead. It's been enlightening and somewhat confusing at times. I have very much enjoyed hanging out with various female friends of mine, acting as they do...as much as I can, that is. I thank them for humoring me. I have had a blast hanging out with my wife from time to time.....we're so good together. It's been refreshing. I've had fun shopping with Joonie and I even enjoyed being chastised for my occasional wardrobe mis-steps. I know that some think I'm strange, but you know what? I'm not hurting anyone and I'm just exploring and having fun. Today, I spent a decent chunk of time picking out the outfits in these pics and uploading them. Why? I don't know...maybe I'm looking for some type of approval and acceptance. I am proud of Aeryn, and I guess I wanted to show her off. I hope you like her. If you see her/me out and about, say Hi and maybe we'll shop together! This last pic is of me and Joonie on her skybox after a night of AO shopping and terraforming. Yes, we are a couple of versatile babes!! And we look good doing it to! And by doing it I mean terraforming and shopping. I'm not THAT lucky....yet!