The nearest star to our Earth is Proxima Centauri, a mere four and a quarter light years away. A journey of 2,000 light years would take one near Keplar 76b, a planet one and a half times the size of Jupiter.
Since 1995 hundreds of exoplanets have been discovered, but nearly all are like Kelpar 76b, gas giants sometimes called “hot Jupiters” because of their similarity to our neighbor. Most are also believed to be in single-planet systems, which is the case for Keplar 76b.
Sunday’s post about Dizzy Gillespie had the dubious distinction of being the 2,000th to appear here on the Hymies blog. Since launching this website on October 20th, 2009 that’s an average of five posts a week for just over seven years! We’re reminded of that moment in Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Mascaree” when he says
I’ve been singing this song for twenty-five minutes, and I could do it for another twenty-five minutes I’m not proud … or tired
Actually, the first thing which came to mind was a different Arlo aside, during his explanation of “the significance of the pickle” in “The Motorcycle Song” from a live recording which appeared this 1977 Best Of collection:
You know it’s been about 12 years now, that I’ve been singin’ this dumb song
It’s amazing that somebody can get away with singin’ a song this dumb for that long
But you know, hey you know what’s more amazing than that is that, uh somebody can make a living singin’ a song this dumb
Another record which has been ‘doing time’ in our storage space is this Dizzy Gillespie compilation, which we can’t really put out in the shop because one of its two LPs is missing. In these cases we sometimes keep the albums in the unlikely hope we’ll find that missing album (this has happened) or that (more likely) we’ll find a second copy missing the other LP.
Other times the half-complete double albums are put in with all the other free records we offer every year at our block party in April. And some, like this, we keep around. This is an album where the liner notes are pretty interesting in and of themselves.
The nice folks at the Smithsonian Institute had a history of making records even before the Folkways label was bequeathed to them in 1987. The Asch family donated the label founded by Moses Asch in 1948, and given to our national museum on the condition its couple thousand titles remain in print.
This enormous influx of new material more or less buried the original Smithsonian Collection label, which was a program in the Institute’s Division of Public Art, itself part of the Institute’s Office of Public Service. Columbia Records produced the actual records through their Columbia Special Products division, which also included other educational material and, for a time, the Sesame Street catalog. Its catalog of classic jazz compilations — notably in 1973 The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, a six-LP box set which became a surprise success — and American recordings of the standard classical repertoire receive little of the attention today given to the Smithsonian Folkways label.
This Gillespie retrospective is one of our favorite albums in the Smithsonian’s jazz series, along with the absolutely essential Fletcher Henderson compilation Developing an American Orchestra. If you came across this set in the new arrivals bin of your favorite record store in 1976, you saw a pretty familiar image of Diz on the cover, although he is not playing his distinctively bent trumpet (an instrument which he donated to the Smithsonian in 1985, by the way). Inside, however, are recordings from the first half of the forties which provide a very different picture of the young man who would become a founder of modern jazz.
The collection includes recordings like “Pickin the Cabbage,” a song Gillespie wrote and arranged for Cab Calloway’s Orchestra in 1940, when he was twenty-three years old. Martin Williams, who also compiled the Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, deliberately left out Diz’s early recordings with Charlie Parker because he notes that “they have often been collected and reissued and, more important, Parker’s brilliance has sometimes clouded the issue of Gillespie’s own.” This was very true in the seventies, when Bird retrospectives were all the rage and again today — a surprising portion of Gillespie’s recorded works are currently out of print.
Diz’s legacy is heavily in his role in early bebop and also the establishment of Afro-Cuban jazz in the United States, but so much of his work was also in the big band arena. This compilation (at least the one LP we have to hear) represents some of his earliest experiences working in that setting. In a particularly remarkable example of the evolution of jazz, his own big bands and smaller combos would later include musicians such as John Coltrane, Lalo Schifrin, James Moody and Yusef Lateef.
Its inspiring that so much of this American tradition is well-preserved on records and CDs. We’d really like to see more of Diz’s records in print since we’re obviously huge fans (having posted him here and here and here, for instance). This is one of the things that makes working in a record store rewarding. Now if only we could find the second LP to this set…
Disney’s Buena Vista label released a double LP of dialogue and songs from the 1977 animated adaptation of The Hobbit in a nice box set. Copies came with several iron-on images from the film.
We put the Smaug and Bilbo Baggins images from our copy onto t-shirts for our kids, but sadly the forty-year-old iron-ons didn’t survive their first trip through the wash. After that we put Gandalf on the breaker box here in the record shop where, along with Igor Stravinsky, he keeps watch over the classical section.
We came across this Jack Starr LP while organizing records in our storage space. It’s solid early 80s metal, with former members of Riot and Rainbow joining the band.
Anyway, there’s a picture of Starr and lead singer Rhett Forrester on the back of the jacket and they’re hanging out in a DeLoreon! Now you’re probably thinking that’s pretty cool, because that’s the time machine car and all — but it gets better. This album was released in 1984. That’s a full year before Back to the Future! This guy was so freakin’ awesome that he just drove a DeLoreon because a car with brushed stainless steel paneling and gull doors was his style.
We’ll bet he had to get rid of it after all those sci fi nerds started asking about his “flux capacitor” the next year.
So the other reason we’re so excited to post this is that there’s been a DeLoreon parked on East Lake Street. You might have even driven past it on your way to the record store! It’s the repair shop next to the Arby’s. If you’re interested in building your own time machine, you might want to think twice since these guys recently trashed a customer’s $80,000 Lamborghini. We’re holding out to see if we can get the one which belonged to Jack Starr!
The opening of this highly praised 1961 album by Stan Getz and Eddie Sauter is named for a phrase uttered by the White Rabbit, the first of many anthropomorphic creatures in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. In the novel he actually saying, “Oh dear, oh dear, I shall be too late.”
In Disney’s adaptation of the story, the Rabbit famously says, “I’m late, I’m late, a very important date.”
The record itself is a through-the-rabbit-hole adventure in jazz, unlike any other previous album. Getz commissioned Sauter to arrange a series of pieces for strings with which he would perform. The arrangement contain no part for the tenor saxophone, only opening in which he could improvise. “I’m Late, I’m Late” is the only to feature an additional jazz musician, drummer Roy Haynes, who adds to the frantic feel of the recording.
Sauter derived the opening passage in “I’m Late, I’m Late” from a theme Bela Bartok’s 1936 composition Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste (if you skip to the second movement in this performance you’ll hear it). The two first met when Sauter was working for Benny Goodman at the time Bartok was commissioned to compose Contrasts in 1938.
Goodman made his debut as a classical performer in early 1941, first performing Debussy’s Rhapsody for Clarinet and Piano with Bartok, and then, adding violinist Joseph Szigeti, Contrasts. This is the around the same time Goodman first recorded Sauter’s “Clarinet ala King” and “Benny Rides Again.” He may have taken the title for the second from Buck Benny Rides Again, a Jack Benny comedy released the previous year. And suddenly, we’re down the rabbit hole…
“I’m Late, I’m Late” has a rush hour feel suited to a Monday morning in January. And with that we need to get moving because there’s a lot to do in the record shop before opening up this morning!