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Archive for the ‘Mark Costello’ Category

dfwreadSOUNDTRACK: CHRISTIAN SCOTT aTUNDE ADJUAH-Tiny Desk Concert #477 (October 9, 2015).

aacsChristian Scott aTunde Adjuah and his septet play what he calls stretch music: “the particular type of jazz fusion he’s up to: something more seamless than a simple collision of genre signifiers.”

They note that even his appearance stretches traditional jazz: “You may note that he showed up in a Joy Division sleeveless T-shirt and gold chain.” It’s sleek and clearly modern, awash in guitar riffs, but also bold and emotionally naked.

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (not sure how to abbreviate that) is a trumpeter and he can hit some loud powerful and long –held notes.   It’s funny that when he bends over the trumpet grows quieter—those ic really are direction-based.

For the first song “TWIN” he does some impressive soloing over a simple and cool beat—piano and delicate guitar riffs (there’s also an upright bass and drummer).   After his lengthy solo there’s a flute solo that also works perfectly (if less dramatically) with the background music.  (Christian plays tambourine during her solo).  He says that this song is about being a twin.  His brother, Kyle Scott is a film director and for whom Christians scores the music.  Christian also explains that he comes from an African-American and Native-American background and that this song has rhythms as a sort of history of his family that touches on Mali, Senegal Gambia and The Ivory Coast and makes its way to the Caribbean, Cuba and into New Orleans.

He’s pleased to play the Tiny Desk Concert for an audience that appreciates “Music that has nutritional value.”

For the second song, “West of the West” he brings on a young alto-saxophonist who plays with his drummer in a different band. The song opens with a rocking electric guitar solo and then the jazzy band kicks in behind it.  The instrumental features a couple of solos by the saxophonist, the pianist and the bassist.

“K.K.P.D.” is a dramatic song for which he gives a lengthy back story.  Many years ago in his home of New Orleans, he was stopped by New Orleans police late at night for no reason other than to harass and intimidate him.  he was coming back from a gig.  He resisted and was in a serious situation and was seriously threatened—the story is long and very affecting, especially given how articulate (I know, terrible word, but true) and calm he is about retelling this horrifying story.  His pride almost made him do something ill-advised, but instead he channeled that pent-up frustration into a piece of music whose long-form title is “Ku Klux Police Department.”

He adds that we see things on TV about inner cities or the ninth ward and we believe them to be true.  Like that the neighborhood is happy that the police are clearing out the youth there.  We begin to think that the narrative is true, although the people who live there can tell you otherwise.  Despite the title and the origin, the is song is designed to reach a consensus to move forward –not to build derision or hate.  He says that we have to start working on that now, because if it doesn’t start now then our children will continue to inherit this situation.

It opens with a noisy guitar wash and fast drums.  It’s quite noisy and chaotic although it resolves very nicely into an almost sweet piano-based song with slow horns.  The middle of the song ramps up with some intense soloing from Christian.  I love how that segues into a very different section with an electronic drum and delicate piano.  Chritsian’s next solo is much more optimistic.  The final section is just wonderfully catchy.

When he introduces the band, he points out just how young some of his newest members are: Drummer Corey Fonville (another new member) used a djembe as a bass drum, and also brought a MIDI pad so he could emulate the sound of a drum machine; Lawrence Fields, piano; Kris Funn, bass; Dominic Minix , guitar (21 years old); Braxton Cook, saxophone (24 years-old) and Elena Pinderhughes, flute: 20 years old!

I don’t listen to a ton of jazz, but I really liked this Tiny Desk Concert a lot.

[READ: July-October 2016] The David Foster Wallace Reader

I’ve had this book since Sarah bought it for me for Christmas in 2014.  I haven’t been in a huge hurry to read it because I have read almost everything in it already.  And some of that I have even read recently.  But this summer I decided to read some of my bigger books, so this was a good time as any.

One of the fascinating things about reading this book is the excerpting in the fiction section.  I have never really read excerpts from DFWs longer books before.  And once you decontextualize the parts, you can really appreciate them for themselves rather than as a means to the end of the story.  This is especially true of the excerpts from Broom of the System and Infinite Jest.  But also just reading some of these sections as a short story makes for an interesting experience.

It was also very interesting to read the non-fiction all together like that.  These pieces come from difference anthologies, but they have thematic similarities  So, placing them together like that allows for really comparing the stories.

And of course, the selling point for most DFW fans is the teaching materials in the center of the book–an opportunity to look into the man’s mind at work shaping younger minds.

I have written about virtually everything in this book already (title links refer back to previous posts), so mostly these are thoughts about the pieces themselves and not a part of a whole. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BOOKWORM-Jeffrey Eugenidies: The Marriage Plot (December 1, 2011) (2011).

Since “Just Kids” mentions  Eugenides’ book, and since Eugenides happened to appear on Bookworm at around the same time as I read this article, it seemed like a good pairing.

Obviously, from the title of the episode you can tell that this is all about Eugenides’ new book, The Marriage Plot.  Michael Silverblatt raves about this book like no other book I have heard (granted I haven’t listened to all that many episodes of Bookworm, but still).  In fact while listening to this episode, I put The Marriage Plot on hold at the library.  I always planned to read it but figured I’d just get around to it some day.  Now I feel more of a sense of urgency.

They talk at length about the state of marriage in the 21st century.  Not as in its decline but in how it differs so much from classic literature in which women had to get married by 21 or risk spinsterhood.  Eugenides set out to write a book about people getting married without having the trappings of classical literature.

It sounds wonderful.

The reason I mention this interview at all is because in the article below, Hughes talks about contemporaries of DFW using DFW as the basis for a character in their books.  So, in Franzen’s Freedom, there is character who is very much like DFW (I haven’t read Freedom yet so I can’t say). 

And in The Marriage Plot, there is a character who resembles DFW.  When I read the excerpt of this story in The New Yorker, I had to admit he did seem an awful lot like DFW–a tobacco chewing, bandanna wearing philosopher.  Eugenides had been mum about it for a while, but now, under the gentle nudging of Michael Silverblatt, he comes clean. 

He admits that there are some characteristics of DFW in the character.  However, he says that he didn’t know DFW all that well and the character has been kicking around since he went to college (long before he knew DFW).  Tobacco chewing was rampant at Brown in the 80s apparently.  But it’s a nice revelation and it ties in very well with the article.

You can listen to the show at KCRW.

[READ: December 7, 2011] “Just Kids

I have always grouped together certain authors in my head.  When there were a bunch of Jonathans publishing, I kind of lumped them together.  I think of Mark Leyner and Bret Easton Ellis in the same breath.  It’s fairly common, I suppose.  But I never really thought of David Foster Wallace in terms of a group of authors.  He seems so solitary that it’s funny to even think of him as having friends.   But according to Hughes, many of today’s established authors prove to have been a part of a kind of nebulous writer’s circle.  A kind of 1990’s update of Dorothy Parker’s vicious circle.  But more insecure.

The article bookends with Jeffrey Eugenides.  In 1983 he and Rick Moody drove to San Francisco with the intent of being writers.  Five years later with no written works, Eugenides moved to Brooklyn, alone.  In that same summer, Jonathan Franzen was in Queens, also feeling alone (even though he was married–unhappily) and desperate for friends and peers.  And then Franzen got a fan letter from David Foster Wallace (that’s after he had written Broom of the System, but before Girl with Curious Hair) praising The Twenty-Seventh City

Franzen and DFW became friends.  To this friendship was added William T. Vollman, and David Means, also Mary Karr (whom DFW dated) and Mark Costello (who co-wrote Signifying Rappers with DFW).  Later they would connect with Eugenides, Rick Moody and Donald Antrim.  (more…)

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rapperSOUNDTRACK: SCHOOLLY D-Smoke Some Kill (1988).

schoolySince this disc is featured so prominently in Signifying Rappers (and the book is named after the best track on this disc) I thought I’d dust it off and listen to it again.  I got this disc probably in 1989 at the suggestion of my friend Al.  He recommended “No More Rock N’ Roll,” I think.

I haven’t listened to the disc in years, probably a decade.  The last time I listened, I think I wasn’t all that impressed by it, which is why it’s funny to me how much significance the book gives this disc/track.  In listening again, I felt more or less the way I did last time, although interestingly, after reading the book, I agreed that some of the tracks are pretty good.

“Signifying Rapper” in particular, seemed better after DFW’s analysis of it (he discusses it in the tradition of the trickster narrator, and I agree it’s a good one).  Although, at one point in the book DFW decries the misogyny in a lot of rap, but he doesn’t mention the homophobia.  And, despite the trickster style in this song, the homophobia is pretty outrageous (even if, in a surprising twist, the “faggot” kicks the “pimp’s” ass).  But really, the thing that upsets the pimp so much, that he went off to fight the faggot about is this rather absurdly childish set of insults:  your dad’s a faggot, your mom’s a whore, your granny’s a dyke and your brother’s a faggot too.  Now, homophobia aside, would these insults really get anyone so angry?   Hard to say.   But regardless of the whole thing, the song is set to the riff from Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” so, that’s pretty fun.

The rest of the disc is a mix of kind of lame tracks and a few good ones.  “Here We Go Again” has some great scratching on it (in fact the scratching throughout the disc is quite good), and there’s some really good background samples on “Gangster Boogie II.”  Although I think the best tracks come near the end: “Treacherous” (which samples or reinterprets Gil Scot-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Televised”) and “Black Man” which features the cool shout-out “What’s the Word?  Johannesburg!).

A few tracks are kind of flat.  “Mr Big Dick,” is, at best, silly and even the title track “Smoke Some Kill” is sort of uninspired.  What’s interesting about somewhat flat style is that this disc has come out after Public Enemy’s wall of sound changed the face of rap.  But Schoolly is sticking with the very sparse Run D.M.C. style.  The difference is that with Run, you had two vocalists, but Schoolly is by himself.  It’s just not quite as exciting.

And, then there’s the aforementioned “No More Rock N’ Roll” which is a companion to “We Don’t Rock, We Rap”.  The whole anti-rock trope rings hollow especially since he samples from it so freely.

It was still early days, but rap has progressed pretty far from this CD.  It also turns out that this disc is really hard to find.  It’s discontinued and lists on Amazon for $50.  How lucky for me!

[READ: October 2, 2009] Signifying Rappers

I wasn’t planning on reading this book this soon.  (I’m  not turning into a DFW addict, I swear).  But this showed up all because of the whims of the interlibrary loan system.  I put holds on books for people all the time, and usually it’s for new, popular books, so it’s often several weeks, sometimes months before the books come in.  I tend to forget that a 19 year old book that nobody is clamoring to read will show up in about 3 days.

So, those of you thinking about reading this book because you want to complete the DFW ouvre were probably wondering if this co-authored book should really count.  And, like, how would you know what he wrote?  Well, I didn’t immediately figure out the patently obvious system that they used in the book: When Mark Costello writes a section it is introduced with a large M.  When DFW gets a section it starts with a large D (see, obvious).   You can also tell because DFW’s section are laden with footnotes and very large words (no, really?)

I think for all readers, the main question is what are these two white, educated, twentysomethings doing writing about rap.  And, they both answer in their own way that, well, they like rap.  A lot.  In fact, DFW goes on to say that rap circa 1989 is the only musical genre that is interesting after some five years of commercial pap (and he’s pretty accurate with that, actually).  He also notes that as of their writing of the book there had been no real in-depth treatises written on rap.  Oh, and lastly, in the spirit of rap itself, they did it because they wanted to do it. (more…)

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