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Archive for the ‘Nick Caistor’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: ROY AYERS-Tiny Desk Concert #712 (March 1, 2018).

I hadn’t heard of Roy Ayers, although I imagine I’ve heard his work somewhere before.  I love the vibes so I was looking forward to his set.

I was a little bummed to hear him singing–I assumed it would be all instrumental. Especially since his songs aren’t exactly lyrically masterful.  But the jazzy funky solos were pretty great.

Roy Ayers [is a] 77-year-old jazz-funk icon.  He sauntered through the office with a Cheshire grin on his face, sharing jokes with anyone within earshot. Accompanying him was a trio of brilliantly seasoned musicians — keyboardist Mark Adams, bassist Trevor Allen and drummer Christopher De Carmine. Later during the performance, pride washed across Ayers’ face as his bandmates took the spotlight. (Be sure to watch as Adams woos not just the room but brightens Ayers’ face during his solo.)

The set began with one of Ayers’ more recognizable hits: an extended version of “Searching,” a song that embodies the eternal quest for peace and love.  The vibes solo at 2 and a half minutes is worth the wait, though.

The lyrics are essentially.  I’m searching, searching, searching searching. It takes over a minute for him to even get to the vibes!  It’s followed by a groovy keyboard solo that starts mellow be really takes off by the end.

During “Black Family” (from his 1983 album Lots Of Love), you’ll hear him call out “Fela” throughout. That’s because Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti was a huge influence on Ayers in the late 1970s; the two eventually collaborated on an album, 1980’s Music Of Many Colors. “Black Family” is, in part, a tribute to Fela, even if the original version didn’t include his name.

Again the lyrics: “lo-lo-lo-lo-long time ago” and not much else repeated over and over and over. But it’s all lead up to a great vibes solo (as the band gets more and more intense).  I love that the keyboardist has a keytar as well and is playing both keys at the same time–soloing on the keytar with an awesome funky sound.  There’s even a cool bass solo.

Concluding this mini-concert, Ayers closed the set out with his signature tune, “Everybody Loves the Sunshine”, a feel-good ode if there ever was one. The essence of this song flowed right through him and out to the NPR audience.

Another terrific vibes solo is followed by a keytar solo which is full of samples of people singing notes (they sound like Steely Dan samples)–it’s weird and kind of cool.

[READ: August 2017] McSweeney’s No 46

As the subtitle reflects this issue is all about Latin American crime.  It features thirteen stories selected by Daniel Galera.  And in his introduction he explains what he was looking for:

DANIEL GALERA-Introduction
He says it used to be easy to talk about Latin American fiction–magical realism, slums and urban violence.  But now things have expanded.  So he asked 13 writers to put their own Latin American spin on the crime story.

And of course, each McSweeney’s starts with

Letters

DANIEL ALARCÓN writes passionately about Diego Maradona’s famous “Goal of the Century” and how as a child he watched it dozens of times and then saw it thousands of times in his head.  When he learned of Maradona’s questionable “Hand of God” goal, his father said that his previous goal was so good it counted twice.  But Daniel grows sad realizing that the goal of the century also marked the beginning of Maradona’s decline.

LAIA JUFRESA this was a fascinating tale about a game called Let’s Kill Carlo that her family played.   It involves a convoluted history including her mother “inventing” a child in order for her husband to come to Mexico from Italy and avoid conscription there.  But when this child “Carlo” “came of age” they had to think of reason why he wasn’t there anymore–so they invented the Let’s Kill Carlo game.

YURI HERRERA waiting for a bus in New Orleans as a man lay in the gutter also waiting.

VALERIA LUISELLI her friend recently moved to Minneapolis with her nervous wreck Chihuahua named President.   He was diagnoses with terminal cancer and the vet encouraged all manner of alternative therapies.  This friend was a very sweet person and had many virtues. And yet perhaps through her virtue the alternative therapy seems to have worked.

FRANCISCO GOLDMAN wants to know why immigration officers at Newark Airport are such dicks (and this was before Trump–#ITMFA).  He speaks of personal examples of Mexican citizens being treated badly.  He had asked a friend to brings books for him and she was harassed terribly asked why did she need so many bags for such a short stay.  Another time he was flying back to NYC with a Mexican girlfriend.   She went through customs and he didn’t hear anything for hours.  He didn’t know if she would even make it though customs at all–even though she’d done nothing wrong.   He imagines wondering how these officers live and what their lives must be like that they seem to take pleasure in messing with other people’s lives. (more…)

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hare1SOUNDTRACK: THE AVETT BROTHERS-Tiny Desk Concert #18 (June 22, 2009).

avettI have recently become a fan of The Avett Brothers.  Indeed, my first review of one of their songs was very mixed.  But I have come around.  And this Tiny Desk show is a great example of the power they have in a live setting–especially one as personal as this.

For this set the two brothers (Seth on guitar and Scott on banjo) play a song from their then new album (the beautiful “Laundry Room” complete with amazing harmonies and beautiful cello) I & Love & You.  It builds slowly but after about two minutes, it turns into a big (upright bass is included, too) catchy song.  And in the last minute it becomes a huge stompin’ track (predating those other banjo bands by a few years).

Scott’s voice is really powerful (Bob Boilen asks if he swallowed an amplifier).

The second song is a the time not released yet, “Down With the Shine” (they joke that they’re then going to play a song they haven’t written yet).  It’s full of phenomenal harmonies.  And the commentary afterward about traveling with the brothers is very funny.

The final track goes back to their previous EP and is called “Bella Donna,” a pretty ballad sung by Seth–he seems to do the more mellow tracks.  It’s a pretty ending to this all too short Tiny Desk Concert.

Watch it here.

[READ: January 10, 2014] The Hare

The Hare was the first of Aira’s books to be translated into English (back in 1998 with this simply gawdawful cover).  It has recently been republished by New Directions Press with a far more tasteful cover.  The translator, Nick Caistor, is the same although I noticed in an online excerpt that while the English language is the same, the New Directions version has translated a Spanish newspaper (El Grito) into English (The Crap) when it wasn’t translated in the earlier version.  But aside from that, it all appears to be the same.

I had been putting off reading this book because it is his largest book (most of Aira’s books are barely over 100 pages, while this one is almost 250) and I’d also read some lukewarm reviews of the book, so I saved it for last.  Of course, now he has a newly translated book out, so I decided it was time to read The Hare.

Not the best attitude for a book an it definitely impacted my early reading of the story.  And I’ll sum up that impact as saying I thought that the book itself was strangely flat but that the ending was fantastic.  Had I been more open t0 the absurdity I think I would have enjoyed the whole thing a lot more. (more…)

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