Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Inclusion in St. Louis Jazz Notes

I am happy to report that the Red Moon CafĂ© and its post titled the Best of Jazz for 2011 , which appears below, has been included among the St Louis Jazz Notes’ list of sites offering the best jazz recordings for 2011. This list includes international sites like London Jazz and Jazz Breakfast and many of those domestic locations like AllAboutJazz and Jazz After Hours . Some of the other sites listed are more regional in their concern with the jazz that has been created by musicians in one location, say, Connecticut, Canada, or Australia. Despite my location, a couple hundred miles or so east of Lebanon, Kansas, the geographic center of the contiguous United States, my list contains jazz created in Iceland, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom, proving, once again, how jazz truly is international.

Let's hope that 2012 offers a lot of good jazz.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

That Winter Without Snow

As we prepare our classes for the upcoming semester, my wife and I occasionally get outside to enjoy some of the warm days we have been having. Bill McGibben says that, because of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which, as of December 2011, is now 391.80 ppm , there is no longer anything resembling normal weather, and we certainly know that feature of climate change this winter because of the absence of snow where we live. We have to find delight in things like sunsets, windy bluffs, contrails, and shadows.

After clicking on a picture here, you will be taken to the slide show that is a relatively new feature of Blogger. Once inside the slide show, using the zoom feature will increase the size of each picture. Personally, I keep my screen set at 125% but find that zooming to 200% makes it possible to pick out more of the details available in these pictures.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Best of Jazz for 2011

My selections for best jazz albums of 2011 appear below but in no particular order.

Helge Lien Trio, Natsukashii, Ozella Music

Sunna Gunnlaugs, Long Pair Bond, Sunny Sky

Nat Birchall, Sacred Dimension, Gondwana

Matthew Halsall, On the Go, Gondwana

Wolfert Brederode, Post Scriptum, ECM

Sebastian Liedke Trio, Zeitenwende, self produced

Julia Hulsmann Trio, Imprint, ECM

Meadow, Blissful Ignorance, Edition

Colin Vallon Trio, Rruga, ECM

European Union Quartet, The Dark Peak, OAP Records

My artist to watch award goes to the Claire James Trio, a piano trio headed by Claire James, a former student of the Royal Academy of Music in Manchester, England. The trio’s EP, Lines (Efpi Records), was released last summer and contains four tracks, all of which can be heard at SoundCloud.

Sitting Bull Prisoner of War: A Review

Dennis C. Pope seeks to elucidate a little known time in the life of Sitting Bull in Sitting Bull: Prisoner of War. Concentrating on the years 1881 to 1883, what scholars have up to now either ignored or glossed over, Pope addresses Sitting Bull’s surrender and his imprisonment at Fort Buford, Fort Yates, and Fort Randall. Using newspapers, government documents, and manuscripts, Pope provides Sitting Bull’s words and his interactions with the American government, particularly the Army, and those civilians who sought to interview and befriend the aging chief. Arguing that Sitting Bull “learne[ed] how to deal with the white men who now controlled his life and his people,” Pope lets the evidence illustrate what Sitting Bull learned during his imprisonment, principally his using letters, interviews with reporters and the ethnographer Alice Fletcher, and direct negotiations with the Army until he got what he desired for the Hunkpapa. Pope ultimately concludes that “Sitting Bull remained faithful to his heritage until the end of his life” and that he “continued to exemplify the virtues of generosity and courage and to fight for what he thought was best for his people.” This book provides a focused examination on Sitting Bull at this time of his life and brings together the primary sources that had been scattered in various places on the Internet and in government archives. One weakness occurs when Pope attempts to provide Sitting Bull’s own thoughts after his surrender at Fort Buford in 1881. Pope speculates, for example, that “Sitting Bull’s thoughts were not just for himself and his family, but of his band as well.” Pope adds that Sitting Bull was “honor-bound to look after them. As much as he detested the fact that the old free days were gone forever and that reservation life was now inevitable, he intended to look after his people in the best way possible. Would the whites let him?” These passages seem unnecessary and interfere with Pope’s writing of history.