I read this book in (basically) two sittings at the beach a few weekends ago. It was very entertaining. Somewhere crammed in its basic story of “accepting other life forms, man” is a wonderful diatribe about all that’s wrong with the education system today. Today being 1961. Recommended.
If I was forced to only listen to jazz music from 1958 through 1962 for the rest of my life I wouldn’t be happy, but I wouldn’t consider it a death sentence.
I love jazz of all eras (indeed, my favorite single recording is of Lester Young and the Kansas City Six’s version of “I Got Rhythm”) but for whatever reason the music of these four years really speaks to me. The hazy, speed-of-light bebop of Parker and Gillespie was mellowing out, and we weren’t yet faced with the tribulations of “free jazz.” It’s a really sweet spot.
Here are my 10 favorites. Are they the BEST? I don’t fuckin’ know. They’re my 10 favorite.
10 – The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Countdown from the album “Countdown: Time in Outer Space” (1962)
I’m sure some part of me likes this because it is dedicated to John Glenn. I love the big tympani-ish drums and once things kick in it has a fantastic stride.
9 – Lee Morgan – Mogie from the album “Here’s Lee Morgan” (1960)
It’d be a few years until Lee would really start to kick ass as the flag-bearer for shake-shakin’ hard bop. But you can hear it start to come into play here. This track has swagger, but a little bit of an unexpected dissonance in the harmonies. Plus Lee’s really blowing here.
8 – Cannonball Adderly – Somethin’ Else from the album “Somethin’ Else” (1958)
It’s a little amusing that one of the foundational albums of the “Miles Davis sound” is technically not a Miles Davis album. But he delivers a great performance here on one of the greatest albums ever. I may as well mention here that I didn’t include anything from “Kind of Blue” on this list. Yeah, it’s great, but I rarely listen to it anymore. This is my list.
7 – John Coltrane – Cousin Mary from the album “Giant Steps” (1960)
Coulda picked anything from this album, really, but I love this one because it has such a strong confidence to it. It’s strange, because I consider McCoy Tyner so crucial to Coltrane’s sound, yet this is the album he’s not on.
6 – Wes Montgomery – Billie’s Bounce from the album “Fingerpickin’” (1958)
Hell yes. A classic Parker jam done big – almost west coast style – but zooming. Sorry the quality of this recording kinda stinks. You still get the idea.
5 – Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers Moanin’ from the album “Moanin’” (1958)
I almost went with “Dat Dere” which has a bit more of a “detective jazz” feel, but then I listened to “Moanin’” again and heard those two snaps of the drum after the opening phrase. The Jazz Messengers were absolutely in their stride from ’58 to ’62 and while this might be their biggest hit, they rarely recorded anything that wasn’t terrific. And listen to Lee Morgan on this one!
4 – Bud Powell – John’s Abbey from the album “Time Waits: The Amazing Bud Powell Vol. 4″ (1958)
Bud Powell died for our sins. Those grunts and murmurs are the painful sounds of psychosis – demons that, unfortunately, couldn’t be killed by playing music alone. If you’ve never heard this track before it may take more than one listen to realize just how intricate the playing is. It’s a great melody endlessly teased by a man who has a serious claim on the title “best jazz pianist ever.”
EXTRA POINT: Now listen to this, the heart-stopping Speed of Light version
3 – Charles Mingus – Better Get Hit in Your Soul from the album “Mingus Ah Um” (1959)
IN A TIE WITH!
3 – Charles Mingus – Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting from the album Roots & Blues (1959)
These are two very similar pieces. The first may be a more complex piece of writing and performance, but the second is just balls-out madness.
2 – Miles Davis – Milestones from the album “Milestones” (1958)
It’s the coolest thing you’ll ever hear.
1 -Erroll Garner – Where or When from the album “Concert By The Sea”
I’m ending this one with a total cheat. “Concert By The Sea” came out in 1955, but this video, from God knows where, is from ’62. It’s the same arrangement as on the album, and it is one of the most transcendent pieces of performance you are ever going to see. It’s the old Rogers & Hart show tune expanded into a cosmic display of pure joy. Erroll Garner, an imp who couldn’t read music, was a showman with inhuman capabilities who somehow makes this shit look easy.
The Strain #4, A-
Venom #14, C
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #7, A-
Star Trek #6 (Operation: Annihilate! Part 2), B+
Mister Terrific #7, B-
Birds of Prey #6, B+
Blue Beetle #6, B+
Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heores #5, A+++
OMAC #7, A
Red Lanterns #7, C
Batman Beyond Unlimited #1, B-
Next Men Aftermath #41, B+
Captain American #9, B
Swamp Thing #7, B+
Action Comics #7, A-
Green Lantern #7, B+
The Amazing Spider-Man #680, A
The Amazing Spider-Man #681, A
Captain Atom #6, B+
Animal Man #7, A-
All-Star Western #6, B+
All-Star Western #7, B
Green Lantern: New Guardians #7, C
Avenging Spider-Man #5, C
Star Trek #7 (Vulcan’s Vengeance Part 1), B+
Green Lantern Corps #7, D-
The Amazing Spider-Man #672, A-
Birds of Prey #7, B+
Captain Atom #7, B+
Batman #7, B
Northlanders #49 (The Icelandic Trilogy Part 8), C
Justice League #7, B
Batman Beyond Unlimited #2, B-
Kick-Ass 2 #7, B
Blue Beetle #7, B+
Aquaman #7, A-
Saga #1, A
Dark Matter #2, A
Dark Matter #3, A
Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #6, B+
Ragemoor #1, A-
The Manhattan Projects #1, B+
I’m way behind on comics. I can deal with it if you can.
Venom 13.2, C
Venom 13.3, C
The Amazing Spider-Man 679.1, A
Justice League 6, B
Nightwing 6, C (<–issue inspired me to drop Nightwing.)
Venom, 13.4, B
Green Lantern Corps 6, B+
Ralph Wiggum Comics 1, C+ (sorry)
Detective Comics 7, B
Batman 6, A-
Aquaman 6, A
Mister Terrific 6, B-
I had an unexpected reaction to this collection of two Revelation Space novellas. I thought I would like the one that helped flesh out the Universe more, but I wound up just digging the one that was all plot plot plot.
The first half – Diamond Dogs – is a marvelous story about a dangerous puzzle. Great characters, vivid imagery, good examination of the post-human qualities of the RS world.
Turquoise Days seems really promising – a further examination of the Pattern Jugglers. Unfortunately the characters and the conflicts didn’t really connect with me. (Enjoyed knowing more about the Pattern Jugglers, though!)
Been a while since I’ve done a Comics update – but I have been reading.
Cold War: The Michael Swan Dossier – The Damocles Contract Part IV, A-
The Defenders #2, B-
Red Lanters #5, C+
Action Comics #5, A-
Animal Man #5, A
Mudman #2, A-
Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #4, B
Detective Comics #5, B
OMAC #5, A-
The Amazing Spider-Man #677, B+
Swamp Thing #5, B
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #5, A-
Captain America #7, B-
Star Trek #6, Operation: Annihilate – Part 1, A-
Blue Beetle #5, A-
The Amazing Spider-Man #678, A
Dark Matter #1, A-
Batman #5, B
Avenging Spider-Man #3, A-
Wonder Woman #5, C
Nightwing #5, C+
Birds of Prey #5, C+
Voodoo #5, C-
The Amazing Spider-Man #679, A
Green Lantern Corps #5, B
Green Lantern #5, B
Captain Atom #5, B
The Strain #2, A-
Mister Terrific #5, B+
Venom #12, A-
Aquaman #5, B+
Green Lantern: New Guardians, B-
Northlanders #47, B
Justice League #5, B-
Detective Comics #6, B
Animal Man #6, A
Red Lanterns #6, C+
OMAC #6, A-
Swamp Thing #6, B+
All-Star Western #5, B+
Star Trek/Legion of Superheroes #4, B+
Venom #13, B
The Strain #3, A-
The Defenders #3, C-
Action Comics #6, B+
Venom #13.1, C+
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #6, A-
Captain America #8, B-
Green Lantern #6, B
Mister Terrific #6, D+
Northlanders #48, B
Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #5, B
John Byrne’s Next Men: Aftermath #1, B+
I’m very slowly making my way through the massive 700+ page novels by Alastair Reynolds (three down, many to go) but I took a side trip with this short story/novella mainly because I like a challenge. It is very much out of print and available on Amazon for something like $125. There is *one* copy of it in the New York Public Library system. I tracked it down, read it in one sitting, then sent it back into the stream.
Is it any good? Yes, because Reynolds is incapable of writing something that doesn’t have a few “woah, where the hell did that idea come from?” moments every 30 pages.
This one is something of a space spy story, but (as usual) with characters that are both good and bad and over long stretches of time tend to play both sides of that line. It imagines an alternate Earth where Genghis Khan conquered the world, and the Mongol Empire is now making leaps into deep space (hey, just go with it.) What they find in some wormhole hub thingy is, well……maybe I shouldn’t spoil that for you.
Quite possibly the most “meta” thing I’ve ever read – this may very well be the actual notebook Roth was keeping when he wrote “The Anatomy Lesson,” without intending ever to publish it. At least that’s what “Philip Roth” claims when his jealous wife finds the text, most of which are intimate details from an affair that are too specific not to be genuine (as is what happens in “The Anatomy Lesson.”)
The text is almost exclusively dialogue – it is practically a play – and even if you aren’t familiar with all of the names in the greater Roth Universe (Zuckerman, Carnovsky, Tarnopol etc) a reader will still find some marvelous, crystalized moments.
Some of Roth’s navel-gazing can be a but much (skip “The Facts” and “My Life As A Man”) but sometimes his insights are revelatory (as it “Patrimony” and “Operation: Shylock.”) I place this one somewhere in between.
Oh my God the Vanguard series is so much fun. This is book 5 in the series and it has gone to very much unexpected places. I say with no joking around that if the character of T’Prynn had ever made it to one of the TV shows she’d be the new fan favorite.
All-Star Western #4 – B+
DC Universe Online Legends #20 – D (I’m taking this off my pull list. Once the Sinestro arc ended I just haven’t cared.)
Green Lantern: New Guardians #4 – C+ (This one is in danger of getting dismissed, too)
Captain America #5 – B
Captain America #6 – A-
Kick-Ass 2 #6 – B
Aquaman #4 – B+
The Strain #1 – A-
Voodoo #4 – B
Star Trek #4 – B
New to JH.c!
I waste $ on comics, the least I can do is keep track of what I felt. This’ll be a week-by-week.
BATMAN #4 – A
BIRDS OF PREY #4 – B
BLUE BEETLE #4 – A-
CAPTAIN ATOM #4 – B+
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #4 – B
JUSTICE LEAGUE #4 – B-
NIGHTWING #4 – B+
WONDER WOMAN #4 – B
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #676 – A
DEFENDERS COMING OF DEFENDERS #1 – B
VENOM #11 – A
Roth’s books (and I’ve read almost all of them) take on a mantra-like quality with their repetition. All of ‘em, even the high concept ones like Operation: Shylock or The Plot Against America, are basically the same stories over and over.
This time, the main character is a little more of a pompous prick than usual. And it doesn’t work out well for him.
This li’l novella is wonderfully funny and has some of the best recollections of mid-century sexual deviance that I’ve ever read. He does it so effortlessly. There’s an insight on every page. Another masterpiece from a man who has delivered many of them.
To say that I loved this book just doesn’t cut it. I actually found it so hard to put down that I MADE myself put it down so it could last longer. It is hilarious, it is insightful and it feels like it is sent to us from another planet.
Somewhere along the way I decided that Vonnegut wasn’t worth any more of my time. I don’t know where I got this idea. I’ve read many of his books, but not all of them. This is ending now.
With the purchase of my Kindle I subscribed to one of the three great SF pulp publications of yore: Analog Science Fiction and Fact.
I do not read them cover to cover, but each month I find at least one story I love and two I find “of some merit.” The editorials and nonfiction are a glimpse into a fascinating world and the “Science Fact” article is always a crap shoot.
Starting in summer ASFF started serializing a near-future novel, Energized, that is soon to be published in book form. I lapped it up and loved all but the fourth and final chunk.
Set after the Crudetastrophe, which makes our current energy woes seem like a trifle, the story takes a reasonable if not slightly paranoid view of what would happen if Russia had control of all the oil and the US was fighting a zealous group of domestic terrorists called “resetters.”
Fortune orbits our way in the form of a meteor that, if manipulated, can aid in beaming down pure waves of solar energy. Valuable to business, but dangerous in the wrong hands.
It’s a decent set-up, but really a terrific playpen in which to describe a world (not! that! far! from! our! own!) that is crippled by energy and environmental concerns. It’s hard to say just where Lerner himself falls on the political spectrum. Our hero has no time for those that stand in the way of progress, but considering the way he describes the potential bursting out of NASA agents and other scientists it is easy to see why.
Should you find yourself with some of these flimsy, odd-shaped magazines in your hand on a long flight, you may want to poke around. I’ll be curious to see what kind of attention Energized gets when it makes its broader release.