since it’s inevitable that a democrat will fill the kennedy seat, instead of filling it with hacks like marty meehan, etc., why not fill the seat with a WOMAN???

NIKI TSONGAS is the first woman in 25 years to be elected to congress from massachusetts, and is also the widow of the late Sen. Paul Tsongas, who served in the Senate from 1979-1985, and was elected in 1978, defeating then two term incumbent Sen. Edward Brooke in an upset.

Later, Paul Tsongas would become the only man ever to defeate Bill Clinton in a Presidential election, defeating Clinton in the “panda bear” New Hampshire primary of 1992.

NIKI TSONGAS has done it all. she’s an attorney, she’s raised three kids, she helped her husband with his congressional and senate and presidential campaigns, and now she’s in her second term representing the good people of Lowell MA.

I happen to know and like NIKI TSONGAS. so i’m a little biased.

but i happen to think the world of her.

and if we’re a little poorer for being without the late, great PAUL TSONGAS, we’re all a little richer for having NIKI TSONGAS.

NIKI TSONGAS IS THE OBVIOUS AND WORTHY SUCCESSOR TO SEN. TED KENNEDY IN THE US SENATE.

learn more by going to her website:

http://tsongas.house.gov/index.html

–art kyriazis
philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

According to recent news reports, the Federal Oncology Commission, headed by the Earle Warren Orchestra and Dr. Earle Warren on saxophone, will issue a report this morning that the immediate cause of Sen. Kennedy’s death was a lone cancer cell, acting alone, without the assistance of other cancer cells, and that any hint that the cancer cell acted in conspiracy or with the assistance of other cancer cells is silly and ridiculous.

Also, there were no cancer cells in the grassy knoll.

Sen. Kennedy’s three older brothers were great men–joe jr. gave his life for his country in wwII, JFK was a great president, a princeton man who transferred to Harvard and graduated from there, and was known to have romanced the actresses gene tierney, marilyn monroe as well as his gorgeous wife jackie o, all in one spectacular lifetime, not to mention saying “ich bin ein Berliner.”

There were a lot of bad things that happened to Sen. Ted Kennedy along the road in life.  But we forgave them all, and in the end, he was a Great Man.

All in all, the great outweighed the bad in Ted Kennedy, and he was in fact, a Great Man, and a Great Senator.

He was a lot like nolan ryan, about half wins, half losses, and his fastball was great, but his wild pitches and walks would cost you ballgames, but when he was great, he was really, truly great.

Abraham Martin & John by DION

Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lotta people, but it seems the good die young
But I just looked around and he’s gone.

Has anybody here seen my old friend John,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lotta people, but it seems the good die young
But I just looked around and he’s gone.

Has anybody here seen my old friend Martin,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lotta people, but it seems the good die young
But I just looked around and he’s gone.

Didn’t you love the things they stood for?
Didn’t they try to find some good for you and me?
And we’ll be free,
Someday soon it’s gonna be one day.

Has anybody here seen my old friend Bobby,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
I thought I saw him walkin’ up over the hill
With Abraham, Martin and John

NEW LAST VERSE FOR TEDDY:

Has anybody here seen my old friend Teddy,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
I thought I saw him walkin’ up over the hill
With Abraham, Martin, Bobby & John….
He freed a lotta people, but it seems the good they die young
But I just looked around and he was gone.

http://www.uulyrics.com/music/dion/song-abraham-martin-john/

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

The Wall Street Journal’s Will Friedland has a really nice story in Wednesday August 19, 2009 at p. D19 on the Cenntennial of legenday bop saxophonist Lester Young’s birth (1909-1959) which occurs today, August 24, 2009.

This year also marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Lester Young, who passed away at age 49 in 1959. Jazz Giant, Jazz Legend, Jazz Colossus, these terms don’t do him justice. In Jazz Circles, he was known only as the President, or the Prez, a moniker hooked on him by none other than the late, great Billie Holiday, aka Lady Day, Queen of Jazz.

As Friedland writes, “Young…created a new approach to the saxophone and to jazz in general. His playing was, by turns, lighter and gentler than anything that had come before it, but also capable of driving with tremendous force and energy.” Id. at p. D19.

Friedland reviews a release from Fantasy Records (now owned by Concord, I believe) called “Centennial Celebration”, which contains a good deal of Lester Young live during his later years, with emphasis on the 1950s. This is probably a must-buy if you don’t have any of this material. Even if you do have it, it’s never a waste of money to buy a Lester Young CD just to get even one track you didn’t have before. Or download the one you don’t have.

When Ken Burns did his Jazz documentary stretching over a bazillion PBS hours not so long ago, there were two figures that stood head and shoulders over everyone else—Lester Young and Billie Holiday.

Before President Obama was born, before Hawaii was even a state or was issuing official state birth certificates, we already had a black president—and his name was Lester Young—or as Billie Holiday dubbed him—the President, or the Prez for short. Everyone else in jazz was the Vice-President, or the Vice-Prez—but there was only one President, and that was Lester Young. Because Lester Young ruled the roost, he was in charge, and everyone else was second best.

Lester Young was so good, that you basically need to own every track he every played on, but if you can’t afford that, the Ken Burns jazz sampler is a great place to start. There’s several different phases to Lester Young’s career, all of them fantastic. Video of Lester Young, with Basie, with Billie Holiday and solo, are also around, and these are worth viewing as well.

First there’s the Count Basie years, from around 1935-1940, where Lester “leaps in” on countless classic tracks with the Count Basie Band. According to Friedland, Mosaic Records has recently issued a 4 CD set last year covering this period, but it’s covered on many of the compilations of either the best of Count Basie or the best of Lester Young. This stuff is just fantastic, the best big band jazz ever recorded.

Then there’s his work with Billie Holiday. Here, one just says, wow. These two were so born to work together. Billie Holliday’s best tracks are with Lester Young playing; Lester Young’s best playing is with Billie Holliday singing. This is the best jazz ever laid down on vinyl in U.S. history. It’s covered in part in the Ken Burns samplers of both Lester Young and Billie Holiday, fortunately.

There is also the final appearance of them both on CBS television in 1956 or 1957 for a special jazz show with several other jazz giants, which is caught on LP, CD as well as on video somewhere, and a good thing too, since both Young and Holliday would both be dead in just a couple of years’ time. This is a must-have session as well.

Then there is the body of Lester Young’s solo work, almost all of which is essential. I could rhapsodize about all of it, but there’s particular stuff that’s really great, such as the live in DC dates from 1956, which produced more than one CD/LP. This stuff is terrific, and very fine indeed. It’s well-represented on the “Centennial” CD reviewed by Mr. Friedwald. Lester Young’s solo 50s work doesn’t try to follow what others are doing during the 1950s—and that’s kind of what makes it great.

Lester Young is essentially a romantic at heart, and this comes across in all of his playing.

Of the great boppers, I’ve always preferred Lester Young to Charlie Parker—while I know Parker is technically great and plays fast and improvises crazily and so forth, but Lester Young is really the finer ballad player, and yet can still bop and swing as well as anyone, improvise, and also accompany his vocalist, or play in a big band. In short, there was nothing Lester Young couldn’t do with a saxophone.

One comment about Young, and it’s discussed by Friedwald as well, is Young’s terrible experiences with the United States Army during World War II, and particularly with segregation. Friedwald descrbes this as a “nightmarish year he [Young] spent in the detention barracks, in the segregated armed forces during World II, which certainly exacerbated the chronic alcoholism that contributed to his [Young’s] death at age 49. (Friedwald, WSJ, 8/19/09 at p. D9. The liner notes to LESTER SWINGS (see infra) state that “his sensitivity in these matters was certainly aggravated by his traumatic army experiences of 1944 and 1945, until it amounted almost to a form of disability. Several people who knew him at the time have remarked on this. It took only one aggressive or unfriendly present to upset his equilibrium.” “Von Hangman is here,” he would mutter, as gloom descended. On the other had, when things were goint well, he could be the life and soul of the party.

So what we know about Lester Young is that he was a supremely gifted musician; he was a sensitive and tortured soul; a sensitive and open man with his feelings and emotions; and when it came to institutional racism, he was no Jackie Robinson; he could not stand up to inhumane treatment, and nearly collapsed under its weight. That he survived at all is a testament to his inner artistic strength and will to survive to play another day, and the twelve years of artistic production we have from 1946 to 1958 are, in my view, supremely brilliant and as gifted as his pre-war output.

Lester Young, if you see him play on video, had that kind of sideways way of playing, that was wholly unique, plus the famous pork pie hat he always wore, which when he passed away in 1959, gave rise to one of the world’s greatest jazz compositions, by Charles Mingus, “Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat,” which has been covered by a zillion artists, including even an incendiary fusion version by Jeff Beck and Jan Hammer during the crazy 1970s. I’m not sure what Lester Young would have thought about fusion, but then again, Lester might have leapt right in.

Lester Young’s was a long and happy administration, and long may it rule, happy 100th birthday to Lester Young, the Prez. I hope that the Ken Burns Jazz Documentary re-runs on PBS sometime, and if it doesn’t run in its entirety, I sure hope they re-run the parts about Basie, Young and Holliday again, because those were smoking hot. It’s not that we don’t love Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington or Charlie Parker, but Lester Young was the Prez for a reason—he had the sweetest sound, the most beautiful, and the music he made will last forever.

Happy 100th birthday to a true American legend, Lester Young, our only other officially recognized African American President.

DISCOGRAPHY – LESTER YOUNG

KEN BURNS JAZZ – THE DEFINITIVE LESTER YOUNG (VERVE 314 549 082-2) (2000) nineteen perfect tracks, compilation. Nice booklet with photos. Great place to start. A+++

THE PRESIDENT PLAYS WITH THE OSCAR PETERSON TRIO (VERVE 831 670-2) (West German Pressing, Polygram). Lester Young, tenor sax, Oscar Peterson, piano, Barney Kessel, guitar, Ray Brown, bass, JC Heard, drums. Recorded NYC November 28, 1952. 13 tracks with alternate takes, 61:49. A+

LESTER YOUNG: THE COMPLETE SAVOY RECORDINGS (SAVOY JAZZ SVY 17122 2CD Set with booklet). This outstanding two CD set collects rare material recorded for Savoy in 1944, 1949 and 1950 by Lester Young with the likes of Billy Butterfield, Hank D’Amico, Johnny Guarnieri, Dexter Hall, Billy Taylor and Cozy Cole (April 18, 1944); a session with the Earle Warren Orchestra (see, he really was the Prez!) (April 18, 1944) (too many greats to mention, but Harry Sweets Edison, Jimmy Powell, Earle Warren, Freddie Green, Jo Jones, to name but a few). The Lester Young Quintet (and this is rare); Lester Young tenor sax, Count Basie piano, Freddie Green guitar, Rodney Richardson bass, Shadow Wilson drums (May 1, 1944). These six tracks are worth the price of the entire 2 CD set. Fantastic. Lester Young and Count Basie in a small group setting. Wow! And this is all Disc One! Disc Two starts out with Lester Young Sextet, Lester Young tenor sax, Jessie Drakes trumpet, Jerry Elliot Trombone, Junior Mance, piano, Leroy Jackson, bass, Roy Haynes drums. (June 28, 1949). (10 tracks). Lester Young Quintet. Lester Young Quintet, Lester Young tenor sax, Jessie Drakes trumpet, Kenny Drew piano, Kenny Shulman bass, Jo Jones drums. April 2, 1950, live in Chicago (10 tracks). This 2CD set has a lot of outtakes, but also has a lot of rare material from great bands, and covers a hard to find period of Young’s career, unless you have the original Savoy 78s or 10” vinyl. Stupendous. A+++.

LESTER SWINGS – LESTER YOUNG (VERVE 314 547 772-2) (1999). According to the CD, “This CD contains some of the most memorable masterpieces from Young’s enigmatic and memorable Verve studio recordings. These recordings can be found in their entirety on the 8-CD set THE COMPLETE LESTER YOUNG STUDIO SESSIONS ON VERVE.” http://www.vevemusicgroup.com. thirteen tracks, 64.22. This CD covers the highlights of Lester Young’s solo and small group career from 1946-1958, and is thus the cream of the crop. Absolutely vital. A+++

LESTER YOUNG TRIO WITH NAT KING COLE AND BUDDY RICH SUPERVISED BY NORMAN GRANZ (VERVE 314 521 650-2) 1994) (Mfd for BMG direct marketing under license. This is an interesting CD. There are a total of fourteen tracks totaling 60:41. Tracks 1-10 are recording with Lester Young on tenor sax, Nat King Cole on piano and Buddy Rich on drums, playing as a trio, recording April 19, 1946 in Los Angeles, CA. This was originally issued on vinyl as 10” Norgran LP MGN and before that as Lester Young Trio Vols I & II on Mercury/Clef MGC 104 & 135, 1074 with just 8 tracks; two outtakes are included here. Tracks 11-14 are recorded with Lester Young, Harry Sweets Edison on trumpet, Dexter Gordon on tenor sax, Nat King Cole on piano, Red Callendaer & Johnny Miller on drums, and Cliffor Juicy Owens on drums, recording summer 1943 or 1944 Los Angeles, CA, and originally released on vinyl 78 Clef/Mercury 15003/8900. Some of the tracks on this CD are 78 to CD transfers. This is a very fine CD preserving some very famous session tracks with Lester Young and Nat King Cole now considered classic. A+.

LESTER LEAPS IN: HIS GREATEST RECORDINGS 1936-1944; LESTER YOUNG. (ASV Ltd. Living Era CD AJA 5176 MCPS MONO) (Made and printed in England) (ASV Ltd., 1 Beaumont Avenue, London, UK, W14 9LP). (1995). “lester young with count basie, billie holiday, teddy Wilson, buck clayton, bill coleman, dicky wells…and other jazz greats!” what else do you want to know? 24 tracks, 75:40 total playing time. This is pretty much prime Lester Young material. A+++.

LESTER YOUNG LIVE IN DC VOLUMES I AND II 1956 I don’t have the CD info on these, but they’re classics and easily found on the internet.

youtube links:


lester young with billie holiday


this is billie holiday doing fine and mellow from the cbs special in 1956 with lester young and an all star band. with coleman hawkins and gerry mulligan. wow! A++++


a famous clip of lester young and allstar big band doing the “jitterbug jam” check out those dancers swinging to lester’s solo! with Harry Sweets Edison and many others. A+++


count basie band with lester young at randall’s island ny


lester young in a nice video


lester young and great band – pennies from heaven


same band – blues for greasy

http://www.kerouacalley.com/young.html
multimedia directory of lester young videos etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lester_Young
wikipedia article on lester young

theres more youtube video out there of lester young–these are just some highlights.

here’s another discography and list of books on Lester Young from a fan website:

http://www.nme.com/artists/lester-young

Discography

albums.

* Lester Young Quartet And Count Basie Seven – 1950 (Mercury)
* Lester Young – ()
* The Immortal Lester Young – 1951 (Savoy)
* The Lester Young Trio – 1951 (Mercury)
* Count Basie And Lester Young – 1951 (Jazz Panorama)
* Collates – ()
* Pres – 1951 (Mercury/Norgran)
* Kansas City Style – 1952 (Commodore)
* Battle Of The Saxes – 1953 (Aladdin)
* King Cole-Lester Young-Red Callender Trio – ()
* Lester Young-Nat King Cole Trio – 1953 (Aladdin/Score)
* Lester Young – His Tenor Sax – 1953 (Aladdin)
* The Lester Young Trio – 1953 (Clef)
* The President Plays – 1953 (Verve)
* With The Oscar Peterson Trio – 1954 (Norgran)
* Pres Meets Vice-Pres – 1954 (EmArcy)
* The President – ()
* Lester Swings Again – 1954 (Norgran)
* Pres And Sweets – 1955 (Norgran)
* The Pres-ident Plays With The Oscar Peterson Trio – 1955 (Norgran)
* Lester Young – ()
* It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) – 1955 (Norgran/Verve)
* The Jazz Giants “56 – 1956 (Verve)
* Tops On Tenor – 1956 (Jazztone)
* Lester Young And His Tenor Sax, Vol. 1 – 1956 (Aladdin)
* Lester Young And His Tenor Sax, Vol. 2 – 1956 (Aladdin)
* The Masters Touch – 1956 (Savoy)
* Lester’s Here – 1956 (Norgran)
* Pres And Teddy – 1956 (American Recording Society/Verve)
* Lester Young-Nat “King’ Cole-Buddy Rich Trio – 1956 (Norgran)
* Swingin’ Lester Young – 1957 (Intro)
* The Greatest – 1957 (Intro)
* Going For Myself – 1959 (Verve)
* Laughin’ To Keep From Cryin” – 1959 (Verve)
* The Lester Young Story – 1959 (Verve)
* Memorial Album – 1959 (Epic)
* In Paris – 1960 (Verve)
* The Essential Lester Young – 1961 (Verve)
* Lester Warms Up – Jazz Immortals Series, Vol. 2 – 1961 (Savoy)
* Pres – 1961 (Charlie Parker)
* Pres Is Blue – 1961 (Charlie Parker)
* A Date With Greatness – 1962 (Imperial)
* The Immortal Lester Young, Vols. 1 – ()
* 2 – 1962 (Imperial)
* The Influence Of Five – 1965 (Mainstream)
* Town Hall Concert – 1965 (Mainstream)
* Chairman Of The Board – 1965 (Mainstream)
* 52nd Street – 1965 (Mainstream)
* Prez – 1965 (Mainstream)
* Pres And His Cabinet – 1966 (Verve)
* In Washington, D.C., Vols. 1-5 – 1980 (Pablo)

Books

bibliography.

* Lester Young – Lewis Porter
* The Tenor Saxophone And Clarinet Of Lester Young, 1936-1949 – Jan Evensmo
* Lester Young – Dave Gelly
* You Got To Be Original Man! The Music Of Lester Young – Frank BÃchmann-Møller
* You Just Fight For Your Life: The Story Of Lester Young – Frank BÃchmann-Møller
* A Lester Young Reader – Lewis Porter
* No Eyes: Lester Young – David Meltzer
* Lester Leaps In: The Life And Times Of Lester “Pres” Young – Douglas Henry Daniels

–art kyriazis, philly south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

WHAT A DAY FOR TV YESTERDAY AUGUST 16TH.

1) AN ELVIS MARATHON ON TCM, INCLUDING ‘KID CREOLE’.

2) THE RETURN OF DON DRAPER AND MAD MEN FOR SEASON THREE.

3) THE PHILS DESTROY THE BRAVES ON NATIONAL TV SUNDAY NITE BASEBALL ON RYAN HOWARDS TWO ENORMOUS HOMERS, SOLO AND THREE RUN SHOTS, AND WIN 4-1 AS JA HAPP WINS 9TH OF YEAR AGAINST 2 LOSSES.

Is it just me, or watching Elvis and Don Draper, do I get the feeling that back in 1961, smoking, drinking, and driving drunk, were GOOD for you?

That chasing women, even if you were married, was what men were supposed to do no matter what? and that this was ok as long as you came back to your wife at the end of the road trip or whatever?

the flip side of all this is getting inside of don draper’s creative process, which seems to require that 1) he gets a new account 2) he can’t think of an idea 3) he needs to bed down some new conquest not his wife in a seedy motel 4) the plane ride back or in his office later, he suddenly and brilliantly spits out the ad idea of the century for the account.

i’d think it was a crock, except my brother in law is an ad guy and i’ve seen his creative side work like this (except for all the wild sex) (I’m joking, he actually made don draper look like a monk back in the day) (that would be the chiat day).

speaking of monk, he’s back, and they’ve announced it’s his final season. this is rare for a tv show to say “that’s all folks”.

so the question begins, how many episodes will they devote to solving trudy’s murder before they wrap it all up? It’s been what, seven, eight years, and Monk has one case, one huge case, he’s never solved–the case of his wife Trudy’s murder.

It has to be solved.

Finally, a word about Elvis. “kid creole” is actually a very fine movie. the early elvis movies, from before 1962, are pretty good, and even the vintage ones, from the 60s, have fine qualities about them.

–art kyriazis
philly home of the world champion phillies

This was an interesting move. Seldom in baseball do you see one Hall of Fame bound pitcher replace another in the starting rotation. Pedro Martinez and Jamie Moyer, between them, have won about 400 or 500 games in the major leagues; Moyer had already won 260 plus and was still pitching reasonably well this season at age 47 while Pedro Martinez had won nearly 200 games in a brilliant span of about fifteen years when he was nearly unhittable for the Expos and Red Sox during the late 90s and early 2000s.

Martinez in recent years has not been the same unhittable pitcher. His first year for the Mets went well, but after that he began to be injured, and showed signs of weakness on the mound for the first time, and the last three or four years have not been kind to the once invincible Martinez. But this past year he pitched well in the World Baseball Classic, and he seems ready once again to throw in the big leagues.

It’s an interesting move, since Moyer has been pretty much guaranteed money both in the regular season and in the post season for the phils since they obtained him three years ago. He won sixteen games last year and was very effective in 2007; more importantly, Moyer has been like a second pitching coach, teaching his crafty off speed stuff and wily changeups to the staff, like the late great Johnny Podres used to do with older Phillies staffs before him. Its true he’s slowed down a bit in the heat of August, but of course, with 47 year old pitchers, you’re sort of in unchartered territory. After all, last year, when he was 46, he pitched very well in the heat of August.

Brett Myers is also about ready to come back to the bigs in a couple of weeks, and starting September 1, the major league rosters expand to 40, so we might even see the likes of Kyle Drabek get a start or two. The Phillies, weak at starting pitcher all year, suddenly have an embarrassment of riches—Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Jamie Moyer, Pedro Martinez are all MVPs or Cy Young winners or big game pitchers who know how to win late in the season or in the post-season, and Joe Blanton and JA Happ have outstanding numbers this season, great strikeout to walk ratios, good WHIP numbers, and neither is allowing too many homers. Hamels’ numbers are also very good, even though fans and the media are complaining, Hamels is on track to strike out 150 batters, and his WHIP and homers allowed are pretty good. They’re just not what they were last year, but compared to an average starter, they’re excellent. And Lee has been phenomenal since arrival. So Lee, Happ, Hamels & Blanton all have great numbers. This move is all about the FIFTH starter. That’s kind of neat—having to fix your fifth starter. I bet the Mets wish they had that problem.

Happ is on pace to allow the fewest homers of any of the starters, and garner the most strikeouts per innings pitched. As I stated in a blog before the season started arguing for Happ to be named to the starting rotation, based on his minor league numbers (he struck out 125 and 150 batters in two seasons starting in AA and AAA), six foot six lefthanders don’t grow on trees. Happ may well be the rookie of the year and win ten games for the Phils. He may win fifteen next year.

Next year the Phils may have the luxury of a rotation with Happ, Blanton, Hamels, Lee Drabek or Myers, which would be a young and very good rotation. Moyer could continue out of the pen as a lefthanded specialist or move to pitching coach. Who knows? The Phils may even have Pedro back for another year.

One additional remark and that is on the Cliff Lee deal. This is GM Ruben Amaro’s first really big trade, and it was a brilliant one. First, because Amaro did not trade for Roy Halladay, who is 35 and his best years behind him, and the Blue Jays asking way too much. Second, because the Indians were asking a fair price for Lee, and the Phillies gave a fair amount for Lee. Third, because Lee is much younger than Halladay, and still in his prime; he won the Cy Young last year, not back in 2003, like Halladay.

If you examine Lee’s numbers, each year he’s been in the league, he’s allowed fewer home runs and fewer walks every year, culminating in his Cy Young year last year. Lee is an accurate thrower who simply throws strike after strike, low in the zone, without allowing homers. Last year he allowed only 10 or 12 homers all year, an impossibly low total in modern five run per game baseball, and very low for an American League pitcher. Halladay by constrast gives up 20 a year. Lee only walked approximately 30 or 35 batters last year while striking out 150 or more. That’s an amazing set of statistics for a starting pitcher.

Lee’s pinpoint control was abundantly on display his first two starts as a Phillie. His first start, a complete game shutout of the Giants, and his second start, in which he allowed only one run (not on a homer), demonstrated that he strikes out a lot of batters, walks few or none, and gives up no homers when he pitches. He also pitches deep into the game, the 7th, 8th or complete game.

Lee is, in short, the ideal starting pitcher. As if that is not enough, he can hit the ball and run the bases, and he’s modest, self-effacing, and farms and hunts in the off-season in his native Kentucky.

If this all sounds like Lee emerged full grown from a Damon Runyon story, I agree. He is too good to be true, but then again, the Phillies have always been blessed with characters who could play—like Aaron Rowand, Pete Rose, Lenny Dykstra, Steve Carlton, Tug McGraw, Cole Hamels—and Cliff Lee seems as if he was born to be a Phillie.

Pedro Martinez will look odd in a Phillies uniform, I’ll admit. But then again, Curt Schilling looked odd in a Red Sox uniform. And from what’s been printed in the various columns in the local news, Pedro’s been eating out at the local restaurants in Philly, so he seems to be enjoying himself here in town.

The Phillies are going to have a tough time in the playoffs this year when and if they clinch the division title. They’re looking at playing the Cubs or Cardinals, or the Giants in the first round, and the Dodgers Cubs or Cardinals in the second round, and all of those teams are loaded up with pitching and hitting. They will have to beat good pitchers like they did in 2008, when they beat CC Sabathia in the playoffs. They will need all of the arms they have acquired to win in the playoffs, and Pedro Martinez and Jamie Moyer, whether starting or in the bullpen, will be of great value in the playoffs come October.

–art kyriazis, Philly/South Jersey
home of the world champion phillies

George Russell, one of the Jazz Legends, died last week in New York City, a death that went all but unnoticed except in the New York Times, which had a fitting obit to the jazz legend.

Russell’s album “The Jazz Workshop” from 1956 is a legendary work, and for years commanded very high collectors’ prices in mint first edition, usually more than a hundred dollars. It was an amazing work.

Russell, as the NYT obit noted, invented modal dissonant jazz—dense harmonic dissonant chord changes which he described in his “bible of modal jazz”, The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization for Improvisation, published in 1953 and again in 1959. (thanks to the New York times 7/30/09 for this).

The effect on the jazz world was dramatic. Miles Davis and John Coletrane immediately picked up on modal jazz, starting with the album “Milestones” in 1958 (they were still in the same band) and then Davis struck gold with his all time classic “Kind of Blue” a year later in 1959 (the fifty year legacy edition was recently released by Columbia in a two cd edition).

From here to the wild modal jazz explorations of miles and coletrane of the 50s and 60s, and to the free jazz of ornette coleman, and the fusion jazz of the 60s and 70s, was but a short step. Dissonance and freedom from tonality was all the rage for the next 25 years.

The movement raged on into rock and blues. Ray Manzarek explained “Light My Fire” as a “modal chromatic inversion” of Coletrane’s “My Favorite Things”; the Grateful Dead and other groups began to improvise and jam along modal jazz lines each and every night, as did more blues-based groups like Eric Clapton and Cream. By the 1970s, modal jazz and jazz-rock fused into jazz-fusion and groups like Mahavishnu Orchestra led by John McLaughlin produced stupendous works like “The Inner Mounting Flame,” while more mainstream artists like Al DiMeola, Jean Luc-Ponty and Weather Report experimented with jazz fusion and modality throughout the decade.

Perhaps my favorite modal work was 1967’s “Nefertiti”, by the legendary Miles Davis lineup which included Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter & Tony Williams. Sublime and spectacular.

George Russell was completely forgotten by then, but he was the father of it all. No one remembered that Russell was the composer of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Cubano Bop” and “Cubano Be Cubano Bop” in the late 1940s, or that Russell continued to teach and play in the new york area for years, or that Russell received a McArthur Fellowship in 1988.

George Russell was one of my favorite jazz figures precisely because he was obscure but influential and brilliant. He never sought out the spotlight, fame, money, fast cars or the attention of pop stardom. He was, to the end, a musician’s musician. He will be missed.

–art kyriazis, Philadelphia, PA
the birthplace of dizzy gillespie & john coletrane

The Christian East

August 4, 2009

The Pope recently took a tour of the Middle East. He might have stopped at Jerusalem and some other holy cities as well. He made a number of speeches about Christians and Muslims and Jews getting along, and then got on his way.

This was all dutifully covered by the news organizations.

Forgotten by all but scholars and bookworms, is the fact that for the most part, Christians in the Middle East and Near East are anything but Catholics. The Assyrian Church or Church of the Near East, which up through the 15th Century used to command millions of followers, continues to have followers in Iran and Iraq; the Coptic Orthodox Church is the dominant Christian Church in Egypt, and its followers are the original Eqyptians, the ones who built the pyramids (the muslim Egyptians are Arabs and Mamluks; Coptic is a version of spoken hieratic ancient Egyptian); the Lebanese are pretty evenly split between the Orthodox (eastern church) and the Maronites (western church); the Armenian Orthodox continue to exist in small but significant numbers in Iran as well as the newly formed Armenian Republic; and in the rest of the near East, notwithstanding the wholesale expulsions of Armenian and Greek Orthodox by the Ottomans in 1923, Orthodox Christians far outnumber Catholics everywhere in the Middle East and Near East.

This is why when scholars and bookworms speak of the East, they speak of the “Christian East.”

Secondly, the catholic presence in the Middle East was first introduced by the several Crusades, beginning in 1096 and thereafter, and after their expiration with the last failed crusade at Varna in 1396 and the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Jesuits continued missionary activities throughout the Middle East, largely on behalf of the French, mainly to convert Orthodox subjects of the Sublime Porte to Catholicism, since it was forbidden to convert Muslims to Orthodoxy.

During the Crusades and thereafter, the Catholic Church set up a series of parallel bishoprics and patriarchates which essentially duplicate the hiearachical structure of the Eastern Orthodox prelates and Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Empire’s Church as it then stood in 1096 A.D.; if there was a greek patriarch in Antioch, they replaced him with a latin patriarch, if there was a greek patriarch in Jerusalem, they replaced him with a latin patriarch, if there was a greek patriarch in Edessa, they replaced him with a latin patriarch, and so forth ad nauseam.

Consequently, even though the Crusades are long gone (and the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire as well) the dual Eastern Church/Catholic titles (and dual office holders) in the middle east still co-exist, confusingly so. There are still catholic and greek bishops and patriarchs of many middle eastern cities, and they often have fights and squabbles for control of sacred places and relics, most notably over the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which was commended to the care of the Eastern Orthodox Church by St. Constantine and his mother St. Helena in the 4th Century A.D., which is built over the tomb of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

That these petty fights and squabbles are often mediated by the Arabs (or Jews) who actually own the land in question demonstrates the practical reality that in the Middle East, everyone must really get along; it’s not a hollow truism merely echoed by the Pope as one more speech, but an actual, living fact of living as an oppressed Christian minority in a Muslim land.

To really appreciate the value of being Christian, or simply the value of freedom of religion which we enjoy here in America, one should live as an oppressed Christian minority for a year in a land which is overwhelmingly muslim or otherwise non-christian for a year or two.

It will shed great light on our great freedom of worship here.

art k philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

The legendary Aaron Rowand, who went through the wall in 2007, in a game I personally attended in the spring of that momentous year with my two young sons, departed this great sports city after leading our Phils to our first division title in 2007.

Rowand signed a huge free agent deal with the Gianhts. In 2008, that looked bad, as the Phils won the world series, Victorino took Rowand’s place in the place of the hearts of phils fans, and the Giants limped to a very poor finish.

But 2009 is a different year. Rowand has led the Giants back from the grave. With Lincecum and other fine starters, and adding the agile Freddy Sanchez at 2b from the Pirates at the trading deadline, Rowand led his ballclub over the weekend to take 3 of 4 from the Phillies at SF.

The Giants have almost the same record as the Phils. The LA Dodgers are way ahead, but the Giants are in the wild card hunt, and may play the Phils in the playoffs. All weekend, Rowand was in the action, catching balls, scoring runs, hustling,and leading from the dugout.

This was the Aaron Rowand I remember, who won a world series in Chicago with the White Sox, and who led the Phils to overtake the Mets from 7 1/2 games down in September with 15 to play in fall 2007 to win the division.

He is a great leader. Aaron Rowand. Remember the name.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies