Friday, February 22, 2013

On Allison Miller, Kevin Ayers, Chris Potter

Finally! I'm finally back online, 100%. Monday morning our internet connection was going on and off, on when the PC went into sleep mode, and off when I wanted to get online. After going through the long, drawn out, impersonal call to Verizon, complete with the canned empathy by the operator, it was clear that the problem was on our line and a tech had to come out. On Wednesday.

He finally came on Wednesday, only 30 minutes past the 4-hour window that they gave and he fixed the line. But the shock waves that the line update made (figuratively) kept me from getting on smoothly until about now.

Tuesday night I went to the Thunderbird because Colter Harper was leading Space Exchange that week and he had drummer Allison Miller in from New York to play with him. It was wild, because they were playing some of Colter's vocal songs, which are a little more singer-songwriter than straight jazz. Then they'd go off on solos and Miller was tearing it up like some combination of George Hurley and Jim Black. (That just came to me, Allison, don't bust my chops if you think I'm off the mark.) I know she plays with songwriters like Brandi Carlile too, so I wish I could start a band with her.

That night I was talking to my friend Jeff Berman about Soft Machine. I had posted on Facebook a few days ago that I pulled out Third and still love it. Jeff commented that he saw Soft Machine live, and on Tuesday he explained he saw them more than once, which made me jealous. And then...a day later, he came into the store and told me that original Soft Machine bassist Kevin Ayers had died. It's not quite the same synchronicity as when Paul Motian died (I was driving home one night thinking about how I might try to interview such a tough interviewee, unaware that he had died about an hour earlier), but still it was odd.

Here's an Ayers obit with a great photo of early Soft Machine. Funny how all those British bands started out looking zany or wiggy in the early days and later became so stoic. Compare the Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd to the lineup right after, and you'll see what I mean.

Here's also a link to an early Soft Machine song, "Jet Propelled," when the lineup also included Daevid Allen. I was rather disappointed with this whole album of songs, but this one is great.

Tonight is the Paula Poundstone show. I wrote a quickie about her for Pittsburgh City Paper this week but I think I'm going to skip the show, much as it'd be cool to see her. There are a few things coming up next week, including Suzanne Vega and the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble both on the same night. Plus I'm recording on Sunday afternoon. Both things could cut into family time.

Another thing that's happening this weekend is that the Chris Potter Quintet is playing in Cleveland. If only we were traveling to Ohio this weekend, I'd steal away to that for a few hours, but that ain't happening. If you're near Cleveland, though, check them out. I'll be reviewing the new album here soon.

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