Friday, March 9, 2012

Happy 82nd Birthday Ornette!!!!!!!!

Happy 82nd Birthday Ornette Coleman! 

About a month or so ago, it was probably longer than that but lately time is doing its ole tempus fugit thang --- that always happens come March, when before you know it, the third month of the year has arrived, the weather in this part of the world starts getting warmer, spring begins to put out that special energy, colors return to the ground and tree limbs, and bird songs are heard that haven’t been heard in months…and, as always, I get swept up in all that energy and, look out, I’m getting manic!   Ornette Coleman, the soulful, sometime lonely, sometimes silly, always genius sax voice, of COURSE you were born in early March!!!!

Big highlight for me was seeing/hearing Ornette with the Grateful Dead in December of 1993 at the LA Sports Arena.

Totally unexpected, unbelievably cool, the arena reverberating like I’ve never heard before.   Although it can never capture the exeperience of being there in the moment when it’s happening, here’s a link to the show.   This weekend’s Dead Zone, which is limited to an hour, features a short but sweet birthday celebration for Ornette.

I recorded the show this morning, so that means now academic writing for me today, but straight into the studio.  I’ve made it a daily exercise/practice to write for an hour every morning when I get into my office.   The recent acquisition of an old school sand hour glass, which deserves its own blog post, has been an inspirational prop that is motivating me to work within the boundaries of an hour.  The sand falls for about 62mins, which seems like a productive way of counting an hour….whatever that means.  So, anyway, I went straight into the studio this morning and recorded the Dead Zone.   I’ve grown accustomed to pre-recording the show, as I think I noted in one of my earlier blogs.  It’s cool to listen to the show at home, and the move from Tuesdays to Sundays more or less guaranteed that I wouldn’t be coming up to campus to do the show.  So I pre-record, which creates some interesting challenges in terms of the temporality of the show.  Afterall, the Dead Zone is based on live performances, and the improvisation happening therein.  I go for that when I pre-record, as I did this morning when I decided to stream WKCR’s birthday broadcast, which is happening today (all 24 hrs of this 9th day of March).

WKCR is famous for marathon birthday broadcasts, and it was during their two week Coltrane celebration back in 2004 that I was catapulted into the time and space that would carry me through the year of writing Being and Learning.  When they do these broadcasts I try to listen to as much as possible, allowing the marathon tribute to engulf my day(s), so that I become enframed by the music.   I feel connected to Columbia, because I go up that way once a month, and have taught a few classes there, and because of WKCR Columbia feels like the ‘cool’ university in our area.  Urbane U! 

I acknowledge WKCR in my Dead Zone broadcast, and as the stream is playing I overlay it with Ornette and the Dead from the aforementioned ’93 show.  So it’s not entirely….what?  I’m not sure what to call the simulcasting of a show….probably not something FCsquared would appreciate, not to mention WKCR or even the homies at RHU…oh well, it’s not the first and it’s certainly not the last minor transgression that Prof Iguana will make.   Anyway,  I like to think I am doing something in the spirit of Ornette’s experimental and free jazz, which I think is a cool way to honor the genius of his music and his art.  Doesn’t experimentation involve a bit of transgression?  One would think freedom does.  And though I haven’t heard an interview with him, and it’s been awhile since I read Nat Henthoff’s book on jazz, I would be really surprised if Ornette didn’t consider himself a bit transgressive.  Is it a clich√© to say that art is in some ways always transgressive?   I better stop before I start to sound like I’m claiming myself to be an artist!  I heard someone…a slightly delusional colleague of mine…once say that being a producer and host of a radio show on an independent station like WRHU was the equivalent of being an artist.  I was embarrassed for him.   I have no such minor delusions, nor pretentions about the production of the Dead Zone:  it’s mostly documentary work, a kind of ethnomusicology, and, yes, entertainment.

Happy birthday Ornette!!      

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