Up 6, out at 7. Forgot to take my phone. Train, desultory reading of 1st issue of Commune magazine, on the German Revolution of 1918 (point being that the working class shouldn’t can’t trust social democrats who are prone to make common cause w/ the state ’n’ bourgeoisie.] Poorly timed commute home, long wait at White Plains, annoying episode on train w/ woman who wanted to charge her phone on my laptop, which I’d gotten out and put headphones in so I couldn’t hear her conversation. (I let her, but unsmilingly - petty, but it was intrusive.) Home around 3:30, zoned out for an hr., finished Brecht! (Both that and Tolstoy, I started in Jan.) The last 50 or so pages are odd reading - many unpublished and fragmentary poems, and some translations-of-translations, notably of a Polish poet, Adam Wazyk, whose “Poem for adults” is remarkable, even in this 3rd-hand form. Brecht’s own work by this point reflects a lot of ambivalence between his public espousal of the party line and honesty about the East German govt. and bureaucracy, esp. vis-a-vis the arts.  (He actually does think there’s such a thing as socialist philistinism, I think — even appeals to “taste” at one point.) That said, his sympathies always remain with the worker: his disappointment isn’t in the Communist ideal, but its implementation, and the role of an elite within in it. “Shall the construction of Socialism/Be fudged together by a few people in the dark?” (1055) Walked a few blocks to meet Bree for dinner. Got back around 8, packed for tomorrow, went out for a coffee around 9:30, read a few more p. of Vogel. Back, lights out 11:30.

Over course of last couple days, listened to Around Again, an album of Carla Bley compositions played by Iro Haarla (p), Ulf Kroskfors (b), two Finns, and Barry Altschul, who played on some of the early Paul Bley versions of the same tunes. Good, generally understated (though the title track is an exemplary “angular” number); need to listen more attentively.


Up at 6. Coffee at 8, finished War and Peace! Had no idea Tolstoy was so Kantian — though the ending is ostensibly about “history” and the fate of nations, it’s really an essay on the conflict between free will and determinism (a term he doesn’t use). The set-up of the problem is really very similar to the Kantian aporia — but T. comes down on fatalism, and the illusory character of “personal” freedom. Tried to update to-do list - very hard to keep complete. (And haven’t done anything with the “Zettelkasten” note-taking system as of yet.) My inbox had swelled to 250+ messages; got it down to 150. The local handyman came at 10 to help put together a bedframe; made quick work of it. While in that mode, I cleared the debris/trash generated, and screwed together a smaller bookshelf for Bree. Done w/ that around 1. Rested for an hr., read Brecht up through the late, bitter Bucknow Elegies; his struggle w/ disappointment w/ the East German state is evident. Called dad. Wrote a quick chart for “The Old Currencies,” got it copied. Headed into Manhattan 5:15. Started reading Shane Vogel, The Scene of Harlem Cabaret. Bought a new strap and guitar cable at a place on 27th: I hate guitar stores. Met Matt, Pete, and Tom Shad for ramen, headed over to Euphoria, where Jenny met us. Rehearsed 8-11 - got through all but 2 songs, sounds pretty good for a first time w/ Tom on bass (and not having played together for months). 1 more rehearsal after CA trip should do it. Too tired out to read or anything on the way home - think I listed to a meditation podcast (which I do instead of meditating). Lights out 12:30.


On the run last 3 days; this will be brief.


Up 7. Grading + charts for Laura. Breakfast w/ Jean. On the flight to NY w/ her Jean, Tomeka, assorted Big Ears folk, inc. Bill Frisell. W&P. Home at 3. Visited w/ Bree, left for rehearsal 5:30. (Also belatedly booked HH rehearsal for Thurs.) Read Shaughnessy, listened to a little Poulenc on the walk to Mark’s. Rehearsed w/ Laura/Mark/Kenny/Jeremy + guest singers about 7-10. Got through the 2 songs I’m singing, but have work to do before the show. Rode home w/ Laura and Jeremy. Lights out 11.


Up 6. Tired; just listened to podcasts on the commute. Graded a make-up exam, taught, talked to students about their exams. Long wait for train, not home ’til 4. Rested for a couple of hours, worked on charts for “Decoy” and “Cheat” so Jenny can sing them at the HH show. (Annoying I didn’t have these already). Went to E77 after 8 to have 1 beer, read W&P (“What is the force that moves nations?”), got back into Brecht (he’s in East Germany now; returns to the mode of pornographic sonnets, plus a ridiculously long party-line poem praising the Soviet pioneer of millet cultivation), and finished Shaughnessy (she’s v. skilled at there’s some range of tone; book is largely a clever and grim expression of what we already know about the probably-coming apocalypse; you begin to think some poets think it’s a deficiency of the species that we like to be warm and fed). Picked up documents of a co-op application, which I have to review as bldg. secretary, from neighbor. Finished and sent the charts, listened to a few of the Laura songs, but will have to devote most of tomorrow to getting up on the set. Lights out 11:30.


Up 8. W&P. Therapy. Lunch. Home by 1:30, mainly worked on rehearsing, getting charts organized for show. Picked up coat from cleaners. Left for Sid Gold’s at 5:30, listened to some Poulenc on the train — I enjoy his harmonic sense, particularly taken by 3 Mouvements Perpetuels (1918). Ravel admired the naivety of Poulenc’s tunes, so there you go. Played Pennsylvania States of Country show - my “Kentucky Volunteer” was shaky but worth trying, “I Knew You Were Trouble” somewhat better. Set highlights were Dahny’s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” and Lianne Smith’s “Don’t Touch Me,” and Mark’s Michael Hurley song, “Automatic Slim and the Fat Boys.” Home 11, lights out 1.


Up around 8. Went out for an hr to go to bodega (though they don’t call them that here), merch area (some Art Ensemble related CDs + Ron Miles’ I Am A Man; didn’t go hogwild), and buy 2 small notebooks at the print/Western-wear shop on the main drag. Asked where they got their stock of embroidered (Nudie-style) suits/coats/shirts, worked boots, and the like — some of it’s on consignment from Marty Stuart! Came back, graded the proof sections of about 1/3 of the midterms. Headed out to Richard Thompson w/ Knoxville Strings - a commissioned set of songs about WWI (Thompson’s grandfather was a British soldier, permanently disabled by poison gas). Pretty somber, reasonably enough, orchestration integrated into some numbers better than others. Left at interval to catch Art Ensemble panel; Mitchell is a curious individual (I mean that in 2 senses). From there, heard Bill Frisell’s group w/ Petra Haden, Hank Roberts (underused), and a 2nd guitarist whose name slips my mind (I’ll bet he gets that a lot). Repertoire split between folk/jazz — “Hard Times,” “Red River Valley,” “Lush Life,” and a great “On the Street Where You Life” w/ a nice vocal arrangement. Frisell really plays behind the beat a lot; Petra sounds great. Anxious about grading, so I skipped some things, went back to room, and finished, about 5:30-7. Figured out the curve for letter grades, haven’t recorded them. Hardly time for a snack, got in line for the Art Ensemble of Chicago show at the main theater. Quite a remarkable and deliberate set, in terms of range and choice of material - some not only composed but conducted, some improvised (though for RM, that’s just composition in real time). One highlight was a thorough diatonic song about Jamaica, with a middle section that brought in pre-recorded rain forest sounds — that sounds cheesy on paper, but it was a coup de theatre, and the vocalist was incredible. Fun to see Jean and Tomeka in the front line. Got out about 10, found a bite, saw the AEC violist (Eddie something), said hello (though a local street character was also trying to engage him). Inspired or energized enough to stay up working on charts for Laura’s show until about 1. 


Up at 7. Meditated 15 min. Graded truth-tables. Quick breakfast/coffee, finished Xamissa — the conceit is worked out well, but I don’t have anything to add to yesterday’s note. Improvisation/composition workshop w/ Roscoe Mitchell in the museum atrium. Timed solos, then duos, then an attempt to get an instrumental balance (long tones, paying attention to quietest instruments as dynamic baseline) then somewhat general/cryptic directions about listening and responding — he emphasizes “development” without “following.” Not enough time to get into the nitty-gritty, but the last full-group improvisation did seem to “go” somewhere (in the direction of a mass crescendo). He also got out his soprano to duet briefly w/ a tenor player who was evidently more advanced than some (inc. me, w/ my sad wheeling melodica drone). Glad I did it. Went back to bookstore, bought Brenda O’Shaunessy’s new The Octopus Museum, and a used book on smart-note taking with a semi-GTD angle, by a German sociology/communications type. Read that off and on. Thumbscrew: Herbie Nichols’ “House Party Starting” was a highlight. Ran into Eric and Ann going into Carla Bley. Completely different set than at Jazz Standard — on the quiet/moody side, but ended with a fantastic arrangement of Monk’s “Misterioso,” w/ some clever variations/counterpoint and straight blues playing. Tim Berne’s Snakeoil, w/ Oscar Noriega, Ches Smith, Matt Mitchell. What you’d expect, but v. solid — I hadn’t heard Mitchell before. Bought the CD. Jack DeJohnette trio w/ Ravi Coltrane (sax) and Matt Garrison (bass, electronics). Seemed improvised, w/ no breaks, but I gather they were passing through material from a new ECM record. Funkier than most of the festival’s offerings (at least those on my docket); DeJohnette also an interesting, impressionistic pianist (on Miles’ “Blue in Green”) — unfair, in a way. Caught up w/ Eric & Ann for dinner, joined by Dan Sharp, a Tulane U. academic who writes on Brazilian music. Enjoyed conversation, no need to detail here; bent Dan’s (receptive) ear about bridges for just a bit walking back to hotel. Rested for an hr, went back out to Sons of Kemet (standard bearers for a new generation of UK jazz — tenor/tuba/2 drummers), but didn’t stay long — also funky, and I almost felt I heard an English Beat cadence at certain points, but kinda leaden, and the sound was boomy. Might have just been burnt out. Back to room, read the note-taking book ’til my eyes closed, about 1.