Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stanley Jordan and Michael Hedges, plus Kaki King

One summer in the 1980s (probably the summer of 1984), I was working one Sunday afternoon at the Coffee House at Stanford, and there was a concert somebody had arranged. It was a guy named Stanley Jordan playing solo electric guitar. Shortly after he started playing (and made me take notice with his unusual touch-tapping technique), Michael Hedges, who lived in Palo Alto, happened to stop by to get a cup of coffee, as he very occasionally did at that time (once a year or so, in my experience). While I was getting his coffee, he was already not paying attention to me anymore, because he was paying attention to Stanley. I suspect he was just planning to drink his coffee and then head back off wherever he had been planning to go; instead, he sat down quite close to Stanley and watched him play, with this utterly stunned look on his face.

In the summer of 2003, I was in Seattle visiting my Dad, and we went to Jazz Alley to see Stanley play a concert. The opener was a young guitarist named Kaki King, and she played acoustic guitar like she was Michael Hedges. Now it was my turn to sit there with my jaw dropped, as I watched her channel Hedges from back in the 80s when I used to see him at the Varsity in Palo Alto. And she came out for an encore with Stanley and got into a wicked touch-tapping jam that, if I closed my eyes, made me think I was hearing something I never had the chance to see (and I don't know if it ever happened): Stanley jamming with Michael.

One of the things Stanley played that long-ago Sunday at the Coffee House was "My Favorite Things". There are no YT videos of him playing MFT, but here it is on Spotify.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Reading Backwards

Recently, while he and I were traveling together, my son Miles (12) came up with an experiment: he read a book backwards, just to see what it was like. (The book he chose was Ivy and Bean and the Ghost That Had To Go, by Annie Barrows, which I had bought for his sister Luisa.)

His conclusion: if you read a book forwards, it is like looking out a window and seeing something happen. But if you read a book backwards, it is like looking at the window itself.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Quiet Rooms


You know I think it's fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms. (Mitt Romney)

We talk about these things in quiet rooms
where nobody can sit alone for long.
We weave our words as if on ancient looms,
turning our measured voices into songs
everyone begins to sing as one.
We choose our usual places in the choir,
pursuing harmonies nobody spun
and tunes that leave us nothing to desire.

If several singers always take the lead,
it's only that their voices are the best.
If anyone's outside, why don't you come
and join us? We'll teach you what you need
to know to sing our songs, or play a drum.
Or just come in and listen. Be our guest.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mark Wallace on Dieter M. Gräf

Mark Wallace recently reviewed Dieter M. Gräf's Tussi Research, the second of the two selections of Gräf's work for Green Integer. Thanks to Mark for his review, which is here.