Monday, March 28, 2011

Music music music

Last Friday we saw a fabulous performer, Arturo Sandoval. He is 62 years old, born in Cuba, and started playing the trumpet at age 12. By now he also plays flugel horn, piano, keyboard, a bit of percussion, and sings; he's also a tenured professor of music. His warm and generous spirit showed, as he moved from trumpet to piano, commenting on what a hard mistress the horn was, that he didn't always know what notes would come out of it. His three bandmates, all young guys, appeared to thoroughly enjoy playing with him, and they all gave us "dos mas" at encore time. Several jazz standards, Latin-influenced tunes, too, and some of Sandoval's own compostions were on the menu. They made the performance hall seem like an intimate club. Next morning, we had a good long voluntary rehearsal on "Bolero", and things are gelling. I am not tiring of this piece, and am thrilled to get to play it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Whirling along

Only a few rehearsals left before the spring concert, and things are shaping up. The first bassoonist, whose instrument was stolen from his house along with their electronic items a week or so ago, rounded up a replacement 'soon and is in fine fettle. (We have been wondering, slack-jawed, what the hell the dirtbags who broke into his house would even do with a bassoon; it's a valuable item but rare, not easily pawned. Some thought the thieves might have used it as a bong.) We shall be Bolero-ing gaily pretty soon.
Bit of climbing, not as much as would be ideal; people seem to be incurring injuries right and left.
One or two almost warm days, wedged in among rain and gray; yard still too wet for digging, going to be a late spring. The fawn lilies are lagging, too.
Had a little tear on John Crowley, a collection of short stories and one novel; now Octavia Butler, one of whose collections of novels sprung out at me on the U Bookstore sales table.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Positive accretions

Solid band rehearsal; we went early and spent an extra half an hour going over the melodic sections of "Bolero". I didn't miss a note, testimony to my pretty much daily dedication to practice. Hope all the soloists do the same over the next couple of weeks. Surprise extra climbing session, with good results; managed some difficult moves on routes I should have known better than to tackle. Interesting and instructive session with the truly gifted musician in the family, who plays an amazing jazz guitar. I am so imbued with reading music as it stands, and can barely improvise a few notes, although I've heard plenty of funk/jazz/fusion performances and dearly love them. We tentatively ventured into songs I have known for decades, and I got the start of an inkling on how things can go. It reminds me of visual art: You learn the formalities before you throw them to the wind. Picasso was a skilled realist before he went into abstraction. Seems so obvious, but with music, it's a very different proposition. The musician needs to know the instruments completely, and be able to do anything at any moment for improvisation. Da capo.

Monday, March 14, 2011

lofty fun

Got to do a climbing session today with two friends, and we had a fine time, pushing a bit more as energy allowed; the younger one is training for a road trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, and wants to get in as much rope time as she can. We elder women could but admire her technique, and did our best to follow. People piss and moan about climbing gyms, but on a crappy rainy day, with no free flight to sunnier climes in sight, it's a pleasure to be able to do something even vaguely akin to rock climbing, with good company.
Finished a collection of short fiction by John Crowley some time around 4-ish this morning, when the car wash effect of a middle of the night storm had ceased. These stories were from the late 1970's and into the 80's, and show a promising imaginative bent. I should have grabbed the novels that were on the shelf at the used book store along side this collection.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Higher and higher

A lack of climbing workouts had been laying waste to fitness, but was addressed recently with two days in a row of wall scaling, one with a long time friend and belay partner and the next with a friend about half my age. The latter has seemed more supportive of my efforts lately, and is a joy to watch climbing. You always hope seeing an elite athlete in action will somehow inspire your own performance, which it sort of does, as long as you're not trying to throw three-pointers in a BB tournament.
The week sped along, with a concert band rehearsal attended sparsely due to ravaging viruses. The trumpet section was decimated. What woodwinds who were there and not playing in the ensemble for the Satie piece crammed into a Sunday school room for teensy ones in the church's sub basement; I got a teensy oaken chair upon which to perch. We had the main director running a sectional with us on the last section of the Gershwin piece. It was a very good workout, and he commented that he noticed my daily practicing was paying off. Such a nice young man.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Raging feline

As I stepped out of the dentist's office, the skies were blackening, the wind accelerating, and by the time I reached a bus stop about two blocks away, lightning and thunder sounded and hail beat down upon us hapless folks not inside buildings or cars. My umbrella nearly spirited me away, and the fellows sheltering inside the stop's open structure informed me merrily ,"That ain't gonna help you now!" Not a single bus listed on the info board went anywhere near my destination, so I had to hustle against horizontal mixed precip about four more blocks to a stop right in front of the King County Superior Court building. As I waited about ten minutes for my ride, quite an amazing and not superior-looking array of humans streamed in and out of the courts, most looking dazed, angry or miserable, accompanied by barristers in differently priced suits. One guy panhandled all of us waiting for transportation. A young woman who looked straight out of a Sex Pistols song whisked by with her consort, golf pencil conveniently stuck through one earlobe. The hail and rain soaked us all, democratically.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Family fun

Despite coming during shitty weather, our visitors had, for the most part, a good time. Not enough visibility to see any mountains like the last group got, but a few pleasant distractions in the middle of business details. One fell ill, perhaps to an incubating virus which accompanied them from home, but seemed better after a day's respite.
After everyone had gone, I hurried out between blasts of strong wind and bouts of hail to run errands. On the way home, I saw hordes of crows flocking to a Coastal Redwood which grows in the alley lot with the spooky house and the Fawn Lilies. The crows were flying to the top of the tree like iron filings to a magnet. Upon closer inspection, you could see a large Bald Eagle standing on the flat top, bending down and rending something it had clasped in its talons. A few of us stood across the street, speculating on what the eagle was eating, and amazed at how calmly it withstood the crows' onslaught. It was an amazing sight here in the middle of Wallingford.