Autumn Action and Postseason Palaver

a-jazz

October 4, 2016 by Shannon Michael Smith

“I’m Lester the Nightfly, hello Baton Rouge…”

Ahhh, autumn is here…we can tell because of the avalanche of pumpkin spice hair care accessories, deodorant sticks, staples, car batteries, and our favorite, pumpkin spice wart removal kits.

The pampered scribes are laying out some heavy predictions for the playoffs…if you tune into the ___ Network, you might hear such gems as this…

“What the Dodgers need to do is find a way to get the bats going…if they can score some runs, and their starters can hold things down until the bullpen takes over, they could win this series…”

We don’t know whether to laugh or cry sometimes. All jiving aside, Los Dogs will win at least one of these games in DC…if they can just score some runs and get to the bullp—hey, wait a minute!

We’ve received emails from some Worried Willies out there…we hear you, peanut gallery, we don’t like the fact that the Dodgers lost the last five of six, but if they had swept in Fran Fran, we’d be worried that the four-day rest would cool them off…

That’s all fine, you say, but who does rascalsoftheravine listen to when the leaves start tumbling outside? What do they play when the light rain begins to tap against the windows of their shabby headquarters? Well, it hasn’t rained in over three years in Los Angeles, so there’s no hope of any weather change, but the trees do turn color and lose their leaves, and we DO play music to mix our spiked cider to…like this:

dukeroachmingus

Duke Ellington Money Jungle (1963)

According to “Money Jungle: 50 Years After the Summit” Ellington popped by producer Alan Douglas’ house one fall day in 1962 and said that he’d like to record a piano-based album as a trio. Douglas recommended Charles Mingus, who then insisted on Max Roach on the skins. Like many piano-based jazz albums of the time, it evokes acorns and flasks of brandy (probably due to Vince Guaraldi’s magic in C.B.’s seasonal toons—) with all the elegance that Ellington can muster.

“The generational difference was strengthened by Ellington being a guiding figure for the other two, who were born when Ellington was becoming an influence on music.” One can certainly feel Ellington’s fatherly presence over the wily Mingus and Roach (“Fleurette Africaine” is a good example of how he reels in their thunder gracefully), Ellington’s guiding hand seems to ease their fevered tempers (Mingus stomped out of the session at one point, pissed at Roach’s playing…which is funny, since he recommended Roach…Ellington stopped him and talked him into coming back to the studio) although not completely (“On the track “Money Jungle”…”Mingus pluck the strings with his fingernails, Roach fires up the music with polyrhythms…it represents the apex of the group’s inner tension.”)

The result is a must-listen for the last three months of the year…

miles-workin

Miles Davis Workin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet (1959)

Culled from two sessions in 1956 (May 11th and October 26th) this crisp autumn delight bops along with class and is a must-listen every year at rascalsoftheravine headquarters.

John Coltrane on tenor, Red Garland on piano (buy any of his trio albums from the late ‘50s for more autumn fun), Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums support the Prince of Darkness on this clean October swinger.

It opens with a pretty version of “It Never Entered My Mind” from the Rogers and Hart musical, Higher and Higher. “Ahmad’s Blues” features Garland’s prowess on the ivories. A fingerpopping version of “In Your Own Sweet Way” by Brubeck compliments the album as well.

On a glorious personal note, a rascalsoftheravine staffer was turned on to this record by a friend as they waited to go into a Jack Jones concert at De Anza College in October of 1987. Oh yeah.

chico

Chico Hamilton The Chico Hamilton Special (1961)

Louis Gutierrez from The Three O’ Clock turned us onto this album back when we shared a loft in downtown L.A. (early ‘90s?) and it has been a fave ever since.

Allmusic says “This would be the last album in Hamilton’s famous string of cello groups before the drummer changed directions…essential music.”

The album features Charles Lloyd on alto and flute, Nate Gershman on cello, Harry Pope on guitar, Robert Haynes on bass, and Chico on drums, of course.

There’s a touch of the spy here, but it’s autumn alright, and it’s definitely in New York. “Autumn Leaves” conjures up a boozy, cloudy afternoon in Don Draper’s office as we watch the girls go by. Lloyd’s flute skitters along like the leaves on a Central Park sidewalk and will have you wishing for a spiced rum at the Tavern on the Green. Don’t forget the cinnamon swizzle.

wynton-think

Wynton Marsalis Think of One (1983)

This rascalsoftheravine staffer played this cassette exclusively when he learned to drive in the ‘80s. It’s our favorite of the early Marsalis albums (Black Codes from the Underground is a close second) and is still spun today by our swinging staff.

Wynton’s bro, Branford, plays sax (alto, tenor and soprano), Kenny Kirkland commands the keys, “Tain” Watts beats the skins, and Phil Bowler (not W.M.’s usual guy) plays bass.

Marsalis was 22 years old when he released this Grammy winning smoker. The title of the album comes from the Monk track that he covers, “Think of One.” Our fave is “Knozz-Moe-King”, an original, up tempo sizzler that Marsalis often used as a recurring theme live. He’d play about four different versions of it throughout his set.

Kenny Kirkland’s “Fuchsia” is a beautiful piece, Branford Marsalis’ solo is full of multi-moods, from the sad and lonely blues of New Orleans, to Coltrane’s soaring soul.  You might remember Branford and Kirkland’s brilliant playing from Sting’s first two solo albums and tours (Dream of the Blue Turtles, Nothing Like the Sun.)

 So…core out those apples and fill ‘em full of whisky, construct a scarecrow made of Old Grand Dad bottles, bake an apple pie in the shape of a baseball, and fill those corncob pipes with pumpkin spice cause the MLB playoffs are here!!!!

Until tomorrow, mirth-seekers!!!

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