Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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4Play: Sahara Smith, Steve Tibbetts, Soft Machine Legacy, Lunatic Soul

Ross Boissoneau - January 10th, 2011
Sahara Smith – Myth of the Heart (Playing In Traffic Records)
It’s too simplistic to say that if you like Norah Jones you’ll like Sahara Smith, though that may well be true. Smith’s gentle music hews closer to country and folk than to Jones’s jazz/pop hybrid. Her singing is lovely and lilting, not as breathy as that of Jones. You might throw in a Tracy Chapman comparison, or even early Joni Mitchell or Judy Collins. But while Smith has clearly absorbed a number of influences, she’s just as clearly her own self. The tunes, all of which she wrote, combine pithy observations with countrified soundtracks for her characters. Not as epic as Springsteen or Tom Waits, more like epigrammatic, small chapters of interesting people. And all delivered with a sweet and innocent, yet knowing, voice.



Steve Tibbetts – Compilation (Frammis)
Taken from his several recordings on ECM as well as excursions on Rykodisc, Cuneiform, Six Degrees and his own Frammis Records, this three-disc set is divided into Acoustibbetts, Elektrobitts and Exotibbetts. It showcases the composer’s strengths even better than the source albums. Tibbetts plays guitar, along with kalimba, synthesizer, and piano, along with contributions from various bassists, percussionists, and vocalists (including Claudia Schmidt). It’s all a bit exotic, crossing world music with rock guitar, jazz voicings with electronic sounds. Song lengths run from less than two minutes to more than ten, giving the listener both a taste of his music and enough room to breathe. That’s necessary as some of Tibbetts’s work can be so abstruse as to make for difficult listening.


Soft Machine Legacy – Live Adventures (MoonJune Records)
The celebrated Canterbury group Soft Machine bridged psychedelic rock through to jazz fusion. Years after its dissolution, a group of alums created Soft Works, which morphed into Soft Machine Legacy. Guitarist John Etheridge replaced Allan Holdsworth in both bands. When original reedman Elton Dean died, the torch was passed to Theo Travis, while Roy Babbington has replaced the late Hugh Hopper here as he did in Soft Machine. The music on this live disc features compositions from all the members, as well as Soft Machine classics “The Nodder” by Karl Jenkins and Hopper’s “Facelift.” Those two tracks may be the highlights, but it’s all worth a listen. If you’re not familiar with Soft Machine, this is an excellent place to start, and if you are, you’ll be well rewarded.


Lunatic Soul – Lunatic Soul II (Kscope)
The second solo album from Riverside frontman Mariusz Duda, it is both darker and more complex than the first disc, released in 2008. Musically it references movie music, exotic oriental sounds, and post-progressive rock a la Riverside. Interestingly, there are no electric guitars on the album, though a casual listen wouldn’t necessarily reveal that. Duda plays most of the instruments himself as well as singing the songs. He describes it as a story about the journey through the afterworld, a blend of various inspirations, from Dead Can Dance to Peter Gabriel circa IV or Passion, through films and books about ghosts. So yes, it’s kind of creepy and unsettling, yet melodic at times as well. Not exactly party music, at least not most people’s idea of a party.
 
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