October 12, 2015

Song of the Day #1272

Song of the Day: Ruby My Dear, composed by Thelonious Monk, is another jazz standard that emerged from the work of this celebrated pianist. It was named after Monk's first love, Rubie Richardson. Check out Monk's solo piano version of this tune, Monk with John Coltrane, and Monk with Coleman Hawkins [YouTube links]. And, once again, one of the finest jazz vocalist interpreters, Carmen McRae, provides us with another wonderful take on a Monk song, from her album "Carmen Sings Monk," with lyrics by Sally Swisher, renamed "Dear Ruby" [YouTube link].

October 11, 2015

Song of the Day #1271

Song of the Day: Blue Monk, composed by Thelonious Monk, has become a jazz standard. It was featured on the artist's album, "The Thelonious Monk Trio," with bassist Percy Heath and drummer Art Blakey. Check out the original Monk recording, and other renditions as well, including one featuring the lyrics of Abbey Lincoln, another vocal version by Carmen McRae and finally, a swinging solo piano performance by McCoy Tyner [YouTube links].

October 10, 2015

Song of the Day #1270

Song of the Day: The Ballad of Thelonious Monk, words and music by Jimmy Rowles (with a little help from Jimmy McHugh), is a tribute to the legendary, lovably off-center jazz pianist, who was born on this date in 1917 (and who actually passed away on my 22nd birthday on 17 February 1982). The most hilarious and joyous rendition of this was performed by that wonderful interpretive jazz songstress Carmen McRae, recorded live at Donte's in Los Angeles, California in 1972 for her album "The Great American Songbook," with a group that included Rowles on piano, Joe Pass on guitar, bassist Chuck Domanico, and drummer Chuck Flores. Rowles's tune is a country-and-western paean to a jazz master [YouTube link]. We'll be tributing the Monk for a few days here at Notablog.

October 04, 2015

Song of the Day #1269

Song of the Day: Goodbye Mr. Evans [YouTube link to various renditions], composed by the incomparable jazz alto saxophonist, Phil Woods, was written as a tribute to the equally incomparable jazz pianist Bill Evans, who passed away on 15 September 1980. On 29 September 2015, the composer of this lovely paean to Evans, passed away. Two of my all-time favorite jazz musicians gone, 35 years apart, in September, standing on either side of the Equinox. Of Evans, Miles Davis was once criticized by the 'brothers' who could not understand why he'd hired a white pianist, to which Miles is said to have replied: "You find me a brother who plays like that, and I'll hire him." Miles knew what Bill brought to jazz, and jazz has never been the same since. Much the same can be said about Phil Woods; a disciple of Charlie Parker, who married Parker's widow, he took the bop linguistic of Parker to another level. From his brilliant Grammy-winning orchestral work [YouTube link] with Michel Legrand to his amazing small group recordings to his triumphs even in pop music (who can forget his melodic solo on Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are"?), Woods was one of the greatest jazzmen of his generation. I had the privilege of seeing both Evans and Woods in small group settings, the former at the Village Vanguard, the latter at The Bottom Line. Their virtuosity was matched only by the creativity of their individual musical imaginations. So it is fitting to remember Woods, who passed away on Tuesday, at the age of 83, with this tune (for which the legendary Steve Allen later provided lyrics), Phil's own celebration of another jazz master. Check out Phil Woods and the Festival Orchestra, performing this wonderful composition, as well as a Phil Woods Quartet rendition (and among so many others, check out tenor saxman Scott Hamilton's version as well). [YouTube links]. Goodbye Mr. Woods. Gone, but, like Mr. Evans, never forgotten, for the loveliness he left to this chaotic world.

September 23, 2015

It's Over But it Ain't

One of the most famous sayings attributed to the late, great New York Yankees' catcher, Yogi Berra, was: "It ain't over 'til it's over." Alas, today we learned that for Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra, the consummate ballplayer, it is indeed over. Yogi passed away late on Tuesday, 22 September 2015, at the age of 90, and on the 69th anniversary to the day of his big-league debut.

But with Yogi, it ain't over. It can never be over. The legacy he left to this world is one that will keep on going for generations to come.

He was one of the greatest catchers in the history of the sport, a three-time American League MVP, 18-time All Star, and a remarkably and aggressively talented ballplayer who was essential to every winning Yankee ballclub, which earned him 10 World Series rings. He went on to coach and manage both the New York Yankees and their crosstown rivals, the New York Mets to League pennants, even though neither team won a World Series under his leadership. But those losses did nothing to tarnish his magnificent career. He was inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1972.

There is nothing I can say about this gentle man that hasn't been said already by the people he knew and all of those whose lives were deeply touched by his greatness. I was not a part of the generation that had the privilege to see this man play the game he so loved, but I was part of the generation that saw him emerge as one of the most beloved human beings ever to grace that game. There wasn't a single Old-Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium that didn't bring the Yankee faithful to their feet every time he was introduced. There he was, wearing his iconic Number 8 uniform, a number shared by Yankee catcher Bill Dickey, a number retired in honor of both men on 22 July 1988 by the Yankees, and made an eternal part of Monument Park at The Stadium.

I did have a chance to see how infectious and inspiring his very presence was to the Yankees and their fans. After a long estrangement from Yankee team owner George Steinbrenner, Yogi returned to Yankee Stadium on the 18th of July 1999 for a tribute, billed as "Yogi Berra Day." I will never forget that day. We listened to the proceedings on the car radio, traveling to a mini-vacation on the Jersey Shore. Pitcher Don Larsen, who threw a perfect game to catcher Berra--the only perfect game ever thrown in the World Series--threw out the first pitch to Yogi, and to the delight of the fans.

As if touched by the greatness of their presence, David Cone took to the mound, and, almost eerily, threw a total of 88 pitches to his batterymate, catcher Joe Girardi. Eighty-eight pitches of perfection, for not a single ballplayer on the opposing team (the Montreal Expos) ever reached first base. 27 batters up. 27 batters down. On the day of Yogi's triumphant return to The House that Ruth Built, Berra became a Yankee Good Luck Charm.

I will miss him, but in the power of memory, his sincerity, his integrity, and his unique ability to make us smile, will live on.

Postscript [4 October 2015]: I am reminded by readers that I cited Yogi for his wisdom on the tacit dimensions of knowledge, in my book Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism:

[Michael] Polanyi develops this distinction between "subsidiary awareness" and "focal awareness" by using the example of the pianist who cannot shift "his attention from the piece he is playing" to the movement of each of "his fingers while playing it," without messing up his performance. . . . This distinction was also recognized by that great philosopher of baseball, Yogi Berra, who, when he was told to "think" about what he was doing at the plate, struck out. Berra observed: "You can't hit and think at the same time." [177 n. 69]

September 20, 2015

Song of the Day #1268

Song of the Day: This Could Be the Start of Something Big, written by Steve Allen, originated as the theme song to a 1954 TV musical production of "The Bachelor" not to be confused with the current "reality show"). It eventually opened up the show for which Allen was the first host: "The Tonight Show." Check out classic renditions by Ella, Steve and Eydie, Jack Jones, Bobby Darin, and a blazing big band instrumental treatment by the Count of Basie. What better way to celebrate television than with this swinging track. Tonight, check out the 67th Annual Emmy Awards on Fox.

September 11, 2015

WTC Remembrance: A New One World Trade Center Rises From the Ashes - A Pictorial

My annual series, "Remembering the World Trade Center," turns this year to the extraordinary new tower that has risen from the ashes of that terrible day in 2001, when nearly 3000 people lost their lives in the most horrific attack on this country's soil in history. We have done a lot of "looking back" over the years of this series; today, even as we look back and honor the memory of the murdered, we look forward to an infinite realm of possibilities through the sheer will and imagination of the human mind.

I invite readers to take a look at that pictorial; it can be found here.

Here is an index for those who would like easy access to the previous entries in this annual series:

2001: As It Happened . . .

2002: New York, New York

2003: Remembering the World Trade Center: A Tribute

2004: My Friend Ray

2005: Patrick Burke, Educator

2006: Cousin Scott

2007: Charlie: To Build and Rebuild

2008: Eddie Mecner, Firefighter

2009: Lenny: Losses and Loves

2010: Tim Drinan, Student

2011: Ten Years Later

2012: A Memorial for the Ages: A Pictorial

2013: My Friend Matthew: A 9/11 Baby of a Different Stripe

2014: A Museum for the Ages: A Pictorial.

2015: A New One World Trade Center Rises From the Ashes: A Pictorial.

August 29, 2015

Song of the Day #1267

Song of the Day: Sunset Driver, words and music by Michael Jackson, is an unreleased demo recorded during the "Off the Wall"-"Thriller" period, but never issued. It has that classic groove and vocal by MJ, who was born on this date in 1958. It can only be found on a box set entitled "The Ultimate Collection." Check it out on YouTube. (And check out the new video for a song previously highlighted here, "A Place with No Name.")

August 14, 2015

Song of the Day #1266

Song of the Day: Passin' By, words and music by trumpeter John Daversa, is another sweet track from James Torme's album, "Love for Sale." The trumpet caresses this song, delivered with Torme flair [YouTube link].

August 13, 2015

Song of the Day #1265

Song of the Day: A Better Day Will Come features the words and music of Carl E. K. Johnson and James Torme, son of the late, great jazz singer Mel Torme. I first discovered James when I highlighted his rendition [YouTube link] of Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" (title track from his debut album) in this year's tribute to the Tony Awards. Today is young Torme's 42nd birthday, and I'd like to highlight a few tracks from that fine album both today and tomorrow. I'm prevented from putting some of them up as "Songs of the Day," because they are already on my ever-growing list (for example, his rendition of the MJ classic [YouTube link] "Rock with You," his version of the Joseph Kosma-Johnny Mercer jazz standard [YouTube link] "Autumn Leaves," and his rendition of the Alan Jay Lerner song from the musical "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" [YouTube link], the jazzy "Come Back to Me"). Check out this Torme-penned track, with its melodic line and rhythmic feel [YouTube link]. This song won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest Award for Best Jazz Song in 2009.

August 12, 2015

Rand: Big in Japan, Romania, Poland, Russia, Etc., Etc., Etc.

Back on 20 July 2004, I published a brief essay, "The First Landing of Ayn Rand in Japan!", exclusive to Notablog, about how I'd helped a friend and colleague of mine, Kayoko Fujimori, Professor at Momoyama Gakuin University (alias, St. Andrew's University) in Osaka, Japan, associated with the Society for the Study of Ayn Rand in Japan, in the clarification of certain idiomatic expressions, ideas, and themes in Ayn Rand's novel, The Fountainhead. The book was published in Japanese back on 8 July 2004, with cover illustration by the well-known Japanese anime illustrator, Nobuyuki Ohnishi.

Big In Japan

Subsequent to the appearance of this brief discussion, I was approached by Alexandra Seremina, who translated the piece into Romanian. I wrote about it in a Notablog post, dated 9 April 2012, on the "Multilingual Appeal" of the piece. It was also translated into Polish by Maksim Ivancov.

Now, eleven years after the appearance of the original post, I was approached by Professor Alexander Nikiforov, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Head of the Kazan Technical University (named after AN Tupolev, KNITU-KAI), who wished to translate the piece into Russian. (We even discussed the possibility of getting Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical translated, but that's a long-term project, indeed.) Today, Professor Nikiforov sent me the link for the Russian translation of my essay; check it out here.

For all I know, the popularity of this essay must have something to do with my penchant for posting "Songs of the Day." I guess I'll have to really consider adding the 1984 #1 Dance Hit by Alphaville.

Postscript (15 August 2015): Subsequent to the publication of this Notablog entry, Science Team translated "The First Landing of Ayn Rand in Japan" into Spanish! See here.

August 07, 2015

Russian Radical 2.0: Reviews and Retrospectives

It's been awhile since I've reported on the second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, so now that I have a little break in-between editing issues of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (I handed in the December 2015 issue just yesterday!), I figure now is just as good a time as any to give an update.

First, for those of you who don't know much about the second expanded edition of this book, I provide here an index of relevant Notablog posts:

Part 1: The Cover
Part 2: The Cover Story
Part 3: 1995 vs. 2013: What's Different?
Part 4: Preface to the Second Edition
Part 5: Supplying Answers, Raising Questions
Part 6: 12 September 2013, Release Date
Part 7: A Kindle Edition and Revised Revisions

Today's report on the second edition could not be more timely, since, after all, it was literally twenty years ago this month, yes, you read that right: TWENTY YEARS AGO, that the first edition of the book was published by Pennsylvania State University Press. As Carlin Romano puts it in his 2012 book, America The Philosophical:

Nineteen ninety-five also saw the publication of the first scholarly study of Rand published by a respected university press, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical (Penn State) by Chris Matthew Sciabarra, a political scientist [ed: I actually prefer to call myself a "political theorist" or "social theorist," since I received my Ph.D. in political theory, philosophy, and methodology, and New York University, bless them, has a Department of Politics, not a Department of Political Science!] That book spurred debate with its novel claim that Rand, who came to the United States in 1926, is best understood as a thinker whose roots in Russian philosophy and Marxism's dialectical tradition account for the unique syntheses of her later work. Since then, scholarly interest in her has significantly spiked, if not boomed, fanned by the wide theatrical distribution of Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, a 1997 Oscar-nominated documentary approved by the Ayn Rand Institute, and such studies as What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand by Louis Torres and Michelle Marder Kamhi. The Chronicle of Higher Education, in an overview of Rand's place in academe, reported many more books on Rand's thought on the way (including a study by [the late Allan] Gotthelf), as well as a journal devoted to Randian literary [ed: and philosophical] studies.

I would like to think that my first edition not only rode the wave of that boom, but was at least partially responsible for creating it. (In reality, my work on Rand was the first book-length study published by a university press; I have always given credit to my dearest friends and colleagues, Douglas Den Uyl and Douglas Rasmussen, co-editors of The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand (1987), published by the University of Illinois Press; the fact that both of these extraordinary scholars sit on the Board of Advisors of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is no accident. Their encouragement and support of my work has been immeasurable!)

The first edition of Russian Radical was published the same week as another work of mine: Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, which was actually Part I of what would become my "Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy." Russian Radical constituted Part II of that trilogy; in 2000, Part III concluded the study: Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism. Taken as an "organic whole," the three books were designed to reclaim a dialectical mode of inquiry as an indispensable tool in the construction of a radical libertarian analytical approach.

Nevertheless, getting back to the second edition of Russian Radical, not many reviews have been published. That's fairly typical of second editions, but the "Dialectics and Liberty" site will be updated periodically to reflect any reviews that appear in online or print form. Thus far, one can take a look at the index of reviews for the second edition, where one will find excerpts and abstracts for two reviews (the first appearing on the site of the Center for a Stateless Society, the other appearing in the July 2015 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies).

My own reply to the review that appears in the current issue of JARS, written by my friend and colleague, Wendy McElroy, will appear in the July 2016 issue of the journal, along with a reply written by Roger E. Bissell.

In any event, I am happy that I've stuck around long enough to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the first two books of my trilogy; I'll be positively ecstatic when I mark the centennial anniversary!

July 31, 2015

Song of the Day #1264

Song of the Day: I'll Never Smile Again, words and music by Ruth Lowe, has the distinction of being the first #1 single on the "National List of Best Selling Retail Records," the first national Billboard chart, 75 years ago this week. The recording by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, with the Pied Pipers and a young singer named Frank Sinatra, hit Number One on the 27th of July 1940 and held onto the top spot for 12 weeks. There had been other charts, compiled from sheet music sales and "music machines" (or phonographs), but this was the first that polled retailers. The song has been recorded in other wonderful renditions, including those by the Ink Spots, the Platters, and a spirited jazz rendition by Bill Evans [YouTube links] from the album "Interplay," featuring guitar great Jim Hall, trumpeter extraordinaire Freddie Hubbard, and the immortal rhythm section of bassist Percy Heath and drummer Philly Joe Jones. But this Dorsey rendition is perhaps most important because it helps us to spotlight the centennial year of the birth of the Chairman of the Board, something we will officially celebrate from Thanksgiving 2015 until Ol' Blue Eyes' 100th birthday on 12 December 2015. Enjoy the sounds of a melancholy Grammy Hall of Fame recording that should only bring smiles to every listener [YouTube link].

July 04, 2015

Song of the Day #1263

Song of the Day: You're a Grand Old Flag features the music and lyrics of George M. Cohan. It was actually written for his 1906 stage musical, "George Washington Jr." All I know is that I came from an era when we were taught songs such as this in elementary school, and they made an indelible mark on my educational upbringing. I know the words backwards and forwards, and no matter how many Yahoos love it, there is a humble quality inherent in its lyric, for no matter how deeply it tributes the "free and the brave," it is "never a boast or a brag." Check out the wonderful version performed by James Cagney, the iconic gangster who won an Academy Award for Best Actor, playing one of the great song and dance men of all time, in the 1942 bio flick, "Yankee Doodle Dandy" on YouTube. And a Happy Independence Day. May the revolution that made every heart beat true for the "red, white, and blue" live forever!

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