Saturday Night Tunes: Study in Brown

Sorry this is late, and brief, but I’ve been on the road most of the day. Clifford Brown died in a car crash in 1956 at the far too young age of 26, having been making jazz records for a scant 4 years. Despite his tragically short career and life, he’s rightly remembered as one of the all-time great bebop and hard bop trumpeters. His virtuosity with the instrument is almost unbelievable, and his collaboration with drummer Max Roach was every bit as dynamic a hard bop pairing as the Art Blakey-Horace Silver combo that became the Jazz Messengers.

Study in Brown (released in 1955) is a real gem; aside from Brown on trumpet and Roach on drums, the album features tenor saxophonist Harold Land, George Morrow on bass, and Richie Powell, whose life would be cut short in the same crash that killed Brown, on piano. Since it’s late, let’s get right to the music:

“Cherokee” is a jazz standard, but this is for a lot of people (me included) the best version of it ever recorded, mostly because of Brown’s brilliance:

“Jacqui,” written by Powell:

“Swingin’,” written by Brown:

“Land’s End,” written by — wait for it — Harold Land:

“Sandu,” also written by Brown, and which I actually kind of like even better than “Cherokee”:

Billy Strayhorn’s classic, “Take the A Train.” I can’t find a YouTube of this one, so I’m punting and throwing in a live recording of the tune that Brown made with Sonny Rollins on tenor rather than Land, from the album Clifford Brown at the Cotton Club 1956. The rest of the personnel are the same. Brown’s version of this tune is a little more…energetic, let’s say, than Duke Ellington’s was:

That’s not meant to knock Ellington, because this:

is pretty awesome too.

Study in Brown also includes two more by Brown, “George’s Dilemma” and “Gerkin for Perkin,” plus the standard “If I Love Again.”

While we’re on the subject of “Take the A Train,” check out this live (1964) version by Charles Mingus and his sextet, including an incredible ~5 minute bass clarinet solo by Eric Dolphy. This kind of thing is why YouTube is awesome:

Imagine if this roll of aluminum foil were actually a delicious steak dinner!

Reihan Salam is hoping that a hypothetical 2016 campaign would finally let “Mitt” be, um, “Mitt” (?):

Imagine if Romney, having been caricatured as a cat’s-paw of the Wall Street overclass, decided to rail against the outsize power of the megabanks and in favor of a more competitive and inclusive capitalism. If we let Romney be Romney, we might find the populist the party needs.

This seems too limited to me. If we’re imagining a totally fictionalized version of “Mitt” Romney, why not have him fight crime every night? Give him a couple of cool super powers, a good superhero name (Blandman? “Mitt”?), and then you’d really have a strong candidate.


Known super powers: absurdly vast amounts of money, the ability to seem completely insincere regardless of circumstances

Just in time for the long weekend

The West African Ebola outbreak (the recent outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo appears to be unrelated) continues to expand, now into Senegal:

The first case of Ebola has been confirmed in Senegal, a major hub for West Africa’s business and aid community, Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck told a news conference on Friday.

The minister said the case was a Guinean national who had arrived from the neighboring West African country, where the deadly virus was first detected in March.

Over 3000 reported cases so far, and over 1500 reported deaths. And both of those numbers are probably quite a bit lower than the actual counts.

Today in History: The Third Crusade’s Siege of Acre begins (1189)

On August 28, 1189, a Crusader army under the command of “King of Jerusalem” (in reality Saladin had captured Jerusalem almost 2 years earlier) Guy of Lusignon laid siege to the city of Acre, which Saladin had also conquered on his way to Jerusalem. The siege would last almost two years until the Crusaders, by then led by King Richard I of England, King Philip II of France, and Duke Leopold V of Austria, conquered the city in July 1191. The Internet History Sourcebook, at Fordham University, has a primary source account of the siege, a translation of the Latin chronicle Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi: Continue reading

Russia’s long-awaited invasion of Ukraine looks to have arrived

Yesterday Ukraine declared, with video to back it up, that they’d captured 10 Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory — not Russian paramilitaries, not Ukrainian militias who had been trained and/or equipped by Russia, but genuine, regular Russian soldiers. Today, it seems clear that a full-on Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine has begun in earnest. The “rebels” are suddenly making serious headway on a brand new front, south of the Donetsk-Luhansk region on the coast of the Azov Sea, and frankly the very fact that the rebels are suddenly on the offensive indicates that something major has changed on the ground. The “rebels” are now using weapons systems that they’re not trained on and that they probably could not have seized from the Ukrainian army, so clearly something is up. Continue reading

Israel, Hamas agree to do this all again sometime

Well, this was worth busting in on vacation to mention: Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have agreed to an Egypt-brokered, open-ended ceasefire agreement. The terms reportedly include the easing of the blockade on Gaza, reduction of the buffer zone that Israel imposed inside Gaza’s borders, an extension of Gaza’s permitted fishing zone in the Mediterranean from 3 miles to (eventually) 12 miles, and immediate aid to rebuild Gaza. The rebuilding effort will be led by the PA, not Hamas, and the PA will also control Gaza’s border crossings, which seems a lot like the PA is taking over in Gaza again. The process of forming a Palestinian unity government will supposedly be restarted (this last bit comes from the PA, not Hamas, so it may reflect the PA’s wishes rather than reality).

Now (like I mentioned a few days ago) comes the part where Israel tries to argue that it just killed 2100 Palestinians for some reason other than that it felt like killing 2100 Palestinians:

Continue reading