Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wes Montgomery, Full House, Recorded Live at Tsubo - Berkeley, CA (OJC/Riverside)

There was a time back in the 80s when a nothing bespoke class and sophistication more than a glass of Merlot. If Krystle Carrington poured Blake Carrington a Manhattan in 1981, by 1984 she was throwing a glass of Merlot at Alexis. That's class. As in, my American grandmother would have found this all terribly "posh," because you know, "they're millionaires." My dear Grandma also found the Lincoln Mark VI to be the most extravagantly posh automobile to ever hit the roads, something I suspect she knew she would never be able to afford. Bless her heart, child of the Depression, Eleanor Read knew that some luxuries were simply not worth pursuing, unless you truly were a millionaire. Of course, in this day and age, when every statement from TIAA/CREF or United Health Care that remains unopened in our mailbox leaves us with a feeling of impending doom, we strive to overcome our dread by looking down in judgment on the excesses of the recent past, as if we would have never even considered ever going into some cheesy neon-lit bar (wearing shoulder pads no less) and ordering a glass of Merlot. But somebody watched "Dynasty," even in its 1988 death throes. And somebody voted for Dick Cheney, even after his 1988 death throes... and then voted for that undead vampire again in 2004. But that somebody, quite obviously, wasn't us. If you still you feel so superior amidst the onset of the New Great Depression, then consider me this: How life would be so impoverished -- nay, so much less worth living -- if we never had a glass of Merlot to drink in the first place. In that sense, you can get used to neon light real fast, if'n you've got Wynton Kelly on piano, Johnny Griffin (good god, let me repeat that, Johnny Griffin) on sax, and the thumb-picked octaves of Wes Montgomery leading the show. Maybe it won't change your world or put more cash in your retirement fund. But I ain't so sophisticated that I can't ask for another glass.

Suggested Wine Pairing: Why is it I always go back to the mid 80s in these blog entries? Well, there's no time to think of a proper answer when there's a bottle of Montes Alpha Merlot 2006, Colchagua Valley, Chile on the table. (Come to think of it, Montes Alpha and Wes Montgomery just might change your world.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Andrew Hill, Nefertiti (Test of Time Records)

Let me tell you something about the earth. The earth is what you pour in your glass. Get it in the right glass, and you can put your nose up to the rim. At first you think, is the glass itself I'm smelling? a known unknown caught somewhere between sand and fresh riverwater? The more it saturates your sinuses, you realize that you are smelling the clay pebbles of some country road in a valley of vineyards. The smell of the earth is so intense you begin to pick small pebbles from your teeth. This reminds you of a definition you read in the OED: [a. F. baroque adj., ad. Pg. barroco, Sp. barrueco, rough or imperfect pearl; of uncertain origin. An etymology of the word. The baroque is not some cathedral in Mexico City or Cuzco, all cherubs leafed in gold. The baroque is the pattern made by a million rough pearls, worn smooth by countless wagon wheels, brushed up by your heels on a country backroad in 17th century Portugal. The blues walked down those roads, too. That's also a description of the sound of Andrew Hill's keys on this record, polished by the wheels of Richard Davis' bass.

Suggested Wine Pairing: For those pebbles in the road, the road best traveled is, without question, the Clos des Brusquières Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2005.