Saturday, February 27, 2010

Blue Mitchell, Blue Soul (Riverside)

Friday night dinner is not on Thursday or Sunday or Monday. Saturday dinner is a formal affair, you have friends coming over so you plan out a five or six course feast using every utensil in the cabinet. Sunday is roasted something or other with potatoes and gravy, just like grandma used to make. Wednesday is the middle of the week and you're tired of leftovers from Monday and Tuesday. But Friday has to be quick and full of flavor, so you went out of your way on your way back home, past the fishmonger's shop (because, of course, every town village and city has a fishmonger's shop that somehow survived out of the 19th century) and you pick up a bag of fresh mussels. You come home, drop off your shit and change, and then you drop, oh I don't know, half a stick of butter in a pot, let that melt slowly. Then throw in some garlic and red pepper flake, then four or five sprigs of parsley. And don't forget some fresh thyme, essential, a few tablespoons of thyme (like Tom Waits say, "And it's thyme thyme thyme for you to love, and it's thyme thyme thyme"). Let that saute up until your whole damn house smells like herb. Next, you throw in all the mussels you just washed and stir them around until they're warm enough, then the white wine, what I don't know, half a bottle of Pinot Gris (drinking the other half in the meanwhile) and enough salt to salt it, and you let it all steam up. You pour it all out into a bowl, cut up some baguette for dipping, kiss your beautiful love, and then -- and maybe this is the most important part -- throw on some Blue Mitchell and let the time ride itself out on this mellowest of all mellow Friday dinners.

Suggested Wine Pairing: If you've got the thyme, you need something to pick up the thyme. That would be La Cattura, Teroldego/Syrah, Toscana, 2006.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Miles Davis, Agartha (Columbia)

Best to observe how the musicians don't play. Of course, you want them to go off, but there's also joy to be found in watching dudes sit out, especially if dude's the leader. Somewhere somehow someone started a thought: The group began to think it out: Once they started thinking the leader put her/his two cents down and now s/he wants to listen to what the others have to say. How are we going to finish this thought? If I were Machiavelli I'd say that the prince must think the thought over for a while before deciding where the rest should go, how they should follow out to an end. Sitting out: it's not just thinking or listening, but rather listening to one's thoughts on thought itself: A second order of thought entirely.

It's never easy to listen though fusion. As great as some albums are from the 70s, the specters of Rick Wakeman dressed in a goofy rhinestone cape in front of his mellotron or Vangelis biting his lower lip and grooving his excess out never trail far behind. Jaco was great, but by the 781,000th note of his 1,000,000 note solo you can probably feel John Tesh warming up backstage.

Then again, you come back to Miles on Agartha and Pangaea, both recorded on the same date in 1975. The funk is lowdown and heavy, bass, synth, and congas laying down long singular ropes of the neverending line, both guitars hitting their wahwahs like drums, all punctured by occasional shreds of Miles' electric organ or trumpet. Sounds like everyone is playing in their own time signature, and yet wild thick and thorny fields open before you. And the amazing thing is, Miles barely plays! Most of the time he's sitting out.

I don't think we ever found out where that thought went. He laid out for the next six years and never quite came back. Maybe thought's still playing out...

Recommended wine pairing: Now it's 2010, and man I gotta tell you, having sat the last year out I'm still waiting on Miles, watching him listen. That's not easy work, and so you'll need something on your palette that smooths and rolls while you're at it: Johnson Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2006.