The Power Trio

Gary and Alex looked at each other across the old hermit’s fire.

“I feel your hesitation,” the blind old hermit murmured. “But the prophecy is quite clear. Your quest will fail if you remove John from your fellowship.”

Gary cleared his throat.

“It’s just that…even John is wondering if he can go on with us,” he tried to explain.

“He told us he thinks our group is just some fly by night operation,” Alex added. “Whatever that means.”

“And we’ve met this new guy,” Gary continued. “We really connected with him, you know. Like the two hemispheres of the mind becoming one.”

“We’ll just ease John out,” said Alex. “Exit stage left, you know.”

The hermit sighed heavily.

“If the prophecy does not dissuade you, what else can I say? Your quest is on the edge of a knife, and you may soon feel the steel’s caress in your very soul!”

With a great puff of smoke that filled the dark, dank cave–presto! the hermit vanished. The young men sat uncomfortably for a few minutes.

“I guess we’re supposed to leave now,” Alex finally said.

“Then let’s make like the pictures and move,” Gary urged.

“That doesn’t really make sense, Gary,” Alex pointed out.

With heavy thoughts, the pair walked down Hermit’s Hill into the small Canadian town below. The questioning wind ruffled the grass making permanent waves in the night.

“What time is it?” Alex wondered.

Gary checked his watch.

“9:12,” he answered. “Neil should be waiting.”

At the edge of their home village, sure enough, Neil waited for them. To pass the time he was beating out complex rhythms on the fenceposts encircling the town.

“Hey, Neil!” Gary called out.

Neil watched them as the young men walked over.

“What did the hermit say?” he asked.

“He just reminded us of the prophecy again,” Alex said. He glanced at Gary, who nodded.

“But Alex and I think we have something bigger than prophecy,” Gary said. “We’d like to roll the bones and try our own luck.”

“The signals are undeniable,” Neil stated confidently. “But are you sure, Gary?”

“I think from this moment I’m going by my nickname only. So call me Geddy.”

Neil put his hand out.

“So are we doing this?” he asked officially.

“I say yes,” Alex said, putting his hand on Neil’s. “The band’s been under a lot of pressure, but I think we can make our way through with grace.”

“Shall we choose a path that’s clear?” Neil asked.

Geddy laughed and added his hand to the group, declaring with pride:

“I will choose free will!”

 

{for the Rush fans}

 

The preceding tale is for the weekly Tipsy Lit story contest. This week’s prompt is: What happens when free will conflicts with prophecy? The term free will sent my prog-loving mind down the course you just read. On Saturday, Tipsy Lit posts the links to the story entries and readers vote for their favorite. Therefore, you will vote for me. Yes? Well, if you want to–we choose free will over here on T of V.

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Herbie Hancock

So today is the birthday of Herbert Jeffrey Hancock, the coolest cat in the universe and my favorite jazz musician.

herbie hancock

Call me Herbie!

Herbie was sought out by Miles Davis to take the piano spot in his second great quintet starting in 1963 when Hancock was only twenty-three. (But that’s nothing; Tony Williams the drummer was seventeen!) Along with bassist Ron Carter, this trio became what I believe was the finest rhythm section in all of jazz. Oh yeah, I said it.

davis second quintet

The quintet at play–herbie, miles, ron, wayne shorter on sax and tony

Even while recording and performing with Miles for the next decade or so, Herbie was already making records of his own as a bandleader and composer. Classically trained, Hancock’s style is melodic and persuasive. His compositions also frequently cross over into funk, soul and pop arenas as they are some of the most accessible of all jazz music–in a good way. He’s one of the prime movers of post-bop jazz, i.e., fusion. If awards are your thing, Herbie’s racked up more grammys than God. Or even Taylor Swift and Michael Jackson. (Herbie’s fourteen is one more than Michael got.)

herbie and band

Herbie in the seventies with the Headhunters (I think)…

I just love Herbie’s creativity, his joy in music. For people who don’t think they can “get” jazz, I’m convinced he’s the guy to try. Like I said, accessible in a good way. Some day I will do my definitive Herbie Hancock post so look out for that.

T of V ecstatically wishes Mr. Herbie Hancock a beautiful birthday. He’s turning seventy-four today, and still producing great albums year after year. If you don’t know his work, please listen to some today.

herbie hancock

Damn, that man’s got soul. Happy birthday!

David Bowie

{Another birthday, another tribute. I think this may qualify as a regular feature now.}

Today is the birthday of the ever-amazing David Bowie who, even at the robust age of 67, absolutely tops the list of dudes I would probably sleep with.

david bowie

The chameleon, the actor, the consummate re-inventor. But, above all, one of the most electric and talented people in the world. I mean, this guy just steps on a stage and your jaw drops.

david bowie

If you’re one of those pseudo-fans or critics who’s written Bowie off and claim he hasn’t produced anything great since the goddamn seventies, well, let’s have a quick mock debate.

Pseudo-Fan: Well, we all know Bowie peaked with his Berlin trilogy. I’ll grant you that the Scary Monsters and  Let’s Dance albums have a few great tracks. But it’s all downhill since then. He hasn’t been relevant in decades.

T of V: Fuck you, you’re an asshole.

T of V wins debate!

david bowie

I’m not trying to brush aside the exceptional quality of Bowie’s so-considered “classic” period of the seventies. Hell that’s my preferred Bowie era, too. But the man has remained an eclectic innovator through all the decades and never repeats himself. That’s a formidable feat. He began brilliantly and remains brilliant today. He’s produced strong work in every decade and I think he’s still at the top of his game as a creator, musician and performer.

david bowie

Today we celebrate the sensational career of David Bowie, every single bit of it. And he certainly has a few more surprises in him. Through all of his ch-ch-ch-changes, his greatness remains the same.

david bowie

Lou Reed

So Lou Reed is dead. While I haven’t blogged much about music on this site yet, it’s a big part of my life, and this news today has rocked me. It’s too early to tell for sure why Lou died, but he was 71 and had a pretty nice run for a dude who put his body through some bad, bad shit. Keith Richards somehow outlasts another one….

For a musician, Lou Reed was a great writer. He considered the records he made to be chapters in what he called his “Great American Novel”. His songs seem to me to be like reportage from the doorway to Hell. Lou made it possible for rock songs to take on real people and real situations. Let’s run through some of the topics he made music about: transvestism, murder, domestic abuse, drug abuse, S & M, violence, bingeing, insanity—what’s it all add up to? Great Fucking Art. You never felt like Lou was just a tourist down these dark alleys. He’d seen and done a lot of shit. His lyrics just tell you like it was, without judgement. Bring your own moral if you want to, Lou didn’t fuck with morals.

Musically, I have mixed feelings about Lou Reed. My very favorite types of music involve great composition and superior musicianship. Prog rock, jazz, fusion, etc. Lou, instead, brings a rawness to most of his stuff that I sometimes wish was a little more polished. But sometimes, we need the raw, the honest, the unpolished. It serves its own purpose. Lou considered rock to be truth, unvarnished. He didn’t waste too much time on making it pretty.

One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.

Lou didn’t do jazz. Lou did Lou. He was one of a kind.

Lou Reed