Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Song of the Day 4/21/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Wednesday’s song is #99:

Douce Gimlet – Destitute

From the frenetic chord-chopping on the intro, into a sad, swinging backbeat, this hauntingly beautiful janglerock song was arguably the New York rockers’ finest moment. During the life of the band, they only released one vinyl single (this wasn’t it), but you can download it for free (click the link above) along with this and the rest of a never-released 2001 studio album at the memorial site for frontman Joe Ben Plummer, tragically killed only three years later.

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April 20, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Memoriam: Guru

Guru (an acronym for Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal), the iconic, paradigm-shifting founder and rapper of hip-hop legends Gang Starr and creator of hip-hop jazz died yesterday after spending much of the previous two months in a coma following a heart attack. He was 43. Born Keith Elam in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1966, Guru founded Gang Starr in 1987 and released a handful of singles that achieved enough regional success to catch the attention of New York DJ Premier. In 1989, Guru and Premier released their landmark first album No More Mr. Nice Guy, followed by five others, the last, The Ownerz, in 2003. One of the originators of the East Coast hardcore style, Guru’s hard-edge, rapidfire, syncopated delivery matched the uncompromising seriousness of his lyrics. Particularly critical of what he felt was a drift in hip-hop toward popstar meaninglessness, Guru remained relevant and true to his origins even as he celebrated his own achievements as a wordsmith on joints like Check the Technique, Take It Personal and Code of the Streets.

In 1993, in the wake of the duo’s finest album Daily Operation, Guru teamed up with a diverse crew of jazz artists including Branford Marsalis, Donald Byrd and Ramsey Lewis to release the first of his four Guru Presents: Jazzmatazz series of albums, showcasing jazz improvisation over a hip-hop beat while taking a somewhat more lighthearted lyrical approach than he took with Gang Starr. The final Jazzmatazz album was released in 2007. Guru also released two solo albums during the decade. He is survived by a son. His longtime collaborator Solar (no relation to the French hip-hop artist MC Solaar, whose career he springboarded here in the US) released a controversial posthumous letter ostensibly written by the rapper distancing himself from DJ Premier, with whom he had split after the duo’s final album together seven years ago.

April 20, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, obituary, rap music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 4/20/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Tuesday’s song is #100:

The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby

Where in the span of about two minutes they simultaneously invented art-rock, chamber pop and goth music. Name another band who could do all that.

April 20, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mets 6, Cubs 1, 4/19/10: We Like Ike

[Editor’s note: we were going to go to Small Beast, our usual Monday night hang. But when one of the last of the great bluesmen offers you a free Mets ticket, do you say no? At the risk of becoming just another baseball blog, we offer you Ike Davis’ debut…]
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Diehard Mets fans are not an easy sell when it comes to the the promotion of a highly touted prospect, especially during such dismal times as these – so often a Timo Perez or Victor Diaz will come up, make a quick splash and then turn into…Timo Perez or Victor Diaz. Yet there wasn’t a Mets fan at the ballpark tonight who in his or her heart of hearts didn’t leave with the secret hope of one day having bragging rights to the night Ike Davis made his debut. Most impressively, in his first trip to the plate, the lefty first baseman who tore up the Grapefruit League this spring battled back from a 0-2 count and smacked a sharp single to right field. He also displayed power with a long fly to the warning track in right in the sixth, drove in a run in the seventh and nonchalantly handled a towering Alfonso Soriano pop fly – although he wasn’t able to dig an Alex Cora throw out of the dirt in the sixth, resulting in an error being charged to Cora for allowing Cubs catcher Geovany Soto to take third on pitcher Randy Wells’ infield hit.

For the first four innings, the game was a classic cold April Flushing pitchers’ duel between Wells and the Mets’ Jon Niese, the one extra-base hit being a wallop off the 415-foot sign in right – a homer anywhere else in the league – by Soriano. Wells’ slider bamboozled the Mets’ hitters until an improbable rally in the fifth. With two outs, Alex Cora singled to right, Niese muscled the ball through the left side of the infield and the free-swinging Angel Pagan was then presented with a four-pitch walk. Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot held the Mets to a single run by corralling Luis Castillo’s slow grounder behind second at the edge of the grass as Niese held at third. With the bases loaded, Wells – who also excelled at the plate, with two hits – made quick work of David Wright, whiffing him with a succession of sliders.

All but abandoning his signature curveball, Niese pitched magnificently for five and two thirds, in and out of trouble, freezing the Cubs’ lineup with a live, moving fastball. Scattering eight hits with seven strikeouts, he turned over a slim 1-0 lead to Fernando Nieve. That lead disappeared in the space of about fifty feet as Cubs centerfielder Marlon Byrd hit a Texas chop off the turf – by the time it had returned to earth, Soto, who’d walked and then gone to third on the Cora throw that Davis couldn’t dig out, had come in to tie the game. Nieve managed to stop the bleeding by getting Jeff Baker on a comebacker.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella turned over the game to rookie lefthander James Russell, who began the bottom of the seventh by plunking pinchhitter Jose Reyes, then went 2-0 on the next pinchhitter, Gary Matthews Jr. before getting him to chase a 2-2 slider out of the strike zone for the first out. The next hitter was Angel Pagan: Piniella had Jeff Samardzia warming in the bullpen but left Russell in for a matchup that looked auspicious and proved every bit as much when Pagan launched one into the seats in straightaway center for a 3-1 lead. Luis Castillo then drove a scorching opposite-field liner into the glove of an immobile Soriano and Piniella had finally seen enough.

Wright greeted Samardzia, the former Notre Dame wide receiver and Heisman candidate, with a solid single and then stole second, scoring on Jason Bay’s double off the left-centerfield wall. Lefty Sean Marshall then took over on the hill but the damage continued, a fourth run scoring on Davis’ second hit of the night and another on a wild pitch that Rod Barajas mystifyingly swung at and missed.

Jenrry Mejia held the Cubs scoreless the rest of the way with a seemingly effortless over-the-top delivery, mixing in an effective changeup to complement a fastball that clocked as high as 95 MPH on the stadium gun, catching pinchhitter Kosuke Fukodome looking at a 2-2 heater on the outside corner to end the game. Unlike at Yankee Stadium, there aren’t a lot of Fans from Hell at Mets home games; in our case, we had just the opposite seated close to where we were in the front row up in the third tier down the rightfield line. Over the course of three hours, the big guy must have had about six beers, onion rings, a footlong hot dog and something else. When he wasn’t eating, he provided a running color commentary that kept the entire section in stitches. Barajas became Rod Basura when he fanned for the first time; as the game was ending, phonetic theory came into play, specifically how to pronounce Fukodome’s last name (try it – it got better as it went along).

April 20, 2010 Posted by | baseball | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment