Category Archives: Jazz

Fast Food Jazz Hands Sonnet

Jazz Hands in front of President Lincoln
Re-enact our cultural heritage
We think it was “darkies” we were punkin’
But it was ourselves that we disparaged

We thought we could belittle the minstrel
But it was ourselves blackface diminished
For America’s the joke cultural
Even when “Amos & Andy” finished

For the minstrel show that we once laughed at
Has become “Pravda,” state television
Operated by Fox-Securitate:  
The free-market’s pathetic reduction

In the curtained wings of the world’s grand stage
Our nouveau-riche land is showing its age


Midnight Minyan

Paul Shapiro’s Band/
Hijacked my CD Player/
*Midnight Minyan* swings/

I went and bought a CD on a lark. I had been a fan of Paul Shapiro’s music 30 years ago and I saw his disk *Midnight Minyan* so I impulsively bought it for some vocal-free music to grade by. I figured “updated devotional music? WHY NOT?”
Instead of something to drown out the noise of my kids as I correct papers I got a mind-blowing tour of the “familiar foreign.” Not only are the melodies strangely familiar to this unschooled New Yorker, but the styles and arrangements also touch my soul in a compelling way. I cannot tell you exactly what it is about Mr. Shapiro’s playful reflections of these songs that so intoxicates me, but I’ll try.
The playful style of jazz that I’d thought had gone extinct roars back on these melodies that I was unfamiliar with. It is like the band, made up of old souls revived from 78 records got together with a post-modern sensibility and swung-out some tunes from the childhoods of Post-60s kids raised in the “diaspora of Hip.”
Whether it is the tonal music of the middle east, the rumbas and tangos of 60s jazz, or the klezmer revivals of the 90s all of the sounds are familiar and wonderfully out of place. These are familiar because I’ve been waiting to hear these styles in New Music for years fruitlessly. And they are “out of place” because the melodies and styles seem never to have been in the same room or mind before this CD. Who’d have thought prayer music could become the material for a swinging CD?
I just love it and I’ll have to look Paul up and tell him.