Make Hay in May


Dick Tracy, “88 Keyes,” 1943

Thanks to the Jazz Journalists Association for awarding DTM blog of the year.

I watched the movie of Ready Player One directed by Steven Spielberg. It’s fine for what it is. Like Avengers, GoT, and so much else, this “blockbuster” seems created by a focus group in order to hit the maximum number of successful emotional beats in storytelling. As a result, it has almost no personality of its own.

The book Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is an idiosyncratic masterpiece, a retelling of creation myth from a lonely and wounded vantage point. I frankly cannot understand the various think pieces that claim the film is better than the novel.

(On a related topic, I really like this piece by Soraya Roberts, “When Did Pop Culture Become Homework?”)

Wynton Marsalis offered a guide to twelve favorite records for Rolling Stone, and followed up (perhaps encouraged by a tweet by DTM’s technical director Wayne Bremser!) with a longer list on his own site. Wynton’s selections and commentary are fascinating and at times hilarious. My feed has anti-Wynton snipers, but surely anyone could learn something from Wynton here. (I always try to remember to sit and learn something from my betters before I go on the attack. I don’t always succeed, but that’s the goal.)

Al Foster and Ron Carter at the Zinc Bar on Saturday night. It was Ron’s 82nd birthday. I told the audience for the first set that Ron was turning 62…and I think many believed me.


MMDG Pepperland at BAM this week. Gia Kourlas preview in the NY Times:

mmdg preview BAM

Ok, ready for a really unprofessional display of ego?

A trending topic on Twitter was Eric Alper’s question, “What’s a great cover song that is better than the original?”

eric alper

My response was, “Iron Man” by the Bad Plus. LOL! Highlights of this track include the transition to major key, “Dies Irae” counterpoint in the tenor voice at the end, and of course the Tchad Blake production.

Jenkins Orphanage Band (1928)

Hyland Harris sent along video/audio of youthful African American brass and drums filmed right before the Great Depression.

The music is extraordinary, perhaps especially the drumming. Later on in the video, there is great dancing.

Jabbo Smith, Trummy Young, Cat Anderson and others came out of the Jenkins Orphanage Band.

Badarzewska-Baranowska in the News

I turn up in “5 Minutes That Will Make You Love the Piano” in the New York Times. My selection is “The Homeless Wanderer” by Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou. This choice has proven successful, at least in the sense that many people have written to me, “Wow, I didn’t know about her! She’s great.”

The previous DTM post about this Ethiopian nun is “The Story of the Wind.” In that post I namecheck Tekla Bądarzewska-Baranowska’s “The Maiden’s Prayer,” which has turned out to be Lang Lang’s choice for “5 Minutes That Will Make You Love the Piano.” H’mm!

“The Maiden’s Prayer” is indeed a proven “gateway drug” selection. It’s not a great piece of music but it offers compelling introductory level piano glamor. (Lang himself plays it very well, of course.)

“The Maiden’s Prayer” makes me think of the theme to “Hill Street Blues,” also in E-flat, written by Mike Post almost exactly one hundred years after Badarzewska-Baranowska’s hit. How many kids have fooled around with the big box thanks to being shown these charismatic collections of E-flat, A-flat, and B-flat triads?


I’m going on a 7-week tour with the Mark Morris Dance Group doing Pepperland and taking a break from social media (except cute photos with dancers on Instagram) until May. Do the Gig listings will continue. Don’t forget to subscribe to Transitional Technology if that’s your kind of thing. (I seem to be responding to emails from the associated Substack address, at least some of the time).

DTM in 2019 has included:

Lil Hardin

Lennie Tristano

Theory of Harmony

a guest post in memoriam Ira Gitler by Mark Stryker: The Bard of Bebop

and there was also a look at Don Shirley for the New Yorker Culture Desk.

Thanks for reading! Much more Iversonian text when I’m back, I have several things I’ll be working on while on tour.


Rob Schwimmer put together the geography of the upcoming weeks as follows. Please say hi if you come to the show! P.S. I am playing trio with Jeff Williams and Conor Chaplin at the Vortex March 24, and duo with Martin Speake at the 606 Club on April 22.


Photo with Dance Heginbotham yesterday in Philadelphia:

dance heginbotham