Viewing: The Desert - View All Posts

THERE'S NO PLACE 


"I don't have any great love for Chicago.
What the hell, a childhood around Douglas Park isn't very memorable.
I left Chicago a long time ago."
—Benny Goodman

"The desert is so pretty, especially at sunset.
And the Mexican food over there is outstanding, you know.
But we wanted to play jazz, so...."
—Art Farmer

"Man, they gave me a key to the city!
Can you imagine, going back to Indiana and getting the key to the city?
That made me feel pretty good."
—Freddie Hubbard

THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE 


On this day in 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in the New York Harbor, a gift from the people of France, designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi.

The statue became a symbol of hope, welcoming immigrants to the USA.

On her pedestal is inscribed "The New Colossus" by American poet Emma Lazarus:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.


It's interesting to contemplate this sonnet today.

Here in Anglozona, where I make my home, immigration remains a divisive and hotly debated issue as we approach the centennial of our statehood.

The word "immigrant" carries a strong negative connotation around these parts. Apparently, we palefaces forget that we are the aliens. Our claim to this territory is quite recent, and dubious at best.

I don't know the Tohono O'odham or Apache name for the white man's arrival, but I don't believe we were "greeted as liberators."

I do know that the shameless land-grabs of northern Mexico, which our history books disguise with convenient euphemisms (treaty, purchase, Manifest Destiny), are referred to in Mexican texts as The North American Invasion.

Nevertheless, it's 2011, and here we are.

And there stands Lady Liberty, lifting her lamp, welcoming immigrants.

I'm celebrating her anniversary by seeing the movie Green Lantern, which opens today.

It seems fitting.

My favorite comic book from childhood, Green Lantern is an inspirational superhero space opera.

It tells the story of myriad aliens, coming together in teamwork and harmony, heroically using their creative imaginations, strength of will and light to overcome the evil, destructive power of fear.

HAPPY EARTH DAY 



In celebration of EARTH DAY I've posted 3 beautiful videos by the talented Norwegian landscape photographer Terje Sørgjerd.

THE MOUNTAIN features Sørgjerd's stunningly beautiful time lapse photos of the Milky Way, captured earlier this month atop El Teide, the highest mountainpeak in Spain.

Set to music by Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi ("Nuvole Bianche" from his album Una Mattina), the video offers a view of our earth and heavens like none I've ever seen.

THE AURORA pairs Sørgjerd's images of a brilliant Aurora Borealis display over a national park in Norway with ethereal film music by Lisa Gerrard and Hans Zimmer ("Now We Are Free" from their collaboration on Gladiator).

Gerrard's otherworldly voice, as she sings to God in her invented language, seems to me the perfect sonic complement to the mysterious aurora.

THE MARKET juxtaposes video of the Maeklong and Damnoen Saduak markets in Thailand with Katie Noonan's cover of the Gnarls Barkley hit "Crazy."

I remember the floating markets from my travels in Thailand and Cambodia. It's intriguing to see one of them again through the eyes of a visual artist, especially when accompanied by music with such a fascinating provenance:
  • The piece began as "Nel Cimitero di Tucson," an Italian movie theme created by the Reverberi brothers for a 1968 Spaghetti Western.
  • Half a century later, Gnarls Barkley (the American duo of Danger Mouse and Cee Lo Green) reinvents the piece, adding lyrics and a new hook.
  • Their single "Crazy" becomes a spectacular international hit, spawning over 30,000 downloads in the United Kingdom, placement in popular films, and dozens of other versions by artists all over the world.
  • Australian singer Katie Noonan puts her own spin on the song, and this recording is the version selected by the intrepid photographer from Norway to underscore his colorful footage from Thailand.
Crazy, indeed. Sørgjerd's video speaks volumes, not only about the unique flavors of a traditional Thai market, but about our global marketplace in this increasingly interconnected digital age.
 
Follow Terje Sørgjerd on Twitter.

AT THAT HOUR ~ James Joyce 

            Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico by Ansel Adams

At that hour when all things have repose,
O lonely watcher of the skies,
Do you hear the night wind and the sighs
Of harps playing into Love to unclose
The pale gates of sunrise?

When all things repose, do you alone
Awake to hear the sweet harps play
To Love before him on his way,
And the night wind answering in antiphon
Till night is overgone?

Play on, invisible harps, unto Love,
Whose way in heaven is aglow
At that hour when soft lights come and go,
Soft sweet music in the air above
And in the earth below.

PREMIERE 



This Thursday, March 17th, the Dmitri Matheny Group will premiere my latest work, The Caliche Code, at
Sacred Grounds Jazz Coffeehouse in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Caliche Code
is an extended form composition that tells the story, through music, of a mythical pilgrim's search for identity and community in a desert land.

The piece spotlights pianist Nick Manson as featured soloist, with Paul Anderson on tenor saxophone, Ted Sistrunk on bass, John Lewis on drums and yours truly on flugelhorn.

We hope you can join us for this exciting journey into new jazz territory.


~DM

ODE TO MARISKA 



Did I make the right decision in coming home to this suburban desert after 20 years in San Francisco? My days are so strange. There's something absurd about the sound of a lone horn, accompanied by a hundred humming air conditioners on an otherwise silent street. When I can't take it anymore, I get on the treadmill and watch another episode of Law & Order.
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