May 4th, 2008

caillebotte_man at his window

(no subject)

This afternoon I had to shut down the computer while a thunderstorm blew through town. The storm made plenty of noise but barely dampened the ground. Still there was enough water to move some of the dry pine pollen about, and now there are yellow streaks of it snaking over every paved surface. Better clumped on the ground than drifting in the air where it can make its way into my nose. Had the brief storm been more substantial, it might have washed the trees clean of the stuff, liberating me from the consequences of their shameless orgy. Nevertheless, any rain at all is welcome in May.

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Somehow I missed the news some days ago of the death of clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre. In my dissolute youth I once impulsively purchased an album of his because I liked the cover. Each side of the album featured a single composition by Giuffre; the five-movement "Piece for Clarinet and String Orchestra" on one side, and on the other a piece called "Mobiles", consisting of 16 short movements, also for clarinet and strings. It was one of the strangest things I'd ever heard, and I grew very fond of it and played it frequently back in the days when I had a functioning turntable. Only tonight did I discover that it was released on a CD ages ago, but for some reason as part of a double set the other album of which features the better-known Lee Konitz. No wonder I never found it before there was an Internet. (Listen to brief Windows Media or Real Player samples of both pieces at this page.)

Giuffre was best known early in his career as the composer of the song "Four Brothers", which was a showpiece for the four saxophones of the Woody Herman big band (available on YouTube in a 1963 version), but he went on to become one of those innovative musicians who was always a bit ahead of even the relatively sophisticated jazz audience. Here's his trio of the late 1950s playing "The Train and the River" (unfortunately carelessly truncated in this YouTube post.) I wish I could find more of his stuff on the Internet, but I guess it's a wonder there's any of it out there, given how out of the mainstream his music was. RIP, Jimmy.