Michael Vlatkovich and Dottie Grossman: Call & Response & Friends (PFMCD060)

Jeff Kaiser 0 Comments

[playlist ids="501,503"]
Artists: Los Angeles Recording:
Dottie Grossman: poems
Michael Vlatkovich: trombone
Rich West: drums/percussion
Anders Swanson: bass

L.A. Recording 7/09: Killzone Studio, Los Angeles, CA

Corvallis Recording (indicated by *) 11/05:
Dottie Grossman, poems; Michael Vlatkovich, trombone;
David Storrs, drums/ percussion, toys; Jim Knodle, trumpet

Corvallis Recording: Califas Studio, Corvallis, OR

engineer: Wayne Peet
producers: Michael Vlatkovich, Dottie Grossman
front cover art: Billy Mintz
design: Ted Killian

1. Benjamin Called (1:38)
2. I Wish (1:49)
3. Tumbleweed (:57)*
4. Early Wednesday morning (1:20)*
5. Veterans Hospital (1:18)*
6. Mendocino Coast 1967 (2:21)
7. Merry Christmas, Michael (1:12)*
8. Two Henny Youngman Poems (1:57)
9. This Winter (1:38)
10. Two Appropriations (1:39)*
11. The Two Times I Loved
You The Most In a Car (2:37)
12. Two Poems About Trucks (2:20)
13. Africa (1:29)*
14. Melting Pot (2:35)
15. Zoey Steps Out (1:18)*
16. Quotation (1:56)
17.Little Rock (2:03)*
18.Two More Henny
Youngman Poems (1:48)
19. Helicopter Noise (:50)*
20. This Is What I Do Best (1:33)
21. The People Who Hate Wind (1:22)*
22. Just Before (1:45)
23. Noon Concert (1:36)
24. Another Nose Poem (1:52)*
25. Definition of Happiness/
If I Were Directing This Movie (1:27)*
26. From Iceland (1:36)*
27. Alaska (1:49)
28. What Henny Youngman Loves
Most About America (:47)
29. Vince Salvino (1.16)*
30. Fortune Cookie (3:11)
31. Henny Youngman’s True
Confession (2:06)*
32. Sorry To Disappoint You (1:39)
33. Future Past (1:42)
34. Mark Weber-Type Poem (1:41)

Track 1

Benjamin called
from Long Beach Island,
New Jersey.
I said, “I can hardly hear you;
the ocean’s so noisy.”
He put down the phone
for a second
and screamed,
“Atlantic, will you please
shut up? —
I’m talking to Dottie.”

Track 2

I wish there was a town
called Nirvana
in Nevada.
It would be
a beautiful place,
in a valley,
where the only industry
was happiness.
Wouldn’t it be fun
to send a letter there —
addressed to
“Nirvana, NV”?

Track 3

Something is draped on a fence
until it is time to be tumbleweed.
In this room,
you are heroic,
tasting of summer and vitamins.
Step outside
and the tumbleweed rolls.

Track 4

Early Wednesday morning,
nobody’s kicked up any dust,
nobody’s made a dime, yet.
All the pet dogs
have left-alone faces.

Track 5

Veterans Hospital

The uniform white buildings
shine as pointlessly
as dead men’s teeth.
Here, everything is slower,
even southern,
as they dance to mark
the time between the palm trees
and forget in the clean cut grass.

Track 6

Mendocino Coast, 1967

Inland, where the grasses and grapes lived,
we could not have imagined
the rocks, the cold clouds —
the surf that would surround us
like a headache,
and those long tubes of kelp
like noodles
from another world
where, with the music of foghorns
and wind chimes,
even the kind moon
seemed dangerous.

Track 7

Merry Christmas, Michael

You remind me of a dolphin,
navigating the waves
with your own mysterious sonar
that sounds a lot like a trombone.

Track 8

2 Henny Youngman Poems

Henny Youngman On National Poetry Month

Henny Youngman hates National Poetry Month;
it gives him performance anxiety.

Henny Youngman To His Priest

Forgive me, Father,
for I have sinned.
I’m sexually aroused
by sacred music.

Track 9

This winter feels colder than ever,
or maybe I’m just more sensitive
these days,
when the wind is
a fire engine
and the moon is sinister
and blue.
I’m all bundled up for it,
stamping my feet,
drinking rum,
counting the days
until the yellow flowers.

Track 10

(two appropriations)

Tuna Fishing

“A March 22 “Outdoors” article
about tuna fishing
inadvertently identified an angler
as Rusty Johnson.
His name is Frosty Johnson.”

The Rhythm of Commercials On The Discovery Health Channel

Will a new nose help Wendy
rediscover her self esteem?

Track 11

The Two Times I Loved You the Most In A Car

It was your idea
to park and watch the elephants
swaying among the trees
like royalty
at that make-believe safari
near Laguna.
I didn’t know anything that big
could be so quiet.

And once, you stopped
on a dark desert road,
to show me the stars
climbing over each other
riotously
like insects;
like an orchestra
thrashing its way
through time itself.
I never saw light that way
again.

Track 12

Convoy

Tonight on the road,
the trucks are majestic;
they sashay like elephants
through the turns,
with jewels on their heads
and tails.

Night Convoy

The trucks are wearing rubies in their hair.
They are like beautiful movie stars,
walking carefully in high heeled shoes,
making whooshing noises in the dark.

Track 13

Africa:
its vowels are so seductive,
I get dizzy.
I’ve no wish to deplete
the wildebeest,
I only wish to eat the wildebeest.
Last year’s skeleton crop
set a new record.
The air is succulent
with lions and mahogany.

Track 14

We were sitting around the melting pot
(which is what I call my hairdresser’s):
a Korean, a Vietnamese, and myself (the American)
discussing our homelands calmly
like three women anywhere,
with no mention of bloodshed or memories.
I told them I’d been reading
about Angor Wat
and the Cambodian jungles
where heartless nature
buried the ancient temples
and we all agreed
that could never happen here
in Santa Monica.

Track 15

At eight months old,
Zoey steps out,
wearing a new tooth
and a rose
in her purple hat.

Track 16

“I don’t own an exquisite way to move around in the night.”

Doug Benezra, 9/18/05

It occurs to me that,
when I die,
they might find the necklace
I dropped behind the bed
and wonder
how long it was there,
and whether I’d missed it.
But will they care
about my favorite color,
my long-range plans,
or my habit of searching myself
for signs of rust?

Track 17

“The town has several antique shops and fruit stands, in addition to restaurants and gas stations.“
…from the Little Rock, CA website.

Little Rock

No, not that one —
This one’s in the desert,
about a two hour drive from here
It’s the color of western movies
(blue skies, brown horses).
There’s even a mirage —
rare water and
big Medjool dates,
a fruit stand in the uncomplaining dust
on the way to Valyermo,
to Saint Andrew’s Abbey,
where the dead monks sleep
in the tight-packed earth
of The Holy Land
off the main road.

Track 18

Henny Youngman doesn’t understand
why camping is not permitted
on the cemetery plot
he just paid for.

Henny Youngman On National Public Radio

Once again, I made it through the pledge drive
without contributing a dime.

Track 19

When I remember
how quiet you used to be,
the helicopter noise
in my head
disappears.

Track 20

This is what I do best:
I phone you
and say Congratulations,
Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday,
Happy New Year,
How’s your sister?
Are you better?
Is it hot enough for you?
Thanks, I love you, too.

Track 21

The people who hate wind
are insulated, inland;
they wear hats to keep them safe
from
flying poems.

Track 22

Just before I killed that bug,
I had the guilty thought
that it might be you, reincarnated,
but I told myself that,
if you did return,
it would be as a much higher life-form,
maybe a hummingbird.

Track 23

Noon Concert

These frail, white widows
who get their hair done weekly
in tight curls,
like little flowers
bend their heads
until the applause
says it’s time
to be brave, again.

Track 24

If the bridge of the nose
is really the seat of wisdom,
yours is The Britannica,
edited by Einstein,
illustrated by Picasso.

Track 25

Definition of Happiness #302

Yellow plates on a black table,
and my new curtains,
dancing a tango
in the open window.

If I were directing this movie,
we’d be walking through clouds
wet as dogs’ breath.
Just a dot of pink, for excitement,
and no music, just ice where the wind was.

Track 26

Since she was from Iceland
and didn’t know any better,
she said, “I miss the green of the east.
It’s so yellow here.
Of course, at home, we don’t have any trees.
Once, in New Jersey, I could see Manhattan
across the river,
as if it was a picture of Manhattan.”

Track 27

Alaska

Once, I got into a taxi
whose driver wore a turban.
We chatted about traffic and travel
and he said he absolutely loved Alaska,
where he’d worked on the pipeline for five years.
He blushed when he told me, “You know,
I’m a Muslim. We’re supposed to pray
five times a day, facing Mecca.
But sometimes, when nobody’s watching,
I face Alaska.”

Track 28

What Henny Youngman
loves most about America
is that anybody can
grow up to be the Pope.

Track 29

We were all sitting around,
talking about what kind of animal
we’d like to be,
and Vince said, “A gorilla,
because they’re the most like us.”

Track 30

Fortune Cookie

You are going to look exactly
like your father —
one of those draped,
semi-ecstatic old Jews
you see framed
on the mantel
in grandmothers’ houses.
Like him,
you will lapse into Yiddish,
throwing your hands up
in mock surrender.
And your lips will move
when you read,
and your children will
imitate you.

Track 31

Henny Youngman’s True Confession
(thanks to M.B.)

I think that, if I were to talk to a rabbi,
he’d listen and all,
but then we’d just end up
with him asking me
to explain the Internet.
I went to a palm reader,
said, “I’m in love with a straight guy
who can’t love me back.”
She said, “Why would you
want to do that?”
I’m, like, exiled,
all the best people are.

Track 32

Sorry To Disappoint You

As the elder in your Chinese house,
I have almost no wisdom to offer:
A few books, a few poems –
I’m not sure there’s anything else,
except that I once shook John Coltrane’s hand,
and sex in the morning is more fun
than cereal.
The rest you already know.

Track 33

Future Past

If I had stayed asleep
I would have missed
the fun of speaking English,
the quiet satisfaction
of appointments kept,
the way dreams change
when you try to describe them.

Track 34

Mark Weber-Type Poem

So my latest rejection comes from Iowa,
about a week before Christmas:
“Thank you for allowing us
to consider your work…”
I picture the writer
at a desk overlooking a corn field.
There’s a droopy plant
on the windowsill
and a volume of Yeats or Keats
nearby.
It has been a tough day,
and here I come,
galloping into that landscape
with my palm trees and deserts,
coyotes and surfers.

pfMENTUM CD060

PFMCD060

Dottie Grossman / Michael Vlatkovich: Call and Response (PFMCD021)

Jeff Kaiser 1 Comment

[playlist ids="402,399,401"]
Call and Response
Poems written and read by Dottie Grossman
Trombone improvisations by Michael Vlatkovich

1. If we lived on a mountaintop :44
2. The lady from Calcutta 1:05
3. What if another caveman 1:12
4. This poem is part cartoon :44
5. I’m grown up now :55
6. The hum of a place :58
7. In a sleep
In the dream
In recurring Cary Grant 1:34
8. Today I bought 1:04
9. In the canyons below 1:27
10. In the evening 1:33
11. There has been :44
12. Three Henny Youngman Poems 1:12
13. Dear Terre Haute 1:05
14. We waited the storm out 1:23
15. On a navy-blue night 1:29
16. Two about movie stars 1:34
17. The man who is more like
The murderer on his way 1:40
18. Ten P.M. 2:12
19. Six Short Cat Poems 2:04
20. The Man Who Loves His Job Makes A Poem 1:09
21. You make me laugh easily 1:27
22. Three Henny Youngman poems :58
23. Two appropriations 2:26
24. My hairdresser tells me 1:52
25. Daughter 2:52
26. In my pre-adolescent :46
27. Once upon a time 1:32
28. Two short ones 2:00
29. Three short ones 2:09
30. The weekend begins 1:35
31. Two in a row 2:46
32. Two about geography 2:02
33. Two more in a row 2:40
34. Two that seem to go together 1:19
35. …And three more Henny Youngman Poems 2:08

(c) 2004 Dottie Grossman and Michael Vlatkovich • Executive Producer: Jeff Gauthier
Art: Billy Mintz • Design and Layout: Jeff Kaiser and Dottie Grossman
Engineers: Garth Powell and Scott Looney • Best Boys: Garth Powell and Jeff Gauthier
Recorded: 6 March 2004, 1510 Studios, Oakland, CA
Recorded in real time with no overdubs or edits

A sampling of the poetry…

1.
If we lived on a mountaintop,
the fog would rise up every night,
so thick you could run a comb through it.
Every morning would look like a barbershop,
with wet floors full of leftover curls.

2.
The lady from Calcutta
is taking a breather
in the California sun.
She sits by the freeway
eating ice cream
and thinks that the freeway
is a kind of Ganges,
all foamy and shining with light.
Oh, lady from Calcutta,
you never had it so good.

3.
What if another caveman
had my hands,
after they saw me
through my teens
and spent the sixties
with me?
Could somebody else
respect that?
And would the tracery
of my lifeline
meander differently
on, say, you?

4.
This poem is part cartoon
and part injection.
I hope it has the clarity of wind chimes
or the bloody sparkle of broken glass.

5.
I’m grown up, now,
but I still find
human babies
menacing:
especially
the way they bob
their smiling,
ornamental heads.
I don’t trust them
when the filtered light
of winter
cleans the empty beach
between storms
and exposes
the desert hideouts
of dead Indians
and their toys.

6.
The hum of a place
tells me everything’s working.
I love the electrical breaths
of us and our gear,
doing pushups.

7. Three Poems…

1.
In a sleep
ruffled by guilt,
I dream of my family,
praying together,
childishly.
They are so small
that I suddenly understand
their common nightmare,
and why they call themselves
by one name.

2.
In the dream
of skyscrapers
as paper dolls,
each has its wardrobe
of tenants
that can be moved
around forever.

3.
In recurring Cary Grant
Dream Number One,
he appears on Christmas Eve
to bless the animals.

pfMENTUM CD021

PFMCD021

master

Jeff Kaiser

The Two Times I Loved

Jeff Kaiser 0 Comments

“The Two Times I Loved” from Call & Response & Friends by Dottie Grossman, Michael Vlatkovich, Anders Swanson, Rich West. Track 11. Genre: Improvisation, Creative, Composition.

Two Henny Youngman Poems

Jeff Kaiser 0 Comments

“Two Henny Youngman Poems” from Call & Response & Friends by Dottie Grossman, Michael Vlatkovich, Anders Swanson, Rich West. Track 8. Genre: Improvisation, Creative, Composition.

Three short ones

Jeff Kaiser 0 Comments

“Three short ones” from Call and Response by Dottie Grossman and Michael Vlatkovich. Genre: Improvisation, Creative, Composition.

Two about geography

Jeff Kaiser 0 Comments

“Two about geography” from Call and Response by Dottie Grossman and Michael Vlatkovich. Genre: Improvisation, Creative, Composition.

The Weekend Begins

Jeff Kaiser 0 Comments

“The Weekend Begins” from Call and Response by Dottie Grossman and Michael Vlatkovich. Genre: Improvisation, Creative, Composition.

The Empty Cage Quartet: Hello the Damage! (PFMCD040)

Jeff Kaiser 1 Comment

[playlist ids="446"]
Jason Mears: alto saxophone, clarinet, wood flutes
Kris Tiner: trumpet, flugelhorn
Paul Kikuchi: drums, percussion
Ivan Johnson: contrabass

Disc 1: First Set (24:20 / 21:17)
1. Attack of the Eye People (Mears)
Who Are They If We Are Them? (Mears)
The Mactavish Rag (Tiner)
2. And Who Is Not Small (Tiner)
Function-3 (Tiner)

Disc 2: Second Set (42:57)
1. Swan-Neck Deformity (Kikuchi)
The Empty Cage (Mears)
Swim Swim Swim, Eat Eat Eat (Mears)

Recorded live at Café Metropol in Los Angeles, California on Friday, December 30, 2005
Recorded live to two track by Paul Kikuchi
Mastered by David Christensen and Paul Kikuchi
Cover photo and album design: Kio Griffith
Band photos: Allen D. Glass II
Thank you to Kio Griffith, Misato Nagare, Dottie Grossman, David Christensen, Rocco Somazzi, Allen D. Glass II, Jeff Kaiser and Vinny Golia
© 2006 Jason Mears Music, ASCAP and Kris Tiner Music, ASCAP
For more information: www.mtkjquartet.com

Finale
When the camera pulls back
on people you care about
because you have followed
their story all season
and you know
what makes them happy
and what hurts them
and you love them
and want to protect them,
that’s your cue to sit back,
let the music take care of them now.

When I wrote that, I wasn’t thinking about The Empty Cage Quartet, but I see a connection. They share a common view, something about expansiveness or maybe a sense of what I can only call “mission.” These guys actually care about us, and want to make us better through their musical example, God help them. It’s a tall order, admittedly, but saxophonist Jason Mears and trumpeter Kris Tiner talk seriously about the band as a positive model for social change, incorporating and expanding upon what they learned under the tutelage of people like Wadada Leo Smith and Vinny Golia.

Mears, Tiner, Kikuchi and Johnson (“The MTKJ;” now “The Empty Cage Quartet”) came together at The California Institute of the Arts, in Southern California, circa 2002. They began playing music that was admittedly “horrible” (Kris Tiner’s word), at first, but which has evolved to a very telepathic kind of communication that transcends historical models of creative new music and almost doesn’t require language in its usual sense. They’re bent on transcending the clichés of “free jazz,” with its historically associated bias toward self-expression at the expense of everything else. They all contribute tunes and are dedicated to finding ways of getting around traditional improvisation and composition, to create music that is “continuous” and spontaneous. At the same time, in their musical explorations, they incorporate and honor the earlier forms they want to transcend. There is, for example, homage to without imitation of the Anthony Braxton and Ornette Coleman quartets.

So they use a system which in effect means that, in performance, any player can cue a composition at any time. For that to work on a level that approaches art requires the ability to almost literally read each other’s minds. Forget about not paying attention. Forget about playing on chord changes. It’s very akin to linking arms and jumping off the proverbial edge-of-the-cliff. It takes enormous mutual trust, acquired through the time-honored method of playing and touring. It is a truism that there’s no substitute for playing together a lot over a period of time in different settings and circumstances. The bonding that emerges from this kind of intensity has created, for these four, a unity that is probably more rock-solid than that of most “real” families.

And that makes them happy. They like it when audiences are touched and even inspired by the music they make together. Drummer Kikuchi tells about a gig in Olympia, WA, when the audience behaved as if they were at a rock show, yelling and “getting into” the show, letting the music take them to new places.

A word about the title of this CD: “Hello the Damage” was the all-too-literal English translation of part of a French review damning the group’s last CD. Anyone familiar with the often hilarious nonsense masquerading as “translation” on the Babelfish web site will sympathize.

This is a band whose musical growth rate has been amazing. They’re dedicated to doing something new, and the strength of their musicianship and vision are collectively and individually impressive enough to make that happen.

I’m going to leave the last word (well, almost) here to Kris Tiner, who, talking about how much he appreciates the work of Thelonious Monk, Charles Ives and Morton Feldman, says, “You can tell they love music.” Amen.

Dottie Grossman
Los Angeles, CA
April, 2006

[Ed. from a reviewer friend: This expression (in french “bonjour les dégâts…”, “damage” is a plural in french, it makes it more spectacular) became famous after is was used in an advertisement against alcohol when driving : “Un verre ça va, trois verres bonjour les dégâts” “One drink is alright, three drinks, hello the damage” : nobody speaks about 2 drinks, the case becomes a hole where reason gets drowned).]

pfMENTUM CD040

PFMCD040