I really didn’t intend for it to happen…
It’s been close to a month since I posted. I hate going that long, but this month has really gotten away from me. There’s a lot to talk about so this post will be a bit of a stream-of consciousness type of post will no single topic.
A couple of weeks ago I took a couple days for myself, jumped on a plane, and visited Kraków Poland. This was my first visit to the Motherland and it was wonderful. I don’t know what I expected; maybe some kind of post-Communist utilitarian wasteland…NOTHING COULD BE MORE WRONG. Kraków is wonderful. Amazing “Central European” architecture, warm people, AMAZING FOOD, and incredible history. I had a good balance of traditional Polish food and “world cuisine”. “Craft burgers” seem to be a growing thing in Europe and I counted no fewer that 10 local burger bars. I will say that I had one of the best burgers of my life in Kraków.
One really can’t talk about history in Europe, and especially in Poland, without addressing The Camps. I was really conflicted about visiting Auschwitz/Birkenau but I ultimately decided to visit and bear witness. It was an awesome experience…I use the word awesome in its classical sense – inspiring awe. When I see the places that these unspeakable things happened, see the evidence that remains, hear the stories retold, and make actual physical contact with this part of the past I found myself standing in awe of how one group of humans could do this to another group of humans, how one group of humans could systematically dehumanize their fellow humans. I was a soup of emotions after the tour. It’s difficult to recommend this the same way one would recommend seeing the Vatican or the Louve, but I really believe that visiting The Camps is something we should all do at some point in our lives.
“Wake Me Up…When September Ends”
August is always a hard month for me when I’m on the road or away from my family. My anniversary and my son’s birthday are both at the end of August, within two days of eachother. Stephanie and I had our eyes wide open when I accepted this assignment, but this milestone was harder than I was expecting. This wasn’t the first anniversary we’ve been apart and with the realities of Doctoral work, road bands, ships, and the multitudes of other realities of working as a musician post-navy it certainly won’t be our last. I’m not trying to figure out WHY this one has been so much harder, I’m just sitting with it. August also always reminds me of Stephanie’s adventures in health. She’s doing great, but August is always a reminder of from where we’ve come.
It’s not all gray and pouty though. I’ve come across some amazing things to listen to. My listening of the past couple of weeks has tended toward vocalists. I want to mention three recordings – one that I’ve know about but got pushed to the back of my pile for a bit, and two that are new for me.
Moss – Moss is a vocal quintet featuring some of my favorite vocalists: Luciana Souza, Kate McGarry, Theo Bleckmann, Peter Eldridge, and Lauren Kinhan. They have one recording out on Sunnyside – “Moss”. It is some amazing singing and the setting of e.e. cumming’s “I Carry Your Heart” is worth the cost of purchase alone.
Also, two recordings by percussionist/arranger John Hollenbeck, both of which feature McGarry and Bleckmann – “Songs I Like A Lot” and “Songs We Like A Lot”. Both recordings feature transcendent writing for jazz orchestra and are not traditional “big band with singer” at all. Check out “Man of Constant Sorrow” (yes, the same song that was in Oh Brother…) on the “Songs I Like A Lot” recording.
That’s it for now…next time I promise to talk about reed storage or something…