Zoilus by Carl Wilson

Archive for March, 2005

Robert Creeley: Of Some Lost Thrush

March 31st, 2005

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Other notes wait in the wings, but I was saddened this afternoon to learn that Robert Creeley died yesterday morning at the age of 78. Others can and will no doubt eulogize him more roundly than I can, but I can say that when I was younger, I was dismissive of Creeley’s work, which I thought too full of the mundane for poetry. It took age to appreciate the music of it, its high fidelity to the awkward stutters in which the mind feels thought. Its low fidelity to ease, like a four-track language. He said that the inarticulate is what poetry has as its own now, the way that jazz after Coltrane had the fracture of melody as its material, its home ground. The best way to read him is to hear him, I think, in his creaky voice, suffused with pain and anger and tenderness: You can find examples in abundance at Linebreak. Musicians, of course, heard the tuneliness of his work, as he did of theirs (jazz was a long inspiration): His poems were set to music by Mercury Rev, former students of his at U Buffalo; as well as by Steve Swallow on Home, with vocals by Sheila Jordan; Courage (Steve Swallow, Chris Massey and John Wills) on an album called The Way Out Is Via The Door; another band with Swallow and David Torn and others, on an album called Have We Told You All You’d Thought to Know?; and many times over the years with the late great soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy (read Pierre Joris’ fine liner notes to one Lacy-Creeley album, Futurities). You can hear more of Creeley reading here at Kelly Writer’s House in Philly.

An NPR obituary for Robert Creeley is here. There’s the very moving sight of people exchanging favourite Creeley anecdotes and pomes, as if gathered under a streetlamp, on Metafilter, and an array of links to mourn with at Wood S Lot. A review by Tom Clark of Creeley’s book Life & Death, and an appropriate poem:

A Song

I had wanted a quiet testament
and I had wanted, among other things,
a song.
That was to be
of a like monotony.
(A grace
Simply. Very very quiet.
A murmur of some lost
thrush, though I have never seen one.

Which was you then. Sitting
and so, at peace, so very much now this same quiet.

A song.

And of you the sign now, surely, of a gross
perpetuity
(which is not reluctant, or if it is,
it is no longer important.

A song.

Which one sings, if he sings it,
with care.

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Notes That Are Not In Next Weekend’s Column That Are Probably More Interesting Than The Column Itself (One In A Continuing Series)

March 30th, 2005

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Overtones on Sat. will be about product placement. A couple of factoids that did not find a place:

Spamalot, the new Broadway musical (acclaimed by the New Yorker and others) based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, seems to be aptly named: The show includes on-stage product placement not only for Yahoo Internet services, but, yes, for Hormel Foods’ original Spam product. For those of you playing along at home, early Internerds actually adapted the name for the unsolicited solicitations that jam up your email box from a famous Monty Python skit. And now Monty Python is spamming its audiences. On behalf of Spam. Product placement in live theatre, especially in the dialogue, sounds like some kind of Mr. Show skit to begin with, but apparently it’s becoming common - Broadway shows lately have spammed crowds for Veuve Cliquot, Bombay Gin and even Turtle Wax, which appears on stage in the new Beach Boys musical Good Vibrations, presumably to buff up the muscle cars, no doubt themselves also product-placed.

They’re having a big product-placement problem at Carnival in Rio: “Some traditional samba groups lament that growing sponsorship by companies is hijacking creative themes. In many cases it replaced aid from underground lottery bosses who have bankrolled Rio’s Carnival for decades while keeping a low profile. Now sponsorship by companies often means outside influence on the samba schools, the groups that compete in the annual extravaganza.” Apparently one of the samba schools is now run by a large hydro company, whose slogan has been incorporated into the offical Carnival song.

How far would the advertisers like to take it? Somewhere, no doubt, in this neighbourhood:

Coke-backed Montefiore has its own cumbia band to sing songs about great fruit drinks

Charles Newbery
21 February 2005
Advertising Age

[Buenos Aires, Argentina] In a fresh approach to product placement, Coca-Cola has created its own cumbia band to sing about its Montefiore fruit drink on a TV show in Argentina dedicated to the catchy popular music.

Interpublic Group of Cos.’ McCann Erickson Argentina assembled The Montefiore Band and wrote five songs playing up the rich flavor and high yield of the concentrated apple, grapefruit and orange drink.

The group takes the stage once an hour on “Pasion” (“Passion”), a Saturday program on America TV that draws Montefiore’s target-lower-middle and middle-class consumers, especially housewives. The songs also air on radio. The cumbia effort is backed by outdoor, print and point-of-sale ads.

Montefiore’s attributes “are expressed in a fun way,” said Ezequiel Fernandez Sasso, brand manager at Coca-Cola de Argentina. “The people that watch every Saturday, they remember the songs… at the time of deciding [what to buy].”

To a marching beat, the band sings, “I want your flavor for me, Montefiore for baby. It costs less, yields more. It has three flavors to enjoy.”

Another song, about going to the market to pick up a Montefiore for your buddies back home, goes “Drinks all around, Montefiore. There are three flavors, Montefiore.”

Coke’s cumbia connection links Montefiore with a thriving movement among its target group. The music, a danceable mix of punk angst, reggae beats and soccer-stadium fervor, is often compared with gangsta rap in the U.S. for its lyrics about drugs, discrimination, sex and violence, and now Coke’s Montefiore fruit drink.

It also seems the right moment to toast the revival of The Who Sell Out by Petra Haden. I haven’t heard her version yet, but if it truly involves Deleuzian counter-effectuation, that party gotta be bumpin’.

Totally unrelated, Alex Ross tells us what position his 20th-century-music book is going to take on Schoenberg (sorta).

And Between Thought & Expression has unreleased M.I.A. and other next (and/or next-to-last) shit.

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It Shoulda Been Kenny G., Man

March 30th, 2005

The thought that Elvis Costello conceivably might attend restrains me from making legally dubious jokes about a carefully placed bomb. Instead I will make some variation on this, merely morally dubious, joke:
Q. What do you get when you combine “Canadian” and “Smooth Jazz”?
A. I’m not sure, but its living will says to remove the feeding tube.

GEORGE BENSON TO BE HONOURED DURING INAUGURAL CANADIAN SMOOTH JAZZ AWARDS

The Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards
Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts
April 10, 2005 / 7:30PM

Smooth Jazz - the genre is new to Canada but the music has been serenading the world for decades. The Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards were designed by Mary Kirk (Wave 94.7FM) and John Beaudin (www.smoothjazznow.com) as a vehicle to promote smooth jazz music and its artists. Kenny G, Grover Washington Jr.and George Benson are but a few icons to have led the way. Today, the Canadian Smooth Jazz music scene is alive and vibrant with the outstanding talents of Michael Buble, Rik Emmett, Marc Jordan and Alfie Zappacosta to name a few. The recent addition of this format to Canadian radio has put Smooth Jazz on the airwaves providing a refreshing alternative to current radio programming. Audiences are drawn to the comfort of the format that includes great voices, outstanding instrumentalists and emotive songwriters.

Top nominees for the ceremony include Diana Krall, Eddie Bullen, Brian Hughes, Marc Jordan, Clayton / Scott Group and Alexander Zonjic all with three. Krall is mentioned in the Female Vocalist category as well as Album of the Year for “The Girl in the Other Room” and SOCAN Best Original Composition Award for “Narrow Daylight” co written by her husband Elvis Costello. Alexander Zonjic was nominated in the most diverse categories, the flutist who also happens to host the morning show at V98.7 in Detroit has his name in for the BMO Broadcaster of the Year, Wind Instrumentalist and his “Seldom Blues” CD is up for Album of the Year.

[etc. etc. zzzzz]

This awards show is made possible through the generosity of its sponsors
Wave 94.7FM, www.smoothjazznow.com, BMO Bank of Montreal/BMO Financial Group, Mercedes-Benz Oakville Autohaus, Hyatt Park Toronto, Barbados Tourism Authority, Marville Travel, EMI Music Canada & Universal Music Group.

Ticket Availability: Show only: $110.00 [!!!] Reserve your seat by calling the Oakville PAC Box Office at XXX.XXX.XXX or 1-800-XXX-XXXX. [Numbers deleted to protect the ... everybody.]

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Having An Above-Average Weekend

March 28th, 2005

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An enticing poster, tho all I know of the bands is silvery rumour.

… means not getting to all the worthy shows there were, and not having time to post. There’s much to blog about - notably the final 50 Tracks list, among others - but for the moment I just wanted to alert Toronto readers to live action for this week. Rest of world, talk among yourselves. The following list represents the creme of the remnants of March, not full listings - am I missing anything? (Observe the insanity of Thursday night!) April listings to come mid-week.

Meanwhile, here is the prescription for what you should be doing April Fool’s: First, go see the enfant terrible/court jester of contemporary cinema, Harmony Korine (Gummo, etc.), delivering the Kodak Lecture at Ryerson at 7:30 pm. (If you can’t make it corporeally, the lecture will be webcast live from the website and archived for later viewing. (Click “ryecast.”) And then after that, hustle your pretty little ass on down to the Arraymusic studio to catch Toronto improv supergroup Drumheller as well as Chicago anarcho-cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and friends guesting with various Toronto improvisers in the Leftover Daylight series. Prank your ears, prank your head.

TONIGHT (MON. MAR 28)
* Radio Mondays w/ JASON COLLETT, KEVIN DREW, HOWIE BECK, ANDREW CASH, BILL PRIDDLE, HOLLY THROSBY, MARTY KINACK, “special guest”! (Psst, I hear it’s HAYDEN) => Supermarket, 9 pm, $8
* Forced Under Cover 3 w/ ANDY MAGOFFIN, THE PHONEMES, DETECTIVE KALITA, JAYDAWG playing Leonard Cohen and other Canadian hits => Sneaky Dee’s, 9:30 pm
* GRINDER w/Darren Maccarty of the Detroit Red Wings => Drake, 6 pm, $10

TUES. MAR 29 [...]

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“Is This A Two-Thumbs-Up Mountain?”

March 26th, 2005

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Yesterday in The Globe and Mail, a review of the new Beck disc, Guero.

Today in Overtones, it’s CBC’s 50 Tracks (and The Other 50 Tracks) versus the iPod Shuffle in a look at the standoff between the selecters and the sensualists about whose mode of listening rules. And: Zoilus-household secrets revealed!

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The T- to the I- to the C-K-N-O-R

March 23rd, 2005

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The beat goes on at THE OTHER 50 TRACKS - Shadowy Men, Sloan, Hank Snow blah blah blah - but over here at zee Zoilus we are busily working to clear decks for massive tomorrow-night partying. (Er, sorry, I mean, “refreshments.”) Hazy-minded musical discussion will recommence on Friday.

All are invited to the launch of Sheila Heti’s novel, Ticknor
Thurs. March 24, 7pm
Stones Place, 1255 Queen St. W., Toronto
Reading, signing, refreshments, and music by Global Pop Conspiracy.
Presented by House of Anansi Press and the University of Toronto Bookstore Reading Series.

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As If I’d Never Had Spaghetti and Meatballs

March 22nd, 2005

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Must-read of the day: Tom Waits telling the UK Observer his favourite albums ever, many of them predictable (Alan Lomax field recordings, Captain Beefheart and Thelonious Monk, Bohemian-Moravian Texan bands, James Brown), but worth eyeballing for the writing not the shopping. I think my favourite is his (unusually namedropping) description of why he includes a mix CD of opera arias, describing Francis Coppola playing him Puccini’s Nessun Dorma for the first time: “He was like, as if I said I’ve never had spaghetti and meatballs - ‘Oh My God, Oh My God!’ - and he grabbed me and he brought me into the jukebox (there was a jukebox in the kitchen) and he put that on and he just kind of left me there. It was like giving a cigar to a five-year old. I turned blue, and I cried.”

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Hot-Clutton Issue

March 22nd, 2005

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Rob Clutton. Photo by Joe Sorbara

Tonight at 10 pm at the Tranzac Club, bassist-composer Rob Clutton launches his first solo-bass CD, coming out on the Rat-drifting label with the typically self-effacing title Dubious Pleasures. I’m quoted in the press materials calling Rob one of Toronto’s most gifted pure musicians, and it’s a very pleasant surprise to find this modest player stepping out of the group context (he plays in a good dozen ensembles, including his own Rob Clutton Band) to put himself in the spotlight. The disc shows off Clutton’s comfortably wide range, whether he’s plucking or playing arco or using extended techniques such as the long hisses and frictions that make How Big Are the Dots sound like a journey in a slow-leaking balloon, or the wavering, grumbling drones that rise to scraping screeches in Mr. Taciturn. But there are also nearly devotional-sounding melodies, as on the concise Air. It’s easy for something like a solo bass CD to become monotonous, to feel like a recital without personality, and it’s a credit to Rob’s developing compositional chops that Dubious Pleasures never recedes into background music but keeps up its intensity and physicality. He’s a difficult musician to place in a school - this is not a “free jazz” album or a new-music composition disc or a micro-sonics improv album, though it contains elements of each. The eclecticism is welcome, although I sometimes wish I had more of a compass for where this music wants to go, perhaps more of a sense of an argument or challenge posited. This is an issue I have with a lot of Canadian creative improv these days. I’m not sure if it’s a reasonable one. On my side is the dialectical tradition of jazz and improv, which have thrived on their forward-questing energies, but perhaps it is too much of an extramusical, or nonmusical, concern - and maybe the quiet refusal to be burdened with it in the current scene is a healthy abstention, forcing the focus back on to the music’s unfolding from moment to moment. This sense of duration, almost of a suppressed narrative, is common to a lot of the Rat-drifting releases (featuring players such as Eric Chenaux, Martin Arnold, Doug Tielli, Ryan Driver, etc.), and perhaps it’s where Rob’s less abstract, more robust style meets theirs.

After his solo set tonight he will join Tim Posgate’s Jazzstory for a set with Posgate on guitar, Lina Allemano on trumpet and Jean Martin on drums. The Tranzac is at 292 Brunswick Ave., Toronto, just south of Bloor.

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It’s Hard to Say Which Is Funnier…

March 21st, 2005

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Random notes: You didn’t hear it here first, but I must instruct The Office fans out there (with nothing to nourish them but knuckle-gnawing about the American version) to perk up to the Internet’s latest-greatest find, which is Ricky Gervais’ 1980s New Romantic synth-pop band, Seona Dancing. The pictures are not to be missed. Apparently they were wee in the UK, big in the Philippines, the kind of thing that shows how right Apple is to insist that reality is always on shuffle.

Otherwise, please note that the “Other 50 Tracks” action is still unfolding at Pregnant Without Intercourse (my latest pick, No Means No, doesn’t seem to be up yet).

Nice reviews/profiles for Mrs. Zoilus this weekend in the Globe and the Gazette. She is in town this week (for her launch on Thursday), which makes all the world a better place.

See you tonight at Trampoline Hall?

Welcome to Hell, Here Are Your Ice Skates

March 21st, 2005

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Brian Eno reportedly has joined the Roxy Music reunion to record their first new album in over 20 years. (Contrary to that story, tho, the RM reunion before now wasn’t a one-off - it involved world tours in 2001 and 2003.) Given Eno’s previous attitude, this comes as quite a surprise if it’s true. And in a funny dovetailing with this weekend’s subject matter, Eno is acting as a financial backer to someone who is trying to take Tony Blair’s Sedgfield seat in British parliament away from him, over Iraq.

Bryan Ferry is 104.

Update Tuesday: Enoweb says the London Times report was dead wrong. One wonders, then, where it came from? Was this Eno sending up a trial balloon then letting it burst, or the other Roxys trying to stir up interest in the third round of their overextended reunion? I saw the 2003 tour and enjoyed it, but after a certain point there does seem to be a tendency to milk the heifer dry. Um, you can buy a box of Oblique Strategies cards here.


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