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LOG - 10

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1 Jan 2002 - Once again, I pop over to San Pedro's huge Korean bell and witness the ringing in of the New Year.

3 Jan - After catching some opening events for Media day at the L.A. Auto show (Bob Lutz's speech on the direction of GM and Jay Leno's appearance in helping to introduce a new Mercedes Benz roadster), I meet Howard Ho and Weber Wang in Alhambra. Ho is a budding composer and also reviews classical music performances for the UCLA Daily Bruin. Wang is a former member of a boy group, B.A.D. that (according to him) has the current #2 hit in Taiwan.

11 Jan - On NPR's Morning Edition, there's a piece on the revived musical "Flower Drum Song" (modified by David Henry Hwang). As he says, it's all about recontextualizing the songs. The musical's run in L.A. is ending this week. Next year, it's going to Broadway.

12 Jan - Happen to catch part of the BBC World Service radio program, "Arts in Action." One of the news items reported involves Somtow Sucharitkul, a Thai American science fiction and fantasy author, who also happens to be a composer. It turns out that he recently organized a musical concert in Bangkok. The purpose was to promote peace and to commemorate the victims of the 9/11 terrorist strikes. Musicians from 17 nations participated. According to the report, Sucharitkul (whose nom de plume is "S.P. Somtow") had already been in Thailand spending time in a monastery (fulfilling a Thai custom for males to spend time learning to be monks) and had scheduled to fly home to L.A. when the terrorist strikes occurred.

17 Jan - Did a quick pre-show interview with DJ's Apollo and Vinroc, 2 of the Triplethreat DJs. (Missing was Shortkut.) They were the opening act for Galactic, a New Orleans funk jam band. I was tired, so it was tough trying to hang on through the second set.
The small stage at the Recher Theater (in Towson, Maryland, north of Baltimore) meant that the turntables were stuck way in the back. What'd really capture the audience's imagination would be for the turntables to be placed on a stage in the center of the room. It'd also be nice to have video cameras set at different angles that could relay the DJ action to various monitors placed around the room.
Sorry for getting sidetracked with visual production suggestions that are unlikely to ever be realized. What's most important to know is how they sounded, right?.
Well, I was getting so saturated with all their mad skillz and funky breaks that things would drag at times. There was a certain amount of repetition that I found boring. Furthermore, since I was right up against the stage, I wasn't sure how all the scratching and musicmaking was sounding through the P.A., the loudspeakers. Inotherwords, I wasn't optimally placed to hear the sound. That thought occurred to me more than once when I listened to collaborations between Triplethreat and Galactic. From where I was standing, it was easy for Galactic's sound to overwhelm the DJs. Perhaps the mix was better if I'd been standing in the middle of the room.

28 Feb - In the Washington Post, today, there's an article about a commemoration of the slain Wall Street Journal reporter, Danny Pearl. It happened last night at Madam's Organ, a bar in the DC neighborhood of Adams Morgan. When he lived in Washington, Pearl would frequent Madam's Organ and sit in with Bob Perilla's bluegrass band (Big Hillbilly Bluegrass Band), playing his violin. One of the opening paragraphs exclaims: "What a sweet tribute -- as sweet as those high keening notes that Akira Otsuka, of Perilla's band, coaxed out of his mandolin last night. There were no big speeches, just a bunch of little ones good enough to raise a roomful of mugs in Pearl's memory." Well, well -- Akira Otsuka, a name I haven't seen in many years. I remember interviewing him for the radio show. He'd become addicted to bluegrass in Japan, before coming to the States. He allowed me to dub a cut or two recorded early in his career. One song was a bluegrass version of a famous Japanese folk song. It was quite a novelty (pretty hilarious, at first), yet still catchy.

2 Mar - Instead of going to see the band, Blonde Redhead perform in Baltimore, I went to see a mainstream movie, Black Hawk Down. It's all about MOUT (Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain) warfare. Actually, I saw the film in the late afternoon and probably could've made the show this evening. I'm not sure if I would've emotionally survived the intense dissonance of Blonde Redhead, following the devastating intensity of the movie.
Earlier this week, I'd submitted an article to Rice Paper magazine on Chinese Canadian improvisor pianist (performance artist), Lee Pui Ming. Hopefully, the profile will be published this spring, perhaps in April.

8 March - On my way to a computer music concert, I heard Nitin Sawhney on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" (their pm news show). He'd been interviewed about his new album, Prophesy. The musical excerpts sounded interesting but slightly vague.
Back to the computer music concert (which was held at Peabody)... I was so tired, that when I heard the last piece, an improvisation performed on an Apple Powerbook, I started falling asleep. I found myself cycling through dreams. I would start dreaming an odd idea, and then awake. Only to fall into another dream. (No need to take drugs, here. Psychedelia induced by a Powerbook?)

22 March - Rendesvoused with some old O.C. friends at Oysters, a bar and restaurant in Corona del Mar (Orange Country, California). I chose that spot 'cause I knew that the Ron Kobayashi Trio would be playing there. I'd exchanged email messages with Ron Kobayashi before, so I think he was aware of the fact that I was from out-of-town. A bit of a surprise for him, that I should turn up.
  I sat right next to the piano (a Yamaha baby grand) and had a perfect view of his hands. He had a thick binder of a fake book and easily responded to requests. (Although I don't know if anyone asked for a specific song.) I requested Coltrane, and, later, something original. After the latter, I asked him for the name of the piece. "Plastic People," he replied, "It's the first cut on the album." [He'd given me a copy of his new album, No Preservatives] "What inspired it?" I asked. "This place, he replied, "there's a lot of people like that around these places."
The trio's performance was marvelous, despite the din of the Friday night crowd. (The tin tile ceiling didn't help the acoustics, either.) The live version of "Plastic People" was livelier, in retrospect, that the recorded version.
The group played straight ahead jazz, sprinkled with other influences (like funk and reggae). Actually, the electric bass player, Doug Lunn, was a stand-in for the regular guy, Baba Elefante. You couldn't tell from their consummate playing and interaction. (Turns out that Lunn has filled in before.) [I should mention, for the record, that the drummer, Steve Dixon, sounded pretty good, too.]
I noticed with Kobayashi's piano technique that he tends to almost lean over the keyboard. (Is that a result of playing in crowded, cramped spaces?) I'd like to see him set himself back a little bit from the keys, to give his arms more freedom of movement, and hopefully, promote smoother, more fluid runs.
That, aside, I generally have to admire his playing and musicianship.

23 March - attended an electronic music and electroacoustic concert at Harbor community college in Wilmington, California. Many pieces and videos had Asian influences. All, except the last piece, was provided by the American Composer's Forum   Sonic Circuits IX Electronic Music Festival. The professor or instructor who organized the event, Rod Oakes, introduced each piece. That was very useful, not only to me, but, I'm sure, to an audience who were mostly students trying to fulfill a class requirement. (i.e., they were clueless about these kinds of music.)

6 April - Saw a dance and music ensemble led by drummer Hiroshi Chu Okubo at the DC "Sakura Matsuri" or Cherry Blossom Festival. It was cold and windy, but that didn't seem to bother the performers that much. It helped that the music was rather simple and robust.
Okubo started solo, demonstrating the Miburi virtual music system made by Yamaha. It's a set of sensors and buttons that you wear on your body. The sensors trigger various sounds and sound effects. (Okubo became a one-man electronic band.)

  Late this evening at the new student union at UMBC, I caught up with the Rachel Leyco Band from Richmond, Virginia. They're an alt rock/pop trio that play original music. The manager told me that the songs are initially developed by Leyco (words & some chords), and then fleshed out by bassist Dale Curran and drummer John O'Donnell. The 2 guys are fairly virtuousic (skilled) on their instruments, and seem to be a bit older than Leyco, who's a 19 year-old freshman at Virginia Commonwealth U in Richmond.
Most of the songs sounded similar to each other. I'd welcome more melodic and harmonic development, and, hopefully, that will come in time.
(I found out, days afterward, that Jocelyn Enriquez was singing at a Filipino student conference on the other side of town that same night. Oh well... couldn't be in 2 places at once. anyhow.)

8 April - I interviewed a new band, ee, from the Bay area. They'd come to Arlington, Virginia to play the Galaxy Hut (a small bar) and said they were midway through their national tour. We did the interview in their van, and the bassist, Che Chou, was kind enough to offer me the use of his small stereo mike. (Mine had a problem with the adapter plugs not being seated securely, thus causing loud crackles in my ears.)
The vocalist and lyricist (and leader), Tobin Mori, used to be in a NoCal South Bay band called Korea Girl. He plays guitar, as does the newest member, Sooyoung Park (known as the leader of the nationally-known band, Seam -- defunct?). The drummer, who's quite a solid player, is Peter Nguyen. So the band is made up of a Japanese American, Korean American, Chinese American, and Vietnamese American... I guess you could call them a pan-Asian American band.
  Their music is rather distinctive. It's pretty melodic and seems to favor lots of mid-to-slow tempos. Their sound is full of langorous ringing guitar lines, powerful drumming, and modulated volume (loudness/softness).

13 April - By chance, I checked out the streaming video for the single "Romeo" by Basement Jaxx (the house dance music duo). It turns out to be a visual remix of a Bollywood film. The film has been edited to match the rhythms of the music. The dancing seems to closely fit the club beat of Basement Jaxx.

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