Small as a Pin or as Big as the World

Thelonious Monk Big Band Rehearsing at the Jazz Loft for Historic Town Hall Concert, 1959 (photo by W. Eugene Smith
Thelonious Monk Big Band Rehearsing at the Jazz Loft for Historic Town Hall Concert, 1959 (photo by W. Eugene Smith)

Happy Friday the Thirteenth! I’ve long considered Friday the 13th to be a lucky day — among other things, my youngest son was born on a Friday the 13th. “Friday the Thirteenth” is also the title of one of my favorite Thelonious Monk compositions. I just learned today that saxophonist Steve Lacy, a Monk protege, compiled a list of his words of wisdom. Much food for thought here: Steve Lacy's list of Monkisms

World’s Toughest Milkman

Cover of Reid Fleming #2I discovered recently that David Boswell, the brilliant creator of Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman, is now making all the Reid Fleming comics available online as free downloads! If you haven’t yet discovered the bizarre, surreal, hilarious world of Reid Fleming, you are in for a treat.

Reid’s flagrant disregard for Milk, Inc. company policies, his devotion to his favorite TV show (Ivan — about a dead guy in a suit who… well, it’s hard to explain), his adoration of his girlfriend, Lena, his irreverent attitude toward management and customers alike, have endeared him to legions of fans.

There’s a little Reid Fleming in all of us — but not too much, or we’d all be unemployed, in jail, or worse!

R.I.P. George Duke

I was sorry to learn that the prolific pianist George Duke died this past week. I had the pleasure of seeing him live with Frank Zappa in the early ’70s. He played a lot of great music during his 67 ½ years.

Below is a video clip from a French television broadcast featuring a performance—starting at about the 1:14 mark—of “REDUNZL” (aka “RDNZL”) by one of Zappa’s greatest bands, including not only George Duke but also Ian Underwood (woodwinds), Bruce Fowler (trombone), Ralph Humphrey (drums), Tom Fowler (bass), Ruth Underwood (marimba), and Jean-Luc Ponty (violin). Not the best video quality, but it’s a nice taste of what Zappa’s music was like around the time of Studio Tan / Läther.

For a taste of George’s later work, here’s “My Piano” from his 2002 album “Face the Music”