Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Upstairs, Downstairs

They're all rattus norvegicus, but there is a world of difference between the two.

Upstairs, they are pets. We call them fancy rats; hooded, masked, Berkshire, with or without "dumbo" ears. They come in white with dark hoods, beige, fawn, silver and brown. We hold them and walk around with them on our shoulders.

Downstairs, they are pests. Their color is agouti brown. It's a hard-knock life, but they are infinitely skilled and resourceful. They tunnel into crawlspaces and push through hardware cloth. Block one hole and they emerge from three more. They are especially fond of ramen noodles.

I have company in my basement. As I type in my office, I hear a critter happily rustling among cartons that should be cleared out. I have considered poisoning it, but I did that in November--with predictably unhappy results. (When you have a cluttered basement, you really don't want a dead rat.) Eventually I will have to call in the Neutocrete guys to seal the crawlspace--probably the only thing that will keep the downstairs critters out.

Meanwhile, I have my respectable upstairs rats to play with.

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Temperature: 30°F

I broke the plastic hook for my window feeder trying to move it from inside the house. I was able to replace it with the hook from one of the thistle feeders, which hasn't seen any action lately. There is still one thistle feeder up outside the kitchen in case we get little yellow visitors.

I had a dentist appointment on Monday with Dr. Richard Epstein (Sometimes Classical, 2nd, 4th & 5th Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.). His office looks out over a large garden with plenty of feeders, including a window feeder in the room where I was. It was better than television, except maybe 24.

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Monday, January 29, 2007


Temperature 22°F

Score one for the little guy. Two chickadees have been enjoying a late-morning breakfast while a few white-throated sparrows clean up underneath.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Playlist, January 28, 2007

Set One
Pat Metheny; It's For You; Works (1994 ECM)
Weather Report; A Remark You Made; Heavy Weather (1977 Columbia)
Steely Dan; Reelin' in the Years; Alive in America (1995 Giant)
Eyal Maoz; Chita; Edom (2006 Tzadik)
Reuben Wilson; Slick Willie; Movin' On (2006 Savant)
[mic break 10:36 a.m.]

Set Two
Miles Davis; Four; Four and More (1966/2005 Columbia)
Miles Davis; Seven Steps to Heaven; Four and More (1966/2005 Columbia)
Woody Shaw; Rashaan's Run; Live Volume Two (2001 Highnote)
Steve Turre; Sanyas; Keep Searchin' (2006 HighNote)
Al Grey; Lester Leaps In; Bewitched (1995 Telarc)
Al Grey; Centerpiece; Centerpiece (1995 Telarc)
[mic break 11:30 a.m.]

Set Three
Sai Ghose Quartet; Little B's Poem; New Blood (2006 Summit)
Matt Wilson; Little B's Poem; The Scenie Route (2007 Palmetto)
Larry Coryell; Little B's Poem; Tributaries (1989 Novus)
Various; Little B's Poem; One Night With Blue Note Preserved (Volume 1) (1985 Blue Note)
[mic break 12:02 p.m.]

Set Four
Mathias Lupri Group; Wondering & Wandering; Metalix (2006 Summit)
Mathias Lupri Group; (another) Lost Creek; Metalix (2006 Summit)
Gong; Shadows Of; Expresso (1976 Virgin)
Ed Mann; One of Us; Perfect World (1990 CMP)
Andy Summers; Passion of the Shadow; Charming Snakes (1990 Private)
Frank Zappa; Sinister Footwear 2nd Movement; Make A Jazz Noise Here (1991 Barking Pumpkin)
Frank Zappa; Echindna's Arf>Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?: You Can't Do That On Stage Any More Vol. 2 (1988 Rykodisc)
M'Boom; Caravanserai; Live at S.O.B.'s-New York (1992 Max Roach Productions)
Red Norvo Quintet; When You're Smiling; The Forward Look (1991 Reference)
[mic break 1:05 p.m.]

Set Five
Jim McNeely; Speak Low; Boneyard (2007 Origin)
The Bill Melvin Trio; Morning Star; Standards Zone (1990 Global Pacific)
The Bill Melvin Trio; So What; Standards Zone (1990 Global Pacific)
Miles Davis; So What; Four and More (1966/2005 Columbia)
Stan Getz & the Oscar Peterson Trio; Pennies From Heaven; Stan Getz & the Oscar Peterson Trio (1959 Verve)
[2:00 p.m.]

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Moronic Convergence

I'm watching C-SPAN's coverage of the United for Peace & Justice rally in Washington. Most of the speakers are shouting. There was a "9-II [sic] was an inside job" sign behind the podium earlier, but it's not there now. Lt. Ehren Watada's father was attempting to explain why his son is facing prison time.

Right now there's an active duty Navy man ranting about imperialism.

If Leslie Cagan shouts any more she's going to lose her voice. That might not be a bad thing.

It is easy to imagine what would really happen to these people if the Bush Administration were really the Nazis they portray them to be.

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Friday, January 26, 2007


Temperature: 8°F

Blackbirds are large and in charge again today. I noticed several cowbirds mixed in with the grackles. These hangers-on don't perch on the feeder, but wait for seeds to drop to the ground. The grackles aren't aggressive, but they are visually intimidating with their huge wings and tails. The smaller songbirds have been staying away, except for a few enterprising birds who use the window feeder along the southwest wall.

I put out a suet cake yesterday and the downy woodpeckers were very happy, except they too are intimidated by the grackles. Starlings have started coming aroound, which is a bad thing. They can wipe out an entire suet cake in a day or two.

UPDATE: He's happy.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007


Temperature: 26°F.

There has been a lot of activity this morning as the cold front approaches. Sparrows have dominated the feeder today, with just a flash of blue-gray from one titmouse. The noise level has been higher than usual. I was surprised to see a large flock of grackles in the yard. They swarmed the feeder and circled the yard before moving on.

UPDATE: I just spotted a hawk perched in the back yard. He was over the compost and brush piles, no doubt looking for a nice, juicy rat for lunch.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Guilty Pleasures Department

Yes, I've been watching the American Idol auditions. It's equal parts for the goof and for the hope of seeing a good singer in the rough. There have been some pleasant surprises and good laughs and unfortunate people, but nothing particularly outstanding.

First off, it's very difficult to sing anything unaccompanied and make it sound good outside the tiled cloister of the shower. Try listening to the contestants sing while tapping the beat and humming a bass line. Many of the contestants pick songs that are dependent on the arrangement to make them happen; one person's rendition of Disco Inferno just didn't have the context to make it happen.

Second, I have never been a fan of the currently in vogue style of flogging the hell out of every melodic line with grace note and labrynthine runs. A large number of contestants try to emulate this style, with the results being that everybody sounds the same and the melodies are beaten to an unrecognizable pulp.

Finally, just once, I would like somebody to get up there and sing a jazz standard. Out of the tens of thousands who enter, some contestants must do this, but if they have they never make it past the editors. It would make my night to hear somebody attempt "Night and Day" or "All of Me."

UPDATE: They did it. One of the last contestants sang "Fly Me to the Moon" and moved on to the next round. I didn't care for his singing but it was nice to hear a standard.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Obamamania's running wild

Sorry folks, this guy is not a candidate. He's a brand. I'd rather watch pro wrestling.

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Busy day at the feeding station

I'm not sure what caused the rush on my feeder this morning, but there were lots of visitors. Several white-breasted nuthatches and tufted titmice were at it, battling the woodpeckers. My son's favorite was the cardinal on the ground. He'd never seen a redbird before, and was captivated. When spring comes, I will have to explain that the feathered kind is good, but the bat-wielding kind is bad.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Playlist, January 21, 2007

Set One
Bill Heid; Tsun Hun; Wet Streets (1999 Savant)
John Scofield Trio; Alfie; EnRoute (2004 Verve)
Steve Turre; Reconciliation; Keep Searchin' (2006 HighNote)
DePaul University Big Band; Juniflip; Clark Terry Express (1996 Reference)
[mic break 10:24 a.m.]

Set Two
Clark Terry/Frank Wess; Shiny Stockings; Big Band Basie (1995 Reference)
Clark Terry/Frank Wess; Jumpin' at the Woodside; Big Band Basie (1995 Reference)
The Taylor/Fidyk Big Band; Full Count; Live at Blues Alley (2006 OA2)
The Ed Palermo Big Band; G-Spot Tornado; NPR Studio 4A
McCoy Tyner Big Band; Fly With the Wind; The Turning Point (1992 Verve)
[mic break 11:00 a.m.]

Set Three
James Spaulding; Judy; Songs of Courage (1993 Muse)
Miles Davis; Frelon Brun; Filles de Kilimanjaro (1969/2002 Columbia)
Chick Corea; Concierto de Aranjuez/Span; Rendezvous in New York (2003 Stretch)
[mic break 11:31 a.m.]

Set Four (the Michael Brecker side man set)
Chick Corea; Quartet No. 2, Part 1; Rendezvous in New York (2003 Stretch)
Diana Krall; Just the Way You Are; Live in Paris (2002 Verve)
John Abercrombie; 3 East; Night (1984 ECM)
Charles Mingus; Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting; Me Myself an Eye (1979 Atlantic)
Eddie Gomez; Puccini's Walk; Discovery (1987 Columbia)
Charlie Haden; Travels; American Dreams (2002 Verve)
Pat Metheny; Every Day (I Thank You); Works (1994 ECM)
[mic break 12:38 p.m.]

Set Five
Jaco Pastorius; Liberty City; Word of Mouth (1981 Warner Bros.)
Jaco Pastorius; I Shot the Sheriff; Live in Italy (1986/1999 Jazzpoint)
Monty Alexander; Exodus; Goin' Yard (2001 Telarc)
[mic break 1:19 p.m.]

Set Six
Groove Holmes; Satin Doll; Somethin' Special (1997 Capitol)
Charles Earland; Unforgettable; Unforgettable (1992 Muse)
Shirley Scott; Sonnymoon for Two; Memorial Album (2003 Prestige)
Geoffrey Keezer; Navigating by Starlight; Falling Up (2003 MaxJazz)
Coleman Hawkins; Moonglow; The Hawk Relaxes (2006 Concord)
Ella Fitzgerald; It's Only a Paper Moon; The Best of the Concert Years (2003 Fantasy)
Frank Zappa; Sofa; The Best Band You Never Heard in Your LIfe (1991 Barking Pumpkin)
[2:00 p.m.]

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Israel unfreezes $100M before summit

Israel said Friday it had paid $100 million in frozen tax funds to the Palestinians and rescinded a contentious decision for a new West Bank settlement, strengthening the hand of moderate President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of crucial weekend talks in Damascus with his Hamas rivals.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said the payment, the first such transfer since the militant Islamic Hamas won control of the Palestinian government in March 2006, was made Thursday night.
In other news, Olmert announced that Israel will spend $70 million to build bomb shelters near the Gaza border.
Olmert told a group of municipal leaders he made the decision after determining six years of rocket attacks by Palestinian militants in Gaza was threatening the "inner balance" of the communities, YNetNews reported.
That should come in handy with $100 million worth of rockets and mortars headed their way.

New Haven Coliseum, 1972-2007

It was a small-city arena that never hosted a major-league team. In fact, it was never completed. The New Haven Coliseum was to have had an exhibition hall and street-level stores, but ended up as a rectangular seating bowl topped by a bare-bones parking garage.

Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley performed there. Pat Benatar and Van Halen released concert DVDs from there. The Grateful Dead performed there 11 times between 1977 and 1984, and the Dick's Picks Volume 25 contains most of their 5/10/78 concert. My first Dead show was there (17-minute Uncle John's Band), as was my last Yes concert (the 90125 tour) and the second of two Zappa shows I saw in 1984 (the first Apostrophe of the tour and a nice encore including WPLJ and Sharleena).

What's left of the Coliseum--the parking structure and a small stepped hint of the seating bowl--will be imploded tomorrow morning.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Indymediots spring into action, threaten small business owner

You may have read about Karl Kemp, the Manhattan antiques dealer who is suing four bums homeless people for creating a public nuisance outside his shop. The "social justice" crowd has got ahold of the story, and are proposing a helpful solution:
It seems to me Karl Kemp has too much glass in his display windows. If I were him I'd think about boarding up before instead of after some outraged person put bricks through every one of them!

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Google redraws maps, attempts to rewrite history

Zombietime's latest post reports the following:

Google Earth, the zoomable satellite photo program produced by Google, shows the Temple Mount in Jerusalem as not being in Israel, but being entirely as part of the West Bank (Palestinian Territories). In fact, the entirety of East Jerusalem is shown as not being part of Israel.
Israel made a horrible error in 1967 when they gave control of the Temple Mount to the Waqf. What has followed is destruction of antiquities, and obliteration of the archaelogical record of ancient Israel.

After September 2000, the Muslim Waqf closed off the Temple Mount entirely to any archeological oversight by the Israel Antiquities Authority. Then, in order to complete new underground mosques at the site, it removed to city garbage dumps some 13,000 tons of rubble from the Temple Mount that included archeological remnants from the First and Second Temple periods.

The intention is to turn the entire 36-acre Temple Mount compound into an exclusively Muslim site by erasing every sign, remnant, and memory of its Jewish past, including the destruction of archeological findings that are proof of this past.

In a country where construction projects may be held up for months out of concern for the preservation of antiquities, the free hand given the Muslim Waqf to destroy Jewish artifacts at Judaism's holiest site is hard to comprehend.
If Google Earth says it's so, it must be so. Say hello to my little friend.

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Nickelodeon pimping the Butcher of la Cabaña

Nickelodeon's Naked Brothers Band show.

Not only do they have young boys posing as "naked brothers," but they make one dress in a shirt honoring a mass murderer. The network that once brought us Roundhouse and Are You Afraid of the Dark? has become sick indeed.

(Hat tip: Babalu Blog)

Air checks

I recently organized the past few years' air checks and I've been listening to them in order. Every now and then there are some wonderful surprises. Today's gem, from 11 August 2002:

It doesn't translate well to print, but the sequence made for some interesting listening.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Murderous Hateful Creep Employed Peddling Soft Drink:

(Hat tip: ¡No Pasarán!)

Frigid at last!

The WeatherPixie
I never thought I'd be happy to feel an icy wind outside, but it's a relief to have some seasonal weather at last. My goth Weather Pixie is taking it in stride.

What Does a Kiss Taste Like?

One day a teacher had a taste test with her students.

She picked a little boy to do the first test. She blindfolded him, put a Hershey kiss in his mouth and asked, "Do you know what it is?"

"No, I don't," said the little boy.

"Okay, I'll give you a clue. It's the thing your Daddy wants from your Mom before he goes to work."

Suddenly, a little girl at the back of the room yelled, "Spit it out! It's a piece of ass!"

Monday, January 15, 2007

3 degrees of Kevin Bacon

Three, that's right, count them...three degrees of separation between Kevin Bacon and me.

Kevin Bacon starrred in Footloose with Sarah Jesica Parker, who is married to Matthew Broderick, who was in a high school play with me.

(Left to right: Matthew Broderick, me, Kenneth Lonergan)

I've shaken hands with Zappa and performed Shakespeare with Broderick & Lonergan. Is there anything left for me to do?

UPDATE: By way of the movie Flatliners, I am only four degrees away from Jack Bauer!

UPDATE: After checking the math, I realized I am only two degrees away from Jack Bauer. Actor Rafael Sbarge, who played the clueless father who cooperated with the terrorists and got nuked in last night's 24, was also in the same high scool production of A Midsummer Night's Dream mentioned above. If memory serves, he had a cast party at his house, and at some point in the middle of things, somebody came out and announced that the party was over. He was in 8th grade and I think his parents decided they didn't want a bunch of teenagers partying all night in their Upper West Side digs.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

R.I.P: Alice Coltrane & Michael Brecker

Two notables left us this weekend: Alice Coltrane & Michael Brecker.
Alice Coltrane, the jazz performer and composer who was inextricably linked with the adventurous musical improvisations of her late husband, legendary saxophonist John Coltrane, has died. She was 69.

Coltrane died Friday at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center in West Hills, according to an announcement from the family's publicist. She had been in frail health for some time and died of respiratory failure.

Though known to many for her contributions to jazz and early New Age music, Coltrane, a convert to Hinduism, was also a significant spiritual leader and founded the Vedantic Center, a spiritual commune now located in Agoura Hills. A guru of growing repute, she also served as the swami of the San Fernando Valley's first Hindu temple, in Chatsworth.

For much of the last nearly 40 years, she was also the keeper of her husband's musical legacy, managing his archive and estate. Her husband, one of the pivotal figures in the history of jazz, died of liver disease July 17, 1967, at the age of 40.

A pianist and organist, Alice Coltrane was noted for her astral compositions and for bringing the harp onto the jazz bandstand. Her last performances came in the fall, when she participated in an abbreviated tour that included stops in New York and San Francisco, playing with her saxophonist son, Ravi.
Saxophonist Michael Brecker dies at age 57
Michael Brecker, a versatile and much-studied jazz
saxophonist who won 11 Grammys over a career that spanned more than
three decades, died Saturday at age 57.

Brecker died in New York of leukemia, according to his longtime friend
and agent, Darryl Pitt.

In recent years, the saxophonist had struggled myelodysplastic syndrome,
a cancer in which the bone marrow stops producing enough healthy blood
cells. The disease, known as MDS, often progresses to leukemia.

Becker, who had a home in Hastings-on-Hudson, was born in 1949 in
Philadelphia and had won 11 Grammys for his work as a tenor saxophonist.
He was inspired to study the tenor saxophone by the work of jazz legend
John Coltrane, according to his Web site.

He and his brothers led a successful jazz-rock fusion group called the
Brecker Brothers. Throughout his career, he recorded and performed with
numerous jazz and pop music leaders, including Herbie Hancock and Joni
Mitchell, according to the site.

His technique on the saxophone was widely emulated and taught. Jazziz
magazine once called him "inarguably the most influential tenor stylist
of the last 25 years."

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Playlist, January 14, 2007

Set One
Frank Zappa; Twenty Small Cigars; Chunga's Revenge (1999 Rykodisc)
Mothers of Invention; Absolutely Free; We're Only In It For the Money (1995 Rykodisc)
Mothers of Invention; Flower Punk; We're Only In It For the Money (1995 Rykodisc)
Joe Jewell Quartet; La Catedral (Prelude)/Estaté; Every Note Counts (2006 Joe Jewell)
Dave Valentin; Come Fly With Me; Come Fly With Me (2006 HighNote)
Bob DeVos; Mojave; Shifting Sands (2006 Savant)
[mic break 10:37 a.m.]

Set Two
Barbara Sfraga & Center Search Quest; Timelessness Frozen in Time; Hang On, Fly Home (2006 SyncTimiCity)
Kyle Eastwood; Every Little Thing She Does is Magic; Now (2006 Candid)
Mark Egan; Plane to the Trane; As We Speak (2006 Wavetone)
Irene Reid; Here's That Rainy Day; Movin' Out (2003 Savant)
Rez Abbasi; Thin Elephant; Bazaar (2006 ZOHO)
Miles Davis; E.S.P.; Cool & Collected (2006 Columbia)
[mic break 11:27 a.m.]

Set Three
Miles Davis; It's About That Time (Remix); Cool & Collected (2006 Columbia)
Miles Davis; Great Expectations; Big Fun (1974 Columbia)
[mic break 12:05]

Set Four
Michael Brecker; Song For Bilbao; Tales from the Hudson (1996 Impulse)
The Brecker Bros.; Skunk Funk; Collection vol. 1 (1990 BMG)
Michael Brecker; Sound Off; Time is of the Essence (1999 GRP)
Brecker Bros #3
[mic break 12:38 p.m.]

Set Five
John Coltrane; Iris; Stellar Regions (1995 impulse)
John Coltrane; Offering; Stellar Regions (1995 impulse)
Alice Coltrane; Translinear Light; Translinear Light (2004 Impulse)
[1:00 p.m.]
Live broadcast from the Pequot Library
[2:00 p.m.]

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

RIP Sneaky Pete

Steel pedal guitarist "Sneaky Pete" Kleinow, a founding member of The Flying Burrito Brothers and contributor to FZ’s Waka/Jawaka album, has died.

(by way of Kill Ugly Radio)

Wow! Talk about insanely great...

Apple unveils iPhone

After more than two years in the making, Apple CEO Steve Jobs Tuesday announced the company’s intention to enter the mobile handset market, unveiling the new Apple iPhone. The iPhone brings together several features of the iPod, digital camera, smart phones and even portable computing to one device, with a widescreen display and an innovative input method.

I followed the liveblogging of the keybote speech this afternoon with my jaw on the floor. It was my good fortune to be in a room with two other Mac enthusiasts. The device is pricey--$500 $600, but it will change the mobile communications industry by the time it ships in June.

“Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything,” Jobs said.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Playlist, January 7, 2007

Set One
War; Low Rider; The Best of War...and More (1991 Rhino)
Christian McBride; See Jam, Hear Jam, Feel Jam; Live at Tonic (2006 Ropeadope)
Christian McBride; Out Jam/GIve it Up or Turnint Loose; Live at Tonic (2006 Ropeadope)
Tom Waits; Step Right Up; Used Songs (2001 Rhino)
Victor Wooten; Bass Tribute; Soul Circus (2006 Vanguard)
[mic break 10:58 a.m.]

Set Two
Geri Allen; La Strada; Timeless Portraits and Dreams (2006 Telarc)
Jason Moran; Refraction 1; Artist in Residence (2006 Blue Note)
Manu Katché; Lullaby; Neighbourhood (2005 ECM)
Taylor/Fidyk Big Band; My One and Only Love; Live at Blues Alley (2005 OriginArts)
The Ed Palermo Big Band; RDNZL; Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance (2006 Cuneiform)
[mic break 11:35 a.m.]

Set Three
Roberta Gambarini; Multi-Colored Blue; Easy to Love (2006 Groovin High)
Charlie Hunter; Frontman; Copperopolis (2006 Ropeadope)
Béla Fleck & the Flecktones; Weed Whacker; The Hidden Land (2006 Columbia)
Béla Fleck & the Flecktones; Couch Potato; The Hidden Land (2006 Columbia)
Béla Fleck & the Flecktones; Chennai; The Hidden Land (2006 Columbia)
Béla Fleck & the Flecktones; The Message; Three Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1993 Warner Brothers)
Weather Report; Madagascar; Night Passage (1980 CBS)
[mic break 12:21 p.m.]

Set Four
Don Braden; You Can't Hide Love; Workin' (2006 HighNote)
Vincent Herring; Norwegian Wood; Ends and Means (2006 HighNote)
The Shook-Russo Quartet; Waltz for Nanami; The Shook-Russo Quartet (2006 Summit)
John Hicks; One Peaceful Moment; Sweet Love of Mine (2006 HighNote)
Ray Charles + Count Basie Orchestra; The Long and Winding Road; Ray Sings Basie Plays (2006 Concord)
Ray Charles + Count Basie Orchestra; Look What Theyve Done To My Song; Ray Sings Basie Plays (2006 Concord)
[mic break 1:01 p.m.]

Set Five
Miles Davis; 'Round Midnight; Cool & Collected (2006 Columbia)
Sonny Stitt; Put Your Little Foot Right Out; Low Flame (1999 Prestige)
Eric Alexander; Open and Shut; It's All in the Game (2006 HighNote)
Alpendub vs. The Man Cable; Jaga Ode (Dubtronik); The Rough Guide to Yodel (compilation) (2006 World Music Network)
Steve Turre; Da Blues; Keep Searchin' (2006 HighNote)
Vincent Herring; Caravan; Ends and Means (2006 HighNote)
[mic break 1:47 p.m.]

Set Six
Hasidic New Wave & Yakar Rhythms; Spirit of Jew-Jew; Belly of Abraham (2002 Knitting Factory)
[2:00 p.m.]

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