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Great to see and hear Yusuf singing his wonderful old song in this setting.

"Peace Train" – Yusuf (Cat Stevens) Nobel Concert 2006.


Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders singing it must be Christmas time. Thanks to David Kanigan for the idea. The Pretenders were (are?) my daughter Aida’s favorite band. She introduced me to them a long time ago and I still love them. Merry Christmas.

Aurora and I went to see and hear Sonny Rollins at Symphony Hall in Boston on Sunday the 18th of April. He will have completed his 80th year this fall so this was billed as an early 80th birthday party. Man he wailed! Played non-stop for 90 minutes. He is the only horn in his group — the band included Bobby Broom on guitar, Bob Cranshaw on bass, Kobie Watkins on drums and Victor See-Yuen on congas. Its a great ensemble but the show was 95% Sunny. He played six long numbers, constantly improvising. He started out playing “Patanjali,” a three note anthem and he repeated the notes several times, then improvised, then went back to the notes. Powerfully. Clearly. Sounding out the notion that Sonny had come to play.

And play he did. You can read about it in this Review in the Boston Phoenix

The setting for jazz at Symphony Hall is challenging. There is only one musician’s name above the stage : Beethoven. But I think if he was looking down it was with admiration.

The crowd had people who looked to be about eight years old and those who might have been ninety. Sonny was elegant, dressed in white and just slightly stooped showing his age a bit. But his music and creativity never did. There was no encore but Sonny did promise to return to Boston “soon, real soon.” We hope he keeps his promise.

The song and dance man in action!

The scene from 36 rows back

Aurora and I ventured into Boston on last Sunday to see and hear Bob Dylan at the Wang center. The show was very enjoyable and the band was perfect. Bob’s raspy voice was sometimes too far gone but on other numbers it was clear and I imagine easy to understand. I say imagine because the band with its ramped up bass was often overpowering. Brilliant — but too damn loud!! (Ok so I’m an old guy.)

Bob wasn’t kidding back in the sixties when he described himself as a song and dance man. (When asked ‘do you consider yourself a poet?’ he answered — ‘no, more of a song and dance man’) He was like a low keyed minstrel on Sunday with arm gestures  and foot kicks included. The lighting kept changing and so did the colors on the stage — very often they had a nice south western tone.

Listen to this  bootlegged uTube entry. I love the intro’s combination of honesty and hero worship.

Sounds pretty good and the bass that was so over powering in person is almost non-existent. (A little more would be better, actually.)

After Boston, Bob moved right on to NY where Dion opened for him. Here’s the New York Post review:

Dylan’s Delightful!

Sounds like another great show. We wonder why the man keeps going. He told Sixty Minutes a few years ago that he had made a pact with God — needed to stay on the road to fulfill it. I take him at his word — no irony there. He channels the life force as much as anyone who has ever been a pop culture icon and as much as many prophets. As Langston Hughes told us years ago — “Listen!”

(We enjoyed walking around the city before and after the concert. It was a warm night for November and just perfect for a city walk. Here’s a photo I took — I’m getting my street photography mojo working again — I think this is my favorite way of photography.)

Boston at night

Nice semi decisive moment -- don't cha think?

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Aurora and I saw Sunny Killoran with her group Sunny and Her Joy Boys at the Ecotarium in Worcester last Friday evening. The group was founded by Duke Robillard, a guitarist who I had not heard of before but I’m glad I know about him now. He apparently has a wide following and is the soul of the group (or so it seemed to me). The band was wonderful and Duke’s playing is great. The sound of the Joy Boys is like that of D’jango Reinhardt, the Gypsy Guitarist of the thirties.  Paul Kolesikow played rhythm  guitar and Jesse Williams was on standup bass so the group swung continuously in the same mode as D’jango’s group did. Billy Novick played alto sax and clarinet. Billy has a sweet sound and harmonized well with Sunny’s brilliant vocals — his solos made us want to hear more. What a fine group — all that was missing was  Stéphane Grappelli’s violin!

 Sunny really sang the blues! She sang some Billy Holiday numbers and channeled Billy beautifully. Her voice is gorgeous and well trained, and/but she sings with lots of feeling; her phrasing is exquisite. Light when the song is light and deeper, more emotional when the song and lyrics call for it. I loved all the songs she sang but “You’re my Trill” and ‘Travelin’ All alone” are favorites. The band swung in a relaxed yet vibrant way, as if the entire affair was effortless. What a treat to hear those great songs performed so well. We are looking forward to another evening of Sunny’s music very soon.

We bought the debut CD of Sunny and Her Joy Boys and have played it a lot already. Go to their web page for details.

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