Sunday, 10 February 2013

Got a penny, Benny? Not in Canada.

The Canadian government has eliminated the penny. From now on, all prices will be rounded up or down to the nearest nickel. Since it costs 1.6 cents to manufacture each penny, this sounds like an eminently sensible step to take.

I won't miss the coin. When pennies accumulate in your pocket -- and they do -- the results are unsightly and unwieldy; they bulge, weigh a lot, and make more meaningful coins more difficult to find. Eventually the pennies get transferred to a desk drawer, where with the passing years the collection grows ever larger.

When the penny's demise was announced, Brooklyn Girl and I lugged our weighty sack of coins of the realm to a supermarket, where we dumped them into a huge penny-counting machine and wound up with about forty bucks. I felt as if a great weight had been lifted from us. I was right. Now I can shop with a light heart, and pockets to match.

I wonder what you benighted, penny-laden souls south of the border -- you with the holes in your pockets -- think of this development. A nickel for your thoughts.

(The music: Nat King Cole, piano and vocal; Oscar Moore, guitar; Johnny Miller, bass; 1943.)

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Swing along with Oscar

Because of Brooklyn Baby's love of guitar wizardry (which on this blog constitutes "overwhelming popular demand") it's time to revisit Oscar Alemán, last showcased here.

The producers of this excellent two-CD set have included in the booklet the above transcription of Alemán's solo on Sweet Sue, recorded in 1938 -- your chance to read along or play along or, if you're Annie Ross, sing along with Oscar. As interesting as it is to see the shape of his improvisation, a transcription conveys just a fraction of a great jazz performance. What you won't see in black-and-white is that wondrous Alemán sound, vibrato, and sense of swing.

Svend Asmussen

Alemán's playmates on this occasion were Svend Asmussen, violin; Henry Hageman, tenor sax; Helge Jacobsen, rhythm guitar; Alfred Rasmussen, bass; Bibi Miranda, drums. If ever there was proof that jazz is the quintessentially American music, this is it: an Argentinian guitarist, Danish violinist, Brazilian drummer, plus four other musicians of Scandinavian origin, recorded in Copenhagen.