Cultural notes from a holiday weekend

One of my very favorite television shows ever (top three, easily), was Night Music with David Sanborn and/or Jools Holland. The producer of the show pulled together tremendous musicians in often strange combinations and brought awareness, knowledge, and respect for diverse musical traditions to the modern day audience, including youngsters starved for the good stuff, like me, for one. It was always buried late at night on unpopular-for-tv days and I had to search for it all the time but taped whatever I could. Those tapes are gone, now, but absent those, I can live with these clips instead. I can remember dozens of great performances and moments when I learned about artists most people still haven't heard of. I can still rattle off dozens of names of musicians I learned about from that show. In particular
this performance by Zahar blew my mind and I watched it so much I wore the tape out. It still sounds amazing. Oh, right, and this performance by Leonard Cohen with Sonny Rollins. More context here, here, and here. Sad to be reminded that Don Alias and Hiram Bullock both died recently. Happy, though, to be reminded that things like this actually happened and appeared on television for a brief, shining moment. That's Taj Mahal. And Christian Marclay. And Pat Metheny. Doing Gilbert and Sullivan. With Todd Rundgren. And David Sanborn. Seriously, go watch these clips.

Netflix streaming is a lovely thing. I've watched more movies in the last few days than should be legal.

I used to think that the long continuous shot opening A Touch of Evil was (absent Rope, which was effectively one continuous shot) the greatest single-cut piece of filmmaking I'd ever seen. In Johnny To's Breaking News, the first seven minutes are similarly a single take where an entire gunfight plays out, introducing nearly the entire cast and the entire plot, for the most part. I watched this scene over and over again the other day with my jaw on the floor. It's impressive, if a bit gimmicky. For my money, though, Welles' opening shot in Touch of Evil remains the winner because of the deep suspense involved. The shot in Breaking News isn't exactly suspenseful, but it's awfully fun. If you're the type who's likely to watch contemporary Hong Kong gunplay flicks.

Last random thought: some of my favorite albums share the word "Blue" in their title. Is that surprising? Blue. Kind of Blue. Blue Valentine. Blue Train. Otis Blue. I'm forgetting a few others, too. Maybe it's inane, but that don't make it not true.

Forever Blue and Dream of the Blue Turtles are both records I once listened to nonstop, but I haven't listened to either in ages. Still adds to the point, I suppose.

And that's not even counting "blues", just "blue". 'cuz if it were "blues", the list would be really long, and Hoodoo Man Blues and Monk's Blues would be up near the top. And Fisherman's Blues. But that would be cheating.

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