Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, and One Night in New York City ~ The New Yorker

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Since the nineteen-sixties, there have not been jazz musicians as artistically significant and generally popular as Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, or Bill Evans. Today, jazz music is a miscellaneous collection of wide-ranging and disputed genres that stands to the side of American culture. How did the train go off the tracks? A listen to Ellington and Evans both playing an Ellington standard, “In a Sentimental Mood,” on the same hot Thursday night in New York City—August 17, 1967—offers a few clues. Here is Ellington’s version at the Rainbow Grill, with the tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, along with John Lamb on bass and Steve Little on drums. And here is Evans’s version at the Village Vanguard, with Eddie Gomez on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums.

Ellington, in the twilight of his career, had several long residencies at the Rainbow Grill, a restaurant and ballroom on the sixty-fifth floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Ellington would work on new music during the day (with the passing of his collaborator Billy Strayhorn, in May, 1967, Ellington’s final decade would see a much higher percentage of original music solely from his pen) and, in the evening, would play for dinner, dancing, and listening. This functional gig was a different experience than the glamorous concert tours that the full band made during the year. Yet each night at the Rainbow Grill high society, music fans, and hangers-on came together to see Ellington. You never knew who would drop by: Judy Garland, Tony Bennett, a Rockefeller.

For the summer of 1967, Ellington brought in an octet with the legendary veteran Ellingtonians Cat Anderson, Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, Lawrence Brown, and Harry Carney, accompanied by a young, mainstream rhythm section. They played the hits and a few minor new pieces. (A bootleg of a complete set came out recently on the Gambit label—an imprint for collectors who don’t mind potential illegalities). Everything is enjoyable, but the highlight is the Gonsalves quartet and “In a Sentimental Mood.”

Ellington packs a whole history of composition into only two and a half choruses. The first chorus is piano in D minor/F major, the “old style,” fairly close to the first 1935 recording. After the “old-style” chorus, Duke modulates to Bb minor/Db major for Gonsalves’s entrance, the same key used for the “new-style” version of “In a Sentimental Mood” tracked with John Coltrane, in 1962. Gonsalves’s greatest fame was authoring twenty-six choruses of shouting blues on “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue” at the Newport Jazz Festival, in 1956, a moment that many credit with revitalizing Ellington’s career. However, Gonsalves was also one of the greatest ballad players, and his silky, furry, almost murky legato here is pure delight.

Gonsalves’s mastery is only to be expected, but the sixty-eight-year-old Ellington is still full of surprises. Playing with Coltrane, Ellington’s “new-style” arrangement had a mournful raindrop piano part that was dramatic and distinctive. At the Rainbow Grill, Ellington doesn’t play many of the raindrops but goes all out in rhapsodic style: heavy block chords, cascades, even a long left-hand trill underneath pointillistic right-hand stabs. It would be hard to find ballad accompaniment this busy anywhere else.

Downtown, the vastly influential keyboard artist Bill Evans was enjoying another run at the Village Vanguard. He was a regular at the club, with his 1961 LP “Sunday at the Village Vanguard” well on its way to canonization. When he was in residence, Evans would put a table from the front by the back stairs, come early, and drink coffee while reading the racing news.

In 1967, you could still get a hamburger or a turkey club sandwich at the Vanguard, but there certainly was no dancing. It was a nice, quiet audience for Evans that night. This recording of “In a Sentimental Mood,” which was released on the Verve double LP “California, Here I Come,” has less audience noise than “Sunday at the Village Vanguard.”

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Hang 20: Abbie Girl Takes Top Pooch In World Dog Surfing Championship

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Few things are more delightful than a dog running on the beach. Except, maybe, a dog surfing on a beach.

Dozens of dogs — and more than 1,000 people — showed up to the second annual World Dog Surfing Championships Saturday in Pacifica, Calif.

Dog surfing is relatively new — the first competition was in San Diego 12 years ago.

And while the event may seem silly, competitive dog surfing is growing quickly, with contests in Hawaii, Florida, Texas and as far away as Australia.

Dogs compete solo, just dog and board, or tandem, with either a person or with another dog.

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The dogs are scored by a group of three judges.

“No. 1 is stay on the board and No. 2 is looking happy,” Sam Stahl, one of the judges explained. “No one wants to see a dog terrified at the end of a surfboard.”

At the event, an Australian kelpie named Abbie Girl not only stayed on her board, but maneuvered it, too.

Her board is custom built for a dog — it’s short and has a bright orange blaze down the bottom with her name on it.

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Kiitella Project: The Conservation Alliance 2017 Outstanding Partnership Awards

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Eric Greene, VP Brand/Innovation/GM of Kelty and Danny Giovale, founder/president of Kahtoola receiving their awards.

Kiitella is honored to create The Conservation Alliance 2017 Outstanding Partnership Awards, which were presented this morning at The CA Breakfast – at Outdoor Retailer in SLC. “The award recognizes member companies that go above and beyond in building relationships with Conservation Alliance grantees.” Congratulations Kahtoola, Kelty and Zappos.

Kiitella Awards: Camber Outdoors 2017 Pitchfest Finalists

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Hefty Kiitella-made steel medallions adorn the finalists at the 2017 Camber Outdoors Pitchfest, held at Petzl headquarters in Salt Lake City during Outdoor Retailer. From the Camber website: “Camber Outdoors Pitchfest was created to ensure the active-outdoor industries attract bold, visionary women with a passion for business and the outdoors, while driving industry-wide innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship.”

Nine Offbeat Sports Documentaries on Netflix and Amazon Prime

Marginal sports, iconoclastic athletes and audacious style define these unconventional documentaries.

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Surfwise

Perfect as a companion — or counterpoint — to “The Endless Summer,” this documentary from Doug Pray unearths the peculiar true story of a family that spent 20 years living as nomads of surf and sand but suffered consequences from breaking with society. In the ’60s and ’70s, Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz and his nine children packed into an RV and traveled along the country’s beaches, where they became renowned for their ascetic lifestyle and their surfing prowess. With rapid-fire energy and scrupulous reportage, Pray reveals the principles and flaws of Paskowitz’s experiment and its impact on his children’s future.

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Meru

Documentaries about death-defying mountain climbs are practically a subgenre unto themselves, but what sets “Meru” apart is the you-are-there quality of the footage, which was shot by one of the climbers, Jimmy Chin, as he and his longtime partner ascended the “shark fin” route to the peak of Meru, in India. Even among experienced alpinists, the “shark fin” is considered a ludicrous summit because of the brittle rock on the incline, which can chip off with one misplaced swing of a pickax. Nevertheless, Chin kept a digital camera tucked into his gear and kept on shooting on the way up, even when his odds of survival grew perilous.

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On Any Sunday

Five years after popularizing surfing with “The Endless Summer,” director Bruce Brown did the same for motocross with “On Any Sunday” (1971) which continues Brown’s yen for voice-over narration, beautiful slow-motion action shots and the thrill-seekers who risk their necks in pursuit of the transcendent. Although Steve McQueen, himself a motorcycle enthusiast, turns up to show off his own considerable skills (he also helped finance the film), Brown focuses on Mert Lawwill and Malcolm Smith, two champion cyclists who chase big air and small paydays on the professional circuit. But Brown’s visual panache is the film’s biggest draw: His cameras are attached to cycles and helicopters, under jumps and around hairpin turns. He makes poetry out of derring-do.

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Monsoon arrival in the San Juans?

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The strong ridge of high pressure that has been parked over the intermountain west since June will remain to our west through tomorrow then will move east of the continental divide Monday allowing southerly flow to develop.  This will draw sub-tropical moisture northward bringing a better chance of rains to develop over mountainous terrain and possibly the higher valleys.  RH will increase during the week with cooling temperatures.  This could be the beginning of the monsoon season …  the latest 8-14 day forecast is typical mid/late-July with warm temperatures and increasing chance of active weather (showers and thunderstorms).