Saturday, March 28, 2009

Volume 15.

Roman travertine,
green Alpine marble,
ancient green marble from Greece,
and golden onyx from the Atlas Mountains.


Icon of Modern Design

Yesterday was the anniversary of the birth of

the great Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

It is in his honor that we travel to Barcelona.

We'll pay tribute to him at

The Barcelona Pavilion.

A few years ago my brother and I went to Barcelona and had a wonderful time. One late afternoon we strolled by The Barcelona Pavilion and found it to be quite stunning. You will too.

There is plenty of Gaudi to take in as well.

Sagrada Familia

La Pedrera

Parc Guell

Palau Guell

Then there are the markets and restaurants!

Tapas anyone?!

Eric and I had special meals at:

Jean Luc Figuera


La Dama

Eric marveling at mercado.

Then a ham of a different stripe at

Foundacio Juan Miro.

Concerts at

El Palau de la Musica Catalana


Gran Teatre del Liceu

are always great.

While we did not make a pilgrimage to El Bulli or out to the Salvador Dali museum,

we did relax on the beaches of Sitges.

It was a great little day trip.

Oh, and another thing... do you like chocolate?!

Do not go to Barcelona and miss stopping in at

Cacao Sampaka,

"the Christian Dior of Chocolate."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Volume 14. Learning it the Hard Way: A Cautionary Tale

A few weeks ago I was updating my Music Library by adding yet another CD to it when something strange began to happen. Mahavishnu Orchestra's Birds of Fire was taking to my computer like molasses. It was taking eons to transfer a tune and my MacBook began to make crunchy, squilking sounds! Sadly, this was a harbinger of things to come. When I finally gave up on John and the boys my screen eventually went grey/blank. A little later on when I checked on my beloved computer, the grey screen was still there now augmented by a little envelope like icon with an exclamation point in it. As I researched what this might mean on my other computer, I was certain my fears would most likely be realized. And when I went to the Apple Store the next day they were. My hard drive, with thousands of pieces of music (around 90 GB worth), all correctly labled (Artist, Composer, Label, Artwork...), was gone. And while I had often thought about the possibility, and the importance of backing up my computer, I in fact had not gotten around to it. So I was SOL as they say. I have been recreating my massive and much loved Music Library ever since. It has been quite a chore as I am sure you can imagine. First I was able to transfer some of the contents of my 60GB iPod back on to my MacBook. Oddly, the Apple Store would not, does not assist in affairs such as this. I had to use a program or two I found on the internet instead and they didn't work all that well. Then I began adding CDs, one at a time from my library, back into my MacBook with new Hard Drive and trusty External Hard Drive by my side. Much of my spare time has been spent this way. At breakfast, at lunch, in the shower (just kidding), in the evening... Now though I am backing the contents of my computer up every day. I also purchased the newer OS Leopard for my puter which assists in all of this. Much of this has been drudgery. Some of it surprisingly has been wonderful.

You see, in going through my entire collection, I have refreshed my memory of all it entails. When Joni Mitchell released Travelogue around 7 years ago I think I must've been a bit OD'd on her music. When I listened to it the past couple days it came as an epiphany. An absolutely brilliant take on tunes of hers (Otis and Marlena, Amelia, Troubled Child, Refuge of the Roads, Hejira...) that I really missed. Music that took me back to the 70's. Performed by orchestra with musicians I love, like Wayne Shorter. Does it get any better than this? I have tons of ECM recordings, and as I perused yet another Dave Holland recording I had to pop one in the player. How nice was it hearing Cassandra Wilson singing Maya Angelou's Equality on Holland's Dream Of The Elders? It seems that everything Manfred Eicher does is superb. Surely that's the case here.

Playing Joe Lovano's From The Soul recording just now blew me away as well. His playing sometimes reminding me of Trane. A great rendition of Central Park West didn' t hurt to that end. The late and much missed Petrucciani's playing sounding an awful lot like Bill Evans. And Ed Blackwell's playing brought to mind his days with Ornette, or Don Cherry. Such a beautiful & distinct sound.

There is so much in my collection. So much brilliant music I am grateful for. Stacks of Mahler, Bill Evans, Mehldau, Metheny, Sorabji, Argerich, Mompou, ECM ... I grabbed Solstice and just marveled at it. Ralph Towner, Jan Garbarek, Eberhard Weber & Jon Christensen. To think that I was just a 16 year old kid in Highland Park, Illinois when I was lucky enough to discover it! We are so lucky to have these great musicians around us. Both Towner & Garbarek had birthdays recently and I hope they have many, many more. Eberhard had a stroke a while back and I am always wishing him the best. Looking forward to hearing more from him. Me, I'm going to get back to it. My library that is. Maybe I'll cue up some of this swingin', poignant Joni again. For old times sake.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Volume 13. Oslo

His music has been called "as close to perfection as you're likely to hear."

Moving On Music says his ensemble journeys "through Scandinavian Folk, pre Baroque harmony and post Monk jazz influences to create a bewitching and haunting live experience."

Stuart Nicholson of Jazzwise observed that "the writing is dense, dark and seems to hover in the air, like a mist moving in across a Norwegian fjord."

And that Dear Reader is exactly what we're going to do this week as we travel to Oslo for concerts by The Christian Wallumrod Sextet. I visited Oslo years ago and really enjoyed it. Visiting the Gustav Vigelund Sculpture Garden with its brilliant Frieze of Life depicting the many stages of life...

and The Munch Museum.

Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to take in any great Jazz. So these concerts are particularly attractive to me and I hope you'll be able to take them in. With 3 chances to hear them this week, I think that it's likely.

Christian Wallumrød Ensemble (sextet)Norway, Levanger Høgskolen / Campus

Christian Wallumrød Ensemble (sextet)Norway, Oslo Nasjonale Jazzscene / Victoria

Christian Wallumrød Ensemble (sextet)Norway, Drammen Drammens Teater

Also in town...

Arve Henriksen often performs with Wallumrod, and will most likely in the events listed above. He will also be in town performing in conjunction with the

Oslo International Church Music Festival:
2009 Mar 15
Terje Bjørklund's "Sanctus" w/ TrondheimSolistene and Trondheim Voices. I'm sure this concert will also be worthy of your attention.

And if all else fails... there's always David Byrne!

His recording with Brian Eno, for the first time in around 30 years, was recently released. Everything That Happens Will Happen Today is a lot of fun, and you know the concert
Thursday 20:00 at
Sentrum Scene will be an event.

If after all of this you're in the mood for a nosh, you may want to try the scrumptuous Statholdergaarden. The beautifully restored house dates from 1640 and the food is Nouvelle Norge.

Here's one of their sample menus:

"The set menu Bent Stiansen creates in collaboration with chef Torbjörn Forster, depends on what’s available on the market. This evening we have the pleasure of presenting;

Pan fried scallops served with apple- celery salad, pomegranate and asparagus beans. Foie gras sauce.***

Shellfish soup garnished with trout, squash and fennel.***

Gently dorade served with sweet bread, cauliflower cream and cabbage with bacon. Tomato- shallot sauce. ***

Filet of veal filled with Parma ham, served with corn croquette, petit pois purée, beans cassoulet and gnocchi. Truffle sauce.***

Well ripened cheeses garnished with Swedish crisp bread and apricot compote. ***

Mango roulade and chocolate mousse served with pickled lime, dried cherries and sweet cherry sorbet."

Can you spell YUM! in Norwegian?!

(Picture of Christian Wallumrod courtesy of ECM Records, David Byrne courtesy of Karen Kuehn)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Volume 13. The Spring Forward Edition

Welcome back Dear Readers! So nice to be with you again, propelling you out there into the world. I imagine that many of you  have tired of the grey and the cold. Perhaps you're over the grim and dreadful forecasts. Are you ready for the warmer weather that has already arrived? Well most of you, unlike me, are ready for Spring, and for you I have a suggestion as to how you might ring it in, as the clocks roll ahead an hour overnite. Why not head off to Fun City, and its environs? Amsterdam has Brown Bars, Red Lights, The Milky Way etc... and to usher in the Spring, to refresh you, what could be more appropriate than a visit to Keukenhof Gardens.

"Situated less than 30 miles from Amsterdam in the province of Zuid-Holland (South-Holland), the town of Lisse is widely regarded as the center of Holland's bollenstreek (bulb district). Each spring, the area's sandy coastal plain becomes a sprawling blanket of fantastic color as millions of Dutch tulip, hyacinth and daffodil bulbs emerge in perfect rows. Enjoy pictures of this unforgettable sight, which is certainly worth a day trip from Amsterdam."

Imagine the beauty, the color, the smell of it all awakening your sleeping senses.

This is the place to be this week. And that it is near Amsterdam doesn't hurt.

Also outside Amsterdam and very worthy of your attention is the Cobra Museum.

Come view the paintings of Asger Jorn, Karl Appel, Pierre Alechinsky and other Cobra members at this beautiful, modern museum.

You will find the Art here to be quite refreshing after visiting the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseums. Getting there is an easy 45 minute train ride from Amsterdam.

Back in the city you can ride the canals and enjoy the parks. Bicycle around and take in all this wonderful place has to offer. Working up an appetite you just may want to head into Joop Braakhekke's happening restaurant Le Garage. This is a place to see and be seen. The food is quite good as well. I had a lovely meal there.


Tartare of dorade of smoked wagyu beef with tartare of gilt head bream on butternut , wink to Japan.€ 17,50
Uitsmijter foie gras, simply the best, with a ansjovis sandwich€ 23,50
Salmon tartare, with popcorn and farm yoghurt, old turns into new again€ 15,50
Lobster terrine,inspired by Pourcel's but with a novel twist.€ 22.50
Snails from Burgundy, classical tradition. 6 or 12 €11,50 or € 19,50
Coquilles Saint Jacques,like a draughtbord, with boudin, an evergreen kind of recipe.€22,50

Main courses

Nord sea plaice,with tender squid from the North Sea. € 26,50
IJsselmeer Eel, with apple treacle glaze, sauerkraut from Avenhorn, it may sometimes better to search close home.€ 27.50
Monkfish,with foam of Dutch shrimps, a colonial inspiration resurfacing. € 28,50
Catch of the day, exciting......? Order a catch from chef's hand!.€29.50
Steak tartare, prepared according to your taste!€ 26,50
Simmentaler lende,(250 gram) Bearnaise sauce, tender beef from the grill, for the real man or those feel like one. € 39,50
Wild duck, a classical dish in a modern setting, with black olives € 22.50
Kamper lamb's neck, very little known is the fact that the neck is the finest part.€ 21,50
Saddle of Venison, with cabbage and Zaandam mustard gravy, from the royal hunting grounds, noble anough ? € 39,00


French cheeses, selected by Hilterman and Valk, importers and experts in authenic cheeses.€ 15
Tarte Tatin, with creme fraiche, the grandeur of simplicity€ 12,50
All the way orange, mousse, icecream and yelly, at it's best in autumn € 12,50
Chocolate Pizza, with crisp bottom, chocolate and red fruit , its our fusion € 12,50
Ile flottante, and the rising air as perfect culinary intelligence.€ 11,50

I also had a great rijsttafel at Sama Sebo the city's best Indonesian restaurant. Sambals, Satay, Gado-Gado, oh my!

And what lovely meal would be complete without a very good cigar?!?!?!!?! None, I say! So when in Amsterdam I always stop into Hajenius to pick up some Cubans. This Art Deco cigar shop has been there a long time. The people and the product, great.

For Classical Music, the Concertgebouw with its superior acoustics and great performers, is not to be missed. Murray Perahia performs Saturday night. Christopher Poppen leads a Part concert Monday night.

For Jazz head to Bimhuis Thursday night to hear Fay Victor and her Ellington and Monk based Free Song Suite.

A good time will be had by all in and around Amsterdam!