Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Iced Tea and Frank Zappa, with a Dose of Ornette Coleman for Good Measure

Iced tea and Frank Zappa. Two sure fire ways to wind down from the work day. I have found over the years, that listening to discordant music ( I would prefer "pleasantly discordant") when I'm suffering from an unusually high level of stress is actually very comforting. There are those that find Frank Zappa's music a little jarring, especially his instrumental pieces. Some of Zappa's influences include Edgard Varèse, and Igor Stravinsky, R&B and doo-wop groups, and jazz artists such as Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman. I remember lying in bed awake during the adoption process that gave us our beautiful son; listening to the music of Ornette Coleman greatly helped to ease the anticipation and stress about the unknown. It was almost as if the battling sax and horn on the album "Science Fiction" matched the irregular rhythms of my own stress level and they cancelled each other out, leaving me calm and relaxed. Something like that anyway.

I saw Ornette Coleman in performance with Pat Metheny at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. It must have been 1986, or 87. I went with a good friend of mine, who was a fan of Pat Metheny. Metheny and Coleman were performing tracks off their collaborative work, "Song X." By the end of the show the music had taken me to heights much higher than the balcony I was seated in. I had never heard of Ornette Coleman, but on that night I felt that I had seen a musical god. I had heard jazz before, but not the world of jazz in which Ornette Coleman lived. My friend's response was at the other end of the scale. He was used to the more pleasant melodies of Pat Metheny and his composing partner Lyle Mays. Sometimes you hear their music on the Weather Channel.

As far as iced tea goes: my commercial brand of choice lately has been Lipton "Pure Leaf™" iced tea with lemon. It's sweetened, of course, but not obnoxiously so like Snapple©. I prefer my iced tea unsweetened with lemon. Shaken not stirred. And if you want it right you've got to do it yourself. I remember at the end of last summer, a co-worker called to ask how one could tell when sun tea was done. Hmm. That's a good question.

I don't know if Ornette Coleman drinks iced tea, but he has lived long enough to be recognized as a musical genius, instead of a pariah, as he was early in his career. On February 11, 2007, Ornette Coleman was honored with a Grammy award for lifetime achievement. His music is still relatively unknown in his own country though. Here is an excellent piece on Ornette Coleman. It's in two parts.





Just for the heck of it...click on the Snapple© link. Go ahead. What harm can it do?

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