Saturday, May 18, 2013

Jazz Pick Of The Week: That's A Plenty

This Nov. 27, 1943 recording on Commodore Records led by cornetist Wild Bill Davison is a great example of Chicago Style Jazz popularized by white Chicagoans in the 1920's and based around Austin H.S. on Chicago's west side; hence the names Austin High Gang and Chicago Style Jazz. It's less relaxed than more traditional black Dixieland bands out of New Orleans, featuring a raucous, race to the finish tempo and more freewheeling individual solos emulating the faster pace of life in Chicago. Also appearing on this side are Pee Wee Russell, clarinet; George Brunnies, trombone, Eddie Condon, guitar; Gene Schraeder, piano; George Wettling, drums; and Bob Casey, drums. Davison's pick up group was tabbed the "Commodores" after the record label, which in turn, was started in 1937 by Milt Gabler, uncle of comedian Billy Crystal. Crystal's father ran the Commodore Record Store, a famous NYC jazz record shop which gave its name to the record company. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Illinois Democrats Should Unify Behind Inspiring Leader

When Pat Quinn assumed the Illinois governorship on January 29, 2009, it was a case of the right man taking charge at a critical time. Following the second consecutive Governor jailed on federal corruption charges, and the entire nation suffering economic meltdown, Quinn's 35 year career as political reformer, tireless champion for working people and squeaky clean advocate for effective government, was just what Illinois needed at that moment of crisis. And Quinn didn't disappoint. Even his harshest critic would concede Quinn righted the morally listing ship of state and has maintained that even keel for nearly four and a half years.

But that Job One which he did splendidly would not ensure his election to the Governorship outright just 21 months after assuming office. Having spent his entire career both in and out of office doing good works for all Illinoisans such as spearheading the cost saving reduction in the size of the state legislature, helping create the Citizens Utility Board to protect consumers interests, or seeking to amend the Illinois Constitution to increase the power of public referendums in both legislation and public official recall, Quinn hit the governorship ground running.

On the economic front he passed Illinois Jobs Now, the largest capital construction project ever, to support creation of 400,000 jobs over six years. He doubled the Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit, providing the largest tax relief for working families in Illinois history. He signed the Dream Act.

A true "green" Governor, Quinn led a $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative to overhaul Illinois' aging water infrastructure, creating thousands of jobs. He launched the Illinois Millennium Reserve, the largest open space project in the country, to improve public recreation in the Calumet region.

Mindful of the need for ethics reform, Quinn passed and signed a new strong ethics code, enacted campaign contribution limits for the first time in Illinois history and abolished the much abused hundred year old political scholarship program.

A true friend to those whose rights are abridged or denied, Quinn strengthened women's' reproductive choice, championed family planning and access to reproductive health services, advocated tirelessly for marriage equality for gays, and finally achieved abolition of the death penalty.

Mindful of endless and senseless gun tragedies, Quinn proposed a ban on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips.

That aggressive program of plain ol' good governance did not go unnoticed by the electorate.
Pat Quinn confounded the pundits by being elected governor outright in 2010 against a Republican tide that brought fellow Midwestern states Wisconsin and Ohio extreme union busting and social safety net cutting governors who made their states a showcase of bad governance and job destruction.

But with election for a second full term just a year and a half away, speculation abounds concerning a Primary challenge from either former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley or Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. That would be a mistake. A Primary challenge would surely split Illinois Democrats and leave the winner wounded and bereft of finances to face a tough GOP foe in the general election. The most likely challenger, Attorney General Madigan would do well to consider second spot on the ticket as Quinn's Lt. Governor running mate. A Quinn-Madigan ticket would be tough to beat. It would unite Illinois Democrats behind a formidable pair, provide Illinois with an outstanding person to step up to Governorship if necessary, and provide Quinn and all Illinoisans with an equally tireless advocate to develop and implement a true People's Agenda. It would also make for a smooth transition to electing Illinois' first woman governor four years hence.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan is one very smart person. Uniting all Illinois Democrats behind the Pat Quinn, who has proved repeatedly he deserves a second term, might just be the smartest move she could make, for herself and for all of Illinois.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Jazz Pick Of The Week: Lillie Delk Christian & Louis Armstrong

 Louis spent the years 1923 to 1929 recording race records, low budget sides of major companies' black artists marketed solely to the black community. His crossover hit "I can't give you anything but love" in March, 1929, made Pops a mainstream star and he never looked back. This June 26, 1928 side features his Hot Four including Earl "Fatha" Hines, piano; Jimmy Noone, clarinet and Mancy Cara, Banjo, backing Lillie Delk Christian singing "Too Busy". Delk is a fine singer but isn't singing jazz as demonstrated when Pops takes over the song at 2:14 with a riveting scat vocal underneath Christian's final chorus. It's almost as if Louis is saying "time for some real jazz singing". Good example of jazz and non jazz singing on the same record.