February 9

Robservations | Me, Dad & Jazz

Hey maaaaan, Rob Lee here. So as I mentioned in my post about Charles Mingus, I’ve gotten more into jazz. My dad, the original Lord Lee, I’m not sure if he has the nobility that I have – I may have been more of a nominal title – you know, like a doctor with no normal training. Let’s call him General Lee – naw that’s no good – he’d get that Robert E. Lee thing – which tormented his early years. Which he hated. Let’s go with proto-Lord Lee (PLL) for segmentation purposes. PLL, Rudy and I worked together at Verizon as janitors. This is the same Verizon where many of the early episodes of Robcast where recorded – specifically the ones with Torin.

Anywho, on that ride from the mean streets of Baltimore city to Hunt Valley we’d be covered in the jazzy jazz – that’s close to jizz – we’d listen to music. Specifically, Morgan State University’s WEAA 88.9 radio station. I thought it was corny and thought it boring. I didn’t get it. Like I’m pro-black but in a nuanced way – I don’t like typical shit, stereotypes and so on – many of these stereotypes are strengthen and used for financial gain from the actual people who are victimized by it. I cringe at shit like this but I’m very into people of color. Jazz is super black, black people making their rules, their music and being great – I recognize that, then I did not.

Back to the music, so Gary Ellerbe seemed like a nice guy and a qualified host – I just didn’t have anything for him or the music. I was too young, not seasoned enough. I wanted to get it but it’s that thing of you have to not like what your parents like I suppose. PLL loves jazz music – strangely my dad and I have similar musical tastes. I like The Doors, Santana and Gil Scott-Heron. He grew up to their music and, in a way, so did I. Conversely, my dad likes Kanye West, I feel responsible for this. I think when I was a kid my dad shaded my musical tastes – he described Wu-Tang Forever as just a bunch of niggas whining. That cut me deep and may, unconsciously, have triggered my shading of a whole genre of music.

Interestingly, I liked jazzy hip-hop or jazz rap that was a constant in the 90’s like A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots (shout our Questlove – we share a birthday ) and so on. I was exposed to jazz music – my dad isn’t great with computers so one exercise he’d do is him sending me a list of artists or songs to download – it would all be jazz – my fake-nemesis. I would begrudgingly download it, place it on a flash drive, and deleting it from my hard drive, never listening to it. I cut the jazz out like a cancer. So, moving forward to recent days, I was hit hard by the jazz bug. I would bond with my dad using the music as a soundtrack. I feel this is something PLL knew was coming and he is thrilled that it’s happening now. Jazz is freedom, it’s black, emotional and deep. Now I can firmly say sans pretension that Thelonious Monk, of which I enjoy a beer named after, Charles Mingus and John Coltrane are artists on my iPod. That’s no early feat.

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February 8

I Put You On To | Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus Cumbia & Jazz fusion

The Black Saint & Sinner Lady

Music to listen to

Hey Maaaaaan, Rob Lee here. As I’m sure many of you know I’m a music lover, an audiophile. I get into moods and the musical genre matches my mood many times. I think music should evoke feeling or it is at least connected. Imagine listening to music that’s just phoned in – there’s no passion, seduction, nothing. It’s flat – music like elevator music.

Charles Mingus, the double bassist, composer and bandleader,  is an artist that I discovered a few month’s ago. On Fridays after work for a year or so, my dad and I listen to jazz and drink scotch as an effort to bond. It’s a really good time and a journey. I seek music – I take referrals and look everywhere for it – it has to speak to me.  I was on a musical journey that usually starts with Youtube then descends into me creating a Pandora station and reviewing the artist’s bio somewhere. It’s like I was hooked.

A found out about Charles Mingus while on a John Coltrane kick – I recently watched Chasing Trane – highly recommended documentary on Netflix – with my girlfriend. I saw all of these old jazz players like Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins and McCoy Tyner. I stumbled upon The Black Saint & Sinner Lady after listening to the French cut of A Love Supreme. I thought “Hell, I’m a Black Saint…and I’ve dated sinner ladies, I should give this a shot.” It is a passionate album, a score actually to ballet I later read – an judging by the artwork of that record, he’s my type of lad, flavorful. It’s really good you should check it out. Additionally I relate to how Mingus is described in various bios from the exemplary talent followed by bouts of depression and being a large, temperamental man. Some of the sounds he generates cannot be duplicated – I love that. I want to share this with you and invite your suggestions of other Jazz musicians.

Rob Lee

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