Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Today is the birthday of arguably the greatest instrumentalist to ever play jazz, Count Basie's go-to guy, saxophonist and clarinetist Lester Young, born on August 27, 1909.
Some music aficionados might argue that the "greatest" mantle would go to Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt, Art Tatum or possibly any number of luminaries quite a bit younger than Pres (Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and Miles Davis).
Others would accurately say, yeah - ALL of them are the greatest and don't forget Sidney Bechet, Bix Beiderbecke, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Christian and Earl "Fatha" Hines while you're at it!
For this correspondent and music lover, nobody then or now comes close to the sweet sound of Lester Young a.k.a. "Pres".
Many attempted to imitate his musicality and out-of-the-box approach to life, but nobody succeeded. There's only one original.
Here's Pres and several bands jam-packed with virtuosos, sounding great.
While Lester's music provided some measure of comfort for millions around the world, during his lifetime and 55 years after his death, he suffered a great deal in his life. One hopes that Mr. Young found the peace and serenity which eluded him during his time here.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
As we at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog join many around the world in mourning the passing of celebrated actor-standup philosopher-improv comedy master, cartoon voice artist par excellence and big time San Francisco Giants fan Robin Williams (the ever-astute Madame Blogmeister phrased it aptly and best, "depression is a goddamn killer"), it is apropo that today's posting be devoted to devastatingly funny screen humor from a century ago.
That classic comedy oasis would be The Mack Sennett Collection, Volume 1, the first of two Blu-ray sets produced by CineMuseum, LLC, for Flicker Alley - and officially released today.
This is the first of two volumes, both of which will feature 50, count 'em 50, wacky Mack Sennett comedies, digitally re-mastered in HD and all produced by the guy dubbed in the silent era The King Of Comedy (with, frankly, some hot-and-heavy competition from the studios of Hal Roach and Jack White throughout the 1920's). Here's the promotional trailer.
It's highly recommended to have Brent Walker's comprehensive, painstakingly researched and splendid Mack Sennett's Fun Factory on hand as a reference to go with the Blu-ray set.
On the set: the recently discovered Charlie Chaplin cameo in the Ford Sterling comedy A Thief Catcher.
The other Chaplin films produced by Mack Sennett in 1913-1914 are on Flicker Alley's Chaplin At Keystone: An International Collaboration Of 34 Original Films set.
Never fear, however - there are plenty of films featuring the Sennett studio's many other resident funsters, a.k.a. THE USUAL SUSPECTS!
Al St. John
Gloria Swanson and Bobby Vernon
While the two volume collection primarily consists of silent films, it does feature a few "Mack Sennett Talking Pictures" featuring Andy Clyde, W.C. Fields, Daphne Pollard, Marjorie Beebe, Harry Gribbon and Grady Sutton.
The title listing for The Mack Sennett Collection, Volume 1, is as follows:
- The Curtain Pole
- The Manicure Lady
- A Dash Through the Clouds
- The Water Nymph
- A Grocery Clerk's Romance
- On His Wedding Day
- Bangville Police
- A Fishy Affair
- The Speed Kings
- The Thief Catcher
- The Great Toe Mystery
- Shot In The Excitement
- The Noise Of Bombs
- Ambrose's First Falsehood
- A Bird's A Bird
- Gussle's Day Of Rest
- A Lover's Lost Control
- A Submarine Pirate
- Fatty And Mabel Adrift
- His Bitter Pill
- Madcap Ambrose
- Teddy At The Throttle
- Her Torpedoed Love
- A Clever Dummy
- Hearts And Flowers
- Down On The Farm (Feature)
- Don't Weaken
- Gymnasium Jim
- The Extra Girl (Feature)
- The Dare-Devil
- Black Oxfords
- Galloping Bungalows
- His Marriage Wow
- Super-Hooper-Dyne Lizzies
- A Rainy Knight
- Saturday Afternoon
- A Sea Dog's Tale
- Hoboken To Hollywood
- Ice Cold Cocos
- Broke In China
- The Pride Of Pikeville
- Run, Girl, Run
- Taxi For Two
- The Bluffer (Sound)
- The Dentist (Sound)
- Don't Play Bridge With Your Wife (Sound)
- The Fatal Glass Of Beer (Sound)
Author and historian James L. Neibaur has penned an excellent overview of the Blu-ray release and will be writing daily reviews of each and every one of the 50 subjects on the three discs that comprise volume 1, starting with The Curtain Pole, the D.W. Griffith-Mack Sennett collaboration film from 1909. To Mack and all of the performers, filmmakers and technicians who worked so hard to make magic over his lengthy career - thanks for the laughs!
Sunday, August 03, 2014
The KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival returns with another all-improvised program of questionable entertainment.
The 16mm film extravaganza will feature the usual suspects: 1950's advertising and "educational" films, the campiest musical shorts (Soundies, Snader Telescriptions and Scopitones) as well as trailers from the cheapest American B-films and Japanese monster movies.
The program also features emphatic but unintentionally humorous commercials, inexplicably odd clips from TV and movies, as well as surreal silent movie excerpts.
And, inevitably, the festivals also frequently include the most bizarre of obscure classic cartoons. . .
In other words, a hallucinatory excursion through the irritated bowels of pop culture.
With a fez on his head and cheesy door prizes in hand to give away at intermission, Mr. Robert Emmett of KFJC'S Saturday morning Norman Bates Memorial Soundtrack Show will host the festivities.
One can hear the perpetrators of the festival, Paul Etcheverry (a.k.a. Blogmeister), Sci Fi Bob Ekman and the guy who designed the cool poster above, Scott Moon, plug the all-16mm celluloid extravaganza this very Monday evening, August 4, on KFJC 89.7 FM, Mr. Emmett's Thoughtline show.
The KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival
Saturday August 9, 7:00 to 11:00 PM
Room 5015, A.K.A. Forum Classroom
Foothill College campus
12345 El Monte Road
Los Altos Hills, CA 94022 (El Monte exit off of Highway 280)
$5 Admission benefits KFJC. Bring $3 for Parking (in Lot #5)
Public Transit: Cal Train and VTA
Foothill College Transportation & Parking
Arrive early, as the shows often sell out. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.
Be there or be a hexagon!