Melodious Thunk, and Other Funk

I've become friends with one of the reference librarians in the Great Library where I work, partly because she's interested in music of all kinds. She's played the piano most of her life and sung in choirs; she also does some Latin dancing, so music is about as important to her as it is to me. We've taken to trading CDs back and forth and recently I left four jazz ones on her desk with an email explaining them. I got carried away with it as usual - especially with some stories about Sweets Edison, who's on one of the discs - so I've decided to post this for everyone's entertainment, hopefully.                                                   *** I thought it was high time you heard some Thelonious Monk, or "Melodious Thunk" as his wife Nellie called him. I fussed over which record to bring you as an introduction to him, but in the end decided it didn't really matter. I have a feeling you're not going to like him much anyway; he's an acquired taste that some people just don't ever acquire. But have a go. This record is one of his better ones and a little unusual, even for him. I love the kiddie-themed cover, unfortunately this is a Japanese issue, so the liner notes are a little hard to read! Normally, Monk used a quartet with him on piano, plus tenor saxophone, bass and drums. This one has a septet with trumpet, alto saxophone, his favourite bassist and drummer and two tenor saxophone giants who represented the past (Coleman more [...]

Oh, So … Minoso

At the end of my last post I wrote, with tongue mainly in cheek, that I wish I could have played major-league ball, but that the chances of this happening were a big fat zero. My friend Ted O'Reilly commented that this was just as well, that my career in music has been much longer than any ballplayer's, with the possible exception of Minnie Minoso, who managed to play in parts of seven decades. This is true and a good point, but also reminds me that I wrote a fairly long piece about Minoso a couple of years ago. So I thought this was maybe a good time to dig it up and post it. It's a profile of his baseball life and career, as well as an argument on behalf of him deserving to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. When I wrote it, I felt strongly that Minnie Minoso and Ron Santo were the two best players not in the HOF. Shortly thereafter, Santo was elected, unfortunately a few months after his premature death. Minnie is now 90 and still seems to be mostly in good health, so I'm hoping the HOF voters don't repeat this dumb, 'better too late than never' timing and will put him in while he's still here to enjoy it. I'm not holding my breath though, and I hope Minnie isn't either. Here then is a look at one of the most versatile, durable, interesting and joyous players ever in baseball history.                                                         *** Like single-malt whiskies and jazz records, the Baseball Hall more [...]

It’s Ball In the Family

With over 350 sets of brothers and more than 100 father-son combinations, major-league baseball has had far more family acts in its history than any other sport. This doesn't include the rarer examples of nine sets of twins who played the game or the four instances of players over three generations - grandfather, father and son. There's even a very rare case of baseball spanning four generations (while skipping two) as in the case of Jim Bluejacket, who pitched for Brooklyn and Cincinnati in 1914-16, and his great-grandson Bill Wilkinson, who pitched for the Mariners from 1985-88. Don't get alarmed, I didn't know most of this stuff or anything, I looked it up at a nifty feature of the site called The Baseball Family Tree, which lists all of this in detail. The biggest set of baseball-playing brothers were the five Delahanty boys from Cleveland - Ed, Tom, Joe, Jim and Frank - who all played in and around the turn of the century, 1888-1915. Tom, Joe and Frank had relatively short and spotty careers, but Jim played for thirteen seasons in the big leagues and put up some pretty decent numbers. Ed, the eldest, was the real talent in the family though, a major star outfielder of his day, posthumously enshrined in the Hall of Fame since 1945. He hit .346 lifetime and drove in nearly 1,500 runs in a career cut short in the middle of its sixteenth year by his mysterious and sudden death at age 36. Ed was something of a sport, a big socializer and drinker, more [...]