Diver Devra and HBOT

Many of you are aware that I beat tongue cancer with heavy radiation and chemo back in 1996. The radiation burned out my salivary glands and the lack thereof over these years has led to dental decay with which even the dentist cannot keep up. The upshot is that I have had more root-canals than I can count and 6 more teeth were pulled in August (2 had been pulled in 2008).

The extractions weren’t so bad (done in hospital, under anesthesia) but my ability to heal from oral surgery is compromised due to the radiation I absorbed during the cancer war — it killed more than just the salivary glands — the diagnosis is osteoradionecrosis (dead bones). Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT) is the prescription, 2-hours a day, five days a week, starting two weeks before surgery and continuing after for as long as it takes for the ‘wounds’ close up. This little image is not me, but it is the actual chamber you’ll find me in from 7-9 AM, M-F for awhile.

You can’t take anything into the chamber with you, no books, nada. There’s no room to move around, but you can listen to music or watch a dvd through a porthole. My preference is to lie down and listen to music. But sometimes I am not given the lie-down option and have to sit in the back compartment (pictured). In chamber I seem to fare best listening to instrumentals rather than vocals, and orchestral rather than small ensemble, though I did spend two days listening to solo piano from the Live at Maybeck Hall series. Recent listening includes Jim Hall’s Textures and By Arrangement, Bob Brookmeyer’s Get Well Soon, and Quincy Jones’ Big Band Complete 1960 European Concerts.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy works by “force-feeding” pure oxygen to the bloodstream, tissues and cells. Treatments make me feel like DiverDevra (do you remember Diver Dan on TV?) – you are placed in a submarine-like compartment which is then pressurized. The earth’s atmosphere normally exerts approximately 15 pounds per square inch of pressure at sea level. That pressure is defined as one atmosphere absolute (abbreviated as 1 ATA). The chamber gets pressurized to 2 ATA, and by elevating the atmospheric pressure and increasing oxygen intake, oxygen is transferred through the membrane of the red blood cells at a much greater, more effective rate to saturate the bloodstream, tissue and cells.

The hoped-for end result is that the gum tissue will grow to fill in the gaps and cover all exposed bone. But until the bone is buried, you’ll find me popping antibiotics and diving.

I’ve Got Mail

Mr. Rifftides and I are of like mind (he seconded my emotion here), as is pianist George Ziskind who sent me a Bravo for my radio remarks and added that he’ll be talking with Phil Schaap tomorrow morning on WKCR at around 9:30 a.m. EST. You remember George, don’t you? He sent in that great account of Sonny Rollins’ onstage interview at IAJE this past January. (If you haven’t seen it, here ’tis and here’s the ammendment that came in from Ira Gitler.)

I’ve Got Mail: Another Perspective

As you know, I’ve been embroiled in the online discussions with my classmates about the wars, and more specifically about human nature and whether we are wired to be violent, an inherency tempered only by our intellect and consciousness (and/or perhaps conscience). It was with that in mind that I posted the quote from Carl Jung (see yesterday’s post just below). Bill Crow writes in response:

Re your posted quote from Jung: He must have been talking about himself. I personally have come to consciousness many times with joy and pleasure, as when I first heard Louis Armstrong’s recording of West End Blues, when I first heard Duke Ellington’s recording of Creole Love Call, when I first heard Lester Young’s recording of I Got Rhythm, and when I first heard Charlie Parker’s recording of Ko Ko. Such moments of revelation have carried me happily through a life in music, without pain.
(The pain came later on, in my fingers, from struggling to transfer the consciousness of the music onto my instrument.)

Thanks, Bill, for providing a ballast, accentuating the positive, and reminding us of the power of music. I’m don’t know which specific renditions you have in mind (these guys having recorded these songs more than once) but I hope the above links to sound clips will give DDW readers a little sample.

Did you all know that the Army’s PsyOps division has used music as a weapon? I’ve been meaning to research the details, but I remember something about driving Noriega out of hiding by bombarding him with heavy metal music. No joke. I wonder what would happen if we were to fill the air in warring territories with great music. Now there’s a secret weapon I could support. Hmmm…

Perspective From Abroad

Today I received this message in response to Monday’s post about Chevalier Jim Hall.

You are quite justified in feeling very proud of your dad’s award by the French Government. I hope you are able to accompany him to the investiture ceremony (French Embassy in Washington – quite possible?). The French do not give these awards away in breakfast cereal packets — they are coveted honours bestowed on relatively few. I hope he wears it with pride.

As to Knighthoods awarded by the Queen of England. Well, these are largely political in nature, because though a number of actors, painters and other contributors to the arts and sciences do receive knighthoods (which entitles them to be called ‘Sir’, their award is largely down to the patronage of the British Prime Minister. As such, there’s a great deal of political ‘I’ll scratch your back’ involved. Most of the British business tycoons etc., are rewarded more for their political smoozing than for any genuinely meritorious behaviour. As to peerages, well we’ve known for decades that most of these are ‘bought and sold’. The current PM, Mr Blair, is no better than his predecessors in this sordid little business. A prime minister by the name of Lloyd-George (in the 1910-20s was a model of corruption — and had a scale of charges relative to the award that people wished to purchase. Mr Blair is mired in the same sleazy methods — and a great majority of the peerages (that is to say people elevated to the House of Lords and given the title, Lord -‘Such-and-such’ have obtained their award by the simple expediency of bunging a large sum of money to the British Labour Party. This isn’t to say other PMs in the recent past haven’t done exactly the same. Ordinary people in the UK are almost never given knighthoods. They have to be content with minor awards such as the British Empire Medal, or possibly the Order of the British Empire (one step up from BEM).

Hope this gives you some (relatively) small insight into the true merit of the award system here in the UK.

And, though I’m in danger of repeating myself, your dad’s award is very well merited. I salute him.

Best regards from a sunny Shropshire (England),
Mike Davis

Regular readers will recognize Mike’s name as he writes in from time to time and I have mentioned the book he co-authored: Hampton Hawes: A Bio-Discography.

I’ve Got Mail: Animal World

Writer/Producer John Chacona writes:

In DDW this morning, you mentioned the Amy Sutherland book. As fate would have it, I listened to a podcast of an article by Ms. Sutherland just this morning. The print article from which the podcast is drawn is at:


The link John provides takes you to “What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage,” an article by Sutherland who is now applying to her husband the techniques she learned from the animal trainers. Hmmm….

According to let’s call this (JC’s website) writing about the arts doesn’t pay his bills but it does keep him sane. On his site you’ll find links to many of his writings, including this one:
Musical Royalty: Pianist Bill Charlap grew up in a household surrounded by musical greats, including his parents. (Erie Times-News ShowCase, 1 June, 2006)

I’ve Got Mail: Narratives, Full Circle

I received an email today from Carl Abernathy, proprietor of Cahl’s Juke Joint: A rock, blues and jazz blog that features reviews and meditations on an eclectic mix of music. When I first discovered Carl’s blog I remembered being intrigued right away that someone so into music and with such diverse musical tastes would list books by John McPhee and Tracy Kidder among his favorites — both authors are masters of the narrative nonfiction genre — but I had forgotten that Carl works days as a college newspaper adviser. Guess I’m not the only one to mix passions for music and narrative tales. Carl writes:

I like the Nieman narrative writing site, too. I’ve been using bits and pieces from some of the stories in seminars.

A few weeks ago, one of my former students sent me a link to another site that features narrative writing: http://www.gangrey.com/

I don’t like all of the work featured on the site, but it’s a nice resource, too.

Gangrey, “Prolonging the slow death of newspapers,” is a blog with postings by Ben that contain links to stories in various newspapers. As Carl said, some are better than others, but it’s a great way to serendipitously sample the fare in papers around the country. Thanks, Carl.

Most blogs have an About Me link, but no such link for Ben on Gangrey. I did find a link, however, referring to a story on which he had been working, a story, it turns out, that he wrote for the St. Petersburg Times Online/Tampa Bay. I couldn’t tell if he was on staff or a freelancer, but now that I had his full name, Ben Montgomery, I googled him. Guess where his bio blurb showed up! On Neiman’s Narrative Digest. And that brings us full circle to my post from yesterday that precipitated Carl’s email.

I’ve Got Mail: Am I Gullible?

I remember my dad telling me that he once saw a television interview where someone made a disparaging comment about all those wrong notes that Thelonious Monk played. So when I read about Hans Groiner’s recordings (see post below from earlier today), I took it seriously. I have now received two emails regarding this matter. First from Bill Kirchner (the one who told me about it in the first place), who at least admits to some uncertainty (maybe just so I won’t feel too bad):

I can’t say for sure, but I’d bet that the “Hans Groiner” (if there is such a person) recordings are put-ons, and very funny ones at that, a la Paul Weston and Jo Stafford’s legendary “Jonathan and Darlene Edwards” parodies.

And this from Mike Davis across the pond in Shropshire (Mike is co-author of Hampton Hawes: A Bio-Discography):

Think the Hans Groiner ‘Plays Monk’ saga is very funny. Jazz humour isn’t yet dead methinks. Round up the usual suspects. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bill Crow knows the true identity of Herr Groiner.

So Bill Crow, what say you?

I’ve Got Mail: Music and/on Film

You never know when posting an off-hand reaction will lead to a really interesting discovery or recommendation. A friend writes:

Interesting, DevraDoWrite, about “driving your own music.” I feel old, too. But let those folks do their thing — push the envelope — and let’s see what comes of it. In the meantime, there are people like the guy who did Music from the Inside Out. In the meantime, there are people like us. Let us not discount us.

Music from the Inside Out? If I still lived in Greenwich Village (where it ran exclusively at New York’s Cinema Village), or if I still read The Hollywood Reporter (wherein I would have seen the September 29, 2005 review) I might have known about this documentary. But today, on this subject, I was not in-the-know. Thank goodness for Google, which led me here, to the Education section of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s web site where I learned that it is a documentary film, apparently a very good one having been recently nominated for the International Documentary Association’s Distinguished Feature Award. This sounds like a must-see:

Filmed over a period of five years on three continents, MUSIC FROM THE INSIDE OUT is groundbreaking in style and approach: the main character of this film is “Music” itself. Incorporating a blend of well-loved musical works—including classical, jazz, bluegrass, salsa, and world music – the film features one of the most eclectic soundtracks of any recent documentary.

It played for one week at one theatre in Seattle (got a good review), albeit brief, and it has now made it to Los Angeles where it will be playing in one theatre: Laemmle’s Music Hall on Wilshire. For how long I know not. I guess it will depend on how many of “us” go to see it.

For more info, including cities/dates and lovely streaming audio, visit the film’s web site.

Survival Among Friends

Three members of the survivor’s club met for lunch yesterday. Terry Teachout, Bill Kirchner and I have surmounted serious medical challenges (“can’t kill us”), but after a brief homage to the benefits and boredom of daily workouts, our conversation focused on staying afloat professionally, navigating the barrage of information that floods our world daily, balancing demands on our time, and assessing/predicting current/future cultural trends. (TT is very savvy about such things – if you are not a regular reader of his blog, you should be).

Kirchner, a consummate musician, radio host and jazz historian, is also a teacher at The New School (lucky are the jazz students in his classes). I was invited to stop by his class before our lunch to watch a video of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra taped for Ralph Gleason’s “Jazz Casual” program. It was a late 1960s broadcast featuring, in addition to Thad and Mel, Bob Brookmeyer, Snooky Young, Jerome Richardson, and Roland Hanna. I’m going to have to buy the DVD (also includes the Modern Jazz Quartet and Dave Brubeck Quartet and Paul Desmond). Anyway, Bill sent an email later in the day —

Re our conversation today, I’m reminded of something a friend of mine, composer-arranger-producer Bob Belden, said to me a few years ago: “Most people have to reinvent themselves a few times in a lifetime. Jazz people have to do it every few years.”

I guess that’s the price we pay for not being downsized, outsourced, or otherwise devalued. Or as another colleague put it: “It’s lonely down here at the top.”

Speaking of friends and survival, another email yesterday informed me that two of my good friends/neighbors, were in a horrific car accident yesterday and, happily, got away without any apparent major injuries. Here’s the description another friend/neighbor sent. (Not knowing what legal machinations might be involved, I thought it best to not mention any names)

[They] were taking their bass boat to the boat shop for its annual check-up when a testosterone-poisoned male in his early/mid twenties tried to dart his souped-up off-road SUV across their lane, behind their truck. Being of insufficient mental facility to “look both ways”, the young man failed to note the 20 foot long bass boat and trailer behind the truck, and slammed into the trailer at approximately 50-60 mph.. The impact of the SUV spun the trailer, and the truck pulling it, several 360-degree revolutions in the direction the truck was traveling. The boat broke loose from the trailer and flew *over* [their] truck, skidding approximately 300 feet down the freeway before coming to rest across two traffic lanes.

The SUV jumped the trailer and rolled several times before coming to rest across two other lanes, as the truck pulling the boat, and carrying [them], skidded to a stop in the middle of the freeway. It appears [his] expertise in handling the skidding vehicle, and his ability to regain control of the vehicle, prevented the truck from rolling over or careening at high speed into the concrete center divider.

[They] were… treated for numerous aches and pains, sore backs, and necks and released [from the hospital] with no apparent major injuries. The male driver of the SUV accompanied the tow truck and his crumpled vehicle away from the scene without requiring medical treatment. The trailer and bass boat were destroyed, and [their] truck sustained significant rear-end damage.

Talk about survival! I am very happy to hear that they’re okay. We live on a wonderful block where our immediate neighbors are truly good friends who can be counted upon in good times and bad. I may not be very religious in a formal sense, but I am blessed to have great friends, near and far.

I’ve Got Mail: Lady Carol Sets the Record Straight

I thought my memory might be a little fuzzy, but I was close. I combined two sessions, both in Japan and just days apart, into one recollection shared in my post in the wee small hours of this morning/last night. But I knew there was a story to it. Here it is in the words of Carol Sloane:

Dear D: “Sophisticated Lady” was not a “direct to disc”, but there is a nice bass/voice duet on it. It was the first recording my Japanese host/concert promoter arranged for me, so I sang the songs they specifically requested. You’re right: it does feature Roland, George and Richie. The date was October 16, 1977. The direct to disc was a few days later, just Roland and George and me, on October 23:

The memory of that date is still fresh in my brain: Mraz arrived quite exhausted after recording at a separate studio for about 10 hours; Roland had exquisite gout pain in his right foot, and I had a MAJOR head cold. No sneezing or blowing your nose between takes on a D-T-D … God, we were three miserable, tired, uncomfortable people. And we did experience one break-down … say about four tunes in … which necessitated going back to the top. I swore I’d never put myself through that sort of torture ever again. And I never did. I also never did quite agree with the technicians that D-T-D produced a finer-sounding recording.