Monthly Archives: December 2013

Yusef Lateef R.I.P.

Yusef Lateef,  Grammy Award-winning multi-instrumentalist, composer and educator who brought the sounds of world music to jazz and became one of the first jazz musicians to convert to the teachings of Islam,  died. He was 93.

 

Lateef initially was best known as a dynamic tenor saxophonist with a big tone and a strong sense of swing, but his persistent creative and intellectual curiosity led him to the discovery of an array of other instruments as well as a fascination with various international forms of music.

He was an early advocate for the flute as a credible jazz voice, and  his performances on the oboe as early as the ’50s and ’60s were definitive – and rarely matched – displays of the instrument’s jazz capabilities.

He searched the globe for more exotic instruments, while mastering, among others, the bamboo flute, the Indian shenai, the Arabic arghul, the Hebrew shofar and the West African Fulani flute.

 

Tall and shaven-headed, his powerful presence offset by a calm demeanor and the quiet, articulate speaking style of a scholar, Lateef combined thoughtfulness and a probing intellectual curiosity with impressive musical skills. Early in his career, he established his role as a pathfinder in blending elements from a multiplicity of different sources.

 

His first recordings under his own leadership, released on the Savoy label in the mid-’50s, already revealed a fascination with unusual instruments: In addition to tenor saxophone and the flute, he also plays the arghul. Several of Lateef’s original compositions on those early albums also integrated rhythms and melodic styles from numerous global musical forms.

 

“In any given composition,” wrote Leonard Feather in The Times in 1975, “there may be long passages that involve classical influences, impressionism, a Middle Eastern flavor, or rhythmic references to Latin America.”

 

Like a number of musicians – from Duke Ellington to his contemporaries, Max Roach and Sonny Rollins – Lateef objected to the use of the word “jazz” to describe his work. He preferred, instead, the phrase, “autophysiopsychic music,” which he defined as “music which comes from one’s physical, mental and spiritual self.”

 

He also acknowledged the importance of the blues, in his music and elsewhere.

 

“The blues,” he said in an NPR interview in 2003, “is a very elegant musical form which has given birth to wonderful compositions. I recognize the blues. In fact, if the African had not been brought to America as a slave, the blues would never have been born.”

 

Lateef’s desire to pursue his own musical path — as a performer, a composer and an educator — led, in 1981, to his refusal to perform in nightclubs. For the next four years, he lived in Nigeria as a senior research fellow at Ahmadu Bello University. Returning to the U.S., he taught at the University of Massachusetts and Amherst College.

 

In the succeeding decades, Lateef performed in concert halls, colleges and music festivals in Japan, Russia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the U.S. He often led seminars and master classes outlining his belief in the presence of autophysiopsychic music principals in cultures around the world.

 

“To me,” he told the LA Times in 1989,” it feels as though there’s a kind of aesthetic thread running through the improvisational musics of the world. If you’re alive and your heart is beating, you’ll find it, and that’s what makes the relationship between you and the world.”

 

Yusef Lateef was born William Emanuel Huddleston on April 9, 1920, in Chattanooga, Tenn. When he was 3, he moved to Lorraine, Ohio, with his parents. In 1925 they relocated to Detroit. Music was a constant presence in his early family life.

 

He is survived by his wife, Ayesha Lateef; his son, Yusef Lateef; a granddaughter and great-grandchildren.

Source – LA Time, 24 Dec 2013

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Criminals Could be Identified ‘Through Reflection in Victims’ Eyes’

Reflections in the “dark mirror” of a person’s pupil could be used by police to identify criminals, piece together crime scenes or link networks of suspects.

According to the study, led by Dr Rob Jenkins at the University of York, we are able to able identify people reflected in the pupils of photographed subjects with a surprising degree of accuracy.

Jenkins and the University of Glasgow’s Christine Kerr photographed eight people.

They found that test subjects were able to identify the image of someone they already knew in the enlarged pupil reflection 84% of the time.

When they did not know the person reflected, they were able to identify them against a passport photo 71% of the time.

“The pupil of the eye is like a black mirror,” Jenkins said. “Eyes in the photographs could reveal where you were and who you were with.”

“In the context of criminal investigations, this could be used to piece together networks of associates, or to link individuals to particular locations,” Jenkins told Kurzweil Artificial Intelligence.

The reflections could be particularly useful in child abuse or kidnapping cases, where a victim is photographed by a criminal.

“Reflections in the victim’s eyes could reveal the identity of the photographer,” said Jenkins.

“Also, around 40 million photographs per day are uploaded to Instagram alone.

“Faces are among the most frequently photographed objects. Our study serves as a reminder to be careful what you upload.”

The photographs were taken with a high-end 29 pixel camera, but the study’s authors noted that as high-res cameras become more common in mobile phones, so better images may become more readily available to police.

Source – International Business Times, 28 Dec 2013

It might be noted that this idea is not new – police took photographs of the eyes of Mary Kelly, Jack the Ripper victim in 1888, working on the theory that the last thing a person saw might be imprinted somehow in the eyes.

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Concerned Clowns Call For End To Copycat Crime wave

Britain’s clowns fear their good name has been tarnished after police forces around the country revealed incidents of people in costume scaring members of the public.

The copycat craze – believed to have been started by a man known on Facebook as the Northampton Clown – involves people dressing as clowns to surprise passers-by in public places.

Several police forces have issued warnings after reported sightings and now details released under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed the extent of the trend.

These include reports to Derbyshire police of a clown carrying a knife and incidents in South Yorkshire of a clown staring through the windows of people’s homes. Those two forces recorded 29 and 28 clown-related incidents respectively.

Tony Eldridge, secretary of Clowns International which represents the entertainers in Britain, said the situation had escalated beyond harmless fun. 

Eldridge, whose clown name is Bluebottle, said: “This is doing clowning no favours and is harming society.

“The people behind it might see it as a bit of a laugh, but for the victims it can be a horrible experience.

“The fear of clowns – coulrophobia – is a real thing and some people will react very badly to this. Not to mention people who are elderly or vulnerable.

“This has nothing to do with clowning, it’s a small group of people with stupid views and it spoils the fun for everybody else.”

Most legitimate entertainers followed a code of clown conduct which included not wearing their costume in public, he said.

“We have to reclaim clowning as a positive thing which brings happiness.”

The trend first emerged when the Northampton Clown rose to prominence over the summer, gaining nearly 200,000 “likes” on Facebook.

The person responsible posts photos of himself in public places. He most recently uploaded a photo taken outside a brewery in the town on 13 December.

He defended his behaviour, writing on Facebook: “Yes, there have been copycats, but that’s not me.”

The craze has spread with police in Lancashire reassuring the public after speculation about sightings involving a Stephen King-style clown.

A force spokesman said: “We have had no first-hand reports of any incidents of violence or intimidation.”

Last month Norfolk Police told members of the public to ignore clowns in the street after a number of sightings around King’s Lynn.

These included a person in a “full clown outfit” with a red suit and red hair chasing members of the public.
Superintendent Carl Edwards said no one had been injured or assaulted.

Dressing as a clown was not illegal, he said, but the force would offer those behind the make-up “strong words of advice”.

Sally Beadle, also known as Crazy Bananas, works as a clown in the King’s Lynn area.

She knows somebody who was chased by a clown in Downham Market, Norfolk, and said they were left shaken by the experience.

“Before this happened I would pop into the petrol station in costume on my way to a job but now I can’t do that,” she said. “Even my own children who grew up around clowns have been scared by this.

“It’s more than just a job, it’s something we love, but people’s reaction to us has changed – I was getting messages on Facebook asking if I was responsible for scaring people.

“This is my business and I don’t like frightening people.”

Responding to the freedom of information request, South Wales police confirmed it had received a report of somebody acting suspiciously while wearing a clown mask.

Derbyshire police received 29 reports of clown sightings after social media claims that a man in the Nottingham area was dressing up and carrying balloons and a knife.

One report read: “Caller scared as someone had tried to get in to their house – posted on Facebook that a clown had been going around village trying door handles.”

Another said: “Caller reported having received numerous calls from concerned parents about a clown going up to the windows of houses brandishing a gun and knife frightening the residents.”

South Yorkshire police recorded 28 incidents involving people dressed as clowns.

These included a clown standing in a park, jumping out at somebody in the street and staring through the window of a house.

Other police forces also recorded incidents involving people dressed as clowns, although not all were linked to the craze.

Sussex police received reports of three incidents involving the characters, including a speeding offence involving a motorcyclist in full clown costume.

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Tolerable Xmas Records (5)

 You scumbag, you maggot

You cheap lousy faggot

Happy Christmas your arse

I pray god it’s our last

They dont write Christmas lyrics like that anymore…

Nor like thses…

You aint getting shit for Christmas

You can stick that fruitcake up your arse

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Tolerable Xmas Records (4)

Tonight, according to popular mythology, a big fat man in a red suit may be coming down your chimney with a little something for the kids.

No, not a very determined paedophile… it’s Santa Claus.  But will he be visting all the neighbourhoods ? He will if James Brown has anything to do with it…

In a perfect world – well, my kind of perfect world anyway – Santa Claus would be replaced by Eartha Kitt.  Can you imagine her coming down your chimney ?

I can… indeed at this time of year I imagine little else. I have a good imagination (sigh…).

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Tolerable Xmas Records (3)

I’ll let you into a secret – I hate the song ‘White Christmas’  in its original version.  It drones along, a malformed slice of seasonal tedium, just like all the ones we used to know.

But as it has been brought into the world, we might as well get someone to record a good version of it. Sort of stripped back, soulful, nice brass section,  schmaltz-free, recorded by someone like, oh I dunno… Otis Redding perhaps ?

Wouldn’t that be worth hearing ?

 

Carla Thomas is a midwinter child, born around the Shortest Day (December 21, 1942), the daughter of Rufus Thomas, no stranger to seasonal opportunism himself (‘I’ll Be your Santa Baby‘).

Described by some as the Queen of Memphis Soul, she also dueted with Otis Redding (notably on ‘Tramp’) and in 1963 released what may just about be my favorite Tolerable Xmas Record – ‘Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas‘)

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Tolerable Xmas Records (2)

A couple on a theme here… Christmas behind bars.

The Youngsters Christmas In Jail

 

Reverend J.M. GatesDid You Spend Christmas Day In Jail ?

 

From 1914 to his death in 1945 , Gates was the pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Rock Dale Park, Atlanta, Georgia. He had a very prolific recording career, recording over 200 sides between 1926 and 1941, including frequent rerecordings. Experts estimate that at least a quarter of all sermons commercially released on record before 1943 were recorded by Gates.

Many of his recordings were strong warnings of the hellish punishments that awaited sinners – his first best-seller, 1926’s “Death’s Black Train Is Coming”, sold 35,000 copies by the end of its release year.

Gates is credited with introducing the gospel music of former blues artist Thomas A. Dorsey into the black gospel market via his crusades. His funeral drew the largest crowd of any memorial service in the city before Martin Luther King, Jr

 

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