Two for Tuesday: Wes Montgomery

John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery had a unique style on the guitar, starting with the way he played the instrument. He played with his thumb, his other fingers splayed across the pickguard and bottom of the guitar. He developed that technique so as not to disturb his neighbors when he was practicing late into the night after a shift at the factory. He developed a large, sharp callus on the thumb that worked as well as a pick, anyway. His solos generally employed single-note lines drawn around scale and arpeggio lines, lines that employed octaves, and chord-melody lines that used block chords.

He recorded his first albums for Riverside from 1958 to 1964, then moved to Verve in 1964 and A&M Records in 1967. The Riverside albums, particularly The Incredible Jazz Guitar, are considered jazz classics. When he moved to Verve, he steered away from jazz and played more pop tunes, often backed by a full orchestra, while continuing to play in a small-group setting in clubs.

Wes never felt comfortable away from his hometown of Indianapolis, and lived there with his wife and 8 children between trips. He woke up on the morning of June 15, 1968 and told his wife that he didn’t feel right. Within minutes, he had suffered a fatal heart attack. He was only 45 years old when he passed.

Today’s songs show Wes from both his small-group days and from his orchestra-backed days. First is Thelonius Monk’s “Round Midnight,” a televised performance with a quartet, but I know little more than that. Then, “Bumpin’ on Sunset,” from his 1966 Verve release Tequila, with an orchestra conducted by Claus Ogerman.

Wes Montgomery, your Two for Tuesday, October 21, 2014.

#ROW80: A little better this week

Click to visit the challenge!
Click to visit the challenge!

So Monday I had a meltdown because I spend too much time dithering over posts, and I swore I was going to practice getting posts done and posted before I had time to think about what I was doing. And I did all right with that. I still got stuck a couple of times while writing a post, but it would appear that it was one of those cases where I’m trying to write the post without giving thought to how I’m going to get from point to point. So I need to give some thought to that post.

The rest of the stuff went well, though. The summary:

  • 750 Words every day: Got it done every day for the first time in I don’t know how long.

  • Read 30 minutes a day: Did this three days out of seven. I’m now spending too much time on Feedly and have to drag myself away from it, because I’m not getting the other stuff done. An adjustment is called for, both in what I’m reading and how much time I’m using on it.

  • Practice writing left-handed 15 minutes a day: Pens have become a rare commodity in this house, for some reason. I did get some practice in a couple of days, but then my pen found its way out of my office and under the furniture. Life with cats, what can I tell you? Someone suggested that I might want to try using a felt-tipped pen, because they’re a little easier to write with and you don’t get ink all over your hand. Maybe we’ll get to Target this week.

That’s all from this end. Straight ahead.

SoCS: The Shape of Things

Back with another installment of Stream of Consciousness Saturday!

Click the picture to play along!
Click the picture to play along!

Today’s prompt: SHAPE

Now, having been a math guy years ago, you probably think I’ll launch into discussions of polygons, polyhedrons, polychorons, 5-polytopes, etc. And you’d be wrong, apart from pointing you at the appropriate Wikipedia articles (which you needn’t read; there won’t be an exam).

Instead, when I started thinking about shapes, I kept getting the phrase “zoot suit with a reet pleat and a drape shape and a stuffed cuff”….

That, of course, was Paul White and the magnificent and so gorgeous Dorothy Dandridge.

And I kept going with songs about shape, such as “No Matter What Shape Your Stomach’s In” by the T-Bones, which was the basis for this Alka-Seltzer commercial from the 1960’s…

And “The Shape of Things to Come” by Max Frost and the Troopers. From 1968, when it climbed to #22 on the Billboard Hot 100…

And then one I had forgotten about, “Shapes of Things” by the Yardbirds, from the days when Jimmy Page was their lead guitarist.

And that’s my Stream of Consciousness entry for Saturday, October 18, 2014.

Miss Ice Glacier

I read today that there’s a comedy club in the UK that’s considering charging customers per laugh. You don’t laugh, you don’t pay. Now, this was a gag, obviously, but I was thinking, if it were true, we’d all be channeling our inner Virginia O’Brien.

In 1940, when Virginia was in her early twenties, she got a singing role in a musical, but she got the worst case of stage fright, and sang her song with a frozen, deer-in-the-headlights expression. The audience, thinking it was a joke, howled with laughter. She, on the other hand, was mortified.

One of the people sitting in the audience laughing was Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM Studios. The next day, he offered her a contract to do in the movies what she had done the night before. She appeared in 17 films before MGM dropped her in 1948. She turned her attention to television and the stage, and enjoyed a long and successful career after that.

I’m certain she thought her career was over when people laughed at her that night in 1940. No doubt she was surprised to find out it was just beginning.

Ten things that happened in October, 1954


Today is my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. Maybe I should have said “would have been,” because they’ve long since passed on, Dad in 1967, Mom in 2000. Still, we remember days like today in my family.

In honor of the day, I was going to list ten things that happened today, but since it was a Saturday, there wasn’t much. Still, there were a few things that happened in October, 1954. Thus today’s list, in no particular order.

  1. “Hey There” by Rosemary Clooney was the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100, where it had been since September 25. It became the most-played song by disk jockeys on October 9, and was the most-played on jukeboxes starting on October 16.

  2. On the 28th, baseball owners rejected a proposal by a Philadelphia group to buy the A’s and keep them in Philly. The team started playing in Kansas City the following year, and were based there until Charlie Finley moved them to Oakland in 1968.

  3. The New York Giants won the World Series, sweeping the Cleveland Indians in four games. That was the series where Willie Mays made the spectacular catch of Vic Wertz’s fly ball.

  4. Pope Pius XII released two encyclicals during the month: Ad Sinarum Gentem on the 7th (where he warns the Chinese Church against separation from Rome, defends the Church against charges that it was trying to undermine Chinese culture, and welcomes cultural differences in preaching and teaching) and Ad Caeli Reginam on the 11th (instituting the feat of the Queenship of Mary, Mother of God).

  5. On the 10th, Ho Chi Minh entered Hanoi after the French withdrew their troops. On the 24th, President Eisenhower pledged the US’s support of South Vietnam, and on the 27th he ofered his support to South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem.

  6. Hassan el Hodeiby, leader of the Moslem Brothership, was arrested in Egypt on the 7th. On the 28th, Colonel Nasser disbanded the Brothership.

  7. Ernest Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature on the 28th.

  8. A few TV stations began broadcasting during the month: KFVS 12 (CBS) in Cape Girardeau, MO on the 3rd; KTIV 4 (NBC) in Sioux City, IA on the 9th; KLTV 7 (ABC) in Tyler-Longview, TX on the 15th; WTBW 13 (ABC/CBS) in Florence, SC on the 18th; KAKE 10 (ABC) in Wichita, KS on the 19th; WSAU 7 (CBS) in Wausau, WI on the 23rd; WISN 12 (ABC) in Milwaukee, WI on the 27th, the day that Walt Disney’s first TV show, Disneyland, premiered on the network; and KREM 2 (CBS/ABC) in Spokane, WA on the 31st. Also, Sweden began experimental TV on the 29th.

  9. On the 23rd, West Germany became part of NATO, and Great Britain, France, and the USSR agreed to end their occupation of Germany.

  10. Hurricane Hazel formed on the 5th and dissipated on the 18th. By the time it was over, 1000-1200 people in the US and Canada had died and it had done $308 million in damage in the US and Can$135 million in damage in Canada. Traveling 680 miles oer land, it joined with a cold front as it hit Toronto.

Thanks to History Orb for the information; you can read the rest here.

There’s your Thursday Ten for October 16, 2014. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! Love you!



“Cry Me A River” was written in 1953 by Arthur Hamilton for the 1955 movie Pete Kelly’s Blues with Jack Webb, Janet Leigh, Peggy Lee, and a host of other actors. It was to have been sung by Ella Fitzgerald in the film, but ended up not being used.

At the suggestion of her boyfriend, Bobby Troup, Julie London, Webb’s ex-wife, recorded the song in 1955, backed by Barney Kessel on guitar and Ray Leatherwood on bass. Her version was the one that popularized the song, and she was called on to perform it in the 1956 film The Girl Can’t Help It with Jayne Mansfield, Tom Ewell, and Edmond O’Brien (a very funny movie, I might add).

(And, yes, Bobby Troup and Julie London starred in Emergency!, a production of Mark VII Productions, Jack Webb’s company.)

It’s been performed by many artists, including Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, and Diana Krall, and by the two artists we have going head-to-head today. Torch songs are generally the province of women singers, but these are two versions by men.

In 1970, Joe Cocker did “Cry Me A River” on his “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour, where he was backed by Leon Russell, Chris Stainton, Bobby Keys, Rita Coolidge, and others. The live version of the song was a hit in 1970, rising to #11 on the Hot 100. Here’s the song from the movie.

In 2009, Michael Bublé contributed his version, backed by a full orchestra. His version reached #29 in Ireland and #34 in the UK, but didn’t chart in the US. Here is his version.

These are the two versions of the song, then, that I’d like you to choose from. Is it Joe Cocker’s high energy rock veersion of the song, or is Michael Bublé’s more to your liking?

And, after you finish here, how about visiting the other participants and see what they have?

Tossing It Out
Far Away Series
StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands
Your Daily Dose
A Writer’s Life In Progress
Creative Outlet of Stratplayer
Mike’s Ramblings
Curious as a Cathy

Results next Wednesday!

Two for Tuesday: Tal Farlow

Tal Farlow was called “the Octopus” because of his huge hands and long fingers. He didn’t take up the guitar until he was 21, but was playing professionally a year later. He gained notoreity while playing with Red Norvo from 1949 to 1953. After a time with Artie Shaw’s Gramercy Five, he retired from full-time playing and became a sign painter. He reappeared in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s before disappearing again. He died of esophageal cancer in 1998.

Tal was adept both at comping and soloing, and our first video today shows it. This is Tal with Red Norvo and bassist Steve Novosel in an arrangement of “All of Me.”

Second is a chord melody arrangement of Errol Garner’s “Misty.”

Plenty more on YouTube, including many of his instructional videos and a jam with Bucky Pizzarelli and Les Paul that I had intended on including here, but they wouldn’t let me imbed it…

Tal Farlow, your Two for Tuesday, October 14, 2014.

Daily Prompt: 25/7

This looked interesting…

Good news — another hour has just been added to every 24-hour day (don’t ask us how. We have powers). How do you use those extra sixty minutes?


First thing I’d do is find out if it’s retroactive. I’ve been alive 21,387 24-hour days, or 513,288 hours. At 25 hours, those hours become 20,531 days. So today is June 10, 2012, and I’m two years younger!

Seriously, if I had an extra hour every day, I’d probably end up sleeping. Come to think of it, Daylight Saving Time ends on November 2, so it’ll be like having a 25-hour day, won’t it?

No More Wordsmithing On The Fly!

The last couple of days, I’ve concentrated on going as fast as I can when I write my 750 words. I’m not worrying about the number of typos I make, nor am I concerning myself with what exactly I’m saying. Yesterday, my average words per minute was 28, today it was 33. That’s for a guy typing with one hand.

I asked myself, why does it take me a couple of hours to write some of these blog entries?

I thought about it, and I realized that I’m typing so slow that I actually have time to think about what I’m typing. And about halfway through a blog entry, or a paragraph, or even a sentence, I start to question myself. That results in my backing up and rewriting the sentence, which leads to rewriting the paragraph, which leads to rewriting the whole blog entry or, worse, scrapping the whole thing and starting over.

Worsmithing on the fly. Can’t be doing that. Why am I doing it?

  • I get codependent and think that something I’m writing is going to hurt someone’s feelings. Even a sentence as innocuous as “It’s raining cats and dogs out there” has me thinking, a dog lover or a cat lover is going to read that and take offense, or I’ll be reported to PETA and they’re going to be standing outside my door and protesting and probably throw fake blood on me. And that’s ridiculous.

  • I regress to third grade, when Mother Juanita would make nasty comments about the things I wrote and my handwriting and I think, can’t say it that way, better find a better way to say that. They won’t like that. So, even though I’ve been on a roll, I have to back up and change everything, leading me to start reading things that I’ve already written and think, nah, this ain’t gonna do, and I end up sending it off to the drafts, or worse, the trash. I picture the nun crumbling up the paper I had written on, throwing it in the wastebasket, and telling me to do it again.

  • I start writing and realize that I’m missing something that I need to complete the post, and I go off looking for it, and meanwhile I start thinking that what I had written already wasn’t very good and that I should rewrite it, or at least check my facts, and I come to the conclusion that I’ve gone off half-cocked and maybe I should just ditch the idea and come back to it when I’m better prepared.

I know I’ve talked about this in the past all the while exhorting myself not to do it, but, well, I can’t avoid it. And it’s costing me time and words. I think I saw someone say that the number of words they’ve written is nothing compared to the number of words they’ve written and thrown away. I know what that person was talking about.

And I know the things I said above are BS. The third one’s legitimate, I do go off half-cocked sometimes and need to do a better job of preparing. But the other two? Pure unadulterated BS.

  • If someone gets their panties in a wad over something I’ve written, that ain’t my problem. I am not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings or piss anyone off. They need to get over it.

  • Mother Juanita was fifty years ago. She’s probably dead by now. And she got thrown out of the convent, anyway.

Okay, well, I’ve had my rant. So I’m adding this to my list of ROW80 goals: practice not wordsmithing on the fly.

Did you have this problem? Did you struggle with wordsmithing on the fly? What finally broke you of it?


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