The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Thursday, January 25, 2001

Hangin' Out At Frank's Place

InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: Frank runs out to his mud-splattered SUV, grabs some CDs, and returns to the rustic house he and his wife Cathy are in the midst of remodeling. "Every track on this one is good," he says, removing one of the CDs from its case. He slips it into the player and skips to the second song. Moments later — sitting in Frank's living room in Sonoma, a half mile or so from my house, sippin' freshly-brewed coffee — we're groovin' to Charlie Parker's "Salt Peanuts," which the saxophone legend recorded in New York in 1945, long before either of us was born. Frank, who has a goatee, wears his hair in a ponytail, rides motorcycles and races dogs, bought his five-acre place about six months ago; looking out one of the windows I see pine trees, and, behind them, the Sonoma hills. The sun is shining today and the sky is a rich blue. Frank wants me to hear Parker's solos on "Salt Peanuts" and some of the others. Over the years I've been aware of Parker and listened to him on occasion, but I never "got it." Jazz has sometimes seemed like a foreign language I never studied. Not all jazz — Miles I get. Same for Coltrane, the MJQ, Mingus and Monk, Sonny and Duke and Ornette, the two Evanses (Gil and Bill), and some of the great singers like Bessie and Billie. But for whatever reasons, there are plenty of other jazz legends I just didn't connect with, Parker among them. It really makes me think about the whole concept of listening, really listening to the music, rather than just letting it play on in the background. I don't know about you, but I spend a lot of time not really listening. Right now, a week or so since I was at Frank's, Parker's boppin' "Anthropology" is on, but I'm sitting here writing. How can I really feel his red-hot solo, when I'm busy figuring out what I want to write? When I was a kid, I would get a new album like, say, The Band's Stage Fright, and I'd lie on my bed with the headphones on, completely focused on the music. As you get older, it gets harder to clear out the time to just listen. Frank's the kind of guy who isn't embarrassed to tell you he's never been into much jazz in the past, but now he's checkin' things out. Like me, he's been watching the Ken Burns TV series. We both agree it's pretty cool, but we also are concerned about the emphasis on the past, rather than the present. The problem is that jazz seems to be a lost art; the stars of our day — Wynton Marsalis being the really big one — are just copping old moves. But jazz was once a popular music — the other night, during one of the "Jazz" segments, I saw footage of a stadium filled with folks in their teens, twenties and thirties, diggin' Count Basie! A stadium filled with jazz freaks — imagine that! In the clubs guys and gals were up all night dancing to the music. Jazz wasn't something to be appreciated like classical music; it was the music of its day, music you lived your life to. In the living room, Frank turns off the CD player and pulls out his Fender Strat and plugs it into a Fender Deluxe Reverb amp. The other thing he wants to show me is some Rolling Stones licks he's mastered — well, actually, some licks of Keith Richards, playing in open G. Exile on Main Street riffs that Richards recorded over 25 years ago. The first time I heard the Fun Lovin' Criminals was when Frank played "Scooby Snacks" for me. Charlie Parker, Keith Richards — you never know what to expect over at Frank's place.

Datastream: Look for one of the earliest recordings by Modest Mouse to see the light this April. Sad, Sappy Sucker, which the group recorded in 1994, will be released by the always-cool K Records. In August, they'll also issue the Beat Happening box set, Crashing Through. And while we're on the subject of K, if you haven't checked out their site, please do. It's beautifully designed, loads fast and has the right attitude. It's hard not to like a company whose slogan is "Exploding the teenage underground into passionate revolt against the corporate ogre since 1982."

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Michael Goldberg is the president of He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.

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