Saturday, July 19, 2008

S.M.V. (Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller & Victor Wooten) - Thunder

This music project looks like a winner!

I would buy it just for the artists involved alone;)



Sent to you by Seed Of Life via Google Reader:


via News - Nu-Releases ~ The Urban Music by Administration on 7/17/08


Thunder includes guest artists Butterscotch, Chick Corea,
George Duke, Patches Stewart and more

In the hot days of August, a low rumbling sound off in the distant sky usually means something powerful is rolling in. This summer, when an ominous reverberation makes its way across the landscape and rocks everything in its path, be ready for a storm of a different kind.

Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten – each a powerful force of nature in his own right – have done more in recent decades to redefine the electric bass and push the limits of its potential than any other musician alive today. When these three titans – collectively known as S.M.V. – converge on the low frequencies, the results are no less than earth shaking. Thunder (HUCD 3163), their debut collaboration set for release on Heads Up International on August 12, 2008, is a high-energy phenomenon whose impact is guaranteed to resonate throughout every corner of the jazz world.

"We wanted to make a bass record with a sound that would be somewhat unexpected to the listener," says Clarke, the elder statesman of the three-man crew, all of whom share songwriting credits on the recording. "The biggest hurdle was to make a record with three basses – very low-end instruments, by definition – that would still be as musical as possible, and I think we achieved that."

The initial idea behind Thunder goes back a few years, but the final push came after the three bassists played together for the first time in October 2006 at the Bass Player Live! concert in New York City. In addition to the historic convergence of three monumental bass talents on one stage in the same night, the event also included the presentation of the Bass Player Lifetime Achievement Award to Clarke.

"Vic had this idea to do a bass thing a while back, but we really didn't know when we'd do it," Miller explains. "After we jammed at the award ceremony, it was clear that it would be pretty easy to do musically. Each one of us found a space to operate that didn't compete with the other. We fell into it pretty naturally. I saw Stanley at the airport the next day and said, 'You know we should do this soon, right?' he agreed. We knew Vic was down, because it was his idea in the first place."

Wooten was definitely down: "That performance made us realize how easy it was to play together," he says. "We knew that we had to do it again. We were able to naturally find our own space with and around each other. That's not always easy, especially when three people are all playing the same instrument."

But Thunder isn't entirely about the low end. Adding a little – and sometimes more than a little – to the top is a group of talented guest artists that include keyboardists Chick Corea and George Duke, trumpeter Michael "Patches" Stewart and vocalist/beatboxer Butterscotch (aka Antoinette Clinton).

The set opens with the intricate and layered "Maestro de las Frecuencias Bajas," written and arranged by Clarke. "This track is cool because it starts out orchestrally and really takes its time building the drama before the basses come in," says Miller. "Stanley arranged it so that Vic plays the melody line first, then Stanley comes in with the same line in harmony, then I come in to add a second harmony line. The horn section plays the same line completely harmonized. The arrangement really takes you on a trip."

The title track, though written by Miller, features a classic Stanley Clarke melody from his power rock days, with vocals by Butterscotch. "The tune has a contemporary sound to it, but you can really hear each guy's sound," says Miller. "Butterscotch introduces each player, and halfway through we all start slapping away together. This kind of thing usually doesn't work with three bass players, but it works here, and it's pretty funky."

The churning and funky "Hillbillies on a Quiet Afternoon," written by Wooten, is likely to sound familiar to fans of Clarke's earlier recordings. "Hillbillies" is based on the melody from Clarke's "Quiet Afternoon" (a track from his now-classic School Days, released in 1976).

Atmospheric and evocative, "Milano" features Clarke on upright bass, played with a bow in a register so high that the resulting sound resembles a cello more than a bass. "This is a track that stands out in my mind," says Wooten, "because I've always been a fan of Stanley's upright bass playing. The cadenza that he plays is remarkable."

"Pendulum" follows a moody, late-night groove, with astonishing vocal beatbox work courtesy of Butterscotch that defies any listener to distinguish between her and a drum machine.

The set closes with "Grits," a track by Miller which he calls "a down-home, funky thang." Clarke takes the final solo, wherein "he sounds like an old blues guitarist" says Miller.

More than just a musical collaboration, Thunder was an opportunity for all three musicians to get to know and understand each other on a newer and much deeper level. "It's not until you really work intimately with another musician that you really find out what's going on with that person," says Clarke. "One of the things about this project that was a pleasant surprise was finding out how deep these guys are, and how far they've come in their careers. We couldn't have made this record ten years ago. It just wouldn't have been the right time. Each of us has reached a certain point, and I think we're all celebrating what we've accomplished with the bass. This record is a picture of three guys moving forward, both as individuals and as a group."

With that forward motion comes a deep and powerful vibration – not just in your ears, but under your feet, all around you, and in the very air itself.

Listen to the sound of Thunder.

Heads Up International


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Friday, July 18, 2008

Obesity in Southern States and How To Correct It

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a research report that stated the southern states has the largest rates of obesity.

I find their research to be true while one-dimensional in nature as it fails to address several causes and enablers of the vicious cycle beyond the immediate reach of the CDC itself.  Addressing the obesity rates in the US requires the entire presidential cabinet and placement as a high priority for the President of the United States.

There are several factors beyond the report that I believe contribute to obesity in the south.

1.  The southern states contained more slaves and subsequent racism than the rest of the country.

Being the location of the agricultural crops and plantations that housed slavery to grow the United States, opportunities after the slavery ended did not include the economic development and recreational avenues to make weight loss and management widely available and sought.  There were more pressing issues for the ancestors of today's obese.

I theorize that there is a very strong correlation between the number of deaths and lynchings and factors of race to today's obesity rates within the nation and the same states at the top of the obesity rates once led the nation in racist deaths and murders.

Jim Crow laws that historically made swimming pools, country clubs, and other recreational venues "separate while unequal" and off-limits and unsecure did not boost the desire to move around often with the threat of going missing and becoming "strange fruit" without warning often for sport at the hands of KKK wannabes and gonna-bes. 

The threat of losing one's life at the hands of those wishing the days of slavery had not ended clearly would produce an incentive to sit on one's derriere in fear and this school of thought has been passed down through the years.

The cure in part is to provide sufficient and realistic economic development within the southern states and expand the number of swimming pools, parks, and other public recreational venues and the rates of obesity should decrease over time.  Personal security and crime rates must be taken into account still even within the southern states.

Overweight people typically watch more television due to high unemployment rates which is an economic disease and cause that produces a physical, detrimental result of obesity.  The physically disabled living within the southern states would become more fit if there were more economic incentives and rewards (whether through entrepreneurial opportunities or employment opportunities) that enticed them to travel more and get in shape as a result of traveling beyond the southern states.  Many things contributing to obesity and poverty alike feed upon themselves like multiplication and grow exponentially.

2.  The southern states have lower educational achievement rates than the rest of the country.

The social promotion, illiteracy, and drop out rates among the southern states are simply atrocious and the entire United States and its citizens should be ashamed.

It is not sufficient for a multinational company to have a manufacturing plant in a town or city where the residents believe that they have made it to the big time by working in such crab barrels.  Until the local economic development is raised to reward those who academically achieve, the entire region will continue in their attempts to walk up the sliding board while the shiny slope perpetually works against them.

When people have enough education to produce the wealth and confidence to move away from an area, the obesity rates will naturally fall as a result.  Right now, the lower educational achievement rates are contributing to the higher crime rates which either kill or incarcerate those who are physically fit enough to commit the crimes.  The remaining survivors are victims who are waiting their turn in the barber's chair to become a crime statistic or become obese during this wait!

3.  The southern states are far warmer than the rest of the country.

As a result of the warmer climate, residents of southern states are not provided with any rewards for physically moving around often through walking, jogging, or running.  In colder states, motion produces heat which keeps a person warm.  In the south, moving around produces heat which there is already an abundance of.  Not until the excess energy and activity can be directed to losing weight will residents have a constructive reason to be active especially during the summer months.

The cure in part would be to provide some governmental program or benefit just as the insurance of those living within flood plains or those whose homes are at risk of falling into the receding coast lines as in California where the southern residents will be able to work out inside of buildings that are air conditioned.

It may be said that if an air conditioned building had a recreational attraction and/or financial incentive that reduced or eliminated the need to be outdoors in the summer heat, then the obesity rates would decrease.  The country will either pay one way or another and there is no getting around it.

The numbers of indoor basketball and racquetball courts, gyms, and dance studios within the southern states on a per capita basis are clearly lower in the high obesity states.  Combine this with a lower rate of swimming pools and people who know and have demonstrated that they know how to swim, then there is a visible need to break ground in building facilities not just known as recreational centers but government (county, state, or federal) weight loss centers as in diabetes control and prevention or heart disease control and prevention centers.

4.  The amount of public transportation and infrastructure is far lower within the southern states than the rest of the country.

Anywhere that one travels within the southern states requires transportation as compared to the subways, rail, and bus systems found elsewhere nationwide.  During my own visit to Jersey City, NJ and New York in 2007, I discovered that one could travel as desired without a car and was actually penalized by having a vehicle due to the high parking lot rates.

As a result of low mass transit costs and high personal car ownership costs and very counter-intuitively, walking within the northern states generates a daily work out activity within itself as well as providing welcomed warmth within the cooler climates.  No one in the northern states looks to catch a cab, bus, or train for a distance of 10 blocks or less.  In the south, the same distance still does not bring one closer to any facilities or venues of interest:)

5.  Food simply tastes better in the south than in the rest of the country.  This may restart a civil war, but I was born in Jersey City, NJ and raised in Nichols, SC from the age of 6 years old:)

Festive occasions may take place more often in the cooler states than in the south due to the density of people, but when there is a party, celebration, or other happy event taking place within the south, the emphasis and standards of the food involved are much higher than in cooler states where the focus is likely to be placed on the alcohol served and consumed.  This is directly from my own family experiences and observations. 

In every bar within cooler states, there is a wall to wall display of what beverages may be mixed, served, and refilled.  In the south, the same wall to wall coverage and respect is only payed if the pans of food continually flow without hesitation and freshness is maintained.

As a by-product of this line of thinking,  motion burns calories and hunger combined with poverty restricts motion.  To find a restaurant serving great food in a cooler state will cause one to walk a greater distance to find the food which leads to burning the calories from the great meal.

But those in cooler states that have a cup looking for spare change are more obese than the rest of the cooler climate residents and homeless outside of the southern states.

The poor in the rural south are not going to burn calories walking around great distances looking for food.  Any distance greater than a walk to the mailbox or financial institution (whether it is FDIC insured or has multiple displays of beverage distributors) is not likely going to produce a find of food of any type.  In other words if you don't know if somebody else is cooking, then keep your broke rear end home.

The only cure for my fifth theory of southern obesity is that the cooler states will have to learn how to cook and prepare food better to compete with the southern states which will lead to higher rates of obesity within the cooler states and artificially lower the obesity rates of southern states:)

There may be more food critics, publications, and restaurants of fine dining outside of the southern states but on a per capita basis or square mileage, the south has won the war of repeat visits to the buffet bar.  It is not called southern hospitality for nothing!

6.  Black women in greater numbers do not know how to swim.

I just looked at the Associated Press article to see that black women were specifically mentioned as being highly represented as obese and came up with this theory.

Resolving this theory may possibly address a few of my earlier theories at the same time.  I believe that the best venue to address this (and many others) will be through the Black Church in America.

If more black churches had swimming pools of their own or should seek continual access to swimming pools and taught their black sisters how to swim, you would see changes within this country on so many levels that US Senator Barack Obama's presidential hopes and campaign would be an understatement.

The confidence within black women, black children, and marriage rates would skyrocket with domestic abuse falling like meteors based on fulfilling this objective alone.  Even comically aside is the fact that African-American sisters decked out in swimming suits and bikinis would give black men more incentives to stay home to provide for their families economically and avoid being separated from their families via potential criminal activity as a perpetuator or victim:)

I am not running for president or political office and can say these things truthfully and openly without fear of public retribution or restraint:)

As thought provoking and humorous as I have tried to be in proposing some thoughts and a different perspective on the obesity rates in the south, there is a lot of work to be done in changing the minds and hearts of those who hold the purse strings directly and indirectly contributing as legislators to the obesity rates as well as those who are keeping obesity rates high within themselves unnecessarily and intentionally or not.

Only through the courage of questioning and challenging the concepts of what produced the negative trends and what is keeping us here will provide the context in which the true solutions and cures for obesity will come to light.



Thursday, July 17, 2008

RSS Introduction & Refresher course

I just sent a friend an introduction to RSS and thought that it would make a great introduction or refresher course for some this summer:)

Here are links involving RSS and how you can benefit from using it:

When I fell in love with RSS all over again:

Google Reader with RSS:

How to Blog very easily in general:

Using Google Groups & Google Reader with RSS:

When Yahoo! added RSS to My Yahoo!

Widget to add RSS feeds to any other page:

Resource to manage and track RSS feed subscriptions, usage, and overall success:

Many saved links of mine about RSS: to write once and publish everywhere:

Beta code = thispingsforyou

On, you will see a list of sites that you can post to at will once you have created an account.

I need to send you the invitaton to and check out and as well.

Let me know if and when you need help adding RSS to your operations.  I'm sure that you will love it as much as I do.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

What Does Two Convenient Presidential Endorsements, A Congressional Investigation, & An Earring Have In Common?

2008 is going to go down in history as one of the most pivotal years in terms of politics and Christianity I sincerely believe.

There has not been a year that has produced as much intense controversy, backpedaling, and PR spin at the air-thin heights as 2008 has although there have been some that clearly led us to where we are now.

I am now detecting that there is going to be a highly focused triangulation and clever scrutiny given to a worldwide pastor, televangelist, author, conference host, and multimedia mogul.  I have heard and viewed countless number of sermons from this preacher although somehow I have never been able to see and hear him live.  Now I know why.

I am both shocked, saddened, and realistic enough to know that we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God as well as to recognize that the dots started connecting at the same time as the stars were lining up over the head and over the impeccable ministry of this recognized leader.

The first crack in the esteem that I have had for this fellow laborer of the Gospel came way back in the 2000 presidential campaigns as this pastor had the bold audacity to throw his support openly for W who has more than proven to fulfill the stereotypical role of a prince that felt entitled to become king himself.  The entire nation and world has suffered through W's presidential thievery and administrations.  Yet we still give God the glory for bringing us through this turbulent period and to continue our quest onward and higher.

At the time, the only logic that made sense of the 2000 presidential endorsement was that W and the pastor had the same state of residency and still do.  Maybe there was a state grant provided in Texas to the pastor's growing congregation, but to place such a congregation over the lives of thousands or millions that watched and supported the television ministry, seminars and conferences, and multimedia ministry still has me dumbfounded.  This had to be short term thinking at its finest in order to be willing to sacrifice for some form of 30 pieces of silver not only your own people, but essentially to silence one's voice on anything political going forward.

The 2000 presidential endorsement is only the first star or X placed over this ministry that cannot be refuted because it simply happened and the present and history has proven the result of W becoming president.

The second X to be hung in the rafters like a championship banner comes not its presence but through its absence.

I blogged earlier in 2007 that I felt the congressional investigation of several televangelists and Christian leaders by US Senator Chuck Grassley was highly political and still stand by this opinion.  But what was cemented my opinion was the absence of this same pastor when he clearly had connections to virtually every televangelist who was named in the investigation.

You see, it is not enough to look at who is named or mentioned in such an event that seeks to tarnish one's reputation.  One needs to check to see who was excluded, overlooked, not included, and/or "off that day" when the armed robbery crime takes place to see if there is a connection by disconnection.  Usually law enforcement has the presence of mind to take the confidential informant down to the precinct as well during the police raid, but maybe making a presidential endorsement of a Republican presidential candidate who was your governor and hooked you up on the state level gives one a "stay out of the highly publicized congressional investigation that is clearly not over" free pass card.

My mathematical training whispered to me that it is mathematically impossible to have been excluded from the investigation when the same person was openly named as being an indirect cause and relevant to the investigation of several mentioned.  The probability of being excluded in the court of common sense went to 0 and the percentage that the fix was in skyrocketed straight to 100%.  There was and still is no room for any middle ground within this particular congressional investigation if there is one. 

So the second X flag goes up the flag pole although upon revisiting the named Christian leaders who were named, I have not heard or read anywhere that the now slippery televangelist has preached, counseled, or offered any support to any of the named ministries being investigated.  Somehow I strongly get the feeling that it will be a frigid day in hell when he gets to preach again in their pulpits.  Or at least throw some restitution to them that was passed on to you from W:)

Press forward to today July 13, 2008.  I do not know how I stumbled on the news, but I see that people online at least are now asking questions whether photos of this pastor were "photoshopped" or doctored with by a proficient person using a computer involving a family celebration considered mildly public since the presence of cameras was to be expected.

But let me back up to now say that this same pastor has gone on the record to endorse presidential candidate and US Senator Barack Obama to become President of the United States just as I have and do.  I strongly suggest that Senator Obama keep this endorsement at arm's length and especially upon taking the oath that grants a 4 year residency at the White House because this slippery slope will clearly cost you any hopes of being re-elected in 2012.

Unlike Rev. Jesse Jackson's words, the nationwide animosity that this pastor is going to generate will surely castrate Obama (and won't stop there) worse than Ken Starr's investigation of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal which not ironically set the stage for W to become president.  Unfortunately, the Secret Service does not protect one's reputation from guilt by association.

Now let us return to the jewelry that the still conservative Black church does not find as appropriate for men especially one on the level of this international evangelist and the ministerial regard in which he is held even as the controversy is no where as high as it will become.

Personally I could never wear an earring because my personal standards are beyond current fads and fashion.  Maybe if I was shown a photo where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Marcus Garvey, Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver, NASA Astronaut Dr. Ron McNair, Booker T. Washington, or even Barack Obama were to have their ears pierced or stylishly wear a clip-on earring maybe I would consider getting one:)  Not!!!!

Needless to say, there is going to be a round of heated debates, arguments, and potentially unfortunate church splits over the presence of some bling on this preacher's ear.

Does he have the right to wear an earring?  As far as I know, the US Constitution does not forbid him from wearing one.  But within the realm of the Black Church within these United States, a more perfect union is not the outcome reached by adorning oneself with such a fashion statement.

Since the preacher does not hold public office, there will be no barriers or possible accusations that other preachers will have violated any beliefs or laws separating church and state and/or placing the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status of their churches and ministries at risk.  As a result, there is no flame retardant apparel available for this preacher to wear.

When will the feces hit the fan?  I now believe that it already has and the whispers that this emperor has no clothes has already begun to spread on some grassroots level.

Only the awful aroma will spread once the individual believers that held this man of faith come into contact with the growing undertrend that should have never taken place.  The damage of this escapade will come in the form of further threatening and expanding a generational gap within the Church where many feel that it is okay for men to wear earrings.

My ministry is now focused in the intermediate terms on preparing Christians for the difficult days ahead that are rapidly approaching and some would say are already here where faith based emotions will be shaken to the core.  Evangelism and ushering others to know Christ is still my primary mission while introducing them to the Christ that I know and worship where one can witness the darkest days unimagined and still rest assured that Christ Jesus has already overcome the world.

The world where this pastor will undoubtedly become just as infamous as W is one where one's soul, reputation, and legacy unfortunately go to the highest bidder among man:(

But Christ Jesus has already paid the price!

As much as hooping has a place in the art gallery of the Black Church, I have still yet to read a mandate for hooping especially to relieve the pains and witnessing of the once-considered fantasy to take place within the next 4 years!  This preacher was considered the absolute best in the US if not the world.  So many will be hurt deeply unfortunately.

Just remember "Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven".  Nothing considered external to this world is able to overthrow the Word of God already written and shared.

The implosion of the unnamed pastor and anything seen and unseen will never invalidate the Word of God.  So keep the faith and move in greater confidence that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess.

Nothing shall separate us from the love of God.


2 Podcasts that will give you a deeply relaxing, musical massage!

Right now I'm listening to DarrenKeith's "My Love For Music" podcast and along with Mr. Fresh's "Vibes N Scribes" podcast, one has the perfect audio tag team for your ears:)

In the web2.0 construct of things, I met and befriended both of these gentlemen only online to date via Twitter and have found that music is probably the fastest ways to determine any common ground people might have without meeting each other face to face.

Today was the first day that I distinctly will remember hearing DarrenKeith's podcast other just previously reading his Twitter and Plurk posts previously.  I already knew the Mr. Fresh podcast would lay down a sonic vibe that remind me of a musical flight on demand.

I would not suggest to anyone any attempts to work while either one is playing since you would better benefit from having them take you for a ride.  Play either one first and you will see that they are just that good at producing a musical journey.

But if you are traveling or going through an airport or driving at any time, you could not find a better way to lower your blood pressure and find relief from any tension within your body and mind.

These podcasts are so smooth that they should require a doctor's prescription:)  Such music should be played in medical waiting rooms to take away any stress!

One idea that came to this morning alone is that independent coffee houses and shops should commission such musical ears like these highly talented guys and musical tastemakers to produce MP3s, CDs and/or playlists to be heard, bought, and experienced within and outside of the businesses.

This is clearly a concept that I am borrowing from my own consulting works on and these two podcasts absolutely prove my point very well.

This is musical soup for one and/or tea for two:)

As an artist and renaissance man, I feel that I either know or have heard of most musical artists or genres.  But these two podcasts introduced me to ear-opening artists that I have not heard before as well as reintroduced me to classics that will scratch your eardrums in your favorite spot.

Check them out, get ready to lay your burdens down, and remember that I told you so!  I will see you on the other side of musical bliss:)


Thursday, July 10, 2008

10,000 B.C. was much better than imagined

My wife and I watched the movie 10,000 B.C. last night courtesy of Netflix and I must apologize to everyone and anyone affiliated with the movie or said that it was a good flick!

With this being said, the movie was clearly marketed wrong when it was released and the appearance of appealing to the audience of 300 was either wrong or too closely behind 300 to compel me to see the movie back then.  The copycat approach clearly did not work since this movie has legs of its own with a cast not often seen in other movies.

My expectation level was so far below ground zero that it probably did not have far to go to surpass my expectations, but the movie held its own consistently throughout the film.

At more than one place in the flick, the movie could have gone into a Stargate meets Close Encounters meets anything else involving aliens or another world but wisely the movie did not.

This movie did show great professionalism in its deleted scenes and the throwaway lines and scenes were clearly eliminated.  The attempts at humor that could have undercut the movie were deleted as well.

The one twist that was quite a shocker for me was on the level of seeing Darth Vader unmasked and was rather brilliant in the scheme of things.  It will make the conspiracy theorists stand up in shock and awe to say the least:)

So I am giving 10,000 B.C. a thumbs up for the pay-per-view and DVD rental audience among us.  It was almost good enough to buy it, but I won't go that far.

I will say that the movie was a nice mashup and compacted-into-one-smooth-mix of The Lord of the Rings, 300, and The Matrix (just for the main character's acceptance of who he really was).

So definitely see the movie and judge for yourself!