baseball, beer, craft beer, Generalized, Jazz, Music, Philadelphia

A “Ruthless” man and other things…

I was told my first blog post was a little bit of a downer so I thought it would be good to quickly follow it up with something I intend to do quite often on this blog, a post about an upcoming show that I think everyone I know should check out.  This time around I’m going to throw in some quick thoughts on an assortment of things I’ve been getting into lately and share my thoughts.  But first, on with the show (so to speak)!


Tom Rainey is quite honestly one of my favorite drummers on the planet.  I’ve seen him play numerous times in the past 4 or 5 years, unfortunately the most recent was over a year ago at Ars Nova Workshop’s Composer Portrait with Tim Berne in late 2009.  My first experience hearing Tom Rainey play the drums was another Ars Nova show in the summer of 2006 at the Cinema, a now deceased venue in West Philly.  At the time, my friend Kyle and I were interested in checking out almost any music that defied “straight-ahead” conventions in jazz regardless of knowing anything about the performing musicians.

In retrospect, the show we saw at the Cinema was something I’d seriously go crazy over seeing now.  Tim Berne performed a set of what must have been Julius Hemphill music (his mentor during his first days in NYC) with trumpeter Baikida Carroll, a collaborator of Hemphill’s who appears on the legendary album, Dogon A.D.   The group, a quartet, was completed with Tom Rainey on drums and in retrospect, I assume, Michael Formanek on bass.  The music was powerful, dynamic and free as I vaguely recall.  My most vivid recollection of the night is a story I tell often when speaking of Tom Rainey.  One man in attendance, so struck by the performance, pointed at Tom after the concert and said “RUTHLESS, MAN!  RUTHLESS!”  That “ruthless” fire and creativity is something I’ll always associate with Tom Rainey.

Since that time I’ve seen Tom Rainey perform with Ralph Allesi’s Modular Theater, Angelica Sanchez, an ad hoc sextet assembled for the SIM/CIM faculty in the winter of 2007 and several performances with Brad Shepik’s trio as well as his Human Activity project as well as at the aforementioned Tim Berne composer portrait series.

This Saturday night Mr. Rainey makes his debut as a leader in Philadelphia, something over 25 years in the making, with his trio featuring Mary Halvorson on guitar and Ingrid Laubrock on saxophone.  The same trio released a record last year on Clean Feed records called Pool School which I have yet to check out but I’m sure it’s incredible.

The Tom Rainey Trio performs Saturday, May 7th at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia, PA.  Music begins at 7:30pm with Rob Mazurek’s Starlicker.  All the info you need can be found here.


Since this blog is just getting off the ground, I thought I’d take the opportunity to give a quick word about some things I’ve checked out recently that cover my range of interests and recommend them to who ever reads this far.

Reading– I just started reading Terry Teachout’s biography of Louis Armstrong called Pops.  I’m hoping this book follows the personal trend set by George Lewis’s A Power Stronger Than Itself, which I had trouble pulling myself away from and found very inspiring.

Music– I’m currently in the middle of going through the Claudia Quintet’s catalog from back to front.  It’s great to hear the music evolve in reverse and to realize my nostalgic affinity for the record I, Claudia, the first Claudia Quintet record I owned, contrasting with the composition beauty that is their newest release, Royal Toast.

Beer– Lately I’ve been really into checking out beers from Stillwater Artisanal Ales, a gypsy brewer from Maryland who does awesome beers, mostly in Belgian styles.  There are a few famous gypsy breweries such as Mikkeller from Denmark and Pretty Things from the US but Stillwater has been drawing my attention lately.  Here’s a cool story about the brewer on NPR’s website.  The last few bottles I picked up were from the Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting and were quite affordable.

Baseball– I love the Phillies.  They won tonight behind a great, complete game performance from Cole Hamels and a few timely hits from different key players on the roster.  I’ve been the 3 games so far this year and have honestly had the most joyful, fun experience each time I’ve gone (all of which were wins for the Phils to boot!).  Hopefully all of these trends continue.

If you’ve made it this far, you should be commended.  Hopefully I’ll see someone I know at Kung Fu Necktie this Saturday!


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