T Lavitz

As many of you know, T Lavitz, my friend and former bandmate, died unexpectedly on Oct. 7 2010. I have been thinking a lot about T since then, running through experiences of so many times and conversations in my mind as people do about others, but with both a disbelief and poignancy that there won’t be any more.

Rod Morgenstein told be about a tribute that Derek Sherinian was putting together to T that will be published in Keyboard magazine that we could possibly contribute to. I found it very difficult to put my thoughts into words. I didn’t want to simplify T, or my relationship to him. But I really wanted to say something, so this is what I wrote:

“I met T at a small bar near Miami over 30 years ago. Rod had heard him at the University of Miami and recommended him as a possibility for the band, so we went and heard him play. It was mainly Miami ‘jazz club’ music of the day, but he shined through it. He sounded great, and was so enthusiastic and something just felt really right about him being in the band even from that first night.

We all became close friends over the years sharing so many experiences together as bands do, but T and I especially spent a lot of time together back then. We were both very social and liked meeting new people and just exploring the world and finding interesting situations. I’m sure it has been said by many, but T was someone who could just light people up, they would be very glad to see him and be around him. I include myself in that group, and even years after the band broke up and I would see him with Jazz is Dead or the re-formed Dregs, it was just fun and natural, as if we simply picked up from the last moment.

But I want to go back and point out how I felt when I heard a couple of parts on the first album that he played with the band on “Dregs of the Earth”. The really short organ solo on “Twigg’s Approved” just sent me into a spin and still does with its perfect touch and note choices. There was so much feel beneath his hands on an organ. Of course, the other tune was “I’m Freaking out”. That was really a feature for T and again, the first time I heard it, it just killed (and still does). It really captures him as a musician. There is a section in the middle with the electric piano sound which I loved hearing and playing at the same time because it felt like it was almost just him and me for that whole section. I felt proud of him and proud to be in a band with him. His blend of jazz and rock organ and everything else simply has a power and brightness and happiness to it that just comes out through the notes. From then there were many, many notes played and heard and life stories I will value forever. There is something in every song. It is weird, even though I haven’t spent nearly enough time with T in the last number of years, his untimely death has ripped a part of the past out of the present and it leaves a huge hole. I’ll always see and feel T the man in my mind, by hearing the music we still have from him.”

Here is an obituary with some sweet comments about T in the guestbook link. A friend has also created a Facebook group, both of which are worth checking out. I have also found lots of great videos of T on YouTube. And Rod Morgenstein posted the beautiful eulogy he gave at T’s memorial service.

I think all these things are good for us…

3 Movies – The Lives of Others, Fast Food Nation, Factotum

The Lives of Others - A german film made in 2006 with some excellent acting, story, and score. It is always refreshing to come across something that is just not stupid in it design and aspirations. This is a complex movie that highlights some complicated emotional situations that can take place as a result of crazy external circumstances. It takes place 4 years before the unification of Germany (1985) which already seems like ancient times. I had not explored the meaning of what it must have been like living in West Germany during what I consider 'modern' times...anyway, it is basically a suspenseful drama so watch it if you are in a thoughtful mood. And did I mention I really liked the score?

Fast Food Nation - a really good, if depressing movie. I hesitated for a long while because I didn't want to be confronted with a lot of animal gore. There is some, but it really is minimal and necessary. I really like Richard Linklater's movies so I had to see it eventually. Another complex movie that can take you out of your own little world and give pause for thought about how other people live.

Factotum - I wouldn't say it is a great movie, though I did watch it in all its depressing glory. I had a fascination with Charles Bukowski in the late seventies and early 80's. He seems a little less interesting to me now...but the score to this movie is just great (and they are his lyrics actually).  I had never heard of her but Kristin Asbjørnsen wrote it:

So it has come to this for the music biz

Is anybody stupid enough to believe this crap:

“Hit Song Science™ provides immediate feedback on your song´s potential for commercial success and instant legitimization in the market for high-scoring music.

Do you want help choosing the best channels and markets for your music and which of your songs have the best chance for success?

The Music Universe™ helps you understand the hit potential of your songs within different markets and niches, and includes targeted promotional features to help your music gain visibility with audiences who already like your sound.”

Oh wait, yeah…this could actually work on that bunch of mindless drones that actually buys American Idol cd’s…or fans of ‘modern’ country music. What’s really weird is that I actually DO believe it is possible to analyze and pattern match songs against previous hit song drivel. I mean Clive Davis among others could do it… Click “here” to barf.

Oh, and just to add to the list of really stupid things I’ve seen on the web lately, this one is way at the top. This comes from a CBS ‘news’ site, what a freaking joke. You have have to watch a really stupid ad promoting alcoholism (fitting somehow) but after that you get get to hear “Kim Kardashian – Reality TV Star” (BTW I did NOT make that up). The byline reads:

“in a revealing interview with CBSNews.com, ultra-famous reality TV star (my emphasis) Kim Kardashian discusses, among other things, her new turn in a special summer Nivea challenge to help fight against cellulite.”

I feel kind of sorry for her as a human being, this is just not right, and she is obviously clueless. And after all, she is leading the fight against cellulite, having suffered with it herself…gad…I cannot believe I am putting this here, but here’s the link.

Food Inc.

A Couple of years ago I read Michael Pollan’s Omnivores Dilemma and it really affected me. Anytime there are strong opinions, there will be strong arguments made. Still, I can’t help but this one is correct. In my experience, although everyone is affected deeply by the food industry, this is a topic most people are way too busy to think about and most people I broach the topic to are ‘fine’ with the status quo.

Now for those of you who have lost your attention span for reading anything more than two minutes long on a web page, there is a movie(!) about this important topic.