Archive for 2009-10

Next Week

02009-10-31 @ 12:10

more info here

Next Week

02009-10-30 @ 20:10

more info here

Thursday in Santa Fe

02009-10-30 @ 18:10

I spent most of Thursday transcribing Stephen Batchelor’s talk from Monday. When Roshi mentioned that Upaya was looking for somebody to transcribe the talk I immediately offered to do it, thinking that I might learn something, certainly regarding the content, but also regarding the English language since Batchelor is a very good speaker. So I sat here and typed away for five or six hours. I am not a fast typist and had to listen to a sentence, stop the recording, type a few words, listen to more… you get the picture.

In the evening I responded to a comment and rather liked what I wrote. So here it is:

Well, not getting stuck would hopefully be a side-effect. I was thinking about the fact that our experience is not a smooth, continuous flow. Instead it is a series of stages. Movies come to mind. We experience a movie as a continuous flow, but a movie is really just a series of snapshots, projected at a rate of 24 images per second. The film appears to move naturally. To a being with “faster” eyes, our movies would appear to stutter.

(((I wonder whether young people who grew up with MTV and computer ganes and movies with fast jump-cuts can notice a single frame being out of place in a movie. Can they see “faster” than their grandparents, and is that an advantage at all, is it a useful ability aside from movies and games? Would they see the bus earlier?)))

Our practice, whether it is a Buddhist practice or a musician’s practice, or any other practice, is like that movie. We take baby-steps forward, towards the goal. Maybe we practice a few bars of music at a time. Then the next few bars, and the next. Eventually we can, albeit haltingly, play the whole piece… now we work on giving the music a natural flow – and that takes years longer.

Buddhism, like music, is a practice, an endless practice. Stephen talked about the stream, the flow. My thoughts were that, maybe due to the evolution of our brain, nothing is a total flow – more like a series of snapshots. Making goals is natural, is human. Make a goal, attain it, make a new goal. Don’t stop, keep moving. Ok, do stop, make a little dance, celebrate with a drink… and then do move on and set the next goal. Endless. Endless. Endless.

It’s all endless, but our brain likes to cut everything into bite-sized pieces. Nothing wrong with that. We just need to be aware of it.

Also reminds me of Dogen, who said that life was one mistake after another. Mistake – correction. Mistake – correction. etc.

It is great to be inside a wave, inside the flow, the stream of whatever one is doing, making music or shooting pool, cooking a meal or transcribing a lecture. But that wave will end, and we want to build tools to transition between these experiences of flow. I mean one can experience flow in the middle of a concert (((you can substitute any other activity))) and then suddenly one gets shot with one of those red laser beams that focus an audient’s camera. One falls out of the flow, but needs to re-enter rather than bumbling along. Recovery. Very important. For everything really, not just performers. How long does it take us to get up again. We are in a good mood when somebody cuts us off in traffic, pushes into the line at the grocer, yells at their cellphone… can we recover right away or do we let that ruin our day? I think practice can make us more flexible and thus give us a quicker recovery.

Working on a couple of new songs. I am not sure that I like them, but decided to pursue them and decide later. Letting them grow a little before I give them the ax.

Wednesday at Upaya

02009-10-28 @ 19:10

Wasn’t sure how slippery Upaya’s driveway might become today, so I put on the boots (and the hat) I wore in Kham, and walked. I got there a little early and took a few photos:

So unusual, to see nearly green leaves on trees that are covered with snow. These leaves seemed to glow:

The gate is open:

Stephen Batchelor mentioned Situational Ethics, a Christian ethical theory. His explanation of that theory reminded me of Wilber’s Yes-No-Yes human developmental stages. We start out without ethics: my way or the highway – yes. Then we move to following the rules, the law, the bible, koran, the word of the priest etc. – no. Finally we arrive at a more fluid and situational response – yes. Ken also called these stages Egocentric, Ethnocentric and Worldcentric.

Watch Upaya’s Dharma Podcast or subscribe to it via iTunes for Stephen’s talks at Upaya this week. His dharma talk from last week is already up. I missed Monday’s talk, but everybody raved about it and Roshi asked me to transcribe it. I should get the mp3 this week. I have never transcribed a talk, but Stephen speaks so clearly and precisely that it should be a great opportunity for me to learn something.

After today’s talk I gave Stephen Batchelor a CD with uncompressed .tiff files of some of the photos I took of him the day before. (((I used the Gorman B&W conversion, if you want to know…))) He said he was 99% sure that he will use one of them for his new book.

Here are some of my thoughts, gathered during my walk home, in response to some of the things that were mentioned today.

Having practiced daily as a musician for nearly 40 years, I find that, while fluidity, process, stream is the ideal, the human mind seems to naturally want to create waypoints, goals, aims. I don’t think these goals or aims are a problem as long as one is aware of them as temporary goalposts that need to be moved as soon as they can be attained. The trick then, is not so much not having goals, but to create goals with the awareness that they are to be attained and moved. Or, to smoothly switch from one goalpost to the next one ahead. The image of throwing a rock as far as one can, comes to mind, only to find it, attain it, and throw it forward again.

Cologne revisited

02009-10-28 @ 15:10

Some photos a friend of mine took at the concert in Köln on October 9th:

More here.

Wednesday in Santa Fe

02009-10-28 @ 08:10

Today the sky and the snow are of the same color, white. This is what I woke up to:

Tuesday in Santa Fe

02009-10-27 @ 20:10

Went to Upaya in the morning, to listen to Stephen Batchelor give a talk.

He is the most brilliant speaker I have heard. He speaks “book-ready”. Things that stuck out for me – as I remember them:

The Pali language has neither an equivalent of the English “the” nor any capitalization, which means that when Buddha is translated as speaking about “the Unconditioned”, “the Truth” or “the Unborn”, those capitalizations are a deliberate choice, an edit if you will, of the translator.

Emptyness should really be translated as Emptying. Nothing stays empty for long. Things need to be emptied all the time. And then they fill up.

He also spoke of an ancient Tibetan, Dharmakirti. I will ask Stephen to suggest books that contain Dharmakirti’s thought, because Dharmakirti sounded very interesting.

Nirvana is not the end, but a means. There is no end.

After his talk Stephen Batchelor asked Roshi and me to take a few photos, as he needs a pic for his upcoming book. Here are a couple I took:

Here is DMV of the Buddha outside the hall… out-of-focus and in…

Sound-art on Vimeo:

Monday Medley

02009-10-26 @ 11:10

Here is a medley from a concert in Wilmington, Delaware, in 2004. The band was the quartet with Robby Rothschild and Ron Wagner on Percussion. I had forgotten all about this medley of three songs:

Audio MP3

You can download the 320kbps mp3 file here.

After soundcheck that day, I took that photo of Robby alone on stage.

Monday in Santa Fe

02009-10-26 @ 10:10

An inch of snow overnight. Car battery dead and now re-charging.
On 24 October, people in 181 countries came together for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history. At over 5200 events around the world, people gathered to call for strong action and bold leadership on the climate crisis.

Over 15,000 photos have been submitted so far! See them all on Flickr

Here is the fantastic photo Jennifer Esperanza took for Santa Fe.

Art as concept versus art as craft… here is an interesting new article:

What is Damien Hirst really up to? | Jonathan Jones
He can’t do that at all; can’t paint his way out of a paper bag. But don’t kid yourselves. It is not just Hirst who is implicated in this exposure. It is an entire idea of art that triumphed in the 1990s and still dominates our culture – an entire age of the readymade stands accused by its own creator of being a charade. No critic has even come close to the total dismissal of 21st-century art implied by Hirst’s turnabout.

This is rather interesting. Always nice when people realize the need for investment in ecology, education and social justice:

BBC NEWS | Europe | Rich Germans demand higher taxes
A group of rich Germans has launched a petition calling for the government to make wealthy people pay higher taxes.

The group say they have more money than they need, and the extra revenue could fund economic and social programmes to aid Germany’s economic recovery.

Thursday in Santa Fe

02009-10-23 @ 12:10

The upcoming Japan dates:
Ottmar Liebert – Tour Schedule: Fall 2009 – Luna Negra

Nov 14 – Yokohama, Japan – Motion Blue – Tickets / Info
Nov 16 – Tokyo, Japan – Blue Note – Tickets / Info
Nov 17 – Tokyo, Japan – Blue Note – Tickets / Info
Nov 18 – Tokyo, Japan – Blue Note – Tickets / Info

You know what goes together well: greek yoghurt, honey and toasted sesame seeds.

Thursday Morning breakfast with Jon was even longer than usual as we talked for two hours.

Been listening to this one piece of beautiful improvisation a few times every day; it’s from the album Keith Jarrett: Paris/London Testament, and it’s track #7 called Paris, November 26, 2008: Part VII. It sounds brilliant in 24/96k, but it’s still lovely any way you can hear it.

chris jordan photography
These photographs of albatross chicks were made just a few weeks ago on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.

To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world’s most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.

Direct link to the photographs here. Images are graphic – you have been warned. We need to examine every aspect of how we live. Cradle to cradle, reduction of waste, reduction of consumption…

OL + Luna Negra in Japan

02009-10-23 @ 11:10

Ottmar Liebert – Tour Schedule: Fall 2009 – Luna Negra

Nov 14 – Yokohama, Japan – Motion Blue – Tickets / Info
Nov 16 – Tokyo, Japan – Blue Note – Tickets / Info
Nov 17 – Tokyo, Japan – Blue Note – Tickets / Info
Nov 18 – Tokyo, Japan – Blue Note – Tickets / Info

Wednesday in Santa Fe

02009-10-21 @ 19:10

I took this photo a couple of days ago. Monday and Tuesday it was sunny with temps around 70ºF and I enjoyed riding my bike around town.

This is a photo of one of my rain-catchers:

Tuesday Evening Autumn showed its other side… a storm came, wind, a lot of rain, which had turned into snow by Wednesday Morning.

I actually loved this grey and cold day, today. Introspective and mellow. I didn’t leave the house.

Here are a couple of shots I took this afternoon to see whether a mini-tripod I had purchased for my Tibet trip three years ago, would be able to support my Canon. I want to lift the camera off the ground just a little, in case the streets of Tokyo are wet one evening next month… Tokyo neon + wet streets = great reflections! Visas have been granted and we’ll be in Tokyo and Yokohama for a week in November, playing at the Blue Note.

Here is a little vid I saw on the interwebs this morning. It’s about time we started seeing cars and their drivers as a problem instead of treating them like holy cows:

From Streetfilms.
(Via Copenhagenize)

Tuesday in Santa Fe

02009-10-20 @ 21:10

Walked to Mellow Velo in the Morning and picked up my fixie, which was improved… Sunshine. Warm. Lovely ride home and up the hill. Then Autumn turned and by the afternoon we had a storm and lots of rain.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | What is the future of music online?
For the industry, this hero must come up with an idea that is great enough to tempt fans away from illegal file-sharing sites, while simultaneously making money for artists, songwriters and record labels.

I read what those experts are saying… but for me there is a fundamental disconnect there: why do we need to carry everything with us? Why do we need immediate access to everything? Do we need thousands of books on a Kindle or on the new Nook? Aren’t five or even a dozen books enough? Are they going away into the wilderness for a decade? Do we need thousands of songs on an iPod? Are they on a two-year boat-trip? Do we carry a suitcase with a choice of differently colored shirts, in case our friend’s new car has a paintjob that doesn’t jive with what we are wearing?

No, I am happy to carry about a dozen albums on my iPhone, in form of ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) and some 320kbps mp3s. (((It would be very nice, if eventually phones support high quality FLAC…))) I don’t don’t need a harem at attention, I just want one lovely album at a time.

I think there is something very wrong about this access to everything, all books, all music, all the time…

Ernst Haas’ photographs of New Mexco in Life Magazine, September 15, 1952 issue.

Here are Haas’ images of New York from a 1953 issue.

Monday Music

02009-10-19 @ 18:10

Here is another re-mixed LAVA track:

Audio MP3

You can download the 320kbps mp3 here.
Download the 24/48k FLAC here.

Saturday in Santa Fe

02009-10-17 @ 11:10

The Glass Armonica, another Ben Franklin invention, here played by French musician Thomas Bloch.

(Via the music of sound)

I have no problem with the following idea:

Slashdot Your Rights Online Story | Kaspersky CEO Wants End To Online Anonymity
“Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of well-known computer security company Kaspersky Labs, is calling for an end to the anonymity of the Internet, and for the creation of mandatory ‘Internet passports’ for anyone who wishes to browse the Web. Says Kaspersky, ‘Everyone should and must have an identification, or internet passport … the internet was designed not for public use, but for American scientists and the US military. Then it was introduced to the public, and it was wrong … to introduce it in the same way.’ He calls anonymity ‘the Internet’s biggest security vulnerability’ and thinks any country that doesn’t follow this regime should be ‘cut off.’

Friday in Santa Fe

02009-10-16 @ 11:10

The September Slideshow is up. Don’t forget to click on the symbol for Full Screen, which you will find above the image on the right.

I don’t want to forget the cherry tree in my celebration of Autumn!

Director Jim Jarmusch Tests Limits In ‘Control’ : NPR
“Frankly, I get a little annoyed with the pace of a lot of films where no shot is on longer than three seconds,” Jarmusch says, adding that viewers might be put off by the allusion to action in Limits without actual action. “And the reason for that was because the real subject of the film, in a way I guess, is simply one’s consciousness.”

He says he was inspired by Pablo Neruda, who wrote poems about mundane things like “Ode to an Onion.”

Dialogue is kept to a minimum, but not sound. From footsteps on cobble stones to a guitar case closing, sound was as important to Jarmusch as image. “The idea was, accumulatively, that the film would work on your mind in a way that, even if only briefly, you would have a slightly heightened sense of your response to mundane things — both visual and certainly in terms of sound,” he says.

Doesn’t that sound great? Here is a preview of the film.

And there is Flamenco in the soundtrack:

Old-time flamenco cante in the soundtrack of the film ‘The Limits of Control’
he director explains that “when I was preparing the film in Spain, I was doing a lot of research into flamenco music. A friend turned me on to a certain form of flamenco called peteneras. It’s a slow form of flamenco that goes back to the 14th century, and it’s oddly enough a taboo form among most flamenco people because it has a long history of bad things happening. It’s kind of shunned”.

The director of films like ‘Coffee & Cigarettes’ adds “I was interested in it being almost the blues version of the flamenco. It’s often about tragic subjects — death, lost love — and I discovered this one particular song that has an incredible existing version by Carmen Linares, one of the most amazing flamenco singers”. Specifically, it’s a cante off the début album ‘Su cante’, from 1984. And the lyrics have a lot of meaning in the movie, which say something like “He who thinks he is bigger than the rest must go to the cemetery, there he will see what life really is”.

Ah, I have always preferred a slower-paced film, don’t you. To hell with jump-cuts and MTV video style image-strobing! Is this a movement? A movement towards telling a story rather than trying to dazzle and overwhelm with imagery? And am I detecting a desire towards HD music on the interwebs? Well, here are some facts for you:

A 2 bit recording has a resolution of 4.
A 4 bit recording has a resolution of 16.
A 8 bit recording has a resolution of 256.
A 16 bit recording has a resolution of 65,536.
A 24 bit recording has a resolution of 16,777,216.
A 32 bit recording has a resolution of 4,294,967,296.

As you see the dynamic range of a 24 bit recording is dramatically larger than a 16 bit recording. Think of these numbers as something similar to the amount of colors or shades or pixels in an image or video. The higher the resolution the more detail and the bigger the palette. Lots of shades of color instead of a line-drawing.

Expressed in dB it looks like this: 24-bit digital audio has a theoretical maximum dynamic range of 144 dB, compared to 96 dB for 16-bit. An increase of 3dB is roughly a doubling of power, meaning that 144 dB doubles the dynamic range of 96 dB 16 times. And that means a gentle plucking of guitar-strings can be reproduced in true contrast to a hard attack…

We are working on making my albums available on In particular I want 24/96k versions of One Guitar and Up Close to become available to the general public, but we might add the rest of my SSRI catalog in regular 16/44.1k quality as well. I have bought a number of music from HDTracks and think the site works well. Just yesterday I bought a track from Keith Jarrett’s Paris/London Testament, piano solo-improvisation recorded live in Paris and London, in 24/96k FLAC…

And apparently somebody bootlegged some video in Riga:

The hall was quite cold and I was wearing several layers. Funny, how it seems as if I am looking straight at the bootlegger at the beginning of the video!

And in social media news:

Peter Handke on Facebook? Whose idea was that? Publisher? PR person? Handke himself? Whatever the reason, it apparently didn’t last long:

Flickr Photo: Peter Handke on facebook 2009-10-14 at 10.54.43 AM

Handke wrote:

(Peter Handke) kann das Geschwätz auf Facebook schon jetzt nicht mehr ertragen und wird niemals wieder etwas in dieses Feld hineinschreiben.

That means that he can’t stand the blather (((idle talk, gossip, flubdub, claptrap))) on Facebook and will never again enter a word in this field.

(Thanks for the link KF)

Thursday in Santa Fe

02009-10-15 @ 16:10

My sleeping patterns are slowly returning to normal. I still wake up quite early, between 04:00 and 05:00, but I found a good book to read when that happens: Baudolino by Umberto Eco. And wouldn’t you know it, Istanbul, in its former life as Constantinople, features in it.

Rode my bike to have breakfast with Jon. The weather is incredible! That’s nice, especially after the freezing damp of Riga. Today it is about 74ºF with a blue sky – perfect bicycling weather, I’d say!

The leaves are brilliant this year!



Tuesday Trio

02009-10-13 @ 13:10

Here are a few songs from the rehearsal on September 16th, for the trio-concert at Villa Montalvo in Saratoga. These are quick rough mixes that we used to memorize the changes in the set. The snare is a bit too loud and you might notice several mistakes, but I like the energy. In September Dave commented on the trio-version of Heart Still/Beating: a modern mellow version of Cream. Actually, that was some of our inspiration – the old rock trios of guitar, bass and drumkit.

Here is Morning Arrival:

Audio MP3

Download Morning Arrival in Goa here.

Serenity on Ultracloud and Borrasca

Audio MP3

Download Serenity/Borrasca here.

Here is Firelight:

Audio MP3

Download the Firelight mp3 file here.

And this is a new and untitled piece we just started playing. Don’t know how I feel about it yet, but it is fun to play and time will tell.

Audio MP3

Download the untitled track here.

I hope this makes up for the lack of music last week. :-)

Tuesday Pirate

02009-10-13 @ 11:10

Here is the piracy update for Tuesday:

Ottmar Liebert – download full albums in mp3
They offer the enitire One Guitar album for $0.50. Bastards.

This is rather funny: The Guitar Trio – Ottmar Liebert, Paco De Lucia, Al Di Meola – hey, it’s only $0.40!

Thirteen Years Ago

02009-10-13 @ 06:10

Tour Report #1
report: october 13th, 1996

Jacksonville, Florida: the Florida Theater is our first headlining show since Greece…luckily we get a long soundcheck and can rehearse all the pieces we haven’t played in all the weeks with Santana…tonight i get to use the Midi guitar again…Jon and i go for lunch to the nearby Riverside Mall and end up searching for a relatively quiet corner where we don’t have to hear the loud music that fills the mall, courtesy of a country music radio station and a P.A. system set up on a stage…

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