One of my favorite ballads from Meklit's 2014 album "We Are Alive" out on Six Degrees Records. We shot this on a late evening in March, shortly before the album came out, at Todd Brown's Studio Teobi in Hunters Point, San Francisco.
This is a list of books, documentaries, podcasts, and blogs that I either liked or am hoping to read, watch, listen to in the near future. Some are directly related to the science and history of cities, others may not be so connected, but they informed my thinking about society, economics, and design, so I included them here.
If you have your own recommendations, please add them to the comments. I'm always looking for new sources.
Available on Netflix. One of the three design documentaries by Gary Hustwit. The others are Helvetica about typography and Objectified about object and product design. I largely owe my interest in design to these three movies.
New York: A Documentary
Seven part, fourteen hour PBS series spanning 400 years of New York history.
Here's the first part of the first episode. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAl7M0Le1Kg
Other parts are also on YouTube, the official page is here.
This American Life, Episode 512: House Rules
A one-hour history of housing segregation in the US. Roosevelt's selective subsidizing of home owning middle class through redlining, the Civil Rights Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the story of its enforcement.
This podcast is much drier than This American Life or Planet Money. It usually features a 1-hour conversation between Russ Roberts (economist at George Mason U and Stanford Hoover Institution) and his guests. Roberts is a Hayekian, so this is a good source of balance if, like mine, most of your sources have a strong liberal tilt.
Model Thinking (Coursera)
A fascinating course about models. It's very general and covers a lot of ground. One of the best introductory classes I've ever taken.
Game Theory II (Coursera)
A short and slightly technical course about the theory of social choice mechanisms (elections, auctions). Really enjoyed it.
Introduction to Data Science (Coursera)
A bit of Python, R, MapReduce, SQL with some hands on projects.
The Data Scientist's Toolbox (Coursera)
Version control, markdown, git, R.
Data Analysis (Coursera)
Regression, classification, this class has now been split up into shorter classes that are offered every month.
Computing for Data Analysis (Coursera)
A very good introduction to R.
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs (reading now)
A classic. Enjoying it very much.
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro (to read)
A formidable 1100 pages in small type. Will try to read, but with all the other things, I'm not very optimistic.
How to Lie With Maps by Mark Monmonier (to read)
Recommended by a friend.
Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier (Edward Glaeser) (to read)
Assigned as summer reading by CUSP.
The New Science of Cities by Michael Batty (to read)
Nothing to say yet, but the title seems like it could be useful.
Urban Ecology: Science of Cities by Richard T. T. Forman (to read)
Nothing to say yet, but the title seems like it could be useful.
The Signal and the Noise: Why Many Predictions Fail, But Some Don't by Nate Silver (read)
A lively and easy analysis of what types of processes can be predicted or forecast and what types evade modeling efforts with examples in politics, climate, economics, sports, and gambling.
Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows (read)
Read a couple of years ago. An easy and intuitive introduction.
Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson (read)
Acemoglu and Robinson make a case that inclusive political institutions lead to good socioeconomic outcomes and describe the processes that form these institutions: institutional drift and critical junctures. A fascinating and lively read.
Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States by Michael Lind (read)
My first real introduction to American history. Lind tells the story through the lens of the fractious and ever relevant debate of the role of government in the economy.
Complex Adaptive Systems by Scott E. Page and John H. Miller (partially read)
Interesting, but I haven't read enough to tell more.
The World That Made New Orleans by Ned Sublette
A wonderful cultural history passionately written by a musician and musicologist.
I met Steven when his band In One Wind came through San Francisco on tour and Darren Johnston introduced us. We made a quick video at Viracocha. That video production was the last straw in my decision to get an 8-channel interface and a few more microphones - we had to get drums, guitar, bass, keys, vocals, and flute recorded through two Zoom H4Ns. Since then Steven left New York and settled in the Bay Area, and a couple of months back he asked me if I could do some head shots. See above.
When Steven came to the shoot he gave me a copy of his 12'' vinyl For We Have Heard with the amazing cast of Myra Melford on piano, Matt Wilson on drums, and Darren Johnston on trumpet. Here's a cut from that. For more go to stevenlugerner.com.
And here's the In One Wind video that prompted me to supe up my rig.
A couple of years ago Jeff Denson emailed me asking if he could do a show at our house concert space on Valencia. We set it up and he played a killer set with San Diego pianist Joshua White and the Bay Area expat Dayna Stephens on the saxophone and Hamir Atwal on drums. We talked about making a couple of videos together and left it at that until Jeff emailed me again a few months ago, and we set up a recording/video session at Peter Jensen's SpiceMix studio on Cesar Chavez. We also made some time for picture taking. Here are a couple.
This months Jeff and Joshua are releasing a duet album of spirituals on pfMENTUM Records. This is the title track. Four more videos are coming out shortly. Stay tuned.
Personnel and credits:
Jeff Denson - bass
Joshua White - piano
Peter Varshavsky - video
Peter Jensen - sound
Composed by Albert E. Brumley
When The Saints Go Marching In
I've always had a hard time describing the music of Mercury Falls. The labels prog rock, ambient jazz, and fusion all fit, but I generally don't like music that falls in those categories. This band I've loved ever since Patrick gave me a copy of the yet unreleased master of Quadrangle, Mercury Fall's debut album that we put out on Porto Franco Records in 2010. Due to their bicoastalism, it wasn't until February 2014 that I finally pinned MF down at their practice studio in Oakland and got some music on proverbial film (film was digital, but I'm pretty happy with how silvery the end result turned out). Since recording Quadrangle, Roger Riedlbauer and Sam Bevan (who will soon be featured in a duet video with Meklit) filled the respective musical shoes of Ryan Francesconi and Eric Perney. Watch out for the intricately woven textures of Tim Bulkley's drum work and the looped alto saxophone harmonies. This song gets pretty big in no small part thanks to Myles Boisen, who managed to get my recording to sound far better than I ever would.
Personnel and credits:
Composition by Patrick Cress and Ryan Francesconi
Patrick Cress: alto sax + pedals
Roger Riedlbauer: guitar
Sam Bevan: bass
Tim Bulkley: drums
Mixed by Myles Boisen
In the last four years Meklit released three eclectic albums on Porto Franco Records: a jazz rooted singer-songwriter debut On a Day Like This..., an album of rock cover duets with Oakland-based singer Quinn DeVeaux, Meklit & Quinn, and an Ethiopian sci-fi hip hop space opera Earthbound as member of the trio CopperWire. Her second album We Are Alive is out this month on Six Degrees Records. In the past few weeks I got a chance to document two rehearsals, this video is the first of these documents. The others will follow soon.
Meklit's San Francisco CD release show is on April 2nd at The Great American Music Hall. More information and tickets are here.
Another release from the vaults. BayTaper and I recorded this Darren Johnston Quintet show at the Red Poppy Art House on 23rd and Folsom in San Francisco in November 2011, but I didn't get around to editing it until a few weeks ago. Infinity's one of my favorite songs by Darren, and I still remember being floored by the written and improvised horn harmonies of this chordless (no piano or guitar) lineup. I later heard that this was one of the last SF gigs of this group as Darren focused on The Nice Guy Trio with accordionist Rob Reich and bassist Daniel Fabricant and then pivoted to his current projects, The Trans-Global People's Chorus, Letters to Home, and The Broken Shadows Family Band.
Darren Johnston - tr, Sheldon Brown - b. cl, Ben Goldberg - cl, David Ewell - b, Hamir Atwal - d.
Sound by BayTaper. Video by BayTaper and myself.
For more like this:
BayTaper's been documenting Bay Area musicians for almost 10 years.
Darren's superb album Edge of the Forest on Clean Feed Records also featuring Ben Goldberg and Sheldon Brown.
Ben Goldberg School has the same rhythm section + Rob Reich on piano and accordion. Saxophonist Kasey Knudsen and trombonist Jeff Cressman round out the horn line.
The Nice Guy Trio recorded a version of this song on their album with strings: Sidewalks and Alleys / Waking Music .
And the stringless Nice Guy Trio video I produced with Adam Willumsen a couple of years back.
In January 2014 I found myself at 4 shows and one studio session featuring Ben Goldberg. I think I taped all five. I'm slowly working through the footage and will post some more this Spring.
Walking into Duende on January 23, I didn't know what musical direction the group would take. I first heard of Myra Melford and Ben Goldberg when they independently collaborated with The Nice Guy Trio in 2008, but I hadn't heard of Mary Oliver or Han Bennink, so I was in for a treat. In love with all the emotion Han wrings out of his drum set before settling into the hard driving swing in the second part of the tune.
I should have miked the piano. I didn't. I apologize.
This was my first real video shoot with two cameras and everything. In January 2010 we shot video of the entire Gaucho Pearl recording sessions at Amnesia bar, 853 Valencia street. You can still hear the band there every Wednesday night.
Ralph Carney - ts, Rob Reich - acc, Dave Ricketts - gt, Michael Groh - gt, Ari Munkres - b, Pete Devine - dr, with special guests: Tamar Korn - vocals, Leon Oakley - cornet.
Here are some other songs from the same sessions.
I'm taking some time this winter break to edit footage I shot over the last couple of years. This is from November 2012. In 2010 Dave released Eastern Accents in the Far West with the trio version of this ensemble on Porto Franco Records.
Ara Anderson - tr, David Boyce - ts, Michael Cavaseno - gt, Dave Mihaly - dr