Category Archives: Uncategorized

Photos: The Cure launches 2016 tour in New Orleans

View Article on OffBeat.com

 

English emblematic rock band The Cure paid a visit to the UNO Lakefront Arena to kick off their 2016 tour of North America, on Wednesday evening, May 11.

While engulfed in a sea of lights and smoke, Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Roger O’Donnell, Reeves Gabrels, and Jason Cooper drew from the band’s discography spanning over the past four decades. By the night’s end, they had performed nearly 30 songs.

 

Photos: Rory Danger’s 2015 Dangeria Imperial Debate

Rory Danger & The Danger Dangers hosted the 2015 Dangeria Imperial Debate at One Eyed Jacks on Friday, November 20th. Following the spirit of our premature electoral season, the band’s high-energy performance was flavored with America’s new favorite form of entertainment, heated political debating.

The debate, which as the band prefaced on Facebook, opposed their “Great and Benevolant Leader Rory Danger, and three other chumps,” did nothing to take away from The Danger Dangers’ extravagant musical act, which included most songs available on their album The Age of Exploration, released last October.

Television jingles, crowd-surfing, death lasers and other tools crucial to political discussion made for an enriching and informative experience, as candidates battled for the “coveted 5-week term of ‘Grand Supreme Eternal Ruler of all Dangeria and all the Beasts and Fishes and Birds and Humans of the Earth and all other Planets and Stars visible with the Naked Eye or Telescoping Viewing Device.’”

Rory Danger & The Danger Danger

Raoul & Annina

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Here’s a project you should take a look at.

Simon Averous is a young Parisian director who is launching his first feature film, Raoul & Annina. Averous studied history and art history, and specialized in film, he then worked with mise en scène in the Parisian theater scene, and also assisted film makers on several shorts. Also musician, Averous studied music at the academy, learning jazz and classical piano.

Averous is surrounded by a team of young Parisians whose experience, cohesion and energy can only be fruitful. See it for yourself in the team’s first work, on Raoul & Annina‘s prologue, Raoul, which showcases the certain quality of the young actors and technicians’ work.


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Actors Nathan Bernat & Anne Duverneuil

As the project evolves and comes to shape, Averous and his Parisian film crew is trying to gather the funds to make this beautiful project a reality. There are but a couple of weeks before the project’s KissKissBankBank public funding period ends.

If it does, a couple of cars, filled with young filmmakers, equipment and dreams of creation will be hitting the road to reach the south of France and its charming sights, to give life to Raoul & Annina, the story of a mischievous couple running away from the law in a visually compelling quest to find themselves.

Your contribution to this fund could mean launching a wonderful project that would mark a important waypoint and the start of a new journey for a handful of talented and driven young film makers, on top of letting the story of Raoul & Annina’s stampede take flight and hit the silver screens.

Give it a look, give it a thought!

Louis & The Royal Pickles

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Photo Credit: Normand Desjardin

If you’ve ever wandered the streets of Montreal, Canada during a summer night, you might have heard a group of youngsters swinging their hearts out, led by a dapper-looking cat whose banjo, briefcase and suspenders hardly go unnoticed.

Their repertoire goes way back, and touches to many things, with one unconditional restraint: it must swing. From Duke to Django, Louis and his friends play tunes that you have heard, melodies that might be buried in stacks of memories, but easily find their way back into your mind, with the great advantage of making your feet uncontrollably stomp to the jolly rhythms they come with.

These guys’ ability to call on to people foot’s muscular memory, on top of being a swing dancer’s dream and bringing smiles to sensitive by-passers, the group’s success has led them to bigger projects. I was lucky to be in their company when the brainstorming for a band name amongst the young musicians revealed to be fruitful, giving birth to “Louis & the Royal Pickles”.

A few months after the group came together as a somewhat official, branded entity, word travels all the way down to Mississippi that Louis and his Royal Pickles are to release their first project, an EP that marks the start of an experience full of potential. The standards are left on Montreal’s sidewalks and Louis Levesque takes his compositions book, backed by the arrangements of his French tenor saxophone, Aurélien Tomasi.

The whole is recorded in December 2013 by Maxime Philippe , and finally released for our great pleasure in this early February 2014. The texts are written in French, but the joy of swinging sounds knows no barrier. Accompanied by the delightful Marie-Louise Desage, the band released their first recording in what seems to have been a memorable night on many levels.

In sum, this is a refreshing, promising project coming out from Montreal’s streets’ finest musicians, getting together to share with us the joy of the music they, and we love. The music was made available by Louis online, and is worth a listen, if not two, or however many you’d like.

El Camino De Judebox

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Mario and Clémence are two French journalists who traveled over 9,000 miles around the United States for the past three months. Stopping in major cities, historical landmarks and legendary locations across the country, trying to get a good idea of what this country looks like in our times. If the movie industry works at preserving the America of the past, there is nothing like an outsider’s view on the current state of things, to get a good look one’s own country.

Now settled in Bogotà, Colombia, our two French friends are working at bringing the stories and individuals they encountered to life, through a series of short documentaries, in French and English, that are worth a look. These are posted on their Facebook page and their web page.

They offer an interesting look at the United States’ most famous locations and their people, their stories, in 2013. The first short piece of the documentaries series is now available, and deals with the city of Detroit, and the rising of urban agriculture. Make sure to take a look, you never know what you might learn today.

Jazz liberatorz…

Jazz liberatorz – Clin d’Oeil

Yo, whats up this is Streethearts (sAnnotatep?)
Also known to y’all as Slim Kid Tre
The topic for today is uh
The influence of jazz

Now, jazz has come a long way
Back in the days
There was bebop
And now its hip hop

Jazz was revolutionary
And hip hop is also revolutionary
Unlike rap
Rap’s not really getting the message across
Like our forefathers
Like the Gil Scott-Herons, you know
They paved the way
They set the pace
They set the tone
Like the Last Poets
All of these are great people, great minds
To do things to carry the torch of our ancestors
[and] to let us know what’s really, really going on around the world
Hip hop has definitely carried that torch in a positive way

Rap was a vehicle for stopping the violence
Just as jazz was back in the days
Back in the 60s, back in the 30s

Quincey Jones, McCoy Tyrner, Grant Green
Wes Montgomery, Elvin Jones, Miles Davis
Eric Gale, Phil Sanders, Freddie Hubbbard
Billy Higgins, Jimmy Smith, Wayne Shorter
Ahmad Jamal, Thelonius Monk – all big influences
For what it is that we do
And what it is that we are
As we take our stance in music

Jazz was also like a secret conversation
I mean, it was a universal language

So no matter what culture you came from
You would still hear the music
And feel the story even if you didn’t know the words

In hip hop
We have to put our all into it
So you can feel the energy coming across just the same as the saxophone player
Who played with the same intensity and feeling

And that’s what we’re all here for
To feel that love and vibration

To uplift the people, indeed
So that is indeed an influence on me

 

See also: Sans titre-1

About The Dark Knight and Ethics

What, is it 2013 already? I guess I am a tiny bit late to write about a film that was made in 2008… But school made me do it, and as a Batman fanboy, The Dark Knight proved to be too good of an example not to be used, despite the untimeliness. The following are excerpts are from a philosophy of Ethics essay focusing on Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008), that I thought was worth sharing on with you.

The sense of duty mentioned earlier also brings us to Kantian deontological ethics. Wayne can be perceived as a moral person according to Kantian ethics as Kant argues that a man must act according to that feeling of duty in order to act morally. Moreover, Kant claims that the morality of an action lays in the intention behind the action, not necessarily its result. This aspect is illustrated in the movie when the dark knight tries to rescue both Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent with the help of the police, but only saves Dent, partially since the district attorney loses half of his face in an explosion, eventually making him switch from hero to villain. The action is moral according to Kantian ethics since the intention was to save both characters even though the outcome isn’t quite as ideal. However, the Batman is not a complete figure of Kantian ethics either, as his methods do not fit Kant’s most important definition of morality, the categorical imperative, which contains this famous maxim: “Act only according to that maxim by which you can also will that it would become a universal law.” (Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, 1785) Bruce Wayne does not wish for everybody to act the way he does, he considers his power and resources, and exploits them for the common good. But he sees it as a burden, a responsibility. He shows it at the very beginning of the film, when he handles his “copycats” the same way he does the bad guys, not tolerating people trying to replicate his actions. That is what he expresses when he talks to Alfred about the copycats: “That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I said that I wanted to inspire people.” Thus suggesting that he wanted people to be inspired for what he stands for, justice, not the way he applies it, which is through violence and breaking the law. Still, one can see a moral code that is existent and that the Batman does not seem to struggle following when fighting low-key criminals in Gotham City, but becomes questionable when challenged by a powerful villain.

That role of the challenger is the one of the Joker. A maniac who commits crime without personal interest, evil genius who enjoys causing mayhem and bringing chaos everywhere he goes and does so very efficiently. Although the Joker does not seem to have a particular purpose as Albert Pennyworth describes him: “Some people just want to watch the world burn.” (The Dark Knight, 2008), he seems to be dedicated to breaking the Batman icon and Wayne’s moral integrity. He finds ways to challenge the dark knight’s morals and push his ethical limits. What the Joker seems to strive for is to bring chaos and bring civilized men to a Hobbesian “state of nature” by destroying social structures and values. In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes explains that men are inclined to war against everyone else when in their raw natural state, and it is social order that keeps them out of this state of nature. But Hobbes also explains how fragile social order can be and how men sometimes fall back in the state of nature when the basic rules of social order are broken. That weakness of social order is precisely what the Joker seems to be aiming for. All his crimes seem to be directed toward breaking the social order in order to show the Hobbesian nature of men. He gives a clue of his Hobbesian view of humanity in the interrogation scene: “See, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I will show you, when the chips are down, these civilized people, they’ll eat each other.” An idea that he does put to practice later on, when he manages to turn the cops against one another, using force and corruption.

[…] In order to overcome the challenges that the Joker imposes, Wayne finds himself obligated to apply the utilitarian morals. Although we saw that the Batman was somewhat of a Kantian figure in the way his intention makes his actions moral, he also adopts a consequentialist behavior, which suggests that the rightness of actions are to be judged by their consequences only. Jeremy Bentham, main figure of the utilitarian philosophy, writes: “On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think” (The Principles of Morals and Legislation, 1781). Bentham’s philosophy stresses the idea that the morality of an action is to be judged on its efficiency, on the result of the action. Utilitarianism is based on the idea of the “greatest good for the greatest number.” a philosophy that would justify the questionable means that the Batman uses to get to his goal which is to stop the Joker. All the morally unstable actions that the hero takes are directed toward this ultimate goal, which is a moral one. This is a mentality that always seems to lay in the Batman’s actions, when one considers the amount of side view mirrors he breaks with his batpod, and in a broader way the general material damages that he causes around the city when chasing criminals, accepting the cost of becoming an outlaw to accomplish what no other could.  But in this particular case, he takes the utilitarian mentality to a new level by adding the highly unethical methods to the material damage, with actions mentioned earlier such as the creation of the ultimate spying machine. “The end justify the means.”

[…] His methods eventually lead to the arrest of the Joker, ending all the madness that led him to such extremes, which can be considered as “the greatest good for the greatest number” as he ultimately secures the people of Gotham from the Joker’s everlasting terrorism. This result leads us to consider the Batman as an example of ethical altruism, which is a form of consequentialism and suggests that moral actions lead to good consequences for others but not for oneself. Auguste Comte writes: “[The] social point of view cannot tolerate the notion of rights, for such notion rests on individualism. We are born under a load of obligations of every kind, to our predecessors, to our successors, to our contemporaries. After our birth these obligations increase or accumulate, for it is some time before we can return any service…. This [“to live for others”], the definitive formula of human morality, gives a direct sanction exclusively to our instincts of benevolence, the common source of happiness and duty. [Man must serve] Humanity, whose we are entirely.” (Catéchisme Positiviste, 1852), a quote that defines precisely the ideology followed by the Batman in his actions, as he is puts himself at the service of Gotham’s people in every way possible, sacrificing his body and wealth, and even his morals as we’ve demonstrated. This idea of sacrifice out of altruism becomes obvious at the end of the movie, when the Wayne decides to take the blame for Harvey Dent’s death, thus sacrificing the symbolic image of the Batman as a figure of Justice, in favor of Dent’s new similar symbol that inspires the people of Gotham. Here, not only does Bruce Wayne accept to sacrifice the whole symbolic character he has tried to incarnate since the beginning, but he also puts himself in danger by accepting to be accounted for the murder of the city’s new symbol of hope, in order to, ironically, preserve that symbol for the “greatest good.”

 

If you are interested in the subject, and wish to read the essay in its entirety, it is available here.

About music appreciation and anticipation

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You most likely know the feeling of knowing a song so well that you can mark a break with your hand while listening to it, or shout a line in the lyrics in perfect harmony with the record, or even play the drums break on your air-drum set. It is a thrill.

Now picture yourself hearing that same song that you know so well, but at a live performance, and as you prepare to tag along and duplicate, spit out what the record has implanted in your mind, the musician surprises the crowd with a twist. Now that is a thrill.

A question was raised in my mind when listening to very different records that I enjoy a lot in completely different ways, but always in a way related to a form of anticipation of the music I am hearing. How does my mind enjoy when music meets my anticipations and when it doesn’t as well?

First came the music of Thelonious Monk. I was listening to Monk’s take on Functional, on the great record with John Coltrane. The song is a blues, and although my ear is accustomed to listen to these blues played by jazz performers and I feel like I can anticipate, to a certain limited extent, the general way these records go, there is absolutely no way for me to do that with Monk. His choice of placement of the emphasis on certain note in his playing surprises, makes you jump, can even seem out of place sometimes, but it always works. This reminds me of Monk’s Advice, a sheet of paper that was found and put online, of instructions given by Monk to his musicians before a gig. “A note can be small as a pin or as big as the world, it all depends on your imagination.”

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My complete inability to anticipate Monk’s jumps and stunts throughout the record, although being familiar with his type of playing in general and having also heard that specific record before, made me reflect on how anticipation in music, when it is not met and is disturbed by surprising effects, generates great result and beautiful music.

That said, I am far from being familiar with the music theory and the technical aspect of the music behind it all, which may bring further explanations to this question. But I am writing from any given listener’s perspective, who may, just as well as the educated listener, find himself highly entertained and charmed by Monk’s language, bouncing around the keys, playing with silences, leaving you hanging to stab you with a strong chord at the least expected time.

The question gained in depth when I switched to a James Brown record. Just as thrilling, in my humble opinion, but in the complete opposite way. The riff you hear in the first seconds of the song is the riff you will hear in the last seconds. The beat is steady and tunes are all rhythmically linear. But again, it works. Here, I was easily able to anticipate the direction in which each song was going, you can hear the break coming, you can snap your fingers, tap your foot, clap, or even shout the recurrent “HIT ME!” when it comes around… Try to do that to Monk playing alone.

In both cases, part of the reason why the music is so thrilling deals with how you anticipate it and expect what is coming next. These two examples each have a different relation with your anticipation of the music, but both have the same result: it works. Then the question about it is: how does the response to our anticipation in music play in our enjoyment? I am not going to claim bringing an answer to that question, but find interesting to discuss it, based on personal experiences. (Feel free to email me if you have opinions about the topic and ideas or evidence that could be relevant.)

The example of Monk is just one out of a million, as the nature of jazz music throughout the years have always been to surprise the listener, to push the limits and break the rules. Thelonious Monk does have a way of making this surprise effect of music very efficient and enjoyable, but he is far from being the only one. I personally tend to base my personal judgment, if that is worth anything, of a jazz player on his ability to surprise me or break my expectations, while still remaining in the frame of a tune (Free jazz is also something, but I am not familiar enough with it to actually discuss it.) For the example of James Brown, the steady and predictable as a thrilling form of music is found often in popular music, but I do not know of many artists who have the magic that allow James Brown’s tunes to be so conservative and incredibly efficient at the same time.

A question to ponder for a minute, but let it not keep your mind too busy to enjoy the music, James Brown would rather see you get up and dance to his music than to see you sit there philosophizing on the nature of his funkyness. Monk probably wouldn’t care much at all.

Make sure you check out my music blog for more Monk and other jazzy tunes!