Lilac Time

Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 2.48.39 PMI should just set up a tent and move into the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Do you think they’d let me? I can’t really see why they shouldn’t. It’s gotten to where I need a fix at least every couple weeks, and if I can’t get it, I get real cranky. This is what happened yesterday. I’ve been waiting for the cherry trees to blossom, following the Garden’s CherryWatch Blossom Status map, which updates every few days to show how far along the blossoms are (that’s a screen capture at left). For days, the trees were in pre-bloom, then first bloom, and then, suddenly PEAK BLOOM, which means GETOUTTAMYWAY, PEOPLE. Because, you know, I have to see the blossoms NOW because they make me feel happy and loving and peaceful. Which, in fact, they do. And they did, even on a foggy day like yesterday. Oh, did I mention the lilacs? Holy garden of Eden, I wish I could do this post as a scratch and sniff, because the perfume of the largest grove of the largest lilac bushes you’ve ever seen is simply to die for. Enough talking. Time for pictures (oddly enough, I didn’t get a lot of cherry pictures this time, but this is also a great time of year for the afore-mentioned lilacs, as well as tulips, birds, and assorted humans). Click on any image to view as slideshow.

‘Tis the Season: Tra La La!

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 11.11.31 AMNow that our national Annual Day of Fighting Over Flat Screen TVs is over, it’s time for my annual ‘Tis the Season post. If you’ve been on my mailing list or followed this blog (which you probably haven’t, since I’ve neglected it horribly), you know that at about this time every year I list some of my favorite organizations in the hope that if you’re thinking of giving someone the gift of a donation made in their honor, getting an end-of-year tax deduction, or simply sparing a few make-the-world-a-better-place dollars, you might consider these worthy beneficiaries. This is miles away from being any kind of comprehensive list; rather, it includes a few of my favorite organizations I think merit greater recognition (and donations!). Here’s a bonus: instead of (or in addition to) donations, you can buy gifts of jewelry and other cool items at Potters for Peace and BEADS for Education; look for their online stores.

This year’s post is dedicated to my father, Boris Wolper, who left this world in July and who, by example, taught me a few things about sharing — a gift for which I’ll always be grateful.

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 11.36.24 AMAirline Ambassadors International
Years ago I took an American Airlines flight from New York to San Francisco; I was flying with my dog, and as soon as we landed I took her out of the case she’d been in for hours. One of the flight attendants saw her and started a conversation, and we chatted all the way from the plane to baggage. She told me about a little non-profit she’d started; I thought it sounded interesting, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. What I didn’t know at the time was what a rock star Nancy Rivard is, or that what “began as a network of airline employees using their pass privileges to help others” [would expand into] “a network of students, medical professionals, families and retirees who volunteer . . . [to] escort children in need, hand-deliver humanitarian aid to orphanages, clinics, and remote communities, raise public awareness and involve youth in humanitarian efforts around the world.” As if that’s not enough, AAI has created an industry-wide global plan to involve airlines in fighting human trafficking.

Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 1.44.52 AM BEADS for Education
“To educate a girl is to educate a village and ultimately a nation.” Sponsor a Kenyan girl’s education, support alternative coming of age rites, or shop for gorgeous beaded handicrafts (scroll to the bottom of the site and click on “Products”) made by the Dupoto Women’s Group, many of whose members are mothers of the students; profits go back to the women and are a primary source of income. (And HERE is the link to their store.)

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 11.34.32 AMCenter for Constitutional Rights
The CCR “is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” From attacks on dissent to racial, gender and economic justice, they get things done. I don’t know where we’d be without CRC.

Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 2.19.12 AMFirst Book
First Book “is determined to see that all children, regardless of their economic conditions, can achieve more in school and in life through access to an ongoing supply of new books.” As a lifelong library nerd, that’s something I can get behind. A $10 donation means four new books find their way to children who need them. Donate by December 31st to triple the power of your donation.

Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 2.14.54 AMThe Jazz Foundation
You might be surprised to know that a lot of gigs pay no more today than they paid fifty years ago (I’m talking about actual, not inflation-adjusted, dollars). I find myself wondering how the musicians who were around then, who could make a good living with that kind of money, are managing now, when they’re older and have to deal with health issues, inflation, and other challenges. JFA Emergency Fund helps jazz professionals (especially older musicians, who may have no health insurance, pensions, or retirement funds) through hard times.

Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 2.11.00 AMPlanting Peace
Planting Peace has “a variety of projects ranging from large-scale international efforts to grassroots initiatives.” A donation of $5 allows them to deworm 333 children; they’ve already reached 7.9 million children in Haiti alone. Deworming may sound like a small thing, but it can have an enormous impact on a child’s education, health, and quality of life.

Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 2.07.32 AMPotters for Peace
One of the things I love about Potters for Peace and Planting Peace (above) is that they’re great examples of low-tech, relatively small, very achievable solutions to enormous problems. To me, that’s the definition of miracle. “Since 1998 Potters for Peace has traveled the world teaching the fabrication of a low-cost ceramic water filter that can bring clean, potable water to those who need it most.” (And HERE is the link to their store.)

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 11.31.56 AMProject Vote Smart
I’m such a believer in this invaluable resource for U.S. voters. Project Vote Smart provides comprehensive, unbiased, non-partisan information about the political process, elected officials, candidates, etc. In 2012 I spent a week in Montana volunteering at the Great Divide Ranch, PVS’s main headquarters. You can read about my adventures (and learn a bit more about PVS) here.

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 2.05.19 AMBixbee
All the organizations listed above have 501(c)(3) status, which means your donations are tax-deductible. This is the one exception; Bixbee is a business, not a charitable organization. But it’s included because even though you won’t get a tax deduction if you shop there, your purchase generates a donation by the company, whose tag line is “One here, one there.” (Not only that, but a friend of mine is the co-founder!)  Buy a really cute school bag for a little one on your shopping list, and another schoolbag, this one filled with school supplies, will be donated to a child in need. I notice they’re offering free shipping on most orders till December 31! 

Happy International Human Rights Day!

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 9.56.14 AMThe United Nations considers the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.” The Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, when the international community came together to form the United Nations in order to ensure that atrocities like those committed in the Second World War would never happen again. Clearly, we’ve fallen short of that promise. But progress does happen, has happened, will continue to happen. Below is the text of the Declaration; it sets forth a pretty straightforward set of principals; idealistic, perhaps, but not unrealistic. As Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 9.56.56 AMPREAMBLE
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17.
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28.
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Jazz Joni, With Love and Gratitude

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 4.25.59 PMIt’s Joni Mitchell’s birthday. For many singers of a certain age, she is the mother of us all, and many of us have a case of Joni. Her songs to aging children [still] come, you know?  Joni goes way back as a jazz explorer, but the love goes both ways, and there’s been a river of jazz explorations of her songbook. Yes, there was that multiple-Grammy-winning  Herbie Hancock project, River: the Joni Letters, in 2007. But jazzers’ interest in the JM songbook started well before that, and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down. Which got me to thinking it’d be cool if somebody compiled a list of jazz singers who’ve covered Joni Mitchell.  Thank you, Joni, for giving us so much greatness to work with, and showing us the way. Happy birthday!

Some notes before we get started:

• This list includes only performances released on CD. There’ve been notable concerts (Laurie Antonioli, whose Joni CD is in the works, Claire Martin and Ian Shaw), but this list is for released recordings only.
• There are many instrumental takes on Joni, but this list comprises only vocals by jazz singers
• All-Joni-albums come first, individual songs second (with one exception: Cassandra Wislon).
• Links on song titles lead to the recordings themselves. Links on album titles lead to artist website, album reviews, stores, videos, or whatever I could find that seemed relevant. For some reason some of the links aren’t highlighted, but hover over the titles; most are live linked whether it looks like it or not.
• The list does not include the oft-recorded “Twisted” because it wasn’t written by JM.
• Yes, I’m included in the list.
• If you want to see a far more comprehensive list of Joni covers in all genres, you must go to Joni Undercover, lovingly and exhaustively maintained by Bob Muller.

MOST IMPORTANT NOTE OF ALL: All I want is to get the conversation started; I’m sure I’ve missed a lot that should be included (and I’m sure many of them are in my iPod, on my CD shelves, or simply stuck in my brain’s overloaded cache browser). It all comes down to you, dear reader, so please help me fill out the list by adding a comment (feel free to include links).


Leora Cashe and the Ross Taggart Trio:  Another Side Now  (Birth Records, 2008)

Ian Shaw: Drawn to All Things: Songs of Joni Mitchell (Linn Records, 2006)

Tierney Sutton: After Blue (BFM, 2013)
[Note: this album contains two tracks not written by JM]

Lydia Van Dam Group: Both Sides Now, A Tribute to Joni Mitchell (VIA Jazz)

Multiple Artists A Tribute to Joni Mitchell (Nonesuch, 2007)
Cassandra Wilson For The Roses 


Karrin Allyson
Blue Motel Room  (In Blue, Concord, 2002)
All I Want  (Wild For You, Concord, 2004)
Help Me   (Wild For You, Concord, 2004)

Dee Bell-Becker
Night in the City (Silva • Bell • Elation, Laser Records, 2014)

Cheryl Bentyne
Both Sides Now  (Songs of Our Time, King, 2008)

Fay Claassen
Be Cool (Fay Claassen Sing! WDR Big Band Cologne, Challenge, 2010)

Denise Donatelli
Be Cool  (What Lies Within, Savant, 2008)

Kate Hammett-Vaughan
Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire (Eclipse, MaximumJazz, 2004)
For the Roses (Eclipse, MaximumJazz, 2004)

Hilary Gardner
Chelsea Morning (The Great City, 2014)

Sarah Gazarek
The Circle Game (Yours, Native Language, 2005)
Carey (Return to You, Native Language Music, 2007)

Carla Helmbrecht
Song to a Seagull (One For My Baby, Heart Music, 1995)

Nicole Henry
Big Yellow Taxi (So Good, So Right: Nicole Henry Live, Banister Records, 2013)

Julie Kelly
Woodstock (Everything I Love, 2006)
Both Sides Now (Everything I Love, 2006)
River (I’m Gonna Lock  My Heart, Pausa Records, 1986)

Diana Krall
A Case of You (Live in Paris, Verve, 2002)
Black Crow (The Girl in the Other Room, Verve, 2004)

Claire Martin
Be Cool (The Waiting Game, Linn, 1996)
Blue Motel Room (with Ian Shaw) (Too Darn Hot, Linn, 2004)

Kate McGarry
Chelsea Morning  (Mercy Streets, Palmetto, 2005)
The Priest  (If Less Is More, Nothing Is Everything, Palmetto, 2008)

Jane Monheit
A Case of You  (Come Dream With Me, Encoded  Music, 2001)

Mark Murphy
Barangrill  (Mark ll, Muse, 1974)
Both Sides Now (This Must Be Earth, Phoenix, 1969)

Dianne Reeves
River (Bridges, Blue Note, 1999)
Both Sides Now (Quiet After the Storm, Blue Note, 1995)

A Case of You (In My Prime, RhiannonMusic, 2005)

Abigail Riccards & Tony Romano
Both Sides Now  (Soft Rains Fall, 20ll)

Trelawny Rose
California (Shed a Little Light, Patois Records, 2013)

Janis Siegel
River (Short Stories, Atlantic, 1990)

Inga Swearingen
Black Crow (Reverie, Rhythome, 2005)

Christine Tobin
A Chair in the Sky (Yell of the Gazelle, Babel, 1996)

Roseanna Vitro
Be Cool (The Delirium Blues Project: Serve or Suffer, Half Note, 2008)

Cassandra Wilson
Black Crow  (Blue Light Til’ Dawn, Blue Note, 1993)

Andrea Wolper
Song to a Seagull (Parallel Lives, Jazzed Media, 2011)
Be Cool (Parallel Lives, Jazzed Media, 2011)

All You Need is Love. . . and Legal Status


Time to Hit the Skyway. . .

If you haven’t read the previous entries, I suggest you start here and work your way up.

Truth is, I’ve traveled a fair amount and seen beautiful places. But, damn, Montana is something special! Even with smoke from wildfires obscuring some of the views, it’s just beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. (Pictures below.)

Sunday morning, my hosts in Manhattan (west of Bozeman), Ann and Nick, took me to breakfast at a place that seemed so Montana, so untouched by time, that even I could tell when some “you’re not from around these parts, are you?” types walked in. After breakfast, we went to see the headwaters of the Missouri River, where the Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson Rivers converge. The pictures in the slide show include the handiwork (or should I say teethiwork?) of some beavers who got discouraged when the water level dropped.

In the evening, we performed — Ann Tappan (pianist), Kelly Roberti (bass), and I at the beautiful home of Frank and Jirina Cikan in Bozeman. We had an enthusiastic audience and a lot of fun. After the concert, Ann, Nick and I went to the Pita Pit, the only place we could find that was still serving food after 10 pm; I mention this only because it was exactly the sort of place we’d end up eating after gigs during the years I was touring in Germany (well, there it’s the doner kebab joints), so it felt familiar, and right.

Back in New York, I’m reflecting on a memorable 10 days: volunteering at Project Vote Smart (PLEASE consider supporting the work of PVS with a donation), and then meeting up with Ann and Kelly in person (previously we’d only known one another online) and making music with them. I’m feeling very luck to have had this experience.

And now, more pictures: Vintage cars parked outside the 3 4Ks restaurant. People: Ann, Kelly, Nick, Jirina and Frank. Scenery at the headwaters of the Missouri. A few of the stunning sky taken from inside Ann’s car on the way to the gig.

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