Sunday, April 22, 2007

More Wildflowers

We have a friend visiting from London, so as part of the normal touristy garbage that we inflict on her, we also took her for a short walk around Shoreline Lake. More wildflowers are coming up, and overcast skies provided the perfect lighting for some more photographs:




If anybody can identify the last two, leave a comment! :)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Ladies Six-String

Two nights ago, Jayita and I caught Patty Larkin at The Attic. As expected, a fantastic performance, but the best thing I got out of the evening was a CD I picked up that she produced a few years ago called La Guitara. It contains some amazing pieces by some of the best and most influential female guitarists around including Kaki King, Vicki Genfan, and Badi Assad.

A brief search on YouTube brought up the following snippet (among others) of Kaki King's astounding percussive technique:

And while her sound is really cool and funky, Vicki Genfan has the ability to take that to the next level and get some seriously rich, sustained bell-like sounds out of her tapping. I find her style to produce a much more mature, disciplined sound.

My music shopping list just got a lot longer.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

It Was Meant To Be

I've taken a lot of pictures since I started dabbling in photography about a year ago (the groaning hard-drive is testimony to all those accumulating pixels). Nevertheless, this has got to be one of the pictures that I'm most proud of:



Until two days ago however, I didn't know what flower it actually was. I had happened to see it on the side of the road and had just grabbed the photo-op. It was only when I saw the comments of a fellow Flickr member that I happened to browse over to one of Kishimi-san's photos and realized that its botanical name is hypericum calycinum.

Even better, one of its common names is (and I just can't make stuff like this up): Aaron's beard.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bassically...

It's turned out to be the season of The Bass.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Stanley Clarke kicked some serious (b)ass over at Yoshi's last month. It turns out that San Francisco is practically seething with bass-masters this Spring. On Saturday, Peter and I caught the legendary bassist Ron Carter's quartet. This was probably the most polished act since The Modern Jazz Quartet --- they even wore matching ties! Attire aside, I haven't seen a musically tighter group in a long time.

In two weeks we'll have Avishai Cohen in town. The first time I heard this guy was on Chick Corea's Fingerprints (off the Past, Present and Futures album) where his bass lines simply astounded. Other than samples off his website, I've heard very little of his own music, but the fact that he blends some Middle Eastern motifs into his work intrigues.

On a smoother-jazz note, Richard Bona will also be at Yoshi's next month. I quite enjoy his music for light listening, and Jayita's a fan too since he plays the kind of jazz that doesn't make her "tense". I've caught him in concert once back at USC, back in the days when the Fall jazz festival organized by Spectrum actually had some really awesome artists perform, and he could pluck a pretty pleasant string. As a side-benefit, he has an ethereal voice.

Here's to the low notes...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Friday, April 06, 2007

New ER-6i Isolator Earphones

Here's the nub. I love listening to jazz while working. So picture me at my desk at Google, happily hacking away, and listening to Ornette Coleman (for example). Now picture a pair of spectacles surrounded by anguished features goggling at me from across my office. Multiply spectacles and anguished map by three, and you'll have an idea of what would come to pass were I inconsiderate enough to do this without personalizing the aural experience.

Hence, I've been on the lookout for a good pair of headphones for a while now. I considered the Bose noise-canceling variety that are hawked at every airport these days, but I couldn't stand the size. And my earlobes feel sore if I have stuff pressed against them for too long. True, I could use the button-headphones that come with most mp3 players, but you need superglue to keep them in place while running at the gym.

I finally found everything I was looking for in these. Awesome frequency response for the size, and the in-ear design meant that they would be locked in place and provide about 35dB of noise reduction pretty much across the spectrum.

The near (officemates) and dear (ball and c.) now can rest easy in the comforting thought that I won't be inflicting any jazz goodness on them. Poor blighters.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Early Wildflowers

Jayita and I decided to check out the first of the wildflowers peeking out at Russian Ridge this last weekend. So clutching our trusty guide-to-California-wildflowers book (Jayita, that is) and macro lens firmly screwed in place (that's me with the camera), we hove off early on Saturday morning.

Weather was bright and beautiful, and although there was quite a bit of haze visible across the Bay, we caught some nice views:



As expected, there was just a sprinkling of the early-bird wildflowers, but that made the thrill of spotting a novel one all the more keen. Here's a sampling of our current portfolio:





From left to right, top to bottom: Golden violet, popcorn flowers, red-stemmed filarees, saxifrage, blue-eyed grass, charlock, scarlet pimpernel, fiddleneck and baby blue eyes.

It's only the beginning of Spring, so we're definitely planning on making at least two more trips. Watch this space.