Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rocky Patel Decade Toro (10th Anniversary)

A busy weekend, I performed with Scott Walton Saturday night at Cuyamaca College's fantastic new theater. The concert was part of their piano series. Many of you just know Scott as a bassist, but he earned his doctorate in piano performance. After he performed Crumb, Debussy, Chopin and others, we improvised for a while. It was a blast...

Then today, I performed with Mark Dresser's telematic ensemble. The performance took place online, via high speed internet, with Mark's group at UCSD's CRCA building, an ensemble led by Sarah Weaver at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and one led by Chris Chafe at Stanford. The performance was viewed by live audience at each venue on multiple video screens, and also online. A very interesting experience featuring a group of compositions commissioned by Pauline Oliveras's Deep Listening Institute. Also a blast.

Afterwards, I enjoyed a lovely Rocky Patel Decade Toro, a wonderful cigar with a grand version of that archetypal Rocky Patel flavor...highly recommended.

You can listen to Rocky talk about it here:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


In a lecture David Borgo gave today, he read the following passage about trumpet players:

“The trumpet, or so we are given to believe, is a most athletic instrument, and most players, through sheer fatigue start to go off their rails in their 50s. That’s, off course, if they are lucky enough to reach such a venerable age. Most appear to violently self-destruct long before that.

Be warned, anyone taking up the instrument isn’t going to prove a good insurance risk. Unrecorded New Orleans legend Buddy Bolden died of madness; Bix Beiderbeck (28), Bunny Berigan (33) and Hot Lips Page (46) drank themselves to death; Ellingtonians Bubber Miley (29) and Al Killian (34) also checked out prematurely Killian being slaughtered by a previously convicted killer. Woody Herman’s solo star Sonny Berman (23) literally blew his heart out.

The hard-boppers also had their share of fatalities. When in 1950, a combination of TB and drug abuse felled Fats Navarro (26), it was Clifford Brown who stepped forward to further progress a style created by Diz. Brown, revered for his playing and his non-toxic lifestyle, sadly perished in an auto accident in June 1956. Max Roach eventually replaced Brown in the quintet with Booker Little who succumbed to uraemia in 1961 at 23.

Shelly Manne sideman, Joe Gordon (35) perished in a house fire. One-time Horace Silver and Jazz Messengers’ employee Woody Shaw (45) fell under a subway train that severed his arm (he had extremely poor eyesight, perhaps due to his narcotics addition).

But it was to be “Sidewinder” hitmaker, ex-Jazz Messenger and Hard-Bop firebrand Lee Morgan who suffered the most public death, being repeatedly shot outside of New York’s jazz spot Slugs, on a Saturday night by a girlfriend who had originally helped him recover from severe drug problems. He was just 33.”
--Roy Carr, A Century of Jazz, (p.115)

Then, in reading Terry Eagleton's, After Theory, I came across this in the introduction:

“The golden age of cultural theory is long past. The pioneering work of Jacques Lacan, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Louis Althusser, Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault are several decades behind us. So are the path-breaking early writings of Raymond Williams, Luce Irigaray, Pierre Bourdieu, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Derrica, Hélene Cixous, Jurgen Habermas, Frederic Jameson and Edward Said. Not much that has been written since has matched the ambitiousness and originality of these founding mothers and fathers.. Some of them have since been struck down. Fate pushed Roland Barthes under a Parisian laundry van, and afflicted Michel Foucault with Aids. It dispatched Lacan, Williams and Bourdieu, and banished Louis Althusser to a psychiatric hospital for the murder of his wife. It seemed that God was not a structuralist.”
--Terry Eagleton, After Theory, (p.1)

So I guess my question is: As both a trumpet player and a PhD student in Critical Studies (and Experimental Practices) am I doubly cursed?!? Or do they maybe cancel each other out...? As if I don't have enough to worry about.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Oliva Serie V Torpedo

( I am working on my PhD...I thought I'd be blogging more about music, but instead, it's all about cigars...)

For my smoke this week, I had the very highly rated and regarded Oliva Serie V Torpedo.

My friend and composer, Brian Griffith-Loeb joined me and we had a nice hang here at Cafe Vita in La Jolla, CA watching the sun go down enjoying tobacco.

My expectations were high, read the "Fan Mail" section here at

First of all, the construction is exquisite, a very nicely made cigar.

It burned very evenly, had a great draw.

I must say, at the beginning (the first inch or so) it was pretty much just another good cigar, but then, the flavor became amazing. I'm used to cigars that change throughout the duration of the smoke...modulating through a series of taste variations. But this hit all of a sudden: coffee, bitter chocolate, cherry, a touch of oak and slight pepper. It tasted up there with the best cigars I've smoked, but then, it was gone, just back to how it started. A wild, sharp transition coming and going...the flavor kicked up for a moment towards the end, and then again, quickly departed.

An interesting smoke that I highly recommend...this cigar had some great moments.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rocky Patel Sun Grown Torpedo

(Makes my mug look small.)

Smoked last Thursday...The Rocky Patel Sun Grown Torpedo is a phenomenal cigar.

I've changed y mind about having a whisky or port while smoking cigars, now I go for tea...while smoking this I had a lovely organic Pai Mu Tan from my favorite folks at Strand Tea.

The RP Torpedo started out delicious, and remained consistent in its flavor throughout the smoke. A different, earthy taste of toasted grains and nuts were there from the beginning. I didn't get the spiciness other smokers have enjoyed with this cigar, but maybe it was because I had the incredibly spicy vegan chowmein from Sipz before enjoying the Rocky Patel.

This cigar was fantastic, will become one of the mainstays of my humidor.

On Friday's menu: Oliva Serie V Torpedo, from the McMullen Gift Pack.

Friday, April 04, 2008

San Cristobal Monumento

Cigar review number one from the group of of latest Nicaraguan cigars Keith sent my way.

The San Cristobal Monumento is made by one of my favorite cigar companies, Ashton.

Being a fan of Ashton (I had a VSG torpedo at Nat Sherman's the other day in New York), I was really looking forward to this. BTW, Nat Sherman moved since I was last there...! It is on the opposite corner where it used to be, on 42nd, a bit off Fifth. A real nice new location, but, they now charge twenty-five dollars to sit in their lounge. A bit of a ripoff, I think. But, you can still have a smoke in the shop, though.

At Nat Sherman's last week:

Anyway, the San Cristobal fantastic smoke. Strong, flavorful. The strength took me a little by surprise at first, but then the notes of chocolate, espresso, nuts...spices....a most delicious finish.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Truly Amazing Care Package...

Many of you are familiar with Keith McMullen, co-creator of the name pfMENTUM, co-founder of the original pfMENTUM newsletter and co-director of the Ventura New Music Concert Series/Festival from 1995 until its demise when I left for UCSD in Fall of 2007. Well, besides music, we have a few other interests in common. Today I received this package in the mail:

ah! Nice

At home in my humidor:

El Rico Habano Corona Suprema
Gurkha Castle Hall Churchill
Joya De Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Machitos (2)
Oliva Serie V Torpedo
Rocky Patel Connecticut Toro
Rocky Patel Decade Toro
Rocky Patel Sun Grown Torpedo
Rocky Patel The Edge Maduro Toro
San Cristobal Monumento
Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet Torpedo

A brilliant selection of exquisite a once a week smoker, these will last the quarter...awesome. Thanks, Keith, for a truly appreciated and wonderful gift!