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Musical Space: Public Library Sign-Up Month


September is Public Library Sign-Up Month. Seeing as how I hadn’t yet visited the brand-new Advanced Learning Library, I knew exactly what I had to do. Here’s my review of the place from a musical perspective.

Walking in, the architecture is spacious: you aren’t confronted by desks and counters. The stacks are the first thing you see - stacks of CDs, actually. I could have started at the computer terminals, but instead I just started browsing for immediate gratification. I’m a sucker for boxed sets, so I went straight to the oversize CD section, and my eyes fell on the 40th Anniversary Collection from Alligator Records, an independent blues label I’ve always wanted to check out. Just a few feet away was a new disc of Brahms Piano Trio #1 in B Major, with its tearjerker opening theme. Then the bass player in me steered my attention to Thundercat’s album Drunk.

(Music: Thundercat, “Uh Uh,” Drunk, (2017)

Thundercat is part of the LA beat scene: Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Lamar, etc.)

Lots of their DVDs are devoted to music. Within minutes I had a bunch of things that I’d been meaning to watch for years: the jazz documentary “A Great Day in Harlem,” Dave Grohl’s movie about a particular studio mixing board called “Sound City,” and the PBS compilation “Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years.” Upstairs is an entire aisle of books about music, too. I quickly settled on David Byrne’s “How Music Works.” And leaving was simple. The self-checkout stations are easier than the grocery line.

So what’s not to like? Sure, there are lots of places that would stream all of this to my computer, but in the end this was just as easy and, well, I don’t like paying for stuff.


Listening list:

Mavis Staples, “Step Into The Light,” Have A Little Faith, (2004),

As collected on “Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Collection (2011)


Johannes Brahms, Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major, Op. 8, first movement: “Adagio,” Brahms: The Piano Trios, Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos, Yo-Yo Ma, (2017)

Written in 1854 when he was 20 years old


Thelonious Monk, “Ruby, My Dear,” The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqFXisPx1EQ

This version features Coleman Hawkins, both appear in the famous photo which is the subject of the documentary A Great Day in Harlem.


Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “Refugee,” Damn the Torpedos, (1979)

This song was recorded on the legendary Neve console at Sound City. He later recorded w/ Stevie Nicks, who also first recorded with Buckingham/Nicks there.


Gary Clark Jr. “Bright Lights,” Bright Lights EP, (2010).

This song has been synched to all kinds of movies, TV shows and commercials. I got turned onto this song watching the Austin City Limits 40th Anniversary special.

David Byrne, “Dialog Box, Grown Backwards (2004)

In his book “How Music Works” Byrne breaks down the business side of the album. I like the song because the rhythm is bomping.

Mark Foley is principal double bass of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and professor of double bass and head of Jazz Studies at Wichita State University.