Sunday, July 29, 2007

THIS & THAT: First Jazz in Space

By LESLIE WESTBROOK

If you’ve ever heard traditional jazz around town, chances are more than likely it has been courtesy of Ulysses S. Jasz (no, that’s not a typo, but the historical spelling of jasz which evolved from jass to jasz to jazz), lead by banjo player Frank Franks (the pseudonym for artist/musician/Scotsman Alex Marshall). It turns out the band has one far-out fan: Russian cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov, who is based at the International Space Center in Florida. A fella who runs a space memorabilia business in Los Angeles brought Sharipov up to Santa Barbara a couple of times to hear the band play at The James Joyce. The cosmonaut loved the music, and the rest, as they say, is history. Now the band’s two CDs, “Two Late for Valentine” and “Happy Feet” could be receiving the ultimate air-play.
The CDs feature Bill Dods (piano, trombone and sometimes both at the same time), Dick Miller (cornet), Dean Dods (on bass) and trusty leader Frank Franks (banjo).

The first time Sharipov soared in space was for eight days, making 138 orbits in the MIR Shuttle; in 2004, he took a six-month trip in the Soyuz Expedition. The cosmonaut is currently training for another half-year in space that will launch in October 2008. Better American jazz than Russian Vodka in space, no? By the way, a few current band members are leaving, so if there’s a cornet player in the house looking for a gig, you might want to track down Frank Franks at the James Joyce on a Tuesday afternoon or Saturday night. Nostrovia!

Domestic and Wild
I enjoyed strolling through the 7th SCAPE Art Show, “Domestic and Wild”, both in and outside the downtown library on Sunday afternoon. The exhibition consisted mainly of landscape paintings, all on sale to benefit PARC Foundations Douglas Family Preserve Maintenance Fund. Some 22 original works of art had sold by 2 p.m. and in addition to artists whose work is familiar to me, such as Meredith Abbotts’ and Arturo Tello’s oils and Bill Dewey’s evocative photos, I enjoyed the work of Jane Frederick (her work had a slightly surreal quality), Donald Crocker and Patricia Doyle. Another artist, Margaret Nadeau, offered me a warm welcome and with bluegrass music in the background, courtesy of Glendessary Jam, the weekend show for a good cause was a lovely distraction.

Order in the Court, continued
Popped by Honorable Judge George C. Eskin’s civilized courtroom last week to meet hizzoner’s cherished bailiff, Deputy Sheriff Thomas Green, who has been promoted. Green has been named the new Community Resource Deputy for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Coastal Bureau in Carpinteria that includes Carpinteria, Summerland and Montecito. Judge Eskin’s loss will be the community-at-larges gain.
Congratulations to Deputy Green, who has been on the beat for three years, but honed his pleasant people skills at a former position dealing with customer relations at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. I was very impressed by the Judge’s kind demeanor and his ability to explain the rules simply and clearly to those appearing in court for traffic infractions and landlord disputes the morning I visited.
If you have to appear in front of a judge — hopefully to get married or as a jury member—you’d be lucky, to be under Judge Eskin’s rulings. A warm welcome to Eskin’s new bailiff, Sgt. Van Wrinkle. I assume he’s not related to Rip Van Wrinkle, who slept for twenty years, although, as I’ve learned, sitting through some long courtroom proceedings can feel like two decades.

Order in the Courtyard!
Elements Restaurant & Catering kicked off year two of their Old Spanish Days Winetasting in the Sunken Gardens of the Courthouse on Saturday afternoon from 4-7 p.m. Last year, a smallish crowd gathered, but the word must of got out: by mid week they had sold more than 350 tickets to the gathering and guesstimates put the “young and restless” crowd at somewhere between 500-600 wine tasters.
Over 30 local wineries, including Alban, Alma Rosa, Babcock, Beckman, Brander, Consilience, Fiddlehead, Ken Brown, Longoria, Ojai, Whitcraft and Zaca Mesa, among others, poured tastings. With each winery offering anywhere from two to five wines, I figure you would have to had tasted close to 100 wines to sip ‘em all. This is a great way to enjoy a favorite syrah or chard as well as make new discoveries before making an investment in a good bottle of wine. My favorite discovery was a big surprise to me (and could be to you as well) a Ken Brown Vin Gris 2006 ($18), a rose made from pinot noir that was dry, pretty and, seemingly, a perfect summer wine.
The event, co-sponsored by Destination Wine Country Magazine, a great pub under the creative guise of editor Hillary Dole Klein, promises to keep on growing. Many patrons felt that the event should be spread out wider in the lovely sunken gardens, as it was difficult to get to the food and wine in the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd under the big tent, and one attendee noted that she had a difficult time discussing wines with the winemakers due to the volume of the band. So turn it down and spread it out next year…or just keep us old fuddy duddies away!

Surfrider Show Closing
You’ve been to an art opening, right? But have you ever been to an art closing? What a clever idea. Sort of a last chance to buy a piece of work before a show comes down. That’s what East/West Gallery did on Saturday evening from 7-10 p.m. for the Surfrider Foundation’s benefit. Unfortunately, they did not get a big crowd in the early part of the evening, but maybe it will catch on like the Sunken Garden wine tasting event has. In the meantime, Viva La Fiesta!

1 comment:

Rosa'sNutWreath said...

Sweet!
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