Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Music Spotlight: Be-Bop

Following the popularity of the Big Band Era, mainstream jazz shifted in tone following World War II. By the 1950's, the culture changed back into smaller groups, mostly the four- and five-pieve varieties in a sound that became known as be-bop. At the front of the be-bop sound was Charlie Parker, an incredible tenor sax player who was as famous for his wild lifestyle as for his music. Parker lived hard, was a heavy drug user and a voracious eater. Yet, his saxophone playing ultimately became the standard that all jax saxophone would be judged by.

Also big on the scene were Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus and a young Miles Davis. Be-bop makes greater use of a hard sound, unlike the rounded tones of the big bands. Emphasis was placed on the solos and jazz muscians began to explore outside of the standard musical range. Overall, it was an extremely important time in the development of jazz and is still noticable in most jazz music today.

Of the following artists, the starred albums are some the most exceptional jazz records ever recorded. For a solid introduction into the be-bop (and jazz in general) these are the albums to check out:

Charlie Parker (MJ Parker)
The Yardbird Suite*
Bird and Diz

Dizzy Gillespie (MJ Gillespie)
Dizzy on the French Riviera

Miles Davis (MJ Davis)
Kind of Blue*
Cookin' with the Miles Davis Quintet
Birth of the Cool*

John Coltrane (MJ Coltrane)
A Love Supreme*
Blue Train

Sonny Rollins (MJ Rollins)
Saxophone Colossus*
Sonny Side Up

Charles Mingus (MJ Mingus)
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady*
Mingus Ah Um*

Thelonious Monk (MJ Monk)
Straight No Chaser*
Monk's Dream

Monday, April 28, 2008

Music Spotlight: Jazz vocals

Since it is still April, it remains Jazz Appreciation Month. And what better way to appreciate jazz music than to listen to it! Over the next couple of days, we will be posting some different jazz greats that might appeal to you. Today, we are going to look at some of the best jazz vocalist both past and present and the recommended albums for each:

Ella Fitzgerald (MJ Fitzgerald)
The Songbooks
The Complete Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong on Verve

Louis Armstrong (MJ Armstrong)
The Hot Fives and Sevens
Louis Armstrong Sings

Billie Holiday (MJ Holiday)
The Incomparable vol. 1-4
Lady Day: The best of Billie Holiday

Norah Jones (MJ Jones)
Come Away With Me

Diana Krall (MJ Krall)
The Look of Love
From This Moment On

Madeline Peyroux (MJ Peyroux)
Half the Perfect World
Careless Love

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Weekend Watch

In recognition of Jazz Appreciation Month (yeah, that's April), this week's Watch is going to turn its focus on...jazz.

For history buffs or real jazz/music aficionados, the place to start is Jazz, a 10-disc documentary by Ken Burns (he of the Civil War and Baseball epics). Burns sees jazz as one of the few truly American inventions and put forth painfully long hours to create this view of the art form. Starting in its early days springing from southern blues, Burns traces the evolution of jazz music through its various forms, from Ragtime and Big Band to be-bop and fusion. Along the way, he touches on a number of major figures in the jazz world, particularly Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Despite its length, Jazz is an extensive and fascinating look at jazz music and jazz musicians.

Clocking in at a comparatively brief hour in length, A Great Day in Harlem looks at a single day in the history of jazz. In August 1958, a photograph (picture above) was taken in Harlem that included some of the biggest names in jazz music at that time (and still today): Count Basie, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, and more. A Great Day in Harlem recalls how such a great collection of musicians were all called together and surviving artists from that day recall the experience in their own words. It is a nice look into how these musicians looked at each other and a great look at the stories they remember.

A Great Day in Harlem won an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1994.

Jazz can be found with the non-fiction DVDs:
781.65 Jazz

A Great Day in Harlem can be found with the non-fiction DVDs:
781.6505 Great

Coming in May: The Golden Compass

Next month, we will be screening The Golden Compass in the Balkansky Room.

Based on the classic first novel by Phillip Pullman in the His Dark Materials trilogy, The Golden Compass follows the story of Lyra, a young girl who is drawn into a struggle against the the evil Magisterium due to her holding the last golden compass. As the package describes it: In a parallel universe where witches rule the skies and armoured bears are the bravest warriors, young Lyra Belacqua journeys from her home among the scholars at Oxford to the far North to save her best friend.

Those familiar with the Pullman series will enjoy how true the film is to the source material. However, you don't need to have read to books to know what is going on.

The Golden Compass is rated PG-13, so keep that in mind if you plan on attending.

We'll dim the lights and roll film at 5 p.m. on May 19. There will be plenty of popcorn and soda on hand. It is a YA event, but all are invited to attend.

And if you are looking to read the books, all three titles (The Golden Compass, The Amber Spyglass, and The Subtle Knife) are all located in YA fiction:
YA Pullman

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good Reads: Brave Story

Title: Brave Story
Author: Miyuki Miyabe

Wataru's life is changing. His parents are going through a divorce - his father has abandoned the family and his mother is recovering from a suicide attempt. Through all of this uncertainty, he finds himself having to navigate not only his world but also a magical realm called Vision, which closely resembles the real world. As he becomes more involved in Vision, Wataru finds his real-life issues coming back to haunt him. He must confront his own moral dilemmas while facing down demons.

Brave Story is no small undertaking. At more than 800 pages in length, it will take some time, but you've probably already done all Harry Potters multiple times, so that shouldn't be a major concern. As for the pacing, it moves fast, especially once Wataru lands in Vision. It is a page-turner much like the aforementioned English wizard series, and is one you will want to read soon.

Brave Story is located in YA fiction:

YA Miyabe

Good Reads: Traitor

Title: Traitor
Author: Gudrun Pausewag

Growing up in Germany under the Nazi regime, Anna is confronted with a dangerous choice when she finds a wounded Russian soldier in a barn in her village. If she follows the laws of the land, she should turn in in, ensuring that he will be killed. If she helps him hide, she will become a traitor to her country.

Traitor is a fascinating look at the reality of growing up in Nazi Germany. Not every person in her village is fully behind Hitler's plan. Through Anna, we can see the conflict that arose during that period, especially in her family, where her older brother is fighting on the War's front lines and her younger brother is full indoctrinated into the Hitler Youth. While not the usual happy ending that we are used to, Traitor is a gripping look at a dangerous time in history.

Traitor is located in YA fiction:
YA Pausewang

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tennis, Anyone?

There has been some debate over using Wii Sports Tennis instead of Golf as part of the Wii Tournament. If you have a preference, go ahead and vote in the poll to the right. We will change over to tennis if enough people want it.

Wii tournament dates are set!

The dates for the Battle of the Boxes Wii tournament at the Manitowoc Public Library are set. Each date will run from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the Balkansky Room:

Saturday, May 3
Friday, June 13
Friday, July11
Friday, August 8
Saturday, September 6
Saturday, October 11

The November finale has not set yet, so we will play things by ear and see if we can squeeze in one more date. We will try to squeeze in as many of the five games as we can in each four-hour event.

Just a reminder: the tournament is open to everyone in Grade 6 and up and you need to bring your library card with you when you sign-in to take part!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Music Spotlight: Grant-Lee Phillips

Artist: Grant-Lee Phillips
Title: Strangelet

That Grant-Lee Phillips has never caught on as a major mainstream artist in the music industry is surprising. His ability to create songs that run the gamut of topics and tempos is amazing, as is the way he can create arrangements both sparse and elaborate. Originally a member of Grant Lee Buffalo, Phillips found moderate success with that band's alternative radio hits Mockingbirds and Truly, Truly. After the group split up, he hit the solo music scene and found himself with a recurring bit role on Gilmore Girls as the town troubadour.

Strangelet is his latest offering, showcasing his vocals and songwriting, but with slightly more edge than his previous offerings. Here, Phillips puts forth more into the production and, with some exceptions, departs from his stripped down past. The best examples of this change are "Same Blue Devils" and "Chain Lightning." Like most of his songs, these two rely on a strong guitar presence, but flush out the emotion with a string quartet or an 8-string ukelele. Meanwhile, "Hidden Hand" and Johnny Guitar" rely more on a heavy guitar sound to success. Not foregoing his simpler side, Phillips seems to shine best on the simple and pretty "Fountain of Youth," which strips things down to vocal, banjo and accoustic guitar.

Overall, Strangelet is another outstanding offering from Grant-Lee Phillips. It should make for a nice change of pace from what is on the airwave now.

Strangelet is located in the rock music cd's: MR Phillips

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Weekend Watch

While many Americans are aware of David Beckham, in England, he is beyond superstar status. Of course, soccer in gerenal is just a much bigger deal there. You can get an idea of that with this week's selection: Bend It Like Beckham, which stars Parminder Nagra (now on ER) and Kiera Knightly.

Nagra plays Jess, an English teen who is a terrific soccer player. So good, in fact, that she could play professionally. Unfortunately, what she wants doesn't match the life her parents have in mind for her. Namely, they want her to stop playing, meet a nice boy and learn to cook East Indian cuisine. Things only get more complicated as Jess's family is busy planning her sister Pinky's wedding and Jess is busy keeping her soccer playing a secret. Things come to a head when the pro scouts arrive to watch Jess play, but it happens to be the same day as Pinky's wedding...

While the storyline is nothing fancy, Bend It Like Beckham is a funny and entertaining film that is definitely worth a look.

Bend It Like Beckham is rated PG-13 and is located in with Fiction DVDs: B (Humor)

More Everest Experiences

In the same vein as one of our Battle Books, Peak, here are a couple other things to check out for a more in-depth look at the fascination people have with climbing to the summit of Mt. Everest.

In 1996, a storm struck high on the mountain while a few expeditions were making their summit push. On the summit that day was a journalist named Jon Krakauer who was there reporting on the commercialization of Everest climbing. In his book Into Thin Air, he Krakauer gives a first-hand account of the people who made the summit push with him on that day and chain of events that lead to the tragic deaths of eight climbers during the deadliest season in Everest history. The language can get a little rough, but there is little in the way of gory details - freezing to death is not a graphic way to go.

At the same time that Krakauer's team was climbing to the top, there was an IMAX film crew on the mountain also preparing for the summit. After reading about the mountain, Everest allows you to see it in outstanding detail. Follow an international climbing team from base camp to the top of the world and experience the phyiscal trials and emotional strain that goes along with scaling Mt. Everest.

Into Thin Air is located in Adult non-fiction:
796.522 Krakauer

Everest is located in non-fiction DVDs:
796.522 Everest

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wii Game Night on Monday

Just a reminder that the next program on the docket is Wii Game Night on Monday, April 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. There is no connection to the Wii tournament - instead we will just have the system set up and you are free to choose the games you want to play.

Snacks and sodas will be provided.

See YA there!

Good Reads: Peak

Title: Peak
Author: Roland Smith

Peak is one of the books for this year's Battle of the Books

Living in New York City, there aren't many mountains for 14-year-old Peak Marcello to climb, so instead, he settles for skyscrapers. At least, until he is arrested and facing three years in a juvenile detention facility. Suddenly, his father arrives to bail him out, despite being more interested in mountain climbing than in his son. Peak is swept off to Asia and the base of Mt. Everest where he will get a chance to scale the world's highest mountain. Peak is clearly excited about the chance to climb to the summit, but why is his father suddenly so interested in him?

Peak is an adventure book that keeps the action moving all the way to the final pages. From the first moemnts hanging from a skyscrapper to his push to Everest's summit, Peak is a well-developed character that is easy to root for.

Peak is located in YA fiction:
YA Smith

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sign up for e-mail updates and program reminders

Are you looking for updates and reminders on YA events? Sign up for our e-mail reminders and we will let you know when programs are happening, what's going on, and let you know as soon as new programs are determined.

To sign up, e-mail me at rwaterbury@mcls.lib.wi.us or sign-up at the Reference Desk. It is a great way to keep up to date on what's going on at MPL!

Writing what you know about the wizarding world could land you in London

A late heads-up on a Harry Potter contest that might interest you creative types. Just click the hyperlink for more details:

Amazon.com is hosting a Harry Potter-themed contest where you need to answer one of three questions for your chance to travel to London and read J.K. Rowling's hand-written book, The Tales of Beetle the Bard. Only 7 copies of the book exist! The contest is open to everyone age 13 and up. Submissions are due by April 22nd, so don't wait too long on this one.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Weekend Watch

After a one-week break, the Weekend Watch is back with a look at another short-lived Fox TV series - Firefly.

Headed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel creator Joss Whedon, Firefly didn't manage an entire season before getting the axe by Fox executives. Nevertheless, the show was good enough to draw a vocal audience that opposed the cancellation.

Originally billed as a western set in space, Firefly is really a science-fiction drama that is not short on quick one-liners and dry humor. Following the crew of Serenity captain Malcolm Reynolds, we watch them sturggle for survival in a universe that is ever expanding. They take any job they can to get by, but not without the moral dilema of right and wrong coming into play. Things get even more difficult with the addition of a stowaway who holds deadly secrets.

Part of Firefly's initial failure was due to Fox airing the episodes out of order. If there was any question that the show deserved a second chance, the release of the movie Serenity should leave no doubt that the fan base could have sustained it. Following the exploits of the show's 14 episodes, Serenity ties up plotlines and throws more than a few surprises at you before its conclusion.

Both Firefly and Serenity are located in the fiction DVD section:

Firefly - F (science fiction)

Serenity - S (science fiction)

Get Ready to Rumble!

The books have been selected, the date has been set - now all we need are readers who are ready to do battle!

The 2008 Battle of the Books is set for September 3rd this year - a month and a half earlier than in years past. We will again be meeting up at Silver Lake College and be testing your knowledge of a selection of the following books:

Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
Peak by Roland Smith
Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Re-Gifters by Mike Carey
Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet

We moved up the date so it won't conflict with school, plus these books will count double toward your Summer Library Program hours! To sign-up for the Manitowoc team, stop by the reference desk, or e-mail me at rwaterbury@mcls.ib.wi.us.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Rockin' out with the Wii

The Battle of the Boxes tournament got underway this past Saturday with a sampling of all the games put up on the big screen. The next tournament date is May 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Balkansky Room. Hope to see YA there!