Monday, September 14, 2015

Pheaturing Laszlo Gardony

Hey there, and welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? It's still Rosh Hashana, right? If so,  may you spend your Rosh Hashanah doing something you have to atone for on Yom Kippur.
Have you ever bought secondhand clothes and found a dollar in the pocket? This is like that times 1000. If you've avoided reading up on the ongoing refugee crisis, that's understandable. It's deeply depressing, and it's easy to feel helpless. But let this story be a heartwarming way for you to dip your toe into the chilly, chilly reality of what's going on. Angela Kerrigan and Jo Kenmuir are two 30 year old Scottish women who felt they had to do something after seeing horrific images of what refugees were going through on the news. They collected clothes and money from their neighbors in Kilmarnock and brought them to Calais to give to migrants arriving in the U.K. While sorting through the 42 bags of donated clothes, Kerrigan noticed a note fall out of the pocket of an old jacket.
She was so moved by what it said, she shared it on Twitter. The note read: "We are strangers. I don’t know who you are, but please stay strong. Politics have failed you, but people will save you. We all sleep under the same sky." Kerrigan's tweet has gone viral, as people all over the world are struck by the simple beauty of the anonymous author's sentiment. In four lines, he or she captured the essence of why it's so important to help in a moment like this. Kerrigan herself was brought to tears when she first read it. She told "The Independent," “It was a real show of human compassion and what was said was so true. I was very touched, and it makes everything worth it.” If you'd like to donate, "The Guardian" has put together a very helpful page of resources: Every little bit helps, even if it doesn't come with an elegantly-written message. Which is good, because you're not going to top this one.  A billboard was put up just for Kim Davis, which she'll probably ignore just like the law. This giant letter to Kim Davis might be the nicest thing said to Kim Davis by her opponents.

The billboard pictured above, which says if you can't read it, "DEAR KIM DAVIS, the fact that you can't sell your daughter for three goats and a cow means we've already REDEFINED MARRIAGE," was paid for by Planting Peace. It's a high-road response to blatant bigotry. It's definitely much kinder than what many people want to say to Kim Davis, which is mostly just a string of expletives ending with a frustrated sigh. If Kim Davis sees this billboard, she'll probably think it means she's being forced to issue marriage licenses to goats and cows. And we all know that goats and cows can't marry each other! There would be way too many guests at the wedding, and they'd all be on the goat's side and it would cause a lot of tension during the ceremony. Also, the travel for the cows would be so expensive, plus they still have to give a gift! Animal weddings aside, the message was clear and concise, even though I think the font could've been a little bigger. The organization released a statement along with the billboard posted in Kim's hometown.  A drunk guy treated a flight like a high school house party. He peed everywhere. This is worse than a stranger falling asleep on your shoulder mid-flight. The flight from Anchorage to Portland must have had very little turbulence, since one drunken man mistook it for a sky-bound party bus. According to police reports, Jeff Rubin started his one-man rave about half an hour before landing and "stood up and began urinating through the crack of the seat onto the passengers seated in front of him." The party on this flight was far from over, because then he stumbled backward and starting peeing upwards, and all over the passengers around him. Then he promptly went back to sleep, tuckered out from his seat-dampening festivities. Everyone must have been on sleeping pills on this flight, because it didn't even cause much of a disturbance. One passenger was Suzanna Caldwell, a reporter for Alaska Dispatch News, who said “everyone was actually pretty calm." When the police boarded upon landing to arrest The Flying Urinator, Suzanna said, “At one point the officer was like, ‘Who got peed on?’” so it looks everybody was real chill about the situation. Good luck with your public in-flight urination charges Jeff, you party animal.  Did you see the Miss America pageant? One of the shiny, walking statues at the Miss America pageant voiced a strong opinion about Donald Trump at the lady-judging contest last night. Meg McGuffin, Miss Alabama, was asked why she thought Trump was leading in the polls. This was her answer, “I think Donald Trump is an entertainer. I think he says what’s on a lot of people’s minds, but I think that the Republican party should be absolutely terrified of all the attention that he is taking from incredible candidates like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie who could absolutely do the job of president of the United States. And if I were a Republican, I would absolutely be terrified of that. Thank you.” Usually, we expect fluffy babble from the greased smiles of Miss America contestants, but this made a lot of sense. I don't want to choose a side... just kidding, I'm totally choosing a side... I completely agree that Trump is a fluffy-haired nightmare of a presidential candidate. Trump has yet to respond to Meg's speech with whether or not he finds her attractive enough to date, you know, like he does his own daughter.  I just now mentioned Kim Davis... well, I saw this picture and I thought... how freaking ironic. This should be a Mindphuck...

So, you know I love Star Wars, right? I even love Jar Jar Binks, and am so happy he's gonna be on the new movie. Don't believe me? Check this out, kids.

In the Patriots' game the other day, Bill Belichick was caught cheating again.

That's some mind reading device or something he's wearing I think. Haha.  The other day Apple announced some of its new products, and this is something that I thought was kinda weird.

How is that gonna fit in my pocket?  I don't know if you heard but here in Central Florida there's a king cobra that is missing. It was last seen here...

Haha. That was like a week ago. How stupid. Okay, moving on... Now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is another...

Top Phive Startling Similarities Between Stephen Colbert And Walter Palmer, The Lion-Killing Dentist
5. Seen as a rugged, outdoorsy tough guy.
4. Just the thought of him makes Jimmy Kimmel all weepy.
3. Keeps a cup of water next to his chair, in case his guest's mouth is full of spittle.
2. Offers competitively priced root canals.
And the number one startling similarity between Colbert and the dentist is...
1. Wouldn't mind taking out Jimmy Fallon with a crossbow.

Haha. This is an easy one. When you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, it's that tike again. Time to talk football with my good friend Jeff.

Me: Hey, Jeff, welcome back to the Phile. How are you?

Jeff: It's always great to be back on the Phile. I'm doing all right. Had a good weekend so can never complain there.

Me: That's good. Okay, let's talk football. First I have to mention Tebow... he was supposed to play for the Eagles, then they cut him. What happened? Are you surprised?

Jeff: I really am surprised by Tebow. I figured when the Eagles traded Matt Barkley to Arizona, that signified that it was Tebow time in Philly. Most teams carry 3 QBs, so he was looking like a lock for # 3. Then hours after the trade, they cut him. I think we have officially seen the end of Tebow in the NFL. From what I understand he was well liked in ESPN and will be welcomed back as an analyst. As far as what happened in Philadelphia, I don't know. I figured he was perfectly suited for the Chip Kelly offense.

Me: It's way off yet, but Super Bowl 50 is gonna be called Super Bowl L. L?! I don't get it. L is not a Roman numeral, or is it?

Jeff: Believe it or not yes, L is a roman numeral. It was either that or XXXXX. And that just sounds dirty. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But now that the season has started, we're not that far off.

Me: Alright, any other NFL news?

Jeff: The biggest news in the NFL so far is another rash of injuries. Cowboys WR Dez Bryant broke his foot and will miss a month or so of action. Panthers LB Luke Kuechly sustained a concussion. They are monitoring him. It's entirely too early to tell if he will play next week. And Ravens LB Terrell Suggs tore his ACL and will be out for the season. Jets CB Antonio Cromartie may also be out for the season with a similar injury as well.

Me: Okay, let's do the picks. How did we do, Jeff?

Jeff: Unfortunately for us, both the Steelers and the Giants lost. So neither of us got an extra point this week. I went 1-1. The opening week is always hard to predict. So I'm happy with that. If I'm happy, you my friend should be ecstatic. Why? How does a 2-0 week sound to you? Good job! So after week one, you lead 4-2 in points.

Me: YES!!! Ha!  Okay, this week I pick Chiefs by one and Cardinals by five. What do you say?

Jeff: My picks for the week will be Saints by seven points and Ravens by four points. See you next week. Good luck to you.

Me: Good luck to you as well. Talk to you soon.

I haven't done this in awhile... the 31st artist to be phratured in the Phile's art gallery is Ivan Lovatt and this is one of his pieces...

Ivan will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks. By the way, those guys are made out of wire.

Today's pheatured guest is is an American jazz pianist and composer born in Hungary who has released eleven albums and leads his own trio. His latest album "Life In Real Time" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Laszlo Gardony.

Me: Hello, sir, and welcome to the Phile. Or should I call you Professor? I never had a professor on the Phile before. Anyway, how are you?

Laszlo: I am well, thanks.

Me: You're a professor of piano at Berklee, is that right? How did you get that cool job?

Laszlo: First I was accepted as a student with full scholarship and made a name for myself at Berklee. A few years after graduation, when my first U.S. album was about to be released on Island Records' jazz label, I got a phone call to join the faculty.

Me: So you go to Berklee as a student?

Laszlo: Yes, by the time I got there, I also had a degree in teaching mathematics/physics, and another one from a music conservatory.

Me: Professor, I have to tell you I always loved that name Laszlo. You don't meet too many people with that name. Where are you from, sir?

Laszlo: I was born in Hungary. Laszlo was the name of a well-liked king a thousand years ago and became a very popular name.

Me: When did you first come to America then?

Laszlo: In 1983.

Me: I think you might be the first guest I ever had here from Hungary. Where in Hungary are you from? Do you go back there often?

Laszlo: I am from the capital, Budapest. Every 2 to 3 years I go back for a short visit. I usually tie it together with playing a concert or festival in Budapest.

Me: I am such an idiot, I don't know what language they even speak there. Hungarian, right? How do you say hello in Hungarian?

Laszlo: Yeah, Hungarian is a very unique, ancient language; does not belong to either the Slavic or the Latin language family. "Hello" works very well in Hungary. If you want to use a very special way to say it that only Hungarians would understand than you'd say: "szia" ( sounds almost like "see ya" in English).

Me: Okay, let's talk about your music. I think piano jazz is my favorite of all jazz music, sir, and anybody that does versions of Beatles songs is okay with me. I am guessing you are a Beatles fan, yes?

Laszlo: Absolutely, I am a big fan of the Beatles. I have always loved their positive effortless energy, beautiful compositions, vocals and arrangements.

Me: They have such a huge catalogue how did you chose the songs "Lady Madonna" and "Eleanor Rigby" for your album "Signature Time"?

Laszlo: It felt very authentic to take "Lady Madonna" back to its gospel roots; and, as it turns out, "Eleanor Rigby" works very well over my African-inspired bass line, giving it a different approach. Since I have been improvising all my life, I have always been paying attention to what emerges during hours and hours of improvising. Those are the seeds of my original compositions or arrangements. Naturally, the covers are always of songs that I love.

Me: How would you rate McCartney as a piano player?

Laszlo: Interesting question! Based on life performances I've seen of Paul McCartney I can say that he has a beautiful, musical touch on the instrument and a strongly projecting energy.

Me: The song I love from your new album "Life In Real Time" is "Bourbon Street Boogie." Bourbon Street is in New Orleans who is known for their jazz. Have you spent a lot of time there?

Laszlo: I played with a lot of musicians who came out of the New Orleans style such as the great alto sax player David Fathead Newman from Ray Charles' band. Personally I only visited New Orleans for short times.

Me: Ever been to Florida?

Laszlo: Yes, many times. I won first prize at Jacksonville Jazz Festival's piano competition in 1987. It was called the Great American Jazz Piano Competition then. I have also played jazz festivals in Fort Lauderdale and Cocoa Beach. I loved it there. Past December we were vacationing there with my family to escape from the snow storms here.

Me: One of the first jazz artists I ever heard in my life was Thelonious Monk, Professor, you covered some of his songs in the past. Did you ever meet him?

Laszlo: No, he passed away before I came to the States.

Me: I am a huge fan of Randy Newman, sir, and you remind me of him in a way. Are you a fan of his?

Laszlo: This is not the first time I have heard this. Actually when I was first told that I looked like him I didn't even know who he was. Naturally I checked him out then and I liked his music. My favorite is "Miami" on his "Trouble in Paradise" album.

Me: I love that album! I am guessing you started to play piano when you were just a kid. How old were you when you first started playing?

Laszlo: I don't remember ever not playing, so I must have been about three or so.

Me: Do you remember the first song you learned?

Laszlo: I learned simple pieces from Bartok's "Microcosmos" and I wrote a nice, short piece as a tribute to my grandmother when I was five.

Me: Do you compose your own music as well?

Laszlo: Yes, everything I've recorded on my albums ( I have released eleven) is original music. Mostly original compositions and partly original arrangements of jazz/rock/blues standards.

Me: I interviewed quite a few jazz artists on the Phile, and they either have trios or quartets or both it seems. What kinda band do you have, and what do you prefer?

Laszlo: I prefer performing in trio with bass and drums because of the intensity of connectedness that can be created on stage and in the studio. Certain compositions need a different sound though, so then I add more instruments to the band.

Me: I also downloaded some of your older work, sir, and I have to ask you about the song "The March of 1848." What is that song about?

Laszlo: It is a tribute to the 1848 revolutions that swept across Europe especially to the one that took place in Hungary in March of 1848, demanding political autonomy. (The title is a bit of a pun, referring to both the date and to the march to freedom.) I used the musical language of revolutionary songs and folk songs of the time to create a composition which opens up for improvisation like a jazz tune.

Me: You were in a band or still are called The Wayfaring Strangers who mix bluegrass with jazz. Brilliant. Whose idea was to do that? How about punk rock with jazz? I bet that has not been done. 

Laszlo: Punk is a fun suggestion, definitely hasn't been explored yet enough. The Strangers was my friend, violinist Matt Glaser's idea. I was called to join the band as a jazz player to contrast the blue grass players. I had a great time in the band which has since disbanded. We recorded two albums and played many major folk/bluegrass festivals, also played with the Utah and the Boston Symphony.

Me: Professor, you have been compared to Bill Evans, which must be a thrill to be compared with someone so famous and well known. What did you think of that comparison?

Laszlo: It is an honor. He was one of the first jazz musicians I started listening to as a kid. It is wonderful to know that my music is seen by some as a continuation of Bill Evans' great heritage. I was also pleased to see Evan Evans (Bill's son) signing up as a fan on my Facebook Musician page. I felt honored by that too.

Me: Professor, thanks so much for being on the Phile. It was really good to interview you, sir, and I hope you will come back again soon. Do you have a website you'd like to plug?

Laszlo: Thanks, I have enjoyed talking with you. My web site is Also, my musician page on Facebook is a good place get updates. Both have lots of music samples. We have direct links to my CD's at on-line music stores such as Amazon, iTunes and many others.

Me: Thanks again, and take care.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Jeff Trelewicz and Laszlo. The Phile will be back next Sunday with Zach Swain from the Orlando based band How Dare You. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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