“Listen – Louis Armstrong with Leon Thomas – The Creator Has a Master Plan – MP3″
When we last spoke, I hinted that there were some major changes in the offing.
Indeed there are.
I haven’t ever gone into detail on this subject before, so bear with me. Here at the Funky16Corners compound, there’s me (the big Corner), my wife (the pretty one) and two little Corners of the future. Both of my sons, in addition to being wonderful, loving, smart and funny, have what are euphemistically known as “special needs”.
My oldest has a diagnosis on the Autism spectrum, and my youngest has developmental delays. Though they are both “high functioning”, both of them have had difficulties in commercial daycare. As a result, my wife and I put our heads together, and we decided that for the well being of all concerned, I would take family leave so that I could stay home with the kids.
I’ve gone into some detail in this space before about how the industry I work in has been in a precipitous decline for the last year or so, with huge layoffs at our location (I work at a newspaper that’s part of a huge national chain). The forecast for the industry as a whole is grim, and in an odd bit of coincidence, last week (after I’d already set up my family leave) they announced a furlough, in which all employees would be forced to take a week off without pay in the first quarter.
I’ve worked at this paper for 24 years, and changed positions a number of times. Like a dot on a graph, for roughly 80% of that time the changes were all positive/upwardly mobile, having to do with the increasingly sophisticated technology of the operation. Unfortunately, the last few years have seen the line on the graph plummet as I was downsized out of one position (in IT) into one I was grossly overqualified for. I managed to work my way out of that into something much better, but by the time I was up and running in my current position, the folks at corporate were already running wild, cutting the heart out of the business.
As a result, when we “did the math” (since my wife is securely employed) we decided that at least until the boys were both in school full time (a few years out), I would be recast in the role of stay-at-home Dad.
The odd thing is, despite my long history on the job, I couldn’t be happier about this. I get to spend more time with my sons, and more importantly provide them with a much better environment than they’d get at a day care center (and believe me, we have had enough experience in that department to know that). Though I’ve always enjoyed work more when it presented an intellectual challenge, I’ve never (EVER) depended on work for satisfaction or growth in that regard.
Work has never been my life, but rather something I’ve done so that I can live my life outside of work.
So, as of Monday January 19th 2009, I begin a new chapter in my life.
Things here at the blog should pretty much remain the same. I suspect that new austerity measures will stem the tide of new vinyl in the Funky16Corners crates, but as I’ve related here countless times, I have more than enough on hand to last a good, long time.
Though I can’t say for sure, I suspect that any stress that has manifested itself in the blog(s) is likely to ebb, and that is – of course – a positive development.
And, if you’re a representative of a major media organization who’s been looking to hire a blogger. Now’s the time!
In celebration of this new era, I bring you a truly unusual selection with a vibe that I think sets the tone for this great leap forward.
If the title ‘Creator Has a Master Plan (Peace)’ sounds familiar, it may be via the original, classic version by Pharoah Sanders (also featuring the vocals of Leon Thomas) from his 1969 ‘Karma’ LP , though that version lasted more than 30 minutes and included a huge helping of free/out sound exploration.
The version I bring you today is a very unusual artifact from the twilight years of the mighty Louis Armstrong. I have to admit that I was ignorant of the existence of the ‘Louis Armstrong and His Friends’ LP until it came up in conversation over at Soulstrut a few years back. Late in the Spring of 1970, Bob Thiele (of the Impulse and Flying Dutchman labels) brought Armstrong and an all star group (led by arranger Oliver Nelson)into the studio. The resulting session can charitably be described as wavering back and forth between bizarre and banal. Armstrong works his way through a couple of old-school numbers, and a few very strange attempts at current material like ‘Give Peace a Chance’ and ‘Everybody’s Talkin’, but there’s also one completely unexpected gem. That gem is – not coincidentally – Satchmo’s version of ‘The Creator Has a Master Plan’.
Thomas and Armstrong split the vocals here, with the first verse provided by the former, and the chorus by the latter, before Leon falls by with the spiritual yodeling and then what you end up with is an odd, and oddly appealing, one time only, intersection of easy listening, avant garde spiritual jazz, flower power and that essence of starshine that Satchmo carried with him from the streets of New Orleans, all over the world and back again to the studio on Wednesday May 27, 1970 where the old, the new and the in-between all sat down and meshed for a few unlikely minutes.
While there’s none of the earthy, tenor explosions of Sanders, this version does touch on the original in places. Thiele was the producer on both sessions, and in addition to Thomas, the great James Spaulding plays flute on both versions.
The temptation – once you’ve heard both versions – is to see a huge divide between the two, but I’d suggest that you step back a bit, take it all in, and you might just start to realize how much there is connecting the two.
That said, dig the tune, wish me luck on my new endeavor, and I’ll be back on Wednesday with a new edition of Funky16Corners Radio.