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I’ve been a Galactic fan for years, but just recently realized one of their main driving forces is drummer, Stanton Moore. He is one of the funkiest drummers I have ever heard and his timing and style are straight out of New Orleans. After just a few measures, you can really hear his influences, and while there are many funky drummers, something about his playing has me hooked. Be sure to check out his first album as a leader, All Kooked Out!, for some classic, New Orlean’s funk.

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One Step Forward

It’s been an interesting ride since my last post about my daughter’s school punishing the kids who opted out of the (optional) standardized test. I thought maybe 10 people would read it, but I guess it struck a chord, because it’s gotten a little over 900 views since I posted it four nights ago. The support has been overwhelming and the handful of trolls talking trash along the way have kept things in perspective. I appreciate the majority of people who took the time to read the post and respond thoughtfully—whether they agreed or not—either in the comments, on Facebook, or through Twitter.¬†Especially given this response, it seems important to catch everyone up on what’s happened since.

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Singled Out

My daughter was excluded at school today. Not from some game on the playground or for misbehaving in class, but because we opted her out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test. All the kids who took the test over the last couple weeks had an ice cream party, but my daughter—and other kids who opted out of the test—were asked to leave the class while the party took place. In fact, it was covered up. She was sent to another class to share a story, and she didn’t know what was happening until she returned to her normal class. When she entered the room, the other kids were whispering, “Shhhh, don’t tell her!”

Where do I begin?

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Two Heads Are Better Than One

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A Poem for My Son

You certainly are not a poem that rhymes,
yet, my son, you are poetry in motion.
Your regal stroll and stately stare
have certainly won my life-long devotion.

As a young lad you were adorable and dangerous,
irresistible, unstable, unpredictable, but sweet.
We would spend hours chasing and pouncing,
or napping just blocks from the sea, you at my feet.

But time extends as it always does,
your spots and stripes grew more gray,
I, of course, married and had kids,
which you tolerated with just the slightest dismay.

We do a lot less chasing and pouncing now,
and we rarely, together, enjoy a nap.
Our life is just a different crazy,
yet you still spend a little time in my lap.

Fourteen years is a lifetime and nothing at all,
fourteen years a proud father to a son.
You’ve been the most magnificent, unapologetic companion,
to which none can compare, not one.

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Where to begin with this one? I discovered this through an article on Herbie Hancock’s influence on early hip-hop. It’s taken from a 1983 performance at the Grammys where he was recognized for his breakout hit, “Rockit.”

He’s definitely one of my all-time favorite jazz pianists, but admittedly, he gets a little out there (and not in a good, free-jazz sort of way). Many fans love his early forays into funk and of course his seminal album, Head Hunters, but this is a whole other level. The music here has to be appreciated, but in addition, there’s so much going on in this video culturally, it could probably be the basis for a whole thesis in several subject areas. I would love to know what you think.

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Crying in the Dark (Sometimes It’s Like That)

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I’ve missed a couple of my #photowednesdays and #musicthursdays posts lately due to life. Oral surgery, fumigation, work trip, sleepover—and that’s just what went down last week. But when I was on the road for my work trip on Monday, this ray of light came on through a playlist I had synced to my phone. Many are now familiar with Robert Glasper from his Black Radio album, but his earlier, more straight-ahead stuff was pure joy to my ears. I hope it lifts you up as much as it did for me in a moment when I really needed it.

The Brandenburg Concertos by J.S. Bach are among the most famous pieces of music, ever. As a trumpet player, No. 2 is up there as one of the most revered and feared pieces in the repertoire. I have never played it (nor could have, even in my heyday) and there are many great trumpet players who just don’t even attempt it. What’s interesting about this recording is that the players are playing on period instruments, so that’s why some of them may sound different, and certainly look different, from the instruments you may be more familiar with. In particular, notice the trumpet—no valves! This means all the trills are mostly done using the lips alone, and many of the note changes are made similarly to a woodwind, where you cover holes. I think this is an excellent interpretation by the Freiburger Barockorchester (Baroque Orchestra) of a truly monumental piece. Enjoy.