Sunday on the Silver Comet Trail

End of a Ride-1 I was on the Silver Comet Trail, this afternoon, enjoying a bicycle ride on a beautiful Sunday afternoon when I had a flash of insight.

I have hit the age where I am no longer pushing the limits. No more personal bets, in either speed or distance. My rides are no longer analogous to the thrills of yacht racing. I have moved on to sailing and bailing. I’m out there, on a regular basis, but it is more a process of trying to keep from sinking (into old age) than it is racing against myself or others.

And you know what? I’m okay with that. It’s fun. It feels good, and I don’t have to deal with the fitful sleep of an aching body. At least, not so much.

If you are in the metro-Atlanta area and don’t know about the Silver Comet Trail, you owe it to yourself and your family to check it out. Built in the old roadbed of the famous Silver Comet passenger train, it runs from Smyrna (just northwest of downtown Atlanta) to the Alabama state line. You can ride a little over 60 miles, one-way, with hardly any major street crossings to bother you. And, unlike riding on the streets, there is no competition with automobiles. NO motorized vehicles are allowed. You share the trail only with walkers, runners, cyclists and skaters.

The beauty of the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia

The beauty of the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia

Here is a link to the Path Foundation’s excellent map and trail information:

Columbia Introduces First LP Record

On June 21, 1948, Columbia Records introduced the first LP, or “long playing” record.

At the time the LP was introduced, nearly all phonograph records for home use were made of an abrasive (and therefore noisy) shellac compound, employed a much larger groove, and played at approximately 78 rpm, limiting the playing time of a 12-inch record to less than five minutes per side.

33 1/3 RPM Long-playing record

33 1/3 RPM Long-playing Record

The new product was a 12 or 10-inch fine-grooved disc made of vinyl and played with a smaller-tipped “microgroove” stylus at a speed of 33⅓ rpm. Each side of a 12-inch LP could play for more than 20 minutes. Only the microgroove standard was truly new, as both vinyl and the 33⅓ rpm speed had been used for special purposes for many years, as well as in one unsuccessful earlier attempt to introduce a long-playing record for home use. Although the LP was especially suited to classical music because of its extended continuous playing time, it also allowed a collection of ten or more typical “pop” music recordings to be put on a single disc.

Previously, such collections, as well as longer classical music broken up into several parts, had been sold as sets of 78 rpm records in a specially imprinted “record album” consisting of individual record sleeves bound together in book form. The use of the word “album” persisted for the one-disc LP equivalent.

Esperanza Spalding Feature in Newsweek

Esperanza Spalding! I have made my admiration for this beautiful, talented lady a recurrent theme here on thejazzmonger blog. Now, I am pleased to report that she is the subject of an excellent article in Newsweek and it’s affiliate The Daily Beast.

Abigail Pesta’s piece begins, as most Spalding features do, with the singular nature of her talent and intelligence:

 As a 5-year-old, she began playing in a community band; by the time she was 15, she was the concertmaster for an Oregon youth orchestra, with a scholarship to a private arts high school. At 20, she graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Pesta doesn’t mention it, but Spalding was, by age 19, not only a student at Berklee but also on the faculty.

Esperanza Spalding at Oscars

Jazz Talent Esperanza Spalding

The hard-working credential is well-earned, many times over. Beginning in childhood, she learned to play the piano, clarinet and oboe before discovering the stand-up bass in high school. When asked why she now plays bass, almost exclusively, Esperanza says that the instrument “just resonates” with her.

Pesta goes on to highlight the difficult circumstances in which Spalding lived as a child. She grew up in the King neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. Esperanza has described it as “a ghetto” and “pretty scary.” She and her brother were raised by her mother as a single parent. And yet, Pesta tells us:

She downplays her gritty childhood. Growing up poor isn’t a “special” story, she says, but an American one. “Where I’m from is a really mild example. I mean, I’m sure my whole life we were under the poverty line, you know, but I still felt rich. I had a rich upbringing, rich in the sense of a lot of love, a lot of education, nature, music and art, and laughing.” She adds, “It’s not just about the income you make.”

Listen to that last part again, if you will indulge me, because it is the point of today’s visit to the keyboard:

“I had a rich upbringing, rich in the sense of a lot of love, a lot of education, nature, music and art, and laughing.” She adds, “It’s not just about the income you make.”

Esperanza Spalding


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