Quite a year so far--civility, always in short supply, seems to be heading for extinction. Politics and politicians are polarized (am I that much of an idealist to think there was a time and a cause where conservatives and liberals actually worked to better our country, state or town?) How odd it must seem to people in other countries to see or hear how many of the folks with the best health insurance policies are fighting to keep those without or with marginal health care from obtaining better coverage. How sad to watch a President elected on the platform of hope" and change" deciding to extend the war in Afghanistan at a time when our national economy is floundering (listen or watch this episode of Bill Moyers' Journal to hear how President Lyndon Johnson struggled with the Vietnam issue - it's frighteningly relevant to what's happening today.
Into this whirl of thoughts comes the music of Maria Schneider and her Orchestra. On this week's edition of WBGO-FM's The Checkout, host Josh Jackson has a revealing interview (hear it here) with the composer as she readies herself, her music and her musicians for this week's residency at New York City's Jazz Standard (Tues - Sunday 11/24-29, save Thanksgiving.) Ms. Schneider's music straddles boundaries, is incredibly emotional and visual, and certain pieces have the ability raise my spirits in times of desperation and/or sorrow. I imagine people who really love music have certain songs, symphonies, bands that do the same for them (JS Bach's solo cello Suites is another one that helps ease tensions.)
Hopefully, this day of Thanksgiving finds you among family and friends. Take time to remember those who work on this day - doctors, nurses, police and firefighters - to keep us safe. Say a prayer for every member of our Armed Forces, no matter where in the world they are, a prayer that thanks them for their dedication to the ideals of our country and asks for their safe return home.
If you have the time, enjoy this video of Maria Schneider and the Orchestra: