The Wine Cyclist


A Night of Jazz in Seattle

by on Sep.19, 2009, under Music

I must say, it was an excellent evening and a perfect way to wrap up my stay here in Seattle. Tonight I moseyed with some friends over to Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley for a delicious dinner and a jazz-filled evening. On the stage tonight was the McCoy Tyner Trio.

I had a hard time finding a video of just the trio by itself, but this video of the McCoy Tyner Trio appearing with Bill Frisell on guitar and Gary Bartz on alto saxophone is pretty good. At about the 2:50 mark you get almost two minutes of only the trio, so you can get a nice feel as to how well McCoy Tyner plays with Gerald Cannon on bass and Eric Kamau Gravatt on drums without anything else going on (not that I mean to dismiss the excellent performances of Bill Frisell and Gary Bartz in this piece).

McCoy Tyner is an incredible jazz pianist with an amazing career spanning over fifty years. He performed for several years around his home town of Philadelphia until John Coltrane broke away from Miles Davis’ group to form his own quartet in 1960, asking Tyner to join the new group. Since his time with the Coltrane quartet, Tyner has blazed an impressive career of performing with many of the top names in jazz, and his own name has duly earned its place at the top of the list as well.

The trio was in fine form tonight. So impressed were we that we stuck around for the second performance. It was well worth it. The dinner was excellent. The atmosphere was just right. The music was outstanding. There were incredible solos all around including stretches of lighting-fast percussion from drummer Eric Kamau Gravatt and funky rhythms from bassist Gerald Cannon. Truly amazing solos were interspersed between a mix of classics (Duke Ellington’s “In A Mellow Tone”) and newer works (Tyner’s “Suddenly”) to come together in an awe inspiring show. The only disappointment was that I could hear them whispering about the possibility of playing Mr PC, one of my favorite Coltrane tunes, but sadly, they decided not to. It’s but a minor disappointment, however. Aside from that, I’ve no other complaints.

The evening started off with some lovely appetizers, and the following for dinner (try not to drool on your keyboard):

Pan Seared Alaskan Halibut topped with cilantro pesto and served with Penn Cove Mussels, chorizo, leeks and potatoes in a white wine coriander broth.

It was everything it sounds like it was. A nice bottle of Bishop Creek Cellars pinot noir (Yamhill-Carlton District, OR) rounded out the meal and set the mood for the music to begin. And from that point on I was tapping my toes the rest of the evening.

As I said, I could not have asked for a better way to end my stay in Seattle. Tomorrow I head out, making my way to the Olympic Peninsula so that I can get back to some backpacking and enjoy some more wild terrain. I plan to make my way down the coast of Washington and Oregon over the next few weeks and possibly spend some time in the Willamette Valley as well before heading back into Portland. The updates may be sparse until I make it into Portland, but I’ll keep you all updated when I can.

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Riding High In The Saddle

by on Jun.21, 2009, under Cycling, Music

IMG_0387I’m up way later than I should be. In part, there’s a lot of excitement looking forward to tomorrow. Mostly, I’ve just been up packing and double-checking my supplies. I think I’m ready to go, now, logistically speaking. Psychologically… well, I’m going in the morning ready or not. No giving up until I reach the Pacific Ocean. It still freaks me out to think about. I’m about to bicycle 2,800 miles from Wisconsin (around a few detours) to the coast of Oregon.

Since I could not go without a few parting words, here I sit, typing out one more pre-launch essay while sipping on some New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale and listening to the latest album from Melody Gardot.

I can’t technically be claiming to ride a fat tire bike, but I’ve got 700x32s on her at the moment, and that gives me a pretty stable and balanced ride.

It was a pain in the ass packing everything up tonight, but now it’s done. I’m hauling way too much food, but that’ll be taken care of in a hurry, no doubt, and I’ll just have to watch my food purchases in the future to prevent myself from packing too much stuff around. That bike is heavy though. It’ll be an interesting ride tomorrow.

IMG_0386I’ve been riding around Madison a bit over this last week — not as much as I would’ve liked, but it’s still nice to put a few miles in. The intense miles are about to start. There’s some nice riding around Madison. You get some bike paths with some really cool lake views. It’s a very bike friendly town overall, I would say.

It’s also the home of Trek Bicycles. There’s a Trek retail outlet I was able to stop in at. This was very handy as I was able to get stock spare parts that are an exact match for my FX 7.3 without too much worry.

To continue my completely disjointed late-night, per-departure ramblings, this beer is quite tasty. It’s right out of the fridge, so it’s probably colder than I technically should be drinking it, but after a long night of packing up the panniers, it is quite refreshing at this temperature.

(continue reading…)

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Goodbye, Cleveland!

by on May.31, 2009, under Music, Philosophy

Whew… so it’s been a long week hauling all of my stuff out of my (now former) residence in Cleveland, OH. It’s been a long month, even, as the packing and sorting process was kicking into high gear as early as the first week of May. Well, here we are. It’s the end of May, and after nearly nine years of residence there, I have moved out of Cleveland.

It’s been a crazy weekend of partying, packing and driving; so I sit here, weary and waxing philosophical (and sipping on some tasty Highland Park 18yo single malt scotch — thanks, Kelly). Now, I’m not gone for good, mind you. I’m sure to be passing through Cleveland on occasion. We’ll meet again, Cleveland. Don’t know where. Don’t know when.

Despite my crazy schedule of packing for the weekend, I made sure to hit up a couple parties so that I had a chance to hang out with my friends in Cleveland one last time before heading out. Two nights in a row of staying out past 2am, followed by a 500 mile drive today makes for an interesting headspace.

And this morning was not lacking for strangeness.

My bed had shipped out yesterday, and so, in a bizarrely empty house (with new and strange echoes that I haven’t heard since I first moved into the place three years ago), I rolled out my sleeping bag for my last night living in Cleveland. After a big brunch and an hour jamming my poor Honda with as much crap as I could fit in there, I was on the road, heading out of Cleveland, and rocking out to some Johnny Cash (American IV), some Leonard Cohen (Essential, Disc 1), and some Warren Zevon (Excitable Boy and My Ride’s Here).

I haven’t listened to American IV is quite some time. It was good to hear it again, and it felt just right for the ride down Interstate 90 out of Cleveland. Johnny Cash’s voice at that point in his career still staggers me. The emotion that rides on that bass-baritone… I can only hope to be able to generate that kind of emotion in my music some day. Listening to Cash reminds me that I should be practicing my guitar more than I am these days. The things I give up to enjoy the open road…

Not that I mind. The adventure ahead is great, and my music will still be there when I’m done. There is (hopefully) much future ahead of me for such things.

Honestly, there are many things I won’t miss about Cleveland. The weather, of course, leaves much to be desired, and it’s hardly the most bicycle-friendly of cities (nor Ohio the most bicycle-friendly of states). Still, there are things I will miss. As much as I’m looking forward to going west, to settling who knows where, I do look upon these last nine years in Cleveland with fond memories of good times and good friendship.

And so, the day is done. I have traveled far, and though the local clock here only reads 10:30, I’ve an extra hour to make up for. Off I go to rest up, and begin planning the next (much bigger) bicycle adventure…

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Soundtrack For A Tour

by on May.11, 2009, under Music

As you’ve probably gather thus far, I’m quite big into both wine and bicycling. There is yet a third, very important passion, that I would be remiss to exclude from my writings of the summer, and that is music. My touring gear would not be complete without an mp3 player to accompany me and provide with much needed listening enjoyment along the way (only one earbud in while riding, mind you — I must keep at least one ear to the road). This begs the question, what manner of music drives me to pedal harder, better, faster, stronger.

Hmm… I may have just answered my own question. :-)

Yes, I am most certainly a fan of house music and Daft Punk (especially their first two albums). I dig the deep, soulful house sound common to the west coast (think Dubtribe Sound System). Sometimes I find myself drawn to the harder or more jackin’ sides of house music, but less often.

I am a huge fan of jazz, especially saxophonists such as Sonny Rollins and Gerry Mulligan, but I find it difficult to cycle to jazz. It’s a very introspective form of music. Jazz inspires me to stop and think, to get lost in the music itself. It thus becomes too distracting while on a ride, but is perfectly suitable at the campsite after a long day.

Blues and blues rock drives me a lot of the way. The mp3 player in questions is loaded up with many a track from Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker and Stevie Ray Vaughan to name a few. Some 80s ska (Madness, The English Beat) for when I need to change the pace up a little bit, and a whole host of other miscellaneous tracks, artists and genres (it is, after all a 4GB mp3 player).

The artist with the biggest presence on my mp3 player, is none other than Warren Zevon. Five complete album of his (Excitable Boy, Life’ll Kill Ya, Mr Bad Example, My Ride’s Here, The Wind) are loaded up along with a several other individual tracks from other albums (tracks from albums like Transverse City, where I’m not a huge fan of the whole album, but do enjoy select nuggets). It is safe to say that Warren Zevon is my favorite artist of the moment, and more than a few songs of his will help me get through some long miles this summer.

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