Two excellent experiences have been visited on me, one aviation related, the other not.
As part of a belated birthday celebration, I was treated an authentic German dinner at the historic Schoeder's restaurant followed by a viewing of One Six Right on the big screen, in amazing digital clarity at the Embarcadero in San Francisco. The big screen always helps ambitious films and this documentary about the Van Nuys Airport is no exception. In addition to the big screen, the high definition Sony 4K digital projection system is simply breathtaking. I had not seen this film before, but even if you have seen it on DVD I strongly recommend you see it again during the theatrical tour. There will be a limited number of screening around the country with the Sony 4K system and you'll get the opportunity to meet Brian Terwilliger, the film's director/producer, hear some great stories about the making of the film, and even the chance to ask him some questions.
I also had the good fortune to get a wonderful and unexpected gift: an iTunes download of the new Concord Records Ray Sings, Basie Swings. The idea behind this recording project didn't appeal to me in the least: Pairing Ray Charles' voice after the fact with the incredible musicianship of the Count Basie Orchestra. As the liner notes point out, Ray never sang with Basie's band, but he should have. So Ray's voice was electronically separated from some of his most popular songs, then re-mastered with new back-up recordings by The Count Basie Orchestra, including a talented group of new Raelettes.
I've always had a soft spot for Ray Charles and as a trumpet player in college, I gained a keen appreciation for Count Basie. But talk about simulacrum! Ray Charles and Count Basie are both deceased, though the Count Basie Orchestra has continued to tour and perform all the Basie favorites. If the description of this project sounds hokey, rest assured that the end result is simply astounding. This is the way Ray should have been heard all the time, with a swingin' group of excellent musicians and singers, playing arrangements by the likes of Quincy Jones, Roger Neumann, Tom Scott, Gregg Field, Patti Austin, and Shelly Berg.
My new anthem as I drive to the airport? "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!"