The Door Opens with Smooth and Lasting Effect – The Music of Bryan Lubeck



When one door closes another opens. The first five words of an observation coined by the great inventor Alexander Graham Bell are well known and often used.  However, they may be the least important of Bell’s observation.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

How does that statement apply to you?  I would like to claim I have never focused too long on the closed door – but that would be an untrue.

In 2017 one door closed for me; my mom’s passing (at 93 years young). The burial of my mom’s ashes next to my father’s at the family church in Naples, Florida with all four of her boys present – brought me a sense of closure and peace.

The door that has opened – ever so slightly – is a reconnection with my nephew Bryan.  Bryan is the son of my oldest brother Dave.  To my pleasant surprise Bryan and his son Rhett attended mom’s burial.  Since the burial Bryan, and I have corresponded.  The doors cracks open a bit more.

Bryan is a popular musician on the Chicago Jazz scene (music, lyrics, vocals, and guitar).  And if you tune into the Water Colors channel on Sirius XM (66) you have likely heard his music.  This past Christmas, Bryan’s works from We Three Strings (2014) were played extensively on Water Colors.  There is good reason – his renditions of classic Christmas songs are inspiring, beautifully arranged, engineered, and played.  Bryan’s latest album (Sparks) was released last August (2017). Bryan’s Tuscan Sun (2012) spent 14 weeks in the Top 20 Adult Contemporary Jazz Chart.  Tuscan Sun is a superb body of work.  Brian’s arrangements highlighted by his Spanish Guitar are most certainly smooth.  However the songs have an organically intimate feel with wonderfully placed levels of calm and cheer.

So my question to you is… has a door closed in your life in the past year and have you found another to open?

Jeff’s Worthless Trivia:

Bryan’s work is available on the main consumer sites such as Amazon.

You can go to Bryan’s website for listen as well: Bryan Lubeck

In high-school and college I was a fan of the burgeoning Contemporary Jazz scene.  I could not get enough of George Benson, Earl Klugh, Dave Grusin, Bob James, Michael Franks, Lee Ritenour, Emir Deodata, John Tropea, Grover Washington, Eric Gale, and David Sanborn.

Earl Klugh played solo guitar at the wedding of one of my dad’s staff in the 1970’s.

Smooth Jazz and its urbane coffee-house compliant sound took charge in the 1980’s with the seemingly unending play of Kenny G.  While Kenny G.’s popularity and success cannot be argued, his music simply does not connect much with me.  For me the sound of Acoustic Alchemy and in particular Nick Webb’s Spanish Guitar makes my heart sing.  While Webb died of cancer in 1998 and Acoustic Alchemy lives on in another iteration, I listen to one of 20 of Webb’s works almost every day.  While each artist is unique, when I listen to Bryan’s work I am reminded of Webb and the wonderful sound of the Spanish Guitar.

Snow Returns to The Valley

January has brought The Valley snow.  In enough quantity that the City of Ketchum is back to performing one its principle tasks – removing snow overnight – such that the picturesque town – has The Elephants Perch looking in picture perfect form just before the sun rises.

In enough quantity that snow wraps the Barns that welcome traveller’s heading into Sun Valley from Ketchum.

In enough quantity that north of town Decker Peak in the Sawtooths is decked out in the white stuff.

In enough quantity that I’m going to stop taking pictures and typing and take a ski tour from the cabin into the Iron Creek and back for a little exercise.

Get Out – If Only It Was Easy

In most relationships – business or personal – there comes a time when the person in which you have been involved decides it is time for you to meet the parties for which they are associated or tied.  In business it may mean meeting the boss. When dating, it usually means meeting the parents. Invariably if your relationship is to continue these meetings require at least minimal discussion on straightforward and touchy subjects; morals, positions on topics of the day, race, religion, and sexual orientation. At best this experience is full of angst.  At worst the experience proves to be a nightmare.

Jordan Peele’s clever film Get Out projects all the elements of such an event and more.  Get Out provides comedy, drama, horror, and thriller scenes in taught fashion.  Peele (Key and Peele, The Daily Show, MAD T.V.) sets up the viewer to be the observer\participant in Get Out.  Get Out deliberately telegraphs foreshadowing on foreshadowing – so as to convince you that you know where this story is going and are simply along for the ride.  Sometimes you are right and sometimes you are wrong.  Regardless, the trip is fun viewing.

Get Out stars Daniel Kaluuya (Sicario) and Allison Williams (Girls) as the handsome couple in love.  Both are superb in their roles and Peele’s dialog for both cements their believability.  The parents are played by Katherine Keener (Capote, 40 year-old Virgin, Out of Sight) and Bradley Whitford (West Wing).  There casting is smart because both are the same age and logically could be parents of a women in her late 20’s.  Keener and Whitford have a history of being able to play supporting actors who’s roles are key to the success of the production.  In Get Out they both succeed.

Get Out deliberately leverages off of tried and true filmmaking techniques and provides it in a fresh and enjoyable package.


Star Wars – The Last Jedi: Worth Every Moment of Your Time

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi is all about action, adventure and fantasy on multiple levels with multiple developing story-lines.  This installment of the series includes content that could easily have been stretched into four separate films.  In short, The Last Jedi attempts to cover a great deal of ground and does so with success.

If I were to evaluate Star Wars: Episode VIII on an economic analysis basis it is the: JHL Price Performance Winner of 2017 for Best In Class Initial Viewing Action, Adventure and Fantasy*.

By the viewing time standard of today (i.e., lack of attention span or unwillingness to sit still for any extended-period of time) Episode VIII’s run time of 162 minutes (2.5+ hours) could be deemed as excessive or long in the tooth. Not So – at least for me.  The opening, closing, and development of existing story-lines is rather superb in The Last Jedi.  Writer\Director Rian Johnson and Film Editor Bob Ducsay deserve a great deal of the credit.  Both worked together on the quirky (and highly enjoyable) Looper.

In Episode VIII the old and new characters have life and vibrancy alike.  The movie score from John Williams feels to have found a new hop in its step.  If there is any disappointment it would be that Carrie Fisher’s last performance is muted if not stale, and Laura Dern and her role feel completely out of place.  Dern and her role feel as if it was lifted at the last second from the cutting floor of The Hunger Games.

Any slight disappointment with the Last Jedi is easily snuffed out by a terrific performance by Mark Hamill and the perfect placement of comic relief.  Hamill is nothing short of superb in this film and some sight gags remain etched in my brain!

Ultimately, Star Wars: Episode VIII is as good an installment as any made previously.

*JD Power and Associates and their B.S. and easily obtained (via $$$) “Product Quality Awards” have nothing on me!

Lady Bird – Small Life and the Bigger Picture

Greta Gerwig’s film Lady Bird is a masterpiece.  Gerwig (Frances Ha, Mistress America) provides us an insight into life and a part of ourselves few films endeavor let alone accomplish.

Lady Bird stars Saoirse Ronan (Atonement – AAN, Hanna, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Brooklyn – AAN) as a high-school senior experiencing all that comes with this time of life.  Instead of being a programmatic re-tread of Hollywood story-line(s) and character(s) presented in out sized and or and overly simplistic form, Lady Bird feels real from start-to-finish.  Ronan – as almost always – is perfect in the role.

Better than any film in recent memory, Lady Bird shows us youth, age, inexperience, experience, warmth, cold, sincerity, insincerity, happiness, sadness, the ability to communicate feelings, and the lack thereof, the lack of appreciation and (ultimately) appreciation.

Laurie Metcalf (Mom’s voice in Toy Story movies, The Big Bang Theory, Roseanne) and Tracy Letts (U.S. Marshals, The Big Short, Elvis & Nixon) are Lady Bird’s parents. Lucas Hedges (Manchester By the Sea – AAN, Moonrise Kingdom), Beanie Feldstein (Orange is the New Black),  Timothée Chalamet (Interstellar) and Odeya Rush (Goosebumps) are Lady’s Birds circle of friends.  Each of these six characters have roles that are rich and well developed.  The actors prove to be more than capable in the role. Some with a level of true brilliance.

Jeff’s Worthless Trivia and Notes:

If you have not seen Atonement (AAN Best Film 2007) do so.  All five films nominated in 2007 (Atonement, No Country for Old Men, Michael Clayton, Juno, There Will Be Blood) were worthy of the statue.  Atonement, Michael Clayton and No Country for Old Men are in the Lubeck film library and watched repeatedly.

Gerwig is a strong actor. She is great at appearing to be completely self-centered with a total lack of self awareness.  However her writing and directing skills may win the day.

The personality of Hedges character in Lady Bird is a 180 degree turn from that in Manchester By the Sea – a performance for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.  He is so convincing in both – uncanny.


Detroit is finely crafted and quality film.  It covers a tough subject: 1967 Detroit Riots, Algiers Hotel incident, racism and hatred.

The team of Kathy Bigelow and Mark Bolan (Hurt Locker 6 AA 9 AAN, Zero Dark Thirty 1 AA 4 AAN) utilize the same approach and style for Detroit as they did with their Academy Award Winners – real time, almost documentary type feel, with little to no grandstanding for a specific agenda.

Unfortunately Detroit does not offer an arms-length view to separate us emotionally from the issue at-hand. Detroit is not set in a distant country with a highly foreign culture.  Detroit does not provide a common enemy that is greatly despised.  Detroit is here – the U.S.  Detroit presents with blunt force the implication and fallout from and lack of overcoming our country’s original sin – Slavery, Black Slavery and its ensuing racism.

Because the story is so well documented, virtually all of the main characters are portrayals of the real person – not a composite character for dramatic effect. Therefore Detroit presents the actual people involved in the situation – and in Bigelow and Bolan style – with little bias.  These people are good, bad, innocent, guilty, mischief makers, thieves, prostitutes, racists, poorly trained and ill equipped to deal with the problem, who look the other way, are out of their element and in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Detroit as in life has people who are innocent and will die. People who are jokesters who will pay for their joke with their life. People who do not understand a ruse and kill an innocent person.

Because Detroit follows a straight timeline, the story does not get better as time passes – it only gets worse.  There is no feel good ending or silver lining to the story.  In fact, the end (the court ruling by a jury) is perhaps most blunt of blunt objects.

The easy thing would be to avoid watching Detroit because of its serious nature, tough to swallow realism, and bluntness.  I suggest just the opposite.  As each moment passes, I am glad I watched this film and that Bigelow and Bolan had the resolve to make it.

Notes and Worthless Trivia from Jeff:

The sets and costumes in Detroit feel astonishingly accurate.  As many of you know, I am picky about this subject in films.  So yes, they did miss-spell Livernois Ave. in one scene and an outside scene did not hide a cellphone tower but that is about it.  Detroit felt like Detroit in 1967.  Quite an accomplishment.  Now if I could only go to the GULF and Sunoco gas stations and pay $25 cents a gallon or by some beer at the Oxford Beverage Drive Through on Mack Ave.

The Holiday Season is Upon Us. How do you celebrate?


On the Cusp of Winter on the River of No Return near the cabin (Salmon River, Stanley Idaho).

Goat Creek Meadow at the cabin starts to collect the white stuff.

Goat Creek at the cabin starts to freeze over.

It is December (at least on the Julian Calendar).  And that means holiday season moves into full-force.  How do you celebrate them?  Do they make you happy or excited or do you get stressed out or depressed?

For me, it feels that in the last 25-30 years commercialism of major holiday’s has intensified extraordinarily and the recognition\celebration of the actual event(s) have become highly politicized and muted so as to offend no-one and everyone at the same time.  Was this our goal for the land of the free?

Personally, I want for me (and you) the have the ability to recognize and celebrate holiday’s and events of which we find important.  This should not give us the right to shove the event down everyone’s throat, but at the same time we should not be forced to dilute it to the point of non-recognition.  For me it is Christmas Time and decorating a Christmas Tree with ornaments that allow me to recognize and enjoy (if only for a few days) all that life has provided.  Today it feels as if they have become [insert politically correct title] Time and [insert generic like non offensive term] Tree.

I am not a conspiracy theorist.  So I do not believe anyone (for who we can lay blame) has stole our holiday’s from us. So let’s not blame the government or some group foreign to the concept.  If they have been stolen?  Then it is us who has let that happen and it is us who can get them back.

I also like to be aware and respectful of the holiday’s of others – for which I do not specifically celebrate.  For example: Hanukkah

For 2017, Hanukkah celebration started yesterday (December 13th) and ends on the 20th.  For a a bit of background: Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the liberation of Jerusalem from the occupation of Antiochus IV, king of the Seleucid Empire in 165 BCE. There are many traditions surrounding the holiday, including gift giving, eating fried foods, listening to music and playing with dreidels.  A Dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with hebrew letters used for games.

Over the next week, National, Independence, and or Reconciliation type days are celebrated in: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Qatar and one of my favorite places: Anguilla. Note: I own and fly the flag of Anguilla.

So if you want to celebrate?  Celebrate and send me an email about what you celebrate, why, and how?  Educate me, I would like to learn something new.

For 2017, I am going to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  I am going to decorate my Christmas Tree and cheer for my Michigan State Spartan sports teams; Go Green!

Multinational holiday’s in December [here].

Calendar of holidays in December [here].

Spotlight: All The Presidents Men

The state of the world and headlines about it can leave most of us with our heads spinning; seeking respite from (paid) Talking Heads spinning the answer to any question back towards their desired Talking Points on today’s media platforms.

Whoa! Step back, take a moment, a few hours, a day, a weekend out of your busy life and escape the media by the nano-second stuff and read the book or watch the film All The Presidents Men. This recommendation may seem counter-intuitive, but if you take me up on my offer – you will realize you are a sane (and decent) person and that the more things seem to change the more things actually stay the same.

The 1977 Academy Awards (films released in 1976) was packed with nominees for Best Picture that ultimately would lose, including All The Presidents Men.  However, all of them, in my opinion, would win in almost any other year. 1977 was similar to arguably the best of all-time – 1940.  All The Presidents Men is a film that I watch once or twice a year.  It was nominated for Best Picture but lost to Network in 1977 – a worthy winner.  All The Presidents Men did win four (4) Academy Awards.  I decided to watch All The Presidents Men recently.

I was reminded of the following:

Political Campaigns for virtually all levels of elected office do whatever it takes to win and stay there. Whatever!  Say it with me; Whatever!  You think the Russians have cornered the market on the highest level of deceit and manipulation.  Think again!  Now, the Ruskies are real clever, and real good at trying to influence almost all goings-on in the world.  However, they are not alone!  You will be reminded of this condition in All The Presidents Men.

A good investigative reporter will do whatever it takes to uncover the facts (and truth) about a story. Whatever!  To be certain, the good one’s verify and confirm – they are not sloppy or stupid – and remember it is their job to find and report NEWS. However, they also will dig relentlessly, interview, ask, cajole, plead, call in favors, and let you fall victim to answering one question when it is really related something else without you even realizing it.  “Are you still beating your husband?”  “H on the list is not for Haldeman… Correct?”  This is why we do not particularly enjoy being THE NEWS.

Watch the movie. While 40 years old – it stands the test of time.  Viewing will remind you – that while all that is occurring right now seems crazy – you are sane.


Late Afternoon on the Oregon Trail

I decided to take in the late afternoon sun with a drive on the Oregon Trail (U.S. 20) and catch some of the last colors of fall.  Above is Lava Lake which sits just west of the Craters of  the Moon National Monument.  For the traveller on the trail in the 1800’s Lava Lake was the first water after miles of crossing lava-beds.

Just west of Lava Lake is the Carey Lake Wildlife Refuge.  The Wildlife Management Area sits just east of the town of Carey.

West of Carey is the town of Picabo, Idaho.  I captured this image as the sun fell behind the hills to the southwest.

Fall Colors Starting to Peak

The colors are starting to hit their stride in the Wood River and Salmon River basin.

Are you stopping for a moment in your highly important and very busy day to take in what is changing around you?

The North Entrance to the Valley Club and Jeff’s home in the Wood River Valley of Idaho