Among Friends

by The Sextet

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The third album by Kansas City based groove jazz ensemble The Sextet


released September 6, 2019

Joe Tesoro - soprano sax, flute
Max Levy - tenor sax
Trevor Turla - trombone
Peter Marten - guitar
Nik Douglas - drums
Robert Castillo - upright/electric bass, bandleader

Engineered and Mixed by J Ashley Miller
Produced by J Ashley Miller, Robert Castillo, & The Sextet
Mastered by Duane Trower @ Weights and Measures Soundlab
Recorded January 17,18, & February 1 2019 @ The Infoaming Vertex
Album design by JC Franco
Cover Image: "Circle and Square" by Wassily Kandinsky 1943


all rights reserved


Track Name: To Be Determined (feat. JF Letters, Miki P & Adee Dancy)
First you start with a cloud
comprising mostly hydrogen
invite your friends to your house
and then you try to make it spin
water in the drain, buzzards in the desert,
all these soliloquies in my brain,
circle, spiral, speed up
till you feel it heat up
it’s collapsing, gravitational attraction,
you can’t always see it in these early stages
protostars don’t shine in visible ranges
what I’m trying to say is
if you have bet
against us that’s a bad bet
‘cause you ain’t heard the half yet
cast off my chrysalis,
chromosphere is red delicious,
it’s too late for Icarus,
planets form in orbit now,
the groove we leave in the spatial fabric is significant
but the kicker is
heavier you get the more you burn
one and one makes two
cooking up this helium,
that’s just the way it works

To be determined...

I’m not into losing
polishing my plumage
I don’t go see movies rather stay at home and touch the muses
I don’t go to parties ‘cause I’m insecure about my hubris
and that’s just as well I’ve got a million things on my to-do list
walking on the moon
I cannot dispute
I'm aloof
living with a skewed
point of view
ignoring rebuke
I assume
what I’m trying to prove
beg your pardon, not the most rational guy
(rational guy)
so much loneliness, I ought to be able to capitalize
now you see me now you don’t
minute hand
punch me in the throat
this is a not a test
not a joke
either die first or meet the goal
all or nothing never sweet and low
hare and the tortoise applies
either flare up and perish or bide
if I’m lucky, appear in the sky

To be determined...

I cannot give up
when the sun is up, I’m hopping up
every mountain top I gotta touch
schematics that I’m drawing up like
Captain Nemo with the Nautilus
used to heavy marijuana puff
nowadays I clean my body up
only put my lip on coffee cups
eat my broccoli and squash and such
do my push-up and my squat and such
I keep in shape
I rarely go the easy way,
I almost never crave a piece of cake
every day a steeplechase
find a beat and syncopate
I don’t have no Facebook account
because you only see the face
I prefer a deeper take
don’t like for no middle man to mediate
so I insulate
from the fickle-minded dialog that people say
start to incubate
in my solitude imagination germinate
I reverberate
From the internal to external determined fate

To be determined
even though the condition seems to worsen
never cease and desist,
rather persist
or beset in fists
barricaded entrance
unbroken for centuries
leapt on
dreams uncoupled to the Higgs field
gambling like Roy and Siegfried
what magic will yield
alchemical treatments of love
forging platinum from blood
family grudges like pales
in the common ground
acerbic heads of the id skewered on top
birthday parties the ribbons of which you can only guess
god bless
keep on trucking,
past the fishhook willows
snagging what zips through running
planted by the skittish
ineffectual mucous-based lifeform
with whom I share a lens
the old world upended
the new world impends
careening at slow speeds over hurdles dandelion-high
woe is I
the florist who spent all his time
in search of rare seeds
finding none
and inventories meager
when Valentine’s comes
the proud tramp
the indignant leper
inventing treasures
the off-cameraman, the indirector
spindly and cold-foot, for the patiently waiting
the gate yet unopened, I’m still the joint casing
a fool and his focus soon part
scoff-stacks belching, shoot plumes high and dark
me losing marks, can’t resist to engage
and argue myself into the counterpart’s grave
a wise man is not stuck in his ways
keeps the earplugs handy
never eager to answer a question that can’t be
I find myself most unwise
Gollum his precious
Jeffrey his pride
and flush my face with coats of scarlet
a young starlet
respect the grind or beg pardon
Track Name: Moving On (feat. Poet Jen Harris)
There is a particular fragrance to newborn depression
a scent on the wind that sparks the hint of a memory you dread but cannot place
It’s ..... disorienting
like being haunted, being hunted, being hated
by everyone, even when everyone is telling you they love you
you are completely alone
every moment you don’t want to be, and every moment you are you are praying for a phone call you can’t answer
lost, your voice, lost, in the abyss, losing time, lost in something you don’t want to claim but can’t ignore.
Sometimes you catch a glimmer of happiness and try to live in that millisecond for the rest of your life
just to feel the slightest warmth again
but the deep freeze of this hostile takeover overwhelms the mirage of your memory and you recall the vanity of being so unsatisfied in the everyday occurrences.
Seems, now, like everyone else is always smiling
laughing at jokes
but you can’t feel the anticipatory thrill of a punch line
only punches that knock the wind out of you in random places like breakfast or birthday parties.
You’re subjected to wondering if you’ve shared years with many people who never really loved you
the chorus of their absence fills the cathedral of your broken state like a tsunami.
An unpredictable blindsiding
a rapid disintegration
into a state of being where the avalanche slows
but never stops
A period where you can’t fake it no matter how much you want to.
An occasion where you can’t bench-press the weight of anxiety.
Your confidence suffering, sustaining significant damage, the cruel unpacking in which Misery makes a home in you.
Recovering, feels impossible. Like, forgiveness. Like, forgetting. Like, living.

There are many ways in and out of this darkness.
The choice of an exit is yours.
You, who is weary from struggling to survive
had the sense to wait for the strongest second wind to set sail for healing shores.
Throw yourself into escaping.
You can make it out alive.

You have done your best and it was not always enough
but you do not deserve to suffer.
You were trapped on a landscape of pain
but you have broken loose.
and know now, as you run toward freedom...
That when you throw your defenses to the wind,
be sure they’re not being blown directly into the hands of your enemies.
Trust should never be hard to earn,
but nearly impossible to regain.
You fill the cavernous impact of your perilous journey with
tea leaves, and therapy sessions, long phone calls, glittering surprises and eyelashes dripping with laughter tears.
You watch the disaster relief team find you on the border of catastrophe and carry you to safety because you had just enough strength left to raise a white flag and light a flare.
All attempts to revisit the past for more than a brief lingering are futile.
You will not be able to revive what once was.
And anyone who dares say “I told you so” in reflection of your wreckage does not understand the wild abandon of actually believing,
Life can be better, even when it is impossibly the worst.

Not all of us were meant to be cowboys, I suppose.
It takes a brave soul to ride without spurs.
But you did,
and you’ll do it again, if you have to.
For the guts, for the glory, for those many days when nothing has ever been so perfect.
You’ve come full circle and must choose the road not taken.
All familiar paths are washed out and besides, the treachery is too familiar to be a challenge.
It’d just be another year wasted in dedication to survival.
This is the year you take everything personally,
and demand a satisfactory answer to all those dark dilemmas that held you hostage.
Now, you heal.
Now, the pain fades and eventually this will feel like staring into the fog.
You forgive.
You forget.
You Live.
Track Name: My Funny Valentine (feat. Calvin Arsenia & Miki P)
My Valentine is Funny
(funny funny Valentine)

My funny valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Yet you’re my favorite work of art
(work of art, work of art)

Is your Figure less than Greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?
(are you smart, are you smart?)
But don't change your hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little Valentine stay
Each day is Valentines day

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