Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday where she sought to use the symbolism of a historic landmark to draw parallels to a present-day America that is in need of repairing deepening racial and cultural divides.

The Old State Capitol — where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous "A house divided" speech in 1858 warning against the ills of slavery and where Barack Obama launched his presidential bid in 2007 — served as the backdrop for Clinton as she spoke of how "America's long struggle with race is far from finished."

Episode 711: Hooked on Heroin

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When we meet the heroin dealer called Bone, he has just shot up. He has a lot to say anyway. He tells us about his career--it pretty much tracks the evolution of drug use in America these past ten years or so. He tells us about his rough past. And he tells us about how he died a week ago. He overdosed on his own supply and his friend took his body to the emergency room, then left.

New British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her Cabinet Wednesday.

Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

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Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

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Ravi Coltrane's Favorite 'Ice Cream' Flavor

Oct 1, 2013

Like a piece of gym equipment that always yields a great workout, most musicians have favorite tunes. For saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, "Who Wants Ice Cream" by trumpeter Ralph Alessi has proven especially fertile, drawing him back again and again since he recorded it as part of the album Spirit Fiction.

Coltrane is expected to play the tune during our webcast of his performance Live at the Village Vanguard Wednesday night. In an interview, he offered a musical primer to explain its lasting appeal — and his taste in frozen treats.

Lara Pellegrinelli: What is it about "I Want Ice Cream" that keeps you coming back for more?

Ravi Coltrane: You have to have some contrast. There can be a lot of high-energy moments in the set, and that song allows us to settle down and relax; to take a break from other things. It functions as a palate cleanser, if you will.

So technically it's more like a light sorbet than ice cream?


Then before we go any further, what's your favorite ice-cream flavor?

As a young boy, I liked coffee a lot. My tastes have changed — well, honestly, my tastes are really boring. I like Haagen-Dasz Vanilla Bean, though no endorsements here.

There's nothing wrong with the basics. But let's see if we can dig a little further into the tune. You said it provides a change of pace, but, to my ears, it's very much in keeping with the other compositions on the album. Rather than what I think of as typical high-energy jazz, they're agile while being complex.

Well, we play a bit differently on the gigs. That's the benefit of maintaining a repertoire: It gives the music an opportunity to change; for us to find different things to play on it. As improvisers, that's really our goal — not just to state the themes that people wrote. In the course of time, night after night you search for better ways to present the music.

The raw materials here seem to leave many possibilities.

Ralph Alessi is a fantastic writer. I've been playing his music for a very long time. There's something by Ralph on most of my records, whether his playing is featured or not. His writing style gives you a lot to play off of — beautiful complementary lines. Here, the bass line almost becomes a second melody, and this lovely counterpoint takes place.

I have to confess that I wasn't very focused on bass line because the melody on top is so tuneful.

It's simple, with a very accessible, song-like quality. We say that Ralph writes tunes that play themselves. There's so much there that you don't have to scramble. This one is very complete in a pure way. There's a lightness to it. But Ralph's compositional voice is also unique, in that things can sound familiar, yet they're also deceptive — like I thought the song was going to go in a certain direction or the bass line was going to hook up with the melody this way, and then something else happens.

For example, the rhythm of "Who Wants Ice Cream" seems straightforward — that is, until you try to count it.

It has a deceptive rhythmic cadence to it — you don't think it's in what we call common or 4/4 time [four beats per measure]. You think that there are odd meter bars all lined up in the form in different ways. But the whole form is in 4/4.

Is it? I was having a hard time last night trying to figure it out. I thought there had to be an extra beat or two here and there.

You feel the emphasis in a different place depending on the phrase. There are some places where the strong beats are on beat four, so you [mistakenly] think it's beat one of a five-beat measure. That's what makes the exploration kind of exciting — because it doesn't have the routine sort of two-beat- or four-beat-per-chord kind of harmonic movement. It's much more freeing and liberating not to feel locked down to a static harmonic progression. And he probably wrote it on a taxi ride from the airport in four minutes.

I hate people like that.

I love them and I hate them. I always think if someone else can do that, I can at least write three or four bars without an instrument.

But I get the feeling you're no slouch, either.

Well, Ralph has perfect pitch. He grew up with a mother who was an opera singer and a father who was an incredible trumpet player and teacher. His grandfather was also a very famous trumpet player who taught Donald Byrd. Byrd was actually studying with him while he was making records with my father in the late 1950s.

That's so cool. I didn't know. So you have some deep family history with each other.

Yeah, and I met Ralph during my first year at Cal Arts. Improv class. We've been very close friends and musical associates ever since.

Harmonically, where does the tune go? It's a little hard to pin down, a little slippery. It feels like you end up where you started, but all of those other phrases see to be headed somewhere else.

The first chord is C major and the last chord is A minor, the relative minor. I don't believe Ralph had any big intentions for where the song would travel. Again, it's almost like two songs: the lead line and then the counterpoint line in the bass. [Singing.] Be dah dah-dah...

For me, I hear these two melodies, and then the harmonies that the two melodies suggest become the harmonic material for the song. There's a nice freedom to be able to compose that way, without having those types of — I was going to say "limitations," but that's not really the word I was looking for — without having to impose that type of order on it with specific tonal centers and harmonic progressions. It's not a piece like that.

Is the chart written with changes on it?

Yeah, there are chord changes there, but the bass is not playing the roots of the chords all the time — it's playing melodic lines. So the composer has the right to say what chord would be suggested by that movement.

The arrangement on the album opens with a duet — a counterpoint between you and Ralph — and then the tune itself, with some solos and the tune repeated again on the way out. How will it be different when we hear it with the quartet on Wednesday?

For the recording, that's a quote-unquote "arrangement." On the bandstand, we just play it. I'll say, "Hey, why don't you start?" Then, the next night, I'll begin the song, maybe just start vamping on four bars as an introduction, letting it build, doing the unspoken thing, seeing what's going to happen next.

Well, we don't believe in leaving things unspoken on the blog. So thanks for answering all of these questions.

I couldn't imagine most people wanting to read through a guy going on about harmonic changes! But thanks; it's a thoughtful approach.

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