Friday, January 25, 2008

The China Syndrome

It was March 28, 1979, I was a senior in high school, my parents were in Florida, must have been around Easter. I was in the process of deciding where to attend college, so on this day, my aunt took me to Syracuse University for a campus visit. I remember the day as if it was yesterday; the weather was clear, no precipitation, kind of crisp, as we bounded east on the New York State Thruway in her 1972 aqua Super Beetle. Although, this date preceded my eventual addiction to Jazz by a good 6 months or so, it is significant for what was taking place about 200 miles south east of Central New York that day; unbeknownst to us. There just happened to be what is known as a Partial Core Meltdown at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Facility, near Harrisburg, PA. - which stands as the most serious nuclear accident to have ever taken place on American soil. The movie, The China Syndrome, which dealt with just such a subject had opened in theaters a few weeks earlier. Thankfully, there were no casualties and the incident was confined. According to a story, told by guitarist Paul Asbell of the group Kilimanjaro, while I attended a concert of theirs in Buffalo,NY, some years later; the group had been performing in Harrisburg the night before this little nuclear mishap and found themselves stranded while the surrounding area had been locked down. During this 'time of reflection' Asbell wrote the song 'Meltdown', which appeared on their second release, Kilimanjaro Two. It was at this concert in Buffalo in 1982, that I first heard 'Meltdown' and purchased the album directly from the band. Unfortunately,it was the only time I ever had the opportunity of seeing this group, which was based out of Burlington, VT. I picked up their first album, simply titled, Kilimanjaro, around Easter of 1982 (wow an Easter story twice!); I remember, because it was snowing like a bitch (as it tends to in Western New York in Spring), and my parents were in Florida, again - I never noticed the pattern until now! Kilimanjaro immediately conjured up a comparison to the Pat Metheny Group of that time (American Garage), if for no other reason than the stellar guitar artistry of Asbell, the fretless bass work of Tony Markellis and Chas Eller's keyboards. I'm unaware of any other albums this excellent bunch of musicians has released other than these two, although, according to my internet research, they still get together and perform on occasion. Listen to 'Meltdown' from Two and 'Cold Flame' from the debut, Kilimanjaro.

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