Friday, September 29, 2006

McCoy Tyner, live in review

A few thoughts on the Beantown Jazz Fest opening concert, in real time (ah, the joys of simulcast):

Esperanza Spaulding's group opened, a straightahead/modern jazz quintet, with the added bonus that Esperanza (a bass player) sings. A good young set of Berklee players doing their thing, and you can take that any way you want to...

The main event: I'd heard this summer that due to health issues McCoy was not playing at 100%. Not the case tonight. His playing is as big, burly and technical as I remember it when I've seen him live. The rhythm section section- Charnett Moffett and a drummer who I don't know- is playing big and burly to complement him. The tunes are primarily modal vamps, a la "Miles' Mode" or the like.

The concert is billed as "A Celebration of Impulse Records". To me though, it seems to only be representing one piece of Impulse; that is, the modal mid-Trane. The rest of the lineup is probably not going to give it to you either- Wallace Roney, Liebman, and Steve Turre. I guess that development not too surprising, given that it is a big venue with big sponsors, and the allure of being big, acceptable, and testosterone-filled are obvious. They'll give you the image of Impulse without actually challenging you the way the label did. Still, I for one am a little disappointed. Impulse to me means Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, etc., and I don't think we'll get a whiff of that tonight.

Roney took a solo on his first tune up (something by Curtis Fuller that I didn't know) that was killing. I'll be completely honest, in case you couldn't tell by my commentary of "the list", I'm generally pretty dark on Roney- he looks like Miles, he plays like Miles, he even boxes like Miles, and it's grating. But tonight, he opened with two choruses of a very personal, very chromatic language with none of the affectations I usually associate with him. The solo wasn't perfect- I wish he'd let it breathe a little more, so we could absorb all the dense chromatic stuff he was throwing out- but it was light years from what I expected, and I wanted to hear more.

Oh, the other horn players. Turre is a little out of tune, and they're having trouble with Liebman's levels. Other than that, they sound fine.

God, that was a short set- he just closed, and the MC is asking for an encore. That was four tunes (45 minutes), and the horns only played on one of them. One more tune, another modal vamp, this one in 3.

If you're familiar with any of the post-Trane McCoy, this set is exactly what you expect. High quality, no surprises. I would've liked a surprise or two, but he is McCoy Tyner, and there is certainly something to be said for that.

Last one standing

There was a time in Boston, not too long ago, when we had two or three legitimate summer jazz festivals every year here. Growing up, I got to hear Joe Lovano, Brad Meldhau, Ruth Brown, and many others (often for free) at the Boston Globe Jazz Fest. The Phoenix (our weaker answer to the Voice) also did a series of summer concerts, as did a Bob the Chef's, a soul restaraunt in the South End.

Times have changed. The Globe is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the NY Times, and has decided that jazz is no longer worth either its column space or its funding. (More on this soon) The Phoenix nixed its funding also, and suddenly that little restaraunt, with some help from Berklee and other funders, is the only game in town. Now dubbed the Beantown Jazz Festival, it's a halfway decent game too, featuring Kenny Garrett, Jimmy Cobb, and Omar Sosa among others free and outdoors tomorrow. The opening concert, a ticketed affair featuring McCoy Tyner's history of Impulse, is being simulcast both on the radio and online tonight on WGBH radio.

I plan to be there tomorrow, at least for the first half of the day. (Family birthdays are the order of the evening.) The plan is to split time between saxophonist Mike Tucker (there was some good buzz on him before I left) and the NEC Composers' Ensemble (kind of an obligation, I played with them five years ago), then hit Kenny Garrett's set and play it by ear from there. A report is to follow, of course

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Senate passes torture bill. Wubba will sign tomorrow.

I'm embarrassed to be an American at this moment. We've passed a bill that our own military opposes because they fear it puts our soldiers at risk. It tramples the Bill of Rights, and takes away what little high ground we have left in the "war on terror".

Embarrased, and ashamed. Remeber, first they came for the aliens...

Monday, September 25, 2006


Happy (belated) 80th Birthday to the master, John Coltrane. Do the Math has a great list of 80 reasons why we all should celebrate, and a mind-blowing download. (more on Trane later this week.)

This weekend in the times, listening to Keith Jarrett with... Keith Jarrett. This is as close as you get to buzz for a new release these days. That said, I'm looking forward to it. Radiance, which I had a hard time with initially, is really growing on me.

Mwanji returns with his usual eclectic links and interesting commentary. More soon...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Bad Plus Live at the Regattabar

Ethan Iverson, pianist of The Bad Plus, came onstage last night in a dapper suit and a fishing hat. (apparently a gift from Jason Moran at last week's Blue Note hit) The comedic effect of this unusual outfit was to make it look like everything he wore didn't fit quite right.

The music felt a little like that as well. The set had the humor of watching someone try to put on a pair of pants that are six sizes too big, and the skill of someone who could probably tailor those pants precisely with a pair of scissors and leftover string. The set was comprised primarily of originals, a few new, most from their most recent album, "Suspicious Activity?", along with one of their famous covers, a remarkably subdued version of the Beegee's disco classic (Ethan's descriptor, not mine) "How Deep is Your Love". There was no distance in either style or content between the originals and the cover; depending on your perspective, the music was treated with the same level of earnestness, or the same level of irreverence. (They did, after all, play an "Anthem for the Earnest") Reid's solo on "You and I is a Comfort Zone", his tune, was equal parts Charlie Haden and Bach. Ethan's lines exuded clarity even when they were at their furthest harmonic reaches. Dave King bounces on and off the drums with his sticks (including a shaker that doubled as a drumstick half the time), with his hands, with his whole body.

Much of the music coexisted on another level as well. TBP are, at least 50% of the time, the model of Ornette Coleman's Harmelodics, at least as I understand it. (At a workshop once, David Murray said that anyone who says they really know what Harmelodics is is full of it. He said he's talked with Ornette at length about it, and said he didn't have a clue.) The Ornette influence was clear even before they played his "Song X", with the pregnant pause worthy of a mother three weeks overdue. Everything in the music coexists equally, there are fewer solos per se than in most bands' sets, and the playing "behind" the solo really isn't behind it, but next to it. (This was reinforced be the fantastic work their sound guy did.) The effect is music that comes at you like a solid object, all at once, again frustrating any attempt to label it.

Finally, live, the band is hilarious. They laugh a lot on stage, and I laughed more than I have at any gig in a long time. They don't make many obvious jokes, but the irreverence they bring to the music is palpable all the time; they play with their tongues set firmly in their cheeks. Ethan, fishing hat and all, doubled as the evening's MC, setting up OG (Original Gentleman) with a story about Elvin Jones and a donut shop in Cleveland, and Dave King's new "1980 World Champion" with a reflection on a skiier who never quite got over winning the gold, much to the dismay of his neighbors.

The Bad Plus appear Friday and Saturday night at the Regattabar, Harvard Square Cambridge. Tickets to the show were supplied by TBP. Full disclosure- I am also working on a web project with Ethan, details TBA.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Once Only

Ben Ratliff of the New York Times listens with... Ornette Coleman, to Josef Rosenblatt, Charlie Parker, and white gospel music. Ornette often presents himself in interviews as a mystery inside an enigma, and here is no exception. But I think in many ways, Ratliff nails it in one observation:

"Mr. Coleman talks about “music” with care and accuracy, but about “sound” with love."

On a side note, has anyone picked up "Sound Grammar" yet. Neither of the two big record stores in Boston had it this week (I'll look again today), and I'm hesitant to do ITunes. Any early thoughts?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

If the violinist is kicking a field goal, is it chamber music?

Don't answer that. Please.

Blogging has been slow this week- there are a couple of things in the works, one a biggie. Plus, I just started teaching lessons again, and that's kept me busy. But a great busy- my God I missed this.

In the meantime, ESPN, to my surprise, brought us two nuggets this week:

The Sports Guy contrasts the Rock's cloying new movie "Gridiron Gang" with "The Wire", which he calls the best show ever. (I haven't seen either, so I abstain.) Sounds silly, but it ain't. The last three paragraphs are absolutely worth reading, even if you don't give a damn about sports or movies.

And, what would happen if an honest-to-god policy wonk wrote about sports? It might look like the Tuesday Morning Quarterback, a sports column by New Republic editor Gregg Easterbrook. In between commentary there's a couple of great bits about Segways and executive salary.

And, Darcy wins the quote of the week in his review of a "chamber music" concert featuring Nils Kline and Elliot Sharp:

[By the way, we know this hit was still chamber music because the audience was seated and drinking (complimentary!) wine. If everyone had been standing and drinking beer and/or liquor, that's not chamber music anymore.]

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Home Front

Now that I'm more or less settled in Beantown, I've managed to note a couple local points of interest:

The Boston Globe reported (in April, I know): "Virgin Megastore is moving out of its Newbury Street digs to make room for a new high-end retailer at the landmark Frank Gehry building where luxury condominiums are opening this fall. Virgin has agreed to vacate its 40,000 square-foot music store by June 2007 and seek an alternative location in Boston in the near future, according to a statement released this morning."

I noticed this because they're having a "grand closing" store, which means their CD prices finally fall into the realm of the mortal human. (The average CD price, not on sale, is $19) I'll be pleasantly surprised if that last promise in the PR comes true- they are fighting Newbury Comics locally on one side, and ITunes on the other, both of which have them beat on price points. But, they are the only store left in Boston to have an actual classical music section, and I'm sad to see that go. And further yuppification of Newbury Street is never a good thing- I wonder how the new condo residents and the local goths will get along. This ain't New York, after all.

On a happier front, the music bargain of the week is tomorrow night: Judi Silvano appears at Ryles with George Garzone and her husband, some guy named Lovano. Whatever you think of Judi's singing, ( I think it's always interesting and adventurous, which is both a good and a bad thing), George and Joe toghether will undoubtedly tear the roof off. And it's $7, how can you beat that?

Judi Silvano, @ Ryles, Inman Square Cambridge, Tuesday, 9pm.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

We Need an Ascension

John Coltrane would have been 80 this coming Saturday (9/23). To celebrate, Lincoln Center kicked off its season with a concert of Trane's music set for big band. It will follow with a concert version of the legendary Coltrane/Hartman album (Todd Williams and Kevin Mahogany will do the ghost conjuring.) In a generally positive review, the NY Times noted on Saturday:

"Two things were missing from the concert. One was any reference to Coltrane’s squalling late period, which Jazz at Lincoln Center will acknowledge on Wednesday with a discussion called “Did Coltrane Lose His Way?” (The panelists, including Coltrane’s drummer from those years, Rashied Ali, seem predisposed to dismiss that question.)"

Stop right there. "Did Coltrane Lose His Way?" Can J@LC get any more arrogant and wrongheaded? (Wait, don't answer that.) Do they intentionally wheel one of these ridiculous titles out once a month just to piss off those of us who haven't drank their Kool-Aid?

Admittedly, late Coltrane is challenging and controversial, to listeners, to critics, to musicians. I myself don't love it, never have. Respect, but don't much enjoy. (I don't know it as well as I ought, and don't even pretend to understand even the stuff I know.) I have no problem with people who don't like it, or even discount it. But you have to recognize that the "way" that took Coltrane to "Om" (a record he supposedly never wanted released, interestingly) and "Interstellar Space" is the same "way" that took him to "Giant Steps" and "Alabama", and "A Love Supreme", which J@LC has heaped canonical attention on. Coltrane's music always combined his passion for music and spirituality, theoretical and practical, with a tireless search for new ways of expressing himself. I don't think anyone outside the process, particularly critics, get to call an artist's process into question, even if they don't like the result.

Why did J@LC start the conversation with such a needlessly provocative title, so that Rasheed Ali and Ravi will probably have to come out counterpunching? (Would the New York Phil title a forum on late Stravinsky "Did Stravinsky Lose His Way"? Somehow I doubt it.) Would calling it "Considering Late Coltrane" or the like have been so hard? Are they trying to be an academic forum or the musical equivalent of the Heratige Foundation or ANSWER, tilting the debate before it even starts? (Again, don't answer that)

It was fun, and heartening, to see the beginnings of a great conversation online these past week which reconsiders the music of the '70s, music that owes itself in no small part to late Trane. It's frustrating that back in the real world we are still dealing with this crap.

EDIT: Dave Douglas was apparently thinking on the same lines today, only he's much nicer, and has a really cool Jon Stewart link.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Some people have lives, I have lists...

After still one more posting, the list has be rebraised, baked a little more and put out on the ledge to cool. Soapsuds is a good enough reason all by itself. Other things I just thought of as I looked at the list:

- Ran Blake recently put the word out that his second duo record with Jeanne Lee, You Stepped Out of a Cloud, has be rereleased by Universal France. (It also joins the list)

- Joe McPhee. Someone added his name to the list, and while I don't know the record, that made me happy. Joe is a player who has never gotten his due, partially because I don't think a lot of people know where to "put" him. He played after me on a bill at the Knitting Factory a few years back with the great Pauline Oliveros, playing this half sax/half EWI thing. According to his website, he's doing a bunch of playing up in Canada this week, for relatively cheap. Worth checking out if you're up that way.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New Tunage

FYI, I updated my MySpace page today to include some new music, sort of reflecting places where the lately balleyhood list affected my music. (BTW, "the list" merited a mention in Ben Ratliff's review of The Bad Plus and Jason Moran in today's NY Times). Submitted for your enjoyment:

Honest Malice- a vignette I did with Ralph Alessi on my first record, On Any Given Day (soon to reappear on CDBaby, I hope). Man, Ralph kicks butt.

Little Victories- a big band chart I originally wrote for Bob Brookmeyer- I think his imprint is all over it. I was fortunate enough to have the man himself play it at a studio session, and here's an excerpt of the results. (Damn you, myspace, and your 6MB limit...)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Around the horn

I keep seeing new and interesting additions to the '73-'90 list, so I keep adding them. If you have more or see good ones, please pass them along. I can keep this up for a least a couple of more days. In the meantime, here are some other tidbits:

Destination Out comes through yet again, this time with the Brotherhood of Breath (apparently before I even asked.)

Through them I found this more mainstream radioblog, Daily Jazz. More Marion Brown, who D-Out also highlighted recently.

A man, a plan, Garageban= Adam Benjamin's Standards Project. I met Adam at Eastman, and kind of knew he had something like this in him.

A couple of new additions on the right there- Thich Nhat Hahn (mentioned yesterday) and a cool new Chicago music blog, Post No Bills. (via Steve Smith, who's presence on the blogroll is long overdue)

Just in case we needed to be reminded of the mess we're in in Iraq, and why.

On to happier things- I saw my first Red Sox game in three years Sunday- beautiful (if cool) day, great seats, good times. Everybody says this, but it's true: the new ownership has worked miracles with old Fenway Park. If you can afford it, it's an amazing place to see a game, much more than when I was a kid. And Sunday they even won. Hope springs eternal...

Speaking of sports, on Friday the Sports Guy debuted his 2006 football prognostications, with the comedic twist that his sport-clueless wife will pick the same games, as well as provide an unedited 300 word commentary on anything she likes, this time (because you know we all needed it), Lindsay Lohen and ProActiv. It's a little too Ozzie and Harriet, maybe, but it scores high on my Unintentional Comedy Scale. (By my count, he got 7 picks right this week, she got 5.)

And finally, yesterday's 9-11 post marked post #100 for this little blog. Thank you all for checking it out. To mark the occasion, I decided to try Blogger's new beta version, and in the process spruce things up a little. Feedback is always appreciated. In addition, since I've seen a recent spike in readership, thanks mostly to "the list" (and couldn't be happier), I thought I'd highlight a few favorites over the last few months. (by subject, not preference)

Music: Degeneration X, (I think it's my best-written post) Billy Hart, and, of course The List
Cruise Ship X: Food Talks, Hyperreality
Yoga: Baron, Seane Corn
Oh, and Hasslehoff. Sure cure (or sure... something) for a glum day.

Remembering today, and fixing the hole

A few months after 9-11, I went to a talk by Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn. Thay (his nickname, translates loosely as “teacher”) said early in the talk that were he given the opportunity to talk to Bin Laden, the first thing he would do is listen, and let Bin Laden air his grievances. Only then would he speak, and try to address him and the horror that he has directly or indirectly created. (Here he explains that comment, and what he’d say to America) Even for a very sympathetic crowd, this was a hard statement to swallow. He was called on it in the Q&A portion of the talk, and didn't change his tune an inch. He believes fervently that a radical non-violence, rooted in listening and compassion, is ultimately the only way out of the violence we're in, personally and societally.

I don’t care to a lot of time or space resurrecting 9-11. But I’ve been thinking a lot about Thay’s talk, and what it still means five years later. I don't know what I'd say to Bin Laden, or Bush for that matter, but I doubt I'd be able to be so equanimous. What I, and I think many of us here in the States do remember most about 9-11 is first the horror of the day, but then the remarkable way that Americans opened their hearts in the days following. In all of the fear and pain, we reminded ourselves of the amazing human potential to love, to reach beyond ourselves in service of a bigger whole.

… And then, collectively, we promptly forgot. Perhaps because we’re jaded, perhaps because we weren’t sufficiently asked*, perhaps because it all seemed so big and overwhelming, we allowed our nation to take a policy of creating a big terrible “them”, (first the Taliban and Al Queda, then Hussein and the Iraqi insurgency) rather than really probing difficult questions about our problems and culpability. We allowed politicians, particularly but not exclusively Bush and his ilk, to exploit our fear and anger into an unprovoked, reckless war with no end in sight. We went back into the Middle East with too many bombs and not enough butter, and didn’t even to attempt to understand things from a Muslim perspective. We forgot the adage of keeping our friends close and our enemies closer, and that the less enemies you make, the less time you spend fighting them.

I don’t pretend to have answers to the big questions this anniversary poses, of security versus personal liberties, of how to allocate resources, of how to leave Iraq without further destabilizing the region. But I believe deeply that the only way out in the long term is if we, individually and collectively, operate from a place of love, open our hearts and listen to the suffering of the victims of 9-11 and its aftermath- American, Afghani, Iraqi, whoever- even the ones we find odious, even the ones who want to destroy us. I know this sounds tremendously naïve to many, and I don’t mean “love” in a hippie or Hallmark way; I mean the ability to face the truths about ourselves, and to operate with compassion- not pity, not denial- towards ourselves and others. When we do that, when we wake up, positive change is possible. We saw it five years ago, and we let it slide away. We can see it again.

Another way of putting it, from old friends at Spiritus Christi in Rochester (pdf file):

"Fighting terrorism has become the rational for a myriad of actions including bombing cities, killing innocent people, locking people up without telling them the charges, dumping shampoo bottles at airports, and most importantly, securing access to oil. I believe we need a different national goal than fighting terrorism. What if our actions were designed instead to “create peace”? Would we choose a different means to achieve that end? Would our military strategy be different? Would the terrorists have less effect on young men and women if we were known as a peaceful country? Please reflect on this and share your thoughts with your congress people. The world cannot afford our silence."

* Aside- I think the single biggest political missed opportunity since 9-11 has been on the issue of energy independence. We had both the opportunity and the rationale to put forward a program on the scale of the Marshall Plan or the man on the moon to make America energy independent, and to rapidly accelerate the development of “alternative fuels”. This would go a long way towards bolstering our national security, making our biggest adversaries less potent by making them less crucial to our economy, and oh, yeah, saving the planet. Instead, it’s taken five year, Iraq, Katrina, and $3 a gallon gas to even put these issues on the table a little bit. It’s not surprising, given both parties connections to and fiscal dependence on big oil, but it’s no less shameful. On a personal level, here’s a starting point.

Other links:
The most interesting and useful reflections I've seen has been the lead in this week's Boston Phoenix. Other thoughts, suggestions and links always welcome.
Alex Ross on music and the days following 9-11.
Sasha Free Jones

Friday, September 08, 2006

It Should've Happened a Long Time Ago

(Edited 12/7/06 to add Coon Bid'ness and Dixon's November 1981)

The hivemind has spoken, and The Bad Plus has dutifully put it all out there. Ethan's list, and the subsequent web chatter has resulted in a tremendous outpouring of lists, opinions, commentary and (for me, at least) eye-opening musical revelations and reminders. It's a great (if vast) jumping off point for the overcriticized, underappreciated recent history of jazz and improvisation.

Since the list over there is a little unwieldy (I'm amazed Ethan & co. got it up so quickly as it is), and since I have way too much time on my hands temping this week, below is the cliff notes version of the combined lists on TBP site, plus everyone else (that I know of) who has chimed in. (It was either this or obsess over the football games this weekend, and I think this is a trifle more useful.) It lacks the passion that goes along with so many of the individual lists, but I think it's interesting, and handy, to have everything just splayed out in one place

First a disclaimer: this was just an elaborate cut and paste job; I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information here, and I'll correct, amend and revise it it as best I can, if the need arises. Appearance on the list does not necessarily mean a record is endorsed, by me, TBP, or anybody else for that matter. (Well, it was endorsed by at least one person, that's why it's there.) I did knock a few off the list because they fell outside the '73-'90 parameters Ethan set.

To be as democratic as possible, and to keep myself from throwing the monitor out the window, the list is alphabetical according to first name . A (*) indicates a record that was mentioned more than once (always a good sign), and a link is to particularly interesting commentary about that record. Also, I know the spacing and caps is a little erratic; I couldn't fix everything , and the spacing is only to make it a little more legible.

So, here 'tis:

Abdul Wadud - By Myself (1977, Bisharra)
Abdullah Ibrahim, Johnny Dyani, Echoes from Africa (Enja, 1979) (also see Dollar Brand for Abdullah)
Air – Air Time (Nessa), 80º Below ’82 (Antilles), Open Air Suit (Arista), Air Lore
al cohn-jimmy rowles, heavy love, 1977, xanadu.
Al Di Meola, John Mclaughlin,Paco De Lucia, Land of the Midnight Sun 1976, Gypsy 1977, Splendido Hotel 1978
Alex Schlippenbach Quartet- The Hidden Peak (FMP) *
Allan Holdsworth- Metal Fatigue 1985 Enigma, 1989 Intima
Alterations – Up Your Sleeve (!Quartz)
Alvin Queen-Jammin’ Uptown (Nilva)
Andrew Hill- Shades (Soul Note), HOMAGE 1975, EAST WIND.
Andrew Cyrille- Nuba (1979)
Anthony Braxton - Dortmund (Quartet) 1976 (Hat Art) *, For Trio (Arista), Montreux/Berlin Concerts (Arista), Quartet 1989 (Leo), Creative Orchestra Music 1976 (Arista) *, Montreux/Berlin Concerts (Arista), Alto Saxophone Improvisations 1979 (Arista), Five Pieces 1975 (Arista) *

Anthony Braxton/Derek Bailey Duo – Wigmore Hall Concert (Emanem)
Archie Shepp and Horace Parlan - Trouble in Mind (Steeplechase), goin' home 1977, steeplechase.
archie shepp trio, steam 1976, enja.
Area Crac (Cramps)
Area Maledetti (Cramps)
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers- Blue Night (Timeless)
Art Ensemble of Chicago - Fanfare for the Warriors (Atlantic, reissued by Koch Jazz and 4 Men with Beards), Full Force (ECM), Live in Berlin (West Wind), Nice Guys (ECM) *, The Third Decade (ECM).

Art Farmer - Something to Live For (Contemporary) TO DUKE WITH LOVE, 1975, EAST WIND
art pepper quartet, landscape; 1979, galaxy, thursday, friday, saturday live at the village vanguard; 1977, contemporary,living legend1975, los angeles, contemporary records.

Arthur Blythe - Basic Blythe (Columbia), Illusions (Columbia, reissued by Koch Jazz) *, Stones, Bush Baby

Barry Altschul group, you can't name your own tune; 1977, muse.
Barry Harris- Plays Tadd Dameron, Live in Tokyo
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones 1989 Warner
Bennie Maupin – Jewel in the Lotus (ECM) 1974 *
Bill Bruford Feels Good to Me (EG)
Bill Dixon – Considerations I, November 1981
Bill Evans - I Will Say Goodbye (1977), Will Meet Again (Warner Brothers) *, THE FINAL VILLAGE VANGUARD SESSIONS 1980, MOSAIC.
Bill Frisell Band, Lookout For Hope (ECM).
Billy Bang; Butch Morris – Dust to Dust;
Billy Cobham- Spectrum (1973) *
Billy Harper Black Saint (Black Saint), Capra Black (Strata East)
Billy Hart – Enhance (A&M) *, Oshumare (Gramavision).
Blue Notes in Concert Vol 1 (Ogun)
Bob Brookmeyer - Mel Lewis Orchestra - Live at the Village Vanguard (1980), Make Me Smile (1982)
Bob Brookmeyer / Stockholm Jazz Orchestra - Dreams (1988)
Bob Brookmeyer- Back Again (Sonet).
Bob James – 3 (Tappan Zee)
Bob Moses- When Elephants Dream of Music (Gramavision)
Bobby Bradford- Love’s Dream (Emanem), LOST IN LA 1983, SOUL NOTE.
Bobby Hutcherson- Cirrus (Blue Note), Knucklebean (Blue Note)
Bobby Naughton – The Haunt (Otic)
Bobby Previte - Empty Suits (Gramavision)
Branford Marsalis, Royal Garden Blues (Columbia).
Brecker Brothers – Heavy Metal Bebop (Arista) *
Burt Bacharach and the Houston Symphony "Woman", 1979.

Carla Bley, Social Studies (1980)
Carmen McCrae- Fine and Mellow: Live at Birdland West (1986)
Cassandra Wilson - Point of View (JMT)
Cecil Taylor - 3 Phasis (New World), Berlin '88 (FMP), Looking (Berlin Version) (FMP), Silent Tongues (Freedom), Cecil Taylor Live in The Black Forest (MPS), Cecli Taylor Unit Live in Bologna (Leo), For Olim (Soul Note), Spring of Two Blue Js (Unit Core/J-for-Jazz), Fly! Fly! Fly! Fly! Fly! (1980, MPS), The Garden (1981, hatART)

Cedar Walton "Eastern Rebellion" (Timeless) 1975 *, Naima (Savoy)
charles brackeen quartet- worshippers come nigh; 1987, silkheart.
Charles Gayle – Touching on Trane
Charles Mingus - Changes One (1974), Changes Two (1974)
Charles Tolliver Impact (Strata East) 1975 *, Live in Tokyo (Strata East)
Charlie Haden – Quartet West (Verve), Golden Number (A&M) *
Charlie Haden/Carla Bley, The Ballad of the Fallen (ECM).
Charlie Haden/Paul Motian featuring Geri Allen, Etudes (Soul Note).
Chet Baker and Paul Bley, Diane (Steeplechase).
chet baker- peace; 1982, enja, blues for a reason; 1984, criss cross, Symphonically (Soul Note)
Chick Corea - "Mirror, Mirror" 1980, Three Quartets 1981 *
Chick Corea/Dave Holland/Barry Atschul- The Quest (Palo Alto)
chico freeman- the outside within 1978, Tradition in Transition (Electra Musician), Chico Hamilton & the Players (Blue Note)
Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath Live at Willisau (Ogun)
clifford jordan- glass beads vol2; 1973, strata east *, repetition; 1984, soul note.
Collin Walcott, Don Cherry, Nana Vasconcelos, Codona 3 (ECM).

Dave Holland – Triplicate (ECM)*, Seeds of Time (ECM, 1984), Jumpin’ In (ECM) *, The Razor’s Edge (ECM) *

Dave Liebman/Richie Beirach- The Duo Live (Advance Music).
David Murray Octet - Ming (Black Saint) *, Murray’s Steps (Black Saint).
David Sanborn– Straight to the Heart (Warner Brothers)
David Sancious and Tone Transformation (Epic)
Derek Bailey- Notes (1985, Incus)
Derek Bailey- Aida (Incus, reissued by Dexter's Cigar), New Sights, Old Sounds (Morgue) and Time (Incus)
Derek Bailey and Evan Parker- Compatibles (1985)
Derek Bailey and Tony Oxley - Soho Suites (Incus)
Derek Bailey, George Lewis and John Zorn - Yankees (Celluloid, reissued by Charly) –
Dewey Redman and Ed Blackwell- In Willisau (Black Saint).
Dewey Redman- The Ear of the Behearer (Impulse), Struggle Continues (ECM)

Dexter Gordon Generation (Prestige), Homecoming (Columbia) *, Sophisticated Giant (Columbia), The Other Side of Round Midnight (Blue Note).
dizzy gillespie sextet- the giant; 1973, accord.
Dollar Brand Duo (w Johnny Dyani)
Dolo Coker Dolo! (Xanadu)
Don Byron - Tuskegee Experiments (1990-1991)
don cherry- art deco1988, a&m, BROWN RICE1975, A&M, Relativity Suite
Don Pullen- New Beginnings (Blue Note), CAPRICORN RISING 1975, BLACK SAINT.
Don Pullen/George Adams Quartet - Breakthrough (Blue Note), Live at the Village Vanguard (Soul Note)
Donald Brown, "Sources of Inspiration" Check out Progress Report. 1989.
duke jordan quintet, duke's delight; 1975, steeplechase

Ebenhard Weber- Later That Evening (1982, ECM)
Eddie Harris – That is Why Your Overweight (Atlantic)
Eddie Henderson Realization (Capricorn), Sunburst (Blue Note), Inside Out (Capricorn)
Egberto Gismonte/Charlie Haden/ Jan Garbarek, Magico, Folk Songs
Elton Dean- Boundaries (Japo)
Elvin Jones- Earth Jones (Palo Alto) *
Enrico Rava Quartet (1978, ECM)
Evan Parker - Saxophone Solos (Incus, reissued by Chronoscope,) Atlanta (Impetus)

Frank Lowe - Black Beings (1973, ESP)
Frank Zappa “Jazz from Hell” (1986), The Grand Wazoo 1973 Ryko
Fred Anderson - The Missing Link (1979, Nessa)
Fred Hersch, Sarabande (Sunnyside).
Freddie Hubbard Keep Your Soul Together (CTI), Red Clay, Straight Life, Sky Dive, Super Blue (Columbia), Outpost (ENJA)*, The Griffith Park Collection (Electra Musician)

Gary Bartz –Music Is My Sanctuary (Capitol)
Gary Burton- New Quartet (1973), Matchbook (1974), Dreams So Real (1976), Passengers
Gary Peacock- Guamba (ECM).
Gary Thomas – By Any Means Necessary (JMT)
Gateway - Gateway (1975), Gateway 2 (1977)
George Russell: Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved By Nature (1980)
Geri Allen – In The Year of the Dragon (JMT)
Gil Evans - Svengali (1973), Plays The Music Of Jimi Hendrix (1974), Priestess.
Globe Unity Orchestra - Hamburg '74 (1974, FMP reiss. Atavistic/UMS); Improvisations (1977, Japo), Compositions (1979, Japo), Special Evidence (FMP)
Graham Collier Portraits (Saydisc)
Grover Washington – Feels So Good (Kudu)
Günter Christmann / Paul Lovens / Maarten Altena - Weavers (1979-80, Po Torch)
Günter Christmann & Torsten Müller - Carte Blance (1985, FMP)

Hampton Hawes and Charlie Haden. As long As there's Music
Hampton Hawes, At The Piano (Contemporary) Survival of the Fittest (Arista).
Henry Threadgill – You Know The Number (RCA Novus) *, Just the Facts and Pass the Bucket (About Time), When Was That? (About Time), Rag Bush and All

Herbie Hancock - Man-Child (1975), Sextant (Columbia), "The Piano" (1979?), Thrust (Columbia), Headhunters (Columbia), V.S.O.P. (Columbia).

Horace Silver Silver ‘n Brass (Blue Note)
horace tapscott quartet, The Dark Tree, vol1&2*; 1989, hatart, live at lobero, vol1&2; 1981, nimbus

Irene Schweizer & Rudiger Carl - The Very Centre of Middle Europe (1978, Hat Hut)
Jack DeJohnette - New Directions (ECM), Edition (ECM), New Directions In Europe (ECM), Timeless 1974 ECM

Jaco Pastorius (self titled), Word of Mouth (Warner Bros) *
Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Jukebox (Gramavision 1988); cheesy in the best way.
James Blood Ulmer - Odyssey (Columbia) *
James Newton- Suite for Frida Kahlo
James Newton, Anthony Davis and Abdul Wadud - I've Known Rivers (Gramavision) -
Jan Garbarek-Bobo Stenson Quartet: *Witchi-Tai-To* (ECM, 1974).
Jane Ira Bloom - Slalom (Columbia, reissued by Koch Jazz)
Jeff Beck- Blow By Blow 1975 Epic
Jim Hall "Live", 1975, "Jazz Impressions of Japan"
Jim McNeely - East Coast Blow Out (1989)
jimmy raney trio, live in tokyo; xanadu.
Joanne Brackeen Fi-Fi Goes to Heaven (Concord)
Joe Henderson – The State of the Tenor Vol 1 & 2 (Blue Note) *, "Relaxin at Camarillo", Mirror (MPS), An Evening with Joe Henderson, Charlie Haden, and Al Foster (Red).
Joe McPhee - Tenor (1976, Hat Hut)

John Carter- Dauwhe, Castles of Ghana, ** Dance of the Love Ghosts, Fields, Shadows on the Wall, A Suite of Early American Folk Pieces for Solo Clarinet (1979, Moers)

John McLaughlin- Apocalypse (1974 Columbia), Shakti (1976, Columbia?)
John McNeil: Embarkation
John Scofield – Loud Jazz (Grammavision), "Time on my Hands"
John Zorn, George Lewis and Bill Frisell - News for Lulu, More News for Lulu (Hat Hut)
John Zorn, Naked City (Nonesuch), The Classic Guide to Strategy (1983-85, Lumina/Tzadik)
Joint Venture - Ways (Enja)
Joni Mitchell- Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter, Mingus, Shadows and Light
jr montrose-tommy flanagan duo, a little pleasure; 1981, uptown.
julian priester ensemble, love love; 1973, ecm*
Julius Hemphill and the JAH Band - Georgia Blue (Minor Music) -
Julius Hemphill, Blue Boyé (Screwgun), Coon Bid'ness

Keith Jarrett American Quartet- Fort Yawuh (1973, MCA-Impulse) Backhand (1974, MCA-Impulse) Treasure Island (1974, MCA-Impulse) Death and the Flower (1974, MCA-Impulse) Shades (1975, MCA-Impulse) Mysteries (1975, MCA-Impulse) Eyes of the Heart (1976, ECM) The Survivor's Suite (1976, ECM) Byablue (1976, MCA-Impulse) Bop-Be (1977, MCA-Impulse) *
Keith Jarrett European Quartet - Belonging (1974), Personal Mountains
Keith Jarrett- Shades (Impulse) *
Keith Jarrett Standards Trio, Standards Live (ECM), Standards, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (ECM). Changes (ECM, 1983)

Keith Tippett’s Ark Frames (Ogun)
ken mcintyre quartet- hindsight; 1974, steeplechase.
Kenny Garrett- Introducing Kenny Garrett Criss-Cross feat. Woody Shaw--1985
Kenny Werner- Introducing the Trio (Sunnyside).
Kenny Wheeler - Deer Wan (1977), Around 6 (1979), Double, Double You (1983), Flutter By, Butterfly (1987), The Widow In The Window (1990), Music for Large & Small Ensembles (1990) Gnu High *

khan jamal quartet- dark warrior; 1984, steeplechase
Kip Hanrahan - Desires Develops An Edge *, Conjure I and II, Days and Nights of Blue Luck Inverted, Music for the Text of Ishmael Reed
Kirk Lightsey Temptation (Timeless)

Larry Young – Lawrence of Newark
Last Exit - Cassette Recordings '87 (Celluloid)
Lee Konitz and Red Mitchell- I Concentrate on You 1974, satori; 1974, milestone.
Lester Bowie The 5th Power (Black Saint)
Louis Moholo Octet – Spirits Rejoice (Ogun).
Lounge Lizards - Voice of Chunk (Lagarto, reissued by Strange and Beautiful)

Mahavishnu Orchestra Between Nothingness & Eternity (Columbia), Birds of Fire (Columbia)
Mal Waldron The Git Go-Live at the Village Vanguard (Soul Note), What It Is (ENJA), You and the Night and the Music (ProJazz).
Mal Waldron/Steve Lacy, Sempre Amore (Soul Note), One Upmanship (Enja)
Marc Johnson’s Bass Desires, Second Sight (ECM). *
Marilyn Crispell- "Concert in Berlin" (1983, FMP/SAJ)
Michelle Rosewoman - Quintessence
Mark Helias, The Current Set (ENJA).
Marty Ehrlich Quartet - The Traveller's Tale (Enja)
Marvin “Smitty” Smith Keeper of the Drums (Concord)
mary lou williams trio, free spirits; 1975, steeplechase.
max roach quartet, scott free; 1984, soul note.
max roach-abdullah ibrahim duo, streams of consciousness;, baystate.
max roach-archie shepp duo, the long march part 1&2; 1979, hathut.
McCoy Tyner – Song of the New World (Milestone), "Trident" 1975, Fly With The Wind (Milestone), 4 x 4 (Milestone), Supertrios (Milestone), Atlantis (1974)
Michael Brecker – Michael Brecker (Impulse) *
Mike Mantler – Hapless Child (Watt)
Mike Stern – Time in Place (Atlantic)

Miles Davis - Agharta (Sony Japan), Amandla (Warner Brothers) *, Aura (Columbia), Big Fun (Columbia), Black Beauty (Columbia), Get Up With It (Columbia), Live Around The World. * Tutu (Warner Brothers)*, We Want Miles (1982), Decoy, Star People
Milford Graves – Babi Music (IPS)
milt jackson quartet, ain't but a few of us left; 1981, pablo.
Misha Mengelberg/Han Bennink same time. Einepartietischtennis (FMP)
Muhal Richard Abrams Orchestra Rejoicing With The Light (Black Saint), Blues Forever, (1982)
Mulgrew Miller The Countdown (Landmark) *, Trio Transition (1987)

National Health Of Queues and Cures (Charley)

Old and New Dreams Playing (ECM) *, Old and New Dreams (Black Saint).
Oliver Lake, Gallery, (Gramavision), Heavy Spirits (Arista-Freedom).
Ornette Coleman – Opening the Caravan of Dreams (Caravan of Dreams), In All Languages (Caravan of Dreams), Of Human Feelings (Antilles),
Ornette Coleman and Prime Time, Dancing In Your Head (A&M/Horizon) * and Body Meta (Artists House), Virgin Beauty (Portrait/Columbia).
Ornette Coleman & Charlie Haden- The Golden Number, Soapsuds

Pat Martino Joyous Lake (Warner Brothers)
Pat Metheny - Bright Size Life (1975) *, Rejoicing (ECM), 80/81 (ECM)
Pat Metheny Group - Pat Metheny Group (ECM) *, The First Circle (ECM), Offramp (ECM). *
Pat Metheny, Dave Holland, Roy Haynes, Question & Answer (Geffen, 1990);
Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman – Song X (Geffen)*

Paul Bley, The Nearness of You (Steeplechase).
Paul Bley/John Surman/Bill Frisell/Paul Motian – Fragments (ECM)
Paul Motian/Joe Lovano/Bill Frisell - It Should've Happened a Long Time Ago (1984), One Time Out (Soul Note).
Paul Motian – On Broadway Vol 1 (JMT) *, On Broadway vol 2 (JMT 1990), The Story of Maryam (Soul Note)

Paul Rutherford - The Gentle Harm of the Bourgeoisie (1974, Emanem)
Peter Brötzmann - 14 Love Poems (FMP)
Peter Kowald - Duos: Europa - America - Japan (1984-90, FMP)
Pharoah Sanders - Journey to the One (Theresa, reissued by Evidence), Deaf, Dumb, Blind (1970) and Journey to the One (1980
Phil Woods- Live at the Showboat- 1977
Phillip Wilson/Olu Dara (Hat)
Philly Joe Jones Advance (Galaxy), Dameronia (Uptown), Stop and listen; 1983, uptown, tadd with love, 1982, uptown.
Polly Bradfield - Solo Violin Improvisations (1979, Parachute)
Power Tools - Strange Meeting (Antilles)

Ralph Peterson V (Blue Note)
Ran Blake - Film Noir (1980)
randy weston orchestra, tanjah; 1973, verve.
Rasaan Roland Kirk Bright Moments 1973 Rhino, The Case of the 3 Sided Dream (1975)
Rashied Ali/Leroy Jenkins – Swift Are Wings of Life (Survival)
Return to Forever- Light as Feather 1972, of the Seventh Galaxy 1973, Where Have I Known You Before 1974, No Mystery 1975, The Romantic Warrior 1976 *

Revolutionary Ensemble - The People's Republic (1975, A&M)
Richie Bierach, George Mraz and Joe LaBarbera. "Live" with 1977
Ron Carter with Herbie and Tony Williams "Third Plane" 1977.
Ron Carter, Etudes (Elektra/Musician), PICCOLO;1977, MILESTONE
Ronald Shannon Jackson and the Decoding Society - Barbeque Dog (Antilles) *
Roscoe Mitchell and the Sound Ensemble - Snurdy McGurdy and Her Dancin' Shoes (Nessa), Nonaah (Nessa)

Sam Jones Changes and Things (Xanadu), Something in Common (Muse)
Sam Rivers – Streams (Impulse) *, The Quest (Red), Crystals and Hues (Impulse), contrasts; 1979, ecm, Colours (Black Saint), Trio Sessions (Impulse).
Santana – Lotus (Columbia).
Shamek Farrah – First Impressions (Strata East).
Sir Roland Hanna- Swing Me No Waltzes (Storyville).
Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet - Voodoo (Black Saint)
Sonny Rollins’ Milestone albums- "Milestone Jazzstars in Concert" (1974?)
Spontaneous Music Ensemble- Face to Face (Emanem) Trevor Watts/John Stevens.
stan getz quartet, serenity/anniversary; 1987, emarcy, The Master (Columbia).
Stan Tracey Quartet –Captain Adventure (Steam).
Steve Coleman, Black Science (Novus).
Steve Gadd and Steve Khan- Tightrope (Columbia)
Steve Grossman Some Shapes to Come (PM), Way Out East (Red)
Steve Kuhn, Life’s Magic (Black-Hawk).
Steve Kuhn/Sheila Jordan Quartet - Playground (ECM)
Steve Lacy – Clinkers (Hat), Momentum (RCA Novus), The Crust (Emanem), Morning Joy (Hat Hut), The Window (Soul Note, 1987), Axieme (Red), The Way (Hat Hut) and NY Capers (Hat Art).
Steve Lacy, Roswell Rudd, Beaver Harris, Kent Carter, Trickles (Black Saint).

Strata Institute – Cipher Syntax (JMT) (Steve Coleman, greg Osby et al)
Sun Ra- Of Mythic Worlds (Philly Jazz) *, Lanquidity (1978) Nuclear War, 1982, Lanquidity, St. Louis Blues, Disco 3000, Sun Ra - Voice of the Eternal Tomorrow (1980, Saturn)

Terence Blanchard and Donald Harrison New York Second Line (Concord)
Thad Jones/Mel Lewis -- New Life (1976)
The Great Jazz Trio, Kindness, Joy, Love, and Happiness (Inner City)
Tommy Flanagan, Thelonica (ENJA), JAZZ POET; “TOMMY FLANAGAN 1989”, TIMELESS.
Tim Berne Mutant Variations (Soul Note), Fractured Fairy Tales (JMT) *, Sanctified Dreams (Columbia) *, Songs and Rituals in Real Time (Empire).

Wallace Roney "The Standard Bearer" 1990, “Verses” (Muse)
walt dickerson trio, steeplechase, 1978.
Warne Marsh, Star Highs (Criss-Cross).
Wayne Horvitz - This New Generation (Nonesuch) -
Wayne Shorter Atlantis (Columbia), Joy Ryder (Columbia), Native Dancer (Columbia) *
Weather Report- Phantom Navigator (Columbia), Black Market (Columbia), Mysterious Traveler (Columbia) *,Heavy Weather (Columbia).
Willem Breuker Kollektief - In Holland (BVHaast)
Woody Shaw- Lenox Avenue Breakdown *, Rosewood (Columbia), *Setting Standards (Muse), Steppin’ Stones (Columbia), United (Columbia) *, Little Red’s Fantasy (Muse).

World Saxophone Quartet Live in Zurich (Black Saint), Revue (Black Saint), Steppin’ (Black Saint), Rhythm and Blues (1989, Nonesuch)
Wynton Marsalis Black Codes (from the Underground)(Columbia),* Live At Blues Alley (Columbia).

Yellowjackets'- Self titled,1981 Four Corners 1987
Zentralquartett - Zentralquartett (Zong, reissued by Intakt)
zoot sims quartet, if i'm lucky (Pablo)

Random thoughts- records that made the most blognoise- Keith Jarrett, Belonging, John Carter- Castles of Ghana et. al. In general, there was a lot of noise for the Pat Metheny Group stuff (more than I, at least, expected), the various Braxton and Lacy stuff (there’s so much, and it’s so diverse, that it’s hard to settle on one album).

And I’m sure every fan who reads the list will think about at least two of the following, so:

Records on the list I most want to run out and by tomorrow: Air- Air Time, the Konitz/Mitchell duo album, Castles of Ghana
Record on the list I own but never, never listen to: World Sax Quartet Live in Zurich. (I much prefer Rhythm and Blues, so I added it)
Records on the list I listen to most: Later that Evening, Brookmeyer/Lewis- Live at the Vanguard, Jaco- Word of Mouth
Who the hell is THAT- Johnny Dyani, Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath Big Band (mentioned twice, which makes me very interested. Can anyone help here, maybe, say, Destination Out?)
Oh, yeah, I forgot about that one. It kicks ASS!: Power Tools, Don Cherry’s Art Deco,

First record I’d strike from the list: Wallace Roney, Standard Bearer

Ethan's wrapup is here I point out this comment (italics mine):

"I told Lewis Porter about this list. Lewis knows jazz like few others do (he’s the author of an excellent, musician-friendly biography of John Coltrane), so I asked him about great “mainstream” records of the 1970’s by a few key artists like Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sonny Rollins. Without researching it, nothing leapt to his mind. He brought up how many commercially-oriented albums were made by older jazz musicians in that decade. Most of them are pretty unlistenable today. (Even Dizzy made below-par electric records.) Some decry rock music as an influence in jazz, which is obviously silly. As Reid likes to say, “It doesn’t matter what you love, as long as you really love it.” The problem is that a lot of great jazz musicians made rock-influenced records without really loving rock. Some jazz fans, musicians, and critics still haven’t recovered from those 70’s blunders. They keep on blaming the backbeat for something that was strictly the fault of jazz players (and their producers)."

That, to me, sounds like a nice way of saying "selling out". And I think it's what distinguishes more recent albums that incorporate rock influences, from TBP to the zillions of artists covering Radiohead and other current pop and indie bands (my current favorite is Jeremy Udden covering the Bangles "Eternal Flame". It should be either awful or soupy, and it isn't either) But I think it's another good explanation for why the 70s is perceived as a dirth time. Other thoughts here and here)


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Taking Up Serpents Again

One of the great joys of being back in Boston is the ability take yoga classes. As with so many things, doing it in a group, rather than by yourself as I have been for months, intensifies and buoys the experience. We often get to things together that we never get to on our own. Darcy mentioned it recently in the postmortem to his last gig:

“…one of the biggest rewards of running a big band is the chance to have your music realized by a staggering variety of incredibly talented musicians who each bring their own personality to bear on the music. (Actually, (bassist) Ike (Sturm) emailed me after the gigs to say: "It's so great to have an excuse for the community to congregate and make music together," which pretty much made my year.)”

For all the advantages, and all the community that the hivemind can create, its no substitute for real people in real time. The Buddha, no fool when it came to matters of happiness, taught Three Refuges for the noble seeker- the Buddha (God/Creative Consciousness/Divinity/callitwhatyoulike), the Dharma (holy/wisdom teachings) and the Sangha (the community). You can’t have too much sangha, ever.

To that end, why not build community around good music? Saturday offers two goodies to discerning Bostonians:

Jonatha Brooke
@ the Hatch Shell, Saturday 5pm. Part of the Riverfest, put on by local AAA radio hub WXRV. I was hipped to Jonatha’s first incarnation in The Story about ten years ago, and fell in love with that music. Her work since they broke up has been a little more uneven (particularly on her last album, Back to the Circus, featuring a couple of fantastic songs- "No Net Below", "Better After All", both audible on her site), but she’s more than worth a listen anytime, and is always good live. Brandi Carlisle and James Hunter are also on the bill, but I have no ideal who the hell they are. I’m not crazy about just any singer-songwriter.

Curtis Eller @ the Lily Pad, 7:30 pm. Old friend Curtis, America’s leading exporter of Banjo Music for Funerals (his term, not mine), makes one of his occasional trips to Boston to dole out morbid songs about Elvis’ ghost, carrier pidgeons, and raging elephants. Good (and not-so good) fun will be had by all, I humbly assure you. With the Ambitious Orchestra, who promise a future opera about Dungeons and Dragons on their website. Curtis has always had, er, unusual twinbills.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More Things to Come from those Now Gone

(Heavily edited, hence the new date)

While I was away, Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus stepped up to Dave Douglas's plate and hit one out into the river. (Okay that was forced, but I finally get back to Red Sox Nation, and they're in their worst tailspin this side of 1978? Throw me a bone, sheesh.) Anyhow, responding to Dave's post-'73 history posts, Ethan listed the many highlights of his record collection, 1973-90, and invited all comers to edit, add, delete, or rant on the topic. So, as usual late out of the gate, here I am.

First, the list is fantastic, thorough in both its breadth and depth. I'm with Darcy- it boggles my mind that he had even half the '70s albums by the time he was 18. Like Darcy, by the time I was 18, despite collecting jazz records for five years (and having my dad's small but high quality collection) I think I knew maybe five of these records- Tutu, Live at Blues Alley, State of the Tenor, etc. By the end of college I sort of knew maybe thirty more- that do say something about jazz education, don't it?

If you saw the film version of High Fidelity, you'll remember the scene where John Cusack's character is leaving messages on a cute magazine reporter's phone, frantically editing and revising a list of top-10 all time songs. I feel a little like that right now- how the hell did I miss "Power Tools"? Was "Music for Large and Small Ensembles in the time period? etc. I think that's been the beauty of watching this list unfold- one individual's passion sets of the collective's memory, and the process recylces itself daily. So...

Here, then, is a (heavily edited) synopsis of what I've read elsewhere, then mine:

Steve Smith's whole list
is amazing, and I'll echo his passionate plea for John Carter (see below), though I don't know the music nearly as well as he does. Oddly enough, when I was in college, the Rochester Public Library became my primary "out jazz" resource, introducing me to Old and New Dreams, John Carter, Muhal, and many others that Eastman didn't seem to care about. Sigh...
I'd also highlight Zorn et. al's News for Lulu and More News for Lulu. For many of my peers, Zorn was the jazz gateway drug of choice, partially due to his association with Mike Patton, who at the time was fronting a little band called Faith No More. (This album now goes for $215 on Amazon. Sheesh!)

Likewise, Darcy's addendum is worth reading by itself (He stole about half of my suggestions) I'd highlight:
Brookmeyer/Mel Lewis band- Live at the Village Vanguard. This record by itself made me a big band writer, something I still give Bob crap about on the rare occasion I see him.
Changes Oneand Changes Two. I'm with Darcy here. Takes you by the throat and doesn't let go. Charlie Rouse has received much due praise in recent years, leaving George Adams as my pick for the greatest tenor player nobody thinks about.
Okay, I'd actually highlight 80% of what Darcy wrote, so onward...
(godoggo) John Carter- Castles of Ghana. John Carter is one of the quintessential overlooked composer/players
Suite for Frida Khalo. Ditto for James Newton, criminally underrated. Thankfully, James is still around.
(Destination out) Muhal Richard Abrams- pick one, there are 17 from this period, 15 of which I don't know at all, and 2 I know barely. Another guy who you overlook at your own peril- I'm more familiar with the "One Line Two Views" vintage. I saw him live a few years ago- I often have the same reaction to Braxton. He'll start to bore me, then he plays two minutes of music that sets my hair on fire. They like "Blues Forever", and have the posts to prove it.
(Ryshpen) Herbie- Thrust, Michael Cain calls this his "eureka" record. Sextant would be my add, but it misses by a year.

Now my adds (links to follow):

Keith Jarrett- Belonging I add my vote for the European quartet, especially this one. (I really love Personal Mountains as well, the rest are take it or leave it for me.) This album was a huge influence on all of us at Eastman when I was there.

Don Pullen/George Adams- Live at the Village Vanguard (1983)
. (Two volumes, available seperately) This quartet with Danny Richmond picks up in many ways where the last Mingus quintet leaves off. The sheer ferocity and energy of the music blew me away the first time I heard it. A hurricane in a bottle.
Ebenhart Weber Later That Evening. Another record that turned me upside down the first time I heard it, but for very different reasons. "The ECM Sound" gets disparaged, sometimes rightly, sometimes not, as too cold, too pristine, too... too. This to me is that sound at its best, careful, clean, but full of emotion. And the band is a young Frisell, Lyle Mays, and Paul McCandless take Weber's spare writing and spin it into something extraordinary. (Again, $40 on Amazon? Sheesh. Also, a lot of the ECM catalog has yet to appear as a commercial download. This, I think, is a shame. Merits exploring later...)

Egberto Gismonte/Charlie Haden/Jan Garbarek- Folk Songs and Magico (I think they're from the same recording sessions) Again, for me, everything that's right about ECM. The tunes are beautiful, Garbarek is piercing, not cloying. "Polhaco" on Magico is still one of my favorite tunes of all time.

Braxton Quartet- I lost albums in a move; there are three or four in the mid-80s featuring Gerry Hemmingway and Marian Crispell (Six Quartets, for example). Some feature Braxton music, some bebop, in a way I've never heard bop before or since. There's also an album of that vintage of Monk compositions with Mal Waldron on piano. Don't know it, but especially in light of the great Lacy/Waldron work of that period it merits exploring.

I'm missing at least ten records, certainly- that's the best part of this exercise. I look forward to seeing Ethan's revisions...

Finally, Dave Douglas himself has chimed in with a commentary on this exercise. If you look at the names of all the people on the lists we've put together, the number of names of brilliant players and composers who "the canon" of jazz history somehow forgot, it's staggering: Hemphill, Abrams, Carter, Threadgill, Pullen, Braxton, and some names I haven't seen yet- Steve Kuhn, Paul Bley. I don't know if I can buy into Larry Blumenfeld's vast right-wing conspiracy theory, but I can't dismiss it either.

As for the moving forward part, that's for another post. And I haven't forgotten about the Cruise Ship X wrap-up. But I have little worries like finding work and writing a new band book too, so bear with me...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Dewey Redman, RIP

via Darcy and The Bad Plus.

Sadly, I think we knew this one was coming, but that doesn't make it any easier. I would rank Dewey as one of my five biggest influences as a player. Not for his sound- as big as Texas, where he was born- or for any particular way he played, but for the weight and depth of everything he played. Every solo of his I've ever heard makes me feel like time stopped. Right now I'm listening to his solo on the Anthem of the African National Congress on Charlie Haden's Dreamkeeper record. Warm, approachable, and at the same time heartstopping.

Dewey grew up in Texas in the days of the laughing barrels, and his playing channeled both the warmth of the south and the barely masked fury of growing up watching the elders in your community still being called "boy". If we can occasionally tap into 5 percent of the spirit he was channeling 100 percent of the time, there's hope for our music too.

Beyond the great recommendations TBP make, and Dreamkeeper, a brilliant record, I'd note "Dark Metals", Anthony Cox's great quartet recording of '92 featuring Dewey, Michael Cain and Billy Higgins. Some remarkable music.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

fifteen minutes in steel town

I honestly was not expecting much to blog about in Pittsburgh (technically, in Carnegie, pronounced car-NAY-gee, a decaying western suburb of Pittsburgh named for, yes, that Carnegie) The trip has been great for family gossip and catching up on sleep, and little else. Except…

On Wednesday I made a trip into town to see the Andy Warhol museum, and to catch a Pirates game in the new PNC Park. (Conveniently, they are within three blocks of each other.) Warhol, born Andrew Warhola, was born and raised in Pittsburgh. He left for New York at about age 18 and, well, became Andy Warhol. The building is a renovated factory (fitting for someone whose workspace was dubbed “The Factory”) Seven modest-sized floors accommodate five floors of Warhol art and artifacts and two rotating exhibitions. The Warhol stuff includes a fairly representative sampling of his career, including a wall montage of InterView magazines (I'd no idea that was his baby), a set of punching bags with Jesus on them he created with Basquiat, and a room of Chagall-ish cat drawings created by his mother (signed, conveniently enough, “Andy Warhol’s Mother”), and a collection of the time capsules he was apparently constantly creating, revising and storing away. The first floor includes a theatre where two or more of his films are shown daily, and a rotating large “important” work, this time around “Twelve Elvises”. The rotating exhibits were a large collection of Downtown and Punk art from New York, which I spent some time parusing, and a gallery called “The “F” Word (female, feminist, feminism)”, which I didn’t.

The word that kept coming up, both in my head and in the literature about Warhol on display, was “obliterate”. Warhol is most famous in his work for obliterating lines between high and low art, commercial and artistic imagemaking, gender distinctions, class lines, etc. And making himself famous in the process. (Some of my favorite pieces in the museum were photo portraits he took of the people he hung out with, famous and not-so. His eye for capturing something very essential in his subject as a photographer is terribly underrated, or maybe just overshadowed my everything else he did and was.)

I had a music history teacher in college who compared some of Warhol’s silkscreens (especially the more violent ones, i.e. Hiroshima) to early minimalist music. By repeating and recasting one image eight or a dozen or more times, he mutes the extrinsic values or meanings of the object, much as a composer blunts the functional or theoretical meanings of a chord or scale by repeating it ad naseum. I don’t know if I completely buy that- I’m not big on reading too much ideology into an image, or a scale- but it’s interesting to think about when you’re looking at an image like “Twelve Elvises”, twelve purplish silkscreen images of Elvis pulling a gun in one of his westerns, some fuzzed up or abstracted more than others, set on a blank grey background. By pulling Elvis completely out of context, he look even more absurd (I always found Elvis absurd to begin with), but it asks you to take stock of your perception of Elvis, in a way that you never would if there were tumbleweeds, or a band behind him. Always a useful notion, I think. (I also think Warhol would never talk this way, which makes me leery about writing this way)

Another unexpected find in the museum were original scores of songs Lou Reed wrote for the Velvet Underground. (I didn’t know that Warhol was an early advocate for them, “presenting” them at downtown clubs along with his films, pushing them toward the limelight.) Reed wrote the tunes, even the simplest, out on big pieces of manuscript paper, in ballpoint pen with phenomenally neat penmanship. I didn’t sing along as I looked at them, but even if I didn’t know the tune (and most of the time I didn’t) I could have. In all, more than worth the time and money if you’re ever, well, somehow in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates game was another unexpected pleasure. The new stadium, which hosted this year’s All-Star Game, is a gem, intimate, well laid out, all the good adjectives we use about post-Camden Yards ballparks. People are friendly without meaning to be, something I’m not used to at all. The whole day cost me $25, including food and a decent beer, a mere fantasy in Boston. And the team, despite its horrible record, wasn’t bad. They won in 11 innings, using a combination of hit and runs, good defense, and even a suicide squeeze (the first one I’ve ever seen in person) to beat a rather hapless Cubs side. Nothing abstract about it; with three more decent arms, this team is competitive in the (I admit, rather pathetic) NL Central next year. And pigs will fly too.