(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...