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Posts posted by AllenLowe

  1. 1) I am glad that Jim cited The Bridge as sub-par Sonny; I find the album strangely dull.

    2) I was lucky enough to come across the RCA LP of Sonny playing standards when I was maybe 15 or 16 and it was revelatory. This really was the greatest era of Sonny's playing, no if, ands, or buts. I was able to pick up a few more RCA Lps of this era as the years passed. As Mark said, his chord-change playing was unbelievable, an incredibly dense exploration of tonality and harmony (as a tenor player I have tried in vain to emulate this, though it seems to have to do with a king of circular line, parallel scales and figures that move across the harmonic landscape). Happily I now own the Complete Sonny Rollins RCA on CD (or something similarly titled).

    3) Jamil Nasser expressed the belief to me that Sonny was completely thrown for a loop when Coltrane became the dominant tenor. In Jamil's opinion this was why he cultivated a somewhat self-conscious eccentricity, playing on the bridge, getting the Mohawk.

    4) Sonny, for all his gentle persona, is fiercely competitive. As much as he loved Hawk, according to what Paul Bley told me he was always trying to throw Hawkins off, to play so abstractly that the older man would not know where they were in the tune. Hawk asked Bley, on more than one occasion but particularly on the recording, to signal him in for his choruses.

  2. I recently pissed off Darcy James Argue because I mentioned that I do not like Carla Bley's band writing. It strikes me as strangely conventional, the harmonic voicings, the execution; fake daring. As opposed to, say, Duke, George Russel and Gil Evans and Julius Hemphill, whose big group work always seems to be on the edge of a certain kind of musical disintegration. Her work has its moments of disjointed glee, but they are usually fully under control, with very little true harmonic tension or emotional release. It's like a giant tease resolved by consonance and convention. Is there not anyone else who feels this way? Her whole thing is too controlled, lacking in non-textbook essence. There is, to quote a great lady, no there there. There are sections I like, but they come across as second-rate Brechtian/Weil gestures with settled triads and land-locked chords.

  3. On 5/6/2022 at 2:42 AM, Gheorghe said:

    Would like to read something about it. Since I was audience only. Usually the shows started with "For Harry Carney" and it was a fantastic contrast between the quiet parts and a growing tension, each soloist playing duets with Danny, and Mingus´ solo was up into the highest register of the bass, really very impressive....

    there's nothing really to read except that I was told by some fellow band member that he was continually showing up late, missing planes, playing the prima donna. His sudden "fame" went to his head.

  4. 11 hours ago, Gheorghe said:

    I don´t know how he acted then. With Mingus I don´t think he had time or possiblility to act like a primadonna. He was very articulate then, and they did all those great tunes live (Cumbia, Three or Four Shades of the Blues, Noddin Ya Head Blues, For Harry Carney ) , which sounded much better than the overproduced Atlantic Studio recordings. Jack Walrath and Ricky Ford, and on piano first in 1976 Danny Mixon (Viena and Switzerland "Willisau") and Bob Neloms 1977 (Italy). Ricky and Jack had the role of that call-response on "Cumbia" while on the studio it was also oboe and bassoon and trombone. So Ricky and Jack had to carry all the load but did a great job on that. And on that rap passage (Mama´s lil baby don´t like no shortnin´ bread....) all those honks on tenor. He was really strong, and I think he was very very young then, in his early twenties. 

    The first time I heard him in 1976 first I was a bit disappointed that it was no more George Adams, that´s how it started....

    But as for Mingus sideman it´s interesting I have albums of Adams-Pullen, but don´t have individual albums of Walrath, Ricky, Neloms or so. 

    it was with both Mingus and Danny Richmond. I have first hand accounts.

  5. in college I was playing bass in a country/rock band, and we had a gig at a biker bar. Sure enough a fight broke out one night; fortunately it went toward and out the door instead of toward the band stand. Fortunately, no one had guns in those days (maybe 1973) -

  6. On 12/2/2020 at 1:50 PM, Д.Д. said:

    Older thread: 


    in those days he kind of did himself in, missing planes and acting the Star. Looks like he's grown up, which is nice to see.

  7. On 4/23/2022 at 11:38 PM, Larry Kart said:

    Disagree on Ellison here. On more than a few occasions he would make the claim that the avant-garde (or call it what you will) was donning the trappings of European modernism in an attempt to win intellectual respect, but that rhetoric of his was always something of a crock and lazy too. Cecil is inside that piano because that's where the sounds he wanted to make were. IIRC Ellison even mistrusted Charlie Parker's music.

    both Ellison and Albert Murray hated bebop (there is a fascinating book of their letters to each other in which they are less guarded than in public statements); Murray in particular also thought the '50s Basie band was an abomination.

  8. 1 hour ago, Mark Stryker said:

    I think the Little/Dolphy 5 Spot band is an example of a one-off gig of a week or two that got recorded but the band never played together again on record or live. Sonny's "A Night at the Village Vanguard" is another example -- the trio with Wilbur Ware and Elvin Jones only existed for the Sunday night that got recorded.

    I think the Booker Ervin Quartet you mention may well fit my original premise; that's particularly interesting in that it the group made multiple LPs. 

    Another example is the Grant Green, Larry Young, Elvin Jones trio, which -- despite the thread I started earlier and references to Cuscuna and Coryell that came up -- may not have played any live gigs. (I traded messages with Michael about this is and, without getting into the weeds here, he can't completely confirm that the trio played live. 

    As it happens, I recently traded emails with the writer Mike West, who is doing research on Andrew Hill and was asking me about a gig Hill played in Ann Arbor in early 1967 that included Sam Rivers and a bassist and drummer he was still trying to confirm. 


    The only thing I would add about the Rollins trio is that although the group composition changed, what was significant was Sonny's use of the piano-less trio, which he did maintain for quite a while (until the God-forsaken Fantasy years). As a matter of fact, the last pianist he hired just before this was Dick Katz, who was still bugged by it 30 years later; Dick loved playing with Sonny, and it was a great gig but, as he noted with some annoyance to me many years later "he was done with pianists."  At least for a while.

  9. it is one of the best collections ever of jazz writing.

    University Presses are notorious for not paying a lot. Though it's not the way everyone wants to do it, the smartest thing I ever did was to publish Turn Me Loose White Man myself. After the WSJ article I made a lot of money on the project (including the CDs). Paid my property tax for at least two years.

  10. So what are we playing at Smalls (on Wednesday April 6, sets at 7:30 and 9)? Belasco's Revenge, a tribute of sorts to the Trinidadian pianist Lionel Belasco; Damnation, a gospel-type meditation on....well, damnation. Ralphie's Theme, a somewhat sideways version of a more famous tune. Two ballads for now-departed friends: Goodbye Barry Harris, and Memories of Jaki; In the Jungles, a look back at the New York dance and stride scene of James P. Johnson et al, named after the joints he played in the New York Neighborhood of San Juan Hill (where Lincoln Center is today. Innuendo in Blue, our non-Ellington piece inspired by the fascinating way in which Duke wrote for his band, in a kind of continuous musical sentence. Not to mention the ballad Duke Dreams, which evokes my own sleepless year roaming in the dark, as part of my suite by the same name; also, In the Dark: Delirium, a memory of those nights when I felt like I was on the edge of a strange and shallow precipice. Hassan's Nap, a sequel to Hassan's Dream; and Hiding from a Riff, a semi-bebop tune written in the Mop Mop style (we come not to bury bebop but to praise bebop.....)
    Now we may not get to all of these, but there's only one way to find out.....remember that I only play out a handful of times every year, and like Halley's Comet it may be a while before I make my next appearance (or before I crash and burn).

  11. 1 hour ago, Peter Friedman said:

    I tend to be suspicious of albums of all originals unless the tunes are by someone with a solid track record (pun intended).

    As Ken said, many original tunes tend to be forgettable (or boring).

    I had a very good friend who passed away a couple of years ago. He was a fine jazz pianist. On more than one occasion he said to me that only a limited number of people have the music writer gene. 


    as someone who has recorded about 20 albums worth of original tunes, with 3-5 more coming in the next year.....

  12. 1 hour ago, Larry Kart said:

    Lu Watters, Turk Murphy and skads more, including many who were a lot better than Watters and Murphy. As opposed to funny hat Dixieland -- yeesh -- these were musicians who were inspired by and fairly often attempted to conscientiously emulate the music and the players of the'20s and early '30s, sometimes with of sucesss and sometimes even giving rise to individual music of much value. As it happens there was a tremendous burgeoning of such music in Australia in the '40s and 50's (see the late Dave Dallwitz and the Bell Brothers  et al.) and there is a good deal of that at foot right now in France (see Les Petit Jazz Band, led by cornetist Jean Pierre Morel). More a composer and bandleader than a player (he was a pianist), Dallwitz produced a body of quite individual work that can stand beside that of Jelly Roll Morton.

    Larry; he is not exactly in this vein, but I was wondering if you know the work of Jon-Erik Kellso? Great trumpet/cornetist, and an amazing plunger player. His groups have a Condon-ite feel, roughly speaking.

  13. 27 minutes ago, Dan Gould said:

    "Snarky Puppy" and "Mostly Other People Do the Killing" are two band names that would be/are total turn-offs for me.  


    I think Bill nailed it for me.

    I used to call them "Mostly Other Musicians Do the Playing."

  14. 5 hours ago, robertoart said:

    Yes, the White Australia Policy was still in force until '75 when Whitlam introduced the Racial Discrimination Act to the parliament of so called Australia. Let it not be understated that so called Australia was the progenitor of South African Apartheid. Although perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly, African American entertainers, both visiting and emigres, were treated much more inclusively here in the ensuing decades than the vilification and marginalisation Aboriginal people continued to endure.  

    for what it's worth (and I think it's worth a lot) Larry Gushee told me he thought that Ernest Coycault, the trumpeter with Clay, probably gave a strong clue as to the sound of Buddy Bolden.

  15. this is the point where I say I hate this band, which is the worst kind of white-boy pseudo funk. And then someone else says "Allen is just jealous" and I answer fuck no, I'm still alive and I'm Artist of the Year. You're the one who's jealous.

    But they are so awful, jazz's version of bubblegum music, Muzak for someone stuck in the Elevator of Life.

    And fuck you, I'm not jealous I am old and secure and happy and breathing and only seeing double on occasion.



  16. On 3/1/2022 at 11:02 AM, Bill Nelson said:

    Gene Lees takes the reader inside his coterie of singers and musicians -- making you feel part of the inner circle.  While the ride makes you glad to be invited, it soon rubs off as smug and ingratiating.  Still, I've kept six of his books for my occasional drop-ins to Lees' intimate parties.  

    Lees was a bit of a dope, and yet he has some good profiles in his books. But sometimes I want to kick him, especially with his moronic ideas about modernism (which he decided was unsuitable for jazz).

  17. the above is probably his best work.

    2 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

    Don't know of Jasmine Griffin myself. By you she's a dubious source?

    Larry: she wrote a Billie Holiday bio which is full of the usual academic b.s. but which has one particularly offensive section about the late session which she did with Jimmy Rowles (which came out on LP and CD with their conversations intact). Now, if you listen, and you know anything about Rowles and Billie, she loved his playing and they were good friends. But Griffin writes about how Rowles was a white man that Billie didn't trust and she kept him at a distance, and that race was a deep divider between the two, and that this was made clear by the recorded conversation. It's complete and utter b.s., not just based on this conversation but on everything else that we know. And yet, the conversation, if she was actually listening, is clearly one of two comrades who love and respect each other.

    I just can't abide her kind of academic obfuscation, her clear lack of understanding of that life, her typical academic tendency to build a small, square ideological box and try to fit a lot of large round objects into it