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About ep1str0phy

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    Master of the Groove!

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  1. A Covid-19 jazz joke.

    I'll give it up for this one.
  2. Live Streaming Concerts

    Sizable livestream festival on Facebook Live and a handful of other platforms tomorrow, April 4, 4-8:30pm PT: https://www.facebook.com/events/275032363670668/ We're using this as an opportunity to drive donations to a handful of the many very worthy charitable causes established in the wake of coronavirus, many of which are helping to keep the Bay's (very imperiled) music community afloat during the pause in public performance activity. Schedule (I'm on at 7pm, fwiw): -All Times PT- 4pm Marshall Trammell 4:30pm Voicehandler 5pm Joel Nelson (https://youtu.be/za_P4D0heUo) 5:30pm Sobacoe Bruja (https://www.instagram.com/spectralbinch/) 6pm Scott Amendola (https://youtu.be/aT8RGmpyVo8) 6:30pm Bob Woods-LaDue (https://youtu.be/4-JP7C2B9b4) 7pm Grex (https://youtu.be/p6ZvLnK4q1w) 7:30pm Inner Movements (Crystal Pascucci/Mark Clifford) 8pm Phillip Greenlief (Video Premiere) - featuring Fred Frith, Rashaun Mitchell, Silas Riener, Evelyn Davis
  3. Bill Withers, R.I.P.

    Tough news. If ever it were possible for a voice to embody an ethos and a culture, Bill's most certainly did. His is the voice I turn to when I search for the sound of a kind of blue collar soul. I mean it when I say that as a Filipino kid growing up in the San Fernando Valley, this is the music I remember hearing on the radio on the way to school, at community parties, near the kitchen while dinner got made. The fact that I'm considerably younger than the vintage of (most of) this stuff should give testament to just how finely woven Bill Withers was into the background sound of contemporary America. Bill's voice has untold resonance, but the band here (and the guitar playing, really) is deeep pocket. That much groove with that much exactitude and that much economy of gesture is absolutely mindblowing.
  4. Ellis Marsalis R.I.P. (COVID-19 victim)

    Speaking only for myself, there's no right or wrong way to mourn, but if there's any universal truth that I subscribe to in matters of bereavement, it's that loss makes family of us all. This takes me back a couple of months to when Kobe Bryant passed away. I'm a Bay Area guy now but I grew up (mostly) in LA, so things like LA basketball are part of my blood. All I can remember was that for at least a couple of weeks, the Clippers-Lakers beef was subsumed under this macrocosmic feeling of extreme grief. I think that the world--and not just America and not just California and not just the jazz world--can share a bit in that feeling today. Not that my opinion really matters here, but I think Wynton's words are heartfelt and beautiful in their own (profoundly sad) way. The neocon v. progressive jazz wars were this huge, consuming phenomenon that dictated so much of how people came to interface with this music in the past several decades. I don't think it's unfair to say that there are many who would have staked their "lives" on their allegiance to one faction or another. As serious as your life and all that. This thing that's happening in the world right now is literally as serious as your life, and whatever previously separated the Marsalises from the avant folks seems so, so small right now. I don't want to co-opt this memorial thread to ramble, but we're experiencing a kind of doomsday in jazz's cultural habitus--all of the in-person gigs canceled, the culture of group performance put on hold, our elders more imperiled than ever--and, again speaking only for myself, we've had to adjust super fast. I've found myself caring less about ideological schisms and more about, well, people. I'm using this as an opportunity to celebrate lives, careers, and contributions like Ellis's that I might not have interfaced with on any deep level before now. I've returned to the American Jazz Quintet material--with all four of those core guys now gone--and found music full of life. That's really more than enough right now.
  5. Down Beat Jazz Festival

    Wow! I had no idea Murray was playing with Cecil this late--the Newport set has Andrew Cyrille already. My deeply partial (recording-centric) opinion has it that Andrew's bag kind of fit CT's music better around this vintage, but I'm sure that this quartet was fantastic. That's really too bad that the recording didn't work out.
  6. Down Beat Jazz Festival

    I've said this before, but the '65 Coltrane set is one of my favorite live Trane recordings of any vintage. You can only ever find it in middling or terrible fidelity, but it sounds like absolute pandemonium on stage and off. Shepp guests and the band sounds quite a bit more dialed in to his energy here than they were on the ALS studio stuff the year prior. Of course the recording is merely a ghost of the real thing--I'm sure an actual attendee might have a very different perspective on the whole thing. I'm also very curious what the CT set was like. The Newport Jazz Fest set from July of the same year is up (on "official channels") online and it is fantastic.
  7. Big Ears Festival

    Chiming in to say that, dependent on how this plays out, musicians and other performing artists will have to find a mechanism of delivery lest our work go unheard or, worse still, undone. What this will require is both a degree of vision and the willing efforts of facilitators--i.e., those whose work is centered on the process of organization, documentation, delivery, and audience interface. Those of us unlucky enough to be working musicians at a time filled with uncertainty and sudden disenfranchisement are still trying to respond to the current problem and prepare for contingencies. The big festivals and venues are, I assume, reeling from cancelation costs and lost revenue. Obviously some of us can wear two hats, but this is a problem that may require ingenuity, collaboration, and new voices.
  8. New previously unissued Horace Tapscott

    The Dark Tree email didn't list personnel, correct? What makes this particularly appealing to me is the vintage. All eras of PAPA are valuable, but the personnel around '76 would be very special indeed. (I'm hoping for/guessing the drummer is Everett Brown Jr., the slashing Elvin Jones-cum-Steve McCall figure who features on Sonny's Dream, The Giant is Awakened, and most of the older Arkestra material.) The date would also make it, IIRC, the oldest or one of the oldest full documents of the Arkestra on record.
  9. McCoy Tyner has died, aged 81

    In certain very real ways, there is no musical universe of legend that means more to me than the one created by John Coltrane in his peak years of innovation. Inside the stretch of music that encompasses Trane's classic period, McCoy Tyner was a--if not *the*--definitive component. The harmonic and coloristic language that McCoy created to balance Trane's increasingly abstract constructions was the fulcrum point upon which advanced hard bop transformed into something completely new and endlessly influential. I think it can be argued that Trane began to transition into a kind of paradigm around the time his sound was first paired with McCoy's: None of this goes to diminish McCoy's own really significant body of work, which is in its own way the Platonic form of a kind of muscular, Afrocentric jazz. McCoy's Blue Note period plays like an earthier variation on the early 60's Coltrane Quartet music, but it's on the Milestone label, with albums like Sahara and Song for My Lady, that McCoy took the genetics of the classic Coltrane sound and mutated them into a shape that better reflected the exigencies of a different era. The almost hilariously virtuosic music that McCoy essayed in the ensuing few decades exposes, at its beating core, the soul of an artist who confronted his own (already significant) legacy and sought to make it both stronger and more meaningful. You know what will always stick with me about McCoy? The (in a way) deeply masculine muscularity of his own music belies a sensitivity and practical versatility that cannot be understated. Without McCoy's innovations we would not have been gifted the lush, effervescent soundscapes that Alice Coltrane contributed to John's late Quintet. A lot of the greats cribbed bits and pieces of McCoy's thing, from Chick Corea to Horace Tapscott to Geri Allen and so on. Legit, listen to Flying Lotus's "Never Catch Me"- -and you'll hear the echoes, a couple of generations removed, of the equation that McCoy was the first one to solve. RIP, sir.
  10. Rashied Ali / Frank Lowe - Duo Exchange

    Chiming in with a bit of minutiae here, but RTI is legit. I had a Grex record pressed through them several years ago and the quality was very strong (IIRC a lot of recent Blue Note reissues were pressed through them, too). Excellent pressing isn't going to compensate for a high noise floor or egregious tape artifacts, of course, but so much classic free jazz was and has been recorded in terrible fidelity that I think listening past imperfections is more or less part of the genre at this point. I will say that based purely on an A/B comparison of the bandcamp audio with the old CD reissue of Duo Exchange that the new issue sounds markedly clearer.
  11. Hello, all- I've been posting here with (admitted) scarcity as of late, but I thought that, considering the pedigree, this project might be of interest to some of the folks on here. The project in question is Apura, a brand new program meant to explore the intersection between legacies in free improvised music and social transformation in an era of worldwide political upheaval. For this project, I'm doubly excited to be working with Francis Wong (co-founder of Asian Improv aRts and associate of the late Glenn Horiuchi, Jon Jang, Fred Anderson, etc.), the O board's own (brilliant) Alexander Hawkins, and the legendary Louis Moholo-Moholo. The project is slated for two dates in the SF Bay Area in May of 2020--May 21 at the San Francisco International Arts Festival, May 22 at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley. It's our intention to document the proceedings for our out-of-town listeners. Considering the sheer complexity of this project, we're actively seeking donors to help offset some of the considerable costs. It's a tough time of the year, but absolutely anything, big or small, helps. More info/donation page is here: https://chuffed.org/project/apura-improvised-music-bay-area Perks include a download of Grex's full discography (HERE) + a copy of a forthcoming record that, I by the way, also need to introduce: a double album featuring the UK version of this project (w/Messrs. Hawkins + Moholo-Moholo + the great Trevor Watts) is slated for release in April of next year. Wherever/however you may be, happy holidays to all and hope to trade some overlong screeds with you soon, Karl Evangelista/ep1str0phy
  12. Has anyone accidently purchased this?

    Ok, granted, but his production work is often really strong for his genre. I know this is a jazz board and there's contentiousness herein, but remember that this record won the Pulitzer: This is like the John Mayer vs. John Mayer vs. Jon Mayer thing--i.e., I have a pretty well-traveled jazz friend/mentor who purchased the hilariously titled (granted the tenor of this conversation) Room for Squares on mistake.
  13. Late 60's Early 70's Blue Note Lesser Known Gems

    I wasn't so much talking about the Liberty sale and Lion's departure as a literal "transference of power" as I was saying that the specialness that's so deeply detectable in the late 50's/early 60's Blue Notes sides had gone somewhere else by the late 60's. Discussing canon vis-a-vis a continuum of "must hear albums" is messy and, in the era of streaming, unnecessarily reductionist, but if I knew of someone who was really invested in classic Blue Note and wanted to know where to go next, I'd probably point them in the direction of late-60's Columbia, Impulse!, and Atlantic, Milestone, ECM, the Delmark AACM material, the BYG label, Nessa, etc. on into whatever Michael Cuscana or Joel Dorn were producing in the early-mid 70's, and so on. That's not to say that the post-sale Blue Note output is valueless music or, really, not worthy of discussion (even historical discussion), only that the canon, such as it is, seems to shift elsewhere in that time period.
  14. Late 60's Early 70's Blue Note Lesser Known Gems

    Having come into this period of the music far after the fact, it's interesting to me that despite the obvious issues with this part of the discography--slipshod curation, a lack of visual/design uniformity, overtures to commercialism that often lack in subtlety, etc.--there are a ton of titles therein that might be considered certifiable classics. I wonder how much of that has to do with this received, reissue/post-reissue era understanding of the label as this monolithic marker of quality vs. the realities of the music as it was coming out. I mean, I feel like there's a 5-10 year stretch over the course of the label's lifetime in which almost everything has the patina of daring and innovation, whether we're talking about Out to Lunch or Moanin' or Night Dreamer or whatever, but by the late 60's peak free jazz had sort of dissipated and I have this strong (hindsight-informed) sense that whatever powers had energized the Blue Note of old had transferred to other locations and conceptions. Come '69 or something I might not recommend a Blue Note album over early AACM, the wilier exploits of early fusion, or even something as relatively "prosaic" (but culturally resonant, to some culture) as Swiss Movement. Again, having come into this music so far after it was issued--and with generations of thinkers and creators in-between--there are real historical arguments to be made on behalf of- New York is Now and Love Call, as Jim mentions. I think it's important to note that the subsequent popularization of some of this repertoire vis-a-vis Pat Metheny and others has given these records a place in Ornette's pantheon that is (maybe) outsize the mere novelty of Ornette vs. the Coltrane rhythm team. I definitely think that some of these melodies and sax solos (Ornette on "Airborne", Dewey's gargantuan coming out moment on "The Garden of Souls") rank among the most memorable in the stretch between the Atlantics and Prime Time. Later Wayne Shorter is now invaluable as a kind of bridge between the more structured post-bop of the classic era and Weather Report. I think in light of Wayne's "last" quartet a lot of the later Blue Notes, especially Supernova and Odyssey of Iska, require a reevaluation in the way of forward-thinking performance practice. Similar arguments can be made for the later Andrew Hills and Bobby Hutchersons. I have a personal/early career history with Eddie Gale's records that means that I can't be impartial about them, but I think that Ghetto Music has its own kind of underground/indie cache that is undeniable. That is an overture to avant-garde/soul jazz stylings that paid real artistic dividends, though I think that ultimately Black Rhythm Happening is the stronger of the two, performance-wise. I was at dinner with friends last night and they put on Mr. Jones. That shit is shredding, y'all. Re: the central thesis of this post I think that Live at the Lighthouse in particular and that entire crew of post-Coltrane saxophonists that Elvin employed were making some music that, for better or worse, helped to define the arc of post-bop for the ensuing decade (at least), and this makes that music as relevant, in a way, as the Lion-era stuff. Compounding this reevaluation of the late Blue Notes is the mind-boggling volume of electric/funk/soul jazz of really varying quality that the label seemed to dump in and around this time period. I adore a ton of this music and freely admit that a lot of it is disposable. That being said, I think that the biggest favor the resurgent label could have done for this period in its history was the Rare Groove Series, which properly contextualized a great deal of this music within the realm of the sampling/beat culture to which it was ultimately the most historically relevant. I can't imagine listening to Jack McDuff's Moon Rappin', which I love, so many years after the fact were it not sampled by A Tribe Called Quest for "Scenario"--that's an instance in which mildly experimental, but more or less zeitgeist-y, steak and eggs soul jazz transcends both its epoch and its creative inputs to become something closer to immortal. I can say the same thing for almost everything that got sampled/reworked on Madlib's Shades of Blue--a lot of shit that sounds way hipper when you hear what the music could do when interfacing with post-modern culture some 30-40 years down the line. And then there are records like Grant Green's Alive, which is not only a beat culture staple (again, re: A Tribe Called Quest), but also one of Grant's best late period records. It might have been lost to time because it's not, well, Idle Moments, but the playing there is so committed and the energy so very live (much like Root Down, to choose an appropriate comparison), I'm glad that the label history was there to ensure the album's survival for posterity.
  15. Ginger Baker (1939 - 2019)

    Cream defined a significant portion of my early musical experience, and the completist in me was always very invested in the idea of collecting as much related material as possible. I'm glad that the quieter--but very justly celebrated--victories with The Graham Bond Organization have not been lost to time, but there are some brilliant records with Ginger Baker's Airforce (in the company of UK jazz stalwarts Harold McNair and Phil Seamen, alongside the usual suspects), Fela Kuti (including the moody psych-afrobeat melange Stratavarious), and Bill Laswell's circle (PIL's Album, No Material with what is essentially a version of Last Exit) that I still swear by. I'm not a little sad that Cream declined in critical and communal estimation over the course of the past couple of decades. They were the first group to solve a very particular puzzle, and though my very partial opinion maintains that much of the music that they made together holds up, I'll be the first to admit that there were others who exercised similar ambitions with more verve and vision (Hendrix), conceptual clarity (Vanilla Fudge), experimental fervor (MC5), and enduring quality of songcraft (The Who). I think the one thing that they did do best was make an argument for how one can transmogrify the core elements of electric blues into something much less earthbound and much more surreal, and if Cream opened the door to things like Electric Mud or, extrapolating a lot, Rotary Connection or Tony Williams Lifetime, then the whole experiment was worth it. I listen now to something like the studio recording of "Politician"--which is this warped mix of overdubbed blues guitar, stentorian vocalisms, and Ginger's bizarre--but brilliant--insistence on playing swing time--and I hear something that transcends the end-of-the-line bankruptcy of merely playing electric blues louder. I'll argue at the end of the day that Cream was a more complete artistic project than a lot of the more fully realized (and probably more influential) music that came after it, if only because Cream still has a wash of uncertainty, ingenuity, and freshness dosed into it this many years removed. I can listen to something like "Pressed Rat and Warthog" or--deeper cut--"What A Bringdown" to hear three enterprising musicians near the beginning of their powers just trying to figure out how to make something that sounds new: It's messy and it's weird, yeah. But if you hear what happened with these guys in the years subsequent, it takes on a different character. I don't think Clapton was ever the same, and whether it was the pressure of the spotlight or the imperative of innovation that drew him inward, I don't think it did the artistic side of his ethos any big favors. I maintain that Jack Bruce was a full-blooded *genius* in a way that surpassed even his innovations on bass, and he was able to refine the miscellany of Cream into the laser-focused art rock (for lack of a better term) of Songs for A Tailor, Harmony Row, and later stuff like Somethin Els--music that is in its very own way both lost to time and timeless in a way Cream is not. Ginger never consolidated his artistic ambitions into a single project that defined his strengths, and I'll argue that when he and Bruce returned to the Cream well in subsequent years (with Bruce Baker Moore or on Jack's own solo records), it felt surprisingly rearguard. But inside of Ginger's plodding intensity was something of intrinsic value: a deep musicality and directness of attack, and a deep-set attention to sound. The dude was an improviser at heart. Skip to around 25 minutes here for a trio with Dick Heckstall-Smith. It's fucking free jazz. Somewhere inside of Ginger's Elvin Jones-cum-afrorock-isms is something both completely inimitable and spontaneous at heart, and if that isn't the mark of a jazz musician who has achieved self-actualization, then I don't know what is. Hearing Ginger's outsized drum sound + Jack's amped up fretless bass playing in this context really drives home the point that at some point before the end these guys were very content to be something smaller than their very big innovations, and in this most unusual and unlikely way, they shined. RIP to Ginger Baker. These guys were maniacs, but they did it down.