ep1str0phy

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  1. Butch Morris RIP

    I never got to play with Butch Morris, but may of my teachers and friends--very many of them--did. I mentioned Dust to Dust during my first encounters with both Myra Melford and Zeena Parkins. I actually can't remember the last time my Facebook home page was deluged with so many moving tributes, and even if you didn't know of Butch, the sheer volume of praise that has been spelled out on his account would tell you that he was someone talented, loved, and hugely important. I'm sure many of other musicians could probably speak to this sentiment, but it's very difficult to underestimate the importance of conduction to contemporary experimental music(s). I do not overstate the case when I say that every major large group project I've participated in in the past several years--with the exception of the offhand afrobeat big band and one or two jazz/improv big bands, each of which had its own specific modus operandi--has utilized some variation on Morris's conduction system at some point. Maybe it's because I'm in the Bay Area and the Mills influence is viral out here, but this has to be the case with many cells throughout the world. Back when I was studying at Mills, I'd leave a session joint conducted by Fred Frith and Myra Melford--or maybe the occasional recording session with fellow students--everyone using conduction cues--and fly off somewhere, maybe the Guelph festival a few years back, and see Greg Tate shepherding a hybrid of Burnt Sugar and the ICP orchestra through a very rigid exercise in Morris conduction. I've heard a few people say that conduction is the "future" of improvisation, but caution to say that it's really the "present"--it's a highly effective system for organizing musicians and musical techniques that that are simultaneously increasingly specialized and increasingly versatile. It will also continue to be an invaluable tool for whatever creative music transitions into in the next century or so. No one did it or (maybe) will do it with the rigor and decisiveness that Morris did, and conduction is already being cannibalized into spare tools of the traditional conductor trade. Nonetheless, however you want to read what conduction was, it made a hugely significant impact on the art of improvising, and for that we really should honor him.
  2. Rahn Burton, RIP

    I was always a little perturbed by the traditional critical assessment of The Inflated Tear--i.e., that it's middleweight Rahsaan with an undistinguished band. It was maybe the second Roland Kirk album I got my hands on (after the Simmer, Reduce, Garnish & Serve compilation--which maybe does compile the Warner Brothers years more effectively than any of the individual albums), and it may still be my favorite. No, it's not Rip, Rig & Panic, but the latter is just as much about the myriad hookups on display (Byard/Davis, Kirk/Byard, Davis/Jones, etc. etc.) as it is about Rahsaan himself. The Inflated Tear as all (pre-)Rahsaan's show, and it would be nowhere near as perfect an encapsulation of Kirk's talents as a sheer jazz musician without that unbelievably kickass band. Jimmy Hopps + Steve Novosel is king, but man--Burton. That's "pocket" postmodern jazz piano--not as out or flamboyant as Byard, but just as encyclopedic and versatile in its own way. Listening to Burton's filigrees on "The Inflated Tear," his buoyant--but tough-as-nails--comping on "Fly by Night"--and later, ecstatically hammering away on Volunteered Slavery, Tynering at length on Bright Moments, and defying gravity on the spectacular and deeply undervalued Prepare Thyself to Deal with a Miracle--there was/is no denying for me that Burton was really the right man for that job, just like Alice was perfect for late Trane, Ronnie Boykins for Sun Ra, Tony for Miles. That, to me, is a pretty heavy legacy.
  3. Albert Ayler: The Other Stuff

    I'm currently in the midst of an Albert Ayler listening binge--which is tantamount to jogging in quicksand, as far as I'm concerned. For me, spending time with some of Ayler's music means spending time with all of Ayler's music. I've heard the opinion that Spiritual Unity is the perfect, singular encapsulation of what made Ayler so special--and it certainly is his iconic recording--paradigmatic, in a sense--but far from the whole picture. Spiritual Unity is only the zenith of Ayler's music insofar as the Ayler of a certain juncture ('64-'64ish) was absolutely sui generis and, by virtue of its precedence and influence, the apex of its genre. But (other than the heroic album art, its place/historical ordering in the emergence of free jazz, the weird, ghastly test signal toward the end of the record--which reminds me a bit of the fetishized, conspicuous silence at the heart of Yoshihiro Nakamura's Fish Story) there's not much that makes Spiritual Unity in and of itself better than Prophecy, Spirits Rejoice, The Hilversum Session, or (my personal favorite) Vibrations/Ghosts. *(I will note that a close friend of mine--present for Ornette and Monk, respectively, at the Five Spot, Trane's stints at the Half Note and Village Gate, the NYAQ in Copenhagen--I have no idea how he was in so many interesting places in such a narrow span of time--noted that Spiritual Unity comes closest to how Ayler sounded live. I will admit that there's something really blunt and confrontational about the sound quality and balance on that album, and maybe it's that starkness that makes it the classic.) Even limiting things to the epochal '64-'65 recordings means that we miss the development of the "string band" (which really did sound different with each personnel change), the wild but occasionally rewarding later Impulse sessions, and the Fondation Maeght recordings. Stopping after Peacock leaves the band ignores the fact that Ayler's playing did go through futher, increasingly bizarre evolutions as the 60's wore on--that piercing altissimo that dominates the string band recordings, for one, and the hardcore/post-Lionel Hampton band chording/rasp that he achieves on the final Impulse sides for another. Throwing the door open, maybe we can talk about some of our favorite less celebrated Ayler recordings? A couple of my picks: The Copenhagen Tapes Straight up, Vibrations is my favorite Ayler and the Cherry quartet is my favorite Ayler band. I heard the stories about Dolphy joining up with this group, and had that quintet been a thing, it would have been unbeatable in that idiom. Talk about a freaking supergroup. Cherry at this historical juncture ('64 or so) is both an original player and a phenomenal mirror--someone who manages to frame other instrumentalists in interesting, revealing ways whilst retaining a very personal musical identity. What Cherry does in this quartet is amazing--he is Ayler's melodic equal but very distinct in terms of color and attack (mostly much lighter). The unison and collectively improvised (i.e., two horn) passages in this band are just ridiculous, because they're bebop-caliber tight--they manage to endow Ayler's lines with a sense of logic and inevitability that just isn't there on the trio recordings. I'm singling out the Copenhagen Music because they're bad to the damn bone. Ayler is operating at a technical level similar to, but maybe even more extreme than the Spiritual Unity/Prophecy stuff. The September 3 version of "Vibrations" is just fucked up--that's the sort of stuff that makes you jump out of your seat if you're not prepared for it. I don't think Ayler had quite reached the facility on upper register that he did/would with the string band, and that extra bit of effort expended on getting the notes out juuuust right gives the music this sheen of agony and power that is absolutely spine-tingling. June 30/July 1 1967, Newport - Albert Ayler Quintet -This one was on Disc 6 of the Holy Ghost box, and I think it may be the best of the recorded string band music. I've heard plenty of people complain about the fact that there's simply too much of this band to digest--on the epic Greenwich Village sides, Slug's Saloon, and on Discs 3-5 of Holy Ghost--and I might agree with that to an extent. I think the excess and insistency of this music is both its weakness and its strong point--it's almost a dance band, simplifying everything--motivic complexity (both in a global thematic sense and in terms of the tiny melodic cells that serve as transitions within the pieces--I once heard someone make the point that this is probably because of Donald Ayler's technical limitations, and I'm inclined to agree), improvisations (Ayler is at full tilt altissimo for almost all of his solos), and especially rhythm (whereas Murray was exaggeratedly dynamic, Beaver Harris and, to a lesser extent, Ronald Shannon Jackson are content to thrash). On the other hand, if Ayler's goal was to communicate--or, rather, to frame his talents in "intelligble" terms--this band comes closer than any of Ayler's music to striking a balance between complexity, simplicity, and virtuosity. The Newport set might be my favorite because it is intense, complex, manages to feature all of the band members to striking effect, and is short. It packs all of the intensity of the Slug's sides--plus Milford Graves--into under 25 minutes. The band wants to make it count. Michel Samson gets his chirping upper register interlude--and it's brief. Donald Ayler squeezes off a brief, effective barrage of limited range firepower. Albert plays one of the most blistering altissimo solos of his career, and he even manages to fit in some weird vocals ("Japan," which is the same song the Pharoah features on Tauhid) and some alto and soprano playing.
  4. Albert Ayler: The Other Stuff

    Wow--I had no idea about Jack Gregg playing in that band. Something new every day... In much the manner that the "House of Trane" was sort of de facto partitioned after Coltrane's passing--Archie Shepp continued/developed the tradition of sideman sponsorship via massive recording projects, Pharoah took on the spiritualist modal angle, Alice picked up on Trane's baroque conceptual apirations and developed her own wild orchestral music, Rashied cultivated the DIY/loft aesthetic (to say nothing of guys like the sidemen of Trane's sidemen--Dave Liebman, Steve Grossman, Azar Lawrence, etc. who picked up on and shadowed Trane of various vintages)--Ayler's legacy fell upon a bunch of other folks who did sundry, sometimes very artful things with it. Peter Brotzmann was one--he secularized the Ayler aesthetic and in turn transformed it into something almost punkishly violent, confrontational, and ambivalent (which speaks/spoke to a whole other type of listening). Frank Wright, on the other hand, seemed capable of sustaining the consistent ensemble and singular sound that Ayler struggled to keep going for more than one or two years at a time in the 60's--he realized a certain part of the "spirit" of Ayler's music (the celebratory, ecstatic part), and I guess he was sort of rewarded for that.
  5. Albert Ayler: The Other Stuff

    Right on, jeffcrom. Your post reminded me that we definitely talked about this stuff before--then I realized that this thread happened: I'm not sure my opinion has changed, but I'm right with you on the quartet tracks. I'm not sure what the motivations behind recording such a grab bag of pieces was--nothing on those two albums sounds commercial, and the bagpipe pieces have to rank among Ayler's most alienating, forbidding music. Maybe Ayler was trying to break formula (after the relatively slight but consistent Love Cry and the disaster/brave experiment of New Grass--dependent on who you ask), maybe we has scrambling to try some new things out. Unlike Archie Shepp, whose albums in the late 60's/early 70's were similarly scattershot but retained a sense of conceptual and psychological unity, the last two Ayler albums sound desperate and confused, like someone who'd suddenly forgotten what his music was supposed to sound like. Apparently this wasn't the case live--not if the Fondation recordings have anything to say about it--but we'll never really, fully know. I've been rereading the Holy Ghost book here and there--apparently that final live recording on the disc 7 of the box is closer to the music Ayler was developing at the time (he selected the Fondation repertoire under the premise that it had all been recorded before and, thusly, he wouldn't get ripped off nearly as bad when the concerts got issued on record). Anyway, that last concert is really perplexing--he still sounds like Ayler, naturally, but many of the arrangements are (if anything) more conventional than the stuff played at the Fondation concerts--disarmingly so, in much the fashion cats like Shepp, Pharoah, and (from personal experience) Eddie Gale reverted to playing "straight" music without really buttoning down their freer tendencies (when soloing). What really strikes me about the last two Impulse albums is that, taken as works of "music" (rather than Ayler albums), there's a lot of really interesting arranging and deft conceptualization going on. I would be completely into "Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe" or "Island Harvest" if they'd been recorded by, say, the Battered Ornaments, whose first album was actually a (sort-of) British take-off on New Grass. Also, there's not a lot separating the ensemble improvisations on Healing Force from some of Frank Wright's later music (w/Eddie Jefferson--around the time he got into those weird modal/blues hybrid records)--and Ayler sort of "borrowed" Wright's trademark rhythm team for this album, anyway (Few and Ali). It's all sloppy and tentative on the Impulse sides, but I do think Ayler was on to something.
  6. For Bay Area cats--Friday night (technically tomorrow, but fast approaching)--November 16, 2012, 8:00pm--I'll be releasing a new album at Berkeley's Jazzschool (2087 Addison St). The album is called Taglish--a sort-of essay on Filipino-American life. It's a feature for my group Grex (http://www.grexsounds.com) and a cast of Bay Area veterans--Asian Improv aRts cofounder Francis Wong, Grammy winner/Jim Pepper authority John-Carlos Perea on bass, local powerhouse Jordan Glenn, Moxie bandleader Bill Noertker, and many others. Here's a little preview video I threw together: http://youtu.be/-ZrFuuOFENs
  7. Some Love For Jimmy Garrison

    One more thing--if Garrison ever had a "true" spiritual successor, it was Malachi Favors. They were very different players, but they both had this really profound way of clarifying and illuminating abstract environments. Garrison owned the maximalist arena with the Quintet, but Malachi Favors was a tower of strength on the early, often minimalist Art Ensemble albums (pre-Don Moye right up to and probably including Phase One and such).
  8. Some Love For Jimmy Garrison

    I can see where you're coming from, in no small part because I used to think the same way. I don't think there's any need for "conversion" in disagreement (the "I used to think that" line of debate is a huge irritant of mine), but I seriously think that close listening to Garrison will reward improv listeners with a huge appreciation for what can be done in an (admittedly--occasionally) straightjacketing idiom. I take some issue with the Parker comparison--they're similar on several facile levels (huge, woody sound, a preference for modal/vamplike contexts and only minor dynamic variation, "status" placement in key rhythm quartet bands--Ware v. Coltrane, that is), but it's worth noting that Parker actually lived through 20-30 years of musical developments before really coming into his own in his own idiom. That is, it's sort of difficult to make the call that playing like Garrison is the only, right, or logical "way" in a free jazz sort of context after Barry Guy, Johnny Dyani, Harry Miller, Peter Kowald, Yoshizawa Motoharu, Tatsu Aoki, Fred Hopkins, Malachi Favors, later Reggie Workman, etc. etc. etc. History can color our perception of things, and I think Parker sounds even more regressive considering that he's harkened back to the already historical Garrison thing and streamlined that. Garrison may not sound sound like the ideal bassist for late Trane--not after the Europeans, AACM cats, Japanese, and South Africans, and not after the promise of Richard Davis--but he's the only one among that crowd to have to grapple with the dilemma of adapting the repertoire of bop era bass to completely unprecedented freedom--and, by that token, he's really the only once who "succeeded." He figured it out first, and maybe by virtue of fighting that fight, understood the meaning of that freedom "the best." Parker, on the other hand, sort of studied the evidence, read the journals, did the science, and decided that Garrison's mathematics was more valuable than any number of other discoveries in the interim. What changed my mind on all this was actually getting stuck in late Trane for a bit (this is happening again, thanks to Jim's thread). In terms of articulation, phrasing, and especially rhythm, he is nothing like Parker. Jim mentioned in (I think) the Interstellar Space AOTW thread that (and I'm paraphrasing the hell out of this) Trane had basically exhausted the possibilities of harmonic freedom, although he never really got there rhythmically. Coltrane was a lot more systematic, a lot less freewheeling and pliable that Rollins or even Shorter. Another way to interpret this is that rhythmic filigree was at a sort of odds with late Trane's music, which still sounds hard, direct, and sort of monolithic. I look at Garrison as a sort of bass reduction of this aspect of Trane--not so much inflexible as steely and very much noodle-averse. Whereas Parker is a bit of a thrasher (phrase-wise), Garrison is extraordinarily selective with where he phrases his lines--in relief with Ali's drumming, I have to imagine this was a deliberate way of doing things. Keep in mind this was the guy who flipped out on Ornette because he didn't understand the concept--and a dude who played much more busily on (later) New York Is Now! and Love Call. Garrison's bass solos were always a sort of interlude--a respite from the maelstrom--but in that later band, Garrison found a way to integrate that soloistic approach with the ensemble sound. This was unprecedented as fuck, as I think only Charlie Haden was really operating on this level at that time. Guys like Gary Peacock and Lewis Worrell were classic--maybe paradigmatic--free improv thrashers, and their role was more as a precedent for the hardcore bass liberation that guys like Barry Guy and Dyani were working with later in the decade. Garrison, on the other hand--and maybe because he was a really systematic thinker, who knows--found a way to operate soloistically while still thinking in terms of counterpoint to the melody--and he didn't do it by playing less busy, necessarily, but by basically improvising a reduction of Trane's harmonic conceits. Resultantly, Garrison is very rhythmically assymetric (much more oblique than Parker), but still melodically lucid. This is a much more "inside" way of doing things, which might be why Garrison is still so "legit" to mainstream cats and maybe not so hot to out people. This is what I meant by egoless, and I have endless love, respect, and admiration for Jimmy Garrison for being this oddball voice of "reason" in an era when people weren't really giving half a damn about reason. That wouldn't be "enough," really, to put him in the pantheon, but I discovered that Garrison's depth and poise actually gave me sort of a lifeline back when late Coltrane sounded like chaos. Don't get me wrong--chaos is freaking awesome--but listening to Garrison actually foregrounded the calmness, beauty, love, etc. at the center of late Coltrane--which I definitely think was an important (and often ignored) part of the message. There are few greater skills for a bass player, AFAIC, than getting the listener to hear the rest of the band differently and "better." Killer Garrison to this effect may be heard on: Live in Japan -Maybe the most subdued of the late Quintet recordings, it's possible to listen to this as one long rhythm section piece. The interplay between Alice, Jimmy, and Rashied is really striking--like one long, unending dominant chord that somehow relaxes you into the middle of the tension. More than the Quartet music, this feels like Coltrane improvising over something orchestral and endlessly rich in color and stasis. Expression -Similar to Live in Japan, but more compressed and maybe more dynamic. What Garrison does with his role in the arrangements is truly spectacular--listen to stuff like "Seraphic Light," where with might otherwise sound like a noodle-y, vaguely "Eastern" drone actually achieves a degree of slow, powerful melodic momentum. That's real spontaneous orchestration. Cosmic Music -The Trane tracks on this album are kind of atrociously mixed, but that maximizes (in weird ways) the beauty of Garrison's contribution. His pizzicato work here is really fascinating--the band is at full tilt and the horns get severely unmelodic in places, but Garrison manages to turn that into a weird dialogue--two sides (horns v. bass/piano) at cross-purposes, where the harmony is actually only a shadow of what the horns are doing (rather than vice-versa). Stellar Regions (see Expression The Olatunji Concert -The consensus on this album seems to be that it sounds so bad that it's actually kind of awesome, and I agree with that. The drums are absolutely out of control, but the fact that Jimmy is also pushing the mic waaaay past red says something about his power and aplomb. Garrison earns a medal for not only engaging in a dialogue with what is essentially the world's longest atom bomb denotation, but also for complementing and reinforcing the power with a really inconceivable clarity.
  9. Some Love For Jimmy Garrison

    I didn't want to jump in and just start bashing Ron Carter--I do think he's one of the great bassists of his generation, particularly in his idiom (i.e., the second quintet freebop thing). On the other hand, beefs are beefs, and I'd be lying if I said that I understood precisely why a player of that status and caliber felt the need to drag on Garrison. I did and does strike me as another instance of a virtuosic musician calling out another musician on "failing to meet" supposedly objective standards of brilliance--which, as we know, is often "beef" more than it is "reality." I like The Real McCoy--and Ron's hookup with Elvin is unimpeachable insofar as it operates under its own premises (just like the Elvin hookup with Richard Davis, for example--there's nothing else like it). I do like Jimmy/Elvin "better," honestly--or, rather, it's a different thing that just gets me deeper (both feel wise and emotionally). A/Bing the version(s) of Chasing the Trane with Workman and Garrison, for example, convey just what Jimmy brought to that band--Workman is a great player, but his uptempo playing (at that time, at least) comes across as a lot more slippery, a lot less rhythmically "direct" than Jimmy's. Garrison is as stable as it gets without getting stiff. Jimmy strikes me as the rubicon point beyond which things get toooo stiff (see plenty of modal jazz in the wake of Coltrane) and before which things just aren't heavy enough. Speaking to something Noj said--I do think there's a very real and serious relationship between Jimmy/Elvin and, say, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward, Jones and Bonham, etc. etc. (free rhythm section example: Dyani and Moholo, post punk rhythm section: Kim Deal and Dave Lovering if you want to go there).
  10. Some Love For Jimmy Garrison

    Unless the discography got revised before I last checked, it was Garrison on Chasin' the Trane: Coltrane Discography John Coltrane Nonet Garvin Bushell (ob, cbasn -2) John Coltrane (ss, ts) Eric Dolphy (as, bcl -1/3,5,7) McCoy Tyner (p -2/4,6,7) Ahmed Abdul-Malik (oud -2) Reggie Workman (b -1/4,6) Jimmy Garrison (b -2,5,7) Roy Haynes (d -1) Elvin Jones (d -2/7) "Village Vanguard", NYC, November 2, 1961 1. Chasin' Another Trane Impulse IZ 9361/2 2. India MCA/Impulse MCAD 5541 3. Spiritual - 4. 10572 Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise Impulse A 10, AS 9200-2 5. 10576 Chasin' The Trane Impulse A 10, ASH 9278-2 6. 10573 Greensleeves Impulse AS 9325 7. Impressions Impulse IZ 9361/2 * Impulse IZ 9361/2 The Mastery Of John Coltrane, Vol. 4 - Trane's Modes * Impulse A 10 John Coltrane - Coltrane "Live" At The Village Vanguard * Impulse AS 9200-2 The Best Of John Coltrane - His Greatest Years * Impulse ASH 9278-2 The Best Of John Coltrane - His Greatest Years, Vol. 3 * Impulse AS 9325 John Coltrane - The Other Village Vanguard Tapes * MCA/Impulse MCAD 5541, DIDX 204 John Coltrane - From The Original Master Tapes Also, right about Art Davis, but you're wrong about Richard Davis: Richard Davis Interview
  11. Some Love For Jimmy Garrison

    Jimmy Garrison was and is an active negation of the notion that virtuosity is linked to competition--and, moreover, a counter to the lingering idea that "free music" (particularly of the "energy music" variety) is predicated on self-indulgence. I'm of the sense that even virtuosity/technique predisposed musicians will (and, in my experience, almost always do) hold Garrison in high regard due to a basic understanding of just how much it takes to play the "Garrison role" precisely, tastefully, and with conviction. That's how Workman (another bassist I love) lost the Coltrane gig, yes? Coltrane was of the mind that he didn't want someone mirroring Elvin--or, rather, that there was no need for two instruments to occupy the same rhythmic and energetic space. I actually have a hard time imagining too many bassists who could slot into a band with, say, Trane, Pharoah, McCoy, Elvin, and Rashied and check their egos at the door... Reading Ron Carter's pseudo-dismissal of Garrison in his interview with Ethan Iverson is just ridiculous in that regard. Ron--mercurial, active, and buoyant--is almost Garrison's opposite, and Ron was perfect for Miles's really liquid group concept in the 60's... but Trane's 60's music, which was (especially in later years) exploding with rhythmic activity, really benefited from a solid anchor, a sense of depth in the low register. McCoy wasn't just pure flash--he connected the dots between Elvin and Trane's rhythmic density and Jimmy's unhurried profundity. Hear the difference when Alice takes over the piano chair--much less stable, sort of like the constantly shifting Heraclitan river (whereas the "classic quartet" was this spectacular, eloquently stratified structure whose floors were in a constant state of remodeling). What keeps that final music together--insofar as I'm concerned, anyway--is Jimmy. There's something always there--as pointed out above, always "felt"--that tethers the music to a sense of comprehensible reality. As far as technique is concerned--anyone down on Garrison should listen to the hookup with Ed Blackwell on Ornette on Tenor. Jimmy is as supple and dense as Haden (maybe denser) and almost as mobile as LaFaro on a walk. Or dig the master take of Chasin' the Trane, which is still the ultimate burnout piece--Garrison is a heavy and rock solid swinger--even at fast tempos--and never gets so preoccupied mixing it up with Elvin that he loses the thread of Coltrane's narrative. Jimmy is the perfect energy bass player in that he prioritizes ebb and flow over phrases and gestures. None of this is to say that Garrison was ponderous or inflexible. Some of the trouble I've had with the crop of "heavy free jazz bass players" of the past two or so decades is this weird preoccupation with unrelieved walking (albeit at fluctuating tempos). Garrison does twice or three times as much with a couple notes surrounded by space than most bass players do with a stream of regular notes (let alone a stream of jittery phrases). I was just listening to Cosmic Music--it's very clear there that Garrison is essentially performing the role of this improvised solo/dialogue with the rest of the band's soapboxing, and the clarity and simplicity of his through-line really clarifies some of the band's ideas for me. There's always the story of how Coltrane wanted Richard Davis in the band before Trane split, and I can get that, too--even though Davis is slippery where Garrison is dry, he's still an anchor sort of bass player (heavy sounds and all that). If I want hyperactivity and craziness, I can go for Harry Miller, Johnny Dyani, Peter Kowald, and, for that matter, Scott LaFaro in the right moments--otherwise, I'm glad that Garrison was where he was at when he was there. It just sounds like that was what needed to happen.
  12. Complete Collections?

    I'm pretty sure I have all of Ornette's leader appearances in one form or another. I probably also have 60-80% or so of his sideman appearances--I'm just missing a handful of stuff I've either put off buying or haven't been able to track down in physical form (including that Rolf Kuhn album, the Geri Allen album he's on, the Al McDowell Time Peace album, two of the Jamaaladeen Tacuma albums he's on, and I think that's it). I've also managed to track down most circulating concert recordings from the pre-80's period (i.e., everything up to and including Of Human Feelings-era Prime Time), but the sheer volume of bootleg recordings after that point gets pretty intimidating. Brief perusal of racks--I must have 80-90+% of Andrew Hill, Dolphy, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Albert Ayler, Marion Brown, Art Ensemble of Chicago, and anything involving the Blue Notes/Brotherhood of Breath. Like a lot of people, I'm pretty sure I have all if not most of the Coltrane from the Atlantic period onward. Most of this has to do with papers/analyses I've had to write, incidentally. I guess it doesn't look like a disorder until you actually see it all in one place... Living the life of a musician/obsessive in the digital age, I've found it's actually pretty easy to accumulate/collect discographies from even obscure artists. I'm not talking about sharity blogs per se, but rather the fact that the one or two (for example) Air albums I'd had trouble tracking down maybe ten years ago are now up on Amazon for very cheap (or mixed into some relatively economical boxed set). I made a conscious effort a while back to avoid ordering stuff online (specifically the huge, conglomerate sales orgs--like Amazon or ebay) to keep record store buying interesting, but the market is deflating and it's harder and harder to find obscure stuff in the bins these days. I've found that current trends in availability of documentation have made it easier for me to "obtain" stuff, but much harder for me to "get" stuff (if you dig).
  13. Giuseppi Logan

    I couldn't find any other threads about either Giuseppi or his reappearance, so I thought I'd post this here: http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2009/01/lost...eppi-logan.html The article and embedded videos note that Giuseppi was indeed institutionalized and homeless for a period; to quote: "According to musician Matt Lavelle, Logan is currently living in a shelter in Brooklyn. The latest news is that on February 17, Logan will performing at the Bowery Poetry Club (308 Bowery, Manhattan) as part of a running series of "ESP-Disk Live" evenings. Giuseppi Logan lives. And plays. Blessedly." ...and he's found Jesus--or, maybe, Jesus found him--as the interview with pastor Dr. Bill Jones (in one of the hypertext links on the WFMU blog page) shows. Good to see that Giuseppi is still playing in one way or another. His recorded legacy is of course beyond scant, but that first ESP disc is one of the more original albums issued out of the first couple waves of NY free jazz--beyond strange in terms of "playing" and instrumental technique, but much, much more fully realized melodically or compositionally--as an "ethos"--than a lot of the post-Ornette/post-Coltrane/post-Ayler stuff that floats around. Hope he's getting his royalties from that one, finally.
  14. My good friend Von Freeman

    Fascinating lineup--Tatsu (in addition to being one of the foremost old guard bassists in Chicago) is a very esteemed member of the greater Asian Improv scene. I know him through Francis Wong--one of many "big" tenors in Tatsu's musical circle, it seems. I've always enjoyed Tatsu's playing, and I'd imagine his pliant, burly tone would mesh well with a tenor as tough as Von.
  15. Burning Ambulance's 10 Greatest Saxophonists

    That is one of the single most ignorant conceits I've heard about new music/free jazz--and conceived of by people who should definitely know better! That's like counting Ornette and Dewey Redman, Frank Wright and Noah Howard, Konitz and Marsh as the same guy.
  16. Joseph Jarman

    Yes--best to Joseph!
  17. Bobby Hutcherson - Components

    I purchased a copy of Head On earlier today and... wow. Components does not lie in that it paints a picture of a complex, multifaceted musician with a very broad palette of tastes and inclinations. Even though it's not as if any of Bobby's other albums are that clearly divided between an "in" side and an "out" side (so to speak), Components was not a fluke. My mind reels at the fact that Bobby recorded Now (a pseudo-abstract psychedelic groover), then San Francisco (a moody funk album), then Head On (which shifts from free jazz to light instrumental music to modal blowouts with remarkable cohesion), then Natural Illusions (which borders on irredeemable muzak at times). I honestly can't think of another mainstream jazz musician of the era who was both this all over the place in terms of setting and so proficient at everything he or she handled. There's Rahsaan, but his bag is more explicitly postmodern; the genre play in that case is jarring and purposefully so, and many of his attempts at engaging with subgenres are almost aggressively facile, if musically interesting (I'm thinking specifically of The Case of the 3 Sided Dream in Audio Color, which is alternately awesome and a little bit too absurd). Freddie Hubbard did a lot of work in multiple settings, but his crassness was much more wholesale than Bobby's, and his descent into recorded commercialism is a little more extreme. The clearest comparison is with Herbie, although Herbie was the more visionary composer and conceptualist--the arc of his development seems clearer and more overtly purposeful (however much you value that purpose... after Thrust, at least). Head On does reinforce my thoughts about the Hutcherson/Chambers collaboration--that is, that Bobby's "secret" talent was that he had an excellent ear for other folks' innovations and, moreover, that he knew how to both champion those innovations and operate convincingly within their premises. The transition from "At the Source" to "Many Thousands Gone" is mind-boggling in its scope, and it's sort of a microcosm of how Hutch's preternatural ability to collaborate made, in almost every case up until the 80's, for this sort of gestalt music--a sound informed by, but "better" than, what, say, Cochran and Hutcherson might create independently. As for what you said, CJ--were you the guy who mentioned this on a Components thread a while back? Because if so, that was dead on, and it's crazy to me that no one (including myself) followed up on your sentiments. The similarities between Components and the more free jazzy EFI (like, for example, the SME's Karyobin) are very, very apparent. It may (or may not) have been a matter of one thing influencing the other, but it was certainly a case of people coming to similar conclusions from similar external pressures. The reductionist free jazz aesthetic of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble was a response, in ways, to the maximalist American ethos (e.g., Coltrane), and Chambers's contributions to Components strike me as attempts to both rationalize (via intellectual and physical introversion) the liberties of free jazz that were elsewhere exercised fast and loose.
  18. Isn't the commonly circulated story that Holland actually had to leave Braxton to join up with Sam's Trio? Holland does appear on a few live Braxton dates (where Altschul wasn't in the drum chair), so maybe it was literally a matter of switching commitments.
  19. I think you're right, Jim, although there is something (in more general terms) to what Pete says. We'd definitely be hearing Paragon or The Quest if either had been on Impulse!--even Streams got reissued at one point, and it's basically a lesser iteration of the Altschul/Holland trio music. You of course can't blame what does get reissued (Trio Live, for example) for what doesn't, but history does get written off of what's there. I don't think it's unfair to say, for example, that Dave Holland's early solo career basically came out of the Sam Rivers freebop ethos--i.e., I don't think his music would have gone where it did if not for his time in Sam's band. Despite all that, most of the talk about Dave's early work tends to center around his time with Miles--it's selective historiography, yes, but people might be telling different stories if we'd heard the very prescient, very killing trio stuff with River and Altschul. Either way, this music is due for an appraisal. It's "free jazz," yes, but it is just relevant enough to even the current mainstream that it deserves notice from a wider consciousness.
  20. I think I favor Paragon to The Quest by juuuust a little bit, but that's like comparing The Shape of Jazz to Come and Change of the Century, Miles Smiles, Sorcerer, and Nefertiti, etc. etc.--different shades of the same band. I've been psyched to hear this album for ages, so I'm thrilled this is finally seeing the light of day. The fact that this trio's available discography has been virtually nonexistent for the past several years, replaced (in a way) by documents of epigonic ensembles (Trio Live on Impulse, for one--good but, not as good), is somewhat of a travesty. I was always of the understanding that this was one of the iconic bands of the era, similar to the Art Ensemble, Air, and a handful of others, and the fact that things staying in or out of print can warp that perspective is kind of crazy.
  21. Bobby Hutcherson - Components

    copies of Double Exposure are currently on Discogs if you want to bring the day closer New reissue copies now on sale for $9.99 at Chicagos, dustiest grooviest: http://www.dustygroove.com/item.php?id=xbgk89dwh4&ref=browse.php&refQ=kwfilter%3Djoe%2Bchambers%26amp%3Bincl_oos%3D1%26amp%3Bincl_cs%3D1 Carpe Diem! My Andrew Hill, Richard Davis, and Larry Young fixations led me to both of those albums... the Almoravid always struck me as shockingly maximalist, but I guess that's part Joe and part something to do with the times--it has some interesting overlap with the Milestone albums of the era in that it is very, very rhythm (and rhythm section) heavy... in other words, I think it's very true that it "rounds out" the picture to an extent. Double Exposure, on the other hand, is much more ruminative in a way I would have expected from Joe "the composer"'s previous efforts--I guess I was expecting a full album of duets that sounded like the Elvin/Larry Young "Monk's Dream," but the colors on Double Exposure are a lot subtler. Something about the way Joe writes indicates to me that he really, really did his homework in the tradition of contemporary "legitimate" composition--I hear a ton of Stravinsky in there, and I don't think it's just an artifact of extended harmony + primal rhythms... and there are serious post-minimalist strains on Double Exposure. Joe's brother was a new music composer (I don't really know more about this), and there may have been some osmosis in there.
  22. Bobby Hutcherson - Components

    I'm of the mind that Bobby's "prime" period as a frontman on Blue Note ('65-'70) marks one of the greatest single leader-single label runs in jazz. Bobby was, of course, an adventurous and flexible contributor to many of the most important and realized sessions of the 60's--Out to Lunch, One Step Beyond, Destination Out!, Life Time, Evolution, and Judgment, among others--but he was also an extremely versatile leader, catholic in taste and remarkably affecting in a variety of idioms. I can think of few musicians of the era who conveyed as well-developed an understanding of the full spectrum of 60's jazz as Hutcherson, which is why, despite his subsequent shift to (by and large) conservatism, he'll always have my respect and admiration as an "explorer." I was going to post something on the "Blue Note School" of inside-out before I found this thread, but it's doubly interesting to trace a specific artist (Bobby in this case) through the ebb and flow of the 60's. There's definitely a straight line from the early McLean sides to '69 (when he did Now--already somewhat of a commercial recording--and Stanley Cowell's Brilliant Circles, which is like a "late to the party," slightly more ominous Blue Note album), but Bobby kept really busy with session work from all corners--soul jazzy post-bop on "Street of Dreams" and "Feeling Free," straightforward, Impulse-y free jazz with Shepp, big band music with Gerald Wilson, mellow swing/bop with Dexter Gordon... it's almost hard to pinpoint a specific thing he did "best," although it's clear he did all of these things well. We tend to celebrate a number of classic BN runs--Shorter's and Hill's maybe being the apotheoses of their respective discographies, with Herbie's, Hank Mobley's, Joe Henderon's, and a handful of others' also justly canonized--but I very rarely hear talk about just how remarkable Hutch's arc was. These happened in order, for perspective: Dialogue, Components, Happenings, Stick-Up!, Oblique, Patterns, Total Eclipse, Spiral, Medina... for my money, they're all absolute classics right up to Patterns, and even though I'm not 100% convinced of the relative merits of post-Coltrane Harold Land, that band (as a band) was a helluva band. Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-4NTZSkzAE&feature=related As for Components--it's easy to read Bobby's BN discography as a gradual descent into the mainstream, but (as many mention above) the story is nowhere near as simple as that. Joe Chambers was clearly the X factor here, and a big part of Hutch's more experimental efforts came out of a synergy with Chambers as a composer--paired with Hill on Dialogue, essaying the crazy half of Components, offering up the "weird" tracks on Oblique. I sort of read it less as Bobby "becoming" more conservative and more that the meeting with Chambers was timely and very much a part of what was "in the air"--it's all a testament to Hutcheron's remarkable flexibility (essaying both hardcore abstraction and modal exercises to perfection) and Chambers's vastly underrated and visionary talents as a composer that we got this music at all. On that note, why Chambers--whose experiments on Hutch's earlier Blue Notes presage the European improv scene of the 60's and rival Cecil Taylor in their systematized approach to improvised abstraction--is not more well regarded is a total mystery to me. He's up there with Wayne, Hill, and Moncur as one of the most idiosyncratic, intelligent, and formidable composers of that scene. Moreover, I used to have the impression that Chambers was sort of a makeweight Tony Williams (he seems to show up everywhere Tony Williams was or would have been), but I've come to the conclusion that despite his leaning toward more straightforward conceits than his more celebrated peers (Tony and Elvin in particular), Joe was maybe the most reliable session drummer in the Blue Note fold... he never played a truly crappy album, and he did so many of them. I rediscovered Oblique this past weekend, and though it's clearly a confluence of many wonderful, weird things (Herbie in the last "real" year of the 2nd Miles Quintet, recording within days of Trane's death, Albert Stinson showing up, etc.), Chambers f'ing makes that session. In terms of reliability, propulsion, and making everything groove, Joe Chambers is a hall of famer.
  23. Herbie/Headhunters 1974

    The really perplexing thing is that the author clearly had access to all of the members of Mwandishi and a multitude of entourage-type people. It was a real opportunity to do some original research, but it reads more like a "pop music" book (if there is an analog in music to "pop science"). It's one big instance of the author just saying "[topic A] is beyond the scope of this book," and it just makes everything seem really marginal.
  24. Herbie/Headhunters 1974

    Thanks for pointing that out--and one of the few things that the otherwise mediocre Mwandishi book really accomplished was illustrating just how fraught the inside baseball surrounding the Mwandishi band was. Obviously the music was far out, but it was also a matter of Warner Bros. having no idea what do with what Herbie had concocted. It's plain upon listening to any of the three "main" Mwandishi albums, the Eddie Henderson stuff, the soundtrack to The Spook Who Sat By the Door, and even passages of The Jewel in the Lotus that that band was a lot funkier than history would have us cop to, just as Head Hunters was a lot weirder than we often give it credit for. I often wonder about prescient music and the degree to which its epigones succeed by virtue of either (a) history "catching up" with innovation or (b) people dumbing down and simplifying an innovated "thing." Again, Headhunters is striking for just how extremely not lame it is, considering many of its distinguishing innovations have been manhandled into much, much lesser musics (i.e., crappy bar bands playing "Chameleon"). Sextant, on the other hand, could have laid the groundwork for plenty of contemporary electronica--but I have yet to hear much electronic dance music (not just crappy stuff, but consensus choices like Autechre, Squarepusher, Flying Lotus, etc.)--that approaches Sextant's level of rhythmic freedom, harmonic sophistication, and spontaneous detail. (And just so I'm not being elitist--these attributes are not necessary for superior or even "good" art--just that we're talking about descendant music that shares more than a little with what is in many ways a more complexly organized ancestor.)
  25. Herbie/Headhunters 1974

    This is the book I'm talking about (as some of you have already pointed out): You'll Know When You Get There ...and this is a lengthy (and, on reflection, sort of cantankerous) review I wrote a few weeks back: Issues w/Mwandishi Book In short, the book fills in some interesting narrative gaps in the Mwandishi band's history, but it's extremely cursory with the analysis and is largely composed of information that duplicates preexisting (and readily accessible) papers and interviews. This is not a book that either "captures the spirit" of the music or opens up new and interesting conceptual angles. The spate of Herbie discussion in the past few months has opened my mind to the continuity in Herbie's music. I'm not necessarily of the mind that this sense of continuity forgives the excess and crassness of some of the late-70's/80's music, but it does make it impossible to write Herbie off as this irredeemable sellout with a specific "jumping the shark" sort of moment. Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Kt2DVy80z8 ...a track off of the first Headhunters "solo" album, released in 1975 (I can't get a recording date, but my assumption is either late '74 or early/mid '75)--it sounds like a Mwandishi track--or, rather, something off of The Jewel In the Lotus (which was definitely recorded in 1974). The fact that this stuff was recorded so long after Head Hunters makes me think that, although the Headhunters often subverted freer/spacier aspects in the name of "the funk," freedom and spaceiness were such timely and still relevant concerns that they couldn't be disregarded entirely. Maybe the exigencies of Herbie's newfound success curbed the in-studio experimentation a bit, but stuff like this--and definitely music like "Vein Melter" and the tracks off of Flood--indicate to me that fat grooves were only part (albeit probably the biggest part) of what the whole Headhunters thing was about.