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Everything posted by ep1str0phy

  1. Cecil Taylor RIP

    I never met Cecil in person, never got to study or play with him, only saw him live once--in a very forbidding environment--but his presence was absolutely monumental in this music, and I can't imagine anyone who inhabits free jazz or creative music or whatever not feeling this sudden, encompassing sense of loss with CT's passing. Virtually all of the key innovators of early American free music are gone now. Consider this--the chapter spotlights in Valerie Wilmer's As Serious As Your Life include Trane, Cecil, Ornette, Sun Ra, Ayler, and the AACM, in addition to shorter features on people like Bill Dixon, Dennis Charles, Ed Blackwell, etc. Ekkehard Jost's Free Jazz includes chapters on Trane, Mingus, Ornette, Cecil, Shepp, Ayler, Don Cherry, Sun Ra, and the AACM. If you have a chance to see Shepp or the early wave AACM guys who are still around, drive 500, drive 1,000 miles to do it. As a scholar, listener, or musician, you absolutely owe it to yourself to inhabit a little bit of history so long as it still graces this planet. I've detailed my personal connection to this music elsewhere, but suffice it to say that the kind of dogged iconoclasm at the heart of Cecil's music is not something to be taken lightly. I remember hearing a certain august improviser say of Derek Bailey, "He made a lot of sacrifices," and I imagine, without being privy to much in the way of private insights, that this was true of Cecil, too. Cecil's example emboldens even as it cautions, though, as to fight and survive and flourish in this music--and for so long--you need to come from a place of love, and joy, and purpose. That's something I have to remind myself of every day. I liked Ethan Iverson's invocation of the "if there hadn't been X, we would have needed to invent him" truism, because it's absolutely appropriate in this case. There's a spectrum of technical practice that encompasses "free jazz piano" and emanates outward into territories like bassless trios, large group free jazz, and especially vague categories like "energy music" that is marked by Cecil's innovations. Versions of CT's alphabetic notation are everywhere among a certain generation and category of improvising musician, and I don't think it's a stretch to say that this kind of elaborate restructuring of traditional notational strictures helped pave the way for the normalization of graphic scores in contemporary jazz. And while I'm sure many are much better equipped to detail Cecil's contributions to the lexicon of modern piano, it needs to be said that his innovations--in parallel and in consort with Albert Ayler--in the way of liberating jazz harmony, timbre, and especially rhythm section praxis are absolutely monumental. That's broad-stroke, macro stuff that isn't limited to free jazz. And man, the highs were crazy high--we can spend lifetimes of boards and threads taking apart things like Unit Structures, Air Above Mountains, One Too Many Salty Swift and Not Goodbye, 3 Phasis, Akisakila, Spring of Two Blue J's, and on and on and on. Just 1,000,000x thanks.
  2. Grace Kelly

    I think you bring up a pretty good point, which is that it's impossible for me to understand exactly how it feels to be a cis white male in this cultural environment. I can appreciate that we're in the midst of a big pivot in the way that criticism interfaces with cultural production, but I think it's important to recognize that all parties are confronting this pivot in different ways and with different considerations in mind. The way in which many white writers seem to be coming to terms with addressing and advocating on behalf of marginalized groups is interesting to me in that this is the universe that most people of ostensibly oppressed groups or minority descent (for lack of a better term) have had to live in for a very long time. None of this is to say that a person like me can't share that experience to a certain extent--e.g., I think that many males of color have lately had to deal with, to dredge this up again, the kinds of misogyny embedded in our cultures. It's only that when I have to watch this cycle of constant remonstration, guilt, and self-censorship, I feel peripheral to the conversation--as if it has more to do with the self-censored rather than the marginalized group in question. There are a ton of illustrative anecdotes I could bring up, but a historical (and relevant) one comes to mind. There's a (paraphrased) quote from Dudu Pukwana--something that he said to an African American musician--which was this: "I am African. You are American." Dispensing for a moment with discussions of Diaspora and the value of the term "African American"--this was Pukwana's self-made distinction, and it was said with the intention of establishing a narrative that few people had really bothered to explore. South African does not equal African American does not equal African, necessarily, etc. etc. All this goes to say that the important distinction in this case was made by the marginalized person, which is more or less how it always goes. There's a reason that George Lewis was the one to write the definitive AACM book, or why we still read the Miles or Mingus autobiographies--or something like Notes & Tones--years after better scholarship has been made available. You can really only speak for your experience. I wish it were easy enough to say something like "don't presume and don't be a dick to others and listen to other people when they try to tell you things about themselves" and get the proper effect. Obviously that is not the case. What I do firmly believe to be true is that the current climate of political and cultural shaming isn't sustainable, because (too put it maybe too simply again) a culture predicated on fear is more or less a flower bed for actual, substantive hatred and oppression. I wish absolutely anyone knew a credible way out of this conundrum, but as we get years past 2016 I begin to worry that we're just getting angrier.
  3. Grace Kelly

    Wanted to chime in on this one. I've been largely absent from discussion in main because many of the most incendiary dialogues are (now) skirting dangerously close to my immediate peer group, which has given me a new and somewhat uncomfortable perspective on the paradigm of audience (as recipient) v. performer. Weird waking up to the notion that what I thought was casual, largely objective discussion on legendary musicians existing at a kind of remove is actual casual, largely subjective discussion about real people who you may or may not have lunch with at some point. We've reached a weird punctuation mark in the reception of culture whereby almost every discussion seems to demand an avowal or disavowal of a certain set of political beliefs--which shouldn't read as anything new, since jazz has always involved issues of race, ethnicity, class, etc.--but I think it's beginning to have a negative impact on the broader critical discourse. I feel weird having to pull the "as a X of X" card, but as a binational person of color who is baldly preoccupied with progressive causes in my "real" life, I've begun to tune out most conversations about cultural sensitivity in jazz because they're almost invariably about introspection on the part of the interlocutors rather than anything, well, musical. Remember when there was that gigantic Twitter kerfuffle involving Ethan Iverson and Robert Glasper? The Do the Math blog has been running interviews and essays on female musicians for months now and I've barely heard a word from social media. Not that Iverson should necessarily be congratulated for normalizing this kind of representational journalism--it's the kind of stuff that jazz should have been doing for forever now--but when you expend a ridiculous amount of social energy on dragging one guy down for his cultural transgressions--and then say more or less nothing when he attempts to fix said transgressions--then the problem has as much to do with the dialogue as it has to do with the people talking. This gets into even harrier territory, but as someone who can only really understand white guilt as an observer and not a participant, I'm a little taken aback at how many conversations about minority groups tend to devolve into a (rhetorical, but not necessarily literal) dick measuring contest between, to put it bluntly, self-flagellant white cis males and aggressive men's rights/white victim folks. (Just to clarify before people freak out, I'm not lumping anyone here into one group or the other--I'm describing the general tenor of a conversation I'm seeing unfold everywhere, and not just on the internet.) There's a place for this kind of dialogue--and it's a necessary one, I think--but this is a conversation that runs parallel to critical appraisal. You're living in a toxic environment when Jim feels the need to explain his feelings on one musician just because her cross-section of demographics is so politically charged. All this goes to say that there's a distinction to be made between how music is received as an embodied piece of technical practice v. how music is received as representational cultural artifact. There is absolutely intersection therein but I'm frankly tiring of the mandate that we need to preface every critical conversation over, say, women in jazz with a declaration of our purposes and inclinations. If you really want to get into the conceptual nightmare of addressing the political implications of every single work of improvised music, then come strapped--let's talk about how the critical response to Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra is tied into embedded homophobia among midcentury jazz communities, or how cultural treatment of South African jazz musicians is embedded in our privileged conflation of ethnic and national identities, or how dealing with women in jazz has to do with an ethos of judging masculine-coded musical practices v. feminine-coded musical practices, etc. etc. I and many people on this board can do this all day, but to what end--and who actually benefits?
  4. Michael Cosmic Reissue finally here

    Hey, folks--I disappeared up the crevice for a while and so I'm not sure how much weight this recommendation brings, but this reissue is legit. I say this with full acknowledgment for the fact that Clifford's been a friend and supporter for a long time--I speak purely to musical considerations, since ultimately that's all that matters. I went on an obsessive box binge over the holidays, and the clear winners were this one and the Joe McPhee Nation Time recording box from a few years back. I think that the music of this vintage arrived at moment when the exigencies of spontaneity and identity affirmation had to confront, by virtue of time and external realities, things like structural innovation and technical achievement. The AACM guys are the deserving, historically acknowledged masters of this era, but it's deeply instructive to peek in on all these regional scenes to see how the same philosophical and conceptual considerations were being dealt with in different, often divergent ways. I've been listening, too, to Sunny Murray's music in the wake of his passing, and I'm reminded a bit of something the former Marvin Patillo said to me once--that many of the guys from this vintage "could not play" and this was a well-traded truth. The people who could, or whose concepts were coherent enough to survive the era--capital letter people like Ornette or lesser known lights like Noah Howard--found ways to adjust or pivot out of the pure, dispersive free thing of the 60's. The rub against this is the (controversial) reality that people with incomplete technical concepts--like McPhee, who started playing tenor in '68 and recorded Underground Railroad in '68-69 (!)--can and did make substantive contributions to the embodied intellect of the music. This speaks a little to Cosmic's music but also, I think, says a lot about some of the reservations I have about both contemporary free jazz and the composite picture of modern day avant-garde composition/improvisation. There's just a lot of flail-y, unrealized free jazz and a lot of overwrought, technically sterile avant-garde stuff traded about. There's also a lot of deeply brilliant regional and "big city" music that goes unheard because of the philosophical dint of modern jazz criticism. I can only imagine my excitement at hearing something as bloody and real as the Cosmic/Musra group or Nation Time in the early 1970's--and take stock in the understanding that there's a lot of similarly exciting music happening everywhere, right now. This is all a circular way of saying that things like Peace in the World are absolutely invaluable documents of both the era and the un-dimming spirit of (in the romantic sense) unheard music. I was only peripherally attuned to this music before, and I can hear the debt to things like the early AACM music, the Paris guys, and Center of the World, but it's absolutely it's own thing--played with conviction and energy and its own ragged precision, and not so dissimilar to, say, the wilder experiments of the UGMAA or earlier William Parker. It's big, blustery, loping music, but there's a clear compositional and technical impetus at play, and most important of all, it's as far away from boring as the needle can get.
  5. Berklee in the News (and it ain't pretty)

    Well, (maybe) yes, and it's partly for that reason that I wonder why the political subforum hasn't been reinstated. At the same time, I acknowledge the fact the broader national discourse has become deeply toxic and that some leakage into everyday mechanics is/was inevitable. That being said- The thing that I find kind of gross about these kinds of conversations is our, I think, inadvertent reluctance to acknowledge our (as a music) culpability in the construction of modes of oppression. I don't want to drag that dude back into the mud because I think he's at heart a good guy whose stardom came to outsize his words, but this ties a bit into the Ethan Iverson debacle re: female musicians. There were a lot of people calling bullshit on Ethan about hiring and documenting female musicians who I know were just as responsible, in a practical sense, for perpetuating that kind of macho jazz insularity. Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with four dudes playing jazz, but throwing stones and glass houses and not addressing the root problem and all that. A lot of jazz has a lot of longstanding history tethering itself to progressivism and activism, but as many of you know, it was not and is not some noble artform absent rampant racism, homophobia, misogyny, and generalized bigotry. I've seen a lot of this shit firsthand, and I trust many of you have, too. So--and I say this with much love for the greater discussion here--this is not a harmless conversation between bystanders. We made this as a community. Look, if you want to be a conspiratorial misogynist or a not-at-all-stealth alt righter, go nuts--we live in America and you're owed those freedoms. I also hope that someone is there to fight you every step of the way, and I say that as someone with plenty of liberal friends but also many conservative intimates. But yeah, this is not a harmless discussion, and if we were to properly pull on the thread and follow it to its logical conclusion, it would unravel a lot of what is supposedly magical about this music. And maybe it's time to stop compartmentalizing that.
  6. Berklee in the News (and it ain't pretty)

    Having not participated in a forum discussion with this degree of heat for some time, I'm (only sort-of) bemused by all this. Not a knock on OP, obviously, or really/necessarily any single poster here, but this reads to an outside observer like a baldfaced political debate. I admit that this probably isn't the proper place for meta commentary on board culture, but I've noticed quite a bit of covert politicization on here as of late--and yeah, understandably so, because interpersonal tension tends to roil over into even the most mundane things, and yesterday's mundane things (like casual internet commentary) seem to have become some kind of potshot-y battleground for the nation's soul. This thread may not be the best example, because the topic is inherently heated--but it hasn't escaped notice that folks have been using seemingly lackadaisical discussion as a vehicle for espousing sociopolitical rhetoric (and thereby, weirdly, attempting to contravene some kind of systematized strangulation of values). The funny thing to me is that the larger body of commentators here comprise the same few--and maybe I'm stretching here--demographically homogenous people who were having civil conversations about Mosaic sets and Lou Donaldson discographies maybe one or two years ago. Not that I'm saying that we should resist this kind of discussion, since it's a healthy part of the jazz and greater cultural narrative, but there's a bizarre, bitter irony in the regularization of culture warring on a jazz forum--in an era where the broader cultural resonance of the music is greatly diminished.
  7. Muhal Richard Abrams - RIP

    Crushing loss. I spent scarce little time with the man, but he left an indelible mark on my creative sensibility. The week or so he spent at Mills a little under ten years ago was one of the formative educational experiences of my entire life. I will absolutely never forget the duo concert he played with Roscoe the last night, which still figures among the most exciting nights of music I've ever had the privilege of experiencing. Talk about a life changing life. Thank you for absolutely everything, sir.
  8. There's an enclave on the left--one which I do inhabit rather frequently--that is eager, and maybe overeager, to protest microagressions. I feel like a lot of the proportional response to this phenomenon has something to do with trying to dismiss or diffuse what is perceived as oversensitivity, so we bandy about terms like triggered and outrage culture to further entrench ourselves in given behaviors. I do wonder whether most of the dialogue regarding cultural representation and misrepresentation is of secondary value in a political climate where lives are (literally) at risk. As someone who works very often in Asian-American jazz circles, I'm attuned to the intersection between the musical work and the cultural work, and while a big part of me respects Terumasa as a trumpet player (even as I question his actions in this instance), the other part of me is thinking, "how long in this thread before there's some kind of racialized pun?" So while I wasn't disappointed in this instance, I can also acknowledge the relative harmlessness of dad humor in an era where an ill-timed protest means either avoiding my local market or being prepared to engage in active self-defense. I know this isn't a political forum so I'll stop there and hope I'm understood--otherwise, hey, find me elsewhere or let's take it to PMs.
  9. And the usual transliteration is bushido. Even as an Asian/Pacific Islander who frequently aligns with progressive causes, I'm not really keyed into outrage culture and think there are bigger priorities that demand attention, but if I never saw samurai delicatessen again, it wouldn't be too soon.
  10. Bay Area local and active performer. Bebop's recommendations are legit, and if you're looking for a more comprehensive listing that hews closer to pure improv/free jazz, check out this listing: http://www.bayimproviser.com/ I'll shamelessly plug my own stuff and say that I'm playing the Starry Plough in Berkeley this Friday (9/29) with my primary project Grex and two very interesting groups (torch song project Qualia and the the unbelievable Sacramento-based avant prog band Gentleman Surfer). Monday 10/2 I play the Make-Out Room in San Francisco with Scott Amendola (TJ Kirk, Nels Cline Singers) and bassist Jason Hoopes (the bassist in Fred Frith's current trio), Thursday 10/5 I play Berkeley Art Museum with Scott's ridiculous big band (featuring Ben Goldberg, Fred Frith, members of ROVA, and more). Not sure when you're leaving, but I play the aforementioned Bird and Beckett on Sunday, 10/15 with Lewis Jordan and Music at Large (Lewis was in the band United Front with Anthony Brown, Mark Izu, and George Sams). Other general places to check out--and where the "meat" of the scene is, as far as genre intersection and the really innovative stuff is concerned--include the Luggage Store Gallery in SF, Studio Grand in Oakland, and Octopus Salon in Oakland. A lot of the medium-sized rock clubs are also pretty good hubs for interesting music--e.g., the Elbo Room, Hemlock Tavern, the Night Light. Bebop's list of jazz clubs covers a lot of the big ones, but I'll also add Woods Bar and Brewery. FWIW, Duende no longer exists, and Cafe Van Kleef is pretty unreliable these days.
  11. Lester Bowie's Sho' Nuff Orchestra

    Did anyone here ever catch Lester's 59-piece Sho' Nuff orchestra in action? (one of the legendary ensembles that, it seems, is lost to lore--featuring many of the major AACM and BAG saxes, plus guys like Frank Lowe, Frank Wright, Charles Tyler...)
  12. Roscoe Mitchell Targeted for Dismissal at Mills College

    Hey, guys- Sorry for the radio silence on this--I've been on tour and there's been a great deal of vagueness on this issue in the past few days. That being said, it looks like Roscoe is safe! Here's an email I just received (an open letter--many of my colleagues got the same one): Dear All:Mills College has decided not to terminate my current three-year contract. I would like to take this time to thank everyone for all your letters and words of support. I am honored and humbled by the time and effort each of you have taken to stand with me, and I’m truly inspired by your impassioned, coordinated efforts to loudly proclaim your respect for the work being done by myself and my colleagues at Mills. My hope is that your actions will pave a way for us all to move forward with increasing focus, during this ever-crucial period for music, art, and other creative endeavors. I feel that all of you have demonstrated how powerful we can be when we contribute our efforts towards a common goal, and I encourage each of you to seek out and seize opportunities generated in this important era we are now living in.I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had the support of teachers, students, musicians, music lovers, and all others who spoke out to defend the value of creative music and the arts at-large. That said, I would like to acknowledge those of my fellow professors who Mills chose to let go, in spite of the outpouring of support for them and alternate plans proposed by dedicated individuals seeking a more favorable outcome. A great number of you put so much work into trying to persuade the college that firings were not a necessary component of their Financial Stabilization plan. Again, I want to express how grateful I am to you for taking the time to write on our behalf and/or show your support at public hearings held at Mills. I truly wish the outcome had not left anyone who worked for the college by the wayside.Though this has proven to be a disruptive period of time for me, I am glad to put it behind me and look forward to resuming my work as a composer, performer, and pedagogue. I thank all of you for helping to provide me with secure footing, so that I may now devote my time to practicing, writing, preparing for next year’s classes, and coordinating exciting events like the upcoming concert of my new orchestral works at the De Young Museum in September. I’m thrilled to see my music performed and enjoyed by people like you, who wrote in to make known your passion, curiosity, and creativity. I cannot thank each of you enough.All the best,Roscoe Mitchell
  13. Roscoe Mitchell Targeted for Dismissal at Mills College

    In all seriousness, it's a matter of rousing discontent and getting the word out. If anyone has a line on a news outlet in the Bay or elsewhere, getting an article published helps (I've been working on this). Emailing the parties in my first post is very useful if you're an alum, but outside pressure from others (whether it be press or fellow musicians or fans) can't hurt. Most of the dialogue has been on Facebook, but communicating about this on Twitter, Instagram, and so on is useful. This is in many ways a PR battle. As for what you say, Jim--yes, I agree that the world does not share our outlook on life, but Mills has proven in many ways that it is a hospitable environment for that kind of outlook. It's astonishing just how many world class musicians have occupied Roscoe's chair over the years--Braxton, Xenakis, Lou Harrison, Pauline Oliveros, Curran, and so on. The systematic disassembling of that kind of positive atmosphere is troubling, since so few outlets are left.
  14. Roscoe Mitchell Targeted for Dismissal at Mills College

    Here's an article that clarifies a bit of Chris's statements (above): https://ww2.kqed.org/arts/2017/06/07/jazz-pioneer-roscoe-mitchell-marked-for-dismissal-at-mills-college/ Lest it go unsaid, the issue has nothing to do with retirement and something to do with whether or not a musician of Roscoe's caliber should have the right to dictate the terms of his own continued employment and exit. As the article mentions, this would effectively end the Milhaud Chair--a position started in 1978 that has brought a series of prestige hires to the institution. These individuals have been hugely important to the musical legacy of the department--Roscoe, Anthony Braxton, Pauline Oliveros, Lou Harrison, Xenakis, Alvin Curran, and Joelle Leandre among them. These are hands on teachers who have made an invaluable impact on the dynamics of the department. A lot of the value of the department--the graduate program in particular--is predicated on students having the opportunity to work with these musicians. There is reason to be concerned for what Roscoe's possible dismissal means for both the quality of education in the department as well as the appeal for potential enrollees and the viability of future hires. Less immediately relevant but true: as one of my fellow alums pointed out, Roscoe is one of the most prestigious educators of color on the entire Mills payroll--and there's already a fraught history with this dating back to before he was hired. Two things to keep in mind: (1) mass outcry stands to make a difference in this instance, as it has in the past, and (2) this doesn't just have to do with Roscoe, whose legacy is unimpeachable regardless of the outcome of this debacle. This is in many ways the outcome of a long-waged war over the soul of both this school and the broader Bay Area. I'm an LA kid at heart but I consider myself an actual local, having arrived well over a decade ago and before the recent tech boom enveloped SF. Trust me, there has been tension with the school over overpaid admin positions and crappy business decisions for the entirety of my relationship with Mills. It seems with every passing year that those in a position of influence out in these institutions are more and more oblivious to the content of culture and more preoccupied with keeping pace with the playground of gentrification that so much of the Bay has morphed into as of late.
  15. Roscoe Mitchell Targeted for Dismissal at Mills College

    I'm glad to hear that he's hopeful about it--I can't believe he found out about this on tour. All of the faculty has been pushing pretty hard for letter writing--and the extended community is pretty up in arms about it.
  16. Roscoe Mitchell Targeted for Dismissal at Mills College

    Maybe you guys have read the James Newton interview posted on Do the Math--among other things, he parallels the conservative turn in the politics of the 80's with the "conservative" turn in the music. I do think that in a financially conservative environment all sorts of art--including less demanding/historical fare--is imperiled, but there's something to be said for the notion that music that is particularly "strange" or "challenging" is often the first on the chopping block when this kind of stuff happens. Bebop hits the nail on the head when mentioning the institutional importance of the college, and it's also worth noting that the balance of the arts programs at the school is very delicate. It's one of only a handful of national institutions where music that is (sometimes) self-consciously esoteric is given an environment to flourish. I cannot understate the value of spending one hour free improvising, the next running tonal analysis of Brahms, and the next woodshedding Nonaah with Roscoe giving me tips in person. That's insane--and it's also the sort of thing that helps develop craft, rigor, and discipline. It's also helped me develop the tools to sustain life as a working musician, and I would not hesitate to send another burgeoning professional in this music to that same school. These programs--here, at Cal Arts, at Wesleyan--are rare, and they're worth protecting as both institutions of rare fabric and infrastructural viability.
  17. Roscoe Mitchell Targeted for Dismissal at Mills College

    (Clearly) I speak on no one's behalf other than my own, but this mayhem comes on the heels of a series of deeply perplexing and questionable logistical and financial decisions on the part of the administration. This cost cutting is nothing new--the most public of these measures being the undergraduate dance department, which was saved by the raised ire of many alums and compassionate/interested parties--but it comes on the heels of years of questionable financial allocations with regard to both failed enterprises (the business school) and upper administration salaries. The tactical mishaps are manifold and extend far outside of the realm of these capital letter issues. The idea to make the school co-ed is really strange--and I say this as a man who was only granted admission into the school because the graduate music department is, well, co-ed. Stuff like this and the business school reflect the administration's extreme obliviousness to what makes the school unique--i.e., that it has long been a bastion for a certain kind of liberal arts education and (literal) psychology. Turning it into just another community college might not even save the school--it runs the risk of driving off both enrollees and faculty who have an interest in the intimacy and overriding philosophy of the institution. The long and short of it is that efficiently functioning entities like the music department have been saddled with the shit situation of the larger school's financial woes. The secret history of the place is that Mills College (and folks like Roscoe and Fred and Braxton and Zeena and so on) have been feeding the domestic creative music community for freaking years now. The broader list of Mills music grads both on the West Coast and elsewhere (NY in particular) is actually pretty mind-boggling--comparable to Wesleyan, for perspective.
  18. Hey, all- I haven't posted with great avidity lately--and late notice, I know--but it occurs to me now that this project may be of interest to some of you. My art rock trio Grex, alongside LA trumpeter Dan Clucas, is rearranging A Love Supreme. Why A Love Supreme? We're taking the opportunity to reassess what it means to play a tribute--to take something impossibly universal and iconic and make it new and personal. It's a challenge masquerading as a Catch-22--i.e., you either try to make a personal statement of of music that is already, itself, deeply personal, or you make impersonal music that compromises the integrity of the composition. Mostly Other People Do the Killing ran headfirst into oncoming traffic by taking semi-sacred music (Kind of Blue) and doing absolutely nothing with it--the end result being that they both solved the Catch-22 (above) and satisfied absolutely no one. My alternate solution was to not solve the problem at all--that is, to reduce the music to what I perceived to be the germ of itself and write something completely new. Sitting in the volcanic aftermath of this music is absolutely everything that is impregnable 50+ years after the fact--stuff like basic structure, harmonic mechanics, and, yes, sincerity. I've called it a "non-tribute" before, and I hold to this--in a culture that often treats original music with suspicion and canonical music with almost scientific distance, this is neither of those things. A Love Supreme/Not A Love Supreme. Details: Grex Plays A Love Supreme feat. Song & Dance Trio Saturday May 27, 8:00pm (7pm doors) @ California Jazz Conservatory (2087 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA 94704) $15 cover Tickets: https://cjc.edu/concerts/?eid=20122 Grex Plays A Love Supreme w/Byron Colborn, Kyle Motl (SD) Sunday, May 28, 7pm @ Gold Lion Arts (2773 Riverside Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95818 $10 Grex: http://grex.bandcamp.com Song & Dance Trio: https://karlevangelista.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-kingmans-ivy-room Byron Colborn: https://www.soundcloud.com/byron-colborn Kyle Motl: http://kylemotl.com
  19. Final word: it is, indeed, on record (well, not record--yet, or tape--but it was documented). Went into the studio on Monday with the great Myles Boisen, in and out in five hours (including lunch break). Legitimately the smoothest session I've ever participated in. Hopefully it's out in the world before too long!
  20. Thanks for the kind wishes, guys! Rumor has it that some of this may make it on tape. For now, looking forward to doing some summoning this weekend!
  21. The Bad Plus

    I may in fact be looking at this through a more contemporary lens (i.e., applying modern standards to "premodern" sentiments), but I also think that that's instructive with regard to this particular conversation. Part of the reason that this Glasper incident exploded so horrifically is that Iverson was reluctant to editorialize the interview. He even invoked Notes and Tones in one of the response posts ("That's the tradition I want to be in, and frankly the tradition I most respect: "Warts and all."), the implication being that honesty affords is its own sort of accolade. That's fair and well, and I think that a music entrenched in complicated racial, political, sexual, etc. dynamics benefits from a degree of candor--but, and I'm sure many will agree, contextualization has always been important. I mean, that Art Blakey quote about Buddy Rich ("The only way he can swing is from a rope.") is absolutely incendiary, but it sounds far less militant--natural, even--within the framework of the actual interview. Apropos of that--and to add some actual nuance to my initial criticism--Joe Henderson, like Blakey, gets a pass, sure. Henderson's music emanates from a historical and social continuum, a time period, and performance practice that necessitates that one address gender equality as exceptional rather than obvious. In terms of what Joe actually says within the context of that conversation--quizzical at best, at least for 2017. Martin was prompting Henderson, so the weirdness is dialogic--but the fact that the conversation shifted so quickly to softness vs. hardness, manhood vs. womanhood, delicacy vs. indelicacy, etc. is unfortunate. When he talks about the pianist who would assert the "Yang" part of herself to the degree that she was "neglecting" her own delicacy as a woman--he's basically saying she's a basher, yes? I can't imagine him saying that J.C. Moses, or Beaver Harris, or Bobby Battle, etc. "brought too much manhood to the table"--he'd probably just say that that dude was heavy-handed or something. My problem isn't with Joe, who is comes across as presciently progressive within the context of his hiring practices--it's more the tenor of the conversation, and the notion that, again, unrepentant honesty is its own biblical fact/is its own virtue, which is bullshit.
  22. The Bad Plus

    FWIW, I think the issue isn't so much that there are too few women participating in the music as with the lack of recognition and perspective accorded the tremendous number of women who are actively performing jazz and improvised music in the modern day. I'd say a solid 75% of projects I've participated in as of late have featured at least one woman on the bandstand, and that's often incidental rather than deliberate. If I had to guess--and I could be wrong here--but a lot of this maybe/probably has to do with the dint of jazz scholarship and and the vestiges of jazz hypermasculinity in and among performers, critics, and promoters. If we're in the business of fetishizing midcentury music, the traces of midcentury values are not far behind. We'd like to live in the 21st century and say that people are hired without regard to gender or race or creed or whatever, but, well... The "women are delicate" thing is also super weird and archaic sounding to me--i.e., women aren't bass players or drummers, they're usually piano players, and so on. That phenomenon itself is embedded in extant social prejudices regarding what it is or isn't proper for a woman to do in this society. Try telling Myra Melford or Joanne Brackeen that they should be playing delicately, jesus. Also--also--lest this devolve into a "white males have had their day"-type thing--as a (male) POC, I recognize that "social justice railroading" often contravenes fair and efficient dialogue, and that discussions that devolve into accusation and retaliation do not equate to amelioration or positive change. In this instance, it's not about fairness per se so much as accuracy and representing the world as it is. 21st century jazz is often way more diverse, equal, and colorful than these kinds of debates--and, for that matter, the "dominant jazz narrative"--would suggest.
  23. The Bad Plus

    Agreed. Though I'm really bothered by the fact that someone stopped to photograph an actual dead horse, probably for this very purpose.
  24. The Bad Plus

    Well, right--and I should probably clarify what I mean. Yes, there was a significant volume of women penning think pieces and responses in the wake of the Glasper drama, but the public visibility of these responses was relatively low. To compound this, the level of discourse across the board was pretty abstract and often messy. The Michelle Mercer piece was pretty widely traded, but the women in the article were random Facebook commentators, of all things--Iyer, meanwhile, was quoted in name and written about at (sort-of) length. Sarah Deming's made the rounds, but that was a woman addressing her husband's very public crisis--and not some sort of comprehensive essay meant to balance the volume of responses from male musicians and writers (nor did it mean to be). This take is probably pretty reductionist, I admit--but this debacle says as much about the state of 21st century jazz journalism as it does remind us of some of the embedded gender inequities in the music. It was like that BAM episode all over again. The course of this broader discussion was way more about public reprisal than ameliorating any social inequities or righting the imbalanced coverage of women in the music. Please tell me I'm wrong, because I'd love to think that this discussion led to the start of a new jazz festival centered on women composers, or that the next time a prominent interviewer who receives Glasper's awkward thoughts on the place of women in jazz, he or she sees fit to follow-up by interviewing an actual woman in jazz. Or maybe, you know, glass houses and all that, we can talk about why people having discussions about feminism and progressivism tend to record almost exclusively with male musicians, and so on.
  25. The Bad Plus

    I feel like this is 100% correct--I don't have much to add, I just wanted to say that. What began as a quizzical and kind of off-color interview exploded downward into hole digging and a bunch of ill-conceived apologies. Again, Iverson wasn't under any mandate to cover woman musicians in the first place, but the Williams post just seemed to reinforce the fact that that realm was kind of a social and critical blind spot for the Do the Math blog. I'd love to hear responses from some women in the community--I felt like most of the discussion was, in the most circular of senses, just a bunch of men yelling at each other about feminism.