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Everything posted by ep1str0phy

  1. "Last Albums" or appearances you can recommend

    Ayler's final recordings are pretty striking to me--recognizing the fact that we simultaneously have the final studio works on Impulse! and the series of French live recordings that have each (respectively) been regarded as "final recordings" at various points. The quality of Ayler's live playing never seemed to diminish, and though he still seemed preoccupied with semi-awkward hybridizations at that late stage (I'm talking about both the odd psych and blues rock experiments on the Impulse! dates and the very explicit gospel and standard jazz overtones on the French live recordings), he seemed headed toward a sound that was neither overtly commercial nor completely, ecstatically free. The later Shepp and Marion Brown Impulses serve as an extant, fully-realized analog of where Ayler's music seemed to "be" at the end--fire music that had been digested and reintegrated into the tropes of mainstream, piano-centric jazz. I'm also very fond of Andrew Hill's Timelines, which has this impressionistic, august flavor reminiscent of the Soul Note recordings. I saw Hill perform solo in his final years, and I don't think I really heard any diminishment of technical faculties until very late his life--and on Timelines, the melodic creativity, the uncanny rhythmic sense, it's all still there. Having Charles Tolliver onboard makes the album sound like a weird afterimage of the "later early" Blue Notes--the music stripped of its hard edge and left transcendent and ghostlike. On a weirder note, Sonny Sharrock's soundtrack to Space Ghost Coast to Coast is one of the main reasons I play music at all, so that.
  2. Please forgive the awkward title--this is really part of a conversation we've been having on the "overrated Blue Notes" thread, but these thoughts seemed like a total tangent, and they regard an issue I've been grappling with a bit lately. I've long been fascinated by the historiography of "out" jazz, especially in terms of the last half of the 20th century. The "easy narrative" (i.e., the Burnsian conception) has it that 60's free jazz was an apoplexy of experimentation that held questionable long-term value--and it's common knowledge that many conservative scholars of the music have dismissed post-free developments (e.g., the AACM--especially Anthony Braxton) as exceedingly abstract and more akin to European New Music than anything jazz related. I feel as if these blanket dismissals of the jazz avant-garde are ultimately contrivances of convenience. This is not because said criticisms lack some germ of truth--though this is an entirely different topic that has been covered elsewhere on this board. It's rather that these gross dismissals ignore the interstitial relationships between musicians who are revered as exponents of the jazz mainstream and the more "hardcore" elements of free music. I'm thinking especially about a musician I've been listening to almost exclusively in the past couple of weeks: Paul Motian. Motian has been contentious on these boards (I believe there were even some odd suggestions of racism with regard to his hiring practices), and his technical quirks are infamous among both cognoscenti and casual players. That being said, the fact that his music has neither been fully "accepted" as part of the lexicon of (capital letter) Free Jazz is curious to me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-JdKhfPu98 Motian's playing on the first Liberation Music Orchestra album operates within a sphere that encompasses both Sunny Murray's intensest coloristic playing and Rashied Ali's powerful "pan-rhythmic" accompaniment. It's mind-boggling how intense and passionately free the hookup with Charlie Haden is, and their playing behind Don Cherry's solo on this track catapults the trumpeter into a realm both earthier and more nebulous than anything that can be found on his own contemporaneous American records. ...which is why it's super curious to read Chuck Braman's interview of Paul Motian (here: http://www.chuckbraman.com/paul-motian-interview-2.html). He cites the four most important innovators of free jazz (and this is a bizarre list by any rubric--he spells the names wrong on the website) as Sunny Murray, Rashied Ali, Andrew Cyrille, and Paul Motian. Yes, you'd invariably have to add at least Milford Graves, and even if discussing "strictly" free jazz and not European free improvisation, you have to take Louis Moholo and John Stevens into account. That being said, this is maybe the first time I've heard Paul Motian mentioned in this regard--and I actually had to look up his wikipedia page to see if "avant-garde jazz" was even listed as one of his genres (it is). It's especially bizarre if you consider that Motian continued to play very abstract music well into the 90's, when celebrated firebrands such as Archie Shepp had more or less abandoned abstract playing and even players such as Rashied and Murray became preoccupied with traditional timekeeping. This shit is super out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of_uJPpjPH4 It got me thinking that Motian is not the only example of this. Haden would never be mentioned among the vanguard of free jazz bassists were it not for his interactions with Ornette, but his playing on sides with Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett, and on many of his own projects is equally out--and probably even more rhythmically freewheeling outside of the Higgins/Blackwell axis. Players of lesser stature but similar conceits--such as Ed Schuller or even Mark Helias--are seldom mentioned in the same breath as William Parker, Fred Hopkins, and other contemporaries. I've in fact heard a number of well-regarded and very accomplished free musicians shit all over Haden's playing. I struggle with the reasoning for this, and I've come to the (half) conclusion that this has at least something to do with the insularity of experimental music and the free jazz community. (More specious, but--returning to a very contentious issue that I personally know only a little about--I think it's partially a race thing, though not on the part of the musicians themselves.) It's also, naturally, the ineffective and incomplete histories of the established jazz and free jazz vernaculars, respectively, that have yet to come to grips with the fact that yes, there was some convergent evolution in terms of Motian v. Sunny Murray, and players on both sides of the free/mainstream divide would do well to listen to both of them.
  3. Alternate Narratives in Free Jazz (re: Paul Motian)

    I’d like to preface this by saying that I, again, appreciate the civility of the conversation, as I hazard that these are issues that many scholars in the music have been reluctant to discuss at length. I acknowledge and support that notion that there is enough historical and critical distance from the revolutionary music of the 60’s that it’s worthwhile to both reassess our collective understanding of the music and begin to evaluate work that, for reasons of geography, style, and even performer background, might be regarded as more “marginal.” Let me put it this way--had we not had Steven Isoardi’s The Dark Tree (detailing the UGMAA), George Lewis’s A Power Stronger Than Itself (AACM), Benjamin Looker’s Point from which creation begins (BAG), John Szwed’s Space Is The Place (Sun Ra), etc. etc., would we not be having this same discussion about the artists and organizations omitted? Having grown up in Los Angeles and come of age listening to the remnants of the UGMAA, I think it’s scandalous that we had to wait until 2006 before someone published a book about LA’s experimental black jazz. And to speak to what Leeway has been saying, I admit that I have not been careful enough about either my turns of phrase or the parameters of discussion. I can see how the phrase “swept under the rug” might be interpreted as conspiratorial, and I 100% do not believe that this is the case with either the musicians involved or most of the critics who came of age after the revolution of the 60’s tapered off. Rather, and I think colin re-articulated my points quite nicely, this is more a case of a handful of musicians being marginalized for making music that does not fit cleanly into pre-existing historical narratives. It just so happens that, in this case, the narrative is highly racialized (due to the classic conceit that free jazz and black freedom movements are inextricably linked), and many--though not all--of the marginalized musicians are white. Any discussion to this effect will have to acknowledge two key concepts, neither of which is particularly controversial (though I encourage anyone to correct or amend anything I say here): (1) The majority of the key innovators in free jazz/the 60’s avant-garde/the new thing were black: Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor having historical precedence, Albert Ayler and Sunny Murray representing the effective “big bang” of full-blown arhythmic free jazz, Sun Ra and John Gilmore operating on a parallel but interconnected track, Bill Dixon occurring historically early but making largely tangential music, and Archie Shepp representing the key icon of the “second wave” players. Arguments can be made for Don Cherry and a select few others, including some white musicians (Paul Bley chief among them), but by and large, most of the key exponents of this music began as sidemen of the aforementioned. The next set of key innovators emerged in the late 60’s with the AACM and free jazz in Europe. (2) Some of this music was better, or at least more important, than some of the other music. It’s nearly impossible to make an argument that an excellent music under-recognized in its time, such as Jimmy Giuffre’s, is as historically important or influential as, say, Ornette Coleman’s music on Atlantic. The prevailing historiographies on this music, including stuff like As Serious As Your Life (Wilmer), The Freedom Principle (Litweiler--I’m being careful about this, because that dude is on this board), Ekkehard Jost’s Free Jazz, and even stuff like Kofsky’s Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music or Jones’s Black Music, are organized accordingly: to give prominence to the more historically resonant music, with much more inconsistent coverage of less influential artists. This is only sensible. (1) feeds into (2)--that is, you will be very hard pressed to find any prominent text that takes a hard detour away from the list of musicians I included in (1), allowing for me being a dumbass and forgetting a really important, Coltrane-grade name. This is what I mean by “narrative”--if you are starved for information about jazz or American improvised music from this vintage, you will more or less have the same story regurgitated by writers of varying type and nature. This embodied narrative tends to gloss over both historically present black musicians (e.g., Giuseppi Logan, Jacques Coursil) and white musicians. What we are left with is an ethos that tends to conflate the the story of free jazz, by and large, with Black American freedom struggles. This is taken from the Ward/Burns Jazz book, because it is by design sort of a high school text book on the music, and is summary on purpose: (from the section “We Insist,” pgs. 438-439 of the paperback) “Some young musicians now saw it as their mission not only to revolutionize the music but to reclaim it for their community, to reassert what they believed to be its African roots, to reject every vestige of the European tradition that had been an integral part of it from the beginning... The poet LeRoi Jones made himself the movement’s unofficial spokesman. New Thing musicians, he said, were “poets of the Black Nation,” “God-seekers,” who were free. That is, freed of the popular song. Freed of American white cocktail tinkle... the strait-jacket of American expression sans blackness.” This is all very genuine with regard to both Jones’s stance at the time and the way much of this music was interpreted in contemporaneous liner notes and journals. Now, many have discussed what is wrong with the Burns/Marsalis school of jazz revisionism, but what strikes me as particularly racist is the fact that the aforementioned passage is couched in a convenient discussion of late Coltrane (on the subsequent pages)--this is narrative construction by virtue of conflation, and it’s staggeringly similar to what critics like Frank Kofsky were doing in the 60’s: i.e., ascribing a revolutionary ethic to the music by association. Read the bulk of Kofsky’s interview with Coltrane repreinted in Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music, and see this in action. Trane is pretty taciturn and Kofsky is intensely leading. Every time Kofsky tries to take the interview in a direction that expressly addresses race, economic inequity, etc., Coltrane turns it around and says stuff like “I don’t know,” or simply agrees with what Kofsky says. One can read the interview to understand that Coltrane is a revolutionary figure whose music is more about peaceful change and spiritual awakening than militant confrontation--this is the interview that the “I want to be a force for real good” quote is taken from. On the other hand, check out Kofsky’s interview with Marion Brown, taken from the liner notes to Three for Shepp: Q: Can white people play jazz? A: If you mean by “can,” have any whites ever played jazz reputably well, I would say: Yes. But if you mean by “can,” can they play in a manner that they have not manifested heretofore, I would say: I don’t know... But for black people, jazz is--it’s their baseball. This is Marion Brown, one of the key second wave saxophonists and one of the few early free jazz altos to engage full stop with energy music, confronting an extremely on-the-nose line of questioning from an aggressively revolutionary jazz critic. You can look at this a couple of different ways, but it sounds like a non-committal response to me. Keep in mind that Marion Brown played and recorded with Burton Greene, Bobby Kapp, and a host of other white experimental musicians--Kapp is on Three for Shepp--and this is never addressed in the printed interview. This is how I interpret this: what we have on the one hand is a genuine effort on the part of historical jazz critics in the 60’s--these are the guys who were in the shit, like Kofsky and Jones--to draw a straight line between free jazz as a music and Black Nationalism as a political philosophy, and on the other hand post hoc discourse that by the very nature of the music will talk mostly about black musicians and occasionally conflate music that was only subtly racially charged (e.g., Coltrane) with an overtly charged philosophy. I ask absolutely anyone of interest to dig through the canonical interviews, liner notes, articles, etc., and compile all of the incendiary racialized statements made by Trane. They are scarce. Ornette sort of “invented” the term free jazz, and the amount of his music that might be considered explicitly political is minute--we’re talking about Crisis, “We Now Interrupt for a Commercial,” and maybe a handful song titles. No, I would not argue that a conspiracy is at work here--it’s much more mundane than that: it’s generations of fans, critics, and musicians regurgitating lazy, simplistic critical discourse without frequently and fervently dissecting primary sources. I do not know what Trane was really thinking, but who the fuck else does? The mindsets of guys like Trane, Brown, Ornette, Cecil, and so on were diverse and complicated--the fact that we even discuss this stuff as a singular genre is itself, admittedly, absurd. This is where I get back to the contributions of white guys--you cannot argue, say, that Bill Folwell was as important to Ayler’s music as either Henry Grimes or Gary Peacock, but he occupies as much of the historical narrative (he was Ayler’s bassist for a while) as people like Grimes or even Lowell Davidson, both of whom have undergone a degree of critical re-discovery as of late. I’m not advocating for an (to use another fraught term) “even playing field”--this is dumb as shit, because, again, Folwell is not the model for Ayler bass players--that honor would go to Gary Peacock or Henry Grimes. What I am asking is that we take time to even-handedly look at all parts of the historical strata and begin to re-evaluate the prevailing attitudes--why do we talk more often about Frank Lowe than Gato Barbieri when discussing free jazz? Is it because one or the other is more important to the story of the music, or because the latter started making commercial jazz and no longer fit into the rubric of a music that is all about confrontation and deconstruction? Give me Black Beings, I’ll raise you In Search of the Mystery. Say Brown Rice, and I’ll say Orgasm. Gato moved on from this music, but he was still there, and his story is as important to the history of free jazz tenor as anyone in the 60’s short of the impossibly high tier of Trane, Ayler, Pharoah, and Shepp. You could make similar arguments for Motian. Clifford addressed my intent behind bringing up both the Jazz Composers Guild and Bill Dixon, and it’s the same story: look at the primary sources, look at how people reacted, look at the embodied narrative that we have after compiling all the secondary and tertiary sources. Fuck no, I would never mean to say that Bill Dixon was less black than anyone else, and that’s precisely my point--what I’m saying is that he was interpreted that way, and we are still confronting the implications of that. I’ll finish this overlong screed with a secondary point: we are not living in a post-racial musical society, and we probably never will. For example: would anyone argue that it’s easier to live as a jazz musician in a financial environment that gives precedence to project-oriented work? Where does this leave jazz musicians, many of whom construct their working projects from pre-existing repertoire that is largely improvised? Factor in the fact that jazz is sometimes understood (speaking of narratives) as “Black Classical Music,” and you see the problem. On a personal level, I don’t think that figuring Motian’s place in the narrative of free jazz is anywhere as important as getting Ornette Coleman his still overdue due, and everything I’ve written here takes a back seat to that discussion--but that’s a whole other story.
  4. Alternate Narratives in Free Jazz (re: Paul Motian)

    Whoa--I was sick for about a week and didn't have it in me for anything other than getting out of bed, rehearsing, and playing a show. This is some intense conversation. I'm doubly glad that Allen commented on this, because (weirdly, maybe) as a musician of color who has deep associations with a long lineage of Asian American and Black American creative music, I don't feel very qualified to comment on behalf of the very curious and (I think) legitimately marginal role of the "white man in free jazz." Full disclosure: I'm full-blooded Filipino, and the minute I made overtures to any sort of ethnic narrative in my own work, everything I did became political in some way, shape or form. As long as there's a thread of civilized discussion here--which is something I legitimately appreciate about this board--I'm going to go ahead and push harder on this. Part of what sparked this dialogue for me was reading the liner notes to the Motian ECM Old and New Masters box, where Ethan Iverson says, "There have been many great free drummers, but I believe Motian might have been the greatest." This is absolutely the first and only time I've heard someone say this, but considering Motian's association with the hugely influential Jarrett American Quartet, the Frisell/Lovano trio, Liberation Music Orchestra, etc. etc., a case can be made for his status as premier player in free music--I have not seen this argument anywhere in any of the crucial texts on American free jazz. Guys like Clifford are honestly way more on the ball about this than I am, but I feel like I've read a lot about this music, and considering the fact that people have made comparable arguments about Graves, Ed Blackwell, and so on, I genuinely wonder why so few people have gone to bat for Motian within the framework of classic "free jazz." The idea of an "alternative narrative" has nothing to do with setting up some sort of pyramidal structure with Motian at the top, in no small part because the continuum of free music is way too heterogeneous to hold up any one player as the "irrefutable" truth of the music--there are guys like Louis Moholo-Moholo, Sunny Murray, Andrew Cyrille, Rashied Ali, Milford Graves, Steve McCall, Paul Lytton, John Stevens, etc. etc. who have vital and profoundly personal approaches to percussion that only rarely cross spheres with what Motian was doing. Rather, I hope there's a discussion in there about why some very legitimate contributions by white musicians at the dawn of free jazz are so commonly disregarded or swept under the rug--not just Motian, but also Blake, Burton Greene, maybe Marc Levin (I have no concept of his actual ethnic background), Bill Folwell, Steve Tintweiss, and even some well-regarded musicians like Karl Berger, Perry Robinson, Michael Mantler, Steve Swallow, David Izenzon, Altschul, Haden, and the Bleys (who are often acknowledged in the narrative of jazz in general but whose places in the canon of classic free jazz are still sort of vague). Part of me feels like this has to do with how the narrative of free jazz has evolved into discussion of what may be post-hoc described as a monochromatic genre of fire breathers, fundamentally related to Civil Rights on the earlier end and Black Nationalism and cooperative protest on the latter tip. It's interesting to me how we've reached a point where the vital and extraordinarily important "jazz acronym" organizations of the 60's onward (the AACM, BAG, UGMAA, and so on) are experiencing a renaissance of interest, whereas we still have very minimal critical and theoretical study of either, say, Burton Greene's music or the Jazz Composers Guild. (I happen to know someone who has done comprehensive research on the latter, but the fact that we got an entire BAG book before a readily available paper on the JCG is pretty boggling to me.) Bill Dixon factors into this to, considered he predated Braxton as a cerebral, almost scientific icon of the Black avant-garde. Dixon received far less critical and commercial acknowledgement in his lifetime than the league of fire music tenors that emerged in roughly the same time period, and I feel as if this may be in part due to the fact that it's difficult to square a lot of Dixon's music with the idea of "free jazz as a music of struggle." The fact that Dixon's music has far fewer explicit spiritual or ethnocentric overtones than, say, Shepp or even Ayler makes it asynchronous with either historical narratives of free jazz as "freedom music" or, using a very disagreeable and denigrating term, "Angry Black Music." And so music like Dixon's, like Motian's, is inconvenient--it has little or nothing to do with the Burnsian historical narrative that posits 60's free jazz as some entropic entity, and it's way too early (in a chronological sense) to lump together with the music of the AACM as jazz that simply "got to European." In a more charged sense, I feel like the contemporary fetishization of free jazz as this bloody, heaving music of ethnic masculinity may have had something to do with why we can simultaneously celebrate Shepp's rather conservative modern day music while having relatively little to say about Motian's still bizarre and constantly evolving later work. I'd lastly like to qualify this by saying that I don't mean to devalue free jazz that is either prototypical "fire music" or explicitly ethnic--for one thing, I play this music on a regular basis and can see firsthand its very real value within communities of color and as an alternative to the jazz mainstream--but I think that there's a place for conversation about why white experimentalism is treated as if it is "outside" the technical and theoretical narrative of classic free jazz, considering it is very much a part of that story.
  5. Alternate Narratives in Free Jazz (re: Paul Motian)

    Pretty much! The main thing that I glossed over was Motian's seemingly total obliviousness to categorization--a characteristic shared with many of his peers in the inside/out continuum of jazz and post-jazz drummers, albeit manifested very weirdly in Motian's case. Unlike, say, Graves or even Cyrille or Moholo-Moholo, Motian's later work is all over the place in terms of both repertoire and the idiomatic nature of his projects. There are huge (macro--i.e., ensemble) differences between the On Broadway music, later iterations of the Lovano/Frisell trio, and the later work with Lee Konitz. Of course, it all sounds like Motian, but I can't think of too many heralded "old guard" musicians who played so fast and loose with genre--it's similar in that regard to Braxton, who always sounds like Braxton but often engages with different musical idioms very directly (e.g., Seven Standards (1985)). On a more pragmatic and real level, I think that the historiographic disconnect between Motian and the avant-garde--especially post-Bley Motian, since (as Clifford notes) music like Turning Point is regularly mentioned in discussions of 60's free jazz--has to do with (a) his association with Bill Evans, which was always and inevitably going to be some of Motian's most "enduring" and "popular" music, and (b) the fact that Motian's penchant for rhythmic subtraction and silence rubs up against the post-Coltrane continuum in a really uncomfortable way. Speaking to the latter, I always got the sense that this is why guys like Giuffre (and, to a lesser extent, Dixon, because he definitely experienced a late career resurgence) have been relegated to appendices in the Free Jazz story. Rhythmic silence and an emphasis on color over power didn't not predominate in American free music before the AACM, and it's tough to square Motian with a lineage that has come to elevate heavy players as iconology. The sort of facility conveyed by early Gary Peacock is more common in free jazz and free improv than Haden's bulky, almost introspective folkiness--save for players in a post-Jimmy Garrison lineage, since that hews more toward "big" and "brawny." One player who does share a bit with Motian--and whose playing I've always enjoyed, despite his relative obscurity--is Dixon drummer Laurence Cook, since his emphasis on shading and dynamism is pretty unusual for drummers in that continuum. Whatever the case, I do ultimately subscribe to the notion that it's best to just "do what you do" and work it out from there--and part of what moves me so much about Motian's music is that it presents a world that absolutely benefits from an integration of "outside" musical dynamics and "inside" technical conceits. Later Motian is so shadowlike and impressionistic--it makes the music doubly profound when he bursts into an apoplexy of rhythm (that version of "Drum Music" that Guy mentions is a favorite. It's notable how many of the players in that lineage--Joey Baron, Jim Black, Tom Rainey--have come to define a very distinct but very real part of American progressive jazz.
  6. Name some Blue Note cds you find overrated

    Speaking on a total tangent, I'm always really thrilled when the boards erupt into conversation like this. I was walled off with gigging for one day, and all this knowledge got dropped. Organissimo was a huge part of my learning process when first getting into this music (which is odd to say, but I guess that's part of how lore has been communicated since the inception of an affordable public internet), and this makes me feel weirdly nostalgic. On a completely different note--I worked with Eddie for two or three years. The topic of his Blue Note albums came up constantly--so regularly, in fact, that we wound up re-recording several of the pieces for a "remix/remake"-type deal. It's actually on itunes. That project was very complex, if fulfilling, in no small part because I was only then exposed to Eddie as both a working bandleader and a working conceptualist. I had a number of issues with the regular repertoire in groups, largely due to a language disconnect in terms of "how" the free improvisation was supposed to happen (i.e., it was never clear if the band would play "free" because that was the direction the music needed to go on, or if we were going to play free because we couldn't collectively hold down a given form). It was an uncomfortable experience that had some pretty fucked up bumps, but I came out of it with a really profound understanding of what made his music tick--and a healthy dose of respect for Eddie as a man of musical vision. Somehow, it was never addressed how Eddie got his Blue Note deal, but it was clear that it was related to the Cecil Taylor/Larry Young association (i.e., Eddie was a label alum). Knowing Eddie's aesthetic and being inside of the Ghetto Music bag, I'm pretty sure that Eddie's signing also had something to do with how his music tapped into both a psychedelic/Age of Aquarius ethos and Black cultural nationalism. Both of the Blue Note albums are heavily centered on community/family themes, and there are doses of new age esoterica ("Look at Teyonda") and protest music ("The Rain"--it's about acid rain) thrown in. Factor in obvious overtures to funk and soul grooves, and you have a unique synergy. It seems clear to me that Blue Note (as Impulse had with Albert Ayler) identified Eddie has having unusual crossover appeal for an AG artist--maybe even tapping into soul jazz markets looking for something left-of-center. I should also note that the very things that made both Ghetto Music and Black Rhythm Happening work so well are the selfsame characteristics that make Eddie's musical ethos so complex. His desire to embrace popular music endowed his BN albums with a sheen of commercial viability, but this same instinct produced some long term musical output that is, again, very complicated. (We regularly played a tune called "Jazz Rap" that was meant to hold down a backbeat in the A section and go into uptempo swing for the B/improv. This tune is notorious among Eddie sidemen for how difficult it is to finesse the transition--in the dozens of times we played it, we never got the tempo/feel change right--and the whole thing, admittedly, could have worked in uptempo swing.) Eddie's desire to stick to community gives the Blue Note albums a really unique and profound sort of groove, but it also led to some questionable hirings (including a rhythm section that never truly gelled, during my time). But--Eddie's bag is one of those contexts that is deeply necessary and and positively ecstatic in its realest moments. Eddie has done an intense amount of charity work within his community, and his penchant for assembling unlikely groups collaborators and just letting them go at it is rare and admirable--he has some of that rare Sun Ra juju. And his playing never diminished--he played some insane shit during my tenure in the band. However it happened, I'm glad those Blue Note albums exist, because they capture both a very relevant facet of American life and the sort of music that I would wager no post-Wolff iteration of the label would ever be brave enough to champion.
  7. Name some Blue Note cds you find overrated

    This is a really astute observation that I hadn't really considered--i.e., that Blue Note may be characterized as a "progressive conservative" company. Under that rubric, the "Finest in Jazz Since 1939" banner serves as an equipoise to some of the more strident (and seemingly ubiquitous) marketing material of the day (i.e., ESP's "You Never Heard Such Sounds In Your Life," or even Impulse's "The New Wave of Jazz is On Impulse"). It's sort of a tacit acknowledgment of the notion that the apogee of a given art form will always hew close to the middle--that the "finest" is neither the "newest" nor the most conservative, although there may be some overlap. I also like the idea that a lot of the BN avant-garde operates under principles that are sort of "apart" from the meaty/earthy energy music of the same vintage--and it's definitely true that the label facilitated or maybe even emboldened a degree of experimentation in its artists that is very singular for the era. Hutcheron's BNs (both "early" and post sale) are deeply European in many regards, running the gamut from very explicit Satie-isms to these more chaotic/bloody Stravinsky-esque moments (and many of these from the late albums--Head On comes to mind). I might even argue that the really deep and bizarre atonal minimalist improvisation on Dialogue, half of Components, Tony's early BNs, and some of Hancock's records (to say nothing of Out to Lunch or the Moncurs, which are really universes onto themselves) precedes some key European Free Improvisation (i.e., SME, Derek Bailey) in its realization of an improvised Webernian music. What I am curious about is whether or not this second "third stream" (to use a really awkward term) of 60's jazz--i.e., music that emanated from the mainstream but participated in the catholic experimentation of its era--really existed apart from the studio context we're aware of. There is a massive volume of documentation of the forefathers of free jazz proper, from the exhaustive existing body of live Ayler dates to the extant bootlegs of post-'65 Trane, Ornette's groups post-reemergence, and even post-Unit Structures Cecil. What I can't understand why there isn't more live 60's McLean in circulation, or why there is so little of evidence of 60's Hutcherson playing live. I think it is definitely correct and actually sort of scandalous that that the more cerebral/abstract components of 60's free music were swept under the rug during the revisionism of the 60's. It's "easy" to dismiss Ayler in an academic sense (though, obviously, not in a technical sense or from any historical or spiritual perspective), but it's nearly impossible to cherry pick 60's Miles as the paragon of excellence and ignore the concurrent and preceding developments his sidemen made in abstraction. I know that the jazz wars are technically "over," but what did Wynton make of Life Time? How do you let go of the last couple of tracks on Oblique--where you have four extremely proficient "inside" players essaying abstract pseudo-free music in the same breath? Even with the extant Blue Note recordings, I feel like this is a secret history that hasn't been told. It's even crazier when you do look at the (sorry to keep using this term) "slippage and play." The New Wave in Jazz (on Impulse) has a series of tracks that feature Moncur, Cecil McBee, Hutcherson, and Beaver Harris--just like Brilliant Circles, this material could have fit on Blue Note--but the Blue Note that issued Components, Dialogue, and Out to Lunch. Hearing three Jackie McLean sidemen play with the Beaver of the 60's--definitely still in the mindset of the Beaver who stoked the fires of the two trombone Shepp Quintet--is pretty mind-boggling. Beaver's sensitivity and nuance in this context is a testament to the fact that there was and is a lot more to the supposed energy/intellect dichotomy than the official histories suggest. Very little mainstream jazz followed up on music of this nature in the years subsequent, but you can hear shades of this music in the early AACM and Marion Brown's European recordings (as well as a few other things, like Jacques Coursil's BYGs, for example). Back in terms of the overrated/underrated question, I have a hard time even evaluating (admittedly favorite) recordings like the BN Hutchersons, Out to Lunch, and so on--this music exists apart from so much of the established history that I feel like it needs its own grading scale. Whether or not these stand beside items like Workout, Idle Moments, or The Cape Verdean Blues as paragons of their respective genres is a non-issue when something like the second half of Components operates so deeply within its own universe.
  8. Name some Blue Note cds you find overrated

    I've spent the last few days listening to and reading a lot about Paul Motian, and I was really taken with an interview Chuck Braman conducted with him in '96. At one point, Braman is grilling Motian about his perspective on the latter-day conservative turn in jazz (versus the freewheeling/experimental 60's--the period in which Motian--and much of the music discussed on this thread--began to flower). Motian is being sort of catty, and at one point he just says, "in the '60s there was a lot of shit goin' on, and I wanted to be part of that." I've spoken to a number of musicians who played roles in the musical innovations of the 60's, many of whom might not be categorized as experimental in the modern day. There's a healthy dose of respect among many of the musicians who survived that era, and it was very instructive seeing Archie Shepp at Yoshi's about a year ago--I ran into a drummer friend who had played on Pharoah Sanders's first album, and though the topic of the classic energy Shepp stuff came up, nothing about either the music that night or the aura of conversation suggested that there was some sort of "inside/out" or "either/or" divide still inherent in the music. That being said, inside/out is still definitely a very real thing, and I think the dichotomy between these two extremes (as Jim articulates) played a pretty important role in the narrative of 60's jazz. The sense I get is both that (as Motian noted) extreme experimentalism was then, as it was not before and has not been since the 60's, really, a key part of what jazz was at that time. Even though not everyone was playing "out," it was question to be confronted, maybe engaged, and maybe willfully opposed/negated. We're talking about a time period when including terms like "freedom" and "outside" had legitimate market resonance--as opposed to the relative toxicity of marketing avant-gardness in the modern day. I often wonder whether this environment offered more opportunities to experimental artists who might (in another time period) have been relegated to the fringe, or if the 60's simply precipitated experimentalism from otherwise conservative artists. As has been discussed in numerous threads that have touched on this topic, there's a lot of "slippage and play." With regard to current day market considerations, it's pretty insane that the key iconology of the avant-garde was getting recorded and distributed by Atlantic, ABC-Paramount, Columbia, etc. etc. One has to imagine that Blue Note was both tapping into a commercial/spiritual zeitgeist (hence the signing of Ornette, Cecil, Cherry, etc.) and simply showcasing the logical evolution of its late-50's/early-60's roster. Many of the folks who at some point inhabited the sphere of the Jazz Messengers/Horace Silver/Miles were the guys who were making innovative inside/out music in the 60's--this is the fabric that the 2nd Miles Quintet guys, Moncur, McLean, etc. were culled from. Blue Note played a big role in facilitating the documentation of this music, but I also think that a lot of the "in house sound" has to do with music that definitely would have been made on another label and in a different context--so long as it was made at that time. On that level, I do think it's interesting that the overrated/underrated discussion inevitably becomes one about schools and disciplines, rather than specific albums or even artists. For my part, the sheer caliber of so much of the music on that label was so high--and so much that music was so weirdly intertwined by politics, personnel, etc.--that it's hard for me to separate Point of Departure from something like Judgment or Compulsion. Now Andrew Hill on Soul Note v. Andrew Hill on Blue Note--where we're talking about two completely different eras with completely different playing styles--that's way more complicated.
  9. Cecil Taylor Documentary

    I don't know if someone's started a topic on this (here), but I picked this up on Jazzcorner: Comcast Digital Cable has a Cecil Taylor documentary on their "free movies on demand" section (it's aptly titled "Cecil Taylor" in the on demand section, I believe). I'll be watching it during lunch--will return with feedback. Anyway, the digital cable providers tend to match up on many of their on demand films, so I wouldn't be surprised if the doc is available somewhere else in the country (I'm in Berkeley, CA right now). Happy hunting, folks.
  10. Chris McGregor recordings??

    Great to hear the first person perspective. The "freedom to" aesthetic always struck me as a fundamentally post-60's thing. This is why we still need an analytical study of 70's jazz, as the blogosphere has been talking about for something like a decade now--the AACM, BAG, the downtown NY scene, the English free improvisers, the Blue Notes, etc. etc. were playing a very different and much more conceptually complicated music than the early wave free jazz musicians. It's interesting that the Blue Notes get slotted into free jazz on the one hand and European free improv on the other--the former is in respects the "last part" of the bebop continuum, which is why it's so tethered to bop's conceptual devices (theme-solos-theme, soloist/rhythm section divide, frequent presence of metered improvisation, and so on), and music that is categorized as EFI is often more involved in "total" improvisation than American free jazz. The members of the Blue Notes played some free jazz, played some EFI, but their music together is ultimately something else entirely. Of the handful of masters I've spent some time with, the musician whose aesthetic comes closest to absolute "freedom to" is Fred Frith. It wasn't until talking to Frith--at a time, incidentally, when I'd been consumed with listening to the Blue Notes and confronting my own issues as a composer--that I came to realize just how many different ideological camps so-called "creative" and/or "free" music encompasses. Part of Frith's pedagogy involves looking at the materials with which we construct an improvisation--why not play something tonal? Why not play something metered? (And any number of opposites thereon--it's a pretty contrarian philosophy, which is kind of fun.) Playing idiomatic material in a free improvisation still sounds to me like a pretty radical prospect, essentially because idiomatic material forcefully recontextualizes everything around it. The Blue Notes had such a strong shared language that they were able to create music that is simultaneously open to free association and deeply enmeshed in South African culture. I think it's still going to take some time for us to realize just how radical the Blue Notes were, and why we should be evaluating their music in the same hallowed tones we reserve for 60's Don Cherry, the Art Ensemble, and staggeringly few others.
  11. Chris McGregor recordings??

    As for the Elton Dean stuff--I mainly know of this quartet through a relatively extensive repository of bootlegs, but they did make the truly beautiful and profound They All Be On This Road (on Ogun--sadly out of print). That album has one of the most "correct" versions of "Naima" I've heard outside of the Coltrane circle, and it's because they lean into the mystery and graininess of it without really giving over to bathos. Moholo-Moholo in this period is a miracle of subtlety and shading--for me, it's really just Moholo-Moholo and Paul Motian at this tier for this particular kind of music. There's also Boundaries on Japo (a quintet side that has Marc Charig added and Marcio Mattos in the bass chair)--that one is sort of a "reduced" version of the Ninesense band, but actually way more explosive than any of the other small group Dean/Moholo sessions. I can only imagine what it must have been like seeing or playing inside of the Tippett/Moholo whirlwind, Jesus.
  12. Chris McGregor recordings??

    I can see how the 70's Blue Notes stuff can seem unfocused--I think this is more a matter of how you "read" the albums than something intrinsic to them, to be fair. Yes, they're a little sprawling and the improvisations often go on for a pretty lengthy period of time (especially on Blue Notes for Mongezi, which is essentially a "jam"), but looking at it within context, the music makes a lot more sense. The later Oguns were essayed in the mid/late-70's, when the dint of both mainstream jazz and creative music had begun to push away from ecstatic freedom. You had many musicians reverting to acoustic jazz and championing later, low-impact forms of fusion, what was (essentially) the avant-garde of American creative music (the AACM, BAG, etc.) already working with extreme space, silence, and alternative instrumentation, the Europeans negotiating the rift between anarchic energy music and post-Webern-y, minimalist/atonal/"non-idiomatic" (that's contentious) improvisation, and people from all over the world confronting the existentialist crisis of making expressive music in a post-expressionist era. Instead of getting nihilistic or more noisy, the South Africans withdrew into their heritage. Those later Ogun albums are characterized by infinitely repeating vamps, recursive, lengthy improvisations, and these looping melodic lines. If you take into account the lingering and intense pain of exile, the fact that a few members of the Blue Notes had already died, that the remaining members were suffering from marginalization, limited work opportunities, lack of bread, etc.--this reversion to hymnal music, traditional melodies, mbaqanga and kwela harmonies, etc. was both a sort of coping mechanism and an assertion of identity--ultimately, an act of defiance. I find it deeply moving that, in a period when comrades were dying and the future was uncertain, the Blue Notes began moving toward a kind of musical infinity. To be fair, as a listener, I go back and forth on the ultimate "listenability" of this music--I think Clifford said something to the effect that Blue Notes for Mongezi was intense but hard to listen to (please forgive the paraphrasing, dude). It's admirable music with a ton of value, and in the right state, it's amazing to hear--but I can also very much appreciate when people can't get with it.
  13. Chris McGregor recordings??

    No question about it--if one is interested in the Brotherhood, one needs all of the "main" Blue Notes music (i.e., the contemporaneously released albums). Very Urgent is simultaneously a key transitional album, vestigially similar to the group's South African recordings, and a key document of European and African improvised music. Moholo is insistent that the band wasn't informed by the Americans, though judging from things McGregor has said in interviews, there's a really transparent Ornette/Cecil Taylor feel permeating the album--a lot of winding post-bop lines, a few rubato passages in an Ornette-y vein, a lot of atonal, thrashy improv. In the details, though, there's nothing like Very Urgent. Don Cherry has gone on the record about Mongezi Feza's skill, and there were few trumpet players operating with the level of facility and aggression--even in the late 60's--that he conveys here. And no one--then or now--sounds like Dudu, who is pure funk, riffing, and recklessness--he's like someone hybridized Benny Carter, Boots Randolph, and Archie Shepp, but for the purpose of playing in James Brown's band. Also, I'm pretty certain there are things Moholo does on the album that were either totally new or unprecedented at the time, especially the use of "found" percussion. Judging by the vintage, he really was up there with Murray and Milford Graves as one of the first truly free/pulse-no-meter drummers--and maybe the first one who could play so facilely both "in" and "out." There is a sextet bootleg circulating (with Dave Holland in place of Moholo) that is even more insane than Very Urgent--this is clearly some of the most powerful and oddly coherent free music of its era. Up to Earth is good but extremely ragged--more than Very Urgent, it sounds like a transitional step between the early Blue Notes and the Brotherhood. The charts are compellingly written but chaotically played and much less comprehensively arranged that the Brotherhood material. What carries that album and its sister trio album (Our Prayer) over are the committed improvisations, most of which are more or less formless but also unafraid of rhythmic mobility and spontaneously generated motivic material. It makes the music sound neither European or American, which is exactly the case. The music on the box is certainly not cut from the same cloth as the early sides--the absence of Mongezi and a tenor deprives the music of a bit of its former coloristic depth, and the arrangements are largely skeletal (and often played very tersely and vaguely). That being said, there is a level of spontaneity and transparency in the Ogun recordings that is lacking from the earlier music. The band is all at once freer with the notated material, often eliding stops and starts, and more committed to synthesizing freer flights with grooves and vamp-based structures. Dyani had come out of Don Cherry's band and work with Abdullah Ibrahim, Moholo had of course spent time in and out of ensembles with Keith Tippett, Dudu had been guesting on rock and pop albums, and McGregor had hit his stride as both a composer and solo pianist. It's beautiful music that is strangely decompressed and unhurried--even when (on the Blue Notes For albums) it is emotional and incendiary. Beyond that, my favorite music is Moholo-Moholo's Spirits Rejoice, which carries over both the explosive free improv of the Brotherhood and the more involved and nuanced arrangements of the early Blue Notes, Mike Osborne's music with Moholo (especially Outback, which employs the Brotherhood rhythm section and Harry Beckett to great effect), Harry Miller's Isipingo (which blends the breathy grooves of the late Blue Notes with some of the Brotherhood's funkier aspects), and Elton Dean's sublime quartet music with Moholo and Tippett.
  14. Hello, all- I'd be more than happy to merge this with my last topic (the East Coast tour), though I could not figure out how to alter the thread title--my trio Grex (me/Karl Evangelista-guitar/vocals, Rei Scampavia-keys/vocals, Robert Lopez-drums) is on its way out on the second leg of our summer tour. The East Coast leg comprised some of the best music we've ever made, and we're happy to be sharing it on my native coast. Of particular interest to organissimo-ites--we're playing on August 4 with one of the finest jazz groups in Sacramento, on August 5 with The Lurk (one of the most amazing one-man bands I've ever seen, similar in aspects to Abner Jay), on August 7 with some of Portland's most powerful avant rock groups, and on August 16 with some of Los Angeles's greatest underground improv legends (including Joe Berardi, lately drummer for Duke Silver on the TV show Parks & Recreation--actually an amazing player). August 10 is an open session in Seattle, so musicians would do well to bring their axes... August 4, 7:30pm, $5-10 sliding scale, Sacramento, CA at Luna's (1414 16th Street) w/CRKD Quartet (w/Clifford Childers, Ross Hammond, etc.) August 5, 8pm doors, $6, Sacramento, CA at Witch Room (1815 19th Street) w/Practice & The Lurk August 6, 5:30pm, $5, (Grex at 10pm) Live Broadcast on V103 w/Devon Galley + Ken Koenig August 7, 9pm, $6, Portland, OR at Slabtown (1033 NW 16th Avenue) w/U SCO & The Sarcastic Dharma Society August 8, Seattle, WA The Woodshed (11343 8th Ave NE) w/Insistent Caterpillars, Honey Noble August 10, 8pm, Free, Seattle WA at Cafe Racer (5828 Roosevelt Way NE) Part of Racer Sessions August 15, 8pm, Long Beach, CA at 4th Street Vine (2142 E 4th Street) w/Don't Trip August 16, 8pm, $10 general/$5 students, Los Angeles, CA at Curve Line Space (1577 Colorado Blvd) w/Dead Air Trio (Brian Christopherson, Dan Clucas, Jeremy Keller) + Joe Berardi Grex might best be described as free jazz/art rock--we're former students of the great Roscoe Mitchell (of AACM fame) and have worked with the likes of Fred Frith (and his band Cosa Brava), Zeena Parkins, Hafez Modirzadeh, Francis Wong, and Tony Levin (of King Crimson fame). This is a special tour for us, in support of our new album Monster Music. It's a summation of our activities in the past half decade, a very new step on our quest to create both "new improvised music" and contemporary "people's" music, and a rare opportunity to bring our music outside of the Bay. Here's a choice cut from our Philly show on July 13: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPfkODjR-fU A Don Cherry piece from July 16: https://soundcloud.com/grexsounds/guinea The album: http://grex.bandcamp.com/album/monster-music For further background, here's an interview I just gave for the online magazine Prepared Guitar (actually a pretty interesting website--among the heavier interviewees are the likes of Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, Frith, etc.): http://preparedguitar.blogspot.com/2014/07/karl-evangelista-13-questions.htm And some choice reviews: http://wordsonsounds.blogspot.com/2014/06/grex-monster-music.html (insightfully mentioning Frith, Charlie Hunter, and Henry Cowell, in turn) http://zookeeper.stanford.edu/index.php?action=viewRecentReview&tag=1053032 (likening us to a band comprised of literal cinematic monsters) http://www.tinymixtapes.com/chocolate-grinder/premiere-grex-monster-music (dead-on analysis by our own resident virtuoso critic, the great Clifford Allen) Cheers and thank you again, fellow travelers, K/ep1
  15. I have to admit, I was far more amused before I realized that this was satire--and for my part, and perhaps I am speaking through fatigue or my own blinkered sensibility, I found the quotes believable purely because I've heard dozens of old guard musicians talking this way in casual settings. The one off beat to an otherwise enriching evening at the Vanguard with the Heath/Iverson/Street trio was Tootie going off on a pretty relentless screed about how everyone on the walls was dead--he even had a sort-of mean-spirited thing to say about Sonny that was, I think everyone in the room ultimately realized, kind of ironic. As satire, the article reads as alternately mildly funny and a malicious (especially when not clever). The difference between OnionSonny saying it and an actual musicians saying such things "in person" is that negative appraisals of the music are almost always blanketed in love. As saxophonist/poet Lewis Jordan says, if you play this music, you experience either "the highest of highs or the lowest of lows"--and yes, we all complain about the lows, but we also wouldn't be putting up with this were it not for the fact that we paid the ongoing cost of choosing music as a livelihood. I can understand how people fail to see the comedy in someone writing un-contextualized bitchy words about a periphery lifestyle. That being said, I do think that there is a definitive disconnect between the sloppy irony that pervades the 20/30-something crowd (I say this as part of that demographic) and jazz as an institution--the latter of which is often wry but less often gleefully negative. One successful instance of this is on an episode of Family Guy, when the Brian (the talking family dog) says something to the effect of "I only listen to Coltrane before he kicked the habit--no junk, no soul." The irony being that Brian is made out to be the sort of self-important phony who would say something like that. I guess satire has plenty of room for misanthropy and ill-will, too little room for ignorance or, well, not being funny. I think that a generation of satirists and writers reared on the Onion are still genuinely coming to grips with that.
  16. Thank you for the kind words, Allen--genuinely great to meet you, and I hope the West Coast gets an opportunity to hear your music in person sooner rather than later. It occurs to me now that the address listing I had originally given for Spectrum was/is incorrect. This one is right: 121 Ludlow St #2, New York, NY. Spectrum (on Friday/July 25) will be our last hit on this coast--and to those of you we've manged to see, and to all those supporters of creative music who have extended their hospitality and generosity to to us in the past couple of weeks--we thank you. This is more of a "macro" thought, but one I've found to be really and profoundly true: adventurous music these days really lives or dies by the support of the listeners. The one thing that seems to unify the "great" gigs all across the coasts--from the SIMM Series in San Francisco and Grand Star Jazz in Los Angeles to what used to be Duende in Oakland, the Fire Museum curations in Philadelphia to Sonic Circuits in Washington DC, etc. etc.--are people with enough dedication and conviction to treat the music with dignity and generosity, often at a commercial loss. The commercial gigs can be fun and exciting, if only/especially with a big audience, but these curated gigs are special. Fred Frith once told me that it only takes a single person to "make" a scene, and over the course of my travels these past few years, it's become clear that many worthy artists have come to greatly benefit from the vision of a handful of people operating "outside" of normal commerce. Anyhow, as a deeply self-critical musician myself, I've been very proud of Grex's music on this tour--some of the best we've ever made, and consistently exciting--and I look forward to wrapping it up on Friday. I've heard great things about Spectrum, and it's another one of "those" spaces I mention that we should really and truly cherish.
  17. Hello, all- I don't post here all too frequently anymore, but for those enterprising East Coast denizens who are inclined toward music both new and oblique, my trio Grex (me, guitarist Karl Evangelista, keyboardist Rei Scampavia, and drummer Robert Lopez) is in the midst of a short run of East Coast dates. Having just finished a successful twofer in Philadelphia and Arlington, we hit DC tomorrow. The upcoming dates: July 16, 7:30pm (doors)/9pm, $8, Washington, DC at Velvet Lounge (915 U St NW) with Ted Zook’s Lost Civilizations and Jeff Barsky’s Insect Factory July 19, 8pm, No Cover, Brooklyn, NY at Pete’s Candy Store (709 Lorimer Street) with Good Times Cocaine, Golden Alphabet, and The Synthetic Blues (Grex at 8pm) July 20, 8pm, $5-10 sliding scale, Cambridge, MA at Outpost 186 (186 1/2 (Rear) Hampshire St) with Angela Sawyer/Nick Neuberg/ EthanParcell Trio + Morgan Evans-Weiler Solo July 21, 7:30pm, $5-10 sliding scale, New York, NY at The Delancey (168 Delancey Street) with Michael Coleman’s Young Nudist, Gene v. Baker, and MORE July 23, 8pm (doors), 9pm, donation/all ages, Brooklyn, NY at The Silent Barn ("Pleasure Jail" upstairs show, 603 Bushwick Ave) with Timosaurus, Jason McMahon Solo, Diamond Terrifier July 25, 7:30pm, $15 general/$10 students, New York, NY at Spectrum (121 Ludlow St #2) w/Nathan Hook/Mobiustrip Grex might best be described as free jazz/art rock--we're former students of the great Roscoe Mitchell (of AACM fame) and have worked with the likes of Fred Frith (and his band Cosa Brava), Zeena Parkins, Hafez Modirzadeh, Francis Wong, and Tony Levin (of King Crimson fame). This is a special tour for us, in support of our new album Monster Music. It's a summation of our activities in the past half decade, a very new step on our quest to create both "new improvised music" and contemporary "people's" music, a rare opportunity to work with some great East Coast artists, and our first chance to bring this set out East. Here's us, a couple of days ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPfkODjR-fU The album: http://grex.bandcamp.com/album/monster-music For further background, here's an interview I just gave for the online magazine Prepared Guitar (actually a pretty interesting website--among the heavier interviewees are the likes of Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, Frith, etc.): http://preparedguitar.blogspot.com/2014/07/karl-evangelista-13-questions.htm And some choice reviews: http://wordsonsounds.blogspot.com/2014/06/grex-monster-music.html (insightfully mentioning Frith, Charlie Hunter, and Henry Cowell, in turn) http://zookeeper.stanford.edu/index.php?action=viewRecentReview&tag=1053032 (likening us to a band comprised of literal cinematic monsters) http://www.tinymixtapes.com/chocolate-grinder/premiere-grex-monster-music (dead-on analysis by our own resident virtuoso critic, the great Clifford Allen) Cheers, as always, Organissimo board, K/ep1
  18. Thanks, guys! We're doing the full 50 states next time, sanity or no sanity.
  19. Are you playing at all? Genuinely curious, since musical visits to this part of the EC can be rare, I know.
  20. Charlie Haden R.I.P.

    Even though I haven't posted in a while, I lurk almost daily, and I'd be lying if I said that I didn't live in fear of seeing posts like this. This one really hurts, in no small part because Haden was sort of my introduction to jazz bass and the barometer by which I'd come to measure all who play the instrument. The first jazz album I ever purchased--at age 12--was The Shape of Jazz to Come--and even then, back in the now incomprehensible interval when Don Cherry's playing was so weird and alien to me, something about Charlie's bass playing resonated with me. I feel that, as both a free improviser and a contemporary jazz musician, the paths and methodologies of "successful" ensemble playing are sometimes vague, but Charlie (with Ornette, of course) found a way that was both innovative and profoundly grounded in tradition. It's spectacular listening to something further along the line--like Science Fiction or Rhythm X--and coming to grips with the fact that the seemingly unconventional character of Charlie's playing--metrically mobile, often counter to the pulse and harmonically fluid--so totally occupies the role of the bass. Emerging in a period when so many players seemed preoccupied with bringing the "new music" to the bass--and this is no slight on other greats like Peacock, Grimes, and LaFaro, for three--Haden always struck me as an anachronism, bringing the bass to the music. As early work with Ornette bore out, showcasing both his uncanny ear for spontaneously shifting harmonies and his tremendously soulful sense of swing (a perfect complement to the endlessly funky, but also often ballistic, drumming of Higgins and Blackwell), Haden always had an ear for the role of the bass as a support instrument--even (especially?) in a less stable ensemble environment. I think that Haden remains eminently listenable and influential for the fact that the core of his playing is so simple, so completely focused on compatibility, development, and contrast. Even on something like Gato Barbieri's The Third World--which is almost unrelentingly dense, shrill, and melodramatic--Haden is the model of stability, the pivot around which the whirlwind rages. Maybe the biggest compliment I can render (as both a musician and a totally indebted fan) is that Haden lent a sense of logic and cohesion to even the most ridiculous musical scenarios. I was just headed out on tour, driving the stretch of freeway from San Francisco to Los Angeles--we spent a big part of the drive, including an interminable single lane crawl through a seemingly infinite construction zone--listening to Ballad of the Fallen. We weren't aware that anything had happened or would happen to Charlie. We've been preparing "Song for Che" for the tour, and we play "Guinea" at virtually every concert--we even crib Haden's characteristic chromatic bassline for the principal melody. This is the definition of a hero for me--someone whose presence so defines my own activities that, while I have to imagine a world without him, I couldn't conceive of a world he didn't fundamentally, irrevocably change. Thanks for the music, Charlie. A luta continua.
  21. Modern/Avant New Releases: A running thread

    I checked out "Everything for Somebody" on Spotify enjoyed it. Thanks. Might buy list. Anything with Darren Johnston is worth consideration IMO. Agreed. Love Darren Johnston. There's so many genuinely amazing trumpet players out there of, i guess, his generation and if i was to do a list of my favourites he would definitely be on it. Hey, xybert--I don't think we've actually met (unless we've somehow met in person), because I haven't been on this board in nearly a year--but I'd be curious to hear how you came across these guys. They're all in my regular axis--Aram is a fantastic player whom I've collaborated with now and again (and whose projects are actually far more diverse and aggressively experimental than what you'll often hear on record), and Darren is a fairly inspirational, really omnivorous man about town. The Bay Area is virtually a press vacuum, though, so unless you got to this music via the Chicago connection, I'm really surprised it's gotten to you at all.
  22. Arthur Doyle (1944-2014)

    I've been re-examining Doyle's music as of late, and Noah Howard's Black Ark really stuck out to me. Having digested a large segment of the Howard discography in the last few weeks, this is clearly a highlight--strong melodies, very thoughtful arrangements, and a nice balance between driving modal grooves and multi-directional rhythm. I think what sets this apart from a lot of material with similar instrumentation and personnel is just how effectively the music showcases the very individual (and in some ways disparate) talents of the band members. Muhammad Ali, for example--he's a spectacular free percussionist and a creative, if somewhat less flashy, "inside" player--it's nice to hear him just hammer these dark, meaty vamps and then expand into abstract propulsion in the solo passages. This is a great Doyle album, however, because the tenor is sort of a textural foil to the alto. I'm a huge fan of classic, highly deliberate tenor/alto pairings, and they can be really effective in free jazz settings (Shepp/Brown, Shepp/Tchicai, Jarman/Mitchell, etc.)--something about spotlighting the melody/noise dichotomy and how this relates to the respective lexicons of those two instruments. (I think Amiri Baraka was the one who first distinguished between a post-Trane/post-Ayler energy tenor school and the more melodic, post-Ornette alto vein.) When Doyle plays a second or third melodic line, it's with this brusque, grainy tone (halfway between late Ayler and, basically, the paradigmatic untutored/high school tenor sax thing)--it's analogous to rhythm guitar. When Doyle erupts into a solo, it's like a supernova--or maybe a black hole, just sucking everything into its energetic axis and transforming things, if only momentarily, into pure catharsis. On Babi Music or the Blue Humans stuff, it's entirely this, and it can get exhausting--here, it's both a catalyst and secondary environment that re-contextualizes everything around it.
  23. Hello, all- Not meaning to spam the forum with personal affairs, but seeing as how this group has been of interest in the past--and considering how rarely I'm on the East Coast--I thought I'd let you know- My group Grex (http://www.grexsounds.com)--whose MO these days is as a free improvisation ensemble buttressed by pop, chamber, and jazz elements--is making a few (very) upcoming stops on the East Coast. Here are a few recent live tracks: http://grex.bandcamp.com/album/trio-live We just completed a run in NYC, Silver Spring, Arlington, and Philly, and we'll be in Brooklyn, Cambridge, and Connecticut in the coming days: August 28, 11:00pm set time (Brooklyn, NY) @ Goodbye Blue Monday (w/Michael Lafuentes, etc.) August 29, 8:00pm (Cambridge, MA) @ Outpost 186 (w/Duck This!, Eli Wallace) August 30, 8:00pm (Brooklyn, NY) @ Panoply (w/Valerie Kuehne, Martin Bisi, Sam Ospovat, etc.) August 31, 3:00pm (Hamden, CT) @ The Outer Space September 1, 8:00pm (Brooklyn, NY) @ Launchpad (w/Kurt Kotheimer's ROMCOM) For those interested in some jazz inflected music that is at the same time somewhat beyond the pale, we hope to see you.
  24. Hey, folks- Long time no post, but I've been on a massive Julius Hemphill listening bender and I haven't really seen this question answered anywhere else- Is there a comprehensive Hemphill sessionography or discography available online anywhere? (My preliminary and perhaps poorly researched answer to this question is "no.") Here's my best attempt at a discographical list, organized roughly in order of recording date (I'm positive that some of these dates must be incorrect, but I'm just trying to lay the cards out on the table, rather than provide something definitive). It's a synthesis of both what I could find in my collection and the various incomplete online discogs that seem to be available. I'm also fairly certain that the sideman listing is waaay incomplete--this was the hardest to piece together. As Leader: 1972, Dogon A.D. (Mbari, Freedom) 1972/1975, Coon Bid'ness (Freedom, later reissued as Reflections) 1976, Live in New York (Red) 1977, Blue Boye (Screwgun) 1977, Roi Boye and the Gotham Minstrels (Sackville) 1977, Raw Materials and Residuals (Black Saint) 1978, Buster Bee (Sackville) 1980, Chile New York (w/Warren Smith, Black Saint) 1980, Flat-Out Jump Suite (Black Saint) 1984, Georgia Blue (Minor Music) 1987, Live at Kassiopeia (w/Peter Kowald, released NoBusiness in 2011) 1988, Julius Hemphill Big Band (Elektra) 1991, Fat Man and the Hard Blues (Black Saint) 1991, Live from the New Music Cafe (Music & Arts) 1992, Oakland Duets (Music & Arts) 1993, Five Chord Stud (Black Saint) 1997, At Dr. King's Table (New World) 2002*, The Collected Poem for Blind Lemon Jefferson (w/K. Curtis Lyle, Ikef) 2003, One Atmosphere (Tzadik) 2004, The Hard Blues (Live in Lisbon) *This album was released on Mbari, I'm positive--but I don't have my copy in front of me, so I don't know what year it's properly from w/World Saxophone Quartet 1977, Point of No Return (Moers Music) 1979, Steppin' with the World Saxophone Quartet (Black Saint) 1981, W.S.Q. (Black Saint) 1982, Revue (Black Saint) 1984, Live in Zurich (Black Saint) 1986, Live at Brooklyn Academy of Music (Black Saint) 1986, Plays Duke Ellington (Elektra/Nonesuch) 1987, Dances and Ballads (Elektra/Nonesuch) 1989, Rhythm and Blues (Elektra/Nonesuch) 1991, Metamorphosis (Elektra/Nonesuch) As Sideman: 1970, Fathers of Origin (Aboriginal Music Society, Eremite) 1973, Hustlers Convention (Lightnin' Rod, United Artists) 1974, Fast Last! (Lester Bowie, Muse) 1974, Streets of St. Louis (Charles Bobo Shaw & The Human Arts Ensemble, Moers Music) 1974, New York, Fall 1974 (Anthony Braxton, Arista) 1977, P'nk J'zz (Charles Bobo Shaw & The Human Arts Ensemble, Muse - also as "Concere Ntasiah" on Universal Justice) 1982, Shadows and Reflections (Baikida Carroll, Soul Note) 1982, Ram's Run (Kalaparush Maurice McIntyre, Cadence Jazz) 1983, Show Stopper (Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Gramavision) 1987, Jungle Cowboy (John Paul Bourelly, JMT) 1988, A Lot of Lovin' (Killing Floor, OSA) 1988, Before We Were Born (Bill Frisell, Elektra) 1990, At the Moment of Impact (Allen Lowe, Fairhaven) 1991, New Tango '92: After Astor Piazzolla (or the Second Assassin) (Allen Lowe, Fairhaven) 1994, Debut Live (Bjork, Polydor/Universal/One Little Indian) Compilations: 1977, "Pensive," on Wildflowers 4: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions (Douglas) 1991, "Balances and Gloves" on Duos America (Peter Kowald, FMP) The sessionography is something else altogether. I have a few unreleased Hemphill live recordings laying around that aren't duplicated in terms of format or personnel anywhere else (a date with Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition, a recording of Long Tongues).
  25. Julius Hemphill: Comprehensive Discography?

    Henry Threadgill has the second reed chair on those sides, though he was also in a David Murray Big Band around that time.