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Jazztropic

Lew Tabackin Under rated!

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I know some people who have played in Toshiko's bands, and they all say the same thing - very complicated writing that has to be played "just so" or else it don't work. One guy went so far as to say that she "overwrote" but then went on to say that that's just what she heard and that she wasn't going to compromise that one bit.

My ears hear much the same reed vs. brass dichotomy, but I have to think that at least part of it is her hearing things in one color (brass) that don't necessarily execute the way they do for another instrument family (woodwinds), Why does she keep doing it? Why not? One day she might get lucky.

No matter, not my "favorite" band or writer as a whole, but the integrity is unimpeachable, and I've come to appreciate the unique gender/cultural/chronological perspective that she's both lived and brought to her music as a result (and seeing it replayed for her daughter in a totally different way has really opened my eyes to this). No small feat that, and if there's times when respect is more meaningful than love, this might be one of 'em.

As for later Tabackin, yeah, if you couldn't get with the earlier stuff just on principal, there's nothing in the later stuff that's likely to convert you. But I still say pay close attention to his flute playing. It's a pretty unique voice in its blending of jazz, classical, and Japanese informatives.

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throwing off one too tight tradition for another (& damn straight those charts are overwritten) frees you from... nothing.

Maybe freedom is not the goal. Some people are like that. Or maybe it's a type of freedom that neither you or I can really comprehend. Some people are like that too, and who's to say that they are wrong, at least as far as them knowing what it is they want/need for themself better than anybody else? All I can say is that I see both the mother and the anti-mother in the daughter, and that has me considering possibilities of "meaning" in the mother that I had not previously considered. Sometimes seeing what's being rebelled against by the child brings home why it mattered so much to the parent, and why neither was/is right or wrong to do it their way. Different circumstances, different means, & different methods can still lead to a broader commonality of purpose once it's all said, done, and stripped away to the basics.

Hard for me these days to hear Toshiko through White Male American ears (think about it - she's none of those. Three strikes and maybe I'm out going up against this pitcher...) & think that I'm hearing it about the same way that she does. What she does or does not hear (and therefore what she means) is something about which I really can't say anymore other than that things like "overwritten" may at once be straight to the point from the WMA POV as well as totally besides it from hers. I no longer claim to know anything about her music betond the notes on the paper, and that extends to the need/desire to call unnecessary bullshit on some/a lot of it. All I can say is that maybe, maybe, what she's saying is something that I am at best only partially equipped to understand (and then only so far into it), and that is neither "good" nor "bad". It just is.

Am I wrong to feel this way? Either way I lose. Go figure.

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I have made this point before, and there are those who clearly disagree, but I believe the Coltrane influence had a negative influence on many players. My best example is Harold Land. Land's playing with Clifford Brown, with the Curtis Counce Group, and on his own albums on Contemporary showed his own individual sound and phrasing. I considered it wonderful tenor work. Once the Trane influence hit him, Land no longer sounded the same. He lost that special Harold Land style, and became just one more tenor man who was overwhelmed by Coltrane.The recordings Land made with Bobby Hutcherson for Blue Note and a few other labels are examples of what I mean. Younger listeners who came to jazz via Coltrane or later will likely hear things differently. But I was listening to Harold Land before the huge Trane influence spread across the jazz horizon. Land is just one of many established players who, to my ears, lost a part of their individuality as a result of the impact Coltrane made on the jazz scene. Don't misunderstand, I love and respect a significant portion of John Coltrane's music. My concern was not with Coltrane's music, but rather with the way his music , in some ways, became a force throughout the jazz world.

I completely agree.

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tejas-- i agree w/all that but also hesitate about considering anyone under- rated/appreciated when we take the classical ---> jazz (institutional $$$/"respect") & apply it here to a wider range avant- musics...

Maybe I've reached the point of just not giving a damn anymore, but the whole notion of "under-rated" & "under-appreciated" seems almost naive. The notion that there's enough people out there who could "get it" but for whatever reason don't -yet, but doggone it, we're gonna get them to - is pretty much laughable. People get/appreciate what they want to get, sooner or later, one way or another, and if somebody is "under-rated", etc. all it really means is that what that person is offering - as a total package of whatever size or lack thereof - is something that not as many people want as they do something else. That's it, period. It's got absolutely nothing to do with "intrinsic worth" or anything like that. It just comes down to with how many people does what you do strike the right chord? And to that there's no rhyme reason or logic. More people wanted what Michael Brecker was offering than what Billy Harper continues to offer. That doesn't particularly thrill me, but it doesn't really bother me too much anymore either. Those that want it/will come to want it will get to it, and those who don't never will. Life goes on, and considering the alternative to that, that ain't such a bad deal.

No, all I can really be concerned with these days is whether I'm hearing what I think I'm hearing from whatever it is I am hearing. If so, am I sure? Ditto if I'm not, and either way, what else is there one way or the other. Too much more than that and I'm into the world of thinking that the world is full of people waiting to be "converted". It just ain't so.

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i understand ALL the social progressive/aesthetic reasons we treat teh jass like something holy holy but if there was ever an even half-decent "Behind The Music" sorta on the musics... many well-intentioned fans would have to think things thru a bit differently.

Sometimes I thnk that's why all the dead guys are so loved (and probably will continue to be) by today's audiences. It's always easier to accept reality when it comes in the form of mythology than when it comes into your house & bleeds all over your new linens.

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Sometimes I thnk that's why all the dead guys are so loved (and probably will continue to be) by today's audiences. It's always easier to accept reality when it comes in the form of mythology than when it comes into your house & bleeds all over your new linens.

Well, maybe, but Lester, Bird, Clifford (to name a few) came to my house while I was there and they sang like angels ... and that was reality.

Q

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I hear ya' on all that, but at this point those are all strategic points for battle plans in a war that I just don't, really don't, care about any more. If it can ultimately be neither won nor lost (& I don't think it can, not at this micro of a level, macro, now that's a different story, but Gene Clark, Toshiko Akioshi, & Harold Land are not among the names that can be used as effective ammunition to win that one), I'd just as soon make it a personal journey and invite anybody along for any portion(s) of the ride that they're interested in for as long as they can behave themself, and drop 'em off at the corner when they can't.

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And relative to the whole Land/Grossman thing, has anybody heard the recently released side they recorded together a few years ago? It's really, really wierd - Grossman is totally like '56 Sonny, and Harold is all late-period Harold, and the sense of hearing a younger guy play, and I mean really play. an older style like it's BRAND SPANKIN' NEW alonside an older guy who was there and did it when it actually was is sorta discombobbulatin' and/or :rfr:rfr:rfr

...Your Land/Grossman experience is a wonderful example of the hall of mirrors that people of our vintage(s) can find ourselves in --

Dude, imagine a world where a younger guy sounds younger by playing older and an older guy sounds older by playing newer. That's some freaky shit, and, like a drive-by, it shouldn't be necessary. I seriously doubt that it really is, but it sure as hell exists. Time to everybody to just get over it and move the hell on, you know, a lot has happened in music and life since both 1956 and 1965 and how long can you live parallel/in avoidance of it before you become...unnecessary outside of the cave, but pre$$ure$ con$pire against that happening any time soon, at least not it the Organized JazzMafia World.

Still, it's a fun swinging album, and recommended to all.

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Dude, imagine a world where a younger guy sounds younger by playing older and an older guy sounds older by playing newer. That's some freaky shit, and, like a drive-by, it shouldn't be necessary.

In that vein, perhaps, here's a key passage from Jorge Luis Borges' great, crazy-funny-sad story "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" (it can be read in complete form here):

http://www.scripps.edu/cb/sullivan/tlon.htm

In the very oldest regions of Tlon, it is not an uncommon occurrence for lost objects to be duplicated. Two people are looking for a pencil; the first one finds it and says nothing; the second finds a second pencil, no less real, but more in keeping with his expectation. These secondary objects are called hronir and, even though awkward in form, are a little larger than the originals. Until recently, the hronir were the accidental children of absentmindedness and forgetfulness. It seems improbable that the methodical production of them has been going on for almost a hundred years, but so it is stated…. The first attempts were fruitless. Nevertheless, the modus operandi is worthy of note. The director of one of the state prisons announced to the convicts that in an ancient riverbed certain tombs were to be found, and promised freedom to any prisoner who made an important discovery. In the months preceding the excavation, printed photographs of what was to be found were shown the prisoners. The first attempt proved that hope and zeal could be inhibiting; a week of work with shovel and pick succeeded in unearthing no hron other than a rusty wheel, postdating the experiment. This was kept a secret, and the experiment was later repeated in four colleges. In three of them the failure was almost complete; in the fourth (the director of which died by chance during the initial excavation), the students dug up—or produced—a gold mask, an archaic sword, two or three earthenware urns, and the moldered mutilated torso of a king with an inscription on his breast which has so far not been deciphered. Thus was discovered the unfitness of witnesses who were aware of the experimental nature of the search.... Mass investigations produced objects which contradicted one another; now, individual projects, as far as possible spontaneous, are preferred. The methodical development of hronir has been of enormous service to archeologists. It has allowed them to question and even to modify the past, which nowadays is no less malleable or obedient than the future. One curious fact: the hronir of the second and third degrees—that is, the hronir derived from another hron, and the hronir derived from the hron of a hron—exaggerate the flaws of the original; those of the fifth degree are almost uniform; those of the ninth can be confused with those of the second; and those of the eleventh degree have a purity of form which the originals do not possess. The process is a recurrent one; a hron of the twelfth degree begins to deteriorate in quality. Stranger and more perfect than any hron is sometimes the ur, which is a thing produced by suggestion, an object brought into being by hope. The great gold mask I mentioned previously is a distinguished example.

Things duplicate themselves in Tlon. They tend at the same time to efface themselves, to lose their detail when people forget them. The classic example is that of a stone threshold which lasted as long as it was visited by a beggar, and which faded from sight on his death. Occasionally, a few birds, a horse perhaps, have saved the ruins of an amphitheater.

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to edc the whole Lew Tabackin thing, well... I can name a hundred tenors & fifty big bands i'd rather hear first, starting w/ Billy Harper & Alvino Rey.

Your above statement is a sparkling example of something very positive. While I totally disagree with what you said, I am pleased that we all don't have the exact same taste, favorites, point of view, etc. It would be very boring and tedious if they was full agreement among the listeners as to our favorite players on each instrument, and our favorite big bands.

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I know some people who have played in Toshiko's bands, and they all say the same thing - very complicated writing that has to be played "just so" or else it don't work. One guy went so far as to say that she "overwrote" but then went on to say that that's just what she heard and that she wasn't going to compromise that one bit.

My ears hear much the same reed vs. brass dichotomy, but I have to think that at least part of it is her hearing things in one color (brass) that don't necessarily execute the way they do for another instrument family (woodwinds), Why does she keep doing it? Why not? One day she might get lucky.

No matter, not my "favorite" band or writer as a whole, but the integrity is unimpeachable, and I've come to appreciate the unique gender/cultural/chronological perspective that she's both lived and brought to her music as a result (and seeing it replayed for her daughter in a totally different way has really opened my eyes to this). No small feat that, and if there's times when respect is more meaningful than love, this might be one of 'em.

As for later Tabackin, yeah, if you couldn't get with the earlier stuff just on principal, there's nothing in the later stuff that's likely to convert you. But I still say pay close attention to his flute playing. It's a pretty unique voice in its blending of jazz, classical, and Japanese informatives.

Your comments, and those of Larry Kart, on Toshiko Akiyoshi's writing for her big band are very interesting. What intrigues me is that her writing really appealed to masses of listeners, on an immediate, gut level, which would seem unlikely given the analyses which have been provided on this thread.

I saw this happen several times. The Toshiko Akiyoski-Lew Tabackin Big Band was booked at the 1981 Milwaukee Art Fair. This was one of those public events with many traveling artists setting up their wares in tented booths. Thousands of people walked by, a few actually buying some art, but most just hanging out at the event and eating and drinking. A city official gave a short speech from a stage at one end of the event, saying that "the band you voted #1" would be playing later. Presumably she was putting far too much stock in the down beat Reader's Poll, considering it to be an American Idol-style national referendum.

When Toshiko/Lew & Co. began playing, I walked down to listen to them at the stage. Soon hundreds, if not more than a thousand people, gathered around and to my surprise, were enthusiastically digging them. The crowd became quite vocal with enthusiasm, clapping, stomping and screaming its approval. I am quite sure that most of those who gathered around had no idea of the identity of the band.

In Kansas City, the Parks and Recreation Department put on free jazz concerts in the parks once a week in the summers, in the early to mid-1980s. Dave Brubeck, Herbie Mann, the Heath Brothers, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie and others were presented. Every year the Akiyoski-Tabackin Big Band was one of the relatively few artists presented. It got to the point where the local press asked the Parks and Recreation Department why more variety was not being presented. In an interview in the Kansas City Star, the spokesman said that with Akiyoski-Tabackin, they knew that they were presenting a favorite of Kansas City audiences, a proven crowd pleaser, so that the series was assured of success. It did seem that the audiences were having a good time and enjoying themselves at the Akiyoshi-Tabackin concerts.

When the Kansas City Folly Theater began its annual series of national jazz concerts in the 1980s, again Akiyoshi-Tabackin was often presented. I remember thinking that we were all missing out on big chunks of the scene as Akiyoshi-Tabackin was being presented so many times in the precious few concert slots. But the concerts were always sold out, with enthusiastic audiences.

So if Toshiko's writing was flawed, too busy, or weak on brass, the audiences of the time didn't seem to feel it, from what I observed over several years.

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An excellent Tabackin solo here.

 

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It's a good song.

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2 hours ago, JSngry said:

It's a good song.

Lew's solo on the title track is darn good. Guess I'll have to get that album.

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I had the same thought after hearing on the radio.

Get a used copy, ok? That's the best thing on there, but it's all pretty good.

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4 hours ago, mjzee said:

A whole lotta Akiyoshi/Tabackin is being reissued in Japan ...

Yes. With what appears to be new remastering, e.g. different than what's in the Mosaic Select (which already has good remastering). Also, these will be in mini-LP format. I might spring for March of The Tadpoles.

Tabackin's 2008 Live In Paris is excellent. Warmly recommended.

lewtabackintrio_large.jpg?v=fe52a970-0be

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On 9/28/2019 at 3:02 PM, mjzee said:

A whole lotta Akiyoshi/Tabackin is being reissued in Japan ...

Picked up March of The Tadpoles (SICJ 30013) and Long Yellow Road (SICJ 30010). Have listened to the former, and — wow — this new transfer is good; really open, and with distinct placement of sections on the soundstage. I think I might already prefer this new transfer to the transfer on the Mosaic Select. That said, if you already have the Select, I wouldn't say you "need" these new editions, especially if you're not a fan of the mini-LP. (I went a little "collector" crazy, and am a fan of the mini-LP.)

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