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JSngry

BFT 151 (October 2016) - Discussion Thread

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On ‎10‎/‎8‎/‎2016 at 0:56 PM, JSngry said:

Perhaps the aim is simply to communicate an idea in an organically evolved language that is formed by various inputs.

One thing that is becoming apparent to me is that if you live in a world that is not completely cut off from other worlds, it takes more effort to be isolated from other voices than it does to be touched by them. A helluva lot more effort. Perhaps even an unnatural amount of effort.

As that pertains to, specifically, "jazz" and "classical" in today's world, well...The Afro-Eurasian Ellipse Effect is not an illusion.

I feel confident in saying that none of the selections I included are driven by one music telling another how/what it "OUGHT to be". That kind of thought process is really...uh...unfamiliar to me, except for the occasional megalomaniacs and other anti-social types.

Most people just have the goal of getting their music to be played how they'd like it to be played. That's a life's work right there.

 

 

Where/What are you looking for the aim to be?

This is a very interesting post, and makes some very good points.

I have known several jazz lovers who have gone so deeply into jazz, that they have almost no exposure to any other music. In fact, I would go so far as to say that most of the people I have ever known who really love jazz and know jazz history in depth, have little or no contact with most other musical genres.

That often leads to a very sure attitude in these jazz lovers that jazz is the superior music of all time in the whole world, and that all other genres of music are somehow inferior, in one way or the other.

I think that this is fairly common. What is not so common is a jazz lover who knows jazz history and is deeply in love with jazz, who is also quite familiar with classical music, rock, blues, today's pop, today's country, any country music. I have not known many of those people.

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I like music, period. I like hearing how people do with it. Same things done different ways, different things done the same ways, etc etc etc. Of course, jazz has been my "soul" music for all of my adult life, going back to early adolescence. But before, during, and after that, there were other things that engaged me. Many many times I've gotten all "identity"-y about it, but life is too short, and a musical univision is not something to be desired, at least not for me, especially as it pertains to jazz/blues/etc. So much of that world is no longer with us, except as artifact or other signifiers. And so much of what remains is re-creative above anything else, which is cool if you dig that, and that's a big "if". "We" "have" "this" how, exactly? On records and in memories, inside ourselves. It was of its time, just as we are of ours. We already have our re-creative mechanisms, how many more do we need? "Legacy" lasts, yes, but "immediacy" does not, can not. I say this not about "worth" or "timelessness", just about vocabulary and accent, about communicating in real time in today's world with people who are in the same space as us. I like the notion of bringing experience to the table and then moving forward with it instead of bringing it there and sitting down to wait for...for what, really?

 

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4 hours ago, JSngry said:

I like music, period. I like hearing how people do with it. Same things done different ways, different things done the same ways, etc etc etc. Of course, jazz has been my "soul" music for all of my adult life, going back to early adolescence. But before, during, and after that, there were other things that engaged me. Many many times I've gotten all "identity"-y about it, but life is too short, and a musical univision is not something to be desired, at least not for me, especially as it pertains to jazz/blues/etc. So much of that world is no longer with us, except as artifact or other signifiers. And so much of what remains is re-creative above anything else, which is cool if you dig that, and that's a big "if". "We" "have" "this" how, exactly? On records and in memories, inside ourselves. It was of its time, just as we are of ours. We already have our re-creative mechanisms, how many more do we need? "Legacy" lasts, yes, but "immediacy" does not, can not. I say this not about "worth" or "timelessness", just about vocabulary and accent, about communicating in real time in today's world with people who are in the same space as us. I like the notion of bringing experience to the table and then moving forward with it instead of bringing it there and sitting down to wait for...for what, really?

 

Good points.

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Thinking again about your posts, Jim. It seems to me that you are saying that jazz and blues are basically museum pieces at this point, not connected with any contemporary experience. Am I correct, or have I misinterpreted you?

I have thought about that myself. If jazz and blues have become a few older figures hanging in there and doing what they have always done, and some younger people recreating the music of the past through a high degree of skill gained from academic study, what do we really have here?

I find it exciting when a new artist comes along who breaks out of those stereotypes and gives us something of more value.

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Not "museum pieces" as much as "known quantities". For the most part, not exclusively.

Nothing wrong with known quantities, I mean, I love good things, period, really love them. I think anybody who has any character knows what they like and why they like it. But knowing what you don't like and why you don't like it, that gets a little trickier, because what you think you don't like about something may not be what that thing actually is! So there's also the part of me that wants to keep getting myself poked with the unfamiliar, especially when it's the type of unfamiliar that sooner or later (sometimes much sooner, sometimes much later) reveals itself to be a lot more familiar than first impressions might suggest.

That's the part of the spirit of this particular BFT, kind of an "objects in the mirror might be closer than they appear" type thing. I started to collate another type of "here's some more free tunes, everybody, see if you can guess what they are!" mix-tape, but just was not feeling that. Really not feeling it. So....this. Perhaps strange, unfamiliar, odd for many, no doubt actually unpleasant for some. And I don't expect anybody to "try" to get it if they're not wanting to, who has that much time?

However...there are melodies here, if not actual "songs" (and there are those), then definitely themes and motifs that get worked all kinds of ways, all kinds of, in my opinion, interesting, ways - and ways that are more familiar to the known quantities of "jazz and blues" than might be readily apparent. One example - the vibes on George Crumb's "Lonesome Road", they're Lionel Hampton for one second, then before the phrase is over they're something else entirely, and it keeps going in and out like that. Discombobulating at first, maybe, but then fascinating, how do such combinations get to be made? Voices moving through the air, changing/shifting perspectives, are they moving, or are we standing still? Or are we both moving in such a way that we'll keep passing as strangers until we recognize each other, after which we can move together as friends and neighbors, mind in mind? The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse Effect, Duke was a prophet recognizing another prophet, the Ellington-McLuhan axis, things just spinning all kinds of around it!

There's another two cuts on here - consecutive cuts - where the same lick is heard on the same instrument. It's fleeting, but very definite. So, what's up with that? If nothing else, language moving through the air and landing where it lands. And then after it lands, does it keep moving? Or does some of it land and some more of it keep moving?

Or, does anything ever really stand still as long as it's alive?

Music can do all kinds of things for you, to you, with you. All kinds of things!

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I decided I didn't know what Afro-Eurasian Ellipse Effect meant, so I googled it and, lo and behold, it's a typo for Afro-Eurasian Eclipse a suite by Duke Ellington with which I'm totally unfamiliar. So I don't know what's supposed to be real about it.

I know what the words mean, but not what they really mean.

MG

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Here ya' go:

 

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That is a really, really good album! It is worth getting for sure, MG! The opening cut has some excellent tenor sax soloing by Harold Ashby, among other good things about it.

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5 hours ago, JSngry said:

Not "museum pieces" as much as "known quantities". For the most part, not exclusively.

Nothing wrong with known quantities, I mean, I love good things, period, really love them. I think anybody who has any character knows what they like and why they like it. But knowing what you don't like and why you don't like it, that gets a little trickier, because what you think you don't like about something may not be what that thing actually is! So there's also the part of me that wants to keep getting myself poked with the unfamiliar, especially when it's the type of unfamiliar that sooner or later (sometimes much sooner, sometimes much later) reveals itself to be a lot more familiar than first impressions might suggest.

That's the part of the spirit of this particular BFT, kind of an "objects in the mirror might be closer than they appear" type thing. I started to collate another type of "here's some more free tunes, everybody, see if you can guess what they are!" mix-tape, but just was not feeling that. Really not feeling it. So....this. Perhaps strange, unfamiliar, odd for many, no doubt actually unpleasant for some. And I don't expect anybody to "try" to get it if they're not wanting to, who has that much time?

However...there are melodies here, if not actual "songs" (and there are those), then definitely themes and motifs that get worked all kinds of ways, all kinds of, in my opinion, interesting, ways - and ways that are more familiar to the known quantities of "jazz and blues" than might be readily apparent. One example - the vibes on George Crumb's "Lonesome Road", they're Lionel Hampton for one second, then before the phrase is over they're something else entirely, and it keeps going in and out like that. Discombobulating at first, maybe, but then fascinating, how do such combinations get to be made? Voices moving through the air, changing/shifting perspectives, are they moving, or are we standing still? Or are we both moving in such a way that we'll keep passing as strangers until we recognize each other, after which we can move together as friends and neighbors, mind in mind? The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse Effect, Duke was a prophet recognizing another prophet, the Ellington-McLuhan axis, things just spinning all kinds of around it!

There's another two cuts on here - consecutive cuts - where the same lick is heard on the same instrument. It's fleeting, but very definite. So, what's up with that? If nothing else, language moving through the air and landing where it lands. And then after it lands, does it keep moving? Or does some of it land and some more of it keep moving?

Or, does anything ever really stand still as long as it's alive?

Music can do all kinds of things for you, to you, with you. All kinds of things!

I find this Blindfold Test to be a very appealing, and extremely interesting, journey into areas I am not familiar with.

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Mission accomplished, then, and thank you for that!

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Mid-month update/scorecard, for those who play that way.

TRACK ONE - Identified. Johnny Otis w/Dorothy Morrison, "Signing Off" from Back To Jazz.

TRACK TWO - Identified. Mingus 45

TRACK THREE - Not yet identified.

TRACK FOUR - Artist (James Brown), song ("Super Bad") and nature of the specific recording (remix) identified, close enough, but bonus points for anybody who can pin down the exact remix this is, and/or its source.

TRACK FIVE - Identified. John Cage, Sonatas & Interludes for Prepared Piano. Bonus points available  for identifying the specific performance/recording.

TRACK SIX - Not yet identified.

TRACK SEVEN - Identified as George Crumb, "Lonesome Road" from one of his American Songbooks series.

TRACK EIGHT - Text identified as being by the speaker, Napoleon Hill.

TRACK NINE - Not yet identified.

TRACK TEN - Identified. Excerpts from Anthony Davis' Tania.

TRACK ELEVEN - Identified, Flip side of Track Two.

TRACK TWELVE - Identified as Eisenhower and bowling alley. There's more to glom if you want it, and happy hunting if you do.

Hints:

  • #s 3, 6, & 9 are all by American composers, two of whom are still alive (the one who's not died in 1998). Two of the these three pieces are 21st Century compositions, the other is from 1957.
  • The text for #3 is a Henry Dumas poem, ca. 1968.
  • # 9 is a movement from a piece for saxophone quartet & orchestra. and is based almost entirely on an animal sound. A common name for this animal is the title of this movement.
  • # 11 has a Frank Sinatra connection.

Existing Bonus Points:

  • Direct Star Trek connection to one of the pieces here.
  • Charlie Parker to Carol Burnett in four easy steps using one of the pieces here.

Mandatory BFT Existential Question:

  • Do you ever fall asleep in church?

Thanks to all who have commented to this point, and warmfuzzies to those who have expressed a liking.

Reveal to come, hopefully, on or about the weekend of October 28.

Comments still welcome, and playing the Name That Tune game really not needed to play.

 

 

 

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OK, thanks.  Still hope to get to it this week.

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On ‎12‎/‎10‎/‎2016 at 5:43 PM, JSngry said:

Here ya' go:

 

Thanks - didn't realise it was a typo :D Thought you MEANT ellipse.

MG

22 hours ago, JSngry said:

Mandatory BFT Existential Question:

  • Do you ever fall asleep in church?

 

Never been in a church service, except the friend of a girl friend's in '65.

So the answer is no :g

MG

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Finally a moment to listen at work.  Not much that I recognized, certainly a lot new to me.

Track 01 - Sounds like a needle drop (sorry if that's obvious, I'm on the laptop).  Odd.  Alto doesn't sound as old as the rest (and I mean that in a less flattering way).  His/her attack is rather sloppy and the rhythm is sort of... off; sort of like Rudresh Mahanthappa.  I like her voice, but don't place it.  The band is very nondescript. 

Track 02 - Wait for this great take:  Needle drop!  Wow! :D  That'll be Charles Mingus' Better Git It In Your Soul, but it's also been called Better Get Hit in Your Soul and Slop.  Probably a few others.  That sounds like Handy on alto to me.  Jimmy Knepper on trombone.  I'm sure I've got this, but I'd have to mine which recording.  Can't tell for sure if it's Horace Parlan or Mal Waldorn on piano, but leaning Horace.  Booker Ervin on tenor is unmistakable.  Is this an alternate of the Ah-uh session?

Track 03 - No clue.  Not my thing.

Track 04 - Some kind of JB remix.  It's interesting, but I'm not feeling the necessity of it.

Track 05 - This actually passed by as I was working without my being aware of it.  Could be earlier Sun Ra, but really doesn't grab me.

Track 06 - I have no idea what this is, but it reminds me of the string interludes on James Taylor's first album on Apple Records.  I hope that's not a slap, as it's not intended to be.

Track 07 - No clues.  Not resonating.  I have a bunch of stuff like this shared with me by a former collaborator... it's just not my bag.

Track 08 - NEEDLE DROP!!! HUH! :D  No idea, but the first voice sounded like LBJ to me.

Track 09 - Soundtrackish (seems to be the case with most of this BFT).  In that context it could be very interesting, but it's not for casual listening.  No idea. 

Track 10 - Sounds like track 3.  No idea.  Lost on me.  It's interesting as it goes on, but still lost on me.

Track 11 - The rest of the original take of track 2?  Seems to me I remember reading that Charles had done a lot post production on what was ultimately released, but I believe Mosaic released the original material; could that be this?  Definitely Booker, Jimmy K... could be Curtis Porter on alto, but the earlier take struck me more as Handy.  Definitely Dannie Richmond on drums.  I'd say this is earlier than Ah-um, but certainly influential towards it.

Track 12 - "F*ck it, Dude... let's go bowlin'."  No idea what it is, but sounds like it's being played in a bowling alley.


I may have to revisit this one when I can lay dedicated ears upon it.

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Sorry, Thom, no soundtracks, Sun Ra, Apple/James Taylor, or LBJ.

Congrats, though, on needle-drops, Mingus (in general, if not on the cut ID itself), JB remix, John Handy, and not being for casual listening. Relaxed listening, yes, but not casual listening.

And yes, there is bowling alley sound. Past that...

also, thanks again for hosting all these things. It's a service to the community, for sure!

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On 15-10-2016 at 10:32 PM, JSngry said:

TRACK FIVE - Identified. John Cage, Sonatas & Interludes for Prepared Piano. Bonus points available  for identifying the specific performance/recording.

 

I just noticed the bonus points offer.

It's Maro Ajemian playing, a close friend of Cage's and the dedicatee of the work. For quite some time, she and the composer himself were the only performers of the Sonatas and Interludes.

She also made the first recording of the work for the Dial label in (I think) 1950. This recording was released on two Dial LP's in 1951 (in those thick sturdy cardboard covers). What we're hearing in the BFT is the 5th sonata, although it's obviously taken from a remastered CD reissue, because the sound is much cleaner than on my Dial vinyl.

I keep saying this: it's wonderful, thrilling music (not at all "difficult"), but you really should hear the complete cycle.

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3 hours ago, corto maltese said:

I just noticed the bonus points offer.

It's Maro Ajemian playing, a close friend of Cage's and the dedicatee of the work. For quite some time, she and the composer himself were the only performers of the Sonatas and Interludes.

She also made the first recording of the work for the Dial label in (I think) 1950. This recording was released on two Dial LP's in 1951 (in those thick sturdy cardboard covers). What we're hearing in the BFT is the 5th sonata, although it's obviously taken from a remastered CD reissue, because the sound is much cleaner than on my Dial vinyl.

I keep saying this: it's wonderful, thrilling music (not at all "difficult"), but you really should hear the complete cycle.

You get those bonus points, corto, spend them with glee!

This is indeed a CRI CD reissue of the Dial LPs. https://www.discogs.com/John-Cage-Maro-Ajemian-Sonatas-And-Interludes-For-Prepared-Piano/release/1190155

What you keep saying is what I have said since discovering this music - wonderful, thrilling, not at all "difficult, and yes, the complete cycle, if you're going to hear any of it, it's better to hear all of it.

I'll add this - that somebody in 1950 could so fully realized this then-abstraction of what a piano was capable of as a straight-up percussion instrument (which it is by definition) still boggles my mind. Percussion instruments, really, all in one piano. Cecil Taylor is famously references as treating the piano as "88 tuned drums", and well he should be, but this music is getting there from another path than Cecil's. Cage is more "gamelan" and again, it's 1950, what reference materials were there form him to draw on, much less propel him full-forward into these results? Some, obviously, but how much, especially compared to what we have had in the post-
Nonesuch Explorer Series world. Let's give the man credit for vision, a strong, clear, undeterred vision.

Not just Cage's compositional vision either - Ajemian feels this music deeply and plays it accordingly. The nuances of the time and the attacks, it really feels like more than one person and more than one instrument. Boggles my imagination, this does, especially for 1950.

And on Dial records!

sonatas-and-interludes.jpg

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I hope this isn't too much info. I think that we have an older group of people here who probably wouldn't write "tl:dr" afterwards.

Tho the "Sonatas ..." wasn't the first work that Cage wrote using the prepared piano, it is his most well-known. When dancer Syvilla Fort requested a work from him with an African "inflection," he intended to write a piece for percussion (of major interest to him at the time), but the performance space was small and he only had a piano to work with. Cage probably acquired this talent for creating new ideas, sometimes under time constraints, from his father who was a prolific inventor. So, "Bacchanale" was born in 1940, as was the prepared piano. First performance was April, 1940.

When the "Sonatas ..." was written (1946-48), it was during a time when Cage was interested in Hindu philosophy and he decided that he wanted to express the eight permanent rasas (emotions) of the Indian tradition in this work. I'm unsure as to how much of the various emotional ups-and-downs of his personal life played a part in the composition of this work, but as he was completing the piece, his composer friend, Lou Harrison, suffered a nervous breakdown and was committed to a sanatorium and so Cage immediately began trying to help with the cost of Harrison's treatment and contacted Charles Ives to help secure some kind of financial assistance. That, and his recent divorce from his wife, Xenia, I'm sure added to the emotional exploration he would undertake during this time (but would soon drop about 3 years later).

Ajemian (for whom the "Sonatas ..." are dedicated) gave its first partial performance in April of 1946 with Cage himself giving the first complete performance almost exactly 2 years later. My introduction was thru the CRI 199 LP in the late 60's. I picked up the Dial recording later.

Throughout his life, Cage rarely seemed interested in "firsts."  He would happily refer to previous attempts at ideas he would become famous for. In July of 1943, in a letter to Merce CunninghamCage mentioned that he, with pleasure, read (in Grove's "Dictionary of Music and Musicians" - this would be the 1879 edition) about the term "sordini" referring to mutes or dampening mechanisms which came to the conclusion that "... a plain penny put between violin strings is better than a fancy mute." Cage continues by saying, "Every now + then the past smiles at me."

Edited by rostasi

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On 10/16/2016 at 6:21 PM, The Magnificent Goldberg said:

Thanks - didn't realise it was a typo :D Thought you MEANT ellipse.

MG

Never been in a church service, except the friend of a girl friend's in '65.

MG

Sounds a bit like my synagogue experience - twice - for friends' weddings.

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The "narrative" approach to the programming here hasn't gained traction, but fwiw, "falling asleep in church" is a big part of that narrative.

 

 

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On 10/20/2016 at 8:06 AM, JSngry said:

You get those bonus points, corto, spend them with glee!

This is indeed a CRI CD reissue of the Dial LPs. https://www.discogs.com/John-Cage-Maro-Ajemian-Sonatas-And-Interludes-For-Prepared-Piano/release/1190155

What you keep saying is what I have said since discovering this music - wonderful, thrilling, not at all "difficult, and yes, the complete cycle, if you're going to hear any of it, it's better to hear all of it.

I'll add this - that somebody in 1950 could so fully realized this then-abstraction of what a piano was capable of as a straight-up percussion instrument (which it is by definition) still boggles my mind. Percussion instruments, really, all in one piano. Cecil Taylor is famously references as treating the piano as "88 tuned drums", and well he should be, but this music is getting there from another path than Cecil's. Cage is more "gamelan" and again, it's 1950, what reference materials were there form him to draw on, much less propel him full-forward into these results? Some, obviously, but how much, especially compared to what we have had in the post-
Nonesuch Explorer Series world. Let's give the man credit for vision, a strong, clear, undeterred vision.

Not just Cage's compositional vision either - Ajemian feels this music deeply and plays it accordingly. The nuances of the time and the attacks, it really feels like more than one person and more than one instrument. Boggles my imagination, this does, especially for 1950.

And on Dial records!

sonatas-and-interludes.jpg

Maro's violinist sister Anahid Ajemian was the wife of George Avakian.

 

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I'm still amazed as hell about how fully realized those performances are, especially on the one included here, how one player makes one piano sound like an actual group, not just in timbre, but in attacks and time.

I don't know enough to know the particulars about Maro Ajemian, what kind of musical relationship she had with Cage, or, really, her work in general, but damn does this one here speak to me of full immersion, total commitment, and deep understanding of purpose and vision.

 

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2 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

Maro's violinist sister Anahid Ajemian was the wife of George Avakian.

Speaking of this ...

It's worth listening to another Ajemian version of an incomplete "Sonatas ...
on the Avakian-produced Town Hall concert set that was released in '59.
The 3-LP set (quite the undertaking in those days) was partially funded by
Jasper Johns and Bob Rauschenberg.

 

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Louis Goldstein's performance on You Tube:
 

 

Goldstein's performance of Feldman's "Triadic Memories":
 

 

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