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About ep1str0phy

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  1. Milford Graves RIP

    Hello, all- Breaking a moment of silence as I have received numerous notices that the great Milford Graves has passed away. He and I were friends. Part of my intention in beginning this thread is to see if other intimates may have some knowledge to impart that I do not - but from what I can gather in my state, we have confirmation. (The most "official" source, since it's NPR sanctioned: https://twitter.com/totalvibration/status/1360365557778960384) There's a lot to unpack here, but let me just say that the music world is tremendously fortunate to have had Professor Graves doing what he did - for so long - and so well. I consider myself spectacularly fortunate to have known his company for the past couple of years. Not to get too maudlin, but I had just sent him a belated holiday card. As in it was in the mail this morning. As Milford once said to me, "Spend time with people." Love to all folk, musical and otherwise, K
  2. Great discussion, folks. Chiming in far too late just to articulate this point, since I've had to work with a lot of Jones/Baraka in recent days- It's been noted both here and elsewhere, but "jazz criticism" is i process unnatural to, if deeply intertwined with, the production of The Music. In a very broad (i.e., reductionist) sense, art criticism is itself a Western-coded construct, and I think it's fair to argue that for a very significant interval of jazz's lifespan, criticism existed as entity separate from the centers of Black cultural production in which the music was made. A significant change I see with the onset of the postwar period, and especially into the 1960s - in my admittedly limited perspective on the situation - is a weakening of the boundaries between criticism and music as a criticism-adjacent social process. "Black Dada Nihilismus" alone fundamentally alters Baraka's place in the early 1960s. He's not only commenting on or interacting with the musicians he's writing about - he's issuing one of the signature pieces of early free jazz, in a way defining the role of spoken word in the idiom for decades to come. For me, it's impossible to read Blues People or Black Music as anything other than the words of someone who had an intimate knowledge of not just the value but also the processes intrinsic to the music he was commenting on. This goes for his later preoccupation with R&B and soul music, too - on the New York Art Quartet's 35th Reunion Album - on which Baraka is a main voice - you can hear him singing the chorus to "Dancing In the Streets" - it's music that Baraka heard and read, yes, but it's also music that was felt and refracted back into the communities he was writing about. You can go on and on about this - not just with regard to Baraka, but also people like Stanley Crouch and Greg Tate, whose opinions are irreversibly tied to their personal experiences inside of the music. If you really want to complicate things, consider Downbeat running Kenny Dorham's excoriating reviews of Albert Ayler, or the fact that - as has come up on this board on numerous occasions - Downbeat has run a number of articles, interviews, and testimonials that are, I would argue, important parts of understanding certain artists (e.g., Larry Kart's epochal Wayne Shorter interview). There are specific academic and philosophical reasons why it is convenient to trace the arc of jazz in a straight line from plantation music, blues, ragtime, etc. to free jazz, but also keep in mind that in that free jazz resonated quite explicitly with both African American freedom struggles and leftist political movements in the 1960s. If free jazz got extra airtime, irrespective of the place that soul jazz had in actual African American communities and social spaces, it is in part because (a) again, jazz criticism is an unreliable narrator with its own biases and convictions, and (b) free jazz had embedded in its process something that was easy, if not simple, to write about. The other thing I'd stress is that it's not as if free jazz won some kind of long game here. Its visible dominance in academic narratives of the music - and its continued relevance to institutions like the NEA and the MacArthur Foundation - is something that we, as initiates of the music, are attuned to - but you'll still very rarely encounter earnest discussion of Bill Dixon or Archie Shepp in institutions of higher learning, and you're more than likely to run into Gene Ammons or Cannonball in jazz school vs. Marion Brown or, in certain circles, Ornette. Out in the "real world", this stuff is just words and, sometimes, cash.
  3. Hello, all- Sorry for the tragically long thread title - this is Karl / ep1str0phy. In summary, my avant duo Grex is hosting Lockdown 3, a livestream music festival commemorating the release of our new record. The festival itself has a crackling bill, featuring the great DC bassist Luke Stewart, Asian Improv aRts co-founder/personal hero Francis Wong, Jordan Glenn (of Fred Frith Trio fame), the great young poet Tongo Eisen-Martin, and a really eclectic mix of cutting-edge Bay Area improv, beat music, rock, and so on. Our music has a theme of protest baked into it, meant to address inequitable living conditions in Oakland and the Philippines. In light of recent events, we thought it appropriate to put the music to some practical use. All proceeds from the sale of our record, and all donations collected at this festival, will be directed to the ACLU and to support the continued work of percussionist, educator, and researcher Milford Graves (ailing, as of late). Lockdown Festival 3 / Saturday, September 5, 4-9pm PT If you're interested in tuning in, the event is entirely on Youtube, but we're collating details + streaming links here: https://www.facebook.com/events/645326159422827 And for the righteous anti-FB crowd, here's a direct link to Grex's set, which will be updated with streaming links to the other sets: https://youtu.be/eKsjAPImWcM Finally: here's the Bandcamp page for the new record. All sales here for the foreseeable future (including limited t-shirt sales) will be directed to the aforementioned causes: https://grex.bandcamp.com/album/everything-you-said-was-wrong All the best to you all. K
  4. Archie Shepp photo

    It's Mbizo. If it's the Actuel Festival, Dyani being there squares out. Louis was there, too. Check the photo here:
  5. Eddie Gale (1941-2020)

    Thanks for reading all that! There are a handful of studio recordings, yes - though (speaking only for myself) they don't really reflect the sound of this band on stage. Our big endeavor during my tenure in the band was remaking the Blue Note material, and I sense that Eddie was looking for polished work rather than fiery extrapolation. This track is kind of in the middle: Whatever may or may not have survived the 2010s, I know that Eddie often had a camera running at shows. There were a handful of performances, many of them in front of actual crowds, that were unreal. In my admittedly incomplete knowledge of Eddie, these performances might be considered too rough or aggressive to issue, but were they to get out, they might offer a more "honest" perspective on the way that this music communicated to both its audiences and its participants. There were things that Eddie allowed (or wanted) us to do on stage that never made it to record, and those are the moments that I'll always remember the most fondly. As an aside, Damon Smith recently posted about a Bay Area show that featured Eddie, Damon, Brotzmann, and Jackson Krall. They were performing for a group of school children. I feel as if Eddie was up to this kind of activity all the time, and as a player, he had a remarkable penchant for making himself heard (in the best way possible) in contexts where brevity or restraint were encouraged. I wish that more of this music had survived for posterity.
  6. Eddie Gale (1941-2020)

    First off, thanks to everyone for the kind words and remembrances. Not to speak on his behalf, but I sense that Eddie would have enjoyed being remembered in this way. Second - and with the intention of demythologizing a little bit - Eddie did these kinds of gigs all the time. This was actually one of the things that caused friction - it was impossible to tell when Eddie had booked a "public rehearsal" vs. a "real gig" (his distinction). I'll never forget this one time when I barreled from Richmond out to San Jose in rush hour traffic, only to arrive at an empty bistro with six, seven band members on stage. I cut my hand open while setting up, which resulted in the hilarious image of the guitar player frantically searching for unbloodied paper towels, hardcore freebop blasting out at an audience of no one. To speak more analytically - over time, I had a deepening feeling that this weird quirk of Eddie's performance practice was generational in nature. He came up at a time when the notion of live casual performance had different implications, and despite the passage of time and the changing topography of the music business, I still think that this is where his head was at most of the time. But - and this is an object lesson in what it takes to survive at the fringes of this music for, what, half a century or more - Eddie was very big into the business aspects of the music. There was an entrepreneurial charisma to him that forgave some of the wobblier musical and bureaucratic decisions - you just couldn't bring yourself to be upset at anything for too long, because everything he did was just so audacious. We'd play two, three shows to middling audiences, and then out of nowhere, we'd be playing a concert hall (in the middle of nowhere) to hundreds of strangers. Sometimes the "company" would be a little questionable - we'd grumble about it for a bit - and two gigs later, this shredding drummer will have come out of nowhere. Then there was this one time that we played a benefit at Yoshi's - really difficult gig - in the company of John Handy, George Cables, Bobby Hutcherson, Steve Turre, and countless others. I got to hang out with those guys thanks to Eddie, and, again, I was pretty young. It still blows my mind when I think about it. To put it a different way, late last year, I was at a gig under the leadership of a different "Great Free Jazz" musician (who I'll refrain from naming, if only because the anecdote is kind of bullshit) - not long after the gig, I heard a guy in the corner say - in the loudest, most obnoxious voice possible - "Wow. A lot of people came out here for Musician X. The last time I saw him there was absolutely no one there." Musician X was and is a superstar. What troubled me is that obnoxious voice guy clearly said it in order to convey his own cultural cache. Obviously this isn't what you're doing, duaneiac (or anyone else where, for that matter) - I only remain troubled at this notion that the suffering in this music equates in some way to value. I think that we as acolytes and, if we're lucky, participants in this music are trained to fetishize its marginality. For me, the valuable takeaway in music like Eddie's is its ability to survive and thrive at any cost, which is as beautifully (and quaintly) American a thing as you can enjoy at a time as dark as this.
  7. Eddie Gale (1941-2020)

    Seizing permission to speak freely here - Eddie was and is very important to me. We had a complicated working relationship insofar as he was tremendously exacting, and often in ways that could be frustrating of off-putting, but I never - for a second - doubted the integrity of his artistry or his realness as a person. I owe multitudes to him for taking me under his wing at a very early stage of my career. He was warm, generous, and infectiously excitable, and he give me the invaluable experience of working with an actual, dyed-in-the-wool free jazz auteur. I think that only those among us who've had the opportunity to work with the old school free guys will understand what I'm saying here - and I say this not by way of self-aggrandizing or humble-bragging, but in order to document a phenomenon that is so specific and so quickly passing from the land of the living. It's difficult to define, but it's analogous to playing changes you're really comfortable with in company that is surpassingly facile at them - when you're thrown in the pool with people who are master improvisers in accordance with some metric, you just hang on. When you're able to ride the wave, as I've been fortunate enough to on occasion, you feel these flashes of profundity that remind you why you fell in love with this music in the first place. At its best, playing with Eddie was like that. It's a tragedy to me that this lesson cannot be communicated in a classroom or through a book, because the number of people who can teach it numbers so very few. Eddie was an iron man - like he was in crazy good shape some 5-10 years ago, back when I was working with him - so his passing is a reminder that you need to seek out the OGs while they're still here. As Milford Graves once told me, "Spend time with people." RIP, Eddie. You were a real one. Not a doubt in my mind.
  8. Thank you, folks! I'm just excited that it's going to be out in the world. If/when folks can get to it, I hope that the listen brings you some (much needed?) joy--it's the closest you can get to the energy that was in the room those two days we tracked, the residuals of which have kept me going during some of quarantine's heavier moments.
  9. Greetings to you, my much beleaguered friends/colleagues/community, This a bit of self-promotion, but also (I think) a project of interest. I have an album releasing on the stellar Astral Spirits label next Friday, May 22. This record, entitled Apura! (Tagalog for "very urgent"), is a collection of improvised trios and quartets featuring the company of the O board's own Alexander Hawkins, South African legend Louis Moholo-Moholo, and UK great Trevor Watts. This project is the fulfillment of a longtime dream to convene an international, intergenerational quartet of creative voices for the goal of making music that is at once spontaneous, contemporary, and suffused with the energies of the incendiary past. To put it in so many words, this felt and feels like crisis music for today in much the same way that the music of the Blue Notes, Amalgam, etc. was crisis music for its era. You can pre-order and preview some tracks here: https://apura.bandcamp.com/ As some of you may know, it was my goal to bring a version of this project out to the US for a run of May concerts. Clearly this didn't/won't happen, though we're going to try for a series of December dates featuring myself, Alex, Asian American jazz innovator Francis Wong, and the great Andrew Cyrille. Will keep you posted, but in the meantime, I've scheduled a livestream "Album Release Concert" (accompanied by prerecorded elements from the Moholo/Tippett album No Gossip). In summary: it's going to be strange, but it's going to be cool. May 22, 7pm PT: https://youtu.be/daAtrW-nAF8
  10. The Future of Jazz

    RRK's political philosophy (for lack of a better term & lack of complete understanding on my part, and not for lack of trying) is pretty interesting in this way. The entire Jazz & People's Movement has an American blue collar undercurrent the intersects with, but doesn't totally coincide with, the kind of socialist mentality that was prevailing in avant-garde circles at the time (it bears note that Shepp was involved, as were, apparently, a lot of "free jazz people" who didn't make the Ed Sullivan appearance). Rubbing against this is Rahsaan's apparent preoccupation with mainstream commercial appeal, something analogous to (but probably more fruitful than) Ayler's late career obsession with making his music accessible. This is getting into some aggressive pseudo-intellectualism, I know, but I've always found it interesting that Rahsaan's music was insistent on juxtaposing this ongoing complaint against (racialized) music business machinery against a tacit approval of music business capitalism. I think RRK's spiel you quoted above is pretty close to the money, and it maybe goes a bit deeper. He seemed to resent the most popular (mostly young, mostly white, mostly electric, often British) artists of the time for the simple fact that they kind of couldn't play their instruments at a level comparable to that of most professional jazz musicians. This is not a value judgment issue per se--it's more a "dues paying" issue emergent to a time in history when the historical continuity of jazz seemed to become irreparably fucked up. I think that to RRK, folks like the Beatles represented a massive reconfiguration of cultural priorities, undoing, surely, some of the work that Rahsaan had invested so much time in. Germane to this thread, but this reminds me of one of the talking head spiels from the Wrecking Crew documentary--i.e., "We studied the [Beatles/British invasion/young person rock music] and learned how to play it better than they did." I think that that faction of the LA studio scene, with all of its own blue collar trappings, had many of the same hangups that RRK did--the difference being that the Wrecking Crew folks found a way to live with the problem and even thrive because of (and not in spite of) it.
  11. The Future of Jazz

    Come on folks, this is hilarious. I love this kind of discussion fodder - it's satirical on the surface and meaningful if you want do dig underneath. I'm not very familiar with most of the music TTK has posted, but I do appreciate the listen. I think it's worth noting that while a lot of this time-trapped, rock-inflected jazz is more or less apocrypha to the overarching story of jazz, there were and are certain recordings with similar intentions that now sound entirely successful for (maybe unintentional) reasons. I was just having a conversation with a friend about the degree to which Rahsaan Roland Kirk was suspicious of, and in some cases outright hostile to, the use of electronics and rock elements in jazz. (There's also a throughline there about the conceptual bankruptcy of free jazz, but that's of only tangential relevance.) The irony is, of course, that a lot of the music that Rahsaan formulated as a response to rock music wound up presaging a lot of the fully-realized mixed genre music of the ensuing decades. There's an argument to be made that The Case of the 3 Sided Dream in Audio Color, which is at turns pastiche and at others an earnest attempt at some kind of Varese-ian mainstream jazz, contained some of the earliest inklings of what would later become full-blown hip-hop and beat culture.
  12. Henry Grimes RIP

    Sorry everyone for, like, everything (including my second post of this nature in a couple of days), but I'm hearing that the great Henry Grimes is gone. (Not confirmed by any official outlets, but I'm hearing the word "confirmed" from other musicians on social media, including Stephen Haynes) I was just confronting the monumental task of unraveling what I have of Lee Konitz's discography when I got this news. Henry's 60s work is of course legendary, but it's also valuable to note that he's one of only a handful of greats from the heyday of free jazz who managed a true second act. I, for one, will return to epochal sideman appearances like Out of the Afternoon or Where is Brooklyn--and/or Henry's own The Call--to memorialize his contribution to this music. There's so much to hear for those of us now left.
  13. Lee Konitz R.I.P.

    Hey, folks- Sorry to be the bearer of more bad news, but I'm getting reports all across my social media feed of Lee Konitz's passing (Birdland Jazz Club's FB page seems the most "official" as of yet, but info is spreading inside the musicians community). BTW: I should note that I'm receiving this info from inside the community. Said sources tend to be reliable, otherwise I wouldn't have posted. If someone can verify either way, please do (and I'd be happy to delete/modify this thread as necessary).
  14. Richard Teitelbaum (1939-2020)

    Thanks for the kind words, folks. I know I'm not exactly objective in these matters, but I have to cop to the fact that I've enjoyed a lot of these autumnal, abstracted "drummer albums" that ECM has been churning out as of late. I don't think that the prototypical ECM excesses are made-up or necessarily unfair, but I do think that the ECM aesthetic can service certain projects or players really well. In the case of Andrew's record--he's one of our living masters and, among those masters, maybe one of the best equipped to play at low-to-medium dynamics and with expansive attention to space--and so this one is right up my alley. I have to admit that I haven't listened much to Double Clutch (but will have to do so very soon), but that's in a completely different universe, sound-wise. It might better convey the energy and propulsion of the Cyrille-Teitelbaum collaboration that one finds lacking on the ECM.
  15. This situation is a little more nuanced than immediately evident, and I say this as both an arts professional (I plink on the guitar for a living) and a Bay Area resident. For one thing, the Bay and SF in particular are egregiously expensive for both businesses and workers. The Bay has had a lot of independent bookstore closures in the past decade or so, and I might argue that the coronavirus situation has compounded what was already a worsening problem. What is important to note is that this lockdown is not just affecting cultural fixtures like City Lights, but also restaurants, performances venues of all sizes, arts spaces, etc. Here's the rub: speaking as an artist, gig workers (as ejp mentions) are in dire need of immediate assistance. I know a lot of other musicians who due to luck of the draw (housing logistics, the nature of their employment, and even their chosen instrument) are almost or completely unemployed right now. But - if and when this crisis alleviates, we have to come to terms with the fact that the infrastructure that we have long relied on for our meager opportunities may be drastically reduced. Do venues like the Make-Out Room or the Uptown, who have long been ardent supporters of jazz and experimental music, deserve to go under by forgoing aid? I have both participated in and been deeply heartened by our community's contributions to institutional and/or peer-to-peer relief efforts like the Safety Net Fund and the New Music Solidarity Fund, but I will admit that I have a difficult time tiering need when it comes to sorting out "who needs the money the most." City Lights is a big part of San Francisco's cultural history, yes--but it is also one of a handful of venues in the area that carries a diverse stock of jazz literature. It's maybe the only bookstore in the area that would or could realistically carry new copies of a book by Larry Kart or Will Gluck. When George Lewis's AACM book came out, City Lights held a signing (IIRC Roscoe participated in some way). I have no working understanding of the personal ethics or ownership of the bookstore, so it would or wouldn't surprise me to hear something ugly behind the scenes, but I do know that City Lights supports independent and small-scale publishers in a way that is commendable. The employee pay situation is also complicated. Remember that the Bay was one of the earliest regions to enact hard social distancing rules (I remember, because I lost > $1000 in gig revenue in one day). Are you to suddenly disenfranchise your longterm employees, in a city that (despite very mixed efforts to confront the issue of evictions in the midst of the lockdown) is already, as I said, egregiously expensive? Are said employees meant to get in line behind the thousands of local residents who are already filing for unemployment? I'm not saying there's a right or wrong answer, but I will say that a lot of hard decisions right now are being made on principle, because there are no right turns when no roads or map exist. This is all I know--our local community is in dire straits, but this social distancing thing needs to happen, and we need to continue to exercise initiative when it comes to serving all parts of our infrastructure. Hard decisions need to be made and, well, you can't have it all, but you also don't want absolutely nothing or no one to be left standing at the end of the year.