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BFT #62


Nate Dorward
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OK, it's time to reveal the tracks.... I'll do this in stages, adding info & comments as I have time over the next day or so. More Canadian content here than usual, indeed a few tracks related to my home town (Halifax, Nova Scotia).

*

1. Ronnie Ball, "Pennie Packer" (from All About Ronnie, Savoy). Ball, p; Ted Brown, ts; Willie Dennis, tbn; Wendell Marshall, b; Kenny Clarke, d. 21 March 1956 (no location given but presumably it's Rudy Van Gelder's studio).

All of my BFTs have included something related to Tristano, it seems... I always liked Ronnie Ball, who always sounded like he was having fun at the piano--the LT influence is strong but he's less constricted-sounding than some of LT's piano students. (He's also a fun comper, too.) Jeez, I wish he'd recorded more. This is a rare example of the tragically fated Willie Dennis as a soloist: Dave Baker praised his "style of articulation or lack of it [and his] marvellous facility and ease with the horn." & Ted Brown, another rare bird on disc! & Clarke's a joy to listen to here, too.... -- The CD was one I dug out of a bin at the Halifax Sam the Record Man's many years ago. Not so long ago there were literally scores of copies of it floating about in the downtown Yonge flagship location here in Toronto; I bought a stack & gave them as gifts to virtually every jazzfan friend I had. I wish I'd bought even more before Sam's closed permanently.

2. John Stevens, "Bass Is" (from Chemistry, reissued on Big Band & Quintet, Konnex). Stevens, d; Kenny Wheeler, tpt, flgh; Ray Warleigh & Trevor Watts, as; Jeff Clyne, b. Riverside Studios [London, I believe], Nov. 1975.

This LP was one of my better finds in my hometown 2ndhand recordshop, Taz. (The logo was the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil, of course.) The guy who ran it, Bob Switzer, was a kook who would rage about the terrible music that kids today were listening to, about the downtown business district commision (at one point he covered the outside of his shop with signs covered in a dense polemic about their corruption), and so on. He hated contemporary jazz & loved the old stuff, which meant that when I found some avant-garde jazz it was usually going cheap. Sadly, he took his life a few years ago & the shop's gone. -- Anyway, it was a surprise to find not one but two John Stevens discs there (the other was the duo with Dudu Pukwana). Unfortunately the original vinyl had a terrible printthrough problem, which was very evident during the long pauses on this track, so I was pleased to score this reissue for $1(!) on a blowout sale at Verge Distribution.

Ray Warleigh is one of those session musicians whom you've definitely heard--for instance, on Nick Drake's Bryter Layter--but who has not committed a lot of music to disc under his own name. More's the shame. He has a new disc out at last, a sax/drums duo on Psi.

3. Fred Hess, "Norman's Gold" (from Single Moment, Alison). Hess, ts; John Gunther, as; Ron Miles, tpt; Dale Bruning, g; Ken Filiano, b; Matt Wilson, d. Denver, CO, 10-11 June 2008.

I first ran into Hess via his quartet albums with Miles, Filiano & Wilson--they're nice, but I've been more & more enthusiastic about his work as the group has gained members. So this latest one is the largest version of the ensemble yet, & it's probably his most "mainstream" date--some standards on it, the veteran Dale Bruning on guitar, less of a pronounced Ornette feel to the music. As you might gather, Hess has a very distinctive composing style, a polyphonic weave which can get a little too worked-out for me but nonetheless it's great to hear someone with such a personal writing style. His comments on this tune in the liners are as follows:

"Norman's Gold" is dedicated to jazz writer and friend, Norman Provizer. Based on a riff from Bob Berg's Silverado, its fast pace and exuberance reflect Norman's untiring love of jazz. In the spirit of Shorty Rogers, everyone gets a solo spot during its 3 minute 45 second expanse.

4. Pheeroan akLaff, "Bit Her" (from Sonogram, MU Works). akLaff, d; John Stubblefield, ts; Carlos Ward, as; Sonny Sharrock, g; Kenny Davis, el b. NYC, August 1989.

Another find from Taz. Not sure exactly how rare it is, but certainly one of the obscurer 1980s items in Sharrock's slim discography. I actually prefer the other tracks on this disc, especially a brief, tasty reading of Miles Davis's "Tout de Suite", but this is Sharrock's most substantial solo on the disc, so I went with this. I was wondering if anyone would spot John Stubblefield as the tenor here, another guy who recorded too little & passed a little too soon.

5. Randy Sandke, "Quiet Is the Night" (from Trumpet After Dark, Evening Star). Sandke, tpt; Bill Charlap, p; Greg Cohen, b; Dennis Mackrel, d; the Parthenia consort of viols (Rosamund Morley, Beverly Au, Lawrence Lipnik, Lisa Terry). NYC, no recording date given (released 2005).

I was originally going to include something by Randy's Inside Out band, which is a mix of players who are "outside" (Marty Ehrlich, Uri Caine, Ray Anderson, &c) with more conservative stylists like Ken Peplowski and Wycliffe Gordon. But I like pretty stuff, too, & thought this track might pique the interest of the classical music fans on here like Mike Weil--it's not a regular jazz-with-strings date: these are Renaissance viols, which have a much softer sound, which Sandke feels blends more effectively with a jazz ensemble.

6. Buck Hill, "RH Blues" (from Relax, Severn). Hill, ts; John Ozment, org; Paul Pieper, g; Jerry Jones, d. Severn, MD, no date (released 2006).

Hill is a Washington D.C. player who has preferred to remain "local" (spent 40 years working for the postal service). He's on a few Shirley Horn discs, and has a few dates of his own. This is his working band.

7. Derek Bailey, "Bunn Fight" (from Drop Me Off at 96th, Scatter). Bailey, g. London, UK, 12 May 1986; released 1994.

I saw Derek play once, & it was solo, a set at the Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry in the early 1990s, when one of the main organizers was a close friend of Derek's, the poet/bookseller Peter Riley. It was virtually the first time I'd heard Bailey (though I'd managed to find Village Life, a rather atypical trio with two African drummers, a few days earlier in a shop, & had listened to it with some bemusement). For my money, this is Derek's best solo acoustic record--I mean, I haven't heard them all, but have most of the main ones, & this one has a lot of things going for it--it's well-recorded, it includes some unusual dips into jazz & standards (yes, he DID do that before Zorn got him to do Ballads), &, most fascinatingly, it's actually more or less "in time"--you can tap a foot to it if you're so inclined (& persistent) for long stretches.

One of Derek's heroes on the guitar was Teddy Bunn, the remarkable guitarist from the Spirits of Rhythm, & the track title pays homage to him, as does the blizzard of chording in the middle of the track.

8. Fraser MacPherson, "Crazy Rhythm" (Caesar/Kahn/Meyer) (from Our Blues, Just A Memory/Justin Time). MacPherson, ts; Chris Gage, p; Carse Sneddon, valve tbn; Stan Johnson, b; Jimmy Wightman, d. Broadcast on the CBC on Jan. 31, 1963; first commercially issued in 2007.

A little rarity from the Canadian jazz scene. I saw MacPherson play once, in the last 1980s or early 1990s--I remember it as being rather different from the Getzian style on this date. Sneddon is the only player still alive, I believe; he was actually a trumpeter (& a pretty good one, judging by his features on the instrument on this disc) but Fraser liked having him play valve trombone with him. The most intriguing thing here is the presence of Chris Gage, who is remembered with fondness & awe by many musicians from the Vancouver scene; sadly, the pianist committed suicide in December 1964, age 37. He never recorded a commercial album, though some broadcasts still exist; there is a thread here with links to some videos. -- His work here suggests a player strongly impressed by Tristano, but I also hear Hawes, Oscar Peterson & Monk in there. (Tristano seems to have had his admirers up north; you may recall that Tristano's quintet was invited to Toronto in 1951 by the same organizers who put on the Massey Hall concert, & in fact they'd actually wanted LT not Bud Powell on the latter date.) Maybe Gage's playing is not all together yet on this track, but it would have been interesting to see where he went.

9. NEW (Steve Noble, John Edwards, Alex Ward), "The Persuaders"] (from Deadeye Tricksters, Bo'Weavil). Ward, g; Edwards, b; Noble, d. London, UK "3-1-08" (? Mar 1 or Jan 3rd? what's UK style?).

My colleague Dan Warburton picked this as his jazz/improv disc of the year for The Wire. Ward was "discovered" as a remarkably self-assured clarinettist by Derek Bailey when he was only in his teens--the earliest tracks on his duo album with Steve Noble, Ya Boo Reel & Rumble, were recorded when he was 16! He's continued to record as a clarinettist -- I recommend his work with Simon H. Fell in particular, especially the 2nd disc of Four Compositions on Red Toucan where he has one of the most impressive clarinet solos I've heard. -- He has also frequently recorded on guitar--I think I first heard him on acoustic guitar on the lovely duet album he did with John Bisset, Pocket. A very underrated player. Noble is one of my favourite players on the UK scene, ever since I heard his big alarming THWACKs on the opening track of Tony Bevan's Bigshots.

10. Maurice Horsthuis's Jargon, "BoxRing" (from Elastic, Data Records). Vera van der Bie, Jeffrey Bruinsma, Peter Brunt, Jasper le Clercq, vn; Benjamin von Gutzeit, Maurice Horsthuis, vla; Saartje van camp, Nina Hitz, Annie Tangberg, clo; Brice Soniano, b; Wiek Hijmans, g. Amsterdam, August (but doesn't list the year!! -- I think 2006 or 2007).

Yep, it's the Dutch guys. Mostly put this for Hijmans, a guitarist I greatly admire--I was tempted to include his solo medley version of "Round Midnight" & a Sweelinck piece off his Classic Electric but I went with this one instead as I like the way its steadypaced minimalism turns into a slinky/deranged blues waltz.

11. Carl Saunders, "Compilation" (Herbie Phillips) (from Be Bop Big Band, Sea Breeze). Saunders, Frank Szabo, Bobby Shew, Ron Stout, Bob Summers, Scott Englebright, tpt; Charlie Loper, Andy Martin, Bob McChesney, Sam Cernuto, Pete Brockman, tbn; Lanny Morgan, Brian Scanlon, as; Jerry Pinter, Doug Webb, ts; Bob Efford, bari s; Christian Jacob, p; Kevin Axt, b; Santo Savino, d. California, 16-17 Dec 1999.

Not my usual terrain, but I like listening to these veteran players doing what they do so beautifully: the feeling of this track is uberprofessional but the joy comes through just as clearly. Saunders spent time with Kenton, Bob Holman, Bob Florence & Gerald Wilson--plenty of flash but no meaningless notes in that solo. Morgan got a lengthy 2-part interview feature in Coda magazine a year or two ago, one of the best things from Daryl Angier's editorial tenure at the mag. You may recall that ages ago there was a surprisingly modern small-group hard bop track by Maynard Ferguson on a blindfold test, with Morgan on tenor--I would never have guessed it was the same guy. -- I haven't got the CD handy to check who the soloists are--I think it was Pinter on tenor, I forget the trombonist. I'll post once I dig it up.

12. Jean Martin/Evan Shaw, "Which way to Domino's?" (from Piano Music, Barnyard Records). Martin, d; Shaw, as. Toronto, no date (released 2007).

Oddball disc from two of the more interesting local players (with overdubs, obviously--it's nice to hear free jazz players using the studio creatively). Here's what I wrote of it in a review for Paris Transatlantic (no mention specifically of this track)--

Sax-drums duets can end up rather desiccated affairs through a lack of colour and the tendency towards shapeless duels, but Piano Music (Martin and alto saxophonist Evan Shaw) nicely evades all the cliches and limitations. Shaw is an interestingly varied player - on "Sweeter than a plastic bag", for instance, you can hear him go from cool Osbyish obliquities to bebop in extremis, running through ideas so profligately it suggests either inspiration or desperation; Martin presses him forcefully, often matching his phrasing exactly, and clouds of out-of-tune chords (melodica, perhaps?) add an air of shadowy enchantment. As the punning title suggests, this is music that (without being particularly minimalist) finds a lot of shadings within a minimal palette, and Shaw is especially good at a kind of abraded purity, in which uncertain whispers or murmurs become a kind of melody. On "A strong glue is not necessary" his playing is so pared-down it's like a Konitz ballad with four bars of rest between phrases--a space occupied by Martin's terrific brushwork and a growing array of electronic squiggles and overdubs--until in the final moments Shaw's playing fragments, then trails off into computery bleeps. A brief spoken-word cut-up listing Chinese delicacies is skippable, but the rest of the CD is consistently excellent, from the stunning long-form improv "Rattlebag Jimmy" to the cover of (wait for it...) the Shaggs' "Philosophy of the World".

BONUS DISC

1. Larry Young, "Tender Feelings" (Tyrone Washington) (from (Contrasts, Blue Note, via the Mosaic boxed set).

Haven't got the disc or booklet handy at the moment to give you the details, but I'm sure they're not needed really--I figured this would be i.d.'d quickly, but simply put it on the bonus disc because Young's later Blue Note records have had spotty availability outside the set. This album plus Of Heaven and Earth are very mixed bags but their best moments are quite special--this is one of the strongest tracks, by the tenor saxophonist Tyrone Washington. -- I spent a time in the 1990s trying to play piano seriously, & the main inspirations were my enthusiasm for Young (sparked off by the Art Of compilation--all of his discs were o/p at that point, which is why I got the Mosaic) & for Art Pepper. Still have most of the solos on Unity memorized. I never really liked Young's take on funk and soul when he was in his more commercial bag--there's a kind of a chugging rhythmic feel to it--but he sounds great here with a kind of twisted, doubled-up hard-bop/rock feel, & I wish he'd had more of a chance to pursue this line. Great tune too.

2. Alive and Well, "There Is No Greater Love" (Symes/Jones) (from In Concert, Unity). Don Palmer, as; Skip Beckwith, b; Jerry Granelli, d. Halifax, NS, Canada, Dec. 13 or 14 1991.

Halifax is my hometown, & I was present for one of these concerts (not sure if I was present for this particular track), which would have been one of the earliest "serious" jazz concerts I attended. I did a feature article for Coda on Don Palmer a few years back, which you can find online. Donnie is a local boy, who ended up going to NYC & becoming a student of Lee Konitz's then spent a while in Latin groups in the 1960s--he's on some Tito Puente albums. Eventually he relocated to Nova Scotia & his reputation has mostly remained local, though he was a beloved teacher with several students who've gone on to major careers in the Canadian jazz scene, like Joel Miller & Mike Murley. Recording opportunities have been scarce--there's a further CD by this trio, & a handful of other things, but not really a lot to show for a fine, distinctive player who really should have recorded more in his prime. A few years ago a fall on the street knocked out his front teeth, & he's been painfully working back from that injury--I haven't caught him playing live lately, but he seemed to be making substantial progress last time I heard him perform.

This is a far from perfect track--it's very evidently an anything-goes, unprepared live gig, & as I said in the discussion thread I just can't get with Skip's intonation. But it's nice just to hear Donnie blow that thing.

3. Bruise, "Long Face" (from We Packed Are Bags, Foghorn). Tony Bevan, ts, bass s, Orphy Robinson, steel drum, marimbula, perc; Ashley Wales, elec; John Edwards, b; Mark Sanders, d. London, UK, either 28 Sep or 20 Oct 2005.

The bandname is a near-acronym of the last names of the bandmembers (BREWS)--they have 3 discs out, all of them very good (the 2nd disc has Derek Bailey on it, not too long before his death), but I think this track is far & away their most impressive achievement to date. I've heard a bit of the Spring Heel Jack series of electronica/improv collaborations, & also Steve Reid's Spirit Walk (which featured Bevan).... none of those really impressed me (the Reid is, as I've said elsewhere on this forum, actually pretty terrible), but this group really seems to have found some common ground & created their own idiom (Wales's work is far more integrated into the music than on their debut, where his loops & guitar stood out a lot). Here's what I said for Exclaim at the time, when I picked it for the 2007 year-end feature:

At times Bruise sounds like free jazz’s answer to gamelan, as interlacing patterns of notes and percussion join together in a delicate sound mosaic. At other times, the musicians seem to be trying to step outside of time altogether, draping the aural space with huge sheets of noise: the buzzy electronic washes of Ashley Wales (of Spring Heel Jack), saxophonist Tony Bevan’s lung-shredding howl, Orphy Robinson pummelling steel pans until the notes distort. When the band settles into a groove, the music judders, sways and doubles back on itself like one of Sun Ra’s multi-percussionist assaults.
Edited by Nate Dorward
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I don't feel too bad as I haven't even heard of too many of these cats! :lol: Still, can't believe I missed the Larry Young track - I have it, but didn't even really care for it in this context. :blink:

Would really like to check out some more of a few of these discs, especially 2, 5, and 9.

Thanks again, Nate!

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Thanks for your ears! -- Unfortunately I think the Stevens is o/p, though you might want to check--distribution & promotion have never been Konnex's strong suit--but the other two are easily obtainable. Here's what I wrote of the Sandke disc at the time (part of a review of a trio of his discs on Evening Star):

At first blush Trumpet After Dark looks like it will be mellifluous ear-candy—it’s a ballads album with strings, subtitled “Jazz in a Meditative Mood”—but it’s as out of the ordinary as the other two CDs in this batch. Sandke’s solution to the perennial problem of integrating strings into a jazz group (Cohen and Mackrel again, plus ace pianist Bill Charlap) is to make use of Parthenia, a consort of Renaissance viols. The sound of these period instruments is darker, soft and more plangent than the modern violin family: the viols blend closely with the jazz group’s sound, and do not “sweeten” the music in the usual manner of strings. The tempos are relaxed and swinging rather than deathly-slow, and as usual with Sandke the repertoire is imaginatively chosen: a varied group of originals (even reaching back to Sandke’s early jazz-rock days with Michael Brecker for “Being Human”), and a set of covers that runs from Brian Lemon’s “Blues for Sandy” (a tribute to the ill-fated clarinettist Sandy Brown) to Frank Signorelli’s “A Blues Serenade” to the late Mal Waldron’s immortal “Soul Eyes”.

This is the best album to hear Sandke’s solo work at length—he’s a warm and surpassingly thoughtful player whose playing is unusually licks-free. Charlap’s laconic, slightly mischievous approach to ballads-playing keeps the music alert and unsentimental. One track, “Monk’s Mood”, finds them in duet, bringing a mercurial, almost dangerous edge to the theme. It’s among the finest recent readings of a Monk tune I’ve heard.

One thing that I didn't mention in the review is that the oddest track on the disc is a Chopin etude with a free jazz section. A small jolt for anyone trying to use the disc as background music!

Edited by Nate Dorward
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not reading here yet - just popping in to say sorry for not (yet) having participated... the files still lie on my HD, rarely used my ipod for months now, too bad! will try and play the music later this week or over the weekend and share some thoughts then!

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Profuse apologies for never posting any guesses. I can't say there was too much I enjoyed on this BFT (even strapping myself down with duck tape for the aptly-named Bruise track couldn't make me sit through all of that!), but there were some real gems to be had! Unfortunately, I've lost the notes I started and I think I accidentally deleted the song files off my HD. So I'll download 'em again, listen with new ears, and hopefully hear something I missed the first time. This has happened before, where a BFT made little to no impression on me until AFTER I read the answers!

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I let my impulses get the best of me. Just ordered a used copy of the akLaff disc.

How much was it going for, if you don't mind my asking? I have no idea if it's exactly an in-demand collector's item, but, anyway, if you like this track & want a little more Sharrock or Stubblefield in your collection it's definitely worth seeking out.

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I let my impulses get the best of me. Just ordered a used copy of the akLaff disc.

How much was it going for, if you don't mind my asking? I have no idea if it's exactly an in-demand collector's item, but, anyway, if you like this track & want a little more Sharrock or Stubblefield in your collection it's definitely worth seeking out.

The lowest price used on amazon was about $5.00. I purchased a copy for about $7.00.

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Some surprises ....

e.g. Derek Bailey - never heard him play like that.

Of course I have the Larry Young Mosaic, but that's another one I should pull and play more often.

Orphy Robinson on that long track? I loved his two Blue Notes - wondered what he's been up to lately.

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Yeah, Orphy Robinson's great--I should really track down those Blue Notes. I caught him on a TV broadcast a few years back & was very impressed. (It was a British jazz series--I remember that Carla Bley with Andy Sheppard & Don Cherry were the other performances I saw.) Lately he's been working with some frequency with the more avantgarde end of the British scene--as part of the London Improvisers Orchestra, with Simon H Fell, & in Bruise. -- One thing to note about Bruise is that it's very much a "band"--i.e. it's these particular players, not just a one-off or fortuitous combination of musicians. When they can't all play together they don't sub in other members or play with a partial group. (It's not like most free improvising ensembles, which often place a value on instability in personnel, actually.) So that's one reason they've developed a very distinctive sound--you can hear the progression over the 3 releases so far.

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3. Bruise, "Long Face" (from We Packed Are Bags, Foghorn). Tony Bevan, ts, bass s, Orphy Robinson, steel drum, marimbula, perc; Ashley Wales, elec; John Edwards, b; Mark Sanders, d. London, UK, either 28 Sep or 20 Oct 2005.

I've heard a bit of the Spring Heel Jack series of electronica/improv collaborations, & also Steve Reid's Spirit Walk (which featured Bevan).... none of those really impressed me

I've heard some of the Spring Heel Jack stuff on Thirsty Ear and this track works a lot better to my ears.

I've been meaning to post more thoughts but time keeps getting away from me. I greatly enjoyed listening to your BFT and will likely check out more by a few artists I was not familiar with, including Bruise.

Thanks again!

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Yeah, Orphy Robinson's great--I should really track down those Blue Notes. I caught him on a TV broadcast a few years back & was very impressed. (It was a British jazz series--I remember that Carla Bley with Andy Sheppard & Don Cherry were the other performances I saw.) Lately he's been working with some frequency with the more avantgarde end of the British scene--as part of the London Improvisers Orchestra, with Simon H Fell, & in Bruise. -- One thing to note about Bruise is that it's very much a "band"--i.e. it's these particular players, not just a one-off or fortuitous combination of musicians. When they can't all play together they don't sub in other members or play with a partial group. (It's not like most free improvising ensembles, which often place a value on instability in personnel, actually.) So that's one reason they've developed a very distinctive sound--you can hear the progression over the 3 releases so far.

I actually have an album coming out in the next couple of weeks which features Orphy heavily. I must have said it elsewhere, but he is one of the most gifted musicians I have ever come across. I absolutely love playing with him.

Bruise did actually use deps/have guests for a while. I first saw them, actually, with Louis Moholo on drums...and I know they've had Steve Noble playing drums with them, as well as Tom Arthurs and Ian Smith playing trumpet at least once each...but yes, I think Tony's concept more recently was no deps. FWIW - I think I'm right in saying the original (I take it unrecorded) line-up actually was drummerless...

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I let my impulses get the best of me. Just ordered a used copy of the akLaff disc.

How much was it going for, if you don't mind my asking? I have no idea if it's exactly an in-demand collector's item, but, anyway, if you like this track & want a little more Sharrock or Stubblefield in your collection it's definitely worth seeking out.

The lowest price used on amazon was about $5.00. I purchased a copy for about $7.00.

You won't be sorry, that's a good record.

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