Friday, April 29, 2005

Garage Rocking Torrents

With EZTree back from the ashes as Dimeadozen, the live concert torrents are flowing again. Check out an interesting article from the Village Voice about live music sharing through torrents and the controversy that surrounded EZTree.

The Black Keys - Lexington, KY 4/20/05

This is the first concert I've heard this year from The Black Keys, one of my favorite bands. They are a duo made up of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney and play raw, blues inspired garage rock. This concert is no different sticking to their crowd pleasing formula, playing their best known songs "10 a.m. Automatic" and "Girl is On My Mind" as well as inspired covers of The Kinks "Act Nice and Gentle" and The Sonics "Have Love Will Travel." Also, their interpretation of the Stack o' Lee myth "Stack Shot Billy" is a fascinating update of an old standard.

White Stripes - Old Bridge, NJ 4/9/02

Who says nothing interesting ever happens on Old Bridge? Oh, wait... that was me. I remember really wanting to go to this concert and then being really pissed when something else came up and I couldn't make it. I missed a killer concert as this torrent shows. Jack White says he has bronchitis, and apologizes to the crowd but it hardly affects him or spurs him on even as he and Meg just blast through superior versions of songs from their first three albums. The sound quality is quite good as well, making this a very memorable concert.

Send comments to: Tim

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Great mix CD

Thanks a lot to Brian for sending me another one of his stellar mix cd's. It's a mix of some of the best newly released jazz:

Tord Gustavsen - Twins
Orrin Evans - BM
David Binney - Plan
The Bad Plus - Film
Charles Lloyd - Ne Me Quitte Pas
Tord Gustavsen - Edges of Darkness
Orrin Evans - For De
SF Jazz Collective - Lingala
Tord Gustavsen - Token of Tango
Charles Lloyd - Canon Perdida
David Binney - Heaven
Tord Gustavsen - Tears Transforming
The Bad Plus - We Are the Champions

Send comments to: Tim

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Bad Plus – Blunt Object: Live in Tokyo (Sony 2005)

The Bad Plus continues their reign of terror over the moldy figs of jazz with this live album recorded during their recent world tour. The group is composed of Reid Anderson on bass, Ethan Iverson on piano and Dave King on drums. What makes The Bad Plus interesting is their mix of popular music and jazz that combines to make as “acoustic fusion” that keeps the volume and dynamics of rock and roll while not compromising the improvisation and virtuosity of jazz.

Their pop and rock covers kick off the album with a version of Queen’s “We are the Champions” which really suits the band well with its grandiose structure giving the band a chance to have some tongue in cheek fun. The other cover that really stands out is a familiar one for The Bad Plus and a staple of their live performances, Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.” This is taken at a break-neck pace with Iverson leading the charge. Two of the group’s original songs stand out as impressive as well, firstly “And Here We Test Our Powers of Observation” which is a fast paced tune with an interesting melody. Finally Reid Anderson’s “Silence is the Question” gets an extended exploration, beginning very slowly and allowing much room for a bass solo before cascading into a frenetic near free-jazz conclusion.

The only dud on the record is a strange two and a half minute cover of “My Funny Valentine” that ends the disc. It’s accompanied by faux vocals which are spat out in a deliberately annoying way. I don’t know if it’s meant to be a send up of the song or of self-reverential singers, but in a rare case for the band the performance falls flat. But there’s still much here to enjoy, The Bad Plus continues to be one of the most interesting mainstream jazz groups on the scene today, and one miscue shouldn’t keep people from enjoying their many successes.

Send comments to: Tim

Monday, April 25, 2005

Interesting articles

Yahoo featured an article about how to digitize your vinyl so you can listen to it on your mp3 player. They actually make it a little more complicated than it really is, but it still covers the basics:

Converting from vinyl or tape to digital is not rocket science (this article will get you well on your way). But there is a time factor involved in converting from analog to digital: You're going to need to play those oldies in real time as opposed to copying (or "ripping") digital audio data from a CD

Also, there is an interesting article about Tom Waits, who is quite upset that his music is being used in a commercial without his permission:

Tom Waits' next boozy, bluesy tune might be about European car manufacturers. The gravel-voiced Waits says Opel, a European division of General Motors, is running a TV commercial in Scandinavia with a soundtrack resembling his style and sound. And he's not happy about it.

Send comments to: Tim

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Heartless Bastards – Stairs and Elevators (Fat Possum, 2005)

The Heartless Bastards are a Midwestern rock trio led by the diminutive but powerful Erika Wennerstrom on guitar and vocals. The band’s music is a raw but somewhat lumbering garage rock/bar band sound of a group that is just starting to find its feet and look for something to separate them from the pack of faceless rock and roll bands that clutter the CD bins. Wennerstrom has a truly powerful voice, and that’s really the band’s finest asset, as their musical arrangements are fairly pedestrian power trio rock and roll.

Wennerstrom’s lyrics do show flashes of inspiration on the original songs, particularly “Swamp Song” and “My Maker,” but most of the bands own tunes come off as somewhat generic. They makes its biggest impact on the cover of Junior Kimbrough’s “Done Got Old” that was also featured on the Kimbrough tribute disc Sad Days and Lonely Nights that Fat Possum released earlier in the year. It’s hard to imagine a young woman singing about an old man past his prime, but her voice is so powerful the band carries it off. It shows that the group has promise as they try to transition from bar band to nationally touring group.

Send comments to: Tim

Friday, April 22, 2005

Decadent downloads

Many interesting free (and legal) mp3 downloads have appeared on the Internet recently:
  • Brian Patneaude has mp3's from his CD release party, held in Albany last month.
  • Cryptogramophone Records has mp3's from most of it's artists - click on the album artwork and then right click on the linked tracks.
  • The blues and roots label Fat Possum also has a number of mp3's available - click on "more album information" and then look for the linked tracks.
Send comments to: Tim

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Interesting article on portables

SFgate has a very interesting article about the suprising thing things you can find out about other people when you see what's on their portable mp3 player:

The old adage used to be "you are what you eat.'' But with the advent of digital music and the popularity of gadgets like the iPod, now it's "you are what's on your playlist.''

Hmmm... I already know I drive my co-workers crazy with my musical selections. Today, I hooked up the mp3 to my speakers at my desk and hit random play and got The Futureheads followed by Modest Mouse followed by Fred Hersch.

Send comments to: Tim

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Sun Ra – Sleeping Beauty (El Saturn 1979, Art Yard 2005)

This is a reissue of a Sun Ra Arkestra album from a very interesting period in the group’s long history. Ra was pumping out records left and right, six in 1979 alone, and experimenting with different sized ensembles as well as introducing new textures and instruments. This album features an expended Arkestra with 26 members along with the usual suspects like John Gilmore on tenor saxophone and June Tyson on vocals.

The larger orchestra brings out the romantic Ellingtonian in Sun Ra. The opening “Springtime Again” is augmented by graceful flute and vibraphone along with some tight ensemble playing from the band. Things pick up a bit in pace on “Door of the Cosmos” which continues Ra’s exploration of mystical themes through music that slowly builds in instrumental intensity and the chanted vocals of a group of singing band members led by Tyson.

The sidelong title epic “Sleeping Beauty” ends the record with the soloists, particularly John Gilmore getting some room to shine around Sun Ra’s and June Tyson’s spoken meditations on the nature of beauty. All in all, it’s a strangely tranquil record, something of an acoustic doppelganger to the ur-electronica album Lanquidity he had recorded a few months previously.

Send comments to: Tim

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Kills – No Wow (Rough Trade, 2005)

The Kills are a sleazy (in a good way) garage rock duo made up of an American woman and a British man that originally got their start by trading tapes of music in the mail. Their first album Keep on Your Mean Side was a bracing blast of raw rock and roll and they keep the energy that they showed in that debut while adding some very subtle electronics and drums machine beats to the mix.

VV (the female vocalist’s pseudonym) belts out anguished, sexy lyrics over Hotel’s (the male guitarist) jagged riffs. Songs like the title track “No Wow” and “I Hate the Way You Love Pt. 1” continue the groups examination of fractured romantic themes. The strangely poppy “I Hate the Way You Love Pt. 2” and alt-country swagger of “Rodeo Town” prove that the band is not just a one trick pony. The Kills style of raw stripped down garage rock should appeal to fans of fellow garage rock revivalists like the White Stripes or the Black Keys.

Send comments to: Tim

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Interesting Articles

The San Jose Mercury News has an interesting article on Dave Holland in preperation for the concert his band was playing:

Given his role as a musical innovator dating to his work with Miles Davis in the late 1960s, it's not surprising that Holland is eager to explore freedom afforded by new technology. He wants to make recordings of concerts available online, so that if someone caught him at Yoshi's and loved a particular piece, they could go to his Web site and download it.

Another interesting article concerns the great pianist Ahmad Jamal who has kept something of a low profile lately:

Ahmad Jamal’s music, however, is delicate and restrained; in a space as large as Mandel Hall, Jamal’s subtle melodic whispers risk being engulfed by the cavernous expanse. Indeed at times during the performance the quiet intimacy of Jamal’s music was lost in the physical distance between player and audience. Yet for most of the evening, Jamal was able to overcome the difficulties of the setting and powerfully connect the audience to his music, crafting a performance that managed to be both sensitive and celebratory.

Send comments to: Tim

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Podcast #2

OK, I made a mess of the whole thing, but it looks like Podcast #2 has finally made it up to the web. For some reason the posting went haywire and it posted 200+ times! Just choose the first one - right click on "Podcast Number Two.mp3" and save to target. Beware: the file is huge! It's 62 mb (if anyone has any ideas about compressing the file without losing sound quality please let me know.) The RSS feed is here. Again, please e-mail me any and all comments! Here's the setlist:

Artist - Title - Album
Howlin' Wolf - Commit a Crime - His Best Vol. 2
David S. Ware - Manu's Idea - Live in the World
J.B. Hutto - Hip Shakin' - Stompin' at Mother Blues
Albert Ayler - The Truth is Marching In - Holy Ghost
The Bad Plus - Iron Man - Give
Brian Patneaude - Inspiration - Distance
Solomon Burke - None of Us Are Free - Don't Give Up on Me
E.S.T. - Viaticum - Viaticum
Kurt Rosenwinkle - Brooklyn Sometimes - Deep Song
Beck - Hell Yes - Guero

Send comments to: Tim
Yahoo! News - Chuck Berry Pianist Johnnie Johnson Dies

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I've been away at a conference, so I'm sorry for the lack of new content. New stuff coming soon!

Send comments to: Tim

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Interesting Articles

The New York Times has an article about the new club John Zorn has started in New York, called The Stone:

As the club's creator, Mr. Zorn is working to turn the glory back onto the musicians and the fans that support them. There are no drinks or merchandise at the Stone, and the club is giving all the door proceeds to the musicians; each month's six-nights-a-week programming will be booked by a single musician (commitments have been made into 2007); and the operating costs will be covered by Mr. Zorn's record-making on his own label, Tzadik.

Wow! The Library of Congress has announced the discovery of a hither to unknown recording from Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane:

The newly discovered performance by pianist Monk and saxophonist Coltrane at Carnegie Hall was never commercially recorded, the library said. The collaboration is not one of the 50 recordings being added to the American registry.

Send comments to: Tim

Friday, April 08, 2005

Couple of new rock releases

Beck – Guero

Beck is back with a new collection of music bridging all genres of the pop scene. This disc is definitely more upbeat and accessible than his last disc, Sea Change, harkening back to the eclectic successes of Mellow Gold and Odelay. The songs are a diverse mix of rockers like the electric guitar fueled “E-Pro,” and the funky “Hell Yes” which mixes and matches samples with acoustic harmonica with processed beats to make a heady brew. Finally there are a few Sea Change-ish downbeat numbers but overall, it’s an upbeat and interesting record and another interesting entry in the Beck canon.

Bloc Party – Silent Alarm

Bloc Party is the new hip band coming from England in the wake of the Franz Ferdinand phenomenon. With a sound quite reminiscent of the great English punk band Gang of Four, without the Marxist politics however that made the Gang of Four so interesting. In a way it’s kind of ironic that that classic band should re-unite for a tour last year considering how influential their sound has become. Bloc Party’s sound is taught and angular with a fast and heavy drum sound. The band comes blasting out of the gate with their opening song and single “Like Eating Glass” which is followed by several more up-tempo rockers. The pace slows a little bit toward the middle of the album as the band inserts some slower pieces which tend to drag things down but the pace picks back up for a frenetic finish.

Send comments to: Tim

Thursday, April 07, 2005

So Long EZtree...

April 6, 2005, 16:00 GMT

Hello gals and guys,

We're very sorry having to tell you that we had to shut down EZT just a couple of minutes ago.

We got a call from our provider, they had received a few letters from a couple of lawyers. They requested EZT to be shut down immediately, otherwise we and the hosting service would be sued.

As you may imagine, we do not have the funds to fight a battle we most probably can't win anyway.

We would like to thank everyone here for their contributions to EZT, one way or the other, for sharing the music, sharing an ideal, for all your mails, rants, praises...

To say it with Joan Armatrading:

We had fun, fun, fun, fun
fun, fun, fun, fun
we had fun -- while it lasted...

--"Tall in the Saddle"--

You all take good care!

The EZT team

Send comments to: Tim

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Pharoah Sanders – Love in Us All (Impulse, 1974)

This was the last album Pharoah Sanders recorded for the Impulse label, and is a nice summing up of the two main threads that had been running through his music, his deep spirituality and the ferocious free jazz that he had been performing with John Coltrane. This album is made up of two side long performances, and a large band with three percussionists and a drummer to keep the rhythm moving.

“Love is Everywhere” is a long spiritual piece with chanted vocals and some relatively peaceful soprano saxophone from Sanders. The vibe is very mellow with the percussionists locking into a bubbling groove under either the vocals or saxophone. “To John” is a Coltrane tribute as you might imagine and is the polar opposite of the music on the first side. This reprises some of the scalding free jazz that Sanders played as part of the Coltrane group and his tenor reaches flights of hair-raising intensity.

Sanders tenure for the Impulse label was a fascinating journey and this record makes for a nice summing up and consolidating of the first phase of his career. Never again would a record label allow him the artistic breathing room to create risk taking records like this. It’s currently out of print, but worth searching for a if you are a fan.

Send comments to: Tim

Monday, April 04, 2005

Howlin' Wolf - Live and Cookin' at Alice's Revisited (Chess, 1974)

For someone who had such a fearsome live reputation, it's surprising that this is the only live album Chess ever released from the Wolf. This comes from near the end of Wolf's career but there was still a lot of gas in the tank. Backed by Eddie Shaw and the rest of the Wolf Gang, the group runs through some steaming blues before an appreciative audience.

It's interesting that Howlin' Wolf did not perform many of his most familiar songs during this performance. Only the blues standard "Sitting on Top of the World" survives from Wolf's earlier repertoire. This doesn't affect any of the energy one bit, you get the sense that the man could sing the phone book with a hot band behind him and it would sound great. Highlights include "I Had a Dream" in which Wolf belts out a week's worth of dreams filled with money, wealth and women only to wake up to find them gone. Wolf's braggadocio was little affected by his declining health and advancing years as he was still able to testify of his powers in "Call Me the Wolf."

Howlin' Wolf's awesome vocals and swooping harmonica connect with heavy hitters like Hubert Sumlin, Sunnyland Slim and Fred Below to create a deep pocket. Hearing Wolf at his peak in the 1950's must have been amazing, but this concert, in a comfortable Chicago club with a crack band shouldn't be missed by any fan of Chicago blues.

Send comments to: Tim

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Get well wishes for Neil Young who is recovering from surgery.


"The procedure corrected the problem and has been characterized as a complete success with a total recovery. And resumption of normal activities by the 59-year-old rock legend is predicted for the near future," agent Bob Merlis said in a statement.

Send comments to: Tim

Friday, April 01, 2005

Memphis Slim – Paris Mississippi Blues (Sunnyside, 2005)

Piano playing bluesman Memphis Slim had a long and successful career which culminated in the recordings collected here, recorded during his years living in Paris and recording and performing around Europe in the late 60’s and early 70’s. This two disc collection is split pretty evenly, the first and best of the two concentrates on either Slim playing solo or with small bands, while the second and somewhat spottier disc has Slim with some guest musicians.

There are some excellent house rockers on disc one, Slim and Willie Dixon raise the roof with a nice version of Big Joe Williams “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Rocking and Rolling the House” while fellow piano pounder Roosevelt Sykes joins in for some hard driving boogie-woogie duets. Slim goes down in the alley as well, with a stark ballad version of “Mississippi Water.”

Disc two has some very interesting stuff as well, especially when Buddy Guy sits in on the appropriately titled “When Buddy Comes to Town” and “Rollin’ and Tumblin.’” Buddy had come from years playing with Muddy Waters and Otis Spann, so he really knew how to support a piano player. There are a few missteps as well; a couple of tracks try to update Slim’s classic sound for the rock and roll ear without too much success. But overall this is a very successful package and should appeal to blues fans that have a fondness for piano.

Send comments to: Tim