Friday, December 30, 2005

There's a very interesting article in the New York Times about the effect of independently produced music one the music industry: Exploiting online message boards, music blogs and social networks, independent music companies are making big advances at the expense of the four global music conglomerates, whose established business model of blockbuster hits promoted through radio airplay now looks increasingly outdated.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

The New York City music blog Night After Night has a lengthy, well written obituary for avant garde guitarist Derek Bailey: Practically to the very end of his life, Bailey continued to seek out new encounters: with jazz icon Tony Williams, with free-jazz percussionist Susie Ibarra, with pipa virtuoso Min Xiao-Fen, with Japanese prog-punk duo Ruins and with a steady stream of young drum-and-bass DJs. A substantial portion of Bailey's activity, and that of his peers, was documented by Incus, the hardly little cottage label he founded with Parker and Oxley (of which he later became sole proprietor); many of those aforementioned later encounters, equally important, were captured on John Zorn's labels Avant and Tzadik.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Ken Vandermark's web site has been refurbished and is back online. The front page is a sort-of blog with announcements and links to the rest of the web site: Here you will find all manner of KV information for your viewing and listening pleasure: tour dates, an "in rotation" playlist, press articles, live photos, mp3 album previews (very soon), interviews with extraordinary musicians, past show posters, and KV's discography, all of which will be updated constantly! You can also sign up for the "AudioOne" newsletter, which details Ken's activities over the past few months and gives unheralded insight to our "reed-man about the planet".

Send comments to: Tim

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Ben Ratliff has a couple of interesting articles in the New York Times. The first is a review of the Miles Davis Cellar Door Sessions (damn thing finally came out, and the bastards raised the price! Ha, and they wonder why people download pirated music...) "In spots, the passageways become tiny and dark; waves of musicians, hired for an hour or a month or a year, fade in and out, all subsumed by rhythm. The sound balloons, growing dense and disjunctive and bluntly repetitive, and then winnows down to an ominous rustle."

The second is the obligatory top ten list. He goes with the Monk and Coltrane, which is a respectful choice, but I was kind of hoping he's surprise us and go with a young, vibrant musician. I don't know, maybe somebody whose still... alive? "Every musician on this newly found recording, of a 1957 fund-raising concert, is dead. But before its chance discovery this year, the only people who had ever heard it were those in attendance, so we'll count it as new."

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Bittorrent Boogie

A few days off for the holidays gave me a chance to catch up with some of the concerts I've been downloading:

Roy Campbell - Vision Festival 2005: This is trumpeter Campbell's Pyramid Trio with bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake playing a short set of cracking free-bop at this year's Vision Festival in New York City. The three musicians play with each other quite a bit, both in this band and others so the music is quite tight. Drake is really amazing as his different rhythms make a trio sound like a much larger band by shifting the tempos and focus of the music.

Van Morrison - Toronto, Ontario 10/21/74: A highly charged set from Van Morrison and the Caledonia Soul Orchestra from the tour that would yield the wonderful It's Too Late to Stop Now live album finds the man in fine voice playing favorites and soul obscurities in front of a very enthusiastic audience. Highlights include the rare song "(It's Not The) Twilight Zone" with Van singing in a super-high falsetto voice and "Moondance" which included the Peggy Lee popularized classic "Fever."

Hound Dog Taylor - Ann Arbor Jazz and Blues Festival, 1973: Taylor had one of the most exciting sounds in all of electric blues... sloppy, loud and super-raw, his slide guitar, mixed with rhythm guitar and drums was a powerhouse on the Chicago scene. He's in rare form here on a wonderful set that has the crowd going nuts throughout. His breathless and incomprehensible between song banter is a riot as well.

Now playing: Bill Frisell - Masada Guitars - Kisofim

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Best of 2005

11. Ben Monder - Oceana: This is some very deeply layered and atmospheric music, with a moody mix of guitar, bass and drums with wordless vocals. Deeply textured and cinematic music.

10. White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan: The most mature album of their career, Jack and Meg branch out into bluegrass and country without losing their garage rock edge.

9. Fast 'n' Bulbous - Blue Pork Chop Around the Rind: Guitarist (and Beefheart alum) Gary Lucas' little big band to plays instrumental versions of Captain Beefheart's music with joy and verve.

8. Marc Ribot - Spiritual Unity: Ribot hooks up with Albert Ayler alum Henry Grimes and some other heavyweights to explore the Ayler songbook of folk and gospel themes.

7. Jason Moran - Same Mother: A deeply felt exploration of the blues in jazz. The ringer on this session is the addition of guitarist Marvin Sewell who adds his urgent, earthy tone to several of the tracks.

6. Sam Rivers - Purple Violets: Interesting small band with vibes reminds me for the classic mid-60's records Rivers cut for Blue Note.

5. Yo Miles - Upriver: The third double disc in the series of albums where Henry Kiaser and Wadada Leo Smith explore the electric music of Miles Davis to great effect.

4. John Coltrane - One Up, One Down: Sure, bootleg version of these gigs from the Half Note have been around forever, but they never sounded this good. Epic slabs of music from one of the most legendary bands in jazz history.

3. Thelonious Monk w/ John Coltrane - Live at Carnegie Hall: This previously unavailable concert with Monk and Coltrane set the jazz world on its ear this year and for good reason. Kudos to the Library of Congress for making this music available.

2. The Bad Plus - Suspicious Activity: This quirky ensemble is really coming into its own, with wonderful compositions and impeccable execution.

1. Wayne Shorter - Beyond the Sound Barrier: This band has come together as a deeply powerful unit, and the interplay between Shorter and Perez is truly amazing, so much so that I almost long to hear the two make a duo album.

Send comments to: Tim

Friday, December 23, 2005

Best Re-Issues of 2005

11. The Stooges (self-titled): This slab of guitar driven sludge from the bowels of Detroit was massively influential, and Rhino expands their debut to two cds with outtakes and lengthy liner notes.

10. Traffic - Gold: There have been more compilations of Traffic then they released actual albums, but this is one of the better ones. An intelligent mix of hits and album tracks keeps things from bogging down in classic rock nadir.

9. Soft Machine - Out-Bloody-Rageous: Charting their voyage from psychedelic popsters to jazz fusion pioneers through a unending number of personnel changes, this well done compilation presents a very listenable introduction to a fascinating group.

8. Pharoah Sanders - You've Got to Have Freedom: The first career length summation of Sanders' lengthy career presents a detailed summary of his music.

7. Charlie Musslewhite - Deluxe Edition: This harmonica master only put out three albums for the Alligator label, but they were all good, and this one disc distillation is even better.

6. Sun Ra - On Jupiter: Psychedelic disco groove Ra complete with trips to the outer stars on flying saucers, what more could you want? Throw in some nice photos and liner notes and that makes up for the fact that it's vinyl-only and costs over $20 for 30 minutes of music.

5. The Greenhornes - Sewed Souls: A compendium of tough garage rock from their first three albums is an ideal introduction to this underappreciated band. Hopefully their opening slot on The White Stripes recent tour and signing to V2 Records will give them some more exposure in the years to come.

4. Various Artists - Blues With a Message: Compiling topical blues with excellent liner notes makes for a great historical re-issue and really stands out amongst the myriad of blues compilations released this year.

3. Ornette Coleman and Pat Metheny - Song X: Extra material that was left on the cutting room floor the first time around is added, nearly doubling the length of the original album. Metheny sticks with the great man and earns some serious street cred in the process.

2. The 101'ers - Elgin Avenue Breakdown: Joe Strummer's first band was a powerhouse in its own right, combining proto-punk with R&B. Ah, but then Bernie came to call and the rest is history.

1. Iggy Pop - A Million in Prizes: Hard to believe it, but the scrawny little devil has really been around the music scene for 40 years! Tracking his music from The Stooges through the ups and down of an epic solo career, it's a fascinating and wild ride.

Send comments to: Tim

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Charles Mingus - Blues and Roots (Atlantic, 1959) Ah... the Joy of Mingus. I enjoy all of the great man's work, but have special attachment to the bluesy gospel music he did throughout his career. This is one of the most soulful records of his career, kicking off with the incredibly powerful "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" in which the horns are driven into a frenzy by Mingus' protean bass playing and vocal shouts of encouragement, which recall a holy-roller gospel church. "Cryin' Blues" and "Moanin'" pile on the earth down-home feel with Jackie McLean and Booker Ervin each getting a chance for ripe saxophone statements. Charles Mingus knew the blues on the most intimate level and this album distills this hard won knowledge into a masterpiece of American Music.

Various Artists - Blues With a Message (Arhoolie, 2005) The blues has always been more than stories of cheatin' women and lyin' men. From Congo Square on to the present day, the idiom of the blues has been used to pass down oral history and comment ton the news of the day. This collection brings together 18 of such songs from bluesman known and obscure. Of particular interest is hearing both Lightnin' Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb sing different versions of the infamous "Tom Moore's Farm" and also hear a great version of the song of that steel driving man "John Henry." Willie Eason's "Why I Like Roosevelt" and "Prisoner's Talking Blues" and one-man-band Dr. Ross' "Little Soldier Boy" recount the horrors of war. This fascinating collection was named best blues album of 2005 by the British magazine Mojo and certainly deserves consideration by anyone who enjoys deep, hard-hitting blues.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

With a rare mid-week day off, I caught up on some of my reading while letting Winamp's shuffle setting provide the music. Here were the selections:

Jelly Roll Morton - King Porter Stomp
Bud Powell - John's Abbey
Miles Davis and John Coltrane - Tadd's Delight (Alternate Take)
Afrodisiac - Body And Soul - William Onyeabor
McCoy Tyner - Love Samba
String Trio Of New York - Ode
Sonny Rollins - Oleo
Libertines - What Katie Did (Babyshambles Sessions)
Grateful Dead - Operator
Tabla Beat Science - NafekeƱ
Woody Shaw - The Legend Of Cheops
Trio 3 - Willow Song
Muddy Waters - Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Sun Ra - Big John's Special
Howlin' Wolf - Built For Comfort
Jelly Roll Morton - Cannon Ball Blues
Eric Dolphy - Woody'N You
Henry Threadgill's Zooid - Unknown Live Track

Send comments to: Tim
Jazz Gem Made in '57 Is a Favorite of 2005 - New York Times: "My favorite jazz record released this year, and one of my favorites of any year, was made in 1957. I first heard 'Thelonious Monk Quartet With John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall' (Blue Note) at the Library of Congress in April, after the news of its discovery had been made public. It sounded pretty good then, but you can never really tell when hearing something over a high-quality sound system in front of interested parties. I have listened to it repeatedly since, and it seems to be much better than I first thought - solid, juicy, truly great." - Ben Ratliff

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

This sounds like it was quite a concert with Dr. John and Marcia Ball in a small, intimite theater Oh, such a night

Dr. John and Marcia Ball - who long have celebrated the lusty culture of the Gulf Coast - still sit behind 88 keys and let the music rip. That they did this weekend in Chicago, though in an unconventional setting: Steppenwolf Theatre, where the ongoing Traffic series offers audiences an intimate look at artists who typically appear in larger, rowdier auditoriums.
Greenleaf Music has posted a transcript of the Live Chat trumpeter Dave Douglas hosted last week:

I will be recording a new studio album with the Quintet. That should come out in the Spring, and we'll be out on the road. We'll also do some new Paperbacks, one from KneeBody coming out really soon. I am torn between putting out a Paperback of the Keystone band from this recent tour, there are some great live tapes. OR: I also have some great tapes from the 90s. Sanctuary from 1997. Tiny Bell Trio from 1994, our first tour. Many other things. We'll see. But there will definitely be one of those in the spring a swell.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Babyshambles - Down in Albion (Rough Trade, 2005) After bottoming out with drugs and legal troubles and being kicked out of The Libertines, I was worried that Pete Doherty's brand of melodic and poetic punk rock would be lost forever. But despite his troubles, he's put together a new band called Babyshambles, and continues to make music against the odds, culminating in this Mick Jones produced first album. The album actually shows a quite pronounced Ray Davies influence, which didn't appear in his Libertines era music. The track "Albion" echoes late 1960's music by the Kinks in the gentle melodies and the lyrics that discuss some of the problems that are affecting England in a very provincial manner. The first single from the album however, takes an old Libertines trick of controversial attention grabbing with the title "F*** Forever," Who could ignore that? It's a scalding piece of old-school punk with a level of devil may care narcissism that Johnny Rotten would admire. The album isn't perfect, it lurches and staggers to the finish line, but despite the trials of its creation, the music spreads a rough-hewn glow which can hopefully be capitalized on by Doherty and crew, because goodness knows he has the talent.

Sun Ra - On Jupiter (Art Yard, 2005) The British re-issue label Art Yard continues their wonderful series of mid 1970's obscure Sun Ra re-releases with the funky and downright strange (even for Ra!) 1979 LP On Jupiter. What makes this album so unique is that Ra and the band embrace disco (!) with light funky soul beats, synth and chanted vocals on "U.F.O." Of course, the lyrics are about as far from disco as possible with the band chanting about wanting to be taken away "beyond the farthest star" on an alien spacecraft, which is probably why this didn't catch on in the discotheques. "On Jupiter" is more traditional Ra with a sidelong improvisation featuring Fender Rhodes electric piano, percussion and a funky horn session. This was probably as close to easy-listening as the Sun Ra Arkestra ever got, and as such it makes for a great introduction to the band's interesting mid-70's period. The Art Yard release is only on record for now, but it's done right with heavy grade vinyl and some interesting liner notes and photographs.

Send comments to: Tim

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Thelonious Monk Institute will celebrate ten rears of improved Vietnamese - American relations by sending Herbie Hancock and an all-star band to tour the country:

World renowned jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock will lead a group of jazz artists, which include legendary saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter, internationally acclaimed vocalist Nnenna Freelon, and the eight gifted young jazz musicians who attend the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at the University of Southern California.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Various Artists - The Devil Is a Busy Man (Empire, 2005)

This collection subtitled 20 Scorching Blues Tracks From the Early Electric Era brings together a nice group of songs from the late 40's and early 50's, some genuine blues classics and some more obscure songs. The classic title track leads things off, Sunnyland Slim's classic piano rolling number and tale of the fellow with the horns collecting the souls of all those cheatin' women and lyin' men. Another classic included on this collection that has gone on to become a blues standard is J.B. Lenior's "Mama Talk to Your Daughter," which features Lenior's distinctive high-pitched voice and ripe guitar playing. Some early cuts by other well known blues men like Albert King, Lightnin' Hopkins and Snooky Prior are available here as well.

It's interesting to hear an early single called by Jody Williams (recording under the nom de plume Little Papa Joe) who is in the midst of an excellent comebacks right now after many years off the scene. Guitar is not the only focus here, although it takes center stage most of the time as piano-pounder Henry Gray plays the well know "Watch Yourself." Overall, this is an interesting blues collection, well recommended to both fans and neophytes who are long for a good dose of the real blues.

Send comments to: Tim

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Go on... Tease Me Again! is sporting a press release with the hopeful title Jazz News: Miles Davis - "The Cellar Door Sessions 1970" Release Date Set For December 27. But seriously, the box has been delayed three times through greed and legal wrangling. If the music weren't so good, I would seriously consider boycotting the sleaze that's been coming out of both Sony and the Miles Davis estate...

Here is the Miles Davis collection that fans have most eagerly awaited (ha! no kidding). Previously available as a fraction of the music herein and only initially issued domestically in edited form on the two-LP set, "Live Evil," "The Cellar Door Sessions 1970" was recorded December 16-19, 1970 at a club in Washington, D.C., where the great trumpeter-bandleader Davis was at the helm of one his most stimulating groups.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Bittorrent Boogie

M'Boom and The World Saxophone Quartet - The Grand Collaboration Max Roach was one of the great organizers in jazz. Not only was he a label owner and entrepreneur, but in the 1970's he formed the percussion ensemble M'Boom, which he saw as a chamber group promoting the role of percussion in jazz. Roach also managed to organize one large concert each year and in 1981 he decided to have a big concert with both M'Boom and the WSQ performing separately and together in New York in a meeting appropriately titled "The Grand Collaboration." The WSQ was very potent at this stage of their career, with then young lions David Murray and Julius Hemphill leading the charge out of the loft scene as free jazz met the tradition of bebop and swing.

The concert opens with the WSQ collaborating with Max Roach playing a wide ranging suite of music, culminating in David Murray's composition "Fast Life." The music evolves from lush swing to pretty far out stuff with neither Roach or the Quartet missing a step as they essentially flow through the entire history of jazz. Up next comes M'Boom on their own playing a fascinating set beginning with spooks nearly science fiction sounds evolving into a deeply rhythmic groove. After that comes the main event with the two groups improvising in collaboration with each other. Much later in their career, the WSQ would collaborate with a group of African drummers, and you wonder if this meeting is where the genesis of that idea came from. There is a wonderful synthesis between the groups and the open mindedness and rehearsal time really paid off with an exciting concert.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

LeRoy Jenkins - Space Minds/New Worlds/Survival of America (Tomato, 1978)

Violinist LeRoy Jenkins was a founding member of The Revolutionary Ensemble and when that group went of sabbatical in the mid-1970's, Jenkins turned his attention to teaching and producing solo albums like this unique piece of music. On this record he's joined by Andrew Cryille on drums, Anthony Davis on piano, George Lewis on trombone and electronics and Richard Teitlebaum on moog synth.

The title track is a side-long four part suite depicting a voyage to outer space in six movements. The crew of the spaceship (the musicians) guides their spaceship of music through the void. Jenkins violin is the prominent voice, but the addition of the electronics from both Teitelbaum and Adams in concert with the violin give the music some thing of an eerie and spacey feel, like a Sun Ra long-form composition. Side two of the record returns the group to the traditional song form with the electronics sitting out. Most impressive are "The Clowns" and "Kick Back Stomp" which feature the group improvising together at an uptempo pace.

This was a very interesting and unusual record, making use of different compositional techniques and instrumentation and using the electronic as an arrangement tool and extra voice in the music. The difference in the music on both sides is interesting as well, showing two sides of the band with and without electronics.

Send comments to: Tim

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The White Stripes Walkin With a Ghost EP (V2, 2005)

Tegan and Sara's quirky and catchy 'Walkin' With A Ghost' has been a staple on Little Steven's Underground Garage on Sirius radio, and it looks like it's caught the ear of The White Stripes as well, as they're using it as the title track of their new EP and tacking on some live songs from their recent tour to round it out. 'Walkin' With A Ghost' does get the Stripes treatment of heavier guitars and a straight ahead drum beat, but other than that, it retains the kooky and spooky feel of the original. The live tracks includes some interesting music as well, with the hard garage rock of 'The Denial Twist' juxtaposed against the milder feel of 'As Ugly As I Seem.' This is an interesting snapshot of the band after a long summer and fall of touring.

The Greenhornes Sewed Soles (V2, 2005)

Another band with a connection to The White Stripes is The Greenhornes, from Cincinnati, whose rough and ready R&B and garage rock hybrid has earned the opening slot on the Stripes recent tour and a major label contract with V2. This is a compilation album from their first few records and EP's. Sounding all the world like an updated version of Van Morrison's Them, the band adds some great Farfisa organ to the classic lineup of guitar, bass and drums. Pile driving blues rockers are often the order of the day, like the organ fueled 'I Can't Stand It' and 'Shame and Misery' which backs its lovelorn tale of woe with slashing guitars and raw drumming. The band is far from a one trick pony however, their collaboration with British chanteuse Holly Golightly that was featured prominently in the Jim Jarmush film Broken Flowers is included here, with the band cutting a mod groove, and the ballad 'Stay Away Girl' is like something from a long lost Nuggets collection of the future. Fans of rocking R&B will really enjoy this.

Send comments to: Tim

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Interesting Odds and Ends

My boy Pete Doherty may still be residing in yonder clink but he's still generating news and some of it is even good:

Mr. Doherty split with the Libertines to concentrate on his other band, Babyshambles. He spoke in interviews about his struggles with crack cocaine and heroin, and chaotic Babyshambles concerts were routinely overshadowed by reports of even more chaotic behavior offstage. His sporadic relationship with the supermodel Kate Moss only made him more notorious, especially when video surfaced that showed her in a music studio, seemingly snorting cocaine. But he continues to outdo her: a week ago yesterday, Mr. Doherty was arrested yet again in London, on suspicion of possessing Class A drugs. (That's the category that in Britain includes cocaine and heroin.)

Guitarist Eyal Maoz (pictured), who has put put a very interesting jazz fusion album on the Tzadik label featuring John Medeski is profiled on NPR:

Israeli guitarist Eyal Maoz may live and perform in New York, but his sound encompases the realms of avant-garde jazz and Israeli Jewish music... Considered his breakthrough release for John Zorn's ecclectic Tzadik label, Edom was recorded at Bill Laswell's Orange Music Studios in 2005. The album features Maoz in the company of world-renowned, downtown New York musicians John Medeski of Medeski Martin & Wood, Shanir Blumenkranz and drummer Ben Perowsky (Elysian Fields & Dave Douglas).

Finally, Brian P. has started his own blog - look forward to insightful commentary from an up and coming musician:

Stumbled upon a list of the this year's GRAMMY nominations in the various fileds of jazz ... figured this would be an interesting posting to attempt to keep things rolling ...Kudos to Mr. Douglas and Mr. Holland for the nods on their independantly released recordings and kudos as well to Mr. Hollenbeck for what I believe is is first Grammy nomination.

Send commments: Tim

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Various Artists - More than Mambo The Introduction to Afro-Cuban Jazz (Verve, 1995)

Latin music has always been a rich vein in the history of jazz, dating all the way back to Jelly Roll Morton in New Orleans and his famous 'Spanish Tinge.' The influence of Cuban music really kicked into high gear with the Bebop musicians, especially Dizzy Gillespie, who adored the music and invited many of the leading Cuban musicians to perform with his band. This is a compilation of Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz recorded for Norman Granz's Verve label during the 1950's and 60's and reflects the interplay of these two dynamic genres of music.

Some of the most well known performers in the genre are represented on this two-disc set, including the vibraphonist Cal Tjader whose cool, percussive sound is heard on a number of cuts, most notably the haunting version of 'Somewhere in the Night.' A couple of hot compositions of Dizzy Gilliespie's master percussionist make the bill also. But these are just some of the highlights on a very broad collection of music. Anyone interested in the Latin or Afro-Cuban links to jazz are well advised to look for this interesting collection.

Send comments to: Tim

Monday, December 05, 2005

Interesting Articles has an interesting article about the re-constituted Liberation Music Orchestra, and Charlie Haden's goals for the ensemble:

"I think it's really important to play this music now," Haden says from his house in Malibu. "We want the whole world to know, however, that the devastation that this is wreaking is not in our name. The title comes from a slogan I saw on banners unfurled over apartment buildings in Italy and Spain when I was on tour with Pat Metheny just before the start of the Iraq war."
The New York Times has an article about a new collaberative venture involving avant-garde trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith:
"Tabligh," a suite Mr. Smith has composed with Alan Kushan, a figure in avant-garde world music, harnesses a few of those ideas for a modern take on Persian classical music and Sufi devotional practice. The piece, which had its premiere on Thursday night at Merkin Concert Hall, had the feel of something loosely dictated rather than meticulously prescribed.

Send comments to: Tim

Friday, December 02, 2005

Odds and Ends

Thanks to Brian for drawing my attention to the article Swinging Back Onto the Scene - New York Times: "Around 1997, the young jazz bassist Omer Avital seemed ready to be taken very seriously. Given a chance to play regularly at Smalls in the West Village, he had organized an ironclad band, a sextet with four saxophones and no piano. Its music was rugged swing and harmony and texture and sweeping, singable tunes, acoustic jazz full of a reason for being. Mr. Avital is a physical, knockabout player, and the same feeling spread out through his band; the vamps and long solos were worth waiting for, but even the written lines had integrity. He knew how to pare down a melody to the notes that stick. Anyone could understand it."

Also in the news, the Village Voice reviews the new Davis Murray CD, Waltz Again "Waltz Again, featuring Murray's own compositions and arrangements, with Roman Filiu O'Reilly (a saxophonist with Murray's big band) conducting a 10-piece Cuban orchestra, is more conventional than those impromptu sound sculptures with Morris, but almost as electrifying. Murray favors concerto grosso: On the seven-part "Pushkin Suite," the strings have as many discrete passages as Murray's quartet. These juxtapositions are tense and lovely, but it's when Murray, his rhythm section, and the strings rub against one another on the uptempo portions of the suite and the surging "Dark Secrets" that sparks fly."

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pharoah Sanders Anthology You've Got to Have Freedom (Soul Brother, 2005)

Pharoah Sanders career now stretches over forty years, from his ground-breaking work with John Coltrane to the spiritual jazz he has dedicated his life to for the remainder of his career, he is one of the music's preeminent seekers. This two-disc collection is the first to measure the scope of his career as a band leader, incorporating not only his well-known early work on the Impulse label, but later music recorded for Theresa and Verve. Although there has been a gradual mellowing in the ferocity of his music over the years, his sound still maintains the aura of a profound spiritual quest.

'Upper and Lower Egypt' begins the compilation with a very melodic groove that eventually turns more caustic as Sanders tenor saxophone, still very raw at this stage, enters the mix. 'The Creator Has a Master Plan' has become his theme song over the years and something of an underground hit. This masterpiece of spiritual jazz features Leon Thomas on the memorable yodeling vocal over a large group with percussion. One thing that could irritate Sanders fans about this compilation is the fact that some tracks such as this one have been edited so that a variety of compositions could fit on the discs. The edits are done with taste, so each performance retains its core elements. The remainder of the first disc and the beginning of the second tracks Sanders tenure with the Impulse label culminating in the epic un-cut version of 'Love Is Everywhere' which is the title track to his final Impulse album.

The rest of the compilation cherry-picks from recordings that have come since. Pharoah Sanders has drifted to a number of different record labels in the intervening years, perhaps the most successful being the three albums he cut for the Theresa label in the 1980s which are represented here by the exuberant 'You've Got to Have Freedom' with its chanted vocals and wailing saxophone. While some of Sanders later period music involved an ill-fated flirtation with disco, he returned to his spiritual path with his Bill Laswell produced albums for the 1990s of which 'Nozipho' represents here with some excellent saxophone work. The hardcore Sanders collector will not find anything they do not already own here, but for anyone curious about Sanders music, this makes for an excellent place to begin the exploration.

Send comments to: Tim

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Interesting articles

The Grateful Dead fans are up in arms that the bands concerts have been removed from the Internet Live Music Archive:

The Grateful Dead, the business, is testing the loyalty of longtime fans of the Grateful Dead, the pioneering jam band, by cracking down on an independently run Web site that made thousands of recordings of its live concerts available for free downloading. The band recently asked the operators of the popular Live Music Archive to make the concert recordings - a staple of Grateful Dead fandom - available only for listening online, the band's spokesman, Dennis McNally, said yesterday. In the meantime, the files that previously had been freely downloaded were taken down from the site last week.

The New York Times also reports on the recent trend of jazz musicians taking their inspiration from indie rock (thanks, Brian!):

Jazz and indie-rock, if not opposites, are distinctly unrelated; what they have most in common is a vastness that strains the terms of genre. It doesn't take much cynicism to suspect "Gold Sounds" and its label, the upstart Brown Brothers Recordings, of crossover designs. You would have to go back at least a generation to find a time when jazz claimed an audience as robust as indie-rock does today, and one as socially connected, fiercely protective and doggedly partisan. (On second thought, partisanship is another thing the two scenes have in common.)

Send comments to: Tim

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Traffic Gold (Island, 2005)

For a band that put out relatively few albums during their brief career, Traffic has spawned any number of anthologies, with more in the works to be sure. This two CD set takes the place of the excellent Smiling Phases compilation, which has lamentably fallen out of print. Part of the reason the band had such strife during its first few years was the split personality of the music, between the shorter poppier songs of Dave Mason and the longer jazz-influenced jams of Steve Winwood. This compilation reflects that split with the first disc highlighting some of the Mason inspired pop hits like 'You Can All Join In' and 'Feelin' Alright.' Some of the finest music the band achieved was when the two influences meshed together, as 'Dear Mr. Fantasy' has become one of the most memorable songs in 1960's rock and roll, and the 'Glad/Freedom Rider' medley is an equally fine suite-like performance.

After Mason's departure and Winwood's brush with super-stardom in Blind Faith, the re-formed Traffic struck out into looser more jam based music. The end of the first disc and the whole of the second shows this transformation with the incorporation of tunes like the traditional 'John Barleycorn Must Die' arranged for acoustic guitar and flute, and the epic length 'Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys.' There is also included here a lengthy jam-band style version of 'Gimmie Some Lovin' which was a hit for Winwood during his stay with the Spencer Davis Group. This compilation works well as a compromise between a strictly 'greatest hits' set, and a longer b-sides and rarities collection, including both the well know songs and longer album tracks. Fans looking for a taste of the band without collecting the original albums would be wise to consider this set, as it is a well thought out and accessible collection.

Today's Spins:
World Saxophone Quartet Experience
Nick Curran Nitelife Boogie
Rahsaan Roland Kirk We Free Kings

Send comments to: Tim

Monday, November 28, 2005

Miles Davis Enters Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

(From BET web site) Posted Nov. 28, 2005 -- Miles Davis will forever be remembered for his distinctive, if delicate, trumpet sound, for his amazing combos and for crafting unforgettable jazz classics, such as Birth of the Cool, Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain. Today, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation places his musical eminence in the development of rock by announcing that he would be one of the new 2006 inductees into its hallowed Hall of Fame.

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Ornette and TBP in Newark

Sigh, I wish I could have been there, but alas it was not to be. Ornette Coleman and The Bad Plus rocked the house in Newark:

Now 75, the alto saxophonist, trumpeter, violinist is a bona fide jazz legend who only plays a select handful of dates each year, one of which will be Saturday at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark with The Bad Plus in support. 'You need more than just players to make music' Coleman argues. 'I have to find those other people, too. I have not with this group, but I am constantly looking for them.'

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Interesting Articles has an interesting article and interview with Bernard Stollman who founded the ESP label in the 1960's and who has recently reactivated the imprint:

A young woman came to me who was a choreographer, a very lovely woman, and she said I understand you're helping musicians. I said yes, I am sympathetic to their struggles, and she said 'why aren't you helping Ornette and Cecil? I remember I said Ornette and Cecil who? She was aghast, they're the princes of modern music and you don't know them? That's just terrible. Look, I've talked to them about you, and they both want you to manage them.

Pop Matters has an interesting article about the resurgence of the piano trio, looking at groups led by Brad Mheldau and Uri Caine as well as The Bad Plus:

By the 1950s, the piano trio format on its own had become the most important and flexible unit in jazz. It was, in fact, a perfectly balanced stool with three legs. The jazz drummer not only keeps time, driving the music forward, but also establishes style; swing, funk, bossa nova, ballad. The bass player keeps time and establishes harmony with his note choice. The piano player plays the melody with his right hand and harmonies with his left. The formula is so airtight, so utterly logical and "classical", that it can be hard to tell the difference between a Bud Powell trio recording from the '50s and a Mulgrew Miller side from the day before yesterday. The trio led by Bill Charlap in 2005 emulates the 1962 Bill Evans Trio without a trace of stodgy nostalgia.

Today's Spins:
Elvis Costello - CW Post College 1978
Traffic - Gold (disc one)
Mississippi Fred McDowell - Unitiled LP
Sonny Simmons - The Traveller

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Ben Monder - Oceana (Sunnyside, 2005)

Guitarist Ben Monder's new CD is in a quintet format where he is joined by Theo Bleckmann on vocals, Kermit Driscoll on bass, Ted Poor on drums, and Skuli Sverrisson on bass. They make some very deeply layered and atmospheric music. Leading off the disc is "Still Motion" with Blackmann's spooky wordless vocals echoing Monder's gauzy guitar like the soundtrack of a haunting. The longform title track runs the gamut from the peaceful serenity of a guitar trio to Sverrisson's thundering drum solo, with the whole band coming back together sans vocals for a fierce improvisation at the end.

"Echolalia" brings Blackmann back into the fold for a gentler tune backed by Sverrisson's sensitive brushwork. "Double Sun" is another lengthy track which builds slowly to a noirish intensity, like something that should be used in a throwback crime film as part of the soundtrack as the protagonist walks the dark, wet streets late at night. "Rooms of Light" starts with Hendrixian feedback prodded on by blasting drums and pulsing bass. Monder shapes and folds his guitar lines much like a sculptor would while Blackmann's scatted vocals weave in and out of the music. The nearly cross over into progressive rock territory, but never dip into pretension. “Spectre” ends the album on a more contemplative note.

This is an album of deeply textured and cinematic music. It would be really interesting to hear Ben Monder get the chance to do some film scoring as a future project. But in the meantime this album should appeal to a wide range of music enthusiasts.

Send comments to: Tim

Friday, November 25, 2005

New Podcast

I have a new Podcast available (34 mb) with some examples of what I have been listening to over the past week or so. Please note that there is 25 seconds of dead air in the file before the music starts.
Here's the setlist:

The Bad Plus - The Empire Strikes Backward
Brian Setzer - Flyin' Saucer Rock and Roll
Ben Monder - Still Motion
The Deadly Snakes - High Prices Going Down
Dave Douglas - Ramshackle
The Fleshtones - Pretty Pretty Pretty
Eyal Maoz - Lost
The Ravonettes - Red Tan
Either Orchestra - Soul Tezeta
Wilco - Shot in the Arm

Please send an e-mail or leave a comment if you get a chance.

Send comments to: Tim

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Kresten Osgood w/ Lonnie Smith and Michael Blake Hammond Rens

Here's something of an odd combination that works really well. Danish drummer Kresten Osgood is joined by downtown saxophonist and Jazz Composers Collective member Michael Blake and one of the quintessential grooving Hammond B-3 organ players, 'Doctor' Lonnie Smith for a lengthy set of music before a live audience. It's a testament to the players involved here that everything works so well despite their possibly divergent styles. Across the whole of this long (two maxed-out CD's) album of gutbucket organ jams, blues and ballads the players make their individual presences known while staying clearly focused on communicating with their colleagues on the stage.

The music on these CD's looks back on the glory days of the organ trio in the 1950's and 60's, where every urban center had one or more clubs that featured a stripped down trio of Hammond organ, saxophone and drums. This is very user-friendly music and many of the tunes stretch out for considerable lengths of time allowing for plentiful solos from everyone involved. Michael Blake stands out in particular, getting a very deep, dark, earthy tone on his tenor saxophone that he had not shown in some of his other projects. If you are fan of organ trios, or or freewheeling jam sessions, this is a set to keep an eye out for.

Send comments to: Tim

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

NPR has a very interesting interview with John Zorn about how the Masada songbooks has grown and has been adapted by other musicians:

In his original group, John Zorn played saxophone alongside a trumpeter, bass player and drummer. But the catalog was designed to be played by any group of instruments, and Zorn's discography has since expanded to include renditions by klezmer bands, jazz combos and vocalists.

Today's spins:
Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Here Comes the Whistleman
Wilco - Kicking Television
Muddy Waters - King Bee

Monday, November 21, 2005

Odds and Ends

The blog Spread the Good Word spreads the bad news about the death of legendary guitarist Link Wray, and has sports some mp3's to boot:

Mr Wray passed away at the age of 76 in Copehagen where he lived since 1983. Though rock historians always like to draw a nice, clean line between the distorted electric guitar work that fuels early blues records to the late-'60s Hendrix, Clapton, Beck, Page, Townshend mob, with no stops in between, a quick spin of any of the sides Link recorded during his golden decade punches holes in that theory right quick.

The Nation's web site offers up a huge review of new and upcoming books on jazz:

For the jazz musicians and jazz journalists struggling for mainstream attention, the sky could appear to be falling, but judging from the deluge of recent books, the music's shelf life is just beginning. Jazz, more than any other musical genre, currently dominates academic presses; compared with pondering the use of the grace note in Haydn, chasing the path of Django Reinhardt or a riverboat band might even seem sexy. Hip-hop is so recent, rock and roll so flaky and ubiquitous. Scholarly presses are more willing to admit jazz's importance today than they were when the music was at its most vital stages of development.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Bad Plus - London Jazz Festival 11/11/05

The Bad Plus' set from the London Jazz Festival was a short, crowd pleasing one. This concert hit many of the highpoints of their current music, starting with the mid tempo composition 'Let Your Garden Grow' by pianist Ethan Iverson that presents an impressionistic and classically trained feel. Drummer Dave King's throbbing anti war epic 'The Empire Strikes Backward' always receives a warm welcome overseas in the current climate, and is particularly memorable here. Led by King's raucous drumming, 'Empire' is an impressive performance.

Things calm back down with the mid tempo interesting feel of bassist Reid Anderson's 'Rhinoceros is My Profession.' Finally, the requisite quirky cover is the theme from 'Chariots of Fire' which starts with a very abstract view of the song and gradually moves back, building tension until finally reaching a climax with the very memorable melody. This is the perfect song for the group to cover as they have always had a flair for the dramatic and cinematic in their music. One wonders why they haven't been called upon to score a film. Maybe that lies ahead in 2006.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

My man David Murray

The Radio 3 web site has a review of the David Murray concert from the 2005 London Jazz Festival:

But it's on the show-stopping dance-floor filler 'Gwotet' that Murray really shines, with a solo so full of authentic fire that it transcends any notion of mere technique. This is direct, soulful communication and clear proof of why he's considered by many to be the leading tenor player of his generation.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Book review: Complicated Shadows: The Life and Music of Elvis Costello by Graeme Thompson

The chameleon of British rock and roll, Elvis Costello is the subject of this biography, tracing his roots from the show bands of his father to the pub rock of his youth and then finally to his fateful breakout in 1977 with his band The Attractions. Costello became the enfant terrible of pop music and brilliant albums and the requisite tales of rock and roll debauchery followed. Thompson recalls details of the antics best he can, as he didn't have access to Costello in the writing of this book, and had to rely on the accounts of others and the media.

Costello is one of the few rock musicians who became more interesting as he grew older and more mature. His interests grew to include country music, standards of the 30's and 40's and rhythm and blues all of which he incorporated in his music. His career and life have had their ups and downs as Thompson chronicles, but this biography comes at an interesting time in Costello's career. Now in his 50's and no longer the young punk, he's putting out some of the best music of his career and showing no sign of slowing down. An interesting if trashy biography.

Send comments to: Tim

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Cellar Door Update

Along with many others, I have been anxiously awaiting the Miles Davis at the Cellar Door boxed set, which has been postponed due to legal wrangling. Paul Tingen, who wrote the very interesting book Miles Beyond has an update of the proceedings:

The latest news in the Cellar Door boxed set saga: a new release date has been set for December 17, though the 27th has also been mentioned. I'm still waiting for official confirmation from Sony Columbia, but given the events of the last months, that would hardly set things in stone. The problem remains the Miles Davis Estate, and mainly Miles's nephew, Vince Wilburn. A few weeks before the original release date last September he wanted the credits of Adam Holzman and Bob Belden changed from 'produced by' to 'compiled by.' Understandably, this was not something these two, or Sony, were happy about. Moreover, the Cellar Door set had been more than five years in the making, so the timing of the demand reeked of a hidden agenda.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

First Impressions

Just a quick take on some of the music I have purchased recently. Full reviews to follow soon, I hope!

The Deadly Snakes Porcella: The Deadly Snakes seemed to get lumped in with the other members of the garage rock revival like The White Stripes and The Greenhorns, but their range may surprise people. Calling on a wide range of styles, from rock to pop and R&B, this is a very adventurous record.

Broken Social Scene (self titled): A super-group made up of various members of the Canadian indie rock community, BSS is another band that thrives on the lyrical and musical diversity of their members to create a wide-ranging musical stew that runs the gamut from 'traditional' Pixies-inspired indie rock to the dreaded emo. The thought of a band with a rotating cast of 15+ band members playing a two-disc epic may cause some head-scratching, but the music holds up quite well.

Claudia Qunitet Semi Formal: Nominally led by John Hollenbeck, Claudia takes a kitchen sink approach to music by adding jazz, classical, avant-garde and even a warped pop/lounge sensibility together. Drums and vibes meet freaky organ and clarinet and some occasional skonkin' saxophone for a very unusual and unusual sound.

Polysoft Tribute to Soft Machine: Polysoft is an improvising French band that paid tribute to the legendary prog-rock/jazz fusion band Soft Machine by inviting a few of the older band's members to join them in creating new improvisations based on old Soft Machine compositions. Turns out that the old songs hold up quite well, with a three horn front line juxtaposed against a shimmering backdrop of fender rhodes piano, organ and guitar.

Send comments to: Tim

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Interesting Articles

The Washington Post has an interesing article about a famous blues fan and club owner: Morgan Freeman, Down Home: "Freeman and Luckett opened the club in May 2001, transforming a 1900s cotton warehouse into a gritty concert venue where the music is earsplitting and the decor is frat house-meets-dance hall."

The Miami Herald also travels to Mississippi with the article Love the blues? It all began in joints like these. "Moreover, the blues here is no series of historical markers erected by the Hellhound-On-My-Trail Antiquarian Society: Clarksdale has shops, music rooms, juke joints and major festivals celebrating this direct ancestor of rock 'n' roll. And it's far enough inland that it escaped damage from Hurricane Katrina."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Torrential Torrent

William Parker Quartet - St. Anna Arresi, Italy 9/3/04 Of all of William Parker's cracking bands, this quartet is amongst the most popular. With Lewis Barnes on trumpet, Rob Brown on alto saxophone, and Hamid Drake on drums, the band burns at any tempo, but prefers the edgy half-light territory between modern hard bop and free jazz. This concert finds the group playing two very long improvisations, one clocking in at twenty-six minutes, and the other at forty-six! Far from a free-for-all blowout, however, the band moves through sections of improvisation in a suite-like manner with plenty of time to split into duos and trios.

The music becomes quite percussive at times with Drake delivering all types of rhythms and Parker's bowed and plucked bass keeping the pulse of the music moving forward. Brown and Barnes make an impressive front line with the formers tart, lemony alto juxtaposed against Barnes sputtering blasts on trumpet. In a more adventurous day, this group would have been a cinch for a Blue Note recording contract, but at least they have been recorded on the courageous AUM Fidelity label. This band has a couple of exciting and accessible CD's on this label, and they are well worth seeking out.

Send comments to: Tim

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Interesting article

Here's an article profiling tenor saxophonist and composer Pharoah Sanders, who recently turned 65.

A quiet man, Pharoah Sanders is an originator. Though he is a man of few words he is definitely not short on talent or heart. The regal one stands on stage bending notes cognizant of the carefully nurtured bond he's fashioned between himself and the horn of the Gods.

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Blogging Musicians

I wish more musicians took the time to have a weblog... it's a great way for them to get their ideas out and interact with other musicians and fans with little cost except time, which is at a premium for musicians like everybody else, I guess! Here are a couple of musician blogs I enjoy:

Gary Lucas: Lucas is a musical renaissance man, playing everything from jazz to blues to rock and everything in between. He currently leads the wonderful Captain Beefheart tribute band Fast 'n' Bulbous in addition to other musical projects.

Jessica Williams' The Zone: Williams is a very highly regarded jazz pianist and composer currently recording for the Max Jazz label. I discovered her blog through the jazz blog Rifftides.

Listening to: Rashanim - Masada Rock (Tzadik, 2005)

Send comments to: Tim

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Alan Silva and William Parker A Heroes Welcome (Eremite, 1998)

Silva and Parker are best known as the first call bassists for avant-garde jazz for their particular generations. Silva performed with such luminaries as Albert Ayler and Cecil Taylor and Parker is best known for his long stint as the bassist in the David S. Ware Quartet. What is particularly interesting about this live duet performance, is that Silva stays away from the bass for the most part, creating huge slabs of orchestral sounding music using digital MIDI keyboards, and interjecting pointed comments with acoustic piano. Parker holds the whole concept together and keeps it from flying off into the void on bass, switching with aplomb between plucked and bowed bass. It is an interesting concept that sounds something like Sun Ra would have tried if he had turned his hand to avant garde classical composition.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Top Ten Jazz Blog

This came as an e-mail today. I've never heard of this site, but it's a nice honor regardless.

Congratulations!!! Our editors have selected your newsfeed to be featured in one of our Top 10 Sources sites. You can view the site that features your site by clicking here.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Chasing Mustafaa

I heard from my friend John that he had uncovered some more jazz records at the store where he works. Never one to refuse a little record shopping on my day off I went up there only to find they were his records. Mustafaa... again. Let me explain. In the jazz vinyl bins of records stores up and down the east coast of the United States there are classic records from the 60's and 70's and the cover of each one has written in bold magic-marker script... Mustafaa. Who is this enigmatic man of mystery, and why have I found his records in stores from Albany, NY to Alexandria, VA? Why did he sell his records? Is it like The Da Vinci Code - if I collect all of his records, will the meaning of life be revealed? The plot thickens...

Oh yes, these are the records I bought:

Milt Jackson - Vibrations
Blue Mitchell - Heads Up!
Johnny Griffin - Wade in the Water
Johnny Griffin & Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis - Lookin' at Monk
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Send comments to: Tim

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The best minds of my generation... wasted

As Pete Dorherty, late of one of my favorite rock and roll bands, The Libertines, prepares to release a album with his new band Babyshambles, he conducts a deeply disturbing interview with the Guardian:

Is it true that he and Moss are hoping to have children together? "I've got two," he says. Two, I say, baffled - I knew that he had one. He repeats that he has two children, and that he sees one of them. "Poor little fucker. My sister sees him all the time, so there's affection as a family for him. I don't really want to go into that because it's not fair on the kids or the mother. It's enough for me to say I love them and would do anything for them."

Send comments to: Tim

Friday, November 04, 2005

Mat Maneri Pentagon (Thirsty Ear, 2005)

Violinist Mat Maneri has been very active on the avant-garde scene over the past couple of years, recording acoustically for the Leo Label, and in more electric and eclectic settings for the Thirsty Ear label. Like his previous Thirsty Ear albums, his new album, Pentagon, mines the rich legacy of the electrified music produced by Miles Davis from 1968-75 except in this case with the violin taking the place of the trumpet.

This is not an album of slavish emulation however, far from it. The band uses the music of the past as a jumping off point, using rippling electric Fender Rhodes piano, electric violins and horns. These are the most successful tracks along with the final track, 'America' which ends the disc on an elegiac note with a short acoustic violin improvisation. Along with the somewhat groove oriented tracks, there are some spacier tunes that allow the band a little more room to move. Vocals do pop up on a couple of occasions, with a female vocalist giving a haunting, breathy reading of the standard 'Motherless Child.' Mat's father, the legendary saxophonist Joe Maneri takes a scat vocal as well, albeit of limited effectiveness.

Overall, the album feels a little bit scattered with a mix of acoustic, electric and vocal tracks. A focus on one of the three would have led to a more coherent and consistent flow of music. Nevertheless, when the music and the musicians click, especially on the electric tracks, the results are impressive. I hope Thirsty Ear considers a live album of the electric side of this group, they must be a blast in a small club.

Send comments to: Tim

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sam Rivers - Paragon (Fluid, 1977)

Sam Rivers has recorded in many settings over the years, but he keeps coming back again and again to the trio format. On this album, he is joined by regular cohorts, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Barry Altschul. The trio format allows the opportunity for Rivers compositional ideas to be fleshed out while still allowing the musicians room to stretch out and improvise on the melodies with quite a bit of freedom.

Rivers is the star of the session as can be imagined and his full arsenal of tenor and soprano saxophones as well as flute are on display. Holland and Altschul are both solid and fluid in their supporting role throughout this excellent session. Apparently this music is still in vinyl only limbo, but anyone with a turntable and a taste for adventurous music should keep an eye out for this wonderful record.

Send comments to: Tim

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

More Monk and Trane

Here is yet another article about the Monk and Coltrane reissue, with a smattering of Coltrane at the Half Note thrown in for good measure, by one of my favorite jazz writers, Francis Davis:

The chance discovery of the Carnegie Hall tapes at the Library of Congress earlier this year created an anticipation not witnessed in jazz since . . . well, not counting the 1945 Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker Town Hall concert that beat Monk and Coltrane to the market by just a few months, you'd have to go all the way back to new releases by Coltrane and Miles in the 1960s, and I'll leave it for you to conclude what this says about jazz in 2005.

Send comments to: Tim

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Ramones: Ramones Mania (Sire, 1988)

At their core, The Ramones, despite making some very good albums early in their career, were essentially a singles band, a throwback to the surf and early rock and roll bands of the 1950s that pumped out the classic 45s. This is a two record or one compact disc compilation that distills their most well known material. The gang from Hollis, Queens put out a bevy of classic songs during the 1970s and a great many of them are included here like 'Blitzkrieg Pop,' 'Beat on the Brat' and 'Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment.'

The well began to run dry a little bit during the 1980s so the second record is a little bit spottier than the first, but the boys were still able to write a few memorable songs like the infamous 'The KKK Took My Baby Away.' If your music collection has room for just one Ramones set, this album is as good as any by collecting the classics and boiling down the dross.

Send comments to: Tim